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Music events to see in New Orleans 1-4 November

By John Swenson

Greetings to all of you in New Orleans for the American Musicological Society (AMS)/Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM)/Society for Music Theory (SMT) conference. I’ve been writing about the music of New Orleans dating back to the mid-1970s and am still making discoveries to this day. The city is a seemingly bottomless well of creative musicians, with more arriving every day from around the world seeking the muse that inspires this magic, spiritual sound. Here are a few suggestions about where you might want to go over the next few days to hear this aural cornucopia in person. These recommendations are really just the tip of the iceberg, but they reflect what I am likely to be hearing myself.


New Orleans puts its best musical foot forward over the weekend of 1-4 November. Many of the city’s most talented performers will be playing, making for some tough choices. Top pick is a free concert at Armstrong Park featuring Los Hombres Calientes, a Latin jazz band featuring trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and percussionist Bill Summers; and the great trumpeter Leroy Jones. 6:15 p.m.

Other shows of interest include:

  • Apple Barrel: Alabama Slim and Little Freddie King. Terrific local blues. Little Freddie King was featured in a recent episode of HBO’s “Treme.” 11:00 p.m.
  • Blue Nile: Bayou International Sound System feat. DJ T Roy. Top reggae dance party in town. 10:00 p.m.
  • Buffa’s Lounge: Aurora Nealand and Tom McDermott. Extraordinarily talented clarinet/piano duo. McDermott has his own chapter in “New Atlantis.” 8:00 p.m.
  • Café Istanbul: Michaela Harrison. Wonderful jazz vocalist. 8:30 pm
    Left to right: Glen David Andrews, James Andrews, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. Photo by Elsa Hahn. Used by permission of Elsa Hahn.
  • Carousel Bar (Hotel Monteleone): David Torkanowsky. Solo piano. 4:30 p.m., George French Trio feat. Ellen Smith. Traditional jazz and R&B. 8:00 p.m.
  • Chickie Wah Wah: Paul Sanchez. One of the city’s best songwriters at a very nice club off the Canal Street streetcar. His story is covered in detail in “New Atlantis.” 9:00 p.m.
  • Davenport Lounge (Ritz-Carlton): Jeremy Davenport. Upscale hotel gig recalls Rat Pack glories. 5:30 p.m.
  • I Club (J.W. Marriott): Glen David Andrews. Trombonist/vocalist is one of the city’s most talented performers. He’s one of the stars of “New Atlantis” as well as “Treme”. A must see. 8:00 p.m.
  • Rock ‘n’ Bowl: Rosie Ledet. Top notch zydeco at a bowling alley. 8:30 p.m.
  • Snug Harbor: Maria Muldaur and the Bluesiana Band. Legendary blues vocalist. 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Vaughan’s: Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers. One of the signature gigs in New Orleans. Trumpeter/entertainer and “Treme” star Ruffins holds court in a delightful evening which usually features his barbecue on the side. 9:00 p.m.


Top pick tonight is the Tribute to James Booker featuring the All-Star Piano Summit. Ten of the best local pianists offer homage to one of the greatest New Orleans keyboardists. I Club (J.W. Marriott). 8:00 p.m.

Other shows of interest include:

  • Blue Nile: Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers 7:00 p.m., Brass-A-Holics 11:00 p.m.
  • d.b.a.: Hot Club of New Orleans. Gypsy jazz. 6:00 p.m., Honey Island Swamp Band. Roots rock. 10:00 p.m.
  • Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse: Professor Piano Series feat. Joe Krown 5:00 p.m., Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown. Fabulous trumpeter and vocalist. 8:00 p.m., Burlesque Ballroom feat. Trixie Minx and Romy Kaye. Fascinating mixture of artful burlesque dancing and jazz. 11:59 p.m.
  • Preservation Hall: Preservation Hall Jazz Masters feat. Leroy Jones. Jones playing traditional jazz in its most elemental form in a venerable setting. 8:00 p.m.
  • Snug Harbor: Ellis Marsalis Quartet. The dean of New Orleans pianists in his regular gig. 8:00 & 10:00 p.m.
  • Spotted Cat: Andy J. Forest 4:00 p.m., Andy J. Forest and St. Louis Slim 6:00 p.m., New Orleans Cottonmouth Kings. Forest is a top blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player who appears in “New Atlantis.” St. Louis Slim plays stylish acoustic blues guitar and the Kings play a lively modernization of traditional New Orleans jazz. 10:00 p.m.
  • Three Muses: Aurora Nealand the Royal Roses. The extraordinarily gifted clarinetist leading her own band. 6:00 p.m.
Leroy Jones and his wife Katja at their home in Treme. Photo by Elsa Hahn. Used by permission of Elsa Hahn.

Tomorrow and Sunday there is a zydeco festival at the Audubon Zoo. This is always a lot of fun and the zoo is great fun in and of itself. Take the St. Charles streetcar and walk through Audubon Park. Louisiana Swamp Fest 10:00 a.m.

Other shows of interest include:

  • d.b.a.: John Boutte. The star of “Treme” and author of its well-known theme song also appears in “New Atlantis.” 8:00 p.m., Recent Grammy winners Rebirth Brass Band 11:00 p.m.
  • I Club (J.W. Marriott): Los Hombres Calientes. 10:00 p.m.
  • Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse: Joe Krown Swing Band 8:00 p.m., Brass-A-Holics 11:59 p.m.
  • Maple Leaf: 101 Runners. Mardi Gras Indian funk. 10:30 p.m.
  • Palm Court Jazz Café: Lionel Ferbos and Palm Court Jazz Band. Ferbos is still going strong at 101 years of age. 8:00 p.m.
  • Spotted Cat: Panorama Jazz Band 6p, Davis Rogan Band. See Sunday listings. 10:00 p.m.
  • Steamboat Natchez: Duke Heitger’s Steamboat Stompers 11:30a & 2:30 p.m., Dukes of Dixieland 6:00 p.m.
John Boutte. Photo by Elsa Hahn. Used by permission of Elsa Hahn.

Top pick tonight is Davis Rogan at Buffa’s Lounge. Rogan is the musician who inspired Steve Zahn’s character Davis McAlary in HBO’s “Treme.” He’ll perform before and after this week’s episode is aired. Don’t miss this. 8:00 & 10:00 p.m.

Other shows of interest include:

  • Audubon Zoo: Louisiana Swamp Fest 10:00 a.m.
  • Funky Pirate: Pfister Sisters 10:00 a.m.
  • House of Blues: Gospel Brunch feat. Electrifying Crown Seekers 10:00 a.m.
  • Kermit’s Speakeasy Restaurant: Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers 6:00 p.m.
  • Mojitos: Kevin Clark and Tom McDermott 11:30 a.m.
  • Palm Court Jazz Café: Mark Braud and Sunday Night Swingsters. Braud is an outstanding trumpet player who often appears at Preservation Hall. 8:00 p.m.

John Swenson is the author of New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans, which won the 2011 JazzTimes Critics Poll “Book of the Year” Award. He has been writing about popular music since 1967. He edited the website jazze.com for Knit Media and has worked as an editor at Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, Circus, Saturday Review, Rock World, and OffBeat magazine, while publishing articles in virtually every American popular-music magazine of note. Among his previous books are biographies of Bill Haley, John Lennon, Simon and Garfunkel, and Stevie Wonder, as well as reference works such as The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. In addition, his writing has won two awards from the Press Club of New Orleans: Best Entertainment Feature in 2007 and Best Critical Review in 2008.

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Image credit: David album promotional image. Used for the purposes of illustration.

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