Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October 2013 gigs

121. Treme Brass Band, DBA's Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, 1/10/2013.
On stage, it seems that Treme brass band are just phoning it in. It's slack and loose and they look like they just don't care, but every once in a while something magical happens, they tighten up and seem excited by the music they're playing, and they're the best band in the world...  and that says a lot, for someone who does not ordinarily care for a brass band.
Treme Brass Band


122. Irma Thomas and the Professionals, Second Harvest  Lafayette Square 2/10/2013
Irma’s got a 7 piece brilliant band and we get to witness their talents for the first few songs of the set, including solos from all band members. Then they introduce Irma… She starts singing the song off stage, and arrives on stage mid song accompanied by her husband? Or at least a tall guy. Using an Ipad to help with lyrics, she tells us she’s been singing for 54 years so she can’t remember all the songs. But they start the set with new songs, including one called ‘For the rest of my life’ written by the keyboard player. They reprise that song, when a man proposes to his girlfriend on stage. Irma says “I've been married almost 40 years. It's alright!”
Onstage Marriage Proposal that Irma accomodated..

Then she takes requests including ‘You can have my husband but please don't mess with my man’, ‘Hipshakin’ Mama’, ‘At Last’, ‘It’s Rainin’, ‘Breakaway’, ‘Pain in My Heart’ and many more. Irma’s voice is flawless.  And she also told us how a second line works; the celebration of anything, then she taught the audience how to participate in it: stick butt out, wave your hand in the air, hold onto some kind of object, and then went into a Belafonte number.  Educational, entertaining and free. This was all for a charity event to feed the people of Louisana. Although the Poboys are huge here, apparently this state has the second highest poverty rate in the USA. This gig was brilliantly organised, and I left thinking is this the most magical place in the world? On the way home, we passed a brass band full of young people playing to the locals and the tourists.

The crowd at Lafayette Square whilst Irma plays
123. The Bills, The Melters, Nick Name and the Valmonts, Chuckleberries, Siberia New Orleans, 3/10/2013 
I believe The Bills and Nick Name and the Valmonts were the same band, configured slightly differently playing a brand of high powered garage with a heavier edge. In their first set they did all covers and wore Hawaiian shirts. In their second, I think it was originals, and the lead singer changed over to bass.
The Melters from Baton Rouge seemed to be inspired by Nirvana, but seemingly happier to play in poppier modes.  None of this really grabbed me, but who knows? They could be the heroes of tomorrow.

The Melters move fast

Chuckleberries are fun but mean business when it comes to playing

their setlist. The full beer is later knocked over in the fun.

Actually the full beer is knocked over by Dave the Spazz [WFMU] who was asked to sing on stage

But the real stars of tonight, proved to be San Francisco's The Chuckleberries who put a smile on everyone's face, with their fun approach to pop and 60's garage. To be fair, they were working with some of the best songs, being a cover band with a lot of taste. They weren't afraid to go Bubblegum, in fact they embraced it. All players had mics and sang with what can only be described as gusto. And vocals were harmonised. Then each player in the band, really gave everything, brilliant musicality, and a clear vision of what they wanted to sound like. There was a singer who was also a percussionist, an awesome drummer [ex-Mummies], a brilliant guitarist who absolutely tore it up, and sang some deep bass notes,  and a bassist with a Danelectro. This band had the whole house dancing with joy, which was no easy feat, but they were so infectiously joyful to witness a band who delivered so effectively on the musicality and the fun.

124. Richard Caiton, Charles Brimmer, Swamp Dogg, Baby Washington, Maxine Brown, Chris Clark, The Sonics,  James Alexander, Lynn August, Ponderosa Stomp, Rock'n'Bowl 4/10,2013
Caiton charms
 Richard Caiton sings with smooth soul tones. I catch the last 2 songs that have backing vocals Fromm Shades of Praise from Loyola University and the backing band is Lil' Buck and the Topcats. Caiton finishes his set with When the Saints go Marching In, getting the crowd in the festive mood.




Charles Brimmer has not performed live since 1977 because he thought nobody cared about his talent. Described as a deep soul singer from the 9th ward, he arrives on stage wearing his Sunday best, and asking if evervbody is feeling alright! He sings the song 'Afflicted' and draws everything out, and the crowd responds accordingly. Later he gets funky and demands audience participation, and later on he thanks his God and finishes his set with a song he did when he was 15, which he also dedicates to his wife wife Andrea of 46 years. It's a Gospel song, and Charles give a very moving performance. Charles Brimmer: what a great singer.
Jerry Williams Jr AKA Swamp Dogg loosens things up

Swamp Dogg has a keyboard player named Moonstar on keyboards wearing a monkey on his back. The crowd loves Swamp Dogg, but he's better known as a songwriter and producer. But he does his own songs including 'Total Destruction of your Mind', 'Synthetic World ', 'I'm the Loverman'- to which he jokes that no-one could believe that he is a lover man.  I've never heard of this guy but what his set tells me is that his songs that tell a story.  Swamp Dogg gives the crowd a big ending, with a walk through.  He is very likeable to the extent it would be worth looking up his material.

Baby Washington

Baby Washington now has a sultry, husky voice, and comparatively, seems  shy and modest on stage. Performing songs such as 'Nobody knows Nobody Cares', 'A Handful of Memories', 'The Bells [on our wedding day]', Leave Me Alone', 'Only Those in Love', 'That's How Heartaches are Made', and her signature song: 'Time'. Baby Washington is extra interesting because not only she was a singer, she was a songwriter, from the south, moved to New York, learned to sing in the church.

Maxine Brown brings the house down
On the face of it, her story is not dissimilar to Maxine Brown who bursts onto the stage. She's from South Carolina, who went to New York. Opening her set with 'Hold on I'm Comin'. The crowd goes wild as she sings 'Funny', 'It's Gonna be Alright' and also for her first song she ever wrote: 'All in my Mind', Piece of my Heart'. My heart melt when she sang 'Not my Baby' a Carol King song that she reworked.

Chris Clarke, more popular in England than the US
Chris Clarke was termed the white negress in England, but never really made it bit despite being on Motown. Blue eyed soul, and she had some great songs. Tonight she performed 'Take me in your Arms', 'From Head to Toe', 'Loves Gone Bad', 'I Wanna Get Back there Again', and does Northern Soul favourite by Frank Wilson, 'Do I Love You'. Finally Chris ends with a Gospel stomp, and it's yet another good set.

The Sonics


Ponderosa Stomp

Next up it's crowd favourites The Sonics who've apparently never played New Orleans. Despite some guitar issues they power through their set that the crowd laps up. Here's a list of some of the songs: 'Cinderella', 'Money', 'Shot Down', 'Have Love Will Travel', 'Keep A Knockin', 'Boss Hoss', 'Look at Little Sister', 'Louie Louie', 'Psycho', 'I Don't Need No Doctor', 'Strychnine', 'The Witch' and 'Lucille'. The set included two new songs of an album they finished recording 2 weeks ago with Jim Diamond.  It seemed that life goals were met tonight by the Sonics playing tonight and shortly after their set, the crowd left.

Sonny Green was scheduled to play but this was cancelled.
James Alexander breaks hearts with his vocal abilities
Leaving a small crowd for James Alexander, who seemed to be shy or unsure of what's going on. However he was a great singer with a but a golden voice, who could hold it back or give it everything. Brilliant stuff.

Lynn August rounds out the evening
The final act of the evening was Lynn August, a person who I thought was going to be a woman but no, it's a man with dark sunglasses who as it turns out is blind, aided by what seemed to be a helper, but who is actually playing washboard vest. It turns out Lynn got his start as drummer with Esquerita, but has spent part of his life playing Zydeco music, which was a great way to end night 1 of Ponderosa Stomp at the Rock and Bowl in New Orleans.

125. Spencer Wiggins, Boogaloo, Gaunga Dyns, Charlie Gracie, Chris Montez, The Standells with Johnny Echols, The Sloths with Ty Wagner, Eddie Daniels, Ponderosa Stomp, Rock'n'Bowl 5/10,2013

Spencer Wiggins is a Memphis deep soul singer who can roar with deep rich tones, posesses mammoth vocal strength and also the ability to sing falsetto when required. It's not vocal perfection but there's grit and character and makes for a moving performance. And he plays the audience, drawing out the performance  repeatedly....downright uptight ... Good woman. Wiggins impresses with his styles: Slow soul,  50's slow dance  and blues.

Boogaloo Harris hasn't played his songs for many years, so whilst he may have been disappointed in the outcome, especially as the songwriter, the audience wasn't. Boogaloo did what many in the audience hungered for: R & B Good time party music, and also some jump. Boogaloo's backing band tonight were New Orleans locals, The Special Men, a band that looked like thugs and petty criminals.

As 60's New Orleans favourites, Gaunga Dyns were asked to play Ponderosa Stomp years back but they couldn't find the lead singer despite intensive searching. Then one day perchance, he walked into the bar that guitarist was playing in. It turned out they lived nearby, and they rehearsed for the Stomp and got back together, since they hadn't played in over 40 years.   Their brand of garage rock is that slow groove. Lead singer has great tambourine skills as well as a deep velvety voice that works great with those alluring melodies. There's multi vocalist backing including harmonies. In short, it's that sound of teen garage with bubblegum elements and that's right up my alley.

Charlie Gracie is a rockabilly from a poor Sicilian family from Philadelphia. When he was 10 years old his dad bought him a guitar instead of a suit and so began his music making. We were told after seeking royalties, he sued a record company, and was told he'd never work in this business again! One of his favourites was Eddie Cochrane, to whom he played a tribute to. Gracie had a number 1 hit with Butterfly which he performed and incidently knocked out Elvis from number 1. Gracie also played a tribute to Louis Prima and told us how he had more hits in England than the US. Still great at guitar, he told gags,  was a story teller and a fine musical artist, and for I thought he was a first class entertainer.

Chris Montez is an artist who's had several incarnations, so like many artists playing Ponderosa Stomp, it must be hard to stick to the brief when you feel like you outgrew this period you've been asked to perform. But Montez absolutely nails the brief. It was fun teen pop, and  40 years since done this material that included pop, ballad & surf. Songs included Same Kinda Fun, Monkey Fever, Chiquita Mia, I ran, You're The One, Shout that Curl, Rocking Blues.  Between songs he told stories about himself and his Mexican background: a thoroughly interesting character. His band were great too with some dueling guitar action Let's dance was played twice. Once in the actual set. The other in the encore with Cyril Jordan on transparent guitar. Tonight, Montez won hearts and minds.

The Standells looks like it could be bad, but it had elements of good and bad. There was a great kooky organ sound.  I think the major problem is that the crowd were hoping for that 60's Sunset strip sound. I'm sure the guitarist was a great guy, but from this perspective, it appeared that the hair metal guitar minus Spandex and big hairspray was dominating the sound...  But It looks like the guys were having fun.  Good Guys Don't Wear White was repeated, as the encore featured Cyril Jordan. Later on Johnny Echols[Love] joined them on stage but it could not offset the mismatch of styles: I was told this has to do with the eras of the Sunset Strip. But it's all about the fun right?

The Sloths - similar situation here- there's 2 camps of music in the one band: 60's garage rock and stadium lead singer with cheesy props. Some originals, many covers, and by the end the wheels were falling off which is exactly what u expect when you re-form a band many years after the music. Just when you thought the theatrics couldn't get more silly, they do, big clock, ripped T-shirt, fake blood, fake knife, cliche poses, silhouettes, singing to the girl, etc. It takes great organisational skills to pack all that, so kudos to the lead singer for being well prepared. The issue here was that The Ponderosa Stomp crowd want to hear a certain sound because they love the time and the music, and the musician had outgrown that, and wanted to offer them something they thought the crowd wanted.

Then something magnificent happened. 68 year old reluctant rocker Ty Wagner comes on stage, with his belt worn to the side like his idol Eddie Cochrane, does about 3 songs, Restores all that good and right about rock with his outsider attitude, playing because he loves the  music and because he has to. He plays a Eddie Cochrane song, 'C'mon Everybody', his 1962 song 'I'm a No Count', a song he says he wrote because he was denigrated due to his long hair. And he performed 'Misery Train' recorded but never released. Ty Wagner gets it. Less is more, and he is indeed the dark mysterious underdog of the night, and leaves the crowd wanting more.

Eddie Daniels is the last act of Ponderosa Stomp, and dressed in red, he is a 70 something year old flamboyantly dressed, bejewelled rocker. The backing band featuring an all star cast including Deke Dickerson returns and they play songs back to back. Some include 'Hurry baby',  'Opportunity', and a song he wrote for Eddie Cochrane. Daniels hitches up his pants, then hobbles off stage, but returns for an encore of 'Lucille', which he plays at piano, and finishes up with a final encore of a Ray Charles cover. Daniels mentioned that although Charles was blind, he used to cheat at dominoes. Daniels then said he cried like a baby when Charles died. Eddie Daniels was a great performer who knew how to work it, again lasting proof, if doesn't matter what age you are, if you've got it, you've just got it.

126. John Paul Keith, Guitar Lightnin' Lee, Siberia 6/10/2013

John Paul Keith is a Memphis singer songwriter playing in 3 piece alt country and rock and pop act that pays  homage to the forefathers of rock and roll. Every song has a lead break.

Guitar Lightning Lee is a local favourite, dubbed "The Prince of New Orleans". Dressed as a cowboy, playing good time front  bar 12 bar  blues. He might not sing into the mic, but he's the perfect final act for the post goner post ponderosa come down.

127. The Spastiks, Nicholas Horner, Otto's Shrunken  Head, 9/10/2013
Otto's is hosting a Rocky Horror night, featuring a rockabilly band specially dressed up in some great pre-Halloween gear to fit the bill. The singer has some great Charlie Feathers hollers.

128. Dream Affair, Nothing Changes,  9/10/2013
In some underground new wave goth esque club, we go to Nothing Changes to see Canadian electro duo Dream Affair. The place is full of New York Coolsies and smoke from the smoke machine. 
129. Ooga Boogas & School of Radiant Living, Goodtime Studios 18/10/2013
I didn't catch Ooga Boogas but I did hear them and loved the sounds. The School of Radiant Living are just about one of the coolest bands I know and I like their tunes  that move from the dark Nico-esque drone to through to indie pop with shades of guitars.

130. King Gizzard and Wizard Lizard, Corner 19/10/2013
King Gizzard won $50,000 from CUB and this was an album launch.

131. Melbourne Cans, Ciggie Witch, Chook Race, Pencil, Beef Jerk, Tote upstairs, 20/10/2013
Melbourne Cans a vocal pop group with some good harmonies. Ciggie Witch have the classically indie pop sound I love with loads of intricacies thanks to the slide guitar. Chook Race had some new songs and were quite brilliant. Pencil was highly likable too. Beef Jerk were more of a straight pop rock group from Sydney. This was one really strong indie pop line up.

132. Breadmakers, LuWow 26/10/2013

133. Jordan C Thomas band, El Vez, LuWOW 31/10/2013
What a way to end what was literally a kind of Rocktober with El Vez- hilarious, entertaining, musical, political and camp. Sounds like some people's version of hell. I loved it. Here is my collection of El Vez photos I'd like to share with you.

costume change time

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