Galactic brought their raucous brand of New Orleans funk to the El Rey Theatre and we had a friend of the blog, Alex B., review it while D. Lee snapped some pics.
The first time I heard of Trombone Shorty, he was a recurring character on the HBO Series “Treme”. At first I thought he was fictional character, but as I did more research on the music played in the show, I discovered that he was, in fact, a highly acclaimed trumpet and trombone player who grew up a child prodigy from a musical family. I can truly say that a television show helped me delve into New Orleans R&B, Funk, Soul and Jazz. I watched many videos of him perform (like the one immediately below) and I knew that talent like that needed to be seen live. When I heard he was to have a free concert on the Santa Monica Pier, I “penciled” it into my calendar.
I love horn sections. Earth Wind and Fire, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago. They each had amazing horn sections that gave their hit songs an extra something. Every so often, I’ll hear a popular, modern album that utilizes a great horn section, and I think that there’ll be a resurgence or renaissance of that type and style of music, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Dustbowl Revival did a great job warming the crowd up, and when Trombone Shorty took the stage the audience was adequately lubricated for some funky, jazzy goodness and with the first note, the dancing began.
Trombone Shorty and his backing band, Orleans Avenue, wowed the audience with their musical prowess. While his singing was good, it was his work on the trumpet and trombone that truly mesmerized the audience. The highlights of his set, for me at least, was when he showcased his impressive circulatory breathing, holding notes for what seemed to be forever. A partial video clip is in the highlights I posted below, and they are partial because I had to stop filming as I had to watch him hold that note with my own eyes instead of the through the lens of the camera. It was amazing.
He played to the audience’s local leanings by covering snippets of popular Los Angeles hip hop standards by Snoop and Dre and added his own flare to classic jazz standards (snippets of each are included in the video montage below).
Watching Trombone Shorty perform made me long for another trip back to New Orleans. When that trip happens, I’ll make sure it coincides with a Trombone Shorty performance at a New Orleans club.
There’s so much music out there these days that unless by some divine intervention, you may never hear some of the best music that’s ever been recorded. If it weren’t for a bachelor party down in New Orleans, I probably would have never heard of Ernest Kador, Jr. (February 22, 1936 – July 5, 2001), professionally known as Ernie K-Doe.
It’s been a few years so I may fail to remember all of the details, but a close friend of mine decided to have his bachelor party in New Orleans. It was after Hurricane Katrina hit, so the groom-to-be decided to mix in some community service with the bar hopping. We woke up early one morning and took a shuttle down to the Lower Ninth Ward and spent the day painting walls, hammering in floors, throwing out debris, etc. in a temporarily abandoned theater of a local high school. Drenched in our sweat (and a little blood) by day’s end, we really felt like we had done some good for the local community.
Afterwards, the person who facilitated the community service for the day suggested we head to a local spot, in the heart of Treme, called Mother-In-Law Lounge for some traditional New Orleans’ eats. We picked up some crawfish and other local cuisine, and drove up to this small, unassuming “lounge”. We walked into the side yard, and was immediately approached by spritely, enthusiastic, elderly woman with maroon dyed hair. Our guide introduced her as Miss Antoinette.
Miss Antoinette ushered us into her establishment and started to gush about her late husband, Ernie K-Doe. She explained to us that the lounge had been completely destroyed by Katrina, but that the community came together to rebuild the lounge and the city. She explained that the bar was opened by her late husband and was named after his only number one hit song, “Mother-in-Law”, which was written and produced by Allen Toussaint and which is possibly THE biggest hit in the history of New Orleans R&B.
I was so taken by Miss Antoinette’s personality, and probably a little taken by the life-size statue of Ernie in standing near the entrance, that music unheard, I went ahead and bought compilation album of Ernie’s greatest hits. After all, Antoinette said that her late husband was the self-proclaimed “Emperor of the Universe”, so how could I not buy the Emperor of the Universe’s greatest hits? LOL. We ate, and drank, then head back to our hotel rooms to get ready for the evening.
I popped in the CD, and the first song was “Here Come the Girls”, a song that was also written by Allen Toussaint. It was the first time I had ever heard the song, and I was immediately blown away. Why had I never heard this song before? I love a good horn section, and this song has it. Ernie’s vocals were soaked with attitude. And the hook does what it’s supposed to do … and it hooked me in for the rest of the album. This was New Orleans R&B, and I’m glad I found it. The rest of the album is solid, and I’ve posted a few of my favorite songs below:
1. “Here Come The Girls”
2. “Back Street Lover”
3. “Whoever is Thrilling You (Is Killing Me)” [which was also covered by Rufus]
4. “Fly Away With Me”
Miss Antoinette died the following year of a heart attack on Mardi Gras Day at the lounge. The lounge is still open, and hopefully it stays open for years to come. I’ll always have fond memories of the evening we spent with her, and learning about some essential New Orleans music. Thankfully, we still have The Emporer of the Universe’s music.
R.I.P. Ernie K-Doe and Miss Antoinette. You’ve helped write a chapter in my life, and it comes with a soundtrack.