Archive for the ‘NOLA’ Category

Galactic Funks Up The Madrid Theatre

February 7, 2017
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Galactic at the Madrid Theatre, 2/3/17

New Orleans funk powerhouse Galactic recently smashed the Madrid Theatre with their hard-hitting grooves. They are also past interview subjects of mine. The hour and 45 minute set featured songs and covers from throughout the NOLA band’s career. They were joined by trumpeter Shamarr Allen and vocalist Erica Falls. Check out these live videos from their show here in KC.

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McClain and Stanton Moore, drummer for Galactic, 2/3/17

 

 

Royal Teeth “Kids Conspire” “Mais La” and “Wild” Live at the RecordBar

January 23, 2017
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Royal Teeth at the Tank Room, 1/21/17

Past interview subjects Royal Teeth recently lit up the Tank Room with two hours of indie-pop jams. It was the last night of the tour for the New Orleans-based band. They threw down with one of the best sets I’ve seen in a long time. I covered the show for X1051. There are a lot of happy-clappy indie rock bands out there these days, but Royal Teeth bring the heat live. The interplay was tight and the vocals were perfect. The energy and passion in Royal Teeth’s music and live performances is inspiring.

Check out the live version of the new single “Kids Conspire.”

Here’s the classic “Mais La.”

The epic, joyful song “Wild” always gets crowds fired up.

Much love to Royal Teeth for an epic night. Keep on bringing your glorious music to the world and beasting it hardcore!

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Royal Teeth’s Nora Patterson

“Come on out for a special brunch with George Clinton.”

April 29, 2016
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George Clinton (Image via http://www.afropunk.com).

In an attempt to cure some of my annual missing Jazz Fest seasonal affective disorder, I tuned in to New Orleans radio station WWOZ online. It only made things worse.

“Come on out for a special brunch with George Clinton,” a radio spot proclaimed. Brunch with George Clinton would be the funkiest brunch EVER. If you make your brunch with P-Funk, you’re gonna get funked up. “The mimosas were bottomless and I can see through time now. BOW WOW WOW YIPEE YO YIPEE YAY!!!!!!”

My Secret Desire to Become Jazz Fest Dad.

April 26, 2016
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Jazz Fest Dad (Image via Jazz Fest Dad’s Instagram).

Buried deep inside of me is a desire to become Jazz Fest Dad. It is an eventual life goal for me. Their Instagram account is like looking into a living mirror and seeing myself in the future. Often red faced and sunburned, wearing their trademark NOLA shirts, the Jazz Fest Dad is an important subculture of Jazz Fest. Nothing wrong with being a trippy older dude with a large collection of Irma Thomas b-sides. If you’re gonna be a dad, why not be funky dad?

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A Jazz Fest Dad “Cissy Strutting” his way to the Fair Grounds (Image via Jazz Fest Dad’s Instagram).

The Jazz Fest Dad and Jazz Fest Mom lurks within the heart of many a NOLA funk supporter. If someday I end up looking like a discount member of the Radiators, I’m totally fine with that. Money is overrated. However, I just want to make enough money  to do both weekends of Jazz Fest. I’m sure there are worse ways to spend retirement. EH LA BAS! FILÉ GUMBO! FUNKIFY YOUR LIFE!!!

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“When ur a JFD and Trombone Shorty is closing out your life and you die and get to heaven and it’s just more Trombone Shorty.” (Image via Jazz Fest Dad Instagram.

 

 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Should Play “Hollywood (Africa)” at Jazz Fest 2016.

March 24, 2016

According to Setlist.fm, the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Hollywood (Africa)” has only been played live 39 times since 1985. The track is a cover of the Meters’ classic 1974 song “Africa.” The Chili Peppers version was featured on their 1985 album Freaky Styley.

The Chili Peppers have long had a love and appreciation of New Orleans funk. They jammed with the Meters at the 2006 Voodoo Music Experience, on a face melting version of “Handclapping Song.” The funk was insane. They also played “Apache Rose Peacock” live for the first time ever at that NOLA show. How epic would it be to see the Peppers break out their Meters cover at Jazz Fest 2016?

McClain Approved: The Meters “It Ain’t No Use.”

March 10, 2016
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The Meters (image via http://www.kalamu.com)

McClain Approved is a column where I give you the rundown on an artist you need to know and share a track from them.

“I know some people who think that KC and the Sunshine Band is funky and that’s just WRONG,” my friend said with disdain. It’s true. Once you have seen the glory of real funk, it is a complete game changer. A lot of people are funk deficient and they don’t even realize it. I consider myself a funk evangelist. Seeing something raw and real can forever change your outlook.

Tapping into New Orleans and NOLA funk helped me transcend my squareness. NOLA reshaped and upgraded my personal understanding of funk. Funk itself can be hard to define, because there are so many subtleties and varieties. However, for me, it is all about the groove. I call bad funk “flaccid, sad trombone funk.” WAHHHH WAHHHHHH. This is unacceptable. A person can become a funk snob, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s like learning to speak a whole new language. New Orleans expands your idea of what funk can be and how funky things can become. We have seen shows were the funk goes beyond reality and into a whole different level. Once you know, you know. It is like a funk enlightenment. There is no going back.

You might ask, “McClain, who is the funkiest band to ever come from NOLA?” It’s the Meters, of course. The Meters helped to invent funk. They took second line rhythms and R&B grooves and injected them with their own brand of real, organic funk. Their loose but tight sound could only come from NOLA. The Meters were formed in 1966, in New Orleans. The members of the Meters are keyboardist Art Neville, bassist George Porter Jr., drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, and guitarist Leo Nocentelli. Percussionist/vocalist Cyril Neville joined the group in 1970. I have been fortunate to have interviewed several members of the Meters over the years. They are gracious, passionate about music and truly tapped into another way of thinking. Their musical innovation and positive mindset are inspiring. Even today, the members of the Meters are still pushing funk forward. The group disbanded in 1977, but have reunited several times since. They are playing a night show at the Orpheum Theater, in New Orleans, during Jazz Fest 2016. The Meters are beloved by many musicians, but seem overlooked by a lot of music fans.

The Meters have a song that serves as a mission statement for me, “Funkify Your Life.” The lyrics almost act as a manifesto, “Fukify your life, get on down. You can be the funkiest in town.” I mean, why the hell wouldn’t you want to be the funkiest in town? When you sit down and think about it, being funkier is the only sensible option. Be better, be more, funkify your life!

I wanted to share a deeper Meters cut with you. This 1975 live version of “It Ain’t No Use” was recorded on the Queen Mary. The band’s interplay is really on point here. George and Zigaboo take the funk into new realms on this version. THEY GET DOWN! Once you learn about the Meters, your life will forever be funkified.

Past Interview Subject Quintron Featured in Popular Science.

February 25, 2016
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Quintron (image via Consequence of Sound)

I was thrilled to see past interview subject Quintron featured in a recent article in Popular Science. The article focuses on his creation of the Weather Warlock, a synthesizer controlled by the weather.

Quintron is someone that is truly ahead of his time. He puts out raucous  music with his puppeteer partner-in-crime, Miss Pussycat. It’s fascinating to see how Quintron uses his inventions to enhance and inspire his music. I also love that he respects and was influenced by so many classic NOLA musicians, even as he forges in the future. When I interviewed him in 2011, Quintron told me a story about New Orleans R&B legend Ernie K-Doe, “K-Doe was the Sun Ra of New Orleans RnB. He was my mentor…him and Antoinette. Best thing he ever said was during this one rehearsal the drummer stopped…and he looks over at her and asked why she stopped. “I made a mistake,” she says. Then Ernie looks at everyone and goes, “THERE ARE NO MISTAKES IN MUSIC!! NOW PLAY!!!!” He was the absolute best. I don’t think he sang a false note in any recording he ever made either. God he was the best. Him and Johnny Adams had such amazing voices! Where are those guys now?”

The quality and the wonderful strangeness of his music is on a whole different level. A lot of people try too hard to be quirky, Quintron is real. Maybe one day we will catch up to him, but probably not.

Here’s a video an early prototype for the Weather Warlock, the Singing House:

 

An Epic Playlist of New Orleans Indie Rock.

February 24, 2016
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Andrew Hartsock, Big Rock Candy Mountain (January 15, 2010)

I recently started digging back through some of my favorite playlists on Spotify. A college friend of mine, Chicago-based pianist Lucy Gossett, has crafted an excellent New Orleans Indie Music playlist. The playlist features over 200 songs and dives deep into the world of NOLA indie music. It features EPs and full albums. Gossett knows her NOLA indie rock. She was the keyboardist for New Orleans-based indie rock band the City Life. She is also a solo artist and a very soulful vocalist. I keep telling her she needs to record her own EP.

NOLA indie shows are often rowdy, sweaty dance parties. Before I moved to NOLA for college, I didn’t really see people dance at indie shows. In Kansas City, you’d go see the Strokes and the crowd would be too hip to move. People would be staring at their feet, trying hard to look unimpressed. At shows in NOLA, these dance pits would open up and people would get down. Regardless of genre or musical style, NOLA bands have to be able to smash it live. You have to bring the heat. This epic playlist showcases the wide range and music diversity of the NOLA indie music scene.

Here’s one of my favorite NOLA indie tracks, “Rocketship,” by Big Rock Candy Mountain. They really put the ROCK in indie rock with this song.

 

McClain Approved: Blair “Wolfboy.”

February 24, 2016
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Blair (image via pastemagazine.com)

McClain Approved is a column where I give you the rundown on an artist you need to know and share a track from them.

Blair is an artist that is a compelling songwriter and a glorious vocalist. I know her from my time in New Orleans. She is my favorite indie artist to have come out of NOLA. I first saw her live on my 18th birthday. Several years ago, she walked out of SXSW with a record deal from prestigious indie label Autumn Tone. The New Orleans-born musician is currently based in Massachusetts. She is also a member of Future of What and Maxi’s World. I’m throwing it back to a older Blair song. Here is an early version of “Wolfboy.” Everything just meshes together so well on this track.

Here is a bonus track. I also love this trippy ballad about NOLA dive bar the Half Moon:

 

Past Interview Subject Jon Cleary Wins a Grammy.

February 16, 2016
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Jon Cleary (image via Zimbio.com)

Congratulations to past interview subject Jon Cleary on his Grammy win for Best Regional Roots Music album. The NOLA-based pianist is one of the funkiest players out there. Here is my interview with Jon from 2010.

For more of my audio interview with New Orleans artists, check out my podcast, New Orleans Voices.

 


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