WE’RE GONNA GROOVE TONIGHT: NOLA Jazz Fest Remains The Spice of Life [B.Getz on L4LM]

Bayou By Bus, Thurs 4/25. photo: Michael Weintrob


originally published on Live For Live Music

What jazz is man, it’s the foundation. It’s the culmination of all kinds of different people, struggles, food, and everyone’s journey coming together and creating something different. It really is American history. American history is a pot of gumbo that makes something delicious, and it’s no different than hip-hop — something that came out of the necessity to make something different.” —Anderson .Paak, 2024.


photo: Upful Life


For 20 years since the turn of the millennium, I’ve been fortunate to immerse myself in the most historic—and vibrant—musical mecca in the country, an amateur musicologist embedded in her bountiful bosom. I’ve never stuck with anything in my life with the same passion, dedication, longevity, and consistency as I do the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Drinking down the very best of Crescent City culture and the myriad of magic she’s inspired; rinse repeat, two decades deep.

It’s no big secret that this decorated event—and the associated cottage industry of afterparties—is the granddaddy of ‘em all. Ground zero, where it all began over a half-century ago. By day, a gold-standard music festival and decadent carnival of cuisine, mutating into a gluttony of nocturnal nightclub transmissions. Doin’ it big down at the Jazz Fest is truly a tradition like none other. The last weekend of April and the first in May, plus all the sunbaked days and disco nights between, a great adventure that—like another famous American pastime—happens every spring.

For 18 straight blessed journeys to the Big Easy, I have published detailed reflections of my experiences, a gregarious gumbo of the epicurean, served with gusto in neo-Gonzo style. A blog that began as an angle for tickets has over time evolved into something of a sworn duty, and by proxy an annual point of personal pride. What follows here is another passionate wrap-up that ambitiously casts a pretty damn wide net. Local, national, global: past, present, and current futures alike.

To commemorate 20 years of Jazz Festin’, your humble narrator initially dreamt up a 20-for-20 format for this review. Like anything remotely related to New Orleans, things kinda got away from me, exponentially. Par for the course in The City That Care Forgot. This diary of a madman represents roughly one-third of the music I checked out across ten jam-packed days and nights during Jazz Fest 2024. Dear reader, do understand you need not consume this comprehensive coverage in merely one fell swoop; that said, please enjoy my best stab at running the voodoo down. –bg

Rest in Beats, Nick Daniels III
photo: Michael Weintrob

There is no other way to embark on weaving the story of Jazz Fest 2024, I must begin with the tragic passing of Nick Daniels III: bassist/co-founder of Dumpstaphunk, longtime member of The Neville Brothers, backbone and namesake of Jazz Fest all-star squad Dr. Klaw. In recent weeks, word had spread among friends and fellow funkateers Nick had quickly become gravely ill; still, safe to say nobody was prepared for this heartbreaking news that arrived first Friday of Fest.

Dumpstaphunk had a full slate of shows scheduled, plus dozens more solo endeavors dotting the town, yet Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, Ian Neville, Deven Trusclair, Alex Wasily, Ashlin Parker, and John Michael Bradford admirably and honorably did their brother Daniels proud and proper. A series of sensational sets: Festival Stage at the Fair Grounds (opening up for the Rolling Stones), supporting Cory Wong (where they solemnly announced Nick’s transition from the stage), and their customary Tipitina’s throwdown to shut down Sacred Sunday. During Jazz Fest performances, Dumpsta was ably assisted by guitarist Ari Teitel and vocalist Viv Hawkins, who were called up to duty and more than delivered. However, nobody will be able to fill the humongous shoes or replace the loving spirit of the late, great Nick Daniels III. For many artists and fans who participate in Jazz Fest every year, this entire two weeks was colored by losing Nick so suddenly, and the entirety of our festivities were dedicated to this man, his music, memories, and legacy.


Bayou By Bus [The Nth Power, The Neville Family, Stephen Marley, Jimmy Herring, The Levee Horns] – Thurs – 4/25 – Civic Theater

A historical, emotional sojourn through the annals of Jamaican reggae, delivered in celebratory Crescent City style. For Bayou By Bus, The Nth Power fielded a typically magnificent band, featuring/fronted by the royal family of New Orleans, The Nevilles (Cyril, Ivan, Ian), and Stephen “Raggamuffin” Marley (son of Nesta himself). Members of Stephen’s team joined them: Ranoy Gordon (guitar) and Llamar “Riff Raff” Brown (keyboards), The Levee Horns: Bonearama’s Mark Mullins (trombone), Alonzo Bowens (sax), Dumpstaphunk’s John Michael Bradford (trumpet), plus Widespread Panic lead axeman Jimmy Herring for good measure. Unbeknownst to many in the Civic Theater, as the band took the stage, the great Nick Daniels III’s life was hanging in the balance. In spite of this inherent heaviness, the troupe more than rose to the occasion, digging deep into the connectivity between Kingston ghettos and New Orleans streets, summoning some kind of strength and determination to emote from a place of deep pain and (forthcoming) loss.

From opening couplet “Wake Up & Live > Iron Lion Zion”, right into Wild Tchoupitoulas’ “Meet De Boys”, this was glorious from start to finish. The Uptown Ruler (Cyril) and Young Scrape (Ivan) demonstratively drove the bus through filial traditions for the lion’s share of the show. When Ragga joined in the festivities for the final half-hour, the whole joint rejoiced and reacted. Nth’s peerless ensemble powered through thrilling renditions of “Jammin”, Stephen’s own “Iron Bars” (arguably the show highlight), rollicking “Exodus”, and hushed “Redemption Song”, among others in the canonical Nesta songbook.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Funk It Blog (@funkitblog)


Weedie Braimah & The Hands of Time – Midnight Preserves – Fri – 4/26 – Preservation Hall

Though this was my 20th jaunt down to the Jazz Fest since 2000, not until this year did I finally manifest an opportunity to attend Midnight Preserves at Preservation Hall. This late-night concert series at the famed French Quarter venue is nearly two-decades deep, dedicated to (and proceeds benefiting) initiatives focused on the preservation and education of sacred musical/cultural traditions. Nightly performers are kept secret, and fans do not know who’s playing until they take the hallowed Pres Hall stage. Lucky for us, Weedie Braimah & the Hands of Time were booked first Friday, and we were fortunate to get an invitation from friends in the band.

A descendant of an extensive lineage of Ghanaian drummers, Braimah has evolved into a quintessential teacher and preserver of African musical and folkloric traditions. He uses that genetic code as a solid foundation for his future fusion of Black American Music (BAM) and the Motherland. At Midnight Preserves, the vibe was thick and ephemeral; for just under one hour, the djembefola led his otherworldly troupe through an intergenerational, intercontinental expedition of ancestral rhythms. Scintillating instrumentation and storytelling spotlighted the intersectionality between African and New Orleans cultures. The ancient rhythms, chants, and Weedie’s wife Talise Campbell’s ceremonial dancing—juxtaposed with Pres Hall’s incomparable Crescent City antiquity—made for a supernatural experience. Spiritual, historical, emotional, inspirational. And without question, unforgettable—in every way.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)


The Headhunters – Thurs – 4/25 – Jazz & Heritage Stage

The Headhunters 50th Anniversary Bembé – Sat – 4/27 – Music Box Village

Jazz icon Herbie Hancock may have founded the Headhunters with the shape-shifting eponymous debut LP half a century ago, but percussionist Bill Summers (a NOLA local for many years) and drummer Mike Clark (who joined the band for ‘74 follow-up Thrust) have continued to propagate a fusion-funk legacy in the decades since. During Jazz Fest 2024, the Headhunters celebrated their golden anniversary across town, including a sizzling session at the Fairgrounds’ Jazz & Heritage Stage that welcomed longtime collaborator Big Chief Donald Harrison on sax and local keyboardist Kyle Roussell.

Early on Saturday evening, The Headhunters crew collected a few friends to take over the mind-boggling confines of Music Box Village for an all-encompassing all-star Bembé (from the Yoruba faith of Nigeria, a party for the Orishas who are an intermediary between humans and higher powers). A sizable crowd squeezed together between various assembled performers and the large art installations (a.k.a. musical houses) that dot the anachronistic venue, making Music Box a veritable unicorn in the live music space.

The expanded Headhunters band tore into marathon runs of Herbie funk interspersed with accouterments native to New Orleans swing, Second Line, and syncopated swamp-boogie. Collaborators included renowned NOLA bass-god Chris Severin (who admirably stepped in for late co-founder Paul Jackson), keyboardist Wil Blades (a student of Dr. Lonnie Smith), and special guest turns from local faves Davell Crawford (vocals) and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore. Weekend one Headhunter faves include a joyride through the martial art of “Actual Proof”, the delicate dream state of “Butterfly”, the latter-era “Rocking at the Mole House”, and Herbie head-nods to “Watermelon Man” complete with Bill Summers’ trademark beer bottle whistle trick to boot.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)


Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals – Expedia Global Jam – Fri – 4/26 – Joy Theater

Festival Stage – Jazz Fest Fair Grounds – Sun – 4/28

Plus sit-ins with Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, Eddie Roberts.

Taking a deep dive into the Crescent City culture during Jazz Fest, drummer/vocalist/emcee/wunderkind Anderson .Paak was omnipresent around the clock, boppin’ all over town during Fest’s first weekend. He started by slipping onstage at Eddie Roberts‘ Birthday Jam Thursday and burning the Blue Nile down on drums. Then he appeared seemingly everywhere, tearing the clubs up like triple six: behind the kit, on the mic, in the crowd, the city streets, restaurants, and private shindigs too. Mostly thanks to Maurice “Mobetta” Brown (trumpet), a Chicago-bred cat and beloved Jazz Fest after-dark veteran of 15 years, and prominent member of .Paak’s backing band Free Nationals. As Brown escorted the Silk Sonic superstar from show to show, Mobetta played multiple roles, partner in crime, host with the most, and tour guide with the high vibes. The dynamic duo could be found at Maurice’s various late-night jams, popping up onstage at d.b.a., hangin’ at the Rabbit Hole, and then getting busy with Mobetta once again at the recently-reconstituted Dew Drop Inn.

Eddie Roberts Birthday Bash feat. Anderson .Paak — Blue Nile — Thurs — 4/25
[Video: FunkItBlog]

Both headline sets from Anderson .Paak & Free Nationals (a packed, invite-only Expedia Global Jam on Friday at Joy Theater, and lightly-attended Festival Stage at the Fair Grounds to close out first Sunday) offered sensational—if markedly similar—performances. As has become custom, Mobetta kicked off festivities with trumpet quotes from “Hotline Bling” and “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” as he serenaded the full band onto the stage. Eventually, the master of ceremonies took control and proceeded to seduce and electrify with a typhoon of talent and truckloads of effortless swagger.

Cuts from his titanic 2015 LP Malibu hit the hardest, opener “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance”, along with “Put Me Thru”, panty-dropper “Am I Wrong”, and the dopamine blast “Come Down”. A trunk-rattling run through early-era nuke “Milk & Honey”, and more recent hits like “Tints”, “King James”, and “Come Home”. .Paak welcomed guest duo GAWD (who also provided backing vocals throughout the sets) for Vanity 6’s “NASTY”, as well as emcee Rae Khalil (“Is It Worth It?”), and joined by Tarriona “Tank” Bell (Tank & the Bangas) for a duet on her track “Black Folk”. By the time Monday morning rolled around, it was pretty obvious that the man they used to call Breezy Lovejoy had made his mark on the Big Easy.

Anderson .Paak & Free Nationals — Expedia Global Jam — Joy Theater — 4/26

[Video: FunkItBlog]


Current Future [Robert Walter, Eddie Roberts, Stanton Moore, Cochemea Gastellum, Chris Stillwell] – Sun – 4/28 – Cafe Istanbul

After so many years surrounded by these same sensational players, some sessions just have an inherently old-school feel, even if it is indeed their first time playing together in this particular combo. Such was the case early Sunday evening in the cozy confines of Cafe Istanbul, where a quintet of seasoned veterans coalesced in crucial fashion. This set was highlighted by the celebrated return of Cochemea Gastellum (saxophones, flute) to the Jazz Fest scene after several years away. A foil in Robert Walter’s 20th Congress (and later a key cog in Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and associated Daptone universe), Cheme saddled up to his once and former homies—now cheekily-dubbed Current Futures—and laced the joint with familiar flair. Standouts included Freddie Hubbard classic “Straight Life”, Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s “Who Took the Happiness Out”, and RW20 seminal fave “Don’t Chin the Dog”. The latter saw Gastellum really cut loose with ethereal flute runs, complimented by Walter’s wild Rhodes dialog and Moore’s patented lyrical syncopations.

Current Futures — Cafe Istanbul — 4/28

[Video: FunkItBlog]


The Funk Sessions [Stanton Moore, Skerik, Wil Blades, Nels Cline] – Late-Night Sat – 4/27 – Toulouse Theatre

In various band formats, drummer Stanton Moore and sax shaman Skerik have been gettin’ all kooked out down at the Jazz Fest for a quarter-century plus. From embryonic Garage a Trois sets through the ever-bizarre Megalomaniacs Balls, and more recently, Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz, these two prolific players have long fed off one another’s childlike enthusiasm and reckless abandon. Organist Wil Blades presents as quite the opposite, the cat is cool, calm, collected, and (relatively) all-business at all times; though an equally gifted musician in his own right with a rich history collaborating with Skerik too.

Late night Saturday at Toulouse Theatre, it would be Wilco guitarist extraordinaire Nels Cline who proved the proverbial wildcard. The six-string wizard is somewhat new to this French Quarter corner of our wacky musical universe. The outlier brought multi-hued textures, adventurous harmonics, and terrific tones to the sizzling sonic potions, adding a decidedly different vocabulary to propulsive jams that bled profusely into the dark of night. The fellas frolicked quite a bit of territory over the course of a couple hours: originals from Wil Blades (“Wall Town”, “Hambela”), Cline (“Imperfect 10”), Skerik (a late set, rabble-rousing “Serpico Waltz”), plus covers of rare-groove organ maestros Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jack McDuff, and Larry Young. A soaring take of Jeff Beck’s mid-70’s classic “Beck’s Bolero” briefly explored the outer realms of our consciousness, before one last scraping of the frontal lobe to land this spacecraft well after four in the morning.

The Funk Sessions — “Beck’s Bolero” (Jeff Beck) — Toulouse Theatre — 4/29

[Video: FunkItBlog]


Pat Casey Presents: Get It How Ya Livin’ [Adam Deitch, Joe Ashlar, Khris Royal] – Late-Night Mon – 4/29 – d.b.a.

Virtuoso bassist Pat Casey hails from Denver, CO but has made NOLA his home for over 15 years. Monday night late at d.b.a., Casey brought together a pair of regular collaborators in Joe Ashlar (keys) and Khris Royal (sax), and for the very first time imported drummer Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Break Science) to complete a quartet he dubbed Pat Casey Presents: Get It How Ya Livin’. The results were nothing short of staggering, this obscene conglomerate embarked on over 100 minutes of electrifying improvisational excursions unleashed at warp speed; frenetic fusion-rinsed forays into the elastic ether, whilst careening to and from the frayed ends of total insanity. Most of the material performed came from host/bandleader Casey’s hand, however, each co-conspirator brought one cut to the party: Royal offered the walloping synth-funk of “Foley” and Deitch proffered his Dilla-fied, future-tech arrangement of Herbie’s “Actual Proof”. Joe Ashlar uncorked the greasy “I’m Not A Doctor, But…” that showcased what we all diagnosed to be a very sick band.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Funk It Blog (@funkitblog)


Lettuce feat/ John Scofield – Daze Between New Orleans – Tues – 4/30 – Faubourg Brewery

RAGE! Fest – Fri – 5/3 – Joy Theater

Future-funk voyagers Lettuce consider the Crescent City their home away from home and would bless NOLA with two engagements in 2024; beginning by headlining Tuesday’s Daze Between Fest, effectively enhanced by mentor/sensei John Scofield. Hot off their collaboration at SFJAZZ just a couple days earlier, Sco hopped on the runaway LETT freight train, sizzling atop the razor-sharp Lettucefunk grooves.

Selections were poignant and right on time, like when The Dramatics‘ “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” effortlessly segued into The Meters‘ “The Hand Clapping Song”. Saxophonist Cochemea Gastellum, who’d wowed fans with Krasno/Moore Project a few minutes earlier, took the big stage with Sco and the gang for an inspired romp through the 2012 rarity “Pep-N-Step”. Scofield originals like “Filibuster”, “Every Night Is Ladies Night”, “Pick Hits”, and the drum-n-bass drenched “Jungle Fiction” were thoroughly rinsed, recalling a young Adam Deitch’s Uberjam days working behind Sco. Guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff shared duels with a master teacher, drummer Robert “Sput” Searight (Ghost-Note) joined the fiery climax of the “The Flu”, which features Scofield on the studio version found on Lettuce’s 2002 debut LP Outta Here.

Friday night saw the return of RAGE! Fest, a beloved two-set Jazz Fest LETT tradition that had taken a year off in 2023. A short Nigel Hall DJ set allowed people to slowly file into the Joy Theater via a nightmarish, molasses-like queue. With projectionist/visual whiz Optic Tempo serving as astral tour guide, RAGE! Fest eschewed guest sit-ins for a laser-focused journey from the supernal sextet. Show highlights were in abundance; notably this writer’s first “Insta Classic”, a dusty, psychedelic trip-hop masterpiece that brilliantly (and accidentally) segued into hypnotic safari “Vaminos” in flow-state fashion. Nigel Hall closed out the first frame, shining bright with a sublime take on Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “Yearnin’ Learnin’”. The second set was a ferocious display of sorcery, a surgical slice of the strongest strain of this devilish Lettuce from start to finish. Hard to select the very best of this crunkalogic inferno, but I must mention the symbiosis that manifested a quantum-modulated “Madison Square” tumbling into the gangsta lean of “Thank U For Talkin’ 2 Me, Africa” (Sly & the Family Stone).


Lettuce — “Insta Classic > Vaminos” — Joy Theater — 5/3

[Video: upful LIFE]


It should be duly noted that late in both Lettuce sets, the band mourned the passing of Nick Daniels III, their friend, mentor, and collaborator. Unify single “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” was played at both shows, a Lettuce original that featured Daniels’ trademark high-register vocals. The Dumpstaphunk co-founder performed “Alright” with the band at 2022’s inaugural Daze Between, forever immortalized in Frenchy’s painting from that day. Lettuce hearts remained heavy all week long as band members continually paid proper respects to Dr. Klaw on various stages across town.

Papa Mali was EVERYWHERE.

For some artists, I cannot limit the recognition to just one show or band; such is the case for rock n’ roll troubadour Papa Mali. A well-traveled, seasoned veteran, this NOLA-based guitarist/vocalist/producer had himself one helluva Jazz Fest in 2024. At the Fair Grounds on locals Thursday, Papa Mali Trio with bassist Cassandra Faulconer and drummer Russ Broussard provided grizzly swamp blues tunes in the midday sun. Throughout the two weeks, Papa Mali could be found performing day and night, backing up collaborators like Lynn Drury, and augmenting the Joe Krown Trio.

Shantytown Underground, Papa Mali’s sprawling, eight-piece, horn-driven bomboclat bonanza, was back in a big way, too. My favorite of his pursuits, the group includes Drury, drummer Eric Bolivar, and guitarist Jonathan Freilich, among others to create an authentic old-school ska/reggae ensemble. With Papa Mali as Don Dada, Shantytown Underground took hold of Chickie Wah Wah late night second Friday with loose, irie reproductions of classics like Dawn Penn’s seminal “No No No”, The Jamaicans‘ “Ba Ba Boom”, and a ska version of Irma Thomas‘ beloved anthem “Time Is On My Side”.

Tuesday evening after Daze Between Festival, we made a beeline uptown to Pepper Keenan’s watering hole, Le Bon Temps Roule. This was my first opportunity to catch The Nerve, Papa Mali’s new band with drummer/vocalist Derrick “Smoker” Freeman (SOUL Brass Band). The Nerve was a six-piece that gave you everything from ZZ Top to Dr. Dre, dealing the NOLA-style kitchen sink with its own freshly-squeezed twist of deep Texas roots.

Joe Krown Trio feat. Papa Mali — Maple Leaf Bar — 4/27

[Video: Maple Leaf Bar]


SOUL Brass Band- Sauvage Fest – Fri – 5/3

Jazz & Heritage Stage – Sun – 5/5

The Nerve’s approach was not unlike that of SOUL Brass Band, who I had the good fortune of catching twice over second weekend. Turning up the rowdy Sauvage Fest just outside the Fairgrounds gates, I rolled up on Smoker, James Martin, Mark Levron, Miles Lyons, Danny Abel, and the gang getting lifted on some Snoop Dogg (“Gin & Juice”), Prince (“When Doves Cry”), Nirvana (“Smells Like Teen Spirit), and Lil Kim/Lil Cease (“Crush on You”) with thoroughly-imbibed party people dancin’ in the streets. Second Sunday afternoon on the Jazz & Heritage Stage, SOUL Brass Band was joined by special guests Raja Kassis (guitar), Kyle Cripps (keys), Stephen Walker (trombone), and Luke Quaranta (percussion) for a phenomenal power hour punctuated by Ronnie Laws‘ steamy “Friends and Strangers”; plus a money shot of Geto Boys‘ immortal “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me”, with Smoker spittin’ Scarface and Bushwick Bill’s confessional verses with his patented gutbucket baritone.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)


Adam Deitch, Producer Set – Bayou Rendezvous – Pre-Dawn Sat, 4 a.m. – 5/4 – Howlin’ Wolf

Well after Lettuce RAGE! Fest had concluded, at the stroke of 4:00 a.m. Adam Deitch presented a producer set at Howlin’ Wolf, where he explored hybrid strains of hip-hop and electronic soundscapes as part of the annual Bayou Rendezvous party.  Operating a multi-faceted workstation with drum pads, percussion, keyboards, plug-ins, and various noisemakers, Deitch was in his element remixing and reworking his own creations, along with works of his peers and heroes. Initially, Adam was assisted by Eric “Benny” Bloom on trumpet and vocals, then local hero Alvin Ford Jr. (Pretty Lights) hopped on the trap kit and began to make it clap. Soon, Ryan Zoidis set about charming Bayou cobras with David Sanborn-esque soprano sax, and in the wee-est of Jazz Fest hours, the natives became restless.

The stage was soon swarmed by a who’s who of decorated drummers in town: Jamison Ross, Nikki Glaspie, Deven Trusclair, Robert “Sput” Searight, and TK Johnson. Glaspie and Ross kicked bars from Southern rap classics and led profane bounce chants. Vocalist Kayla Jasmine grabbed the mic and proceeded to absolutely serve Sade‘s “No Ordinary Love”, classic Go-Go joint “Da Butt” (E.U.), a tipsy strut through “Big Ole Butt” (LL Cool J), then 5th Ward Weebie’s “Let Me Find Out pt.1”. If it sounds preposterous, that’s because it was, but in all the best ways. This scene onstage (and on the dancefloor) was total bedlam, and we didn’t leave till six in the morning.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)

To add insult to injury, after the producer set madness finally wrapped up, Deitch ventured next door to Kevin Scott’s Breakfast Jam in The Den, joining the likes of Craig Brodhead, C.R. Gruver, and Carter Wilkinson, among others. As the morning sun crept through the cracks in the venue walls, Deitch could be found throwing down a few diabolical breakneck drum n’ bass bangers for all the spry early risers lurking about.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)


Nikki Glaspie & The Homies – Sat- 5/4 – Blue Nile Balcony

Drummer/vocalist/evangelist Nikki Glaspie is nothing short of a revelation. She works tirelessly to entertain fans of all kinds, creating ambitious sound art all day and night. Every year during Jazz Fest, Darling Nikki goes above and beyond, be it with her band The Nth Power and their various iterations and tributes, her idiosyncratic Mike Dillon/Brian Haas project Punkadelick, and musical romances with Skerik, Helen Gillet, and more cats than I can count. She is also an incredible friend, peer, and mentor to fellow musicians from many genres and geographies. All of these elements are on magisterial display when she convenes the filthy-funk ensemble self-glossed Nikki Glaspie & The Homies, who barnstormed the cramped Balcony Stage at Blue Nile second Saturday and proceeded to lay waste to the spot with nary a f–k given. Par for the proverbial course whenever this troupe steps into the night lookin’ for trouble.

Just like my own virgin Homies heaux-down uptown at the Maple Leaf second Sunday 2019, on this night Nikki brought together a murderer’s row of primo-players of all ages and locations for what proved to be a serious situation. A 15-piece gang took over the tiny stage for a set of shimmering underground funk and quintessential quiet storm R&B, all of it transmitted through the ears and souls of some of Glaspie’s favorite friends. The bandleader acknowledged that this project was born from DJ Soul Sister’s record crates and mixtapes, and the tastemaker was present to receive the inspirational accolades, just like that night at the Leaf way back when. As such, Nikki & her squadron used this opportunity to take every last beating heart to school, full-throttle for nearly two hours. Sister Sledge (“Reach Your Peak”), McFadden & Whitehead (“I’ve Been Pushed Aside”), Breakwater (“Let Love In”), Slave (“Spice of Life: Oh Yes You’re the Best”), Bar-Kays (“Traffic Jammer”), among other extremely deep cuts. Naturally, they had to finish with the Homies theme, a stomp through “Birdie” by Brides of Funkenstein; because if there’s one thing Nikki’s taught me, it’s that “When love plays your song, we’d better recognize the beat.

[expanding more-text=”View Lineup”]

Nikki Glaspie & The Homies Lineup

Nikki Glaspie – drums & vocals
Tyler “Tycoon” Coomes – percussion
Aaron Bellamy – bass
Amy Bellamy – keyboards
Ari Teitel – guitar
Serg Dimitrijevic – guitar
Andriu Yanovski – organ & keyboards
Kayla Jasmine – vocals
Adam Joseph – vocals
Shira Elias – vocals
Amanda Brown – vocals
Aurélien Barnes – trumpet
John Michael Bradford – trumpet
Zahria Simms- saxophone
Ethan Santos – trombone
Uriah Duffy – bass


Nikki Glaspie & The Homies — Blue Nile Balcony — 5/4

[Video: FunkItBlog]

Chasing the Pulse of the New Orleans Underground

A NJ expat long-nestled in NOLA, singer/songwriter Sari Jordan released her delicate, wistful debut EP Sing To The Moon in late 2023 and was extremely busy across Jazz Fest 2024. Late night first Sunday at Chickie Wah Wah, she co-hosted a Song Space session with fellow vocalists Renée Gros and Amethyst Star, with a house band boasting Danny Abel (guitar), KDTU’s Alfred Jordan (drums), Rob Kellner (keys), and Grayson Brockamp (bass). Sari was absolutely stunning, bringing the house down with her third and final composition, “Gold Rush”, leaving a few eyes a little bit leaky. Immediately following her Song Space, Sari bolted uptown to the Maple Leaf to sing with Isaac Eady & Third Moon whom she regularly performs with (when not already booked). Sari slid onto the packed Leaf stage and began contributing with quickness. During this dozen-day stretch, we also enjoyed Sari’s various contributions to Billy Iuso (Lagniappe Stage), accompanying Cuban-born, NOLA-based pianist Victor Campbell (Rhythmporium Tent), and singing backing vocals to glorious JGB hymns with Iko All-Stars (NOLA Crawfish Fest).

Song Space w/ Amethyst Star & Sari Jordan — Chickie Wah Wah — 4/28

[Video: FunkItBlog]

Late night first Friday at the Maple Leaf, we were reintroduced to the New Orleans Afro-Tech sounds of Gov’t Majik, a special expanded lineup of Bru Bruser’s pulsating poly-genre dance-machine including drummers Jermal Watson, Luke Quaranta, Sam Dickey (guitar) and KDTU’s Ricio Fruge (trumpet). Though they hail from Columbia, Jacobo Velez y la Mambanegra (Cultural Exchange Pavillion) nearly took our heads off with manic energy and unhinged heroics.

A brief rundown of local cats on the come-up that consistently impressed me in multiple combinations/situations in 2024: Miles Lyons (trombone/sousaphone), Carter Wilkinson (guitar), Victor Campbell (piano), Blue Carl (bass), Chris Senec a.k.a. Pizzamon (bass), Jake Gartenstein (drums), Thomas Glass (drums), Kayla Jasmin (vocalist), and buzz-bin bands Anna Moss & The Nightshades, The Point, The Love Muscles, Richard Rourke, Parallel Threads, and a brand new, killer quintet called Monsters.

The inaugural Fest du Void took place on second Thursday afternoon at The Broadside (same day as the sold-out Rolling Stones day at Jazz Fest), presenting diverse offerings with a thumb placed firmly on the pulse of the underground. Naturally, this being a Krewe de Void production, psych-rock quartet The Iceman Special headlined the show with its weird, wacky hybrid of punk, funk, and psychedelia. Also on the bill were international flavor dealers RAM Haiti and Toubab Krewe. Louisiana emcee LaREEZY, Anna Moss & the Nightshades, and Sari Jordan each thoroughly impressed early in the day.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Donald Schwander (@justschwandering)

Lagniappe Love

Despite the fact that my NOLA coverage traditionally focuses on what happens after the sun goes down until it comes back up again, after two decades down at the Jazz Fest, it is essential to show love and respect to the main event whenever possible. I’d like to give the Lagniappe Stage her much-deserved flowers, thanks, and praises. Originally a tent stage, 20-plus years ago it moved inside the Race Course area to the back of the Grandstand, where you can sit on chairs, stand in the shade, or dance in the grass. As such it facilitates the most unique live music experience, juxtaposed to the plethora of other stages on offer at the Fairgrounds. The lineup curated at Lagniappe is consistently eclectic and tasteful, and most often local to the Crescent City. This writer’s faves in ‘24 included “Trippin’ Over Dragons” with Billy Iuso to kick things off on Local’s Thursday; plus Lynn Drury, Helen Gillet, the exquisite Anna Moss & the Nightshades, and Kristin Diable & the City.

This spring, my tastiest slice on the Lagniappe came near the end of the marathon, by way of the always-dynamite New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars connecting disparate heritages and communities through music. This year, the Klezmers set was mostly spent digging into their latest release, a live LP titled Tipish (a Yiddish word that could mean either “typical” or “foolishness”, methinks they intend to invoke both). With members including Galactic’s Ben Ellman (sax), his nephew Lucas Ellman (clarinet), Glenn Hartman (accordion), and Jonathan Freilich (guitar), among others, this beloved band is serious business, and by that I mean meshuggeneh. Unspooling an ethereal composition titled “King Fela’s Chicken Soup”, it felt almost as if these cats were birthing a brand-new genre in our midst. The track references an incident when Ben, then working in Tipitina’s kitchen a million moons ago, did indeed get tasked with fixing Fela Kuti some chicken soup. Word on the street was that it wasn’t much to the king’s liking; however, on this Sacred Sunday, the Klezmers certainly did testify to the congregation, cookin’-up lagniappe love like the stove-gods they are.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)


Queen Latifah – Sat 5/4 – Congo Square Stage – Jazz Fest Fair Grounds

A plethora of women were at the forefront of my Jazz Fest experience once again in 2024; most notably when the esteemed Patrice Rushen nuked the Jazz Tent first weekend, and the incomparable Bonnie Raitt closed out the Gentilly Stage on Sacred Sunday. Yet, of all the world-class artisans performing at the Fairgrounds this year, Queen Latifah was by far and away my most anticipated, full stop. A fan since elementary school and YO! MTV Raps, my expectations were sky high, yet somehow the ageless empress over-delivered. Headlining second Saturday on Congo Square (against Neil Young & Crazy Horse, no less), the hip-hop pioneer born Dana Owens was backed by a tight band led by bassist Adam Blackstone (the gold standard in hip-hop musical directors). Berklee College of Music professor (and Adam Deitch mentor) Charles Haynes handled drums and decorated turntablist DJ Dummy was on the wheels of steel. Yet only Latifah’s name appeared on the marquee, and with a career-spanning revue and wonderful attitude she swiftly showed everybody just why that is.

Emanating royalty in a vibrant green outfit and liberally flashing her bazillion-dollar smile, the Queen took us from Jersey to Jamaica and back again, sang us a show tune, then crooned a duet with PJ Morton (who performed on Congo just before her set). The legendary rapper checked her original crew the Flava Unit and nodded to A Tribe Called Quest and Native Tongues clique; she also covered Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers/Mary J Blige, and Brandy, among others. Early on, it was crystal clear that “Latifah had it up to here,” and Dana made sure to shout out dearly departed collaborators Mark the 45 King and Apache. Late in the set, a golden-era super-squadron would appear; beginning with Monie Love, then MC Lyte, and finally Yo-Yo. Personifying Black excellence and the divine feminine these four trailblazers then set about slaying Congo Square, detonating classics like “Ladies First”, “Monie in the Middle”, “I Wanna Be Down”, “You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo”, and an unforgettable finale in Latifah’s anthemic rallying cry “U.N.I.T.Y.”. Who you callin’ a b*tch!?!?!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ~B.Getz~ (@upful_life)

Big Up the Blue Nile

Allow me to specifically recognize the Frenchman Street venue Blue Nile. It’s been a mainstay of our krewe’s Jazz Fest experiences for as long as I can recall, and every year they level up to present an exquisite collection of local and national artists, forwarding primarily original music of high quality and integrity. Partnering with Tony Ciacco and Backbeat Foundation, Blue Nile owner/talent buyer Jesse Paige, box office manager Eddy Lonzo, lighting designer Will Isherwood, and the whole Nile team consistently provided tremendous programming across the entirety of Jazz Fest 2024, always situated in authentic, inviting, and comfortable environments. Both at their flagship street-level room, and upstairs at the cozy Balcony, this writer enjoyed himself immensely at a smorgasbord of sick shows from the likes of Jennifer Hartswick Band, Marco Benevento, Corey Henry’s Treme Funktet, Lyrics Born, Karina Rykman, Toubab Krewe, Adam Deitch Quartet, The Nth Power, and the second annual Dr. Lonnie Smith tribute headed up by Wil Blades with Big Chief Donald Harrison, Herlin Riley, and Will Bernard.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Funk It Blog (@funkitblog)

Salute! The Maple Leaf Bar: 50 Years of Uptown Greatness

On that same note, yet way on the other side of town, I’d like to raise a pint and toast a phenomenal 50 years of the mighty Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street. Few rooms have provided such a quintessential New Orleans vibe, year-in year-out, with the best of the best musicians in the city giving it their all on that stage, no matter how hot or packed the place gets. Every Jazz Fest since my first in 2000, I’ve had the good fortune to experience greatness at the Leaf, with the master painters Frenchy and John Bukaty illustrating the epic in kaleidoscopic colorways and imaginative wonder. First weekend, I was able to gather with fans and peers of the late, great Nick Daniels III for the Maple Leaf Allstars show, a loving tribute to the OG from Tony Hall, Ivan Neville, Ray Weber, Skerik, Ari Teitel, Ashlin Parker, and a guest spot from Duane Betts on some Allman Brothers classics. Late night second Saturday, bassist Eric Vogel’s collective Eric’s Gonna Die once again did not disappoint. We caught some next-generation heat including The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr., Gov’t Majik, Isaac Eady & Third Moon, and Monsters. We even had the privilege to finish Fest enjoying the George Porter Jr. Trio with Chris Adkins, on a Monday night after a feast at Jaques Imo’s, and then perusing Frenchy’s Gallery.

The Maple Leaf All-Stars — Maple Leaf Bar — 4/28

[Video: Maple Leaf Bar]


A wise Jazz Fest proverb: “Judge your Jazz Fest not by who you saw, but instead by what you were forced to miss.”

Accordingly, here is a smattering of shows I was sadly forced to miss/skip for a variety of reasons. Not for nothin’, adding up these whiffs would make for one helluva week:

Daze Between Fest Wednesday at Faubourg Brewery (Gov’t Mule with a gazillion guests, KDTU, Galactic); Eric “Benny” Bloom Late Bloomer album release party at Chickie Wah Wah; Weedie Braimah’s Birthday at Music Box Village; The Rollings Stones and Dumpstaphunk at Jazz Fest; Earth, Wind, & Power at Howlin’ Wolf, Krewe de Blender 20th Anniversary party; the intergalactic space travelers Sun Ra Arkestra at Dew Drop Inn; Joe Marcinek’s Dead Funk SummitDumpstaphunk with George Porter Jr. – Rejuvenation 50; and several at Tipitina’s: Neal Francis, Daze Between Band (with Eric Krasno, John Scofield, Duane Betts, Jen Hartswick, etc); Fiya Powa (Dumpsta-Galactic collabo); Dumpstaphunk’s annual Sunday Night throwdown; and Papa Gros Funk.

photo: Marc Millman


The Nth Power Presents: The Last Hurrah – Mon – 5/6 – Blue Nile

For nine consecutive Jazz Fests, we’ve developed a tradition to close out the whirlwind musical feast: The Nth Power’s Last Hurrah, Monday night at Blue Nile. Every year, Nikki Glaspie, Nate Edgar, and Nick Cassarino rally ‘round the family, somehow summoning yet another gear to deliver one last barnburner. This year would provide more of the same abundance, as the trio was joined by New Orleans’ own Nicholas Payton (trumpet/keys) for the entire two-set show. Payton was returning the favor as Nth backed him up for his profound performance in the Jazz Tent first Saturday at the Fair Grounds. Early in Monday’s first frame, Glaspie and Cassarino spoke of their dearly-departed friend and collaborator Nick Daniels III, then ripped off a riveting “Spirits”, which Daniels sang on Nth’s 2022 studio rework. The quartet also unveiled another typically emotional reading of its magnificent mourning song “Walk on Water.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Funk It Blog (@funkitblog)

In the second set, it was indeed high time to saddle up and shake our bones. The Nth Power’s GAP Band tribute was a certified highlight of 2023’s after-dark antics, yet the band kept that material in the tuck for the duration of its various performances thus far this year. That is, until now, the home stretch of the Last Hurrah. Alex Wasily (trombone, Dumpstaphunk) was responsible for charting the GAP Band horns last year, and A-Waz returned to the stage with John Michael Bradford and Aurelien Barnes (trumpet) in tow, joining Skerik (sax) to make up a killer brass section. Plus Tycoon—and then Pedro Segundo—hopped in on percussion.

One more time with feeling, The Nth Power & Friends put the pedal to the medal and dialed up high-octane Charlie Wilson haymakers, hammering us with bubonic bangers one on top of the next. “Outstanding”, “Not Guilty”, “Party Train”, Early In the Morning”, “Burn Rubber”, and a grandiose finale in “Oops Upside Your Head”. It was yet another in the colorful annals of all-time happenings to go down with this band, in this room, on this very night. In the immortal words of the late Gorilla Monsoon: “Pandemonium was running wild” on Frenchman Street in the Crescent City. As it should be, because The Nth Power Loves US. Same as it ever was.

A deep bow of eternal gratitude to all of the musicians, fans, staff, volunteers, and most of all: the incomparable host city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jazz Fest: Oh Yes, You’re the Best!

Words: B.Getz