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A change was made uptown, and The Big Man left the band …

RIP Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011.

The Big Man and The Boss

“Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.” — Bruce Springsteen

I’m very sad tonight, and listening to the E Street Band.

Thank you, Clarence, for being a big part of the greatest rock ‘n roll shows I’ve ever seen in my life.


Live from Jazzfest 2011!

I’m sitting in the Gospel Tent, where Sister Naomi Washington and her group just finished — hallelujah!! I also just finished my traditional Creole’s Stuffed Bread to start my festival day, as I’ve done for nearly 25 years.


Seeing Mrs. Merlene Herbert, who makes and sells these from her Lafayette restaurant Creole’s Lunch House, is a gem of a human being — I adore her and I love her food! The lines for her stuffed bread (still the most underrated food item at Jazzfest yet one of it’s very best) should be at least as log as for the Crawfish Monica right next door. Go get one every day if you’re going to the Fair Grounds this or next weekend.

(No more strawberry lemonade for me though, sadly — they changed vendors last year and now it sucks.)

Don’t get used to me weblogging from the Fair Grounds, though! It’s seriously draining my battery. Better to follow my Twitter feed – I’ll be updating that frequently.


Happy Jazzfest!!

Coming to A Warehouse …

I grew up hearing those words on radio ads for concerts, coming out of my tinny car speakers via WNOE and WRNO … “Coming to A Warehouse.” They referred to a big, dank, cavernous music venue on Tchoupitoulas Street that was just that — an old warehouse that had been converted (relatively minimally) into a music venue that hosted some of the biggest rock bands all through the Seventies.

I sighed whenever I heard those words. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing any of those shows because I was too young and wouldn’t be allowed to go. (For a variety of reasons my mom was horrified by the very idea of that venue.) By the time I was old enough to go to the Warehouse the venue started seeing hard times, and by that time I tended to go to see bands that played in smaller clubs Uptown for the most part.

People who frequented the Warehouse (always referred to as “A Warehouse” in the ads, as I remember) have memories fond and not-so-fond (it apparently got really, really hot in there), and there was an excellent article in the Gambit a year and a half or so ago about the good old days of the Warehouse.

For those of you who yearn to relive those days (and those of us who never quite got to live them in the first place), documentarian Jessy Cale Williamson is about to release his film A Warehouse on Tchoupitoulas, featuring interviews from the former owners and other people in the local music scene at the time, and what looks to be a great soundtrack. I can’t wait for this one.

Here’s a 16-minute preview:

Keep an eye on the filmmakers’ blog for more details and news. Now I’m off for Jazzfest, and I hope not to be completely absent the whole time. We’ll see!


Je Suis Le Grand Zombie

Glen David Andrews covers Dr. John’s “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” (originally on the album Gris Gris, from the early days of his Night Tripper era), featuring Paul Sanchez on electric guitar, and it is made of awesome.

I’m way behind on posting, as you can undoubtedly tell, but I’m going to try to feature some music posts up through the beginning of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival next Friday. I’ll be home for Fest so posting likely won’t be happening, but I’ll try to get at least something quick up as often as I can. Please stay tuned!

Oh, and please visit trumpetsnotguns.com to support Glen’s music education initiative.


The Decemberists: Live performances

I regret that my music posting has been quite sporadic around these parts of late — sorry ’bout that. Here’s a brief (but content-rich) one, and prepare to spend some money on great music.

Perhaps my favorite album of the year so far has been the new one by The Decemberists, The King is Dead. I’ve been a big Decemberists fan for a while now; I love their big, complex, literate “folk-rock symphony” rock sound, including second most recent The Hazards of Love, which a lot of people seemed not to like — silly people, I think. (The record also includes “The Rake’s Song,” which is one of the most harrowing murder ballads I’ve ever heard.)

“Stripped down” is how they’re describing the new one, with much more of a folk and country tinge and with a strong R.E.M. influence; some songs even feature Peter Buck on guitar, which is probably the best way to lend an R.E.M. sound to your song. The stripped down aspect touched all my folk-country-roots music nerves in the best way, and I found it hugely appealing this time around. Interestingly enough, a good friend who’s a music critic cited that aspect of the record as the primary reason he didn’t like it at all. All I can do is encourage him and anyone else who was put off by this record’s style to listen to it again, because it’s wonderful.

Not only do you hear R.E.M. in this record’s sonic fabric, but one of my favorite songs on the record, “Rise to Me,” sounds to me as if it would be perfectly in place on an Uncle Tupelo (or perhaps Son Volt) record. It’s gorgeous from beginning to end. Can’t you just hear Jay Farrar singing this?

I also love the little instrumental snippet of “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy” that they throw into the song “Rox in the Box,” reinforcing the album’s traditional feel.

The amazing folk-country singer Gillian Welch is also a featured guest on the record — here’s herself performing the song “Down by the Water” with the band on Conan O’Brien a while back:

And here’s the entirety of a recent visit to KCRW, which I missed at the time. Fortunately, they’ve been archiving their live performances for years (and incidentally, I really wish I had some from the pre-web days — there’s been an astonishing amount of great music made at that radio station). Appropriately enough, they start the show with a perfect R.E.M. cover.

You can download an MP3 of “Cuyahoga” here.

If that’s not enough, you can watch and audio-stream a live performance of the album The King is Dead in its entirety, from Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland.

Now, go out and buy that record!