Monthly Archives: March 2015

Fantastic Day Two! Hogs for the Cause at New Orleans City Park (March 28th, 2015)

Hogs for the Cause opens at 11am on Saturday morning. One of the first bands to play on Saturday is Hiss Golden Messenger.  The crowd is rewarded early in the set when the band plays Saturday’s Song.  This is a fantastic song about going a little crazy on the weekend; which was very appropriate for this festive setting.  Throughout the set the crowd is filling up on beer and BBQ and jamming to the tunes.  At one point during the show, the lead singer says this is kid’s music.  After a pause, he explains, the music was inspired by having kids.  The bands lo-fi blend of folk and blues is in fact enjoyable to all ages.

Following Hiss Golden Messenger on the stage is Toubab Krewe.   The band’s blend of World Music and Rock gets everyone dancing.  The party is in full swing and vendors are beginning to run out of menu items.  This group from Asheville, NC is a great example of the talented and diverse lineup featured at Hogs for The Cause.

The Wood Brothers take the stage next.  The mix of rock, blues, and folk performed by this group is perfect on this warm and sunny New Orleans afternoon.  Brothers Oliver and Chris Wood play guitar and are accompanied by a standup bass and a drummer.  Luckiest Man is played and smiles are seen on everyone’s face as the relaxing music puts everyone’s worries a thousand miles away.

J Roddy Walston & The Business crank things up with some southern blues rock.  Early in their set, they play Used to Did, which has a fast pace and features a ripping guitar solo and frenetic piano playing.  Later on, they feature a song from their latest album, Essential Tremors. The song, Heavy Bells, starts slow, but quickly turns into a full out rock feast.

Overall, it was a fantastic day of sun, pork, beer, and music.  Hogs for the Cause has become a major festival in New Orleans. With strong lineups like the one this year, this festival will be entertaining crowds for a long time.

The Victory Belles present America’s Wartime Sweethearts: A Tribute to The Andrews Sisters at The National WWII Museum (March 25, 2015)

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is massive.  The staff recommends that you allocate five hours to see all there is to offer.  This doesn’t include the time spent at the BB’s Stage Door Canteen.  Today’s show is a tribute to The Andrew Sisters, a female trio famous for entertaining the troops.  The audience is seated at long tables for twenty people arranged cafeteria style.  Once seated, they help themselves to the included buffet of bread, salad, corn, pasta, mashed potatoes, wings, and apple bread pudding. It does make you feel a bit like you are in the army.

After an hour for lunch, the Victory Belles take the stage.  They sing hits such as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Bei Mir Bist Du Schon and tell the stories behind them.  They tell us the next song, Rum And Coca Cola, sold 7 million records and was their biggest hit.  Midway through their set, they invite an older gentlemen up to the front of the stage and serenade him.  One of the singers gives him a big kiss on the cheek, leaving a bright red lipstick mark, to everyone’s delight.  Three men are also invited to dance with the Victory Belles for a song.

Overall, it was a fun and informative event.  The show is geared towards the standard museum goer, the older crowd, but people of all ages can enjoy the show.

Rocking Day One! Hogs for the Cause 2015 at New Orleans City Park (March 27, 2015)

To open up Hogs for the Cause 2015, The Wooden Wings take the side stage promptly at 4:30pm. Their upbeat song gets this two day BBQ festival in City Park off to a good start. The two lead female singers do a fantastic cover of Zombies by the Cranberries. The temperature is an even 70 degrees and sunny, the best weather this festival has had in the past few years.

Next, on the side stage, 35 minutes after their scheduled start time: “Sorry we are late. We’re Moon Hooch!” Two saxophones duel while the drummer keeps the beat. At one point, a large traffic cone is stuck into the end of a sax which significantly lowers the sound and creates quite a visual.

Strand of Oaks starts playing on the other stage before Moon Hooch finishes. Their blend of folk rock sounds like a mix of My Morning Jacket and War on Drugs. Goshen ’97 gets the crowd moving. Timothy Showalter, the songwriter and producer, is originally from Indiana, but he now calls Philadelphia home. During the show he comments how nice of a day it is and how he doesn’t want to leave. An audience member yells, “So don’t!” It’s clear that they are making new fans today.

Earphunk are the next band to rock the Festival Grounds. The self described Prog-Funk band bring the grooves. They lay down long jams that get the whole crowd dancing. The hula hoops and the glow sticks come out. Midway through the set, they play Whipping Post by The Allman Brothers Band and proceed to do an excellent extended jam from it. The crowd is loving this hometown band and happily sings along to their final song “I Won’t Work No 9 to 5”.

It was an excellent first day where the crowds were a perfect size and none of the lines were very long. Be sure to catch day two today!

Quinn Delaney

The Elm Theatre presents Never Swim Alone at Old Marquer Theatre (March 26, 2015)

Never Swim Alone is an intense drama that is based on a competition between childhood friends, Frank (Garrett Prejean) and Bill (Nicholas Stephens).  The lifeguard (Tenea Intriago) referees the competitive interplay between the two men. The play begins with friendly contests such as who is best dressed and who is the tallest; but the competition intensifies quickly. Flashbacks reveal a tragedy that the two young boys are still grappling with today; Bill witnessed Frank’s wife cheating on him with their mutual friend, Phil.  This ignites the drama which grows and builds until it becomes violent.  This is no longer fun and games as it becomes about life and death.  The audience needs to hold on to their seats as the action gets right in your face in this intimate theatre!

Quinn Delaney

The Elm Theatre presents
NEVER SWIM ALONE by Daniel MacIvor
March 26 – April 18
Thursdays – Saturdays, 8pm
Old Marquer Theatre, 2400 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117

Hilarious Parody! Book of Merman at the Apollo Theatre (March 22, 2015)

The Book of Merman is a parody of and tribute to Book of Mormon and Ethel Merman.  The play opens with a fantastic version of Hello!, the opening number from Book of Mormon.  Sam Button-Harrison and Phillip Kaiser are dressed perfectly as missionaries and sing this opening number with gusto.  After a few rejections at various houses, they come to a house that says “E.M. Welcome.”  (“Every Mormon Welcome!”) They knock and we meet Ethel, played by Libby Lane.  She is dressed extravagantly and has a voice to boot.  It’s showcased in a number of original songs along with Anything You Can Do and There’s No Business Like Show Business.  She invites the audience to sing along when she says, “Who wants to do me?!”

The most comical song of the night is “If It’s Not Hard,” which opens up the second act after the intermission.  It had the audience laughing the whole time.  Since this performance takes place in the smaller theatre downstairs in the Apollo Theatre,  it allows the actors to go without microphones and results in a very intimate show.  If you’re a fan of Book of Mormon, Ethel Merman, and musical comedies, you’ll love this play!

Quinn Delaney

Showtimes at the Apollo are 7:30 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; and 3:30 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $30 for all performances, with $5 discounts for seniors and students and are on sale through Ticketmaster and the Apollo box office (773-935-6100).

The Best of Ska: The Slackers with On Your Marx and LVDP Sound System at Reggie’s Rock Club (March 21, 2015)

LVDP (Los Vicios de Papá , roughly “father’s vices”) Sound System from Chicago’s South Side is the first to take the stage.  Their blend of ska, reggae, and hip hop results in an energetic atmosphere.  The band is composed of bongos, saxophone, trumpet, bass, keys, guitar, and vocals.  They sing in Spanish, so you may not know the words they are saying, but you can feel their intensity.

Second on the stage is On Your Marx, also from Chicago.  They fill the stage with a full horn section (two saxophones, trumpet, and trombone), drums, bass, keys, guitar, and vocals.  The dual female vocals are unique in the ska scene and they add a great sound to the solid instrumental performance.  They mix Please Do Not Go by The Violent Femmes seamlessly into one of their songs.  A deeper cut from the superb self-titled album, this cover was a great choice that they pulled in and played it with their sound.

To close out the night, The Slackers from New York City come out to a grand applause.  These are the veterans of the evening, having been a band for 21 years now. This long tenure has allowed them to develop quite a range- from a slow, smooth reggae beat to a punk ska frenzy. The band leader, Vic Ruggiero, guides the audience perfectly through this journey with clever introductions to the songs.  It’s a professionally refined show and a great example of the best of ska / reggae today.

Ticket Price: $15

PlaylistHQ Value: $20

Quinn Delaney

See the PlaylistHQ page here

See Attachment at Gorilla Tango Theatre (March 18th, 2015)

See Attachment is billed as a sketch comedy show about finding yourself outside of the screen.  Thus, it is unexpected when there are some very dramatic moments between divorced parents or a single father and his daughter.  They stick out and just leave the audience feeling awkward.  The same issue occurs at “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.”

Many of the scenes did build well, such as when parents think their son is gay and they are trying to get him to come out.  However, there isn’t really a big payoff at the end.  Perhaps the son should have said, “Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you.  I’m… a Democrat!”  Also, there is a scene where they have an intervention for a guy who keeps dating overweight girls.  It seemed like it might be leading to a moral lesson, but then it disappointingly ends with them calling him gay.

The audience really enjoyed the sketch of a woman doing a strip tease removing all her winter gear.  The Gorilla Tango Theatre is mostly known for its burlesque shows, so it was a bit of an homage to the venue.  This scene was split up into multiple parts throughout the show, and always resulted in applause.

Overall, there were some funny lines and chuckles to be had, but there is a lot of room for improvement for this short one-hour show.

Ticket Prices: $10 online, $12 at the door

PlaylistHQ Value: $4

Playwright Sampler: Tympanic Theatre Presents Today We Escape at the Den Theatre (March 15, 2015)

Today We Escape is a series of 12 unrelated plays inspired by the songs from Radiohead’s OK Computer.  Besides the same inspiration, and the same actors, the plays don’t share anything.  At times, this results in a sharp contrast in moods from one play to the next.  For example, the first play is focused on a child about to face her family dying in a house fire leads into an old guitar player recording a song for a young pop star.  In this second piece, Bobby Lovesong (the pop star) writes the best love songs, according to a disembodied voice.  The third play concerns a dermatologist removing glass splinters from his patients and allowing them to believe it was placed there by aliens.  The patients’ acting is excellent as they convincingly try to persuade the doctor to believe them.

The fourth play is mostly comical, mainly because of the annoying guy who won’t stop talking to the female lead.  It pairs nicely with the fifth play about a dungeons and dragons weekly game that is falling apart.  It’s comical how invested she is in the fantasy game until a surprise development.

The sixth play references Wizard of Oz heavily as it tells the story about a young girl meeting four strangers along her journey.  It ends with her tapping her red shoes together.  This movie parody of sorts leads into a parody of a late night talk show, where the host has a dark secret.  Then, secrets are revealed in the eighth play during a double date.

The rest of the plays deal with returning to civilization after a military tour, escaping suburban life, stealing from a gas station, and a journey into space.  The album is directly quoted in some of the dialogue.  All of the scenes are tied together by McKenzie Gerber playing acoustic versions of the songs on guitar from the back of the theatre.  The play lasts a full three hours, including intermission. Just as this review is a bit choppy, so is the experience of watching this play. It’s a very ambitious project that puts the audience through a whirlwind ride of emotions, just like Radiohead’s album does.

Diva with a Guitar: Alabama Shakes with Songhoy Blues at the Chicago Theatre (March 14, 2015)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. Well, it is the Saturday beforehand and that is when the city celebrates. The river is dyed green and the drinking begins early. It’s also Super Pi Day (3/14/15)! And to top it all off, there is a fantastic show at the Chicago Theatre tonight.

Songhoy Blues from Mali open the show. It’s the band’s first trip to the United States and they are having a blast. The band rocks through their set with heavy riffs and smashing drums. The enthusiastic lead singer leaps into the air repeatedly as he dances around the stage. Their energy is infectious and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them headline Chicago’s World Music Fest soon.

Alabama Shakes follow and they jump right into it. A full band is on stage including two keyboard players, a bassist, three backup singers, and a backup guitarist. However, the band’s lead singer, Brittany Howard, controls the spotlight for the majority of the show. Early in the set, Brittany rocks so hard her glasses fall off! This talented singer is especially animated when she puts down the guitar and sings with all her soul, “I Still Ain’t Got What I Want”. Brittany uses the entire stage and dramatic gestures to tear the roof off the building. The roof had to go because the sky is the limit for Brittany Howard.

Quinn Delaney

Chicago Jazz Done Right: Sarah Marie Young at Andy’s Jazz Club (March 13, 2015)

It’s finally warm in Chicago! The temperature reached 58 degrees earlier in the day and everyone is out to celebrate on this beautiful Friday evening. Andy’s Jazz Club & Restaurant is packed to see Sarah Marie Young. She mixes originals with jazz standards such as “Marvin Gaye’s “You’re All I Need To Get By”. Her vocals shine as she sings “My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder. Sarah is backed by a full band of drums, bass, sax, and Stuart Mindeman on piano. Stu collaborated with Sarah on her latest album, Too Many Februaries. Sarah and Stu play a few tracks together which showcase their combined talent. Their energy and enthusiasm pair perfectly for an incredible performance.

When the band returns, Sarah sets up the next song saying it’s one of her favorites and you can see and feel the excitement of her band. They launch into a fantastic version of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”. The song builds to an outstanding vocal and musical climax. Sarah is from Indianapolis, but after living in Chicago for 10 years, she considers Chicago home. Chicago is very fortunate to have added Sarah to the local jazz scene. Catch her soon at one of her many upcoming dates in Chicago!