With the second weekend of Jazz Fest and Bayou Boogaloo as anchors, May is invariably an insane month for music in New Orleans. Many of the most exciting shows this month are clustered around Jazz Fest, but there are some real gems to look out for later as well.
Right out of the gate on May 1st, head down to Tipitina’s for Instruments a Comin’. This will be the 16th year that the Tipitina’s foundation has hosted this excellent party to benefit local music education programs. As usual, the bill is stacked with Galactic, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Cha Wa, Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers, New Orleans Suspects with Fred Tackett of Little Feat, Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes, Nth Power and Honey Island Swamp Band. I highly recommend the VIP ticket for this event; it comes with amazing food and an open bar, as well as great views of the stage, plus it’s all for a good cause.
There are a lot of other great shows in the gravitational pull of Jazz Fest as well. For an excellent brass band show, check out Red Baraat at the Blue Nile, also on May 1st. On the 4th, Marco Benevento will open for Lettuce at The Civic; The Revivalists will bring their explosive brand of rock to the Orpheum; and the Stoop Kids will hit Gasa Gasa. On the 5th make sure to catch Skerik with Marco Benevento, DJ Logic, John Medeski and Robert Walter at The Saint for a night of improvisation. The next night (May 6th) choose between The North Mississippi Allstars at Tipitina’s, or Galactic at the Orpheum, both should be outstanding.
On May 5th, local standout Hurray for the Riff Raff will play a homecoming show at the Civic. On their latest release, singer and songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra has done her best work yet. This is a profound record infused with a strong autobiographical air.
Hang out down the coast
If you are still looking for a bit more festival action this month, I highly recommend tripping down the coast to Gulf Shores for Hangout Music Festival. This is one of the great Gulf Coast festivals. Not only is the lineup consistently outstanding, but the whole thing takes place right on the beach. This year the festival runs May 19 through 21, with headlining sets by Mumford & Sons, Twenty One Pilots, Frank Ocean (!), and Chance the Rapper. I’m particularly thrilled to see Frank Ocean on this list, as his music should perfectly fit the surroundings. As usual, we’ll have daily updates from the festival so keep an eye on the web for more details, previews and plenty of pictures.
May is an amazing month for indie rock as well. Twin Peaks is doing a two-night stand at Gasa Gasa (May 2nd-3rd), while Waxahatchee will open for the New Pornographers at Tipitina’s on the 3rd. I’ve talked a fair bit in this column about the excellence of Waxahatchee. Getting to see them, coupled with the legendary New Pornographers, will make for an amazing evening. On the 5th, San Fermin will roll in to Gasa Gasa, and you can catch Lake Street Dive at the Civic on the 6th. On May 12, Hamilton Leithauser (former lead singer of the Walkmen) will perform selections from his solo project at One Eyed Jacks. Later in the month, Sigur Rós will take over the Saenger on the 21st, while noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers will be at Siberia (I highly recommend this show, but bring earplugs). On the 26th, The Mountain Goats will hold court at Republic for an evening of storytelling.
Finally, be sure to drop into Cafe Istanbul on May 26 for the CD release party of Marcello Benetti’s new composition Il Vizio. Benetti is one of the premier jazz musicians in the city, and he will be joined by a host of heavyweights for this supremely cool night of music.
Note: Dates are subject to change. Playlist of mentioned bands available at: bit.ly/InTune5-17
To contact Mike about music news, upcoming performances and recordings, email Mike@MyNewOrleans.com or contact him through Twitter @Minima.