August Vibes

August is usually a bleak time for live music in New Orleans. After Jazz Fest, the musicians leave town along with the tourists. The heat (both in and out of the clubs) drives the local bands afield while the touring acts are often tied up on the festival circuit. That said, summer is a great time to catch up with perennial local favorites while keeping an eye out for the rare traveling gems.

This time of year, Tipitina’s and The Maple Leaf are always the best bets for local music Uptown. The second weekend in August, Tipitina’s has Raw Oyster Cult (Fri., Aug. 8) and Bonerama (Sat., Aug. 9) playing on consecutive nights. (UPDATE: Due to scheduling conflicts, Bonerama will not longer be playing at Tipitina's on August 9th. Instead, they will be performing at The Maple Leaf on August 15th and Walter Washington will be at Tipintina's on August 9th.) This will be an excellent back-to-back set, especially if you’re only in town for a few days and looking to cut to the heart of the New Orleans sound. Raw Oyster Cult is the accurately self-described “legendary supergroup” consisting of members of the Radiators, Papa Grows Funk and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. The group is helmed by Dave Malone of the Radiators and John Gros of Papa Gros Funk. Both men lend their distinct vocal styles to a unique blend of local classics and covers with a generous helping of reimagined Radiators songs. There are few sounds in town more recognizable than either Malone’s guitar or Gros’ Hammond B-3. The next night Bonerama will bring their unique style of brass to the same stage. Led by Mark Mullins, this trombone powerhouse will work their way through a set of original tunes, standards and rock ’n’ roll classics (played through Mullins’ distorted trombone). On a hot summer night at Tip’s, Bonerama is sure to have everyone in the house moving. Further Uptown, the Joe Krown Trio will be holding its regular Sunday night court at The Maple Leaf. The Trio is composed of veterans Joe Krown, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste Jr. Each of these men is a force in their own right and together they find the ideal tone for proper New Orleans funk. For a taste of their sound check out the excellent 2013 release Soul Understanding or the legendary and appropriately named Live at The Maple Leaf. Also keep an eye out for Krown’s solo gigs at Ralph’s on the Park for a more traditional piano sound.

The year in music so far has been one of transformations for several performers. Both Jolie Holland and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY) have changed the sounds and lineups of their bands. Holland is returning to her local haunt, the Parish at the House of Blues on Wed. Aug. 13. Holland played wonderfully small shows at the Parish on her 2006 and ’09 tours. After a larger location show at Tip’s in ’11, she has gone back to the intimacy of the Parish. On her new record, Wine Dark Sea, she has traded the alt-country twang of previous records for a more raw blues sound that suits her well. The new tunes should fill the space of the Parish nicely. The same night that Jolie Holland will be at the Parish, CYHSY will be the headlining act at One Eyed Jacks. Three-fifths of the band departed between its third and fourth records. The latest release, Only Run, reveals a band in the process of remaking itself for the better, especially in its well-balanced second half. This show should be an interesting combination of reworked early material and new material that’s finding its space within the new group dynamic. CYHSY gets going later than Jolie Holland, so the adventurous soul should be able to make both easily.

Finally, this month Sylvan Esso, one of the hardest working bands on the electro-pop scene, returns to town for the second time this year. They will be playing a headlining set at Gasa Gasa on Sat., Aug. 16. Singer Amelia Meath has a haunting voice that matches perfectly with the electronic folk beats generated by her partner Nick Sanborn. Both of these musicians are connected to other larger projects – Meath to Feist’s touring band and Sanborn to Megafaun. It is a joy to see them branch out on their own. They have quickly grown into their new roll as headliners.

To contact Mike Griffith about music news, upcoming performances and recordings, email or contact him through Twitter @Minima.


Best Bet for Summer

While you certainly won’t avoid the heat at The Maple Leaf (8316 Oak St., 866-9359,, its consistent stable of local performers will ensure that you are always entertained.

It is also:
• The very definition of a neighborhood venue
• Live music 7 nights a week
• Shows are generally listed to start at 9 or 10 p.m., but definitely operate on “New Orleans time”
• Jacques Imo’s in conveniently next door if you want a bite before the show

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