As July starts and summer begins to heat up, we can always look forward to the arrival of The Essence Festival. This year’s installment runs over the holiday weekend, July 1-3, and will feature the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Puff Daddy, Mariah Carey, Charlie Wilson and Maxwell. We saw a lot of Prince tributes at Jazz Fest, but I would wager that those will pale in comparison to the tributes at Essence. Prince played both the 10th and 20th installments of Essence (2004 and ’14) to great acclaim and has left a legacy that will continue with the festival for all time.
Canadian sythpop songwriter Jessy Lanza will be at Gasa Gasa July 2. Her most recent record Oh No, which came out in May, has a fantastic vibe to it. If you’re looking for something a bit twangier, on the 7th you have a couple of chances for solid country. At Siberia the alternative country group Pinegrove will be presenting tracks from their recent debut LP; that same night the legendary Robert Earl Keen will be at Tipitina’s.
One of the more exciting bits of music news from the spring was the reformation of New Zealand-based comedy band Flight of the Conchords. The duo will be at the Saenger on July 11. The great thing about the Conchords is that they ably straddle the line between great comedy and great music – neither category suffers at the hands of the other. They make legitimately good music that also happens to be quite funny.
If you’re looking for something a little more introspective – perhaps a bit darker – there are a couple of great acts coming toward the end of the month. Dark pop shoegazers Pale Dian will be at Siberia on July 19. Their excellent debut record Narrow Birth came out in June and is well worth your time. Along similar lines, Marissa Nadler will be at Gasa Gasa on the 27th. Nadler also has a fascinating new record out this year; you can expect her to draw from her deep catalogue at this intimate show.
On July 23 garage rockers A. Sinclair will take the stage at Gasa Gasa. These guys have a great summer vibe complete with lots of strong guitar riffs.
And, of course, the month ends with the show that no one believed would happen: The Guns N’ Roses reunion at the Superdome. This show will feature original members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan, which makes it the first tour since 1993 where all three have performed together. If you’re looking to revisit the ’90s, there’s nowhere else to be on the 31st.
If perhaps you’ve had enough of the 1990s and are looking for something a bit mellower to end the month, the supergroup of Neko Case, K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs – case/lang/veirs – will be at the Joy Theater July 31. The trio have recently released a record together and have been putting together some fantastic live performances.
If you’re looking to escape the heat, I recommend a trip up to visit Jazz Fest’s sister festivals: the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals. This year the Jazz Festival will be anchored by the likes of Norah Jones, Gregory Porter and Chick Corea. The Folk Festival has already announced Patti Smith and Her Band, Elvis Costello, The Arcs, Ryan Adams and Father John Misty. Once again, New Orleans Magazine will be covering the Folk Festival with daily updates and photos from the event. Keep an eye on my web column for more information as well as more from my interviews with founder George Wein and organizer Jay Sweet.
To contact Mike about music news, upcoming performances and recordings, email Mike@MyNewOrleans.com or contact him through Twitter @Minima.