As summer kicks into full gear, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of a couple of the great free summer concert series going on around town. Every Friday this month, Tipitina’s continues their Free Fridays concert series. I especially recommend Walter “Wolfman” Washington on July 3 and Papa Mali with Mike Dillon Band on July 17. Just a quick ferry ride across the river at the Algiers Ferry Landing, the Wednesdays on the Point concert series also continues. Be sure to catch Bonerama on July 8 or Amanda Shaw on the 29th.

Of course, the big July event is The Essence Festival. This year the festival begins with Kevin Hart’s What Now? Tour on Thursday evening and continues with three evenings of music wrapping up Sunday night. This year features an insanely tight lineup of women on the cutting edge of music. Over the course of the weekend one can see Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Mary J. Blige and Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution project. If that weren’t enough, Kendrick Lamar and Mystikal will be there for good measure. Lamar’s new album To Pimp A Butterfly is a masterpiece; this should be a profound performance.

For those looking for a 1990s throwback, we have a couple shows that fit the bill. On July 20, The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson will be playing Champions Square. I can’t say that I have any idea how this show will go, but it will definitely be a spectacle. A week later on July 28, German Industrial legends, KMFDM will be at The Civic.

On July 15, the Death Grips will play One Eyed Jacks. The Death Grips’ sound is an aggressive and fascinating blend of industrial noise and hip-hop. I am not sure why their music works as well as it does; hopefully the live show will lend some insight.

On July 6, there will be an impressive double bill at One Eyed Jacks. The evening will begin with EZTV’s twee spin on power pop. Their upcoming record Calling Out is reminiscent of Big Star, XTC and Belle and Sebastian – definitely worth a listen. After EZTV, Netherlands-based multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner will deliver his distinct brand of baroque psychedelic rock. Gardner is also touring on the release of a new record, Hypnophobia, which is already a strong contender for my top records of the year.

On July 7, Dayve Hawk will bring his chillwave Memory Tapes project to Gasa Gasa. A couple of nights later on the 9th, Gasa Gasa is back with The Secret Sisters. The Secret Sisters are the traditional country duo of Laura and Lydia Rogers. You can expect soaring duets and that classic country sound. On July 25, lo-fi alt rockers Pony Farm will be at Gasa Gasa as well. What I have heard of this band sounds like recordings made with friends and siblings on a boombox in someone’s bedroom, yet there’s a sincere complexity that works perfectly with the lo-fi approach.

Finally this month, My Morning Jacket and Lucius are coming to Champions Square on July 31. MMJ’s new record, The Waterfall, features some of Jim James’ best vocal work. This is a great double bill. Make sure to arrive in time to catch Brooklyn-based indie pop outfit, Lucius. Their record Wildewoman was one of my favorite albums of last year. Lucius was also omnipresent at the Newport Folk Festival last year, seeming to play with just about everyone. I would expect to see them take the stage for a song or two with MMJ.

Note: Dates are subject to change. Playlist of mentioned bands available at:

Sister Festivals

At the end of this month Jazz Fest’s sister festival, The Newport Folk Festival, starts up on July 24. When Jazz Fest started in 1970, the founder of Newport Folk, George Wein, was brought in to oversee the production. Both Jazz Fest and Newport strive to preserve musical heritage while expanding out into the world of contemporary music. The Newport Folk Festival has done an excellent job of expanding out into the indie rock and pop movements over the past few years. This year acts include: The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Jason Isbell, Roger Waters, First Aid Kid and many more. Keep an eye on our website for my daily updates during the festival.

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