I need to go in reverse order on this one. Spent the last night at Maple Leaf Bar near Tulane’s campus listening to Papa Grows Funk. Monday regulars for the past 4 years. For anyone who has ever played in a band and really tried to funk, you know how hard it is to really funk.
Papa Grows Funk could FUNK…
It’s an incredibly difficult thing for a band to find. The drummer needs to have impeccable time, but also have the perfect organic sloppy groove to make it hum. The bassist needs to be telepathically connected to the kick drum and know just how long to hold notes. The guitarist needs to skank like a madman, and know when not to play… and everyone else needs to know how to stay out of the way. And the soundguy has to have the mix dialed in. When it all comes together it’s pretty magical. John Gros, bandleader and B3 player, got a performance degree on French Horn, but gravitated to big band and funk after college. These guys are out continuosly – all over the US.
Earlier that afternoon hung out on the Tulane campus for a battle of the bands final, after chatting with Jeremy on WTUL.
Also visited the legendary Tipitinas jazz club – now part of a non-profit. It was first built to create a venue for Professor Longhair – Blues great. Cool layout with a wrap-around balcony overlooking the stage and mainfloor.
First night I saw some great bluegrass at Check Point Charleys. Mountain Sprout jammed – lead by Grayson on Banjo (who plays on the streets for tips all day). The dexterity of these banjo players is amazing. And while I listened to music I did my laundry. Really. Check Point boasts a self-service laundromat!!
So much of the city was wrecked by the storm, and many are nervous about the exodus that has really undercut the whole economy. But every hall had music, even on Monday and Tuesday.
On to Biloxi…