Jason Mraz takes listeners on acoustic ride

Associated Press file photo -- Jason Mraz

On his fifth studio album, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz returns to familiar lyrical territory, exploring the highs and lows of love in his bright, folk-pop style. This time, though, the sound is both richer and more stripped down — an acoustic ride enriched by the vocals, strings and percussion of his partners on the … Continue reading →

Rotary Downs: Progressive rock from the Crescent City

Photo by CORD MCPHAIL -- Rotary Downs members are, back row from left, Zack Smith, James Marler and Jason Rhein; front row, Chris Colombo, Alex Smith and Anthony Cuccia.

In Rotary Downs, New Orleans has a modern-rock band worthy of the world’s notice. The group’s new album, “Traces,” is a great example of its meticulously constructed pop-rock, distilled into short, fetching songs. “I hope you’ve got some good headphones,” Rotary Downs drummer Zack Smith said. “That thing is meant for the hi-fi.” “Traces” … Continue reading →

Wilson’s train nearly derails Richie’s finale at Essence

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Lionel Richie performs during the 2014 ESSENCE Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, July 6, 2014.

Singer, songwriter and pianist Lionel Richie created an amazing catalog of hits. He performed many of them Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during closing night of the 20th Essence Festival. But Richie’s music sales in the millions and popularity that rivaled his 1980s peers Prince and Michael Jackson couldn’t stop the party train led by … Continue reading →

Prince thrills Essence Festival crowd at Superdome

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Prince performs during the 2014 ESSENCE Festival at the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Friday, July 4, 2014.

Prince launched his much-anticipated Friday night show at the Essence Festival with a promise that was easy to keep. “We’re going to play 14 hits in a row,” he told his Essence audience, which filled every available seat in the sold-out Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Prince and 3rd Eye Girl, the all-girl trio he’s been working … Continue reading →

Robert Glasper brings ‘Black Radio’ to Essence

Photo by JANETTE BECKMAN -- Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper’s genre-defying “Black Radio” won a Grammy Award last year for best R&B album. Keyboardist Glasper collaborated with star vocalists for the project, including Erykah Badu, Ledisi, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Bilal and Yasiin Bey. The entrancing hybrid of R&B, jazz and hip-hop earned critics’ praise, and its first single, “Ah Yeah,” featuring … Continue reading →

New Jerry Lee Lewis album due Oct. 28

Photo provided by Vanguard Records -- Jerry Lee Lewis' new album 'Rock & Roll Time' will be released Oct. 28.

Jerry Lee Lewis, the 77-year-old rock ’n’ roll pioneer from Ferriday, will release a new album, “Rock & Roll Time,” Oct. 28. The album’s guest stars include New Orleans keyboard player Ivan Neville, Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Ron Wood, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, Shelby Lynne, Nils Lofgren, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II and producer and … Continue reading →

New Jerry Lee Lewis album due Oct. 28

Photo provided by Vanguard Records -- Jerry Lee Lewis' new album 'Rock & Roll Time' will be released Oct. 28.

Jerry Lee Lewis, the 78-year-old rock ’n’ roll pioneer from Ferriday, will release a new album, ‘Rock & Roll Time,’ Oct. 28. The album’s guest stars include New Orleans keyboard player Ivan Neville, Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Ron Wood, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, Shelby Lynne, Nils Lofgren, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II and producer and former … Continue reading →

Grammy-nominated Ledisi returns to Essence stage

Photo provided by The Chamber Group -- Ledisi

Ledisi Anibade Young, the eight-time Grammy-nominated singer known simply as Ledisi, returns to her native New Orleans next weekend for her sixth Essence Festival appearance. Performing at Essence since 2004, Ledisi progressed from the festival’s Super Lounges to its main stage. She’ll make her second main stage appearance Saturday, July 5. Ledisi … Continue reading →

Summer Sounds concert series returns to St. James Church

St. Martin

The St. James Center for Spiritual Formation will host the fifth annual Summer Sounds at St. James series of musical concerts at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in July at St. James Episcopal Church, corner of Convention and North 4th streets downtown. Admission for each concert is $10. College students with a valid ID will be admitted free. A … Continue reading →

Merry Clayton severely injured in auto accident

Photo by ALAN MERCER -- Merry Clayton

New Orleans native Merry Clayton, one of the backup singers featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom,” was severely injured Monday in an auto accident in Los Angeles. A statement from Clayton’s family and her Baton Rouge-based manager, Alan Abrahams, posted on the singer’s website at merryclayton.com, says Clayton “sustained … Continue reading →

Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits return to B.R.

Photo provided by peternoone.com -- Peter Noone, of Herman's Hermits, performs on Fox's 'American Idol' in March 2007.

In this 50th anniversary year of the British Invasion — that musical and cultural revolution whose more obvious touchstones include the Beatles’ “Ed Sullivan Show” debut on Feb. 9, 1964 — Peter Noone, lead singer of second-wave British Invasion band Herman’s Hermits, hopes his likewise enormously popular group doesn’t get lost in the mix. Continue reading →

Buckwheat Zydeco reminds young musicians to remember their roots

Photo by Rick Olivier -- Buckwheat Zydeco

Stanley Dural Jr., known to the world as Buckwheat Zydeco, is music’s best-selling zydeco artist. Following six Grammy nominations, the Carencro singer and accordion and organ player’s 2009 album, “Lay Your Burden Down,” clinched his first Grammy award. A frequent performer at the world’s music festivals since the 1970s — including the Newport Folk Festival, Montreaux … Continue reading →

Cajun-Zydeco Fest moves to Armstrong Park

Photo provided by Fleming Artists -- Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet.

The eighth annual Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival runs 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. This year the event, another of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation’s community festivals, moves from the Old U.S. Mint to Armstrong Park. The 2014 festival lineup includes Grammy-winning zydeco act Buckwheat Zydeco and Grammy-winning Cajun band Beausoleil avec … Continue reading →

Sweden’s Little Dragon gains a U.S. following

Little Dragon, a quartet from Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, never had more momentum in America than it does now. Little Dragon’s U.S. label, Loma Vista Recordings, released the group’s fourth album, “Nabuma Rubberband,” in May. The album features an exquisite mix of singer Yukimi Nagano’s silky R&B-affected vocals and her bandmates’ gorgeously atmospheric instruments. … Continue reading →

Rapper 50 Cent shows rust on ‘Animal Ambition’

/Invision/AP photo by GREG ALLEN -- Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson

50 Cent made a ginormous splash more than a decade ago with his multiplatinum debut “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” pushing out early career hits from “In da Club” to “P.I.M.P.” But the rapper has been unable to live up to his first album’s success, which ultimately led to his … Continue reading →

Local singer will compete on MTV’s ‘Copycat’

Photo by QUE DUONG  -- Justin Garner

Justin Garner, a pop and rhythm-and-blues singer-songwriter from Plaquemine, will appear on MTV’s singing competition show, “Copycat,” at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 19. “Copycat,” with host Jonathan Bennett (“Mean Girls”), features contestants who believe they can sing like their favorite music artists. Each “Copycat” episode features six contestants. The show matches two contestants who are fans of … Continue reading →