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Whether pedaling his bike or cruising through genres, cellist Ben Sollee enjoys the ride

Photo provided by the Manship Theatre -- Ben Sollee

The ride is always an adventure, but it isn’t always the wisest choice. There are times when Ben Sollee doesn’t do his research and finds himself riding his bicycle in the steep hills between Kentucky and Tennessee. Or following the sandy Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Pensacola on U.S. 90, which is rigorous enough when… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Oct. 24-30, 2014

Photo provided by DUSTIN EISKANT -- Old Salt Union From St. Louis, Old Salt Union performs music influenced by bluegrass greats the Del McCoury Band and Sam Bush, Bill Evans, Danny Elfman and the Punch Brothers. Old Salt Union performs Tuesday at the Manship Theater's Hartley Vey Theatre.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Oct. 24-30, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Love, discipline fuel Neil Diamond’s latest album

Invision/AP photo by VICTORIA WILL -- Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond wrote and recorded his first studio album of new material in six years floating in the heady glow of new love. The 73-year-old entertainer, who married for the third time in 2012, says happiness with his new bride fueled his work on “Melody Road,” released on Tuesday.… Continue reading →

How pianist Mary Grace Gellekanao -- with only one hand and an undersized leg -- plays concerts for charities

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- A small crowd gathers to hear Mary Grace Gellekanao play at Mid City General Hospital on Oct. 3.  Gellekanao said she has been drawn to music since the age of 6, and credits God and her family for the discovery and cultivation of her talent.

Born in the Philippines with only one hand and an undersized right leg, Mary Grace Gellekanao embarrassed some in her family, who told her to stay in her room when people visited. “I didn’t have any friends. I had nobody to talk to,” she said. “As a kid, I didn’t know what was going on. When… Continue reading →

Ziggy Marley’s reggae music follows family tradition

Photo by MALIA JAMES -- Ziggy Marley

When Ziggy Marley, son of reggae music’s brightest star, Bob Marley, performs onstage and writes songs that contain meaning and messages, he’s following family tradition. “Most of my family is musicians,” the Kingston, Jamaica, native said last week from his second home, California. “Going back to my grandmother and my grandfather, on both sides… Continue reading →

New Orleans Suspects is more than the sum of its musical parts

Photo provided by Michelle Roche -- New Orleans Suspects -- From left, 'Mean' Willie Green, Reggie Scanlan, C.R. Gruver, Jake Eckert and Jeff Watkins.

All five members of the New Orleans Suspects have impressive résumés. Bassist Reggie Scanlan played bass with New Orleans rock band the Radiators for 33 years. Drummer “Mean” Willie Green spent just as many years with the Neville Brothers band. Scanlan also worked with classic New Orleans artists Professor Longhair, James Booker and… Continue reading →

Steel Wheels makes south La. debut at Manship Theatre

Photo provided by LUCY HAISLIP -- The Steel Wheels

It’s fall in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. That means the foliage on maple trees, birches, poplars and hickories is turning red, gold and yellow. Trent Wagler, lead singer of the Harrisonburg-based string band, The Steel Wheels, which makes its south Louisiana debut Sunday at the Manship Theatre, loves being home for nature’s display.… Continue reading →

Blues and BBQ Festival returns to Lafayette Square in New Orleans

Photo provided by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation -- Los Lobos

The Crescent City Blues and Barbecue Festival, one of New Orleans’ favorite fall festivals, returns this weekend for a three-day stand in Lafayette Square Park. Presented each October by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation, the Blues and Barbecue Festival is a free event featuring music, food, a big arts market… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Oct. 17-23, 2014

Photo by C. TAYLOR CROTHERS -- The Josh Abbott Band -- The major-label debut from the Josh Abbott Band recently reached the Top 20 of Billboard's country albums chart. The band performs Wednesday at the Varsity Theatre.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Oct. 17-23, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

How Hendrix pointed a guitarman to music’s roots

Photo by LEN UMHOEFER -- Selwyn Birchwood

A child of the 1990s, Selwyn Birchwood didn’t grow up with the blues. Like his peers in Orlando, Florida, he listened to the era’s mainstream music, not the sounds of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy or John Lee Hooker. At 13, Birchwood picked up a guitar and learned songs by Nirvana and… Continue reading →

Erasure’s new album is masterfully crafted dance pop

Photo by PHIL SHARPE -- ErasureAndy Bell, left, and Vince Clarke are British dance-pop duo Erasure.

In September — nearly 30 years and 40 hits into its career — Erasure released its 16th album. True to form, “The Violet Flame” consists of masterfully crafted dance pop that’s bubbling with real, expressively sung melodies and anthem-level uplift. “The Violet Flame” turned out beautifully, but keyboardist Vince Clarke and… Continue reading →

Contra & Square Dance set today at St. Alban’s

A Contra & Square Dance will take place 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Alban’s Chapel, at Highland Road and Dalrymple Drive in Baton Rouge. Live music will be by Back Up & Push. Dancers need no experience. A basics for beginners session will be at 4:45 pm. Admission is $6. Call… Continue reading →

Musician converts wind, sun and rain into sounds

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Musician and instrument inventor Mr. Quintron has invented an instrument called the Weather Warlock that uses temperature, light, wind, rain, and other weather sensors to make sound seen here in his home in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. The sound from the machine can be heard on, a website that streams the synthesizerÕs output 24 hours a day.

In 2011, a group of artists built structures that were also musical instruments on a vacant lot, a project called the Music Box. The electronic artist known as Quintron contributed a prototype of an instrument he now calls the Weather Warlock — a synthesizer that converts weather into sound. But, in a… Continue reading →

The Widowers’ Matt Sigur brings musician friends in for studio album

Photo provided by Matt Sigur -- The Widowers

The Widowers is local singer, guitarist and songwriter Matt Sigur. It’s a band, too, albeit a band composed of various casts of Sigur’s talented musician friends. Sigur distills his ’90s rock influences into “Mint Grizz,” his first full-length studio album. He’ll play an album-release show Saturday at Spanish Moon, accompanied by bassist Jonathan… Continue reading →

After 50 years, Paul McCartney says he’s still in it for the fans

Photo by M.J. Kim -- Paul McCartney performs on his 'Out There' tour 2014.

He’s the act we’ve known for all these years. At last, Sir Paul McCartney’s makeup date for the New Orleans concert originally scheduled for June 19 is upon us. The former Beatle performs Saturday at the Smoothie King Center, a sold-out stop on his two-year-running “Out There” tour. McCartney’s New Orleans concert is… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Oct. 10-16, 2014

Photo provided by AFI -- AFI -- Platinum rock band AFI performs Saturday at the Varsity Theatre. The show also features Nostalghia.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Oct. 10-16, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Katy Perry ‘Prism’ tour brings a pop rainbow to N.O. on Wednesday

Photo by CHRISTIE GOODWIN -- Katy Perry performs during her Prismatic World Tour.

The ever-changing hair colors, cartoonish stage costumes, celebrity boyfriends and a brief marriage to British comic Russell Brand — it’s all kept the buzz about Katy Perry hot since she became a pop star in 2008. Recent items about the singer-songwriter include her Muppet-red hairdo. “It’s Animal-inspired pinky-red!” reported. “KP… Continue reading →

Grammy-winning Kacey Musgraves’ clever songwriting goes gold

Photo by KELLY CHRISTINE MUSGRAVES -- Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves, from a small town in East Texas, is one of country music’s newly risen stars. Country Weekly magazine crowned Musgraves the belle of the 2014 Grammy Awards ball. Her album debut, “Same Trailer Different Park,” won for best country album. Her song, “Merry Go ’Round,” won the best country song honor. Musgraves’… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Oct. 3-9, 3014

Photo by  CARA ROBINS -- Generationals The New Orleans-based Generationals perform Thursday at Spanish Moon. Featuring LSU grads Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner, Generationals released its latest album, 'Alix,' last week.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Oct. 3-9, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Imelda May relishes the fusion of genres

Photo by BARRY MCCALL -- Imelda May

She’s 5 foot, 3 inches of rockabilly, blues and swing dynamite. There’s much more to Imelda May, but the many genres that feed the Irish fireball’s musical soul form too long a list for a sentence or two. Following the No. 1 and No. 3 debuts in Ireland and the U.K. respectively for her… Continue reading →

St. Francisville Symphony opens Chamber Series on Friday

Continuing last season’s “Festival of the Baroque,” the St. Francisville Symphony Association will open the 2014-15 Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Series concerts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Grace Episcopal Church, 11621 Ferdinand St., St. Francisville, with a performance titled “The Guitar in the Baroque.” The performance will be preceded by a wine and cheese… Continue reading →

Richardson’s sixth album, ‘I Am Calvin’ shows off versatility

Photo provided by Ali Bianchi -- Calvin Richardson

Major record company BMG, Primary Wave Music and singing star Eric Benet’s Jordan House Records released Baton Rouge resident Calvin Richardson’s sixth album, “I Am Calvin,” this week. Richardson, a gospel-schooled rhythm-and-blues artist and North Carolina native who’s lived in Louisiana for three years, earned a Grammy nomination for co-writing the Charlie Wilson hit,… Continue reading →

Album Reviews: Blake Shelton, Prince and more

Associated Press file photo -- Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton’s public persona — a mix of smart-aleck whimsy and thoughtful sensitivity — has made him country music’s most ubiquitous male star. A full-grown man with a boyish cheekiness, his easy likability has made him a consummate award-show host, a high-profile judge on NBC’s “The Voice” and a constant… Continue reading →

Michael Cerveris talks about his tv show, his band and his love of La.

Photo by JACOB BLICKENSTAFF -- Michael Cerveris

Michael Cerveris’ many performances on stage, in film and television include his recurring role as Cook County State’s Attorney James Castro in the Emmy-winning, Julianna Margulies-starring “The Good Wife.” He also played Marvin Frey, manager of Lucia Micarelli’s Annie in “Treme.” And he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of John Wilkes Booth in Stephen… Continue reading →

Mike Zito returns to old plans, hits the road with new album

Photo provided by JILL KETTLES -- Mike Zito

Texas-based blues-rock singer-guitarist Mike Zito was busy building his solo career when the chance to form a regional supergroup presented itself. Zito had already written an award-winning song with a future Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate, Cyril Neville. In 2010, the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee, named their dark and swampy collaboration, “Pearl River,” song… Continue reading →

SLU drum majors bring friendship onto the field

SLU Public Information Office photo by RANDY BERGERON -- Drum majors for the Southeastern Louisiana Pride of the Southland Marching Band are Hailey Wilkinson, left, and Raymond Jones.

Editor’s note: This is the last of a four-part series on area college drum majors. Hailey Wilkinson and Raymond Jones met in elementary school and have since been best friends despite attending different high schools. Now they can add another feather to their friendship caps. The two were chosen last fall… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Concert Band fall performance set for Sunday

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Dottie Smith plays the bassoon with the Baton Rouge Concert Band during rehearsal Tuesday at the LSU School of Music.

Meet the Baton Rouge Concert Band. No, really. The band recently circulated a survey to learn a little more about its members as its fall concert approaches on Sunday. The band will perform at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. And whereas past concerts have focused on a central theme, this one doesn’t follow… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2014

Photo by ZACK SMITH -- Galactic New Orleans funk-rock band Galactic and Naughty Professor perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Varsity Theatre.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Toussaint brings piano chops to BR’s Manship Theatre

Photo provided by Parsons Dance -- Allen Toussaint

The Manship Theatre opened its 10th season Friday with a very special guest. Allen Toussaint, following in the footsteps of his fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee from New Orleans, Dr. John, joined the list of great acts who’ve played the Manship stage. “This is such a charming theater,” Toussaint said. “I love… Continue reading →

One Direction’s Superdome concert is ‘Where We Are’

Photo provided by Sony Music -- One Direction

Numbers tell the One Direction story through ticket and music sales, chart positions and digital downloads. The pop-singing success of young Englishmen Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson plus Irishman Niall Horan does impress. Last week, One Direction offered one of its new songs, “Fireproof,” as a free digital… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette’s drum major Matt Walling gets new perspective from flying solo

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- University of Louisiana at Lafayette Pride of Acadiana Marching Band Drum Major Matt Walling leads the band during a recent football game at Cajun Field in Lafayette.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series focusing on area college drum majors. Cajun Field is different this year. The football field still covers 100 yards, and the end zones are still there, as are the sidelines. But stepping off at least one of those sidelines this year is… Continue reading →

New Orleans musicians take on pregame National Anthem with reverence and a touch of nerves

Photo by Elizabeth McMillan -- The NOCCA Chorus will sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the Saints home opener against the Vikings on Sunday. Front row, from left, are John Michael Bradford (horn player), Brianna Wetherington, Whitney Campbell, Garri Paul, Connie New, Lindsey Reynolds, NOCCA faculty Bart Folse. Second row, Imani Francis, Caitlin Ecuyer, Rebecca Nuss, Emily Sheets, Caitlyn Harris, NOCCA faculty Anne Sumich. Back row, David Murray, Dwight Robinette, William Van Horn and  NOCCA faculty Matt Wood.

Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969. Marvin Gaye’s slow jam on “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the NBA All-Star Game in 1983. Whitney Houston’s deeply felt performance at the 1991 Super Bowl. Remarkable versions of the National Anthem can be counted on one hand, while entire web pages are dedicated to failed… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Sept. 19-25, 2014

File photo -- Allen Toussaint -- Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans songwriter, pianist and producer and 1999 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, opens the Manship Theatre's 10th anniversary season at 8 p.m. Friday. The many hits Toussaint composed include Glen Campbell's 'Southern Nights,' Lee Dorsey's 'Working in the Coalmine' and Ernie K-Doe's 'Mother-in-Law.' Tickets are available to Manship Theatre members only.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Sept. 19-25, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Too many hazy sentiments bog down McGraw

Twenty years after his breakthrough hit, “Indian Outlaw,” Tim McGraw still pushes at country music’s boundaries. His new album, “Sundown Heaven Town,” incorporates contemporary Nashville flourishes while holding onto McGraw’s signature sound — a moody, atmospheric tone developed over the years with producer Byron Gallimore. The album… Continue reading →

Jazz & Heritage Archive offering up to three fellowships

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Archive is offering up to three fellowships to support researchers who want to either use the archive’s materials or contribute to them. Jazz & Heritage Archive fellows will be awarded up to $5,000 to support their research at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Archive and at other archives, if necessary.… Continue reading →

Cosimo Matassa funeral arrangements set

Photo provided by the Matassa Family -- Cosimo Matassa at the recording studio in the 1950's.

Visitation and funeral arrangements for Cosimo Matassa — the New Orleans studio owner and engineer who recorded national and regional hits by Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Irma Thomas, Art and Aaron Neville and many more — have been set. Matassa, a modest legend who always gave credit to the singers… Continue reading →

WBRH to feature tribute to Matassa

Photo provided by the Matassa Family -- Cosimo Matassa with singer Baton Rouge singer Jimmy Clanton, whom he managed and recorded.

Baton Rouge Magnet High School radio stations WBRH-FM (90.3) and KBRH-AM (1260) will pay tribute to the late New Orleans recording studio owner and engineer Cosimo Matassa from 8 a.m. through noon, Saturday, Sept. 13. Matassa died Thursday, Sept. 11, at 88. Rob Payer, host of Saturday morning program “The Rhythm… Continue reading →

Cosimo Matassa was a giant in New Orleans music scene

Recording engineer Cosimo Matassa at the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions Sunday, April 15, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) ORG XMIT: NYEOTK

Cosimo Matassa’s French Quarter recording studios were hit factories in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. A giant in the city’s music scene, Matassa died Thursday at 88. Following a stroke in recent years, Matassa’s health declined in the past few months, his family told WWL-TV. Local and national stars recorded at… Continue reading →

Former Black Crowes frontman enjoys a new direction

Photo provided by the Mitch Schneider Organization -- Chris Robinson Brotherhood

As frontman for the Black Crowes, Chris Robinson hit the big time in 1990 with the release of the Atlanta-based band’s album debut, “Shake Your Money Maker.” Featuring brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, the Crowes successfully revived a free-flowing, raunchy kind of rock that has its roots in blues, classic soul and early rock ’n’ roll.… Continue reading →

The Beatles: Recalling the mob scene in City Park 50 years ago

Photo by Ted Rozumalski -- Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon on stage during the September 16,  1964 concert in New Orleans.

The Beatles played their only New Orleans concert on Sept. 16, 1964. The group’s less-than-24-hour visit was by all accounts a full-tilt episode of Beatlemania. On Tuesday, the concert’s 50th anniversary, WYES-TV in New Orleans will mark the event with a performance by Beatles tribute band The Fab Four at Tad Gormley… Continue reading →

As Keith Morgan conducts Southern’s Human Jukebox, he knows practice makes perfect

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern University drum major Keith Morgan leads the band at halftime.

Editor’s note: This is the second story in a four-part series focusing on area college band drum majors. With a football season’s worth of back bends under his belt, Keith Morgan has no worries. “At first, you’re thinking about how you’re about to step out in front of 40,000 people,” he says.… Continue reading →

Benjamin Booker blasts the blues on new album

Photo provided by Shorefire -- Benjamin Booker

New Orleanian Benjamin Booker is a national sensation with a very low profile here. He moved to New Orleans from Florida in 2012 and played primarily small gigs, but his raw, electric blues got the attention of ATO Records who signed him, and Jack White, who took Booker on tour as the… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Sept. 12-18, 2014

Photo by CARL DUNN -- Reckless Kelly -- Austin alt-country band Reckless Kelly returns to Baton Rouge on Friday for a show at the Varsity Theatre.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Sept. 12-18, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Guests to join Dr. John onstage at Joy Theater concert

Photo by BRUCE WEBER -- Dr. John

Following the release of his Louis Armstrong tribute album, “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch,” Dr. John’s Sept. 20 concert at the Joy Theater will feature many special guests. The guest list includes New Orleans trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton and drummer Herlin Riley, all of whom appear on the album. Dr. John’s music director Sarah Morrow, who did much of… Continue reading →