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Blues sideman Lil’ Ray Neal steps into the spotlight

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Blues musician Lil' Ray Neal  hopes to perform more often in his home state, Louisiana.

Baton Rouge blues singer-guitarist Lil’ Ray Neal served as sideman to blues and rhythm-and-blues legends for nearly 40 years. He’s been a supporting player for John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Little Milton Campbell, Bobby Rush and Bobby “Blue” Bland. In recent years, he worked with B.B. King, the… Continue reading →

40-plus bands lined up for Satchmo SummerFest

Photo by CEDRIC ELLSWORTH -- Rebirth Brass Band performs at Satchmo SummerFest 2014.

The 2015 Satchmo SummerFest features Louis Armstrong-inspired music, a new exhibit on Armstrong’s life in New Orleans, scholarly seminars and more. More than 40 traditional jazz, contemporary jazz and brass band performances are on the festival’s schedule this year, including Deacon John Moore, Ellis Marsalis, the PresHall Brass, Kermit Ruffins, Lars Edegran and the… Continue reading →

For Ella and Louie Tribute Band, Satchmo fest is a natural fit

Photo by DANIELA KLEIN -- The Ella and Louie Tribute Band are, from left,Leslie Martin, Wendell Brunious, Eileina Dennis, Gerald French, Mitch Player and Todd Duke.

In the 1940s and ’50s, jazz stars Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald combined their exceptional talents for duo recordings. Released by the Decca and Verve labels, the collaborations include the classic mid-’50s albums “Ella and Louis” and “Ella and Louis Again.” Inspired by the Armstrong-Fitzgerald recordings, Mitchell Player formed the Ella and Louie Tribute Band… Continue reading →

Am/Fm to open Live After Five in fall

Photo provided by Facebook-- Am/Fm

The Gonzales cover band Am/Fm will open the Live After Five fall concert series Friday, Sept. 4, at North Boulevard Town Square. The series, hosted by the Downtown Business Association, offers free concerts from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Friday on the square’s Crest stage. The rest of the fall lineup includes: Continue reading →

‘Frozen’ singer Idina Menzel will open up to audience at Saenger in New Orleans

Photo by ROBIN WONG -- Idina Menzel

Before “Frozen,” Idina Menzel was merely a Tony-winning Broadway star. After “Frozen,” the singer-actress found herself engulfed in the Disney animated musical’s global blizzard of popularity. “Frozen” is the highest-grossing animated movie in history. Menzel sings and speaks the role of Princess Elsa, the “Frozen” character who performs the film’s Oscar-winning hit, “Let… Continue reading →

Tim Rushlow leaves Little Texas behind for a more intimate solo adventure

Photo provided by Vanessa Davis –- Tim Rushlow

In the 1990s, Little Texas, featuring singer Tim Rushlow, released more than a dozen country hits, including “God Blessed Texas,” “Amy’s Back in Austin,” “What Might Have Been” and “My Love.” Rushlow launched a solo career after Little Texas’ breakup. More recently, he’s been hosting “Rushlow in the Round.” The intimate, singer and… Continue reading →

Annual Swamp Pop Music Festival to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Photo provided by the Swamp Pop Music Festival -- Ryan Foret and Foret Tradition close out the festival with an 8:30 p.m. show Saturday.

The 18th Annual Price LeBlanc Toyota and Nissan Swamp Pop Music Festival is Friday and Saturday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center’s air-conditioned Trademart building in Gonzales. The festival, which annually draws as many as 6,000 attendees, opens at 6 p.m. Friday with Kenny Fife and Bac Trac. Other acts during the weekend include Warren Storm, Willie… Continue reading →

Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson hasten ‘End Times’

Photo by PAUL ELLEDGE -- Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson, two alternative-rock acts that achieved stardom in the 1990s, combine their dark musical forces for “The End Times Tour.” The U.S. and Canadian Pumpkins-Manson tour opened July 7 at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, California. Running through Aug. 8, it arrives in New Orleans Monday for a show at… Continue reading →

Hometown crowd never gave up on 3 Doors Down

Photo provided by Republic Records -- 3 Doors Down

When 3 Doors Down performs Sunday in Champions Square in New Orleans, the nationally known rock band will be close to where it all began. Now based in Nashville, Tennessee, 3 Doors Down is originally from the small town of Escatawpa, Mississippi. In 2000, the band soared out of Mississippi on the melancholy wings… Continue reading →

Rock opera ‘Deep Love’ takes the long road to NYC

Associated Press photo by MARK KENNEDY -- Jon Peter Lewis is co-director, co-book writer and stars in 'Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera' at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

There’s not much to do in eastern Idaho in the winter. It’s freezing, windy and depressing. Why not create a musical? Stay-inside weather — plus a healthy dose of heartache — helped spark the creation in 2009 of “Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera.” Six years later it arrives in steamy… Continue reading →

Garth Brooks makes belated but triumphant New Orleans debut: ‘You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for you guys’

Advocate photo by ERIKA GOLDRING -- Country superstar Garth Brooks performs during the first of four concerts at the Smoothie King Center on July 10, 2015, in New Orleans.

Country music star Garth Brooks’ accomplishments include 25 No. 1 songs, sales of 135 million albums and 14 albums that debuted at No. 1. By now, 26 years after his album debut, you would think he’d done everything in the music business that can be done. But there was at least one thing he hadn’t done… Continue reading →

New Orleans’ queen of bounce music Big Freedia now an author

Photo provided by Nicole Balin -- New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia has just published a memoir, 'Big Freedia. God Save the Queen Diva!'

Already a music and TV star, Big Freedia, New Orleans’ queen of bounce music, is now a published author. “Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva!” is out this week. Freedia co-wrote the lively memoir with her Beverly Hills-based publicist, former music journalist Nicole Balin. She sees more books in her future,… Continue reading →

Shows to watch for July 10-16, 2015

Photo provided by Mike Atkinson -- Blu Rouge -- Local variety music band Blu Rouge will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Ahuua's Mexican Restaurant and at 9 p.m. Saturday at Backstreet Lounge.

ROCK/POP FRIDAY POLLY PRY: Chelsea’s Café IMAGINE — ACADIANA’S BEATLES TRIBUTE BAND: Varsity Theatre (8 p.m.) SATURDAY PANIC! AT THE DISCO: Blue Bayou/Dixie Landin’ (7 p.m.) BLUE VERSE: Varsity Theatre (8 p.m.) THE IVORY SONS: Chelsea’s Café BLUES/R&B

Lil Wayne releases surprise free mixtape ‘FWA’

Photo provided by Cash Money Records -- Lil Wayne

“Rest in peace to Cash Money Weezy,” Lil Wayne raps early into his “Free Weezy Album.” “Gone but not forgotten.” The rapper has yet to resolve the nasty legal battle with his longtime label, Cash Money Records, but he’s continuing to sate fans awaiting his studio album by offering another project,… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for July 3-9, 2015

Photo provided by jonathonboogielong.com -- Jonathon 'Boogie' Long -- Fiery Baton Rouge blues singer-guitarist Jonathon 'Boogie' Long will perform Saturday at Lava Cantina.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from July 3-9, 2015. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Music, empowerment: the Essence of it

Photo provided by GMc+Co. Advertising -- Usher

The Essence Festival returns to New Orleans for the July Fourth weekend with four nights of evening concerts in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and three days of the Empowerment Experience at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Among the nation’s largest events, the Essence Festival is expected to draw more than 550,000 attendees… Continue reading →

Former Baker Middle School teacher Dee-1 turns to hip-hop ‘as a form of expression’

Photo by Brittany Baham -- Dee-1

New Orleans hip-hop artist Dee-1 puts a different spin on rap. Rapping for a higher purpose, he writes positive rhymes about being real, righteous and relevant. An LSU graduate and former Baker Middle School teacher, Dee-1, aka David Augustine, went pro with his rap music in 2011. That was the year he released his… Continue reading →

VooDoo Music Experience announces lineup

Associated Press file photo -- Ozzy Osbourne

English indie rock band Florence + The Machine, heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne and Atlanta-based country act the Zac Brown Band will headline the 2015 Voodoo Music Experience. The Halloween-timed music festival returns to City Park in New Orleans Oct. 30- Nov. 1. Now in its 17th year, the… Continue reading →

From playing with Prince to debut in N.O., new album, Andy Allo spreads wings

Photo provided by Captivate Management Group -- Andy Allo

This weekend, Andy Allo, the 25-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter who spent two years in Prince’s New Power Generation band, will simultaneously make her Essence Festival and New Orleans debuts. Allo left New Power Generation in 2013, which means she wasn’t in Prince’s band when he headlined the Essence Festival last year. This year she’s… Continue reading →

Review: Musgraves wows with ‘Pageant Material’

Photo by KELLY CHRISTINE MUSGRAVES -- Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves strives for a classic ’60s country sound on her second album, “Pageant Material.” Ditching the loops and other contemporary flourishes of her ground-breaking, Grammy-winning 2013 debut, “Same Trailer, Different Park,” the native Texan presents carefully arranged tracks focused on steel guitar, orchestrated strings and brushed rhythms. Lyrically, she shifts… Continue reading →

From Belafonte to the blues: Guy Davis’ uncommon life

Photo provided by Joseph A. Rosen -- Guy Davis

The blues, at its best, strikes a common chord: Guy Davis unspools everyman’s tale with earnest, engaging ease — but his own story is uncommon. This down-to-earth bluesman wears the larger-than-life mantle of his late parents: activist-actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. The New York native travels the world sharing… Continue reading →

Neon Trees to play Dixie Landin’/Blue Bayou on Saturday

photo by Mathew Hartman -- Neon Trees

Singer and keyboardist Tyler Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen formed Neon Trees, the pop and neo-new wave band whose hits include “Animal,” “Everybody Talks” and “Sleeping with a Friend,” in college town Provo, Utah, in 2005. The band’s lineup solidified in late 2007 with the addition of bassist Branden Campbell and drummer-singer Elaine Bradley. “Chris and Tyler… Continue reading →

Bonsoir, Catin: ‘When we play here in Louisiana, everybody’s dancing’

Photo by GREG MILES -- Bonsoir Catin are, from left, Anya Burgess, Christine Balfa, Danny Devillier, Kristi Guillory, Ashley Hayes, Maegan Berard.

Two weekends ago in New Orleans’ Armstrong Park, the Grammy-nominated Bonsoir, Catin made its debut at the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival. The nearly all-female Lafayette band adds swamp pop, zydeco and rock ’n’ roll to its Cajun foundation. “We love all kinds of music,” said Kristi Guillory, the group’s co-founder, singer and accordion player. “Whenever I write… Continue reading →

Junior Brown brings guit-steel prowess to Baton Rouge

Photo provided by the Paradigm Agency -- Junior Brown

Junior Brown and his world-famous guit-steel — a hybrid of an electric six-string guitar and a steel guitar that Brown invented — are returning to Baton Rouge on Thursday, June 25, for a show at the Manship Theatre. Brown first envisioned the guit-steel in 1980. Texas guitar maker Michael Stevens completed the first guit-steel in 1985.… Continue reading →

Louisiana Film Society to screen Sundance favorite “Dope”

Open Road Films photo by Rachel Morrison -- Shameik Moore stars as Malcolm in the new film, 'Dope.'

The Louisiana Film Society and the Louisiana International Film Festival are presenting a pre-release screening of “Dope” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, at Cinemark Perkins Rowe. A favorite with audiences and critics at the Sundance Film Festival, “Dope” follows a young man named Malcolm (Shameik Moore) as he navigates life in a tough Los… Continue reading →

Janet Jackson to play the Smoothie King Center on Sept. 30

FILE - In this May 23, 2013 file photo, six-time Grammy Award winner and multi-platinum selling artist  Janet Jackson arrives at a benefit at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, during the 66th international film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

Janet Jackson will perform Sept. 30 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The show is part of the singer’s “Unbreakable World Tour.” She previously played the Smoothie King Center, then known as the New Orleans Arena, in September 2001. Jackson is a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum selling artist and member of the Jackson family of musicians that… Continue reading →

Thompson Square: Latest album is ‘the best thing we’ve ever done’

Photo provided by BBR Music Group -- Thompson Square

Keifer and Shawna Thompson, the married, hit-making country music duo known as Thompson Square, journeyed to Nashville with dreams of being solo artists. She came from Alabama. He came from Miami. The future members of Thompson Square met at a singing competition during their first week of Music City residence. The prize, as best as Keifer… Continue reading →

BRSO brings out the show tunes

Debbie Gravitte

The Baton Rouge area audience doesn’t disappear during the summer, so why should the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra? The orchestra usually ends its season of performances in May but is sticking around to play some show tunes in its “Bravo Broadway!” concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18, in the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre… Continue reading →

Summer jazz concert series starts at LSU

Photo provided by the LSU School of Music -- 'Hot Summer Nights and Cool Jazz' brings together a quartet, mostly of LSU faculty, along with guests artists.

The Hot Summer Nights Quartet never does the same show twice. And even if it decided to perform the same lineup two nights in a row, audiences would still hear a different program. “We improvise, so we could never duplicate what we played the night before,” Willis Delony says. “We may plan out a program,… Continue reading →

Musicians honored at Slim Harpo Music Awards

Photo by Matthew Schlenker -- James Johnson, left, and Jimmie Vaughan at Slim Harpo Awards 2015.

Last week’s Slim Harpo Music Awards brought Texas music stars Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton to Baton Rouge. At Chelsea’s Café, honorees Vaughan and Barton graciously accepted their Slim Harpo Legends Awards. Following the ceremony, Vaughan, Barton and Tilt-A-Whirl performed with a special guest, original Slim Harpo band member James Johnson. A Grammy-winning Louisiana… Continue reading →