When I lived in Mississippi, I would often call in sick to work when I needed to take a mental health break, and that mental health break usually meant a five-and-a-half hour drive down the 55 to New Orleans to hear music, dance and drink in the streets. My favorite place to hear music was the Maple Leaf Bar in the Garden District. I remember getting off the street car at the Carrolton stop, and you could already hear the music and feel the vibe. Upon entering, everyone would be dancing, as there is no sitting and nodding your head to jazz allowed in the Big Easy. That city, in my memory, is synonymous with hot, sticky, sweaty late nights filled with electricity and good times.
This past weekend, I was taken straight back the Maple Leaf Bar right here at the Independent in NOPA. Trombone Shorty is a young jazz impresario hailing from New Orleans. On Saturday night, he rocked the house with one song leading straight into another, complete with originals as well as jazzy renditions of Snoop Dogg and AC/DC.
I had seen Trombone Shorty open for Allen Toussaint at Stern Grove two weeks ago, and fell in love then, but when you're as up close and personal as I was this past Saturday, boy oh boy, I wished I was 22 years old again! Here's the band, taking their bow.
Ironically, Trombone Shorty and the New Orleans Avenue were the opening band, but clearly it should have been the other way around on Saturday night. I had the chance to speak with the saxophonist (another youngster) after their set, and when I told him that they really needed to sell cd's at their shows, he asked me, "I don't understand why anyone would want to listen to US." My reply was, "Give yourself some credit!" These guys kick ass, and I highly recommend putting them on your wishlists and giving them as the gift of music to all your friends and family members!