Voodoo Music Experience 2011!

Three solid days of musical gumbo, established bands, reunions, genre-busting performances, and fans aged birth to 80+.  One 60-something lady, grinning ear to ear, asked me “Why do I know that guy?” during Ray Davies’ performance–a two word response, “The Kinks!” doubled her over in laughter and then a moment of distant-eyed recollection before busting out her dance groove again.  Except for a meeting with a woman badly shaken by Odd Future’s ridiculous display of violence against photographers shooting their performance (public service announcement from HIGH ISO Music: Fuck you), a huge display of blissfully happy music lovers and first class performances.  Armed with music schedules riddled with purple arrows illustrating our traveling salesman’s sprint from stage to stage to deal with standard 3-songs-in-the-pit photo limits, we bring you Voodoo Music Experience 2011.

Day 1: Friday, October 28, 2011:

Straight out of Bounce X at the Republic (literally–we arrived at Voodoo on Friday literally less than 7 hours after leaving the Republic!), Cheeky Blakk, one of our favorite New Orleans Bounce performers, was on the Le Carnival Bingo! Parlor stage.  We had a chance to chat for a moment–she had actually no sleep at all since Bounce X.  Didn’t show…energy in abundance.  If you have only checked our her bounce stuff (e.g., Let Me Get that Outcha, Pop that Pussy), be sure to listen to one of our favorite Galactic tracks of all time, “Do it Again”,  on the Ya-Ka-May CD and featuring Cheeky Blakk.  Some pics from her first performance (she appeared later with Peelander-Z!  More on that shortly):

 

Cheeky Blakk at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Cheeky Blakk at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Hard to drag yourself away from Cheeky Blakk, and to confess, we didn’t.  After her show was over, we headed for Mississippi Rail Company, a young energetic combo hailing from the state from which they take their name (surprised?). Their music stems from traditional roots and rock roll, but with a fresh and original sound embellished with the swagger and dash of obviously talented musicians.  Check our their site for upcoming gigs and some photos from their performance at Voodoo below (you can find more in the galleries–just click through):

Mississippi Rail Company playing at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Mississippi Rail Company playing at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

We didn’t know much about The Static Jacks before Voodoo (it happens–we didn’t know much about Red Baraat, one of our favorite bands ever, until a recent Jazz and Heritage Festival performance–so much music, so little shutter life), but this is one seriously fun band.  Ramones meets the Cure?  Lead vocalist Ian Devaney embodies the spark that made the early punk rockers so iconic and the scene so much fun to be around.   “If You’re Young”, the Static Jacks’ new release, captures the haunting melodies, driving rhythms and raw energy of their live show and is a must buy.  One can’t but hope they accomplish their mission to rescue Princess Kate during their first tour in England.  Ian:

The Static Jacks playing at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

A quick trip to the Le Plur stage yields DJ Quickie Mart whipping the crowd into a mad frenzy and sporting some seriously bad ass heavy metal hair!  National fame and constant touring seems to have honed Quickie Mart’s style to a razor’s edge.  The mix was  outrageously great – and to hair lovers like us, made even better by his accompanying prehensile hairshow.  Check out his website and his hair:

DJ Quickie Mart playing at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

DJ Quickie Mart playing at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

 

Hey, we’re flexible.  We don’t typically scour the earth for bluegrass, but some serious pickin’ never killed anybody.  Thus:  A quick peek at the Le Flambeau stage on our way to check out The Wombats yields the High Ground Drifters Blueglass band.  Far from dying, our toes were tapping in short order:

High Ground Drifters Bluegrass Band playing at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The Wombats take their look very seriously and we can definitely now state: Britpop isn’t dead.  This show wasn’t initially on our (rather crowded) list, but drew us across the grounds at VooDoo to discover that the Wombats, who are not nearly as polished as their CDs might make them appear, are ever so much fun live:

The Wombats playing at Voodoo Festival 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The Wombats playing at Voodoo Festival 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Disclaimer:  Oh my God.  It’s day one, and in retrospect nothing during the festival’s three days (with Red Baraat, Ozomatli, and Fishbone perhaps tying for second) had a snowball’s chance of topping Peelander-Z’s adrelanine-slurping madness.  Formed in 1998, and labeled as a Japanese Action Comic Punk Band, Peelander-Z is insane, mad, funny, actually from the planet Peelander (yes, really), and pumps out a relentless stream of wild, guitar wailing, sing-along songs complete with cue cards, props, human bowling (yes, the security guard throwing Peelander Red into a set of bowling pins) and other props.  More than just a cult classic – once you see them you will want to drink the Kool Aid, buy all their CDs, and follow them around on their relentless touring schedule!  Take our word for it–MUCH more fun than the Grateful Dead:

Peelander-Z playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Peelander-Z playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Peelander-Z playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And yes, Cheeky Blakk did make an appearance to sing Mad Tiger!

Peelander-Z playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

 

Umm..wow.  No offense whatsoever to any of the acts to come, many of which we enjoyed immensely, but Peelander-Z seriously screwed us up.  Missed following some of the arrows on our musical schedules that urged us to run, run, run to another stage.  Staggered.  Reeling.  Eyes glazed.  Can’t read the schedule!

OK.  Beer helps and time to check out Ani DiFranco.  Words.  Really?  Ani DiFranco.  Got it?

Ani DiFranco playing with Herlin Riley and Ivan Neville at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And now for some serious, back-to-back energy.  Major Lazer whipped the Le Plur crowd into a climbing-all-over-themselves frenzy:

Major Lazer playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

and there was no shortage of onstage frenzy, either, with rum spraying everywhere:

Major Lazer playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Major Lazer playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

and some pleasing-to-the-eye acrobatics:

Major Lazer playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Brief pause for fans to express adoration (yes, it’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta wear out Nikon shutters):

 (Golden G. Richard III)

 

and then…Red Baraat.  We went wild over these guys at Jazz Fest and were (you thought we were going to “jazzed”–admit it) so happy to see them back in NOLA so soon!    Basically, if Bollywood had New Orleans brass bands, Red Baraat would be the poster child. They have made attempts to classify themselves as Bhangra Funk or Dole ‘n’ Brass, but they basically defy classification, which is precisely what makes them our brass Insane Clown Posse.   Combine the intoxicating rhythms of North India with the syncopated horn stylings of New Orleans brass bands and the result is and unadulterated and irresistible dance party. Funk, Latin, Indian, Brass – this isn’t your mama’s world music.  The refreshing thing for us is that their show at Voodoo Fest was even tighter and more amazing than the Jazz Fest performance and we were pretty sure then that it couldn’t get any better:

Red Baraat playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Red Baraat playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Red Baraat playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

 

And to finish off an amazing day  (yes, we did pause for food and a beer), Soundgarden’s reunion.   The band stoically strode onto the stage out of the mist like some nearly forgotten Norse gods and got down to business: reminding you who started this shit in the first place, essentially.  A refreshing moment when we realized that they didn’t reek of the stale air many bands fished out of “retirement” exude, but rather sounded musically solid, tight, well-tuned.  The weather was uncharacteristically chilly and windswept for New Orleans, driving the fog machines out of control, and providing an appropriately moody backdrop for the band’s melancholic, longing-filled ballads and grunge metal licks.  Surprisingly, we emerged appreciating Soundgarden more than back in the day:

Soundgarden at Voodoo Festival 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Soundgarden at Voodoo Festival 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Soundgarden at Voodoo Festival 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Lots more in the Day 1 gallery:  Check it out.

 

Day 2: Saturday, October 29, 2011:

First, a moment of silence for the departed:  Happy Birthday, brother.  Miss you!

Back to music.  Exhausted after Bounce X, four hours of sleep and 12 hours of Voodoo?  No.  Perish the thought.  We barely even needed epsom salts until after day 3!

First: We LOVE R Scully’s Rough 7.  So it’s no slight intended that there are no pictures–maybe after all the bravado, we were a bit tired, because we got to the grounds around noon and headed for Tao Seeger’s Brass Band on the Le Flambeau stage, where we were delighted to see Ben Jaffe blowing sousaphone with Tao Seeger, the grandson of the folk legend and activist Pete Seeger.   Both Tao Seeger and Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall are carrying on the rich musical legacies started by their families and keeping the music alive and fresh by adding their own unique touch.

Tao Seeger Brass Band at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Tao Seeger Brass Band at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Tao Seeger Brass Band at Voodoo Fest 2011 in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Then:  Hurray for the Riff Raff, a country/folk band from New Orleans headed by Alynda Lee Segarra.  This is a relatively new band on the New Orleans scene and has an original sound that is hard to  classify (Dear Billboard: please add  a category for Independent Rock with New Orleans and Cajun seasoning to your growing list of categories? Thanks?  No?  Whatever.)

Hurray for the Riff Raff playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Hurray for the Riff Raff playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Time for some Uncle Lionel:  The Treme Brass Band, one of the great treasures of New Orleans, on the Le Flambeau stage.  The band features many of the best musical talents in the city and is led by Benny Jones Sr., who in addition to being an accomplished musician himself, is dedicated to passing the music and musical traditions of New Orleans on to the next generation.   At 80 and going strong, “Uncle Lionel” Batiste is undoubtedly the star of the show on bass drum and kazoo, so please pardon our excessive coverage of him.  🙂

Treme Brass Band at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Treme Brass Band playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Treme Brass Band at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

…followed by the Soul Rebels, sporting some seriously sexy dancers (yeah, NOLA is blessed.  We’ll leave the light on for ya):

Soul Rebels Brass Band with Cyrille Neville playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Then:  Boots Electric, a/k/a Jesse Hughes, from Eagles of Death Metal.  Jesse spent a great deal of time serenading the drop-dead gorgeous bass player, who, we learned, belongs to another:

Boots Electric playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Boots Electric playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Boots Electric playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Boots Electric playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Ozomatli was next, and as we noted earlier, was one of only two or three bands that had any chance at challenging the energy that Peelander-Z brought on day 1.  Ozomatli  is a large Latin combo incorporating hip hop, rock, funk, African music, and madness (yes, that’s a genre) that puts on a stupefyingly energetic stage show. The band doubles as cultural ambassadors and travels the globe with a great mission –spreading peace, communication and understanding throughout the world.   Another band that disrupted our schedule, gluing us in place for a solid hour, but who’s complaining?

Ozomatli playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Ozomatli playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Ozomatli playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Yes.  As with Peelander-Z, another case of “can it really get better than this?”.    But man, we love metal, and Mastodon was the only legitimate metal band on the entire schedule.  So off we go to the Le Ritual Voodoo Stage, for some hard head-banging action.  Nothing soft about these guys, so if you’re looking for Journey, well, fuck off, to put it bluntly.  Guitar/bass rage heads up the action and we’re in heavy metal heaven, but *&^%&*@, we’ve got ear plugs – turn it up louder, man!!

Mastodon playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Mastodon playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Mastodon playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III) Mastodon playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Gordon Gano, from Violent Femmes, and The Lost Bayou Ramblers, up next on the Le Flambeau stage.  This show (almost) made up for not having had an opportunity to see the Violent Femmes play live in the 80s.  Gordon Gano, mild-mannered, fiddle -wielding madman that he is, really stole the show, glowing as he sang old Violent Femmes songs about snuffing out entire families, bringing back the same sort of “is it OK to smile (or dance) while listening to this?” feelings that we had when we first listened to Violent Femmes back in the day.  Whatever.  The show was amazing and Gordon Gano and the Ramblers seem to have an ongoing relationship, so if you missed this show, there might be hope for an encore:

Gordon Gano and the Lost Bayou Ramblers playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Gordon Gano and the Lost Bayou Ramblers playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Gordon Gano and the Lost Bayou Ramblers playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And immediate flashbacks to Bounce X, barely 36 hours in our past:  the New Orleans Bounce Azztravaganza, featuring Cheeky Blakk (JESUS, CHEEKY!  GO TO SLEEP!), Katey Red, and others.   We’re not lazy–it’s just that Bounce isn’t about words.  It’s about fast moving bodies, volume, dancing, booty, the moment.  So enjoy the photos and go to a Bounce show, with an open mind (more importantly, loose fitting pants), rather than expecting us to describe it to you.  Got it?

New Orleans Bounce Azztravaganza at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

New Orleans Bounce Azztravaganza at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

New Orleans Bounce Azztravaganza at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And if the bounce has to end, who’s to console us?  Snoop Dogg, MF!  The bejeweled Doggfather of hip hop took the festival by force, drawing the largest audience of the weekend.   Sporting a Saints Jersey (Colston!) and pig tails, the man was cool personified, bombastic and fantastic.  His stage presence conveys the ease of someone who knows he is great and is not ashamed to admit it – and the dancers were, well, ummmm…not bad either. <<cough cough>>

Snoop Dogg playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Snoop Dogg playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

See?  Not exactly hard on the eyes, but about as easy to shoot as major league football.  They move, dahlin’!

Snoop Dogg playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Snoop Dogg playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And to end it for the day (down pillows waiting), the New Orleans Bingo Show!  Let’s get right to the point: formed in 2002 by New Orleans singer and songwriter Clint Maedgen (who also plays sax with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band), this is one surrealistic adventure that you don’t want to miss.  More than cabaret, not quite circus, almost medicine show or vaudevillian mystery play a la MTV music video  – once the experience starts you won’t want it to stop, even if you have no idea what’s going on.  Extraordinarily strange and completely brilliant in every way!   Clint plays sax, raging electric guitar, drums (pots, really) and is surrounded by electrifying talent, including Helen Gillet (who is perhaps the only “subdued” member, owing perhaps to not wanting to destroy a fragile and beautiful instrument). Subtlety is not the general order of business, however, as we try to impress upon you:

New Orleans Bingo Show playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

New Orleans Bingo Show playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)
New Orleans Bingo Show playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

New Orleans Bingo Show playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And rest.  But not much.  In the meantime, more in in the Day 2 gallery:  Check it out!

Day 3: Sunday, October 30, 2011:

To start day 3, the Sheepdogs, a rock band from Canada consisting of Ewan Currie on vocals and guitar, Leot Hanson on guitar, Ryan Gullen on bass and Sam Corbett on drums:

Sheepdogs playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Sheepdogs playing at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

New Orleans has a very vibrant burlesque scene and Fleur De Tease is one of the best groups around, with very creative skits and costumes.  Check out some photos from this year’s performance at Voodoo: (click through the photos to reach the day # 3 gallery, where you’ll find lots of additional photos):

Fleur De Tease at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Fleur De Tease at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Fleur De Tease at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Fleur De Tease at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Fleur De Tease at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

One AM Radio Show on the main Le Ritual Stage:

The One AM Radio at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The One AM Radio at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

…then The Limousines on the same stage:

The Limousines at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Meanwhile, on a stage far, far away…Fishbone!  Seriously, man.  Few bands that have been around this long gather the energy to put on shows like this.  This performance was one of our top three choices of Voodoo Fest 2011, and the competition was fierce.  Fishbone lives, as I hope you can see:

Fishbone at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Fishbone at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And then back to back happiness:  First, Dr. John, the Night Tripper:

Dr. John at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Dr. John at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And then Morning 40 Federation, together again to such a degree that “reunion” is no longer something we fearfully utter.  We’ve babbled about how much we love Morning 40 on endless occasions, so why not do it again?   Insane energy levels.  Catchy songs that really strike home for native New Orleanians (and others, of course).  Talent.  Bullhorns.  Honking sax.  Guitar shredding.  Trombones.  What else can anyone want? Yeah, OK, but it isn’t that kind of festival…

Morning 40 Federation at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Morning 40 Federation at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Morning 40 Federation at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Morning 40 Federation at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

And then Odd Future.  Whatever.   Bite me.

But on a more positive note:  The Meters have put aside their differences again (at least for now!) and put on a fantastic show at Voodoo.  All masters.  And the funk pioneers rip funk a new one, all over again:

The Meters at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The Meters at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The Meters at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

Winding down to the last acts and being fans of Jack White and The White Stripes, a trip to check out the Raconteurs was mandatory.  Jack White and Brendan Benson traded guitar licks, but unfortunately no serious guitar theatrics during the first three songs and so packed we couldn’t even see once we had to leave the photo pit.  You’ll just have to settle for some more subdued shots and take our word for it: this band is worth checking out:

The Raconteurs at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The Raconteurs at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

The Raconteurs at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

More in the Day 3 gallery:  Check it out.

And see you next year for Voodoo Fest 2012!

The Raconteurs at the 2011 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA. (Golden G. Richard III)

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