When I got to the Intercontinental Hotel, the Cutting Edged NOLA Keynote Speech was going on, followed by a legal panel about sports and entertainment law. At the end of that, I headed out to the lakefront and ate dinner at Landry’s Seafood House. Even though Landry’s is a chain, it is the restaurant nearest to Lake Pontchartrain and has the best view of the lake, and the food was very good, at least on this particular day.
The kickoff party for this year’s Cutting Edge NOLA Music Business Conference took place in the upstairs Ramp Room of the Little Gem Saloon at South Rampart and Poydras in the CBD of New Orleans. After a historical presentation about New Orleans’ community radio station WWOZ, there was a guitar summit sponsored by T-watt amplifiers, co-hosted by blues guitarists Jonathan “Boogie” Davenport and Guitar Slim Jr. Downstairs in the restaurant, a straight ahead jazz trio was playing, featuring the vocalist Nayo Jones. But Cutting Edge showcases were also going on at other venues in the city simultaneously, so after hanging out at the Little Gem for about an hour, I decided to head to other venues.
For 22 years, the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference has been going on in New Orleans, giving new artists and musicians an opportunity to showcase their music, and giving music industry professionals a chance to network and adjust to changes in technology and the climate of our industry. The first day was largely registration and panels, including a demo listening session where I was one of the judges. I was especially impressed by Jackson, Mississippi southern roots rocker Jason Daniels, whose song “You’re an Angel” had a definitive New Orleans aura, as well as the world-music/indie fusion group Pans Permia, from Miami, Florida who opted to perform an acoustic song for us rather than merely play a CD.
Dinerral Shavers was the snare drummer in the Hot 8 Brass Band, so it was very appropriate that the Hot 8 closed out the night of entertainment in his memory at the Howlin Wolf in New Orleans. The largest dance crowd of the night piled into the area in front of the stage, and it was touching to see Shavers’ mother dancing with his picture. But best of all was to know that not only did we have a good time, but that the proceeds from our fun will go to help young people in New Orleans avoid the pitfalls of the streets. That’s worth paying the price of admission ten times, in my opinion, and means that Dinerral Shavers still lives in his city, and continues to have a major impact on youth.
The New Breed Brass Band in one of New Orleans’ youngest bands, founded in 2012 by young men who had played in various high-school bands around New Orleans. Despite their youthfulness, they are accomplished musicians, and are gaining a following around the city.
The Free Agents Brass Band are yet another fairly recent New Orleans band which is best known for their post-Katrina anthem “We Made It Through That Water”, which was prominently featured in the HBO television series Treme. This was my first opportunity to hear them, and I was impressed. Apparently, so were a lot of others in the crowd, as a number of dancers took to the floor.
Dinerral Shavers was a snare drummer for the popular Hot 8 Brass Band in New Orleans, and a well-loved teacher at a local high school when he was abruptly murdered in early 2007 by a teenager who had been feuding with his stepson. Out of the tragedy has come an organization set up in Shavers’ memory by his relatives, a foundation that supports the arts, music, culture and anti-violence initiatives in New Orleans, and so on Saturday, January 11, 2014, the Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund sponsored a “brass band blow-out” at the popular Howlin Wolf music venue in the Central Business District. The evening began just after 9:30 PM with a new band, the Most Wanted Brass Band, many of whose members have come from other area bands, such as the Stooges. As such, the band is new, but the members are seasoned veterans and it is a good and tight aggregation overall. What started as a sparse crowd soon filled up, and eventually, the dancers took over the area nearest the stage.
Industry Influence is a monthly event sponsored by @SESS45 of Nuthin But Fire Records and @wildwayne of Q93 in New Orleans. This month the event was held at the Howlin Wolf in the CBD, and I was invited to be on the panel discussion. Those in attendance were mostly new artists, but Baton Rouge-area rapper Lil Cali was there, as well as the people from Fly Definition clothing.