Wednesday at the Square

By Laura Cayouette

Y'ats enjoyed another great night of music in Lafayette Square, courtesy of our world champion Saints and benefitting the Youth Leadership Council. The crowd was subdued, mostly remaining seated for Happy Jack Frequency, a pop rock band featuring James Martin. WWOZ 90.7 broadcasted the event live for our local listening pleasure. Martin is a fireball of energy who clearly loves being onstage and the music ranged from upbeat originals to a hard driving version of Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance."

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During the break, real estate developer and philanthropist, Roger Ogden, announced the impending re-opening of the cinemas at Canal Place. On the 26th, the "first premium, premiere luxury cinema in the state of Louisiana" will open, featuring  plush leather reclining seats (rumored to have fold out tables), 5 screens of first-run independent films as well as main stream films, all anchored with a bistro with food by Adolfo Garcia and a full service bar. I, for one, am thrilled to see the theatre finally reopening. Additionally, Anthropologie, the vintage-esque clothing and housewares retailer, will be opening a two-story flagship store of almost 14000 square feet, the biggest location outside of Manhattan, in August. 


The afternoon was bittersweet. The odor of spilled oil was drowned out by the aroma of the local cuisine being sold to raise funds for the Youth Leadership Council. Happy Jack's Martin may have been the first to bring up the Gulf disaster and its impact on our community, but he was certainly not the last. Announcements were made regarding the upcoming "Gulf Aid" concert this Sunday benefitting local fisherman, among others. The concert stars Lenny Kravitz, Allen Toussaint, Mos Def, Tab Benoit, Dr. John, Cyril Neville and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Tickets are $50. People onstage and off were enthusiastic about holding BP to its promise of making restitutions. The town seems in agreement on this issue – you break it, you bought it.


The crowd was on its feet and ready to dance when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band took the stage. Formed in 1977, the band's traditional tunes and infectious energy kicked into high gear by the time they led us all in chants of "Who Dat!" during local anthem, "When the Saints Go Marching In." Sousaphonist, Kirk Joseph, son of trombonist, Waldren "Frog" Joseph, mixes traditional brass band sounds with jazz and funk without ever taking a break from hauling that giant instrument around a humid stage. Trumpeter, Leroy Jones, played so many horns that at one point he blew two separate horns into two mics at once. Never seen that before.


I'm a sucker for a great brass band and Dirty Dozen is a truly great brass band. I loved their inclusion of so many traditional tunes including "Fiyo on the Bayou" and "Li'l Liza Jane."


After the performance, I spoke with fan, Daryl Young AKA DancingMan504, who is best known for his second line dancing at most major local events. His program, Heel-2-Toe, teaches our youth the culture and traditions of second line. "I use [Heel-2-Toe] to help kids to stop running around and to find focus through music." He recently went to Paris, where he taught the children at Josephine Baker Elementary as well as other schools, bringing a bit of New Orleans to the old Orleans. This all led up to a grand parade through Paris with the Soul Rebels Brass Band, "Because I love my Rebels." He said the children of Paris were very receptive. "When I showed them the Saints' logo, they went crazy." He hopes next to take children from New Orleans to France. He noted that the world is full of different nationalities and religions, but that inside the Heel-2-Toe program is "a place where [children] can be free and learn structure because a second line looks like chaos, but it has structure." He lamented the recent loss of Brandon Franklin, 22, the saxophonist from T.B.C. Brass Band and Assistant Band Director at O. Perry Walker High School, who was shot Sunday night. Young clearly cares for the youth of this city and funds Heel-2-Toe out of his own pocket with proceeds from his appearances. 


There will be a benefit next Thursday at the Howlin' Wolf for T.B.C.'s Brandon Franklin. 


If you're a lover of art and seersucker, the "Sippin' in Seersucker" event benefitting the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will be this Friday at Canal Place from 6-9 pm and features a seersucker contest. Tickets are $35

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