Tag: New Orleans LA

Live Footage: Luke James with Nu Deco Ensemble, Samoht and Sensei Bueno Perform a Gorgeous Re-Imagining of “shine on”

Luke James (born Luke James Boyd) is a New Orleans-born singer/songwriter and actor, whose musical career started in earnest as a background vocalist for Tyrese, along with a classmate Quentin Spears. While with Tyrese, James and Spears met acclaimed production outfit The Underdogs, who worked with and mentored the duo, who performed, wrote and recorded as Luke & Q.

Through his connection with The Underdogs, the legendary Clive Davis signed James to J Records, where he wrote material for Chris Brown, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber. But by 2011, he released his debut mixtape, #Luke, which featured the critically acclaimed single “I Want You.” “I Want You” eventually earned James a Best R&B Performance Grammy nomination. He followed that up with his sophomore mixtape 2012’s Whispers in the Dark and his 2014 self-titled, full-length debut.

Since the release of his full-length debut, James released “Drip,” which was later remixed by A$AP Ferg and his critically applauded, breakthrough sophomore album, last year’s to feel love/d. The album which featured guest spots from BJ The Chicago Kid, Ro James, Big K.R.I.T., Kirk Franklin and Samoht, and production by Danja, Cobaine Ivory, Guitarboy, and Sir Dylan received a Best R&B Album Grammy nomination. The album helped James earn his third Grammy nomination while being the only independent release album in the category to land a nomination.

As an actor, James played Johnny Gill in BET’s 2017 TV biopic The New Edition Story. He has appeared in the Regina Hall and Will Packer film Little. He played Noah Brooks in FOX’s Star and he’s appeared in HBO’s smash hit series Insecure, as well as BET’s The Bobby Brown Story. Last year, he was in the third season of Showtime’s The Chi.

The multiple Grammy nominee will star in the Broadway play, Thoughts of a Colored Man, which will open at The John Golden Theatre on October 31, 2021 and run through March 2022. The limited engagement will be the first new play to open on Broadway in almost two years, as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns. The play explores a single day in Brooklyn with seven Black men discovering the extraordinary together through a blend of spoken word, slam poetry, rhythm and humor.

Adding to a busy year, James teamed up with Sam Hyken, Jacomo Bairos and their Miami-based 30 member orchestra Nu Deco Ensemble on A Live Sensation, a live re-imagining of his Grammy nominated sophomore album to feel love/d.

Slated for release on Friday, A Live Sensation was recorded at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and was originally broadcast exclusively on BET as a benefit concert for the NAACP’s Backing the B.A.R. Initiative, with donations and funds going towards Black-owned bars and restaurants hurt as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns.

A Live Sensation will feature nine tracks from the live performance, which sees James blend his soulful vocals with Nu Deco Ensemble’s orchestral sound. The album features guest spots from Sensei Bueno and Samoht.

“‘A Live Sensation’ is a raw orchestral expression inspired by the verb: love. It is a live recorded offering to the world, taken from a film inspired by love,” Luke James says of the new album. Nu Deco Ensemble co-founder and conductor, and collaborator Jacomo Bairos adds “It feels cosmically aligned to once again collaborate with our friend – the sensational and truly creative Luke James. We all recognized his unbelievable talent as well his generous and collaborative spirit when we first met years ago, so to have him return to collaborate on a project that highlights his unique vision through his GRAMMY nominated album on such a dynamic and creative project simply means the world to us. We are blessed to share this moment together, bringing more beautiful and meaningful music experiences to such a wide audience.” 

A Live Sensation‘s latest single is a re-imagining of to fee love/d‘s “shine on,” that pairs James’, Samoht’s and Sensei Bueno’s soulful and achingly vulnerable vocals with a breathtakingly gorgeous arrangement of soaring strings, shimmering guitar and twinkling Rhodes. The end result is a song that sounds enormous yet deeply intimate, while yearning heavenward with a rare, but profound sincerity.

WRD Trio is a dynamic and gritty organ trio that features three highly accomplished bandleaders and musicians:

Walter, Roberts and Deitch would often bump into each other at New Orleans Jazz Fest, and in those those meetings, the trio would longingly discuss future collaborations together. Generally fueled by Roberts’ long-held belief that the trio would yield something impactful and interesting, the Leeds-born, Denver-based guitarist realized that with the co-founding of Color Red Music, that it was a perfect time to bring everyone into the studio to put some tracks on wax.

The end result is the trio’s recently released full-length debut The Hit, which was written and recorded in just two single-day sessions at Color Red Studios. Sonically, the album is reportedly one-part Sunday stroll and one-part rocket ship to Saturn centered around their unmistakable simpatico. (Perhaps that simpatico draws from the fact that each member is a Taurus, with each member’s birthday being a week after the other.)

The Hit‘s first single “Chum City” finds the trio collaborating with The Twin CatsNick Gerlach on a funky and strutting number centered around a grinding and muscular groove reminiscent of Chuck Brown-era go-go music and Booker T and The MGs and an arrangement that’s loose enough for all of these talented musicians to deliver some impressive solos. Simply put, this one is just fucking nasty y’all.

New Video: People Museum Releases an Infectious Club Friendly Bop

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act largely inspired by Afrobeat, hip-hop and choral and marching music. The duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene. 

Givens and Phipps’ soon-to-be released effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for release next week through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The new EP features a mix of songs made during last year’s pandemic-related quarantines and restrictions and songs the duo initially created during the first few months of their collaboration together. Thematically, the EP is a contemplation of our past, how we’re making sense of where we have ended up — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. As the duo explains in press notes, the songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or just feel some sort of joy.

Last month, I wrote about “Forever” a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so. 

“Rush,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single continues a run of house music inspired bangers, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Gaines coquettish vocals, explosive bursts of fluttering and melodic trombone and a euphoria-inducing hook. The end result is a much-needed escape to the dance floor, where there’s true liberation and equality.

“‘Rush’ was written in July of 2020 during quarantine with our drummer and co-producer, Mopodna. It is a dance anthem about letting go of the expectations we had for where we thought would be right now and reframing our thoughts and words to rebuild a better environment socially and emotionally. It’s intended to be this idea of a mourning that’s moving us toward evolving personally and globally. We have second-lines here in New Orleans which are basically street parades that are for deaths and for parties – I think it’s that’s a huge vibe of ‘Rush.’ We cry, we dance it out, we move on together and celebrate what we have and help each other.”

Directed, filmed and edited by People Museum’s Claire Givens, features black and white footage of a horn player walking to the beach with his horns, the band’s Phipps conducting an informal march, the recording of the song and Givens singing and dancing along to the song. It’s a playful and feverish visual that captures aspects of life in a quarantine.

New Video: People Museum Releases a Brooding Yet Club Friendly Banger

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act. Inspired by Afro-beat, hip-hop, choral, marching band music, the duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene.

Givens and Phipps’ latest effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for an April 9, 2021 release through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The EP features a mix of songs made during pandemic-related quarantines last year with songs the duo initially created during the first few months of the duo’s collaboration. Thematically, the EP is reportedly a contemplation on our past, how we are making sense of where we have ended — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. The songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or feel joy.

“Forever,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single is a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of brooding, late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so.

Directed by Riley Teahan, the recently released video is a brooding fever dream following a series of women trapped within their own thoughts, late at night. Teahan, the video’s director on the video:

“flashing light, thoughts that keep you up at night:
when I think about forever my head starts to spin.
caught in a cycle, the mind is a spiral staircase.
how long did you know it was time to go
before you decided to leave?

“‘Forever’ is a song about cycles and liberation. I know well the feeling of spiraling, how easily you can lose yourself. I asked women to embody a complicated moment of escape, flee, freedom, run, don’t look back.”


Rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax RecordsMotown RecordsMuscle ShoalsNew OrleansPhiladelphia and San Francisco.

Over the past eight years, the members of the Lincoln-based act have been one of the Midwest’s hardest working bands, releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, which they’ve supported through several tours across the Continental US and two European tours. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for the likes of George Clinton, Charles BradleyBooker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal’s Eddie Roberts-produced fifth album Natural Born Hustler is slated for release later this year through Color Red Records, and the album further establishes the act’s sound — music written for grown-ass folks by written-by grown-ass folks rooted in earnest and honest songwriting while sonically drawing from 70s funk and blues, doo-wop and psych soul with a modern twist.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Hustler,” Natural Born Hustler‘s third single was a strutting and defiantly upbeat bit of soul that seemed indebted to The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis. The end result was a track is one-part, much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one-part, much-needed rallying cry for our uncertain times.

“Sunday Lies,” Natural Born Hustler‘s fourth and latest single continues a run of coolly strutting, bluesy soul centered around twinkling organ, Hoyer’s Tom Jones-like crooning, wah wah pedaled guitar, twinkling organ, a looping and propulsive groove and a cinematic yet powerhouse horn line. But underneath the expansive song structure and cool strutting vibes is a simmering anger, as the song calls out the widening chasm between word and action when those in power corrupt their message. In fact, the song’s narrator makes the observation that for voters, the voter dynamic is often swayed when politicians co-opt their platforms with religious messages — and the willful blinders that sometimes inhibit the faithful from accepting the truth and reality: that they’re being cynically played by wanton hypocrites.

Brian J is a New Orleans-based multi-instrumentalist and Grammy-nominated producer, best known for his work as the bandleader and frontman of the party rock road warrior act Pimps of Joytime. He also has a Grammy-nominated country blues collaboration with Cedric Burnside. Interestingly, Brian J’s latest recording project Gitkin was conceived as a way for the Pimps of Joytime frontman and producer to “explore tonalities I’d never mess with,” as he puts it. Eventually,. the instrumental project became a release from “having to write lyrics or involve my voice,” Brian J explains.

With the release of Brian J’s 2018 Gitkin debut, 5 Star Motel, the Pimps of Joytime frontman, multi-instrumentalist and producer quickly established a style that he has dubbed “Outernational Psychedelic Twang.” Drawing from a wide range of sounds and styles including Peruvian Chicha, 60s Pakistani surf rock, 5 Star Motel‘s material was centered around expansive arrangements, featuring dynamic guitar playing and hand-clapping grooves. And with a backing band featuring an impressive collection of players, Gitkin has built up buzz playing exclusive and spirited shows in San Francisco and NYC.

Recorded at this New Orleans-based home studio, Brian J’s sophomore Gitkin album Safe Passage reportedly finds the multi-instrumentalist and producer expanding upon an already rich sonic palette with melodies informed by Greek and Middle Eastern modalities, Peruvian Chica and Tuareg Saharan guitar styles — with the end result being a mix of stomping blues and gritty funk. “Nosotros Tambien,” Safe Passages‘ latest single is a gritty and funky track featuring a looping and bluesy guitar lines, twinkling Rhodes, dense Afrobeat and Afro pop-inspired polyrhythm within an expansive, mind-bending arrangement. Centered around a dusty, unfussy yet deceptively anachronistic production, the cinematic composition sounds like a warm synthesis of Expensive Shit/He Miss Road-era Fela Kuti and Tinairwen.

Wonderwheel Recordings will be releasing Safe Passage on September 18, 2020.


New Video: Killer Whale Performs “Plenty of Time” at Downman Sounds Studios

New Orleans-based indie rock ‘n’ soul act Killer Whale is led by its frontman Thomas Johnson, who spent several years living and gigging in San Francisco before returning to Louisiana — and as a result, his work manages to infuse surf rock with the swamp, among other influences. The New Orleans-based act’s forthcoming album Tastes Like Yesterday is slated for a September 18, 2020 release though Devil In The Woods Records — and the album’s latest single “Plenty of Time” is a slow-burning track that’s one part old-school Muscle Shoals soul, one part breezy surf rock that’s centered around Johnson’s soulful crooning, an infectious hook, some jangling guitar work, some congo and simple backbeat. But at its core, the song manages to balance a wistful ache with a sobering realism: the song is about taking your time when you’re making the decision to stay with a lover or  move on. It ain’t an easy decision; it has a life altering implications for you and for the other person — and as a result, the song carries a profoundly heavy weight. 

Directed by Scott Lebell, the recently released video follows Killer Whale’s frontman as he travels to the studio to record “Plenty of Time” at Downman Sounds Studios.