*June is Black Music Month. This month highlights the many contributions African Americans have had in all genres of music. Events were held all over the United States in various venues. In the entertainment capital of the world-Los Angeles, a plethora of musical events were held all over the city. I had the pleasure of attending three wonderful events as part of the celebration.
The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza celebrated the occasion with several concerts in the Sears Court on Thursday, June 24, with PAPALEE and his exciting band. This was a CD release party for his latest CD SOULvival. This is an ongoing series with concerts held on Thursdays of every month. Check www.crenshawplaza.com for more information.
Friday, June 25th, I ventured downtown Los Angeles to see Mateo entertaining the lunch time crowd with some original material featuring Rocky on drum. He was holding court on the Bank of America Plaza for the final concert of the Art Brookfield presents “Summer on the Plaza.” This wonderful series was held on two different locations for the month of June. Check out want this talented you man of doing- www.mateoonline.com or www.facebook.com/therealmateo
My final outing was to enjoy some music of the Crescent City. The occasion was the 24th Annual Long Beach Bayou and Mardi Gras Festival. This was a fun, family friendly festival with lots of Louisiana cuisine, music and dance.
The weather was perfect for this annual festival of all things New Orleans. This multi-cultural festival unofficially serve as a family reunion for both family members and friends alike. I saw people at the festival that I haven’t seen in years. It is always nice to get caught up with each other.
The festival gave the crowd more that they bargain for. I’m talking about all of the dance lessons that also gave participants a good exercise workout all while enjoying the infectious sounds of Cajun and Zydeco. The dance instructors consisted of Sandy Baker, Pat Muller, Karen Redding, A.J. Gibbs, Steve Bellendir. The dance floor was crowded as people were encourage to try out their newly acquired dance moves as well showcased new dance steps.
Parents didn’t have to worry about the little ones getting bored. Festival organizers scheduled some exciting activities that engaged both parents and their young kids all day long. Everyone was smiling with delight while at the Kid’s Stage and the surrounding Arts and Crafts booths.
Each time I passed by the Louisiana Cajun Food booth, there was a line of about 20 people deep. There wasn’t any concern about the safety of the seafood served at the booth(Oil spill in the Gulf).People were chowing down on Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Gumbo, hush puppies, Cajun fries, Gator, and of course lots of crawfish. Additional treats served were boudin, Red beans and rice and Bread pudding. It wasn’t my intent to make you hungry while reading this review.
I was there for the music. I spent most of my time at the Club N’Orleans Stage where Bubba Jackson served as Master of Ceremonies. I ventured over to the Bayou Stage for a couple of sets. The music got under way with the premier guitar slinger in Southern California, Dennis Jones featuring Sam Correa on bass and Michael Turner on drums. They opened with a smokin’ tune entitled “Sissy Strut.” They continued with some more blues on the tunes “Thrill is Gone,” “Red House,” “Brand New Day,” and “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
Gregg Young & the 2nd Street Blues Band featuring vocalist Andrea Palm played a thrilling set of blues drenched in some funk. The crowd were dancing throughout their set on “Mustang Sally,” “I Feel Good,” “At Last,” “Big Cadillac,” “Summertime,” and “Please Don’t Let Them Take Our House”-I wonder what this tune is about?
Another fabulous highlight of the festival was Mark St. Mary Blues and Zydeco Band partying like there is no tomorrow on the Bayou Stage. Blue Dice, Oreo Divas and Sai Whatt Band rounded out music performed on the Club N’Orleans Stage. Lil Pookie & The Zydeco Sensations and T-Broussard & The Zydeco Steppers were sensational in their respective sets.
On Sunday, Arwork Jamal and his band featuring Deacon Jones on the Hammond XK-3 organ laying out some blues grooves and had their mojo working on the attentive crowd. Laurie Morvan, Sweet Baby J’ai, Zac Harmon and Geno Delafose were great as usual and then some.
People waited patiently for the man of the hour and man of the festival. Tito Jackson came to play the blues. Yes, ladies and gentleman; boys and girls Tito opened appropriately enough with “Why I Sing the Blues” to address people’s concern of can he actually play the blues. Tito and his band is making some major inroads in the blues community and festival organizers are taken note by booking the group at their festivals all across the United States. You will hear more from the band when their debut CD is release before the end of 2010.