YEAR IN REVIEW: John “Papa” Gros Shares 2011 Live Music Highlights

It’s always interesting to hear what artists have to say when recalling past concert experiences and in particular, which ones stick out in their mind as “memorable”. After an evening up on-stage, musicians take home an entirelydifferent recollection of their live music experience from the faces in the crowd.By virtue of busy touring schedules (for an example, look up the tour dates for any of the hard-working artists featured below), some shows can just be forgettable and difficult to recall in retrospect. For whatever reason, in music, as is the case in just about any other line of work, some days don’t glue themselves to the long term memory bank like the others. However, on any given night, certain indescribable circumstances can converge, lightning-and-a-bottle can be captured, magic can happen, and an unforgettable live music experience is forged deep into the hippocampus for both the fans and artists themselves. These are the concerts, life events, and peak professional moments we hoped to capture in this feature by asking a few standard questions about the year in music to some of our favorite artists. Continue on below for reflections on their year with John “Papa” Gros (),Brad Houser (Dead Kenny G’s), Neal Evans (), Jeff Harshbarger(Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey),  (Garage A Trois, Dead Kenny G’s, Illuminasti Trio, ), Ted Joyner (), Brian Stoltz(funky METERS) and .


John “Papa” Gros @ Hogs for the Cause 2011 – Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis

3 Most Memorable Shows you played and/or witnessed in 2011?

My favorite set to see was Jeff Beck at Jazz Fest. Not only is it amazing what he can do on the guitar, but his musicianship and ability to transcend six strings into an emotional, lyrical voice blows me away, a true master.

April 10th Jammin’ for Japan Benefit at the Rock ‘n Bowl. I was privileged to be an organizer in this event. It was an amazing experience the way all the different people in our community (musicians, restauranteurs, bar owners, graphic designer, press, radio, tv, artists, music fans, etc) came together to help with little to no notice. Papa Grows Funk performed along with five prominent NOLA artists, over 900 fans attended and $52,000 was raised. One of the proudest moments of my professional life.

This was not a show, but the three days Papa Grows Funk spent working in the recording studio with Allen Toussaint will stay with me the rest of my life. It’s overwhelming when you spend your life working at a craft then have one of your heroes validate the lifetime of preparation. Thank you Allen.

What will you remember most about 2011

More was accomplished in 2011 than any other year I can remember, personally and professionally. I had some very long term goals achieved, not without great sacrifice and dedication. It is a rewarding feeling to cross major goals off the list with recording PGF’s Needle in the Groove being the biggest accomplishment.

Favorite NOLA festival set and/or moment?

We look forward to our JazzFest set every year. It was especially fulfilling being able to play new songs from Needle in the Groove and watching the crowd’s reaction.

What’s on tap for you guys in 2012?

Work, work, and more work. We have to tour Needle in the Groove and see how far it can take us. We need to start planning our next recording and we need to count our blessings that we have received after 12 years of jamming together.

Favorite festival of the year?

Besides Jazz Fest, we love The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival. You won’t find another festival like this anywhere in the world. It is unique to New Orleans and to Uptown. We have closed it out every year and after five years it feels like a tradition has started. This year, our dear friend and mentor, Walter Washington, jumped up and sat in with us. People like Walter make this such a special place to live in.

Most memorable festival set of 2011?

There are bunch that come to mind, but the reason they do is because of the reaction the audience gives us is nearly the same at all of them. The people tend to sit in their chairs waiting for their favorite band to come onstage but they have to listen to us first. They are patient, they start out talking, barely paying attention to us, but after two or three songs they start paying atention, then somewhere in the middle, they can’t help it anymore, have to move closer to the stage and they start moving around and begin to dance. By the end of the set they are screaming, hollering and yelling for more. Our connection with our fans is what allows us to do what we do. We are nothing without them.

Brad Houser || The Dead Kenny Gs

Brad Houser of Dead Kenny G’s

3 Most Memorable Shows you played and/or witnessed in 2011 (anywhere)?

Hairy Apes BMX at Dragons Den, w/ Simon Lott and Brian Coogan (during Jazz Fest), Illuminasti Trio w/ Coogan & Houser sitting in at the Voodoo Experience. Suzanna Choffel at  (great set, sweltering heat, drenched in sweat).

Album from this year you’ll probably still be listening to in 2021.

The Dead Kenny Gs – Operation Long Leash

What will you remember most about 2011?

The epic Texas heat and drought.

What’s on tap for you in 2012?

In 2012 I look forward to more Dead Kenny G shows, and evolving as a musician. I also look forward to the end of the world.


Neal Evans of Soulive

3 Most Memorable Shows you played and/or witnessed in 2011 (anywhere)?

Bowlive, the West Coast Lettuce run, Royal Family Ball at the SF Fillmore, and the Groove Connection shows in Japan.

An album from this year you’ll probably still be listening to in 2021.

Album from this year that I’ll be listening to next year in reverse as well isCaveman’s debut album CoCo Beware.

What will you remember most about 2011?

Seeing the Royal Family Affair come to fruition will definitely be one the most memorable events of the year.

Favorite NOLA show of the year?

Best NOLA show was when the Royal Family took over at the CAC during Jazzfest.

What’s on tap for you in 2012?

2012 I plan on producing, recording, and getting out as much music to listeners as I’m physically able to do.

Jeff Harshbarger || Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Jeff Harshbarger of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

3 Most Memorable Shows you played and/or witnessed in 2011 (anywhere)?

Wayne Shorter Quartet at SF Jazzfest
Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussein at Yardley Hall
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at The Jazz Standard

An album from this year you’ll probably still be listening to in 2021.

Miles Davis Quintet – Live in Europe

What will you remember most about 2011?

Recording and touring ’s Race Riot Suite

Favorite NOLA show?

Playing with Nikki Glaspie, Will Bernard and  at Saucefest.

What’s On Tap For You in 2012?

World premiere of my score for the play The Candidate
World premiere of the new Owen/Cox Dance Group piece
Release of the People’s Liberation Big Band DVD of Battleship Potemkin
JFJO European tour

Favorite show you played during Jazz Fest this year?

Helen Gillet CD release party at The Zeitgeist


Mike Dillon with Garage A Trois @ Megalomaniac’s Ball 2011 || Photo by Jimmy Grotting

3 Most Memorable Shows you played and/or witnessed in 2011 (anywhere)?


1. Flaming Lips and Primus. Red Rocks.
2. Aloke Dutta – The Blue Nile
3. Fishbone @ Voodoo Experience


1. Dead Kenny Gs at The Mix in Seattle. A year of touring pays off with a well executed performance.

An album from this year you’ll probably still be listening to in 2021.

tUnE-yArDs – Bizness

Favorite NOLA show?

1. Illuminasti Trio at Voodoo Experience
2. James Singleton Quartet at Snug Harbor. Playing creative music with my hero.

What’s On Tap For You in 2012?

New LP from The Dead Kenny Gs

Favorite show you played during Jazz Fest this year?

1. Garage a Trois at The Howlin’ Wolf @ Megalomaniac’s Ball (5/4/11). Total blast of a Jazz Fest night.
2. Hairy Apes BMX – The Dragons Den late night. Once again we destroy all the posers.


Generationals || LMB NOLA Artist of the Month (April 2011)

3 Most Memorable Shows you played and/or witnessed in 2011 (anywhere)?

We played a show in Spain on this hill overlooking these vineyards as the sun was going down. Then like a week later we played this show in a barn in Iowa literally in a corn field as the sun went down. This last show we did at One Eyed Jacks was fun.

An album from this year you’ll probably still be listening to in 2021.

No idea. I feel like I might have fallen behind a little on new music this year. I really like that Craft Spells record. Also, definitely Gardens and Villa.

What will you remember most about 2011?


Favorite NOLA show?

Getting to play Jazz fest for the first time was pretty cool for us.

What’s On Tap For You in 2012?

We will start recording a bunch of new stuff in January 2012.

Favorite festival you played in 2011?

Hopscotch in Raleigh was definitely a fun one. The Fun Fun Fun Night show in Austin we played with Mates of State was a fun show too. And of course Jazz Fest.


The Queen of the Rare Groove – DJ Soul Sister

3 Most Memorable Shows you DJ’d and/or witnessed in 2011?

“That’s a hard question, but if I had to pick my 3 most memorable shows of 2011, I’d list opening for Bootsy Collins at Tipitina’s, opening for  at the Contemporary Arts Center, and a combination of just about any random Saturday night for my “HUSTLE!” party at Mimi’s in the Marigny, which will celebrate 8 years next year. A combination of good feelings, good people, unforgettable moments, spot-on mixing, and creative song selections, which I never plan out, make these the best. One thing folks might find interesting is that I sprained my foot the night before the Bootsy show. I was in a special kind of intense pain that night. LOL! But no one would have ever noticed because I was flying high on happy, opening up for my Funk hero and wanting to give it all I could. And that was a helluva show. Special mention goes to concert co-presentations of Dam-Funk & Master Blazter and of The Foreign Exchange that I was involved in, as well as the roller skating party I hosted, featuring DJ Dave Soul with proceeds benefiting Hagar’s House for women and children of New Orleans.”

What will you remember most about 2011?

“I’ll most remember being told that I’m here to remind people to have fun. And being compared to DJ legend Ron Hardy. And meeting Erykah Badu.”

Most memorable festival show you saw this year?

The Original Meters at Voodoo Music Experience. I knew it before, but now 300% convinced that  is a divine life force of The Funk.”

What’s On Tap For You in 2012?

“More right on party situations and sound scenes, more expanding musical minds via WWOZ, more ‘soulful takeover’ events like concert co-presentations, film screenings, and other fun events that I believe in where I’m not necessarily DJing; and some other things in the works that haven’t materialized yet, but will.

Favorite Local Festival of 2011?

“The New Orleans J*** and Heritage Festival, though I won’t use the “J” word anymore. Curious why? Read these two blogs: and

What’s new at WWOZ in 2012?

“For me at WWOZ, in addition to continuing my “Soul Power” show on Saturday nights, which is going on somewhere around 18 years now, I’ve been filling in on lots of “j***” shows, and expanding my musical offerings to listeners, as well as getting them to hear soulful sounds in a different way. It’s all about Black American Music – always soulful.

A special thanks from LMB NOLA to each participating artist’s publicity and management teams for helping to facilitate the interviews captured in this feature.


Brian Stoltz with George Porter Jr. @ Tipitina’s Uptown – 1/14/11 || Photo by Jimmy Grotting

3 Most Memorable Shows you played in 2011?

1) Brian Stoltz & The I-12 AllStars, French Quarter Fest, April 10, 2011 Abita Stage

2) Benevento, Porter, Stoltz & Deitch (<– DOWNLOAD LINK), The Parish, Late Night May 6, 2011

3) Solo set at the 1st Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Fest, Sept. 24, 2011

An album from this year you’ll probably still be listening to in 2021?

Byrdawg – Raining On The Sunshine

What will you remember most about 2011?

You really don’t want to know, but I will talk about it when it’s over.

Favorite NOLA show of the year?

Benevento, Porter, Stoltz & Deitch, The Parish, Late Night May 6, 2011

What’s on tap for you in 2012?

Starting January 2nd working on tracks for an upcoming Johnny Indovinaalbum, a couple of records I am being considered to produce, a few funky Meters shows and hopefully more I-12 AllStars dates.