Round 12 (2020)
New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic & Assistance Foundation
The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic & Assistance Foundation will utilize funding from the THCF to support the Play It Safe initiative, a model program for harm-reduction measures for New Orleans musicians that provides protective equipment and health education. “We will purchase and distribute musician-specific PPE such as bell covers for woodwind and brass instruments and microphone windscreens and produce a public awareness campaign for harm reduction tactics for working musicians” says Zach Danner of NOMAF. “These interventions help our local musicians mitigate COVID-19 exposure as the cultural economy reopens and they begin to play more public-facing gigs. It will also help them navigate potential upcoming city mandates on instrument protective gear.
Brad Walker vs The Extended Trio
Brad Walker vs The Extended Trio is an ongoing collaboration between two of the most compelling forces in New Orleans creative music, featuring Walker, with a decade of award-nominated and nationally recognized recordings, and the Extended Trio, which combines three of the leading lights of the modern music scene in New Orleans: Oscar Rossignoli (piano), Matt Booth (bass), and Brad Webb (drums). We have performed extensively together and have maintained that relationship in the face of the Covid-19 shutdown, developing a unique, original repertoire of music, as well as a striking rapport with each other. We will be recording a suite of brand-new compositions at Esplanade Studios, which has long been at the forefront of the recording scene here in New Orleans and has now added high-definition film-quality cameras (and crew) to their arsenal. Varvara Degtiarenko, Russian-born and New Orleans-based filmmaker, will be our film director for the project. We will produce both a full-length album and live concert of our work together.
Pianist John Davis will create a CD, tentatively titled Congo Square Reunion, to be recorded in New Orleans and feature Davis’ renditions of approximately fourteen piano works by a largely-forgotten series of 19th century Crescent City-based composers. Most of the compositions to be highlighted were published in New Orleans during the 19th century and have never been performed, let alone recorded, since the dates of their publication. Compositions will include a Congo Square dance, a Mardi Gras waltz, a voodoo dance and a New Orleans brass band march among others. The release of Congo Square Reunion will coincide with the opening of a companion exhibition that Davis conceived and has been invited to curate at The New Orleans Jazz Museum.
Calvin Johnson returns to the recording studio with his band, Native Son, to begin a socially distanced production of their 3rd full-length studio album, entitled Native Son II (working title). In addition to Cavin on saxophone and vocals it will feature Ryan Hansaler on piano, Peter Harris on bass, Trenton O’Neal on drums and Glen Finister Andrews on drums. This production and its culminating release will embody Johnson’s progress as a musician, composer, cultural bearer, and native son of New Orleans. He has penned original music and arrangements of NOLA classics that reflect his deep New Orleans roots while also infused with his worldly experiences gained from being a touring musician. “I’m elated to once again work with the good people at the Threadhead Cultural Foundation as they continue to not only see the value of the perpetuation of New Orleans culture but to also put their money directly into the hands of New Orleans culture bearers to produce their precious works,” says Calvin. “Given the current economic climate that we’re in, that being a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a mass grave loss of human life, this recording session and it’s resulting CD are as timely as ever as they will hopefully not only serve as an artistic marker for this precarious time in history but it will also uplift humanity.”
Dancing Grounds is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing young leaders, promoting health and wellness and advocating for justice through inclusive and accessible dance programs. This Threadhead grant will support the Dance for Social Change Festival in April 2021, where New Orleans’ teenagers will use their artistic talents to advocate for positive social change in their communities. They will work with professional dancers, musicians and poets to create a series of short films created in response to Covid-19 and the Movement for Black Lives. Plans are for a hybrid virtual and outdoor in-person event, Covid-19 safely guidelines permitting.
Make Music NOLA
Make Music NOLA (MMN) is an award-winning music education non-profit organization, celebrating its tenth-year anniversary this year. This program began in a converted Walgreens in the Lower 9th Ward with just five students, and has since grown to reach hundreds of students at multiple locations. MMN’s mission is to provide access to high quality music education and opportunities for performance and personal growth to students from marginalized communities. MMN primarily offers group instruction on string instruments, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and K-4 general music classes. Pre-COVID-19, MMN worked with over 400 students in eight locations on a weekly basis, providing over sixty-five hours of music programming a week. Currently, MMN is providing over 300 students with virtual group string classes and in-school general music classes. MMN students also have the opportunity to participate in workshops and masterclasses with guest artists, national camps with students from all over the country, and perform publicly at major festivals when possible. This grant funding will be used for a week-long summer Creative Composition Workshop, which is an intensive 10-hour workshop that teaches the next generation of NOLA musicians to collaboratively write lyrics, melodies and rhythms for an original work. At the end of the workshop the composition will be filmed and recorded.
Egg Yolk Jubilee
Egg Yolk Jubilee will create their 5th full length album. They have been performing and recording as a band since 1996 and this is their first album since their 20th anniversary ‘best of’ release entitled ‘Crux of the Yolk’ and their first since the loss February 1st, 2020 of guitarist and singer Geoff Douville after previously losing member Michael Joseph. “We were sidelined by Geoff’s medical setback in the early summer of 2019 and except for marching in quite a few Carnival parades (which we do as well as play as an electric band) we haven’t been able to play live in a normal fashion in a year and a half,” said member Mike Hogan. “Within days of the memorial concert to honor Geoff, the COVID lockdowns started and what was to be a sort of rebirth at French Quarter Fest ended up being a time of isolation. Slowly this summer we began picking ourselves up and restructuring things to keep the wheels rolling. I guess the gist of it all is THCF has possibly saved the band as we enter our 25th year and surely help us achieve our goal of releasing not only what we consider our best album to date but also our first in the vinyl format which we all have wanted since we were kids”.
Leslie Blackshear Smith
Leslie Blackshear Smith’s CD project entitled ‘Bridges and Trains’ is a collection of original recordings exploring relationships between our internal and external landscape and the path that we travel to overcome the challenges our hearts hand us. “As a result of the pandemic,” Leslie says, “I’ve spent many hours trying to adjust my view of how to go forward as a performing artist. Building a digital platform to stream from, trying to find new ways to connect. There’s a magical alchemy in live performance that we are all starving for – an energetic exchange that feeds the spirit. In this Covid19 void I feel it deeply.” Leslie is a New Orleans-born singer, songwriter, producer and author who has been performing on the scene since the age of 17, working in many styles including jazz, R&B and gospel while collaborating and receiving praise from luminaries such as Allen Toussaint, Wardell Quezergue and Erica Falls to name a few. “I am so excited to dig into ‘Bridges and Trains.’ I can’t think of a better time for intimate conversations with old friends exploring the messy, beautiful miracle of being human. I’ll do my best to make it a conversation you’ll enjoy listening in on and revisiting.”
Andre Bohren will complete a decade-long dream project to record a collection of classical piano music. A member of several local working bands including Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes and the Desert Nudes as well as a member of the legendary 610 Stompers, Andre’s daily Facebook ‘piano breaks’ have helped serve as a valuable musical distraction from the Covid 19 darkness our present music scene has had to endure. “New Orleans has a long history of classical music, and I am excited to add my own album to that storied canon,” Andre explains. “This recording will feature performances of music by Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Schubert, Gershwin and Mussorgsky. This project was begun two years ago but has been on hold due to lack of funding as well as complications surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. The Threadhead Grant will enable me to not only finish the recording, but also to fully realize the project so that the maximum potential is achieved. I am thrilled to be joining the Threadhead family as a solo artist, especially with a recording that is so close to my heart. I look forward to sharing this music with you all!”
Lyrica Baroque will produce the 2021 NOLA Chamber Fest. Since 2014, NOLA Chamber Fest has encouraged the advancement of chamber music in greater New Orleans and the entire Gulf South. Our mission is to inspire and motivate musicians through the experience of tight-knit collaboration and artistic independence that only chamber music can offer. The festival offers learning and performance opportunities for enthusiastic elementary, middle and high school-aged musicians, dedicated college and graduate ensembles, passionate community musicians and today’s top emerging professional talent. NOLA Chamber Fest’s reach is rapidly expanding, drawing more participants each year. Collaboratively presented by Lyrica Baroque, the New Orleans Friends of Music, and the University of New Orleans, NOLA Chamber Fest provides meaningful educational and artistic opportunities for our community.
Marc Stone is recording his first studio album since his critically acclaimed THCF funded “Poison & Medicine” (2015 Louisiana Red Hot Records). His latest release “Live at Tipitina’s” is a Blues-heavy solo effort showing his ease with just a guitar, a mic and a packed house of rockin’ Jazz Festers, which garnered him nominations for Best Blues Album at the 2020 Best of the Beat Awards, as well as Best Blues Artist noms from both BoTB and the Big Easy Awards. On this upcoming album his songwriting will share center stage with his soulful vocals and incendiary guitar and slide playing. Featuring 8 originals currently in production (more to come?), the album showcases Stone’s ability to draw from his wide-ranging experiences in the Roots music world to create a unique and personal style. Exploring a range of emotions, grooves and sounds, this promises to be anything but a cookie cutter genre record. With an amazing line up of legends and top shelf contemporaries, Stone’s new album also benefits from his years of organizing live shows with a myriad of outstanding performers, many of whom are featured in these tracks. To date participants in the project include Papa Mali, Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, New Soul Finders! feat Marilyn Barbarin, Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, Reggie Scanlan and the Naughty Horns, as well as Mikey B3 Burkart, Terry Scott, Jr., Noah Young, Richard Moten, Mike Dillon, Keiko Komaki, Daniel Lelchuck, Deanna Bernard, Meschiya Lake, Terence Higgins, Alex Dyring and James Singleton. Sharing the producer chair with Keenan McRae, whose production work helped catapult Tank and the Bangas to success, Stone provides lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, National steel, lap steel and Dobro. Look for singles w special guests soon and the full album in spring of 2021.
Danny Barker Banjo Festival
The Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival is a 3-day music and education event celebrating the legacy of Danny Barker. The event, which starts tomorrow, Thursday Jan 14th at 11:30am and runs through Saturday Jan 16th, was organized to preserve the importance of art, education and culture, which will erode in time, if not cherished and celebrated to evolve the youth of a new generation. Despite a reduction from a 5 day interactive event to a mostly virtual and live-stream 3 day event due to the ongoing pandemic, the lineup of zoom interviews and live balcony performances streamed from the Old Mint continues the tradition of excellence this festival has created. Interviews include Dr. Michael White, Roger Dickenson and Dee Dee Bridgewater and performances by John Boutte, Don Vappie Trio and a finale by Leyla McCalla on Saturday at 3pm. For all the info please go to www.dannybarkerfestival.com
Lawrence Sieberth will record his project entitled ‘America: One Nation Under…A Musical Discourse’. Designed to be the musical foundation for further multi-media collaborations with visual artists and dance companies, the music composed for this project is a musical narrative promoting the need for freedom and progress through harmony and peaceful understanding. In these troubled times this music will serve as an antidote to the confusion and hostility that is prevalent today, both individually and collectively. It will be a story, musical discourses, portraying social justice and awareness, the necessity of which can lead to the understanding that we are all connected. The project will use local musicians and recording studios and plans to tap local producer Tracey Freeman, Harry Connick’s longtime producer.
Tekrema Center for Art and Culture
Tekrema Center for Art and Culture will present an evening-length dance performance based on the book Black Dance in Louisiana – Guardian of a Culture by Greer E. Mendy. The Tekrema Center is a cultural arts organization located in the Lower 9th Ward at the Andrew “Pete” Sanchez Multi-Service Center and whose mission is to create a legacy of art and community in service of the citizens of New Orleans and beyond through the maintenance, development and perseverance of African and African American art and culture. The performance will be a choreographic expression that will tell stories of Louisiana’s Black Dance traditions, their movements, and music, environments, spiritual, secular and resistance processes, and importantly their celebration. The performance’s finale is set to the music of New Orleans renown percussionist Herlin Riley. Due to the evolving Covid restrictions, the performance dates have been moved and it will now be a filmed event performed on April 2nd at Esplanade Studios in New Orleans for release at a date TBA.