FRIDAY, AUG. 3 - SUNDAY, AUG. 5
At the height of the summer when most people seek comfort in the shade against the steaming heat, thousands of people gather at the Old U.S. Mint to celebrate the life and legacy of New Orleans native son Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.
Free, kid-friendly and open to the public, Satchmo SummerFest has become an annual three-day event held on the first week of August since 2001.
Festival attendees will get to enjoy indoor and outdoor events throughout the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, which include live bands on several stages, seminars, exhibits and lectures by musical authorities, all paying tribute to one of America’s most iconic musicians.
Sponsored by French Quarter Festivals, Inc., some of the festival’s highlights this year are the Satchmo-themed art contest and show at the Crescent City Brewhouse, the Satchmo Club Strut down Frenchmen Street, a Sunday morning Jazz Mass at St. Augustine Church in Treme, a traditional second line parade, and more.
Satchmo SummerFest 2012 will take place over the weekend of Aug 3-5. Tourists and locals can find more information on the festival by visiting www.fqfi.org/satchmosumerfest
If you happen to be a jazz aficionado, a music lover, or just a tourist looking for something fun, Satchmo SummerFest is surely one festival not to be missed. – Leticia Brunetto Salles
SATURDAY, AUGUST 4
Meschiya Lake and Her Little Big Horns featuring Tom McDermott Cornet Chop Suey Stage – 2:45 p.m.
Few can resist the charismatic nature of Meschiya Lake and Her Little Big Horns as the microphone-less front lady belts out a stream of crooning vocal melodies on top of the talented band's rhythmic playing, fitting together like a lock and key. Solos are performed to traditional perfection as jazz dancers, Chance Bushman and Amy Johnson, bring the whole gang together with their fluid style, all while Meschiya continues to woo the crowd with her hip turnin’ jazzy voice. Starting her performance career as a member of the Know Nothing Family Zirkus Zideshow along with the End of the World Circus, she honed her remarkable knack for drawing audiences from everywhere into her show. During her travels, she discovered her current residence of New Orleans where she’s pursued a career in trad jazz that has led to current project Little Big Horns, which developed in 2009. They raised money for their nationally-acclaimed album Little Devils by saving tips from street gigs that has recently led them through their first European tour. Joining the group is legendary pianist Tom McDermott who has called New Orleans home ever since 1984, two years after getting his masters in music from Washington University in St. Louis. Since, McDermott has released nine CD’s as a leader, and travels the world studying, composing and performing varieties of music, such as Brazilian choro music. Check the group out for this year’s Satchmo SummerFest – Chris DiBenedetto
Yoshio Toyama & the Dixie Saints Red Beans & Ricely Yours Stage – 3:45 p.m.
Satchmo SummerFest veterans Yoshio and Keiko Toyama traveled all the way from Japan with their band the Dixie Saints to participate in the festival again this year. Their history is an inspiring one – the starry-eyed couple originally came to New Orleans in 1968 to learn to play traditional jazz after being exposed to the music of Louis Armstrong as teenagers. After shacking up in a seedy apartment on Bourbon Street, they found their opportunity at Preservation Hall, where the owner offered to pay them in food in exchange for doing chores and performing in the courtyard. The Toyamas honed their abilities by sitting in on performances by jazz greats such as Percy Humphrey and “Sweet Emma” Barrett. The couple eventually went back home in 1973 and put their skills to use playing weekly gigs at Tokyo Disneyland, Ginza Nashville and Hub Asukasa. Yoshio and Keiko went on to found The Wonderful World of Jazz, an organization that promotes music as an alternative to violence, in 1994. The foundation has been donating new and used musical instruments to the children of New Orleans for 18 years. Look for Yoshio on the trumpet and Keiko on the banjo at the Red Beans and Ricely Yours Stage on Aug. 4. – Kimberly Hopson
Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr. & the Wild Magnolias Cornet Chop Suey Stage – 5:15 p.m.
In a city like New Orleans, replete with colorful traditions, none are more colorful – or more hallowed – than the tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians. And in recent years, probably no one has kept that tradition alive better than Theodore Emile “Bo” Dollis, Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indian Tribe. However, recent health issues have largely sidelined Big Chief Dollis, but the storied Wild Magnolias tradition is carried on today by his son, Bo Dollis Jr. The mantle (or, rather in this case, the headdress) has been passed by father to son, and Bo Jr. does not take his family legacy lightly. From the age of nine, he was already creating his own costumes, using beads from his mother’s discarded purses. At 13, he became his father’s Spy Boy and moved up from there as he got older. Since childhood, he has been well-versed in the songs, rituals and costume construction of his tribe. Today, Bo Jr., now in his early 30s, performs around the world introducing the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian culture to large international audiences. His distinct voice is widely recognized as he sings songs made famous by his father, such as “Handa Wanda” and other Indian standards. The present Wild Magnolias tribe, which dates back to the 1940s, has about 15-20 parading members, made up of men, women and children. – Dean M. Shapiro
SUNDAY, AUGUST 5
The Palmetto Bug Stompers Red Beans & Ricely Yours Stage – 1:15 p.m.
With a name like that, how could you not like these guys? The Palmetto Bug Stompers are some of New Orleans’ finest purveyors of traditional New Orleans Jazz. With a wide and varied background of musical influences, they are among the most frequently performing artists on the Frenchmen Street music strip, as well as elsewhere around town. With roots in the original New Orleans Jazz Vipers and some of its members currently doing double-duty with the New Orleans Cottonmouth Kings, the “Bugs’” current lineup consists of “Washboard Chaz” Leary (washboard and vocals), Will Smith (trumpet), Paul Robertson and Charlie Halloran (trombones), Robert Snow (acoustic bass), Bruce Brackman (clarinet) and John Rodli (guitar and vocals). Their shows at clubs like The Spotted Cat, d.b.a. and other locales are lively and spirited, with each member being given ample opportunity to solo on their respective instruments. Recently, they had the honor of performing at New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center, bringing the Big Easy to the Big Apple with class and style. – Dean M. Shapiro
Jeremy Davenport Coronet Chop Suey Stage – 4 p.m.
Born into a musical family in St. Louis trumpet player and vocalist, Jeremy Davenport, was welcomed into the world as a bright talent. Playing with his father’s fellow members of the St. Louis Symphony at a young age, including New Orleans’ own Wynton Marsalis, he learned many lessons from jazz greats as well as classical artists that have come to help synchronize his signature sound today. After high school he attended the Manhattan School of Music where Wynton introduced him to Harry Connick Jr. The relationship with both famed artists convinced him to move to New Orleans where he studied under pianist and composer Ellis Marsalis at the University of New Orleans, eventually joining Harry Connick Jr.’s Big Band for six years. After releasing his first album in 1996, self-titled Jeremy Davenport, he continued writing scores of music, while keeping true to the crooner jazz style he has developed so tenderly into a contemporary entertainment. Now delighting crowds with his unique blend every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Davenport Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, Davenport has been carving his own niche into one of the most musical cities in the world. The title of his latest album, We’ll Dance Till Dawn, defines the entertainer’s performance ambience perfectly as he mixes in covers from crooners like Sinatra between his beautifully romantic originals that span generations. – Chris DiBenedetto
Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony Red Beans & Ricely Yours Stage – 5 p.m.
The youngest of 16 siblings, Topsy Chapman was born in New Orleans, but spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Kentwood, La. She developed her passion for music while singing in a gospel choir. After moving to New Orleans, Chapman formed a gospel singing group – The Chapman Singers.
Although The Chapman Singers eventually adopted the name Solid Harmony, they continue to perform moving musical numbers, deeply influenced by gospel. Today, Chapman delights the audience with her hearty vocals at locales like Snug Harbor and Palm Court, and she makes appearances at events with the Magnolia Brass Band and the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, among others. – Suzanne Pfefferle