From The Big Easy to Brooklyn

Brooklyn Academy of Music

We’ve been carrying on a personal boycott of the Brooklyn Academy of Music—you too, Brooklyn Brewery—once we learned of their support of the nefarious Atlantic Yards project, with its usage of eminent domain for public displacement and private development.
We clearly acknowledge that our stance will make less of an impact than that of a mosquito bite, but our disgust was enough to renounce what little allegiance we may have had with the Kings County cultural institution. More importantly, you should always be able to withhold your money and support to whomever and whenever you desire, right?

Thankfully, no money changed hands when we were invited by our old friend Mr. K—who got free tickets issued specifically for him—to see the first night of Red Hot + New Orleans featuring Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Ivan Neville, Kermit Ruffins, and musical director Troy Andrews aka Trombone Shorty.

The welcoming sight of large silver beads decorating BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House gave way to a night of various NOLA sounds and talents, some of which blew the roof off the joint while a few left a bit to be desired. Dr. John and Irma Thomas’ respective performances were every bit as magical as one could’ve expected, if a tad brief.
Ivan Neville, who played keyboards throughout the evening, honored his family legacy with a rousing rendition of The Meters’ “Fire on the Bayou”; R&B singer Ledisi was a marvel to behold, wowing the audience with her killer vocal gymnastics and a fiery version of her tune “Knockin’”.

On the other hand, vocalist Marc Broussard was on the bland side, and Kermit Ruffins, who opened the show, was off key on both trumpet and voice, the latter glaringly so when he dueted with the aforementioned Ledisi on “What a Wonderful World”. That bad. Seriously.

If the star of the evening was the music of NOLA, Trombone Shorty was the spotlight. Along with his band Orleans Avenue, the 24 year old was nothing less than a seasoned pro, not only pulling together all these diverse musical strands in a fluid and coherent manner but showing off his monstrous talent and stage presence during his own portion of the show. Damn!

And yeah, they all came out on stage for the final encore: What else? “When The Saints Go Marching In”. But it wasn’t hokey. Kinda cool, actually.