Food, drinks, and nonstop dancing. Here’s the best of what I saw last weekend for Round 1 of 2013.


NOLA’s own opened the Acura Stage around noon on Saturday a high energy set that certainly deserved to be on the big stage. Playing a new band, John Michael showcased songs off his new EP that ranged from power pop to funk rock and kept kept the bodies moving out in the audience. The four-piece band was extremely tight and showed no indication of only playing together a few times. With great songs, a smooth voice, and a groove-oriented sound to tie it all together, John Michael continues to show why he is one of the best singer-songwriters in town.

John Michael Rouchell

@ Jazz Fest

The play a fusion of Cajun, rock, and punk that fit comfortably amongst the eclectic sounds of Jazz Fest. The unusual mix of electric guitar, accordion, pedal steel, and drums blended together well and in no time everyone was and dancing along . A label like “Cajun punk” could seem like a terrible idea on paper, but these guys pull it off remarkably well and appeal to people who may have never heard Cajun or punk in their lives. The Louisiana natives are hitting the road after this weekend, giving more people the to hear this truly unique band.

and His Extraordinaires @ Jazz Fest

64 year old has had some hard times. After years of performing as a impersonator, the Jacksonville native spent time without a home and worked odd jobs for about twenty years. He finally got his first record deal at the age of 62 and has been burning down stages across the country for the past couple years.

Charles Bradley' and the Extraordinaires

While packed in front of the Acura Stage and churned out a seemingly endless supply of modern pop hits (and , he’s still got it), a much smaller crowd gathered in the cool of the Blues Tent. After an instrumental opening that teased “Summer in the City,” the dapper Bradley appeared onstage in a red suit and proceeded to howl, dance, and leap his way through a knockout set. Bradley has the raw energy of Otis Redding, the moves of , and the songs you come to expect from the Daptone Record label, plus a backing band that truly lives up their name. Halfway through the set, Bradley disappeared backstage and got the crowd worried he was ending the short early. Any fears were quickly alleviated as soon as he returned in a different suit and proceeded to dance with his mic stand and even bust out a perfect onstage. Young singers take note: this is how you put on a show.

Charles Bradley

Band @

Hands down the best set of the day was the “Funk N Stay Up” /dance party at The that ended just before the sun came up. , a pianist who frequents the jam band circuit, is playing all over town this week (15 shows to be exact) and his virtuosic playing is not to be missed. For this jam, he was accompanied by , bassist for jam/indie oddballs , and Andy Borger, who has played drums for everyone from Norah to . This motley crew brought a wildly eclectic sound to The Leaf, led by Benevento’s hypnotic and intriguing piano.

Benevento played a lot of his own instrumental rock, along with a healthy dose of as an early set “Bennie and The Jets” that included an a cappella chorus sung entirely by the energized crowd. Other were more subtle, as instrumental versions of ’s “Someone Great,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” unsuccessfully attempted to leave the stage no less than three times, only to be encouraged to keep playing from the tireless crowd. After a delightfully weirded-out of “Such a Night,” the trio kicked out one more jam before convincingly saying, “All right that’s it! No more!” Benevento needed some much deserved sleep before another day of incredible, memorable jams.

Marco Benevento Band

Rebels @

The are no strangers to Le Bon Temps, and their Thursday night dance parties are widely recognized as a guaranteed . This special Sunday featured all the ear-deafening brass, hip hop influenced grooves, and intimacy that you only get in a dingy back room of one of NOLA’s best watering holes. The band launched into the signature horn intro of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” which quickly morphed into West’s “Touch the Sky,” complete with some quality rapping. These guys sure know how to work a crowd.

, , and @

A few hours after helping push through a defiant, rain-soaked set to close out Day 3 of Jazz Fest, sax man led a super jam at the . Coffin was joined by legendary drummer , who added some jazzy textures, and bassist whose endless supply of quality riffs almost upstaged the better known musicians on stage. In typical Jazz Fest fashion, the one and only () sat in for the duration of the set on an electric that added some unexpected rhythm and melody to the songs.

Los Poboycitos @

, the premier record store for , hosts free in store performances from some of the best local bands every day during Jazz Fest. Los Poboycitos brought in a sizable crowd from the stormy afternoon with their tight, upbeat Latin-infused funk that affirmed their status as one of the most unique and undeniably fun bands in town. The band was clearly having a blast, encouraging the crowd to clap and dance along as they busted out surfer dance moves and traded scorching hot solos.

Los Poboycitos

Looking ahead to next weekend, here are my picks for Round 2:

Lee Fields and the Expressions @ One Eyed Jacks (Saturday, 8:00 PM)

Lee has been singing like there’s no tomorrow since 1962, and an intimate club like is the ideal location to soak in the soul. Recommend picking up beforehand.

@ (Friday, 2:00 and Saturday 2:00 )

There’s a reason this -based “garage-soul” band are playing One Eyed Jacks two nights in a row: they bring the house down every time they play. Last time I saw these guys was in a in two years ago and they absolutely killed it.

Marco Benevento, , and Johnny Vidacovich (Saturday/Sunday, 3:00 )

Last to see Marco’s Maple Leaf dance party, this time with the help of ’s and Johnny V. Not to be missed.

Grows Funk (Monday)

This is it, the band’s final show before they break up. the members will continue to play around town, but this is the end of one of the most reliably funky bands around. The end of Jazz Fest and one of NOLA’s greatest bands, this will surely be a memorable (and tearful) show.

*All AM times are posted with the date of the previous day (Ex: A 2:00 AM show on Saturday night is technically Sunday, but posted with Saturday’s date)

For the complete Jazz Fest “After Dark” , which includes a listing of all the shows happening in town over the next week, check out the Jazz Fest .