Navigating the New Orleans Heart with Mike Doussan

Navigating the New Orleans Heart with Mike Doussan

What does it mean to be New Orleans? The city’s magnetic pull will forever grip outsiders, but what’s it like to survive as a native son, steeped in a scene brimming with free thinkers and constant communal revelry?

For roots rocker Mike Doussan, it means finding purpose.

Raising a family and the suicide of his brother forced his hand in finding his, but through the mentorship of his drummer son August and his focused work on mental health, it’s obvious that this is a musician determined to make his work matter.

It’s a busy week for Doussan, with the release of his new record Yesterday’s Troubles and release parties at The Maple Leaf in New Orleans and Paradise Bar on Pensacola Beach. Luckily, he was able to squeeze us in to chat about his new focus, the necessity of honesty in songwriting, and the camaraderie of the New Orleans music scene.

Mike Doussan’s story is intrinsic to the human condition. There’s pain and pleasure, grit and grace, but much like the city of New Orleans and music itself, true beauty rises from chaos. His songs are proof.

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Nostalgia vs. the Now: 25 Years with The String Cheese Incident

Nostalgia vs. the Now: 25 Years with The String Cheese Incident

Ten years ago, The String Cheese Incident took a chance on me.

As naive senior at Florida State, the dread and uncertainty of post-graduation was met with one sure thing - my absolute need to be involved in music. Resumes flew out to damn near every record label, booking agency, and publicity firm in the country.

One returned the email.

A day after graduation, I made the trek from Tallahassee, FL to Boulder, CO for an internship at SCI Fidelity Records. I was quickly rocketed into a world gloriously foreign to me, where all are welcome and the most different of people and styles are free to come together. The music of the String Cheese Incident did for me what it has done for people around the world and even the band members themselves. It forged seemingly impossible connections through the simple act of being open to adventure.

Bassist Keith Moseley chats here about the band’s 25 years, the communal spirit behind the band and its fans, and how the city of New Orleans inspires the band in front of this week’s JazzFest after-parties. It’s a conversation that points to the immense ways that music can transcend time and boundaries of all kinds.

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Blurring Traditions and Definitions with Billy Strings

Blurring Traditions and Definitions with Billy Strings

Billy Strings sees you on your phone at his show. And he’s about to make you feel weird about it. Coming off the heels of a monster week at Austin’s SXSW festival, the progressive bluegrass guitarist extraordinaire took a breather before his shows at Pensacola’s Vinyl Music Hall and Suwannee Spring Reunion to chat about his endless touring, how he handles rough crowds, and his band’s embrace of the unknown.

Though Billy’s fearless guitar playing boggles minds on its own, he has locked in a unit of mandolin, upright bass, and banjo  that is committed to each other and their crowds in a special way. There’s purposeful playing here, but more importantly, there’s a whole lot of fun - the type of fun that forces you to look at strangers to confirm that yes, we all just witnessed that together. Do not miss this show when it comes to town.

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Sermons of Suwannee: Jeff Mosier on the Healing Power of Music

Sermons of Suwannee: Jeff Mosier on the Healing Power of Music

It shouldn’t surprise you that a man nicknamed “Reverend” has a lot to say. Rev. Jeff Mosier, the longtime right hand man of spiritual jam forefather, Col. Bruce Hampton, is a jamgrass pioneer in his own right. But more important than that is his uniquely purposeful approach to live music. Here, he speaks with Live & Listen about the brain of the improviser, the magic of the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, and how the lessons of music align with everyday life. Mosier’s words are like his playing. They weave and wander, but in the end, they hits home in an intentional, powerful way.

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Oteil Burbridge: The Luckiest Man Alive

Oteil Burbridge: The Luckiest Man Alive

The rumbles of the Allman Brothers freight train and the ecstatic bliss of the Grateful Dead have had one singular common thread - low end master Oteil Burbridge. As bassist for the final edition of The Allman Brothers and now the ever-popular Dead and Company, Burbridge is well aware of his place in jam history and how lucky he is. But these gigs didn’t just happen. They’ve been stewing together since birth, immersed in a musical childhood, and pried and prodded by jam philosopher-in-chief, Col. Bruce Hampton. In front of a headlining gig at this weekend’s Suwannee Roots Revival, Burbridge dove deep with Live and Listen about Col. Bruce’s life lessons, fatherhood, the similarities of church and the Grateful Dead experience, and the importance of, at the very least, remembering to always try. If luck is when preparation meets opportunity, Oteil is its preeminent example.

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Simplicity in Song and in Life: Lessons from Edward David Anderson

Simplicity in Song and in Life: Lessons from Edward David Anderson

Lessons from Singer-Songwriter Edward David Anderson’s Trek Through the Appalachian Trail

My mind’s been playin’ tricks

When I’m out here in the sticks.

It’s like everything is right

And nothing’s wrong.”

-EDA, Only in My Dreams - Release Date: 10/19

There’s an independent streak that runs through everything you do - whether it’s the nomadic lifestyle or the “pick up and play wherever you want” attitude of your music. Where’s that come from?

EDA: Well, I've never been a fan of being told what to do and have always liked the idea of controlling my own destiny. It could have something to do with my dad not really digging his career choice and being around that scene growing up. He certainly never dreamt of being a union plumber in city of Chicago, but he did what he did to take care of his family. I've never really thought about it, but looking back, I'm thinking I decided at a young age that I was going to do something that I loved.

And now, being solo has allowed my wife and I to experience a whole new level of independence. We're able to spend winters on the beach, play/travel as much or as little as we desire, we've started our own Black Dirt Records label, we handle my management and bookings; we're actually completely self-contained!

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TAUK Taps Naughty Professor Horns For Fresh Take On Tunes

TAUK Taps Naughty Professor Horns For Fresh Take On Tunes

The live music scene of Atlanta was booming this New Year’s Eve, but if it’s exploratory instrumental virtuosity you crave, Variety Playhouse certainly had you covered. Rising heavy jam rock band TAUK combined with New Orleans-based psychedelic jazz and funk band Naughty Professor for a horn-driven take of their tunes. Prior to the show, TAUK keyboardist Alric “A.C.” Carter chatted with us from the road about the magic of the South, the art and science of improv, and what to expect from Sunday night's mammoth collaboration.

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Hulaween 2017: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Hulaween 2017: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

If Frank Zappa was right when he said that writing about music was like dancing about architecture, then what in the world can be said of the otherworldly assault on the senses that was 2017’s Suwannee Hulaween? While the festival, now in its fifth year, continues to evolve, one thing has remained true - The String Cheese Incident knows how to put on a party for some of the most colorful people on the planet.

The major differentiator between this year’s festival and years past wasn’t even included in the three-day ticket. Thursday’s pre-party saw a night full of bands that headline festivals by themselves and have followings all their own. With that sort of staggering firepower, there were bound to be some hiccups at the gates. Entrance to the fest was smooth early at the 8AM opening, but bottlenecks did occur when the Internet went out late it in the morning. Waits as long as three hours were reported. 

All was well once the music started though.

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Rev. Jeff Mosier Preaches Gospel of Col. Bruce Hampton at Suwannee

Rev. Jeff Mosier Preaches Gospel of Col. Bruce Hampton at Suwannee

Musicians hate genres, but there may be no other festival more aptly named than Suwannee Roots Revival. The event is by all means an unrivaled collection of roots and Americana music, but it also harkens to roots of other sorts, through the twisting moss of the hallowed Spirit of Suwannee Music Park grounds where Native Americans once frolicked to the way generations of families skipped arms entangled from stage to stage.

What better way to cement that heritage than a series of musical workshops with artists themselves. These ranged from songwriting workshops with Willie Sugarcapps to mandolin playing with Mickey Abraham, but my personal highlight was a an hour of banjo and philosophy with Rev. Jeff Mosier speaking and taking questions from about 30 novice players and listeners. Longtime sidekick of cosmic prankster Col. Bruce Hampton, Mosier played three sets of music throughout the weekend, but the most heartfelt and direct mentions of Hampton came in tidbits throughout this workshop. This would be too tidy for Hampton, but let’s boil it down to the four noble truths of Col. Bruce.

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Grandpa's Cough Medicine: 'Bluegrass Tornado' Swirls Through Garden

Grandpa's Cough Medicine: 'Bluegrass Tornado' Swirls Through Garden

Grandpa's Cough Medicine Brings Acoustic Punch to 'From the Ground Up' Community Garden

If you can bang your head to acoustic instruments, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine will make it happen. Coming to Pensacola’s ‘From the Ground Up’ Community Garden by way of Jacksonville, East Tennessee, and the Americana music mecca of Asheville, North Carolina, the band is a bluegrass outfit of the highest order. Metal and bluegrass may seem like strange bedfellows, but after speaking with bandleader Brett Bass, it makes a whole lot more sense. O/A spoke with the 2015 Rockygrass flat-pick champion about that genre smashing, the communal spirit of bluegrass, and the amount of work it takes to be so damn good at an instrument.

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Modern Throwbacks Lake Street Dive Say 'Yes'

Modern Throwbacks Lake Street Dive Say 'Yes'

Nostalgia is tricky business. Many a band has made the mistake of simply rehashing their musical influences on their listeners, but true musicians know that art is to be a living and breathing entity. Luckily for the world, Lake Street Dive finds the perfect balance between past, present, and future.

With obvious influences from 50’s and 60’s soul, the stripped-down foursome takes stand-up bass, guitar, trumpet, drums, and breathtaking lead and harmonized vocals to fresh heights. This is a band full of charismatic folks doing what they love, making polished anthemic music that is, above all, fun.

Mike “McDuck” Olson took some time off from the road recently to chat with SANDSpaper about the band’s early years as young players, how the band has handled the buzz that’s come with YouTube videos amassing millions of views, and the simple power of saying “yes”.

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Neal Casal, Guitarist with Mystique

Neal Casal, Guitarist with Mystique

There are two types of musicians in this world.

Some search out the spotlight, forever drawn to the roar of the crowd and the clamoring of the masses. Others seek solace in the shadows, content with the stories their fingers tell, confident in the truths they represent.

When the Chris Robinson Brotherhood rolls into Pensacola on September 12, keep an eye, or better yet an ear, on their guitarist Neal Casal. You won’t be able to turn away.

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Derek Trucks: Down the Wormhole

Derek Trucks: Down the Wormhole

Avoid meeting your idols. Your idea of them is typically much greater than the reality of the person they are. In short, most famous people are rarely fun. At least this is the common knowledge. Derek Trucks does to this what he does to everything else common in his orbit – blows it to smithereens.

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Infamous Stringdusters: Hoedown Downtown

Infamous Stringdusters: Hoedown Downtown

What do you envision when you hear the word “bluegrass”?

Is it full of misguided stereotypes — the haunting banjo lick from up the river, or the toothless hillbilly hoedown in the backwoods of Appalachia?

Or is it an ever-evolving, uniquely American form of music that puts the very best of human nature — community, sharing, ingenuity, and laughter — on full display?

Looking ahead to The Infamous Stringdusters’ Pensacola show at Vinyl Music Hall on May 7, bassist Travis Book chatted with SANDSpaper about the band’s approach to live shows, how songs can bring a message, and what the heck bluegrass truly means.

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Tyler Mac Band: Stolen Equipment Benefit Show

Tyler Mac Band: Stolen Equipment Benefit Show

A musician without gear is a fish without water, a bird without wings. For local artists, the constant grind of piecing together paying gigs leaves little room for that next piece of equipment that may put their sound and show over the edge. So imagine waking up one day to the cold, harsh realization that the trailer of tools you’ve spent years accumulating has vanished. For two of Pensacola music’s mainstays, that nightmare became reality earlier this week.

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Hip Abduction: Positivity on Palafox

Hip Abduction: Positivity on Palafox

Based in St. Petersburg by way of the Bahamas, Fiji, and the Amazon jungle, The Hip Abduction is a band whose sound encompasses the globe, but especially Africa and the islands. Thankfully, they avoid the token repetition of the standard reggae fare by blending it with traditional African instruments, thoughtful lyrics, and jam sensibilities. This is music meant to be experienced outside, with the sun at your back, and a brew in hand.

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Paper Diamond: Out With the Old, In With the New

Paper Diamond: Out With the Old, In With the New

The day an artist stops evolving is the day he ceases to exist. This may as well be the motto for Alex Botwin, known today as electronic producer and DJ Paper Diamond.  As a teenage bassist, he and his then-band Pnuma Trio helped revolutionize the way electronic music could be performed on stage. His current act, formed in 2011, has thrown him around the world playing to to huge crowds. The following interview gives a glimpse at what makes modern-day Renaissance man Alex Botwin tick. On a constant search for expression and with the creative abilities to break down barriers few are even aware exist, he is an artist in the truest sense of the word.

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The Groove Orient: Sharin' in the Groove

The Groove Orient: Sharin' in the Groove

Fresh out of the music program at Rollins College, Orlando upstarts The Groove Orient make their way to Pensacola’s Handlebar Saturday night. Their sound is nestled in the sweet spot of jazz, jam, funk, and world music, and their balanced approach shows a band mature beyond its years. O&A recently chatted with guitarist Chuck Magid about how the classroom teachings translate to live performances and what an enjoyable grind the road can be for a new band.

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The Floozies: Dance Party to Thaw Out Pensacola

The Floozies: Dance Party to Thaw Out Pensacola

The weather’s cold, but the club is not. On Saturday, guitarist/producer Mark Hill and drummer Mark Hill take to Vinyl Music Hall to give funk, electronic, and hip hop fans a reason to let loose. The brothers are fresh off a performance at funk mecca Bear Creek Music Festival, so they will, without a doubt, be fired up. What follows is an interview chock full of everything the Floozies’ music is capable of – wit, humor, and the ability to relax and have a little fun.

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