Nobody but God knows the New Orleans music scene better than Jay Mazza. For decades he’s been out there: stage front and center, backstage, dressing rooms, backyard barbecues… He knows the neighborhoods and the venues and the musicians and their music and their wives and children…
He’s written for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and OffBeat and here, there and everywhere, including his own books…
The forwards to which were written by New Orleans royalty Delfeayo Marsalis, Kermit Ruffins, and Reggie Scanlan…
In New Orleans, the music doesn’t stop. And neither does Jay. Another book is in progress now…
In 1993, in a ramshackle bar deep in the working class Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, a trumpeter building a small following after his departure from a celebrated brass band began a weekly gig. It lasted nearly twenty years. The bar and the musician became icons together. Thursday nights at Vaughan’s became legendary.
Author Jay Mazza attended over 350 of those performances. Using notes, recollections, archival news reports and extensive interviews with many of the musicians, he has crafted a detailed history of a special time and a unique venue, which holds an exalted place in the memories of those who were there. The book features photographs by Herman Leonard, David Rae Morris, Cheryl Gerber and others.
From the back cover:
“Mick Jagger, Wynton Marsalis, Elvis Costello and Peter Jennings are just a handful of luminaries making appearances in this rollicking chronicle of trumpeter/vocalist and indisputable New Orleans icon, Kermit Ruffins, and the down-home Bywater bar he made famous. Teeming with a colorful cast of unforgettable characters, Not Just Another Thursday Night: Kermit Ruffins and Vaughan’s Lounge, celebrates community and tradition while capturing the sense of timelessness that defines New Orleans. Mazza’s account overflows with hilarious tales of musicians and bar flies, voodoo ceremonies and epic jams, placing the reader deep in the gritty Ninth Ward neighborhood and right on top of the bandstand.”
From the foreword:
“Throughout the 1990s, Vaughan’s grew into an important musical institution here in the Crescent City. Kermit Ruffins was the perfect musician to anchor the Thursday night shows because of both the infectious joy inherent in his musical personality and his loveable, disarming personality. Musicians who stopped in to play with the band ranged from beginners to students to professionals and ranged more specifically from the traditional to the beboppers to the modernists and funk aficionados. All were welcomed with open arms and all were able to play inside of a comfort zone that is extraordinary in any musical environment. On a given night the repertoire would range from the traditional jazz repertoire to standards, bebop tunes and of course, something funky.”
Intended for fans of New Orleans music and culture, the book is as much a cultural retrospective on the city and its rock scene as it is a musical tribute.
Filled with distinctive characters that passed through the bars, pubs and clubs where the Radiators played, the book is a who’s-who of the New Orleans scene as told by someone who was there in person at almost every important juncture of the last 30 years.
The foreword is by Reggie Scanlan, bassist for the Radiators.
“Up Front and Center- New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century” is the first in-depth account of this very important era in the history of New Orleans music. It is filled with vivid descriptions of many of the most significant musical performances in the last two decades of the 20th century. Jay Mazza is an outstanding writer who was a constant presence in the clubs, concert halls, and festivals of the period.
The book begins with a foreword by iconic New Orleans trumpeter and personality, Kermit Ruffins. The first chapters set the stage for a thrilling ride through history by describing in rich detail the New Orleans milieu of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Musicians, bands, and clubs come to life as Mazza skillfully weaves the story. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival serves as the thread tying the tale together. Three chapters discussing the Jazz Fest’s adolescence, developing years, and emergence as the world’s premier music festival bookend the text.
Mazza also provides the reader with a thorough socio-economic and cultural analysis of the myriad changes in the music community and the city at large. The rise of Frenchmen Street, the revival of the brass band community, the expansion of the music educational system, the saga of the 1984 World’s Fair, and the development of the music media are among many of the topics considered in detail.
Fittingly, the book centers on the legendary and the under-acknowledged-until-now musicians who defined the era. The careers of such important artists as the Meters, Galactic, the subdudes, Kermit Ruffins, the Rebirth Brass Band, and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews are discussed at length. Lesser-known musicians and bands that had a major impact on the music of New Orleans, including All That, Theryl DeClouet, Tribe Nunzio, the percussionist Michael Ward, Royal Fingerbowl, and Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen, are given their due.
Mazza’s scintillating stories put the reader “up front and center” grooving to the music at many of the clubs that defined the time period. Sorely missed hot spots that had a direct role in the development of New Orleans music at the end of the 20th century, such as Benny’s Bar, Dorothy’s Medallion, the Rose Tattoo, and the Glass House, are featured prominently.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1- The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in the late 1970s and early 1980s
2- New Orleans Music Venues in the 1980s
3- The Musicians and Bands of late 1970s and early 1980s
4- The Beginnings of a Music Media Infrastructure
5- The Meters and the Second Wave of Funk
6- The Brass Band Revival
7- The New Orleans World’s Fair and the Saga of Tipitina’s
8- The Jazz Fest Grows Into Its New Home
9- A New Generation of Musicians and Bands
10- The New Brass Band Generation
11- The Rise of Frenchmen Street
12- Jazz Studies and Street Smarts
13- Mardi Gras Indians and Jazz Funerals
14- A New Generation Gets Into the Business
15- The Jazz Fest in the 1990s
What They Are Saying:
“With this intimate history of clubs, musicians and festivals, Jay Mazza places you on the bar stool, the street corner and the dance floor-the best vantage points for understanding the changes on the music scene of the 1980s and 1990s. An invaluable key to understanding life in New Orleans at the end of the 20th century.”-Brian Boyles, Director of Public Relations and Programs, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
“Anyone interested in what’s been happening on the New Orleans music scene over the last thirty years should take a jump down this rabbit hole. Told from the perspective of someone who was actually front and center, Jay Mazza has compiled his mountain of published articles, notes, recollections and musings into an intriguing overview of a period of New Orleans music that has, for the most part, been neglected.”-Reggie Scanlan, bassist for Professor Longhair, James Booker, the Radiators and the New Orleans Suspects.