New Orleans Sings Along at Christmas Time

[Updated] According to singer Judith Owen, Christmas has two sides—“Bloody awful and wonderful,” and both are represented in Christmas songs. When sung together, they’re shared expressions of community, but “they're all about yearning,” she said in 2012. “They're about missing home. They're about missing people. Songs like 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song' are about yearning. 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' is one of the saddest songs I've heard in my entire life."

Tank and the Bangas Don't Compromise at Jazz Fest

On Saturday at Jazz Fest, Tank and the Bangas didn’t give an inch. They could have put on their most audience-friendly face and presented themselves as humble musicians on stage at the Fair Grounds to simply play some music and make people happy. Instead, They opened with a Frank Zappa-like instrumental while dancers in blue and green body stockings performed synchronized movements with balls—all before Tank joined them in face paint on the Gentilly Stage.

Big Freedia Dreams of Santa, She & Him Replace Mariah, and R. Kelly Dreams of Mrs. Claus

Last week, we considered the place Christmas recordings occupy in the careers of artists, looking at new Christmas albums by Andra Day, Jon Batiste, Kacey Musgraves, Leslie Odom Jr., and Jordan Smith. Today, we pick up the spare with quick looks at a number of positive additions to the library of Christmas sounds. 

Not surprisingly, the most audacious new release comes from Big Freedia.

Merry Christmas from Big Freedia, Albert Ayler, Michael Angelakos and My Spilt Milk!

“Let’s get everyone super-fucking-Christmas-y,” Chris Hardwick said to start in interview with Zoe Deschanel and M. Ward of She & Him on “The Nerdist” podcast. They talk some about Christmas and play music from their Christmas Party album, but I’m not sure their conversation about the difference between Portland and Los Angeles gets me in the mood.

Tank and the Bangas Touch All the Bases at The Music Box

Walking into The Music Box’s new permanent digs in the Bywater is like entering a post-apocalyptic shantytown. It’s exciting to stand amidst the seemingly slap-dash “musical architecture;” jerry-rigged structures that conveniently double as instruments. The feeling has been described more than once as a 12-year-old’s (wet) dream, but that doesn’t do justice to the spookiness of the leering, spindly treehouses and ramshackle huts that pepper the venue’s cramped grounds.

Jazz Fest: New Orleans at Night

Bluntly, there's too much to do during Jazz Fest. Too many bands, too many possibilities, too many things that might be cool. Looking at schedules can be overwhelming, so we've narrowed the choices a bit. Our choices reflect our priorities, particularly the absence of jams and ad hoc bands. My roots in punk and pop and the three-minute song are too strong to connect to something as inefficient as jamming. If that's your thing, it's easily found. Here are some other options.

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