Tank and the Bangas Are Right Band, Right Time

Tank and the Bangas have become one of the best stories in New Orleans music. Their growth as artists and performers has been steady, and success hasn’t come at the cost of their nerve. Instead of remaking “Walmart” again and again or—worse—simplifying their songs to make them more conventional, they’ve asked more of their audiences instead of less.

Jazz Fest: Tank and The Bangas Contain Multitudes

Friday at Jazz Fest was a lesson in context. I went into the day excited to see Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, but after an afternoon that included Fiend, 3D Na’Tee, Tank and The Bangas, and Jupiter & Okwess from the Congo, a dude with carefully crafted country(ish) songs didn’t fit the day’s flavor profile. The musical and lyrical clarity in his songs were also at odds with the sometimes gnarly music I got from Tank and Jupiter. 

Jazz Fest: The Second Friday at the Fest and at Night

For me, the stretch from 12:25 to 5:25 p.m. Friday is what makes a good Jazz Fest. During that stretch, I hope to see part of the New Orleans Hip-Hop Experience (particularly Fiend and 3D Natee), Lil’ Buck Sinegal with Barbara Lynn, The Nth Power, Tank and the Bangas, Jupiter & Okwess, 79rs Gang, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and The Soul Rebels.

Jazz Fest: Friday's Best at the Fair Grounds and the Clubs

Friday’s schedule is typical of this year’s Jazz Fest. There’s a lot to see, but it’s not obvious where everybody will be, nor is it obvious who people should see. Among the headliners, Sturgill Simpson is far more relevant in 2018 than Sting or Steel Pulse, but Jazz Fest doesn’t usually put a premium on relevance. After Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. may matter more right now than all three.

Aerosmith, David Byrne, Jack White Top the Jazz Fest Lineup

When the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell returns April 27 to the Fair Grounds, it will be with Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Sting, Jimmy Buffett and his Acoustic Airmen, Jack White, Beck, Lionel Richie, David Byrne, Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt, Khalid, Sturgill Simpson, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, Common, and Cage the Elephant atop the lineup. Some of those aren’t news.

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.

A New Home Lets The Music Box Think Big

Wherever The Music Box has been located—on Piety Street, in Shreveport, City Park, or Tampa—musicians have “played” the instruments built by artists into architectural structures. Some structures are the picture of low-tech, such as Elizabeth Shannon’s dome-shaped shaker—a wire cage wrapped in lace on the outside with bells on the inside.

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.

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