×

Sounds Local: Mardi Gras celebration coming to the Shea Theater

  • Since settling in Brattleboro, Vt., Samirah Evans has won over local audiences with her vibrant performances that showcase her range. From gutsy blues to smooth jazz, she has been a regular performer at the Vermont Jazz Center and also established the Ladies in Jazz series that has taken place at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. Submitted photo

  • “When I first heard Trailer Park, the dance bug bit me in a way it hadn’t since moving to the area,” Samirah Evans said. “Their style is reminiscent of one my favorite bands from New Orleans — The Iguanas. They made me feel right at home.” Submitted Photo



For The Recorder
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“I been dreaming about New Orleans/ All the Mardi Gras kings and queens/ Don’t need Satchmo to tell me what it means / Because I know I’ve been too long away,” sings Samirah Evans on her song “New Orleans Dreamin’.”

With Mardi Gras just around the corner, this is the time of year when a lot of us are dreaming about New Orleans. But you don’t have to hop a plane and head to Bourbon Street to enjoy the music and spirit of Mardi Gras, because Mardi Gras is coming to you.

On Saturday night at 8 p.m., The Shea Theater, in conjunction with the River Valley Co-op, will host a Mardi Gras party featuring the music of local talents, blues/jazz vocalist Samirah Evans and rockers Trailer Park.

Evans is a former resident of New Orleans who relocated to her husband’s hometown of Brattleboro, Vt. in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While living in New Orleans, Evans was a staple on the cities’ jazz club scene, playing such venues as Snug Harbor, House of Blues, Sweet Lorraine’s and the Bombay Club. A leading presence on the Crescent City music scene, she also played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for 14 consecutive years.

In addition, Evans has shared the stage with a long list of legendary artists, including James Brown, B.B. King, Dr. John, Aaron Neville, Charles Neville, Terence Blanchard, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty and Sheila Jordan.

Since settling in Brattleboro, Evans has won over local audiences with her vibrant performances that showcase her range. From gutsy blues to smooth jazz, she has been a regular performer at the Vermont Jazz Center and also established the Ladies in Jazz series that has taken place at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield.

Evans has brought the magic of New Orleans to our local stages with past Mardi Gras shows, lending her deep smoky vocals to her original songs as well as some much-loved tunes we associate with the city. This show will feature plenty of this swampy, sassy, highly danceable music, and what better band to have along then Trailer Park, a group whose sax-heavy upbeat brand of rock music has been keeping area audiences on their feet for over 20 years?

Trailer Park has performed with the likes of Los Lobos, NRBQ, Little Feat, Bo Diddley, WAR and Rat Dog, and played about every venue and festival in our area.

“When I first heard Trailer Park, the dance bug bit me in a way it hadn’t since moving to the area,” Evans said. “Their style is reminiscent of one my favorite bands from New Orleans — The Iguanas. They made me feel right at home.” Evans is learning to sing some of the band’s material while teaching them the jazz, blues and classic Mardi Gras tunes in her repertoire.

Joining Trailer Park’s regular quintet of Tom Mahnken (bass and vocals), James Robinson (guitar and vocals), Joe Fitzpatrick (drums), Greg Lauzon (saxophones) and Rick Page (saxophones) is special guest, pianist Peter Jones.

So dust off your dancing shoes and grab your Mardi Gras beads as there will be plenty of space in front of the stage for dancing. There are also seats available for those who prefer to remain seated. And be sure to wear your finest Mardi Gras garb as there will be prizes awarded for the best Mardi Gras outfit.

A couple of weeks ago, we informed you that on this the same night (Feb. 3) as this Mardi Gras party, there will be a special show called “Celebrating Charles” that is happening at the Academy of Music in Northampton. This show is a fundraiser to help out Grammy Award-winning sax player Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers, who is currently battling pancreatic cancer. Evans has shared the stage with her fellow New Orleanian many times, and since she cannot be at this benefit show, she is making sure that people have the opportunity to make donations to Neville and his family at this show.

Advance tickets for the Mardi Gras Party are $15 and can be purchased at the River Valley Co-op (330 King St., Northampton), Turn it Up! Records (85 Main St., Brattleboro), or online at www.SheaTheater.org. Tickets will be available the night of the concert for $20. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The Shea Theater is located at 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls. 

Tommy Filliaut Band honors Charles Neville at Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse

So many people have been touched by the music and the wonderful spirit of Charles Neville that there has been an incredible outpouring of support since word broke of his illness. Among the fundraising efforts to help him during this difficult time, the Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse will show its solidarity with the aforementioned “Celebrating Charles” concert that is taking place this weekend and are doing what they can do to show support.

When the blues-rockers The Tommy Filliaut Band take the stage at the coffeehouse on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the band will pay tribute to Neville, who was a frequent performer at the coffeehouse over the years dating back to the mid-1990s. The organizers of the coffeehouse have said that this show will honor Neville’s music and his warm and loving spirit and contributions to the community. They will pass the hat to help raise money during the event for his medical expenses, and if you are unable to attend one of these shows, you can still help Neville by making a donation to celebratingcharles.org.

Open mic begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by sliding scale of $6 to $15. The Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse is located in Old Town Hall in the center of Wendell. All ages welcome. For more information, visit wendellfullmoon.org.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at: soundslocal@yahoo.com