Cyril Jordan is the only part-time usher at The Orpheum in San Francisco who also had The Ramones open for him. Jordan's band Flamin' Groovies — the protopunk and power-pop outfit that inspired generations of emulators after its 15-year-long career fizzled in 1979 — took the Forest Hills, Queens, punk rockers to London in 1976, the year Flamin' Groovies released their seminal power-pop album Shake Some Action. A few years later, the Groovies disbanded. Last year, Jordan and guitarist Chris Wilson and bassist George Alexander performed together for the first time in more than 30 years.
"There was a 10-year period where I didn't play guitar, I didn't listen to music. That whole part of my life was over," Jordan says. "It was dead and gone and never gonna come back. All of a sudden it's back, we're back together and we're all kind of shaking our heads like, 'How the hell did this happen?'"
The Flamin' Groovies and spiritual successor The Men headline One Eyed Jacks on Monday, April 28. It's also the Flamin' Groovies' first time playing with this lineup in New Orleans. (Jordan and early Groovies guitarist Roy Loney performed at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2009 with members of Yo La Tengo.) In tow is a film crew for The Incredible Flamin' Groovies, a documentary about the band, its influence and reunion.
The band survived the hippie onslaught of the Haight-Ashbury scene in the late '60s and emerged as godfathers of the punk movement. "By the time the music scene here started we were full-tilt boogie playing the type of garage rock we continued to play through all of it," Jordan says. "We never got into the business to be some world famous rock stars. ... We were kids. We decided we were going to be a band and decide what kind of music we were going to play and to hell with everybody else."
The band's 1971 album Teenage Head is considered a garage rock classic, while its follow-ups, Shake Some Action (1976) and Flamin' Groovies Now (1978), are shimmering pop opuses, not unlike Big Star's guitar-pop and early Beatles hits. Last year, Flamin' Groovies debuted a new song, "End of the World," and plan to release an EP this summer, followed by a full-length studio album.
"We should've been down for the count a long time ago," Jordan says. "Shows how much I know."
The show is among an onslaught of concerts crammed into venues during New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Marquees in the downtown theater district feature Slightly Stoopid (April 24), Bootsy Collins (April 25) and The Revivalists (May 3) at the Joy Theater, as well as Mogwai (April 27, see preview, page 72), the Drive-By Truckers (May 2) and Ghost (May 4) at the Civic Theatre. The Saenger Theater hosts John Legend (May 1) and a massive Dr. John tribute on May 3 featuring an all-star lineup with Gregg Allman, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Mavis Staples, Allen Toussaint, Lucinda Williams, Irma Thomas and many others
Other all-star shows reaping the benefits of in-town artists include Tuareg maestros Bombino and Tinariwen sharing the bill at House of Blues April 24, and WWOZ's 26th annual Piano Night on April 28, featuring Ellis Marsalis, Jon Cleary, John Gros and others at House of Blues.
Tipitina's annual Instruments A Comin' benefit (April 28) features Galactic, Anders Osborne, Dumpstaphunk, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Bonerama, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Susan Cowsill, Honey Island Swamp Band and others. Republic New Orleans hosts a two-night Grateful Dead and Little Feat tribute fronted by Anders Osborne, among others, May 3-4.
The Fyre Dept. and Talib Kweli headline The Howlin' Wolf (May 3) with De La Soul Rebels — The Soul Rebels performing De La Soul — with Rahzel and Break Science featuring Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck.
Touring acts also take over intimate spaces across town. Cloud Nothings (April 24), Chrome Sparks (April 26), Perfect Pussy (May 1) and Lost Bayou Ramblers (May 2) perform at Gasa Gasa on Freret Street, while its neighbor Publiq House hosts Marco Benevento (April 29), Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds (April 30) and Robert Walter's 20th Congress (May 2). St. Claude Avenue's Siberia hosts White Hills (April 29), Acid Mother's Temple (April 30) and Black Lips (May 3), and HR of Bad Brains performs at The Parish at House of Blues on April 26.
San Francisco's Boom Boom Room produces more than a dozen events at Blue Nile during Jazz Fest. Kicking things off is Katdelic with Ivan and Ian Neville at Blue Nile (April 26), followed by Worship My Organ with Marco Benevento, Skerik, Robert Walter, Adam Deitch and DJ Logic (April 27). Boom Boom Room also presents The Grand Slam: Funkin' Dat Hip-Hop at The Howlin' Wolf (May 1), an all-night event with Mannie Fresh, Kool Keith, Camp Lo, Chali 2na and Kevy Kev, with brass bands and other guests. Visit www.boomboomblues.com/bbrp.html for a full schedule. The ninth annual Backbeat Jazz Fest series features more than a dozen shows at Blue Nile from April 25 to May 4. Visit www.backbeatfoundation.org for details.