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Ike, the Drifters, Storyville District and More 

One of the most intriguing shows in recent memory comes to Tipitina's this Saturday, Feb. 19, when rock 'n' roll legend Ike Turner hits town. If Turner's 2001 comeback CD, Here and Now (Ikon Records), is any indication, this gig should be a barn-burner. Here and Now is Turner's return to his roots, with nods to both his groundbreaking 1950s sides (which include "Rocket 88," arguably the first rock 'n' roll record) and his late-60s recordings for Blue Thumb Records. On the menacing "Gave You What You Wanted" and the flame-thrower instrumental "Ike's Theme," Turner uncorks some of his wild signature whammy-bar bends, while songs like "Swanee River Boogie" find him returning to his first instrument for some boogie-woogie piano pounding. The production on the CD sounds contemporary without sacrificing a vintage feel, with the drums mixed low, and Turner's Fender Strat leads out front dueling with a horn section that includes the Memphis Horns' Andrew Love.

While Turner's infamous past precedes him, his musical talent is still extraordinary. For the curious, one caveat about Turner's live shows: He does play some Ike & Tina material, with his current squeeze singing Tina's parts and sounding eerily like Ike's former wife. Tickets are $15, and the Revealers open. Showtime is 10 p.m. ...

Ending months of speculation concerning the future of the Continental Drifters, the band officially is not breaking up -- but singer Susan Cowsill and drummer Russ Broussard have left the band. Bassist and founder Mark Walton says that he and his remaining bandmates -- Vicki Peterson, Peter Holsapple and Robert Mache -- will debut the newest incarnation of the Drifters during Jazz Fest. In the interim, Peterson is still recording with the Bangles for their forthcoming reunion album, and Holsapple has another solo album in the works. As far as further personnel additions to the Drifters, Walton says the group is taking things slowly. "We're not holding auditions," he says. "We're just going to see what happens in the natural progression of things." Cowsill and Broussard, meanwhile, can be heard with the Bonoffs, playing regularly at the Old Opera House in the French Quarter. ...

As long as we're in the long-simmering-rumors-being-resolved department, Storyville District will be undergoing some major changes after Super Bowl weekend. Quint Davis and Festival Productions will still be involved with the venue -- but only in the Jazz Parlor, the intimate room that faces Bourbon Street. The larger front room and back room (Jazz Alley) are now going to be operated by the Howl at the Moon club chain. The Cincinnati-based company has nine other clubs in locations such as Tampa, Cleveland, Baltimore and Hollywood, and its concept sounds like a hybrid of Cat's Meow and Pat O'Brien's.

"It's rock 'n' roll sing-alongs with two dueling pianos on stage, and sometimes we add other instruments too," says Howl at the Moon founder Jimmy Bernstein. "It's high-energy popular music from the '50s to today, and we'll do things like TV themes as well."

What's most intriguing about the Storyville District changes is that long-speculated venue renovations -- with the exception of the back room's stage being lowered -- don't appear to be in the cards. Howl at the Moon and Storyville District's Jazz Parlor will still be interconnected, and it should prove interesting to see how the two enterprises co-exist. ...

The recent nominations for this year's Grammy Awards point to a groundswell of Louisiana participation, with local artists snagging 13 nominations. While Louisiana stalwarts such as Dr. John, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, BeauSoleil and Terence Blanchard earned repeat nominations, one category in particular shows the power of local networking: Sonny Landreth's Levee Town was nominated for Best Recording Package. Landreth's CD was nominated alongside such national heavyweights as Radiohead, R.E.M., and David Byrne. ...

Condolences to the friends and family of Black Top Records co-founder Nauman Scott, who died last week at the age of 56. Along with his brother Hammond, Nauman Scott helped record and promote some of New Orleans' finest blues and R&B artists, particularly Snooks Eaglin, Earl King and Tommy Ridgley. After founding Black Top in 1980, Scott helped the company earn a deserved reputation as one of America's premier blues and roots record labels, releasing superb recordings from legends like Solomon Burke, and contemporary artists like Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets and Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters.

Scott was also an incomparable raconteur, equal parts irascible and compassionate. His love of music was genuine, and he rarely missed a performance by any Black Top artists -- or any musician he respected. Sharing a drink and stories with Nauman, especially late at night at a club, was always a joy and an honor. He's going to be sorely missed.

click to enlarge Legendary bluesman and rock 'n' roller Ike Turner plays Tipitina's on Saturday, Jan. 19.
  • Legendary bluesman and rock 'n' roller Ike Turner plays Tipitina's on Saturday, Jan. 19.


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