Live Picks: 08.04.2011 – 08.10.2011

08.04: Avi Buffalo + Nik Freitas – One Eyed Jacks

08.05: The Iko All-Stars – Tipitina’s

There are few things more polarizing in musical discussion circles than the Grateful Dead. But, apparently, it’s not the music of the Dead that grinds the gears of so many critics, as most spend very little time discussing the actual songs the band produced during the course of their derisive rants that usually focus on some combination of the dangers of psychedelic drug use and the misgivings of hippies.  On the rare occasion the commentary does shift to the Grateful Dead’s aural canon, you are likely to hear boilerplate declarations about songs that are too long, improvised passages that are too unconventional, or lyrical themes that are too cryptic.

Anyone with a workingman’s knowledge of the Dead knows that these accusations are rarely true.  For every 23-minute rendition of “Dark Star” you find in the band’s voluminous live archive, there are albums-worth of timeless Americana, built with an underlying thrust of rootsy folk-rock that shines through even when mixed with disparate elements of jazz, reggae, country, bluegrass and – yes – even psychedelia.  Large swaths of the Dead’s catalog come as close to truly classic songs as most of us will ever see in our lives, and perhaps the band’s greatest legacy is the desire to keep their music alive shared by myriad musicians of all stripes.

And New Orleans’ resident experts in Grateful Dead tribute, The Iko All-Stars, are more than just a “cover band”.  Comprised of guitar impresario Billy Iuso, Reggie Scanlan (“formerly” of the Radiators), CR Gruver and Gravity A‘s Mike Foo, The Iko Allstars faithfully recreate Dead tunes but are also not afraid to reinvent them, stringing together unexpected song pairings and injecting them with healthy doses of New Orleans flair to create truly unique musical suites.  As part of Tipitina’s awesome summer “Free Fridays” series, The All-Stars take the stage this week to commemorate Jerry Garcia’s birthday, and the official listing promises plenty of special guests.

MP3: Grateful Dead: “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo”

08.06: Woods + White Fence + Native America – Blue Nile Balcony Room

08.08: Ghastly City Sleep + False + Thou – Nowe Miasto (early show)

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks


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