After cutting his teeth playing Grateful Dead covers as a teenager, New York-born guitarist Billy Iuso formed the critically acclaimed Brides of Jesus in 1989. The band’s unique mix of funk, jazz, soul and rock influences helped usher in the third-wave jam-band movement of the early 1990s and earned the Brides opening spots with such heavy hitters as Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band and George Clinton. But it was a gig warming up the crowd for The Funky Meters in 1994 that had the most lasting impact on Iuso, who eventually relocated to New Orleans and took a job as the band’s full time stage manager.
In New Orleans, where Iuso has lived since 1996, he found a welcome home for the particular variety of self-taught virtuosity that is his trademark. While the city’s jam-band scene is fledgling at best – but then, when was the last time any city’s jam-band scene could claim to be anything but – the progressive edges of both New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and roots rock scene offered Iuso plenty of room to noodle: his work with Wild Magnolias and Chief Juan Pardo of the Golden Comanches is the stuff of Jazz Fest legend, and his recent terrifying union with fellow guitar G-d Anders Osborne is almost (almost) too awesome to handle at times.
In addition to gaining notoriety as one of the cities most dependably impressive special guests/collaborators/secret weapons, Iuso has also spent the last decade fronting The Restless Natives, a local quartet that borrowed the improvisational zeal of the Brides and injected it with an undeniably local flavor. In every high-energy set, original tunes combine with an eclectic stable of covers – a mix of jammed out New Orleans classics and jam-band standards funked-out New Orleans style – that groove and second-line in equal parts. Billy Iuso and Restless Natives celebrate their 10th Anniversary at Tipitina’s on Saturday with up-and-coming roots trio Mississippi Rail Co. opening.
06.17: Humungous + Vapo-Rats + Choi Wolf – The Big Top
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