New Orleans legend Henri Smith brings his summer Mardi Gras party to Beverly, MA on August 19 starring Grammy-winners Charles Neville and Amadee Castenell with a special appearance by the New England Neville Brothers featuring Charles Neville with his two sons: keyboardist Khalif and drummer Talyn.
If you recall the summer dances of your youth, then you already know there's plenty of room at Beverly's fully air-conditioned Vittori-Rocci Hall to dance in the aisles with Henri, the New England Neville Brothers and the whole band during the traditional Second Line.
To say that Henri Smith carries the torch for New Orleans is an understatement. Here's what New Orleans Legends say:
"Henri represents us very well everywhere ... he does it with class and pizzazz and we love that!"
"Like Satchmo [Louis Armstrong] and many others, Henri embodies the spirit of New Orleans Music in every performance."
"It's a huge responsibility to do what Henri does."
New Orleans Jazz, Blues, Creole and Cajun Music Legend Henri Smith--Singer, Recording Artist, Band Leader, and Movie Actor has been selling out theatres throughout New England with his dynamic, joyful sound.
Born and raised in New Orleans' 13th Ward, Henri Smith grew up a music fan, but resisted performing for much of his life. As a boy, he was surrounded by musicians--The Neville Brothers, Papa French (of Preservation Hall Jazz Band), Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino and many others. Henri's mother encouraged him to sing, which he did, but only in church. He also studied piano, at his mothers insistence, but in high school that conflicted with his first love, football. Football won.
After serving in the Army, Henri went home to coach and teach music camp. Plus he landed a DJ job at the famed New Orleans Jazz station WWOZ, on which he interviewed old friends and made many new ones, all of which led to his becoming the host of The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest).
At the 1999 Jazz Fest, Kermit Ruffins (featured on the HBO hit series Treme) surprised Henri by calling him to the stage and asking him to sing. He got a standing ovation.
In 2001 friends convinced Henri to record a CD with many of them as guests, including Kermit Ruffins, Donald Harrison Jr, Jason Marsalis, Wendell Brunious, Tuba Fats and Cecil Brooks III, who says of Henri, "he's on the way to becoming one of the great American singers."
Too many responsibilities (included teaching, coaching, radio and now TV) prevented Henri from pursuing music.
Hurricane Katrina changed everything. In one terrible blow, all of Henri Smith's responsibilities were washed away. His father safely in Atlanta with his sister, Henri was free to leave town and visit friends north of Boston. "I decided it was finally time for me to follow my dream," says Henri. "I prayed for the Lord to send me musicians from New Orleans."
Henri's prayers were answered. He re-connected with Grammy-Award-winners Charles Neville and Amadee Castenell, along with many others who had left New Orleans.
Henri brings these old friends together with new friends from the north of Boston's burgeoning music scene to fashion a unique sound for his new northern fans.
Every Henri Smith concert is a unique experience. People who see Henri two nights in a row exclaim, "These are two completely different shows -- and they're both great!"
Neville Brothers Grammy-winning saxophonist Charles Neville has always added an indefinable something to the family ensemble that no one else can provide: not just his intense spiritual vibe and stunning instrumental virtuosity, but even more a level of musical intelligence which both reflects and expands upon his experience as a skilled player in several musical idioms. His experience on saxophone has included rhythm & blues, funk, jazz, be-bop, popular and even American Indian music.
He cites as influences Louis Jordan, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Professor Longhair. The Neville Brother most known for his pursuit of Eastern spiritual knowledge is also the family's keeper of the horn. His brothers affectionately refer to him as "The Horn Man".
His saxophone won him a Grammy in 1989 for his haunting rendition of Healing Chant on the Yellow Moon CD. Charles Neville's work with the Neville Brothers is well known throughout the world, but his sparkling work with jazz standards and bebop classics is a treat to hear from such an accomplished instrumentalist and improviser.
Amadee Castenell is a premier tenor saxophonist and flautist who has been nurtured by 30 years of playing in the rich multi-layered music scene of New Orleans and appears on HBO's hit series Treme.
From 1973-1983 he was musical director of the band Chocolate Milk, writing and performing on their 8 albums for RCA Records. For 30 years he has also been an important member of the award winning, legendary musical genius Allen Toussaint Orchestra.
When not touring, he is a much seasoned and in demand studio musician. Amadee has recorded with such legendary artists as Dr. John (Grammy award winning "Going Back to New Orleans"), Robbie Robertson ("Storyville"), Lee Dorsey ("Night People"), and Neville Brothers ("Fire on the Bayou") to name just a few. From Etta James to Idris Mohammed, Fats Domino, Irma Thomas and Albert King all have loved the tasteful phrasing of his sultry soulful saxophone.
See Amadee with Irma Thomas, Dave Bartholomew and Allen Toussaint in music clips video from HBO's hit series Treme. Henri Smith will perform some of the songs from this video.
This special summer concert features the New England Nevilles: Charles Neville on sax with his sons, Khalif on keys and Talyn on Drums
Drummer Talyn Neville was born in Western Massachusetts, and attends the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School. Talyn began playing drums when he was six years old, and in addition to his work with Charles, has performed with Andy Wrba, Jon Suters, Hutch Hutchinson, the PVPA Rock and Pop Ensemble, the WOFA African Drum and Dance group and others.
Keyboardist Khalif Neville was born in New Orleans but grew up in Western Massachusetts. Throughout his years visiting New Orleans, he had the opportunity to study with Art Neville, Doctor John, and some of the instructors at the New Orleans Center For Creative Arts (NOCCA). Khalif has his own Hip-Hop group, and on his first CD, he recorded his interpretations of several Neville Brothers songs. Aside from playing with the Charles Neville group, he has performed with Greg Keorner, Gent Treadly, Avery Sharpe, Jon Suters and others.
Built in 1951 by Italian-American World War II Veterans, the concert hall at Vittori-Rocci Post is conveniently located immediately off Route 128 at Exit 19 in Beverly, MA -- 143 Brimbal Avenue, Beverly, MA 01915.
With plenty of FREE on-site parking, the fully air conditioned hall host concerts, dances and fundraisers. They offer a full bar with wine, beer and top-shelf liquor.
The Vittori-Rocci hall is an easy 22 mile drive up the coast from Boston. see map here.