For his third annual New Orleans Christmas concert, Henri Smith welcomes Grammy-award winner Amadee Castenell and renowned trumpeter Stanton Davis of The Mercer Ellington and Lionel Hampton Orchestras for a special tribute to their friend Allen Toussaint.
Join us at Beverly's most intimate, acoustically spectacular listening venue for New Orleans jazz & blues, traditional Mardi Gras songs and Christmas favorites. Sing along with the standards you know so well and dance in the aisles with the 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], 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.
In 2014, Henri released That's When I Know It's Mardi Gras, a live CD recorded at Beverly's Larcom Theatre, produced by Peter and Vickie Van Ness and featuring Henri on vocals with Grammy Award-winners Charles Neville and Amadee Castenell on saxophone and flute.
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 appeared in 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 Castenell, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello, Ivan Neville, Kermit Ruffins, Dave Bartholomew and more in this music video from HBO's hit series Treme. Henri Smith will perform some of the songs from this video.
The Larcom Theatre was built in 1912 (the same year as Boston's Fenway Park) by brothers Harris and Glover Ware (vaudeville musicians from Marblehead, MA) on the birth site of their favorite poet, Lucy Larcom.
The Larcom Theatre's grand opening advertised that its interior was lit completely by electricity.
During its 110 year history, The Larcom Theatre has presented stage, screen and musical entertainment. In 1984 the Larcom's elegant horseshoe balcony, hand-painted antique pressed tin ceilings and original silk wall coverings were restored to their original glory by Le Grand David Magic Company, who presented their award-winning magic show there until the company's founder, Cesareo Pelaez, died in 2012.
In April 2013, after the Larcom Theatre had been dark for about a year, Vickie and Peter Van Ness of gimmeLIVE produced a sold-out Mardi Gras Benefit Concert that filled the Larcom Theatre with music for the first time since the days of Vaudeville.
In 2014, gimmeLIVE began bringing Grammy-winning national touring and recording artists and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers to the Larcom, which ushered in a new era of top quality entertainment in the heart of downtown Beverly, MA. GIMMELIVE concerts at the Larcom Theatre received stellar reviews for the quality of both the music and the sound system installed by gimmeLIVE.
Later in 2014, Peter and Vickie co-produced That's When I Know It's Mardi Gras, a live CD recorded in front of a sold-out audience at the Larcom Theatre featuring New Orleans vocalist Henri Smith with Grammy Award-winners Charles Neville and Amadee Castenell.
In 2015, gimmeLIVE once again recorded a live CD featuring the James Montgomery Band, which was released in November of that year. GIMMELIVE also hosted James Montgomery's "Live at the Larcom" CD Release Benefit Concert, which raised money for veterans organizations. (Many gimmeLIVE shows raise money for charity. Click here if you'd like gimmeLIVE to produce a concert or festival to raise money for your organization.)
In early 2017, gimmeLIVE took over the building adjoining the Larcom Theatre (at 9 Wallis Street), formerly owned by members of Le Grand David Magic Company and known as the Grand Salon. GIMMELIVE transformed this venue into 9 Wallis, which became the North Shore's most intimate, elegant listening room offering comfortable show seating at tables with food & beverage service, including fine wines, local craft beers, specialty cocktails (featuring local distilleries and all-natural juices) and top-shelf spirits.
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