BlackBook Premiere: Jon Batiste and Stay Human’s ‘Express Yourself (Say Yes)’

"The arts and the many different cultural traditions of the world are a testament to the profound power and meaning of self expression. Express yourself today!” says Jon Batiste, the 26-year-old musician and old school entertainer with talent oozing from his fingertips. The New Orleans-native, hailing from a family with a muscular musical linage, gives jazz a modern twist and urban flair that beats heavy with heart and the true pleasure of entertainment.

And with his musical collective, Stay Human—which he formed with fellow musicians he met while studying at Juilliard—their new album Social Music is set to premiere on October 15th. Boasting the charisma of someone truly impassioned by his skill, Batiste’s music untethers itself to the restrictions of genre with tunes that vary from the classical to the beat-fueled, in a way that’s not only rare but unique in its sensibility. Speaking to the new album, Batiste told us:
This album is one that is meant to be the soundtrack to your life. All of the songs flow together as one, making the statement of what social music is all about. The goal of the album is to also give the listener something to take away from the live stay human experience to share with others. The musical approach was to create a montage of many different music traditions, all played with the spirit of inclusiveness. It establishes what ‘social music’ is as a genre.”
And today we have the new track “Express Yourself” for you to crank up and enjoy. Take a listen below and check out more HERE.

Jon Batiste and Stay Human 2013 Tour Dates:
10/3 Olympia, WA — Washington Center for Performing Arts
10/4 Seattle, WA — Neptune Theatre
10/5 Bellingham, WA — Mount Baker Theatre
10/9 Mesa, AZ — Virginia G. Piper Repertory Theatre, WAS Mesa Arts
10/12 New York, NY — Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall
10/15 Calgary, Canada — Jack Singer Concert Hall
10/18 Northridge, CA — Great Hall, Valley Performing Arts Center
10/19 Irvine, CA — Cheng Hall 
10/23 Carmel, CA — Sunset Theatre
10/24 Livermore, CA — Bankhead Theatre
10/26 Rohnert Park, CA — Weill Hall, Green Music Center
10/27 Stanford, CA — Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University 
11/1 Fort Collins, CO — Lincoln Center Performance Hall
11/2 Parker, CO — Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center
11/7 Tucson, AZ — Hotel Congress

Photo by Peter Lueders


The Most Racist Reactions To The New Orleans Shooting

Not really sure why 19 people getting shot at a Mother’s Day parade in the 7th Ward of New Orleans isn’t bigger news right now, especially given the focus on terrorism lately—it doesn’t even seem to be on the front page of the New York Times website! But it’s still news, and horrible people are still saying horrible things about it just because the victims and probable shooter are black. Let’s dive right in!

Ah, so not only are African-Americans violent, they’re lazy. Two for the price of one!
Oh yeah that makes a lot of sense.
Actually, we never bother to blame these people anymore, since we all agree it is their fault.
There’s a charming subtlety about this one, no? Hints of a fruity, citric flavor.

Martin Scorsese Making ‘Gangs of New York’ Into a TV Series, Because Why Not?

Television programs based on movies are usually hit-or-miss (actually, usually miss—for every M*A*S*H* there are a thousand My Big Fat Greek Lives), but if Martin Scorsese thinks he’s got an idea here, it may be worth listening. Gangs of New York was hyped like crazy before and upon its release but fell short of expectations during award season. It’s not his best movie by any means, not his most memorable, and maybe not even the best fodder for a TV show. But with the diverse history and dramatic tensions of mid-19th-century New York City, Scorsese saw an opportunity to revisit the world of Amsterdam Vallon and Bill the Butcher, and he’s working with Miramax and GK Films to make Gangs a TV series. As he writes

“This time and era of America’s history and heritage is rich with characters and stories that we could not fully explore in a two-hour film. A television series allows us the time and creative freedom to bring this colorful world, and all the implications it had and still does on our society, to life.”
The show, according to the Deadline report linked above, would focus on the advent of organized crime in America, not just in New York, of course, but in other major story-rich and scandal-rich cities like Chicago and New Orleans and Atlantic Ci—oh wait, he already did that one with Boardwalk Empire. Obviously, this show would be best as a varying-location ensemble sitcom, in the style of Seinfeld. Can you imagine this scene with a little slap-bass action behind it? 

DJ Martial Is Just Getting Warmed Up

Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.

Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?

I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.

So, Yankees or Red Sox?

I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.

How did you start DJing in the city?

When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.

So you decided to make a change?

In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.

Is that when the momentum started to build?

Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.

What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?

When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv,  Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar.  Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.

How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?

I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.

So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?

Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.

What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?

I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.

What else do you have coming up?

I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.

What clubs do you like to play in?

I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.

What’s on your iPod?

I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.

What do you do to relax and de-stress?

I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.

What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?

Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.

Do you enjoy going out and experiencing DJs and live entertainment? Check out the BlackBook City Guides for all the best spots in New York and around the world. Download the free, GPS-enabled iPhone and Android apps, and sign up for our BlackBook Happenings newsletters for New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Knowledge is power. 

‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ DVD Includes Deleted Scenes

Beasts Of The Southern Wild, a portrait of family life in the Bayou, is coming to DVD on December 4 and the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog was lucky enough to get a peek at some deleted scenes from the film included on the DVD.

Director Behn Zeitlin narrates each of the clips, explaining they were all funny moments during filming but seemed to "chaotic" to include in the film. For example, one scene shows Hushpuppy (played by pint-sized Quvenzhané Wallis) having a "fish fight" Judging by the way the camera jerks around in the second scene on this clip reel, I’d have to agree.

 Beasts collected an absurd number of prizes everywhere from Cannes to Sundance and is absolutely worth seeing. Watch the clip below:

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San Francisco Opening: Preservation Hall West at the Chapel

The storied New Orleans venue named after the legendary band (turning 50 this year) has made the 2,200-mile haul to Northern California, setting up its first satellite in Mission District: Preservation Hall West at the Chapel.

Though it launched with a trio of shows by its venerated namesake act (pictured here), and has already featured Steve Earle and Elvis Costello, the new Preservation Hall West at the Chapel is intent on upping the buzz of already buzzy Valencia Street by presenting very contemporary indie darlings like Here We Go Magic and The Joy Formidable. In a century-old building originally devised as a mortuary (we’ll spare you the "rock is dead" jokes), it’s a spectacular setting for live music, with bands playing under a 40-foot arched ceiling, right by the on-site restaurant. 

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‘Magic Mike’-Themed Bar is a Go-Go

Now I can finally properly justify all the time spent perfecting my pitcher’s arm in the junior softball league: a Magic Mike-themed bar will be opening in New Orleans, opened by none other than that luscious piece of man-meat, Channing Tatum.

According to InStyle, the 32-year-old strip-star bought brothel-style pub Saints and Sinners (fitting, no?) along with best friend Keith Kurtz, with plans to renovate it in time for a blowout party in November.

Ladies, get your Benjamins ready, because it’s about to go down-down-down in the Big Easy! This means I’m that much closer to crossing “me as the meat in a Manganiello—McConaughey sandwich” off my bucket list.

‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ Is the Best Movie About New Orleans—Ever

One reason, perhaps, that there have been so many movies made about New Orleans is that the very geography of the city is the stuff of Shakespearean drama. The constant threat of annihilation, vibrancy in the face of fear, an electrifying inequality, a touch of hubris perhaps—it’s all there. Equally true is that in many cases these seductive narratives have all but obliterated the people who make New Orleans: New Orleanians.

This is the backdrop against which Beasts of the Southern Wild, the debut feature from director Benh Zeitlin and one of the most powerful movies ever made about the city, emerges. Zeitlin, a 29-year old filmmaker who moved there from Queens in 2004, is a member of Court 13, a community–based film collective headquartered near the French Quarter that has coalesced around what Zeitlin calls, “a code of honor.” It’s like an American Dogme 95. “The most fundamental idea behind our process,” Zeitlin explains, “is that we try to make the creation of the film mirror the reality of the actual story.”

That’s a tall order considering the magical realism of Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film unfolds in a fringe community of misfits called The Bathtub. Residents of The Bathtub live beyond the levee, effectively beyond the reach of either the laws of man or God and beyond the protection afforded the levee. It’s an enclave of beaten-up trailers, jerry-rigged boats, crab feasts, outcasts, and glorious bacchanals. There’s no money in The Bathtub, but as Zeitlin says, an “absence of money doesn’t mean poverty.” His film, executed on a shoestring budget, is proof.

The beating heart of The Bathtub and Beasts is a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) whose angelic face is fierce and feral and wise. Hushpuppy’s father, an alcoholic Thoreauvian saint named Wink (Dwight Henry), is dying, and as a storm approaches, ex- poses himself as a flawed, loving, noble, and failing man. There are no easy answers in the bayou—just beauty, ugliness, joy, and unease.

Henry and Wallis are just two of the many non-actors who populate the film and give it the feel of a Les Blank documentary. Scenes don’t have ends or beginnings; they seem to unfurl and the camera just happens to catch it. This is the fruit of Court 13’s process: the B- roll alone deserves an Oscar. But behind this nonchalance lies tremendous work. “We auditioned 4,000 girls before we found Quevenzhané,” says Zeitlin. As for Henry, a baker-by-trade whose Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Café is a Treme institution, he had to be convinced to act. “I don’t do no acting,” Henry says in his deep Louisiana drawl. “I’ve got my bakery. That’s my heart.” Happily, with the financial sup- port of the Sundance Institute, Zeitlin finally lured Henry from his flour and buttermilk.

The result is magical, but there are so many ellipses—throwaway shots of such arresting beauty, and loose ends of such force—a simple recitation of facts would ill-serve the viewer. Furthermore, true to the Court 13 credo, it’s not the conclusion of events but the unfolding of them that ennobles the movie. And the unfolding continues. Since it debuted at Sun- dance this year, the film has been widely acclaimed, and in May was shown at Cannes. But Henry doesn’t see movie stardom in his future. His words echo the spirit of Beasts and of Court 13 itself. “Material things,” he says, “don’t mean much to me.” It’s the animal spirit that counts.

Chicago Tribune Staffers Pick Up Tab for Laid-Off Times-Picayune Compatriots

Even in the worst circumstances, occasionally a brief but shining example of human decency and evidence that not everyone is completely terribly will surface. In the wake of announcements that the New Orleans Times-Picayune would transfer to a primarily-online outlet and print only three days a week (despite local efforts to reverse the decision), everything got worse as more than 200 employees, including those well-established and award-winning, were laid off, about a third of the paper’s staff. 

This is awful for a laundry list of reasons, and naturally, if friends or colleagues of yours were in the same situation, you’d want to figure out at least a small way to help them out, or at least do something nice for them, right? If not, there might be something a bit wrong with you. Anyway, that’s just what former Times-Pic staffer and current Chicago Tribune editor Angela Rozas did, with the help of some other former Picayuners, per a story from Romenesko. Rozas called the Wit’s Inn, a regular staffer haunt, and with some old friends pitching in, opened a bar tab for staff who had been laid off. 
As Rozas told Romenesko:
“There’s a tight community of former Picayuners, and we’ve never forgotten our time there and our friends there. Whenever one has lost a job the others have pitched it, whether by creating a website or sending some beer money. This time there were so many of our friends [who lost jobs] we didn’t know where to start.”
Obviously, a round of beers won’t get a major mass of talented journalists, editors and other professionals in many disciplines their jobs back, but it’s nice to have something, even something small, to smile about—and toast to—in a day full of general bummerdom. In the interim, best wishes and glasses raised to the folks at the Times-Pic, past, present and future.