With all that is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, it is the intimacy that is the most endearing and awe-inspiring essence of the occasion. It peaks the senses to the brink of their reach and keeps the mind constantly guessing because, well, you never know what might happen next. That closeness, the wills and wishes, that is the beauty found among the many flavors of Royal Orleans.

Alex Chaykin and Spencer Garn of Wild Mountain Productions have these very same feelings, and during the festival’s second weekend (April 30th - May 3rd) they are the proprietors of some of the tightest rooms in town. And by tight I mean close, and I mean tight, dig? The team is having its first run at this year’s JazzFest, which also happens to be their first production ever, and the boys have a cooked up a menu that might even rival that of Emeril himself.

Melvin Sparks
Photo by Dino Perrucci
On Wednesday night April 30th, Wild Mountain will be setting its residency at the Blue Nile (534 Frenchman Street) with the make-you-wanna-jump-back-and-kiss-yo-self, good G-d funk nasty of the Sugarman 3 and the Legendary Soul Brother #2 Lee Fields. Joining the 3 will be the boogaloo magician Melvin Sparks and his band, as well as a crew of selectors including DJ Motion Potion rocking the 1s and 2s. The dancefloor is sure to be burning.

The late-night session on Friday, May 2nd will showcase the cleverly titled and ingeniously built American Jamstand, featuring one of the most interesting sonic convergences of the weekend. With the stars of the drummer Mike Clark, local hero George Porter, Jr. and the esteemed Congressman Robert Walter, along with saxmen Sam Kinninger and Topaz and the six-string spaceman Dave Fiuczynski all on one stage. Well, I’m not even going to try.

Photo by Hallie Hawkins
Scary Skerik will be playing ringleader of his Freaky Funk Fest circus beginning late Saturday, May 3rd with the clowns of the avant-hard percussionist Mike Dillon and guitarist Jonathan Freilich of the New Orleans Klezmer AllStars. The trio of entangling extroverts the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey will open the show a bit earlier, and word is there will be some supreme special guests in the house. Knowing Skerik, you can pretty much count on the next level and beyond.

But we’re not finished yet, ‘cause the boys at Wild Mountain have some more for you, as if that is just not enough. Since the Old Point Bar (545 Patterson Street) has been embroiled in controversy of late, this resulted in a lack of life in the club, until now. The weekend’s “Hangin’ at the O.P.” series is going to kick-start the Old Point’s heart with three nights of the ultra-diverse.

Kaki King
Photo by John Croxton
The Velour takeover drops at 9:30 pm Thursday, May 1st with the inter-stellar grass-thrash-metal-jazz of acoustic songbird Kaki King. At 10pm, Allstars Neal Evans (organ, Soulive), Sam Kinninger (alto sax, Lettuce, Soulive) and Adam Deitch (drums, John Scofield, Lettuce), along with a few nasty special guests, will be bringing the finest in beats, rhythms and life to the Old Point stage.

Following the Velour throw-down on Thursday night, the first “Late-Night Hang” of the weekend will display the finest of the eclectic for the Old Point faithful. MMW producer/collaborator and drummer Jim Payne and his band HOP will be joined by the Melvin Sparks Band, Dave Fiuczynski’s Kif, Jumbo Gumbo, and Swayback for a shakedown ‘til sunrise.

And if you just can’t make it on Thursday, Old Point’s weekend residents will be doing it all night long on Saturday the 3rd. The evening’s early show will feature the same lineup with more acts on the way, while the late-night session will kick-off with a set from the famed freak-out crew the All Mighty Senators before returning to the stage back to Jim Payne, Fuse, Melvin and Co. I just can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Old Point’s new birth.

Wild Mountain ProductionsIn speaking with Wild Mountain’s Alex Chaykin about the first endeavor he said, “We’re doing it for the music, trying to do something different. We really wanted to give people an alternative to the larger JazzFest shows and create a more personal environment for the musicians and the audience.” By going after the bands early, Chaykin and his partner in positivity production Spencer Garn have authored a dynamic story with their NOLA soirees with a denouement that is sure to please.

Currently working as the one-man booking show for Club Metronome in Burlington, VT, where “every day is a new adventure,” Alex has been following this ideology in his own town by bringing all facets of musical expression to his club. Acts ranging from NYC rock staples Longwave to DJ Vadim and Russian Percussion and Philly Jump-Up instructor Josh Wink have all hit the Metronome stage, bringing the club deserved acclaim from the Burlington community. Alex is also currently working on a 2,000 person capacity festival falling on August 1st and 2nd in Albany, VT featuring The Slip, Soulive, Addison Groove Project, Tony Trischka and more. A nice alternative to those not looking for the colossus of Phish’s “IT.”

Alright JazzFesters, if you’re looking for the ultimate experience you do not want to pass this up. The Blue Nile and the Old Point will be the places to be so get warmed up, check your calendars and stop on by the for some of the hottest parties of the NOLA weekend. You never know who might stop by.

For more details and information be sure to hit www.wildmountainproductions.com.

Rob Krevolin
JamBase | Northeast
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 4/25/03]

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