New Orleans funk music legend Art Neville dies at 81

Art Neville performing with The Funky Meters at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2012. Photo by Infrogmation | CC.

New Orleans funk music icon Art Neville has died Monday at the age of 81, according to numerous local news reports.

According to Nola.com, Neville died peacefully this morning surrounded by friends at family at his home after a long illness.

Arthur Lanon Neville was born in 1937 in New Orleans. He came to be known as Poppa Funk whose music shaped and became a fixture of the the Big Easy sound. He formed two influential bands: The Meters in 1965; and The Neville Brothers band, which he formed with his three brothers in 1977.

Neville grew up with his brothers on Valence Street in the Uptown part of New Orleans. Like numerous musicians from the city, Neville became interested in music at an early age.

One of Neville’s first jobs was performing on the piano with hometown band Hawketts after replacing Mac Millet. He later became proficient in singing and playing the keyboard.

While with the Hawketts in 1954, Neville recorded a newer version of “Mardi Gras Mambo,” a song that can be heard repeatedly playing from inside French Quarter bars and on the local radio station WWOZ each year during Fat Tuesday. It wasn’t an original recording by the Hawketts, but the band made it popular.

Neville served in the Navy in the late 1950s and early 1960s but continued to record music, releasing two more albums during this time.

Neville shifted from the doo-wop sound of the Hawketts to funk. He founded Neville Sounds, later renamed the Meters, which reached international acclaim and inspired several notable bands, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In an interview with Offbeat magazine in 1995, Neville said he had to scale down the band because the stage at Ivanhoe on Bourbon Street wasn’t big enough to hold all of the members. After dropping brothers Aaron and Cyril from the Neville Sounds, the band changed its name after drawing it from a hat.

“That’s the juicy part,” Neville said. “Somebody didn’t want my name to be on the motherfuckin’ record. We were putting one record out with my name on it, “Bo Diddley” and some other shit, and when the instrumental [“Sophisticated Cissy”] came out, we had to pick a name that didn’t have nothing to do with me at all.”

Neville’s achievements also include winning two Grammy Awards—one in 1989 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and one in 1996 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance—and several nominations.

Last year, Neville announced his retirement from music.

The death of Neville follows that of several New Orleans music legends this year, including Dr. John, or Malcolm Rebennack, who died on June 6; and Dave Bartholomew, who passed away on June 23. Neville’s younger brother Charlie passed away in 2018 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Woman wanted by police after alleged stabbing on Decatur Street

April Red. Courtesy of NOPD.

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) is searching for a woman who is being sought by police after an alleged stabbing in the French Quarter on Wednesday, July 10.

According to the NOPD, a woman identified as 25-year-old April Red walked up to a victim inside a restaurant in the 500 block of Decatur St. and stabbed him in the right shoulder with a bladed object. The incident occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. Red promptly left the restaurant and headed on foot towards Toulouse Street, the NOPD said.

The police requests that anyone with information on this incident or the whereabouts of Red to contact NOPD Eighth District detectives at 504-658-6080. They can also call Crimestoppers anonymously at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 877-903-7867.

Woman fired handgun several times inside French Quarter gas station, New Orleans police say

Courtesy of NOPD.

A woman is accused of illegally firing a handgun inside a French Quarter gas station on July 1, according to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).

According to WGNO, an unidentified woman got into argument with an employee at the Chevron gas station located in the 400 block of N. Rampart St.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:19 p.m., according to the NOPD, when the woman returned with a gun and an unidentified shirtless male with distinctive lettering tattoos on his shoulder blades. Surveillance photographs released by the NOPD on July 14 show the woman pointing a handgun while entering the store.

The woman fired several shots into the air, according to the NOPD, but no one was injured. Both suspects immediately fled the store in a black Nissan Altima with an unknown temporary tag in the rear window, according to the NOPD.

The NOPD requests anyone with information on this incident or the identities and whereabouts of the suspects to contact First District detectives at 504-658-6010. Anonymous tipsters can call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 877-903-7867.

Police search for suspected attempted burglar on Dauphine Street

Courtesy of the NOPD.

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) is searching for a man who it said tried to burglarize a home in the French Quarter on Saturday, July 13.

According to the NOPD, the incident happened at approximately 2 p.m. in the 600 block of Dauphine Street when a person, who the police describes as a while male, damaged a fence gate to the residence and then damaged wooden panels on the rear doors. But the suspect didn’t get inside the house, according to the NOPD.

The NOPD provided a surveillance camera photograph of the suspect, which is pictured above.

The NOPD requests that anyone with information on the identity and whereabouts of the suspect to call Detective Marshall Scallan or any detective at the Eighth District at 504-658-6080. They can also call Crimestoppers anonymously at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 877-903-7867.

How to protect French Quarter buildings as Barry approaches

The edge of the French Quarter showing the high level of the Mississippi River in May 2019. Picture by Infrogmation of New Orleans | CC

Tropical Storm Barry gathered strength as it pushes sustained winds of up to 65 miles per hour, according to accuweather.com, and is predicted to make landfall along the central Louisiana coast Saturday morning as a possible Category 1 hurricane.

Whether structures will be damaged by the wind isn’t so much a concern as the flash flooding from the rain. The National Hurricane Center predicted that New Orleans could potentially experience six to 10 inches of rain as of Friday afternoon. While the French Quarter sits a bit higher than most places in the city, there are still ways to protect its historic buildings from rising water.

Interim Executive Director for the Vieux Carré Foundation Brook Tesler offered some tips to The Quarter Rat that may help protect buildings from flooding.

For one, sandbag your doors. Although the city isn’t distributing sandbags, there are some locations throughout the city. Nola.com provided a handy guide, although nothing for Orleans Parish. Third District City Councilwoman Kristen Gileson Palmer posted on social media that sandbags can be picked up at 530 Powder St. in Algiers. Get them while you still can.

As of this writing, according to the Flood Protection Authority, all of the floodgates along the Quarter and the entire city’s boundary of the Mississippi have been closed.

Park your car on high ground, Tesler noted. Most parts of the Quarter sit at or just above sea level by a few feet.

Close shutters if you’re fortunate to have them, Tesler said, and open up doors between bouts of rain to prevent from getting mold. Telser added that owners are generally allowed to temporarily place boards over windows to protect them from wind damage.

Most importantly, Tesler added, listen to the city if there’s an order to evacuate. No such order has been made yet, but the city advised its residents to shelter in place by 8 p.m. “Your life is more important,” she said.

The city received heavy flooding during the rainfall on Wednesday, receiving more than seven inches in some spots in a matter of hours, causing flash flooding.

The Quarter fared relatively better than the rest of the city. Royal Street in the Quarter received flooding during Wednesday’s rains, Tesler said, adding that Bourbon Street appeared to be draining better since construction.

“Living with water is important here in New Orleans,” Tesler said.

For city updates regarding Tropical Storm Barry, check with NOLA Ready.