John Papa Gros Band w. Randle & the Late Night Scandals – The Big Easy in Buffalo NOLA series
March 4, 7pm doors, 8pm show
“John “Papa” Gros is a bedrock New Orleans artist, a keyboardist, singer and songwriter who draws on funk, rhythm & blues and Americana songcraft; he also knows his way around the Mardi Gras music repertoire about as well as anyone.” – Keith Spera The New Orleans Advocate
Between 2000 and 2013, Gros led Papa Grows Funk, a highly revered group that mixed hard-hitting funk grooves with often unpredictable jazz spontaneity. The band released six critically-acclaimed studio albums, including Needle in the Groove, which was co-produced by New Orleans legend and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Allen Toussaint. The group’s weekly gigs at the world-famous Maple Leaf became a staple for both locals and tourists alike, eventually leading to Gros touring in far off countries like Japan and Brazil.
After Papa Grows Funk dissolved, Gros briefly returned to sideman work, playing organ for a series of all-star tributes to Dr. John and the Neville Brothers. The 2014 Dr. John tribute, The Music Mojo of Dr. John, was later released as a critically-acclaimed live album that featured Gros playing with Bruce Springsteen, Mavis Staples, Jason Isbell, and John Fogerty. More importantly for Gros, those tribute concerts allowed him to play alongside his two biggest influences: the Doctor and Art Neville, both of whom passed in 2019.
In 2016, Gros returned to the spotlight yet again with his second solo album River’s On Fire, the much anticipated follow up to his 2004 debut Day’s End. Co-produced by Gros and Tracy Freeman (Harry Connick Jr, Rebirth Brass Band, Bonerama), the album’s fiery funk rock showed how Gros had matured as both a songwriter and bandleader. It firmly established Gros’ identity as a solo force. In 2020 Gros released Central City, his third solo album. The album is a collection of classic New Orleans songs, both new and old, filtered through his decades of dedication to his craft. The album features Gros’ feel good originals alongside his takes on beloved songs by Allen Toussaint, Lloyd Price, and John Prine. Joining Gros on the album are a who’s who in the keepers of the New Orleans tradition, including singer Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), drummer Herlin Riley (Wynton Marsalis), banjoist Don Vappie, guitarist Brian Stoltz (Neville Brothers), trumpeter Mark Braud (Harry Connick Jr.), trombonist Mark Mullins (Bonerama), clarinetist Tim Laughlin, and his former boss George Porter Jr. (Meters). Together, they perfectly exploit the similarities between New Orleans jazz and early rock ‘n’ roll on songs such as “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Personality.”
“I’m walking in the same path [as Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and Art Neville,]” explains Gros. “I’ve been following them my whole life. Now, they’re no longer in front of me. They’ve gotten off the path but the path is still very clear.”
Randle & the Late Night Scandals steadily increased their loyal fanbase & have become one of the must-see bands in the Western New York region. With an aggressively modern sound that blends traditional blues, soul, funk, and rock & roll, this Buffalo, NY-based band refuses to settle into any single genre, preferring a continuous evolution of original music. The Scandals have shared the stage with many national acts including Living Colour,The Gin Blossoms, Los Lonely Boys, Gord Downie, Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, and members of Rusted Root, proving they can please just about any audience. Randle & the Late Night Scandals has played at such legendary venues as the Town Ballroom, Sportsmens Tavern & the Hard Rock Café.
Since 2007 The Big Easy in Buffalo has brought New Orleans and Louisiana music and culture to the Western New York region several times a year for free and low cost live performance, as well as music education and mentoring for local musicians, students, and the community. Through The Big Easy in Buffalo thousands of students, dozens of local bands, and countless audience members in Western New York have been exposed to this unique American culture.
The Big Easy in Buffalo is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Hochul and the NYS Legislature, Erie County, buffalo.fm, Dick & Jenny’s, National Fuel Gas Co., and Sportsmen’s Tavern.