iStock/Thinkstock(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) — Texas state inspectors identified nearly 250 violations at facilities run by Southwest Key, the non-profit organization now housing migrant children separated from their parents in a converted Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, according to records obtained by ABC.Reports filed with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) show 246 “deficiencies” — defined as failures to comply with regulations governing child care — at Southwest Key residential programs across Texas since the fall of 2014.The company’s largest shelter for undocumented children, Casa Padre, which is a converted Walmart in Brownsville, has become a flash-point in the debate over President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy that separated children from parents caught attempting to cross the border illegally. On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order ending the family separation policy.ABC News’ Tom Llamas visited the facility late last week, which now houses 1,500 migrant boys ages 10 to 17, and observed it was clean and well staffed, with several activities to keep the kids busy during his tour.However, HHSC records filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services show that at Casa Padre alone, inspectors identified 13 deficiencies over the past year.In one particularly worrisome report, dated October 2017, the facility’s medical coordinator “failed to follow up with treatment” for a resident who tested positive for an STD for a full two weeks.At other Southwest Key residential facilities, which also house children apprehended at the border, reports noted a child with “unsupervised access to a tool/knife,” a child “clearly in pain” not given prompt medical care, and a child administered Tylenol despite an allergy to the medication.HHSC records also documented children wearing “dirty clothing” and gathering in rooms that reached an “unsafe temperature” following an air conditioning outage.Staff members were accused of showing up to work drunk, writing obscene language on a chalkboard, and repeatedly speaking to children in a “belittling” or “harsh” manner.One staffer allegedly engaged in an “inappropriate relationship” with a child, one deficiency report said.Southwest Key tells ABC News they undertook an “extensive investigation” for each violation, noting that in some cases, employees were retrained and disciplined, and some were terminated.The company notes that over the past three years, Texas investigators evaluated Southwest Key on 78,570 issues, including many self-reported to regulators by the company, and found deficiencies in just 0.3 percent.“We strive to provide the highest quality of care possible,” the company said in a statement, adding that every shelter employee completes 40 hours of training prior to working with children, and an additional 40 hours of on-the-job training before they supervise kids.A spokesperson for HHSC, which documented the violations, told ABC the agency’s job “is to inspect and look for violations of our state standards… when we find them, we cite them and work with the facility to correct the issues.”“Our focus is to help ensure safety,” he said.The company’s large footprintAustin-based Southwest Key operates at least 16 residential facilities across Texas, with 10 more in Arizona and California. About 10 percent of the children currently in their care were separated from their parents under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, according to the company.A spokesperson for Southwest Key told ABC News that they welcomed Wednesday’s order, saying: “We were pleased to learn that the president also signed a bill that will end the separation policy.”Public records indicate the company employs around 4,500 people, and the company says it has served more than 23,000 children over the past two years.So far this year, they’ve been awarded $458.7 million in federal money to care for kids detained at the border, including children separated from their parents and minors attempting to cross the border alone.Just last week, the federal government awarded the company $1,147.8 million, the most money they’ve ever received in one sum, according to HHS records dating back to 2007.Bob Carey, who oversaw Southwest Key’s contracts while serving as director of U.S. Health and Human Services’ office of refugee resettlement during the Obama administration, told ABC News that the company had a sizeable footprint.Southwest Key Programs was “one of if not the largest government contractor for this purpose,” he said. “These are big, big grants, particularly if you’re doing on an emergency basis, extremely complex.”The company’s CEO Juan Sanchez has defended their actions amid the new scrutiny.“We’re not the bad guys. We’re the good guys,” Sanchez told ABC affiliate KVUE last week. “We’re the people that are taking these kids putting them in a shelter, providing the best service that we can for them and reuniting them with their family.”“Somebody’s gotta take care of these children, no matter what,” Sanchez added. “If we don’t take care of them, who’s gonna take care of them? They’re going to wind up in a detention center, a real detention center, and other facilities that are not adequate for children.”On the page dedicated to the company’s mission, it states that the company “is committed to keeping kids out of institutions and home with their families, in their communities.”Sanchez — who, according to the company’s website, was “shaped by his experiences as a migrant worker” — has drawn ire for his high salary. In 2016, his compensation was listed as $770,860, which included $249,065 in bonuses and incentive compensation.“Dr. Sanchez’s salary is well below the average, when measured in terms of a percentage of the organization’s revenue, in comparison to CEOs at non-profits of similar size,” Southwest Key said in a statement to ABC News, adding that his salary accounted for less than 1 percent of the group’s revenue.While that compensation figure may strike some as large for the head of a non-profit, a spokesperson for watchdog group Charity Navigator told ABC News that such a salary “would not be considered atypical” because of the size of the organization.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Barry Callebaut has reported a 5.3% increase in full-year opera-ting profit to 31 August 2008 and said it had continued to see good growth in the first two months of the current fiscal year. Profit rose to SFr341.1m (£184.7m), as sales increased by 17.3% to SFr4.8bn (£2.6bn).According to the company, sales growth was “mostly due to higher volumes and higher raw material prices”. Chief executive Patrick De Maeseneire said he was “satisfied” with the growth, which was in line with expectations. “These achievements, especially in the face of a challenging market environment, underline the effectiveness of our growth strategy,” he said.
Photo: Jay Sansome/Human BeingDuring Jazz Fest, one will almost certainly get hipped to new artists and bands that are pushing the envelope, taking the scene by surprise, or just doing the damn thing proper—sometimes all of the above. The Eddie Logic Project was a pleasant diversion, as what seemed a novelty turned into some super sick shit with a quickness. DJ Logic juggled breakbeats while Eddie Roberts, Khris Royal, Mike Olmos, Chris Spies, Jermal Watson and company matched the grooves and then launched the jams skyward. That show also put Bay Area bassist Victor Little on my radar, as the dude popped up all over town, all week long.Then there is something to be said for consistency, too. In this case, Karl Denson has made his bones in this city for over two decades now. The man they call “Diesel” has delivered the goods in nearly every room in this town, whether it be with the Greyboy Allstars, his own now-legendary funk/soul band Karl Denson’s Tiny Unvierse, or in any number of combinations and superjams. The band enlisted Stanton Moore and Kenneth Crouch to reprise their “Eat A Bunch of Peaches” revue at the Joy Theater second weekend. I’ve been lucky to catch Karl play at every Jazz Fest I’ve attended, going back to the year 2000, and this year would be no different. To kick off my own Fest 2018, first Saturday we were treated to an old-school KDTU groove-train at the House of Blues in the French Quarter. Old pal Robert Walter’s 20th Congress opened with an updated sound, but Denson and company delivered a classic blend of the sexy, smooth funk of yesteryear, with a dash of the dueling guitar attack of contemporary KDTU, thanks to DJ Williams and Seth Freeman.I stumbled into Maison early on a Wednesday and caught NorCal upstarts El Metate, whose bluesy, boozy rock n’ rare groove turned quite a few heads. On second Sunday, uptown at the Maple Leaf, Pretty Knights, a cadre of immersive NOLA warriors (plus The Disco Biscuits bassist Marc Brownstein) set the famed stage ablaze with a simmering hot take on greasy jamtronica. Similarly, SOUL Brass Band, led by the ubiquitous Derrick “Smoker” Freeman, offered their updated spin on a tradition upstairs at the Nile on the final Monday.This being my sweet sixteenth year blessed to get down to the Jazz Fest, I’ve learned to settle into my own groove, and chase the musicians that I hold dearest. I target a select group of Fest veterans, with a few young bucks mixed in for good measure, and then follow them (around the clock) throughout NOLA, to the best of my stamina and abilities. More often than not, the interests will cross-pollinate, and several of my favorites will inevitably play shows with one another. The usual suspects for this writer remain Adam Deitch, John Medeski, Karl Denson; chances are if those cats are on the gig, yours truly will be in the building. But on the heels of what went down second Saturday at the Music Box Village, it’s high time to add another heavyweight champion to my proverbial Mt. Rushmore of Jazz Fest, and his name is Weedie Braimah.A huge thank you to Fiyawerx Productions, Backbeat Foundation, JuJu Fest, the Blue Nile, Live For Live Music, Boom Boom Room Presents, the Maple Leaf Bar, and, most of all, the city of New Orleans and the incredible artists and fans that make Jazz Fest the best event on the calendar. Please enjoy this look back at the finest musical art this writer took in during 2018’s NOLA Jazz Fest After Dark. It is an honor and a privilege to again tell this story, assisted by phenomenal videos courtesy of Funk It. Le bon temps rouler!Photo: Camille LenainWeedie Braimah and the Essence of Time – Saturday, 5/6/2018 – Music Box VillageBoth onstage and off, master djembefola Weedie Braimah is nothing short of a force of nature. Having witnessed his collaborations with iconic Jazz Fest staples like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Nth Power, or avant-garde types such as Jonathan Scales Fourchestra and Afro-jazz conjurer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, people knew that Weedie’s early-evening show at the extraordinarily unique Music Box Village would be special. But not even the superhuman buzz that permeated town (on the heels of Mike Dillon’s Punk Rock Consortium show in that same venue one week earlier) could prepare us for the majesty that Weedie Braimah and the Essence of Time unveiled in a nearly two-hour story in song. This show was an instant classic, transcending Jazz Fest to immediately land on the short list of most powerful musical experiences this writer has ever been privileged to enjoy.Braimah—a New Orleans resident who grew up in East St. Louis, Missouri, and spent his formative years in Ghana—congregated a cross-cultural, intercontinental, multi-generational collective of virtuosos to deliver a thrilling narrative of the African diaspora, communicated through spiritual music. The audience was transfixed from beginning to end, scattered about the interactive venue, amid the instruments, players, and art installations. We were very much a part of the proceedings, living within the music itself. Joining the percussionist/purveyor-of-light in this most ambitious mission were his JuJu Fest bredren Luke Quaranta (Toubab Krewe, Megawatt), Raja Kassis (Antibalas, Megawatt) and Sam Dickey (Benyoro), along with Ghost Note and a host of other musicians from the globe over.Of local note, Weedie called on the legendary Bill Summers of Herbie’s Headhunters and NOLA’s own Los Hombres Calientes, for his inimitable styles on Bata. For many years, Braimah has teamed with Amadou Kouyate around the world, and he would join Braimah’s decorated-yet-humble assembly for this journey, as well as serve as narrator. The massive group adorned themselves in appropriately luminous tones and coalesced as one living, breathing, invigorating ensemble.[Video: Funk It]As Weedie later explained to me, the idea behind this performance was to do three things- educate, entertain, and spiritually move the crowd. This righteous conglomerate was about more than just playing folk music, which they certainly did with appropriate reverence and homage. Braimah and his cohorts told the heartbreaking story of his people, a tale that included gospel, jazz, blues, funk, Afro-Cuban, and so much more. The meditative tones of what sounded like a hundred drums ushered in the saga with historical and traditional context.When the group traversed through the wind of the slave trade, tears began to flow amidst the engrossed. Soon the group arrived at a Latin section, and people couldn’t contain themselves, they were contagiously called to dance wildly. By the time the entirety of Ghost Note (Robert “Sput” Searight, Nate Werth, MonoNeon, Jonathan Mones, Peter Knudsen) joined the swollen collective for a furious rollercoaster through tribal-fusion funk, a palpable energy had completely overtaken the village and every beating heart within the Music Box was levitating.The Essence of Time told a riveting story through the universal language, a mystical ride through the African diaspora, by way of what Braimah himself terms “Afro-African Music.” The performance was much more than a recital or a collection of songs; it was a spiritual awakening, an emotional journey through history, space, and time. Thunderous, triumphant rhythms pulsated with wisdom and perspective. The paean of gut-wrenching truth and penetrating potency was received through an open door into the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to step into the otherworldly confines of the Music Box Village. For most of this blessed audience, it was the definitive performance of Jazz Fest 2018, as people came away from Weedie Braimah and the Essence of Time visibly shaken and positively stirred.Weedie Braimah and the Essence of Time Performers:Weedie Braimah – Djembe, CongasAdama Bilorou Dembele – Balafon, DjembeAmadou Kouyate – Kora, Djembe, NarratorLuke Quaranta – Dunun, Kenkeni, BellMunir Zakee – Sangban, Kryn, BellThemba Mkhatshwa – Sangban, KenkeniRaja Kassis – Acoustic GuitarSam Dickey – Djelingoni, GuitarJawara Simon – DjembeSimba Marvin – DjembeBill Summers – Bata DrumsKito Johnson- Bata DrumsGhost Note:Robert ‘Sput’ Searight – Recycled materials Drum SetMono Neon – BassNate Werth – Percussion HousePeter Knudsen- GuitarJonathan Mones- SaxophoneView All[Video: Funk It]NeonMedeski – Monday, 4/30 (late night) – One Eyed JacksMonday night, Boom Boom Room Presents brought together a phenomenal slate at One Eyed Jack’s on Toulouse. After two appetizers, including the popular annual Frequinox show, the main event was a late engagement with NeonMedeski. For the second consecutive year, a fearless team of improvisers and mavericks, captained by the shamanic keyboard maven John Medeski and the enigmatic bassist MonoNeon, descended on NOLA and unleashed a sizzling session that straddled hip-hop and psychedelic jazz with aplomb.The cadre of creatives included Daru Jones, whose Detroit-Deli drum steez is integral to the DNA of this particular venture, and Jones’ energy with Mono-Neon was palpable. Same can be said for the swashbuckling boogaloo and cosmic Crayola box that swirls from keyboardist/Jazz Fest savant Robert Walter, who revels in his role adjacent to the living legend, John Medeski. Few players on the scene embody a pure Jazz-Fest ethos more than Walter, and his contributions on this particular gig were substantial.The chameleon-like Skerik reached into Hard Bop’s closet to serenade us romantically in red, though every once in a while, he reared back for some patented skronk when the situation begged for it. A wildcard was guitarist Marcus Machado, a close collaborator of Jones—unfamiliar to some in the audience, but rest assured, this dude has been turning heads for years. As the night wore on, Machado’s luscious, understated comp licks were sung through a lusty Fender tone, one that can only be described as “buttah”. Jason “DJ Logic” Kibler offered abstract textures and turntable action when the canvas opened up just enough for him to get in there.Jermaine Holmes and Redd Middleton, who grew up singing together in North Jersey churches and are both of D’Angelo and The Vanguard, took turns fronting the band for a couple of Soulquarian-flavored jams. Holmes invoked a celestial take on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come,” Middleton riffed on “We Can Get Down”, and both vocalists added just the right flavor to the unit. Same for a horn player or three, as Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown and any number of others would float on and off the stage over the course of this manic Monday.The assembled collective delivered two hours and forty minutes uninterrupted, slabs on slabs of psychedelic sexy, entirely improvised and unleashed in the moment. This was Be Here Now transmitted through Jones and MonoNeon’s J Dilla-fied filter, focused on creating a vibe, coloring near-but-still-outside the lines, taking chances predicated on moxie, not ego. There’s a difference, and that’s precisely what separates super jams that look good on paper, and nights like these, which just ooze a torrid mysticism.[Video: Funk It]Worship My Organ XXX – Friday, 5/4 (late night) – MaisonOriginally the brainchild of organ maestros Robert Walter and Marco Benevento many Jazz Fest moons ago, for the second weekend, this year John Medeski returned to Boom Boom Room Presents’ popular franchise gig, Worship My Organ XXX. The Worship concept is simple yet abstract, as the band eschews the usual mainstays in bass and guitar, instead employing luxuriant layers of organs and keyboards atop Adam Deitch’s decidedly hip-hop, groove-laden drums. Pile on the spastic, psychotic sax that only comes from Skerik and introduce the choice cuts and turntable colors from DJ Logic, and the all the elements are present for a sordidly tantric odyssey. As Walter explained to me, the concept with Worship is to consciously avoid both playing a song and soloing atop the band. Each player listens carefully, and minimalism owns the night. It’s a blueprint for selfless, fearless improvisational dialogue.With these six demonic hands and three devilish brains leading the lysergic pilgrimage on a dozen keyboards, the potential for anchorless free jazz was tempered by the hard-line and relentless pocket of Deitch’s unwavering pulsations. Adam steadily added new percussion flavors, experimenting with boom-bap, and forcing heads to bob like emergency breaks. Benevento tried his hands on the drum hit before Sir Joe Russo, in town with his Duo foil for two massive Joe Russo’s Almost Dead shows at Mardi Gras World, relieved Deitch for a spell, just as Skerik completed casting another.Medeski, Benevento, and Walter did their best to throw away anything resembling traditional chord changes and instead built cacophonous pantheons of sound, coming to life at the end of long and winding avenues, sourced from riffs and vamps that seemed to almost psychotically catch a fire. Each of the three extraordinary organists was given ample real estate to show their wares, yet none of them claimed the spotlight—content with the role of a sideman. There loomed an unspoken need for low-end theory, but among the trifecta, it remained unsaid, and the pact unbroken, somebody always remembered to get low.There was no bandleader, but Skerik periodically rose from his cauldron sixty feet deep, to deliver the finest in depraved dementia like only he can. Some other players came and went, but the named co-defendents stayed the course, braving the nightmarish bends to arrive at Shangri-La. Every year, Worship My Organ begins their promenade closely connected to time-honored jazz traditions, and then unspools metastasis into an unholy orgy; in adding Medeski, the collective revealed a distilled recipe for haunting the chapel.[Video: Funk It]Megawatt: Afro-Dub Soundclash – Saturday, 4/29 – Blue NileReturning for their second year, Megawatt: Afro-Dub Soundclash performed as part of the amazing JuJu Fest programming, and this time the show was included as part of Backbeat Foundation’s diverse Jazz Fest After Dark menu offered at the Blue Nile. Eclipsing last year’s debut, Megawatt delivered an enthralling two-hour tour of reggae and African dub in a variety of forms, mixing in Afrobeat rhythms amid the island vibrations for a unique elixir.Don’t get it twisted, this is a band, not a superjam, though the contributors read like a veritable murderers row. With Antibalas’ touring axeman Raja Kassis acting as musical director, this selfless assembly of players weaved in and out of Kingston and Lagos, delving deep into roots, dancehall, and lover’s rock before arriving at a few lengthy Tony Allen jams. The team then deftly navigated their way back from the motherland for a strong finish that said nuh romp wid mi.Fronted by the captivating Sierra Leone-born, Brooklyn-bred vocalist Bajah (of the Dry Eye Crew), the group consisted of heavy hitters like Adam Deitch, Borahm Lee, Josh Werner, Weedie Braimah, Luke Quaranta, Khris Royal, and Maurice Brown. Opening with “Kaballah Rock,” it was clear, early and often, that this was a mission, not a small-time thing; Megawatt meant serious bidness. Buju Banton’s cathartic “Not An Easy Road” was a personal fave, and the bloodfire troupe forwarded tomb-rattling dub anthems from Sly & Robbie, Aswad, and more.Saxophonist Khris Royal particularly shined in Megawatt, he stepped up and showed out, his skills within the live reggae jams a product of his tenure with Rebelution and his ever-colorful sound palette. The percussion prowess from Quaranta and Braimah slipped neatly between the riddim brothers, Werner (bass) and Deitch (drums), making for authentic irie dynamics. Keyboardist Lee also seemed to elevate his game with a rudebwoy swagger, as he too is quite comfortable in the yardie idiom. Closer “Champion” (Buju Banton) had the entire dancehall hollering for more fiya, to some of us, his message transformed to more life, more strength. Megawatt’s music embodies that ethos, so let’s hope this krewe is here to stay![Video: Funk It]Maple Leaf All-Stars – Sunday, 4/30 – Maple Leaf BarSunday night, we left J.E.D.I. a little early to head uptown to Oak Street and make sure we caught a good chunk of a superjam that was billed as Maple Leaf All-Stars. The band consisted of a handful of New Orleans finest and funkiest players, including Ivan and Ian Neville, Tony Hall, Raymond Weber, and Derwin “Big D” Perkins. The alchemy between these musicians is something to behold, especially considering they’ve played the NOLA songbook with each other for decades, and their names and voices are etched in the history books and the hearts of so many Jazz Festers.The Leaf is a special, historic room, often oversold and with poor sightlines, yet still the perfect place to rage a funky show in New Orleans. Every year when I make a pilgrimage to Fest, it’s important—really essential—to plug into the NOLA culture, feel the musical heartbeat of those who call the Crescent City home. We can see our favorite national and regional artists the rest of the year, but we are only in NOLA for two-ish weeks annually, and I think it’s imperative to honor and celebrate how we got here. This evening was most certainly one of those occasions, made all the more poignant with Charles Neville’s death a few days before Jazz Fest 2018.Charles’ brother, the Uptown Ruler himself, Cyril Neville, showed up to run these familiar streets and front this all-star band for a few classics, including “Gossip”, “Okey Doke”, and, of course, “Cabbage Alley”. Towards the end, things got very Neville up in there as Mean Willie Green took over the drums for “Junk Man”, and Cyril unleashed roaring energy on the mic. There’s nothin’ like hearing the muscle-car mojo of Ivan Neville belting out “Welcome to New Orleans” while his screamin’ B3 rolls out the purple, green, and gold carpet. Tony Hall took the lead on a few jams as well, and his bass playing was the glue between Ivan, Ray, and Ian—the OG Dumpstaphunk squad. Yet it was the gospelized chops and spiritualized essence that flows through guitarist Derwin “Big D Perkins”—he of the chicken-scratch funk and greasy-fried melodies—that really filled us up.[Video: Miles Pastuhov] The Nth Power – Sunday, 4/30 & Monday, 5/7 – Maple Leaf Bar & Blue NileA large group of bands descends on Jazz Fest every year and spread themselves far and wide around the city, but no band really takes NOLA Jazz Fest by storm annually quite like The Nth Power. Born of a late-night gig during Jazz Fest at the Maple Leaf some half-decade ago, the band has continually returned to Jazz Fest in a variety of incarnations to bless the people with their special gospel.Over the past year, the band has been touring as a trio, with the core members Nikki Glaspie (drums/vocals), Nicholas Cassarino (guitar/vocals), and Nate Edgar (bass) taking on a harder-edged sound and a tangibly more aggressive approach in the live element. The new material reflects this evolution, but given that it was Jazz Fest, inevitably their musical family would join them onstage at a variety of gigs over the duration of the festivities. This year saw Nth return to Tipitina’s Instruments A Comin’ and also their proper Jazz Fest Fairgrounds debut. As is their custom, The Nth Power delivered a third-annual tribute show at One Eyed Jack’s, though this year, it was the death of close friend and longtime collaborator with whom Nate and Nikki had recently reconnected that (appropriately) inspired “Nth Utero” to pay homage to Nirvana.However, it would be the next night, super late uptown on Oak Street, that this writer got his first dose of Nth magic this year. The trio welcomed the likes of Rob Marscher (keys), Tony Hall (vocals), and even the Berkelee guitar wizard himself, Jeffrey Lockhart, to join them onstage at the Maple Leaf. Lock is a teacher and beloved figure in the lives of many who make musical waves in the Crescent City, and this was finally Jeffrey’s Jazz Fest debut in 2018, At both OEJ and the Maple Leaf, Lockhart joined The Nth Power to add his brilliant and unique axe attack to their always ethereal equation.At the Leaf (and again, the final Monday at their customary Blue Nile gig), The Nth Power summoned the intestinal fortitude to unveil thrilling medleys from their previous tributes to Earth, Wind & Fire and Bob Marley. Their whirlwind take on “Shining Star” is worth the airfare to and from New Orleans alone, but coupled with the enchanting Nesta classic “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)”, and you can begin to taste the sauce.Glaspie and Cassarino often receive much of the adulation thrown towards The Nth Power, but bassist Nate Edgar is likely the only cat in town that will quote Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” and chase it with a Bad Brains riff in the same musical thought. Despite their ever-evolving lineups, one fact that never changes is that The Nth Power loves you, and always has. Their truth and our treasure is forever found within the band’s spellbinding original music, brazenly pouring their hearts out, from the first verse, all the way up until it’s time to get on that plane and go home.[Video: Miles Pastuhov]FIYA POWA – Thursday, 5/3 (late night) – MaisonFiyawerx Productions can be counted on each and every Jazz Fest to provide a tasty selection of NOLA-centric nights out on the town, and 2018 would be no different. Their signature greasy funk formula was on display three times over the second week of Fest. Second Thursday is the annual FIYA POWA threaux-down, and once again the party was going down at Maison on Frenchman Street.The bedrock for this annual Jazz Fest supergroup band came together behind two generations of local icons—bassist George Porter Jr., keyboardist Ivan Neville, and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore. The blueprint is a simple one: grab some of the baddest NOLA cats in the business and some superstars from around the country, and run through a songbook that just about everybody knows inside out. Sometimes at festivals, this sort of gig can be a recipe for the underwhelming, if everybody onstage hasn’t bought in. Yet on this particular night, just as second weekend was getting underway, there was no denying that this was pure, unadulterated firepower personified.Ivan’s Dumspta-brotha Tony Hall strapped on a guitar, and Roosevelt “The Doctor” Collier sat down with his roarin’ pedal steel. Horns were accounted for with authority, Karl Denson’s tenor and alto sax leading the charge, as well as Big Sam Williams on trombone and Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown on trumpet. A new face on this scene, BK Jackson (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave) stepped up for some tenor action.Rising star Andrew Block sat in on guitar for “Them Changes”, as did Break Science’s Borahm Lee for The Meters’ “Funky Miracle.”The setlist was fairly standard, but the performance was anything but. A sold-out house enjoyed a tremendous tour through the history of funk and some of NOLA’s time honored traditions. The krewe wandered into more beloved classics, namely some Bill Withers, Sly Stone, and even a dash of proper rock ‘n’ roll in Neil Young’s “Down By the River”.[Video: Funk It]Adam Deitch Quartet – Tuesday, 5/2 – Blue NileMy first proper Lettuce family affair was the annual Adam Deitch Quartet hit on Tuesday night at the Blue Nile as part of Backbeat Foundation’s Jazz Fest programming. The venerable drummer wunderkind brings the Shady Horns (Zoidis and Bloom) to his jazz project known as AD4, rounded out by the Bay Area’s B3 bully Wil Blades.The third consecutive Jazz Fest engagement for AD4 was an astonishing ride to the far side, yet what we have come to expect from Adam if he’s going to put his name on the marquee. Over the course of one hundred minutes, Deitch and his trusty cohorts unveiled a series of mouth-watering originals, including “Egyptian Secrets”, the psychedelic hip-hop masterpiece and title track to this project’s forthcoming debut album. As the band worked their way through this hypnotic composition, one could only begin to dream of a Pete Rock or DJ Premier mining this gold for luscious samples.Ashlin Parker joined Bloom for dueling trumpets for a “Rocky Mountain Boogaloo”, and later Eric Krasno appeared for a swaggy run through Michael Jackson’s buoyant “The Way You Make Me Feel”. An extra nod is due to Hammond hero Wil Blades, whose feet were driving the lane with sturdy basslines while both hands were liberating the masses with warm, opiate organs from beginning to end..[Video: Funk It]Big Lil Baby Jesus Peasant Party – Wednesday, 5/2 (late night) – Howlin’ WolfAnother phenomenal side project for the Lettuce krewe is bassist Jesus Coomes’ annual Big Lil Baby Jesus Peasant Party, an event that took this writer’s honors for finest late-night excursion in 2017. This year, the festivities were moved to the Howlin’ Wolf, which had both positive and negative consequences. The Peasant Party was the final installment to the annual Megalomaniacs Ball, traditionally held at the Wolf on the Wednesday of the daze between.The band’s lineup once again consisted of the de facto bandleader Jesus on bass, his older brother Tycoon on drums; Ryan Zoidis on sax and synths; Khris Royal on keys, sax, synths, bass guitar; and Borahm Lee on keys and synths. The band of brothers and badasses was blessed with contributions from Adam Deitch, longtime ally and Berkelee-bruiser Aaron Bellamy, and upcoming NOLA drummer AJ Hall.Unfortunately, the Howlin’ Wolf wasn’t the ideal room for the vibe that this sort of improvised session requires; it was too big and hollow, and the situation suffered for it. Luckily, the music did not suffer even a little bit, and the highest highs of 2018’s Peasant Party were as good, if not better, than the mystical Maple Leaf show last year.For the last forty-five minutes, the band and its small but engrossed audience turned the proverbial corner to take another mind-bending expedition into the annals of J Dilla, Flying Lotus, golden-era hip-hop, progressive psychedelia, and beyond. Tycoon delivered a choice assortment of classic breaks and wonky, filtered beats underneath baby bro’s adventurous boom-bap basslines, while Zoid and Khris Royal traded soaring leads and luminescent licks all night. Borahm Lee was the glue that held it all together, as he and Royal offered layers on layers on layers of sound design from a variety of keyboards, organs, and synths.[Video: Funk It]Lettuce’s Rage!Fest – Thursday, 5/4 – Joy TheaterFor many moons, Lettuce booked two or three shows during Jazz Fest, offering a variety of options to see the band in different rooms around the city. For the last couple of years, the band has performed one flagship gig in NOLA during Fest—an annual, traditional two-set “Evening with Lettuce” christened Rage!Fest, and held on Thursday of second weekend at the glorious Joy Theater.Eschewing an opening act and opting for the all-vinyl stylings of DJ Soul Sister to warm up the crowd, Lettuce confidently asked for the spotlight to be turned squarely on them for three full hours. Demanding their audience’s undivided attention, Lettuce returned the serve with vociferous force, captaining another fantastic voyage to the netherworlds of psychedelic hip hop funk.[Video: Funk It]The first frame began with a furious “Blast Off”. A 17-minute catharsis through “Purple Cabbage” was the set’s centerpiece, beginning in its “Yancey” roots and spiraling exponentially into sacred geometry in sound. Towards the end of the first set, the K9 Brass Band, made up of youngsters from NOLA’s Booker T. Washington High School, lined up at the front of the stage. Trumpet player Eric Benny Bloom acted as onstage conductor, and the band dropped into their unreleased, future-bass banger “Trap”, as Deitch’s organic 808’s and Jesus’ titanic bass bombs made di youth dem secure. The Shady Horns then steered the K9 Brass Band into Cardi B’s mega-hit “Bodak Yellow”, and the entire Joy Theater proceeded to lose their shit. Somehow, from within this bedlam, Lettuce plus the K9 found their way back to “Trap” and finished the free-wheeling first set to a deafening ovation.Voltron was in the “4th Dimension” to set off the second set, and the band dropped this hip-hop heater hot off the press. The family welcomed Jesus Coomes’ brother Tycoon on a variety of percussion throughout the gig; Tyler Coomes has a certain connection with his brother and drummer Deitch that allows him to jump into the fray with (relative) ease. Same can be said for founding member and brother-in-Lett Eric Krasno. The six-string superstar stood side-stage, admiring his once and former squadron’s muscular frame during “The Force” (which teased the brand-new “Zoid Void”) before grabbing his trusty Gibson SG and stepping into the classic dual-guitar dance of “Last Suppit.” It was glorious to see Kraz and Shmeeans onstage together, wheeling and dealing once again. The boys rolled up a “Kron Dutch” for Kraz to get nice and irie, and it sounded like “Gang Ten” hadn’t missed a beat. RAGE!Fest mission accomplished.[Video: Funk It]Break Science Live Band – Saturday, 5/5 (late night) – One Eyed JacksTaking the stage after a juicy Sonic Bloom hit featuring Eric Krasno, Wil Blades, Alvin Ford Jr., Chris Bullock and more, Break Science Live Band returned to Jazz Fest After Dark in 2018, playing to a packed One Eyed Jack’s late night on second Saturday. Deitch and Borahm Lee once again enlisted a large chunk of Lettuce-funk for their live band incarnation.Jesus, Zoidis and Shmeeans were happy to oblige their boys with an explosive get-down to put an exclamation point on a gratifying couple of weeks in the Big Easy. Break Science placed a blazer beam on material from their most recent LP, Grid of Souls, and many of these songs took on a new elevation when performed by the live band, especially in the dead of the night- on second weekend of Jazz Fest- with a squad firin’ on all cylinders. The boys were sure to dust of a classic BrkSci banger or two, for the heads who’ve been holding them down from jumpstreet.People were wildin’ out in the club, as the boys blended Break Science’s grown ‘n’ sexy electronic flavors with the vibe and alchemy that comes from Jesus, Shmeeans, and the Shady Horns. This made for a unprecedented dance party that was brimming with energy and block-rockin’ beats. Borahm in particular took to the skies throughout the thunderous concert, ripping up the Rhodes and a wall of synths, while maintaining the programmed parts that define their sound.Meanwhile, the Lett krewe got crunkadelic everywhere around Lee. Highlights included “Reno”, “Android Love”, and a blast from the Break Science past, busting out their long-shelved rework of YES’s ‘80s hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. This was the third consecutive Break Science Live Band hoedown in NOLA during Jazz Fest, and I suspect many heads would agree, this was the project’s finest and most focused hour.[Video: Funk It]Herbie Hancock Tribute – Sunday, 5/7 – MaisonOn the final night of Jazz Fest, Live For Live Music threw two phenomenal shows. The late-night “Purple Party” tribute to the dearly departed Prince sold out and stole the headlines, and rightfully so. It was a massive throwdown of mammoth proportions that toasted the revered icon into the heavens with the ultimate respect and admiration. Yet earlier in the evening, a mercilessly funky affair took place in the very same room, paying homage to a living legend who still walks and grooves among us: the decorated luminary Herbie Hancock.Joey Porter, keyboardist of The Motet, brought together bandmate and bass maestro Garrett Sayers, as well as Ryan Zoidis, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Nate Werth, and the assembled players took on a lion’s share of beloved jams from Herbie’s funk era. Having already wound this up once before (sans Zoidis) at Brooklyn Comes Alive, the band was already quite familiar with one another, and this quintessential material is forever burned into the recesses of their collective minds.Peter Knudsen (of Ghost Note, and The Positive Agenda) slid through with some subtle, choice contributions, and the guitarist was seemingly in all the right places all week long. As for the show itself, the results were staggering, if predictable, with terrifically groovy and well-greased runs through Headhunter workouts like “Chameleon”, “Actual Proof”, “Watermelon Man”. They closed it out with the rumbling funk earthquake “Hang Up Your Hang Ups”, and we spilled into the street and down to d.b.a. to take in some Frequinox.J.E.D.I. – Sunday, 4/30 – MaisonFor J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation), Brazilian Girls drummer and David Byrne collaborator Aaron Johnston enlisted the likes of the Shady Horns’ Ryan Zoidis and Eric Benny Bloom, Break Science’s Borahm Lee, The Disco Biscuits’ bassist Marc Brownstein, and more to present an extremely vibey, very danceable, and downright delicious one-hundred minutes of sizzling improvised dance jams. The Nth Power’s Nate Edgar, who was in this project in its infancy, sat in late in the show, among other members of Byrne’s touring band. A deft departure from the superjam norm, as high art improvisation and world music stylings took flight on Frenchman.[Video: Steve d]New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars – Saturday, 5/5 – Vaughn’sThe New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars are another local music and culture institution that tears it down each and every year, and there’s nothing more authentically NOLA than a proper get-down at Vaughn’s in the Bywater. On this particular evening The Yiddish folk/Nawlinz’ funk troubadours were led by guitarist Jonathan Freilich, accordian Glen Hartman, and Galactic’s sax madman Ben Ellman. NOKAS broke in a new drummer Brendan Bull, who was stepping into some rather large shoes; both Stanton Moore and Mean Willie Green have held down the drum seat over the past quarter century. Local hero Dan Ostreicher (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave.) was blazing hot on the baritone sax. The two-plus hour rager in the Treme was proof in the pudding; this Crescent City mishpucha is showing nary a sign of slowing down, as new troops are always at the ready to carry on the funky Klezmer traditions.Photo: Dino PerrucciPapa Grows Funk – Monday, 5/7 – Tipitina’s UptownThe cagey veterans, led by NOLA funk icons John “Papa” Gros and June Yamagishi, returned for a reunion of their storied post-Fest Monday night affair, held this year at Tips instead of its former home the Maple Leaf. Papa Grows Funk was rounded out by Jason Mingledorff, Marc Pero, and Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander on the drum seat. A thoroughly Big Easy way to close out Jazz Fest 2018, with this greasy, loving look in the rear view mirror. The band recalled their fiery form of yesteryear, calling up “Do U Want It?” as an opener, scorching through a set that had Tips packed with primarily locals howling every word back at the boys. “Junker Man” really tore the house down proper.[Video: Mic Clark]FestMob – Tuesday, 5/1 – Blue NileAfter Adam Deitch Quartet, we ventured upstairs for the time-honored Crescent City brotherhood FestMob, fronted by the short-in-stature but huge-in-personality Steven Bernstein of SexMob fame. Bernstein’s wailing trumpet and feel-good vibes led a contingent of Kirk Joseph (sousaphone), Jonathan Freilich (guitar), Will Bernard (guitar), and Mike Dillon on drums. Bernstein composed a song on the spot, and Benny Bloom, fresh from the AD4 hit downstairs, hopped on along with two other (mystery?) saxophonists, and the boys second-lined their way off the stage and onto the Blue Nile Balcony in true Crescent City style.[Video: FunkItBlog] Maurice “Mobetta” Brown & Soul’d U Out featuring Talib Kweli & DJ Scratch – Saturday, 5/5 – Three Keys at Ace HotelMaurice “Mobetta” Brown & Soul’d U Out brought a taste of classic hip-hop and upscale soul to the Ace Hotel with a slammin’ set featuring rap royalty Talib Kweli and DJ Scratch. Mo Betta was musical director and soared on the trumpet, while spitting verses amid Khris Royal and Irvin Pierce (saxophones), Shea Pierre (keyboard), Marcus Machado (guitar), Max Moran (bass), and Thomas Glass (drums). Kweli even had a few choice words for his longtime friend Kanye West before launching into a blistering rendition of Yeezy’s Talib anthem “Get By”. Marcus King Band keyboardist DeShawn D’Vibes Alexander slipped onstage for a choice sit-in as well.[Video: FunkItBlog]John Medeski’s Mad Skillet – Wednesday, 5/2 (late night) – MaisonBorn of a late-night Jazz Fest rager in 2015, John Medeski reconvenes his vehicle Mad Skillet annually in New Orleans, and each year they benefit by more and more groove workouts. In 2017, the keyboard scientist took Mad Skillet overseas, touring in Europe to audiences totally slack-jawed by their inventive playing. With the help of NOLA’s greasiest trigger-man, Terence Higgins, on drums, sousaphone svengali Kirk Joseph pumping out Crescent City low-end theory, and axe-man Will Bernard keeping things spicy on hollow-body guitar, this was a recipe for rumblin’ deep into the French Quarter night. The band performed a healthy mix of bluesy jazz, occasional Medeski, Martin & Wood tunes, covers with both rock and funk sensibilities, all drizzled over Higgins’ shimmying NOLA shuffle.[Video: FunkItBlog]Special thanks to Randy Bayers and Funk It Blog for the abundance of amazing video footage!Words: B. Getz A tradition like no other, Jazz Fest in New Orleans is an underground culture and lifeblood all its own. Beginning with and anchored by the traditional festival at the racetrack fairgrounds, this entire event is brimming with the best of music and cuisine for two action packed weekends. Each and every spring, we step inside a brave new world, a supernatural gathering in the musical mecca of the Crescent City. A celebration that welcomes any and all practitioners of improvisational live music, from the festival to the nightclubs to the streets, smothering us into her proverbial bosom for nearly two weeks. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the gift that keeps on giving.Die-hard music fans of all stripes and sizes flock to the Bayou and fill its plenitude of live music venues on a quest for the finest purveyors of vibe. For a certain slice of the Fest population, the true magnetism that draws them in is the musical mayhem that takes place in the clubs after dark. All night long until the sun comes up, the biggest ballers and brightest stars sink into the Big Easy, sharing a piece of themselves and channeling the spirits through dialogues in sound. It’s a righteous prophecy that keeps people coming back year after year, to these same clubs, to hear these beloved artisans repeatedly co-create an authentic tapestry that is never, ever the same thing twice. A healthy gumbo of NOLA’s best and dozens of the finest players from around the country come together in the nerve center of improvisational music, the Super Bowl of Rage, it’s Jazz Fest beybeh… Welcome to New Orleans!Photo: Jay Sansome/Human BeingBeneath the magical collaborations, the copious imbibing, the crazy performances at even crazier hours, the crystallized allure of Jazz Fest is undoubtedly its community—a loose-knit collective of kindred souls who share a thirst for the thrilling. Every year, it seems we mourn a beloved artist who recently passed (Charles Neville) and sometimes also a member of the greater festival family (Stephanie Devine Rath). This mutual belly of musicians and fans annually swarms together like a family, huddling to honor fallen comrades, dancing to celebrate life, spreading the culture(s), and emboldening the free exchange of artistic traditions. This community has become transformative and again was lovingly on display in brilliant living colors all over New Orleans during Fest.In one form or another, I feel it necessary to add this disclaimer to my Jazz Fest After Dark feature every year. One human cannot possibly take in all the divergent musical offerings available over the course of two weeks in NOLA. With respect to three days at the Fairgrounds, and in spite of my fervent efforts to hit as many shows as I could (without overdoing it), inevitably I was not present for a number of incredible events that took place this year during Jazz Fest. But, as is custom, word travels back about the magic that transpired. Among these missed opportunities were Robert Glasper Rotation Trio at the Ace Hotel, Daze Between Band at One Eyed Jack’s, Turkuaz’s Wings Tribute with Denny Laine at Tipitina’s, Matador Soul Sounds at the House of Blues, Col. Bruce Hampton Tribute at the Maple Leaf, F*ck 2017, Robert “Sput” Searight’s annual “Sputacular” event at the Blue Nile, the NOLA debut of Walk Talk (a new project from Pimps of Joytime vocalist Mayteana Morales), Polyrhythmics at Maison, Ideateam’s breakfast jam at the Howlin’ Wolf, IKO All-Stars: Without A Shrimp Net at the Joy Theater, and, most notably, Greyboy All-Stars at Preservation Hall’s Midnight Preserves. This astounding assortment of unique-to-Jazz Fest shows that I was absent for is a clear and present testament to the magnificent menu of music made possible over this period.
For illustration only (Image courtesy of Singapore LNG)Singapore LNG, the operator of the country’s first liquefied natural gas import terminal, has completed its first small-scale reload at its facility on Jurong Island.The gas-up/cool-down and reload operation was carried out from 18-20 June for Shell’s newly built LNG bunkering vessel Cardissa, Singapore LNG said in a statement.As previously reported by LNG World News, the 6,500-cbm Cardissa left STX Offshore & Shipbuilding’s yard in South Korea earlier this month and it is on its way to the port of Rotterdam where it is expected to start operations this summer.The Cardissa is one of Europe’s first LNG bunkering ships with Shell claiming it is the biggest seagoing vessel of its kind.The fueling operation of the bunkering vessel was conducted at Singapore LNG terminal’s secondary jetty, which is originally designed to accommodate LNG vessels from 60,000 cbm to 265,000 cbm in size.Singapore LNG said in its statement that compatibility studies were carried out in advance to ensure that the vessel could safely call at the jetty.Prior to this, the smallest LNG carrier that had called at the Jurong LNG terminal for unloading or reloading was about 65,000 cbm in size.“The successful completion of our first small scale LNG reload operation is significant as it demonstrates the SLNG terminal’s ability to play the role of LNG supply hub for the region,” said John Ng, Chief Executive of Singapore LNG.The terminal is able to break LNG cargoes into smaller parcels and facilitate deliveries of small volumes of LNG to other terminals in the region, or as bunker fuel to ships in Singapore LNG’s port.“We are already looking ahead to further enhance our capabilities in this area, by exploring possible modifications to our secondary jetty to accommodate LNG vessels as small as 2,000 cbm. This is expected to come onstream in 2019,” said John Ng.
School officials, teachers, and parents are looking for more in-depth information about the metrics used to create a timeline for returning to in-person education, and what fully remote and in-person models would look like. During Monday’s All-Island School Committee meeting, a few questions dominated the discussion — most of which had to do with the impetus behind keeping some students out of school buildings until Oct. 27.Island school administrators continue to get pushback from parents surrounding the far-off date that some students may be returning to school, and the lack of concrete metrics that inform that timeline.The current proposed reopening plan (which must be voted on by each individual school district) still has students going to a remote learning model on Sept. 17, with all students back in the physical buildings by Oct. 27. Under the proposed plan, K-2 (K-3 for the up-Island district) students would transition to a hybrid learning model on Sept. 29. Grades 3-5 would switch to the hybrid on Oct. 13, and students in grades 6-8 and all high schoolers would transition on Oct. 27. As of now, schools would utilize four cohorts: Students in cohorts A and B would be fully engaged in the hybrid model. Cohort A would attend school in person on Monday and Tuesday, and cohort B would attend school in person on Thursday and Friday. Cohort C would serve high-needs students who may require additional support, or may need to get back to in-person learning as soon as possible.According to D’Andrea, families will have the ability to opt for remote-only education, and students would be assigned a teacher. Those students engaged in remote-only education may be able to participate in a program sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) online, which would be taught by a Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools teacher.Committee member Kate DeVane said she doesn’t understand why, when you have students in the building on alternating days, there can’t be students learning remotely at the same time. She said having teachers simultaneously streaming on Zoom while teaching classes in-person would expand the amount of instruction each week, and would connect students directly with their instructors, their peers, and the content of the course.“I don’t understand the theory that you only get two days. I would not want to see a kid who is fully remote doing a completely separate program from their classmates who are taking in-person schooling,” DeVane said.Committee member Amy Houghton asked whether there was an established plan for a full-remote model, noting that a hybrid model sees kids in physical school for two days out of the week, and families could be exposed to COVID-19 on any other day.“If we don’t have a shelter-in-place order, there is nothing keeping kids and families from doing whatever they want and commingling,” Houghton said. She also said that certain priority populations might not have the ability to wait to get back to in-person schooling.Committee member Alex Salop said he cannot support a plan that has all students back in physical school by the end of October, and stressed that the Vineyard is a unique community with a low case count.“Martha’s Vineyard isn’t Georgia, it isn’t Texas, it isn’t California,” Salop said. “I can see us taking the time to open up remotely in September and moving toward a hybrid model or in-person toward the end of the month. I have heard no evidence for moving the start date back to the end of October.”Salop also said there needs to be a contingency plan If someone does get sick in school, or if cases start to increase on the Island. He highlighted the need for a solid metric that will determine the risk factor for students, families, and teachers as they return to school.“You can’t shut down the in-person part of the school almost indefinitely without demonstrable data to back up that decision,” Salop said. “Unless someone can present it to me, I cannot back this plan as currently stated.”Until this week, the TestMV drive-through testing site at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) has only tested people over the age of 18, although symptomatic tests at the hospital have been given to minors. Now, minors can go and get swabbed just as an adult would. According to D’Andrea, school committees can implement policy changes that would mandate COVD-19 testing for in-person learning, although remote education would need to be offered should a family refuse testing. DeVane said that even with consistent and expedient testing, the nature of COVID-19 makes it difficult to trace and contain those who may have already had contact with others.“The important part to me is not how many days kids go to school, but what they are doing outside of school. If we are not paying attention to what our children are doing, or we are going on vacations and are not checking in with the school system, we might as well be a completely different community, because we will be exposing ourselves to a different community,” DeVane said.School physician Dr. Jeff Zack said that the system is inevitably going to change, and mistakes will be made, no matter how comprehensive the reopening plan is. He said the systematic and well-thought ways in which teachers deliver instruction on the Island will need to change in order to adapt to a new dynamic.“You guys are great cooks, now let me throw you in a different kitchen, try to make the soufflé now. We are going to screw up, it doesn’t matter how we do it. Something is going to go wrong, it is important to set that expectation early. One thing we understand about this virus is that every week it changes,” Zack said.In response to the many questions regarding the reason for holding off on in-person learning, D’Andrea said that the schools could bring back students earlier, but the health and wellness subcommittee (comprised of school nurses, doctors, and health officials) has suggested a phased approach in order to prevent a large-scale outbreak.MVRHS Principal Sara Dingledy said the school measured every room in the building, and the facilities would still be short 100 places if the current social distancing of six feet was implemented.The current deadline for Island schools to submit their plan to the state is Thursday, Aug. 13, although D’Andrea said they could file for an extension. Another All-Island School Committee meeting will be held on that date, when members will be looking for a greater understanding of the metrics for back-to-school, how they will be applied, and also consider fully-fleshed-out plans for in-person and fully remote learning. A survey is currently being circulated asking families and school members about remote learning, transportation, special education needs, and other information necessary for a safe reopening.
This Feb. 1, 2013 file photo shows, from left, actors Tony Goldwyn, and Kerry Washington from the ABC series “Scandal,” with series creator Shonda Rhimes at the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, FIle)NEW YORK (AP) — “The Big Bang Theory” is one of the few television shows that can approach the NFL in viewership. CBS executives still didn’t hesitate to temporarily move TV’s top-rated comedy to a different night to make room for football.Already dominating Thursdays in prime time, CBS outbid its competitors when the league offered up games that had aired on NFL Network.“The highest priority for this corporation at that time was acquiring ‘Thursday Night Football,’” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said Monday.Thursdays conjure up memories of “Must See TV.” But viewers’ habits are now very different from the NBC heyday of “The Cosby Show” or “Friends.”So many more options abound: cable, Netflix, DVRs, on-demand. Viewers can fast-forward through ads or avoid them entirely.According to Nielsen, premiere episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” during the last TV season averaged a total of 23 million viewers over seven days — by that measure, even more than “Sunday Night Football.”But only 13.5 million watched live, compared with 20.9 million for the NFL games on NBC.On Thursdays, that’s especially problematic to advertisers, said Jack Myers, the chairman of media industry intelligence firm MyersBizNet. Thursdays brimmed with top shows because consumers are starting to think about their weekends: which movies they’ll attend, which big-ticket items they’ll buy, which restaurants they’ll patronize.So “The Big Bang Theory” will anchor Monday nights while CBS broadcasts NFL games on Thursdays for seven weeks. CBS’s regular Thursday lineup won’t premiere until Oct. 30.“They’re not going to risk losing audience, that show is so hot,” said Marc Berman of TV Media Insights. In the meantime, “The Big Bang Theory” can help boost CBS’s Monday lineup.CBS averaged 8.3 million live viewers in prime time on Thursdays last fall, according to Nielsen. That’s 2.8 million more than second-place ABC.ABC’s fall slate includes new series about Black, Asian-American and Hispanic families. The network has the advantage of strong storytellers including powerhouse producer Shonda Rhimes, the force behind ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” She’s going for a Thursday-night trifecta with “How to Get Away with Murder.”The new drama stars Viola Davis as a hard-charging law professor and criminal defense attorney, giving the African-American actress the kind of starring role that TV doesn’t often accord minorities. Rhimes has done the same thing with “Scandal” and star Kerry Washington.It seemed to need the Thursday night NFL package the least, but the last thing CBS wanted was to fall behind another network that added football’s massive audiences.The NFL first proved it could lure viewers in prime time when “Monday Night Football” debuted on ABC in 1970. But in April 2005, ABC decided it could no longer afford the package. The games switched to sister network ESPN.At the same time, the Sunday night package shifted from cable to NBC.Much has changed since ABC made that decision. During the 2004 season, NFL games on ABC, CBS and Fox averaged 15.4 million viewers; prime-time shows on the big four networks averaged 9.8 million. By 2013, the NFL on CBS, Fox and NBC was up to 20.3 million, while prime time was down to 7 million. In less than a decade, football’s advantage soared from 57 percent to 190 percent.“We’ve only gotten more valuable on broadcast,” said Brian Rolapp, the chief operating officer of NFL Media.In 2011, “Sunday Night Football” became the first sports program to rank as the most-watched show in all of prime time. And last season, it became the first to rank No. 1 among women ages 18-49.NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus compares the NFL to another event that draws families together in front of the TV, the Olympics — able to overcome what he describes as a “headphone nation.”The league first added Thursday night games in 2006 on NFL Network, looking to increase distribution and viewership for its fledgling cable channel. With that accomplished, the next goal was to convince more fans to consider Thursday the start of the football weekend.Last season, an average of 8.1 million viewers watched the 13 Thursday games. There are 16 games in the package this year, with every team taking part.The NFL wanted to put them on one of the traditional broadcast networks to reach the widest audience possible. As other sports have migrated to cable, the league still simulcasts games on ESPN and NFL Network on local channels for the two teams.At the same time, Rolapp expects the CBS deal will only help NFL Network.CBS will air the first seven weeks, with simulcasts on NFL Network. NFL Network will broadcast the next seven, with CBS still overseeing the production and its lead announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms handling the calls.On Saturday, Dec. 20, the two networks will split a doubleheader.The CBS deal is for only one year, with the next set of negotiations with networks likely including expanded NFL playoffs. Expect bids to come again from Fox, NBC — and ABC.For ESPN, the success of “Monday Night Football” is measured not just in ratings; it averaged 13.7 million viewers last season. With its NFL deal, it can fill its airwaves with football coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, said senior vice president Burke Magnus.And ESPN will air playoff games for the first time this season.But if the NFL is offering a package of games for broadcast TV, ABC wants to get back in the game, too.During the Television Critics Association summer press tour last month, CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves drily noted that many of the new shows being promoted will be long gone by next year.No such worries with the NFL.“This is a sure thing,” he said.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL