New Orleans native John “Papa” Gros (pronounced grow) has spent more than a quarter-century behind the piano championing the music of the Big Easy. He turns over a new leaf with his second solo album, River’s on Fire, which is set for release August 26th. It’s a record that mixes the sounds of rock & roll, funk and rootsy Americana into a genre-bending gumbo that carries on the tradition of New Orleans, both honoring its past and helping to shape its future.
Inspired by hometown hero and longtime colleague Allen Toussaint, who passed away while Gros was recording the album on the Vermilion bayou in southwest Louisiana, River’s on Fire is John’s first release since his former band, Papa Grows Funk, disbanded in 2013. The quintet held down a weekly residency for more than a dozen years at the famous Maple Leaf Bar in Uptown New Orleans, mixing the smooth sophistication of a jazz quintet with the wild, anything-goes spirit of Mardi Gras. Papa Grows Funk released six critically-acclaimed albums along the way, including Needle in the Groove, which was co-produced by Toussaint — with Gros leading the charge as the group’s front man, songwriter and organ player.