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Southern Happenings: Kriss Russ, JAYD3D!, and Coma Nights at the Howlin Wolf

Rian Nickels

Apr 24, 2024

New Orleans, LA April 20, 2024

On April 20th, 2024, The Howlin' Wolf—named after legendary bluesman Chester Burnett—hosted an unforgettable night of music featuring Louisiana artists Kris Russ, JAYD3D!, and Coma Nights. The evening's weather was just right, creating a comfortable setting that complemented the venue's cozy and intimate atmosphere. With its open layout and small stage, The Howlin' Wolf provided a space where the audience could feel a close connection to the performers. This iconic venue has a rich history, known for hosting an impressive array of blues and jazz musicians over the years. Alongside those greats, The Howlin' Wolf has also welcomed crowd favorites like Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, and Twenty One Pilots, making it a staple in the New Orleans music scene. The combination of historical significance and contemporary talent made this night a true celebration of the spirit of music.

Credit: Rian Nickels

The first musician to hit the stage was solo act Kris Russ from Kenner, Louisiana. Kris has a voice with range that floated through the crowd and echoed from The Den room into the bar room of the Howlin’ Wolf. His angelic vocals brought an intimate, almost ethereal quality to the venue, captivating everyone in attendance.  His dexterity of the guitar is unmistakable, with each chord he strums resonating deep within the hearts of the audience.

His songs, filled with themes of getting older, love, and saving the world, carried a raw emotional depth that drew listeners into his world. In-between singing he gave us emotional monologues that pulled at our heart strings with backstory to his music, such as with his songs “If we knew then what we know now” and “It’s too dangerous to go alone so take me” proving that Kris Russ is more than just a performer—he's a storyteller with a gift for connecting on a deeply personal level.  Kris placed us in the atmosphere of emotional healing and gave us the feeling of being understood. After his twelve song setlist, the audience was left awe-inspired and he gave a warming introduction to the next band, Coma Nights.

Credit: Rian Nickels

The four-piece, Coma Nights, burst onto the stage with an energy that transformed the venue from a mellow acoustic set into a lively full band performance. Their dynamic entrance immediately awoke the crowd, bringing everyone to their feet and into motion. The lead vocalist’s notes soared above the beating rhythm of the drums and the melodic riffs of the guitar and bass, showcasing a vocal range that commanded attention. The band played with remarkable synchronization, each member seamlessly aligned with the others, as if they were of one mind. As they launched into their hits like "Weekend Neighbors," "Paint," and "Storm," the audience was swept up in the pulsating beats, dancing and jumping along with infectious enthusiasm. Coma Nights demonstrated that a great band isn't just about individual talent—it's about the synergy of musicians in harmony. As they played their 10 song setlist they warmed up the audience for JAYD3D! to perform his debut album, “Outstanding Gentlemen”.

Credit: Rian Nickels

JAYD3D! took the stage with a vibe that defied categorization. His sound—a fusion of hip hop, pop punk, rap, and alternative—drew an intimate crowd eager to experience his debut album, "Outstanding Gentlemen." As he started his set, the lighting shifted dramatically from moody and subtle to lively flashes of strobes and color, thanks to our buddy Justin, from the band Jean Claude Segal, who took over the light board on a whim and may have discovered some of his own hidden talent. JAYD3D!, along with his drummer Ty, delivered a high-energy performance that resonated with the crowd's spirit. They had the crowd going through the motions of singing, jumping, and even slow dancing. Together, they brought The Den to life and everyone together with upbeat odes to transitioning into adulthood, falling in love, and melancholic optimism.

The 14 song setlist was a perfect mix of originals and his own twist on nostalgic covers. JAYD3D! played pop hits like "If It Makes You Happy" and "Bubbly," adding his signature moody pop punk twist that infused the familiar tunes with a raw, energetic edge. Along with his unique covers, JAYD3D! sang songs from “Outstanding Gentlemen” such as, “Three Hour Walks” and “Outstanding Fighter”. The audience, a mix of close friends, fellow musicians, and curious newcomers, were captivated by his seamless transitions and genre-blending artistry. JAYD3D!'s performance proved that music isn't about fitting into a box—it's about breaking free of the mainstream conformity and creating something new and exciting. With his vibrant stage presence and innovative sound, he turned The Den into a dynamic celebration of music, creativity, and did not fail to make us feel alive.

Credit: Rian Nickels

Overall, this night at The Howlin' Wolf demonstrated the venue's versatility and its ability to bring together a wide range of musical talents. It was a celebration of Louisiana's rich music scene and a testament to the power of live performance in connecting artists and audiences.

*All photos by Rian Nickels

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