“Traditional New Orleans Jazz”
Photo: Zack Smith
Seva’s early education came from a few very good teachers. After several years
of studying piano, trumpet, and trombone, Seva, in his early teens, took up
guitar. Seva’s first guitar teacher, Bill Harkleroad (a.k.a. Zoot Horn Rollo),
introduced him to the fundamentals of jazz improvisation and recordings by
Django Reinhardt, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco de Lucia. In the
1990’s, Seva studied with renowned author, guitarist and educator Ted Green.
Green expanded Seva’s knowledge, appreciation and abilities as a guitarist
through intensive studies and exercises on the fretboard, and harmonic
approaches of jazz, Bach and Debussy. In the mid 1990’s Seva studied
songwriting with his uncle Nik Venet, the legendary record producer, who
taught professionalism, self discovery and personal improvement through song.
Seva’s father Steve Venet, a songwriter, producer, artist and cartoonist set an
example for hard work and diligence in living a life as an artist.
Through the 1990s Seva taught music and worked as a professional musician in
Los Angeles. Seva played in traditional jazz groups, cajun and zydeco bands,
country and western bands, blues bands and rock and roll bands. In 1999 Seva
moved to New Orleans hungry to learn more about the music he loves to play
and teach: American roots music, especially traditional jazz. The music and
culture in New Orleans changes his life and he knew he could make a living in
music while contributing to the community and developing his craft so he made
his move later that same year after busking in Europe on a 10 week 10 city tour
in the summer.
Seva was introduced to the New Orleans traditional jazz style while playing
several years in a band in L.A. with Mike McClelland, a George Lewis style
Albert system clarinetist. In New Orleans Seva found his teachers of New
Orleans jazz in Tuba Fats and his Chosen Few band. After moving to New
Orleans, he worked with Tuba Fats for four years with many long days in
Jackson Square, as well as an extended engagement at Donna’s Brasss Band
Headquarters, and a myriad of other jobs including second-line parades, French
Quarter Fest, Satchmo Fest, and Krewe du Vieux to name a few. It was during
his time with Tuba that he was introduced to many of the local greats including
Greg Stafford, Leroy Jones and Shannon Powell who, after first playing with
Seva exclaimed: “I came up with Danny Barker! You sound like Danny Barker!
Get a gitjo [a 6-string banjo] and come by my house…we’re going to record.”
By the time Tuba Fats passed in 2004, Seva had picked up the six-string banjo
and branched out to work with hundreds of other local musicians. Seva’s next
apprenticeship in New Orleans music began in 2006 working with Benny Jones
and Uncle Lionel Batiste in the Treme Brass Band. Through Jones and Batiste
dual leadership Seva took on the challenge of performing regularly in New
Orleans and abroad with this world famous band. Seva has also gained much
professional development working with the Lionel Ferbos bands from 2007-
2013. Over the course of 6 years both with Ferbos’ Louisiana Shakers and the
Palm Court Jazz Band Seva got the invaluable experiences of playing with
several older veteran musicians in their final professional years including
Ferbos, Peter Badie, Wendell Eugene, as well as elder statesmen Ernie Elly and
Lars Edegran. Seva has also worked on 4 tours on banjo and guitar. Three with
mentor Shannon Powell and his All-Stars and one with an All-Star band
including Juanita Brooks, Lars Edegran, and Wendell Brunious. Some of Seva’s
current mentors include Dr. Michael White for whom he holds down the banjo
chair in his various bands and Greg Stafford who uses Seva for his Jazz Hounds
gigs. Some of the other groups that Seva has worked with extensively in the
recent years include bands led by Lars Edegran, Clive Wilson, Tommy Sancton.
Since 2006 Seva has led his own jazz band that features the 6-string banjo in a
traditional New Orleans jazz ensemble and a string band, the Storyville String
Band, that specializes in traditional New Orleans jazz but in a string dominated
acoustic ensemble (bass, guitar, Hawaiian (slide), mandolin, violin, ukulele and
clarinet). Seva’s dedication to traditional New Orleans Jazz, especially through
teaching, concerts and presentations of New Orleans string bands, the banjo in
New Orleans and the music and legacy of Danny Barker has become what he is
known and appreciated for the most. In 2018 Seva contributed an informative
segment entitled: “Danny Barker: Tricentennial Music Moment” which aired
throughout the year of 2018 on the world renowned radio station WWOZ in
New Orleans. Also, since its inception in 2016, Seva has been part of the Danny
Barker Guitar and Banjo Festival as a performer and workshop presenter in
public schools and colleges including the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
(NOCCA) and the University of New Orleans (UNO). Seva’s string band has
played many concerts and venues including concerts at the Ogden Museum of
Souther Art, Preservation Hall, the Palm Court Jazz Cafe and Snug Harbor Jazz
Bistro, Satchmo Festival, French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz
and Heritage Festival. Seva has also presented his New Orleans Banjo
Celebration at the Ogden Museum, Preservation Hall, Snug Harbor, French
Quarter Fest, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Venet has taught music to hundreds of school children, first in the Los Angeles
area in the 1990s, and later in the New Orleans area. Many of his students have
performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Also, He has
conducted many educational workshops on traditional New Orleans jazz for
groups visiting New Orleans from around the globe.
All material biographic material © Copyright 2012, 2019 by Seva Venet. Unauthorized use prohibited.
Use by permission from Seva Venet.