Seva Venet
“Traditional New Orleans Jazz”
Photo: Zack Smith
Personal History 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.