New Orleans: Reconsiderations Of A Rock & Roll Birthplace

The night I first heard James Booker in the French Quarter, I also met Lenny Zenith, who had likewise dropped by to listen. Lenny fronts RZA, a relatively new band on the New Orleans scene, and one that may be its most promising. When, several nights later, I heard the group in a sleazy Rampart Street bar, I am quickly impressed.

RZA know how to play no-gimmicks rock & roll, and they do it with refreshingly youthful exuberance. Most of their original songs, while fittingly teen anthems, go beyond the basic “I love you, baby, I do.” One clever rocker, “Daddy Don’t,’ comes across as the most cheerful anti-child abuse song I’ve ever heard. Onstage, the focus is undeniably on Lenny, who rocks with elasticity and pours as much emotion into singing as into Songwriting. On another original tune, the phobic “Figment/Imagination,” Zenith comes across as the coolest crooner since Costello.

At only 20, this classically trained pianist (and one-time Hollywood High School student, no less) is beginning to rejuvenate New Orleans’ rock & roll reputation. Still, the question remains: will Lenny Zenith and RZA have to leave town to be appreciated?

— Richard Braverman L.A. Weekly

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