Born in New Orleans, John “Papa” Gros has spent more than a quarter-century championing the music of the Big Easy. He’s played it all — New Orleans funk, rock & roll, jazz, blues and Americana, swirling those styles into a genre-bending gumbo that pays tribute to his influences while pushing ahead into new territory. After kicking off his career as an organist and pianist, Gros formed the band Papa Grows Funk in 2000. The band held down a weekly performance at the famous Maple Leaf Bar for 13 years, mixing the smooth sophistication of a jazz quintet with the wild, anything-goes spirit of Mardi Gras. Fans and tourists crowded the bar every Monday night, looking for Papa Grows Funk to dish out a greasy, groove-heavy serving of Big Easy funk. The band delivered, releasing six critically-acclaimed albums.
Papa Grows Funk called it quits in 2013, but Gros (pronounced “grow”) kept playing, landing work as a sideman for Better Than Ezra, Anders Osborne and Bonerama. Finally, he began focusing once again on a solo career, where he could explore the full range of his musical influences and abilities. Having been a sideman, bandleader, frontman, singer and instrumentalist, his goal was always the same: to honor the music, and to add his own page to its history. Like Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, John “Papa” Gros is a proud local who carries on the tradition of New Orleans music, honoring its past while helping to shape its future.
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