Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires
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Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires

New Orleans, LA | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

New Orleans, LA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter




"press clippings"

Hefko’s sax-playing aggressively resists pigeonholes, numbering funk, Latin and even rock among its influences

-Aaron Conklin, Isthmus

…For the denizens of the Frenchmen Street scene, his mellifluous tenor saxophone playing has been missed since he moved to New York. (Live at the Blue Nile) features…a set of straight forward jazz warmed by Hefko’s great tone...a musical snapshot of one artist’s tenure in the Crescent City.

-Jay Mazza, Louisiana Weekly

The intoxicating effects of his soulful sax play embody a spirit of New Orleans-a sultry, sensual style that could only emerge from the heat and eccentricities of jazz’s hometown.

-Frank Etheridge, Charleston City Paper

The accomplished jazz saxophonist returns…with a straight-ahead quartet, applying his big, burly tone to both originals and standards.

-Hugo Z. Hackenbush, Isthmus

During a decade in New Orleans, tenor saxophonist Ted Hefko worked across the spectrum of jazz and Latin music.

-Keith Spera, Times-Picayune

- a variety of quotes

"Ted Hefko And The Thousandaires, Distillations Of The Blues (Independent)"

The Wisconsin-bred Hefko, a graduate of the University of New Orleans’ Jazz Studies program, commands your attention with his latest album, Distillations of the Blues.

Serving as executive producer, Hefko also sings and plays tenor sax, clarinet and acoustic guitar on this swinging set(on which he wrote 10 of the 11 compositions). The sole cover, “Hesitation Blues,” is a traditional tune (arranged here by Hefko) that opens the album with a blissful Dixieland strut complete with stellar guitar picking. A Grant Green–esque grace also imbues the guitar parts on the instrumental “Champion Jack.”

Recorded partially in New York City and partially in New Orleans at Marigny Studios, the rotating cast of Thousandaires shines as well—particularly Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown’s trumpet and Dalton Ridenhour’s ragtime piano on “I’ve Got a Right to Carry On.” But the star attraction here is Hefko’s showcase of multi-instrument prowess: The dirge-like reverence that closes “I Don’t Feel Welcome Here” and hypnotic clarinet expertly executed in “Butterfly Dreamin’” stand out.

The CD also delivers introspective lyricism with a cabaret swagger, capturing a range of emotion from the “falling under” narrative of “Adam and the Devil” to the dogged hope of “One More Distillation of the Blues.” This last has a triumphant refrain we could all stand to sing: “I only need look above/ When I have lost my way/ To be guided by my lucky stars again.” - Offbeat Magazine

"Featured Blues Review – 6 of 9"

Here’s something different and interesting for you: Ted Hefko and his Thousandaires deliver a classy collection of material with a throwback feel that bathes you in the feel of the New Orleans on every cut.
Hefko is a native New Yorker and now calls the Crescent City home. This disc was recorded and features guest artists from both locales as it presents musical styles ranging from straight blues to swing, jive, pre-World War II jazz and R&B. No matter the style, however, the feel of the Mississippi River flows strongly throughout.
In addition to handling vocals, tenor sax, clarinet and acoustic guitar, Hefko penned all of the originals you’ll hear here. He’s backed by his regular unit of Neil Flink on electric guitar, Brian Vinson on upright bass and Norman Edwards Jr. on drums with assists from Dalton Ridenhour and Marek Sapievski (piano), trumpet players Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown — who was featured on the HBO series Treme — and Satoru Ohashi, Andy “Dr. Bone” Galbiati (trombone) and Dominick Grillo (baritone sax).
The album kicks off with “Hesitation Blues,” the only cover in the set. Written by W.C. Handy, but attributed to several different writers in the past 100 years, the tune has seen life as a jug band and Western swing number, but is presented here in traditional New Orleans fashion, providing plenty of space for the musicians to stretch out as Hefko delivers the familiar lyrics about “Standing on the corner with a dollar in my hand/I’m looking for a woman and she’s looking for a man.”
That song sets the stage for the 10 originals that follow in a seamless, fluid manner. “Sweat Upon My Brow” kicks off with a bass run followed by the horns as Hefko delivers a soulful R&B number about lost love. The sweat’s cold on the singer’s chest. He realizes he’s been used, but still wants her. Hefko’s sax solo mid-tune drives the feeling home. It continues with the blues shuffle “I Don’t Feel Welcome Here,” in which the subject is in a familiar place, but folks don’t remember his name. The bandleader’s clarinet work is stellar throughout.
The swinging, stop-time blues, “I’ve Got A Right To Carry On,” leads into the sweet, syncopated ballad title cut, “One More Distillation Of The Blues,” with Flink coming to the fore before the jazzy instrumental, “Captain Jack,” gives the horn section more room to work their magic. “Slippin’ Slowly,” an acoustic blues that features Hefko on guitar with accents from Ohashi, describes writing songs after lost love before “Bad Kids” provides a swinging, minor-key description of pot-smoking, crap-shooting troublemakers.
The pace slows for the ballad “Adam And The Devil,” a tender vow to no longer sing songs Satan delivered to the first man or to worship in a temple of pain. Hefko’s clarinet takes the lead again another ballad, the jazzy “Butterfly Dreamin’,” before the funky “When The Weather Breaks” concludes the set.
Sophisticated and stylish throughout, Distillations Of The Blues delivers quality tunes with a retro feel. Available through Amazon, CDBady, Microsoft and other online retailers, pick it up if you’ve got a taste for old-school New Orleans jazz and blues. You won’t be disappointed.
Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida. - Blues Blast Magazine

"Distillations of The Blues CD Review"

Just last night, I was listening to Maria Muldaur's first album again and was thinking how they just can't make records like that anymore---especially with the cast and crew that was on board. Open the mail the next day and out comes the third set by Hefko and his Nawlins crew that must have been feeling the same way. Here we have a killer set of stuff that can only be called Americana by default as it gleefully mixes up every kind of hokum like it was crafted by hippies two generations ago. A wonderfully wild ride, this is a distillation of what it is to make an underground record that somehow everyone finds out about. From the heart and the gut as well as the cerebellum, this is simply a gasser that'll keep you on board and wondering if you heard what you think you just heard. Well done.
1005 - Midwest Record

"Gas Station Guru Review"

Hefko has a knack for good songs, and he concocts a gumbo of sounds that draw from blues, R&B, jazz, and that swampy vibe that is NOLA. - Elmore Magazine


  • Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires - Gas Station Guru - 2018
  • Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires - Distillations of The Blues - 2015
  • Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires - If I Walked On Water - 2011
  • Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires - Egyptland - 2009
  • The Ted Hefko Jazz Band with Warren Battiste - 2008
  • Ted Hefko Sings and Swings with His New Orleans Band -2006
  • Ted Hefko, Live at the Blue Nile, Frenchmen Street in New Orleans - 2004
  • Idletime, "Time Stops" Louisiana Red Hot Records 2000



Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires stir up an intoxicating brew of the profound and the profane, of virtue and vice and most importantly the volatile in-between. Ted’s songs explore hope and hustlers, saints and strays, drifters and the down-and-out. The Thousandaires -- with Hefko on vocals, guitar and tenor sax -- bring these stories to life with the spontaneity of jazz, the rough-hewn, bare-bones tone of backwoods folk songs and the raucous vibrancy of classic Louisiana Rhythm and Blues. 

Born in Madison, WI, Ted began writing lyrics in the second grade and picked up the guitar a couple years later along with any instrument he could get his hands on. At 18, fresh out of high school, he caught a Greyhound bus to the Big Easy to follow his dreams.  He wound up studying modern Jazz at The University of New Orleans, choosing saxophone as his primary instrument. This led to ten years of work as a freelance horn player in New Orleans and New York. Ted toured nationally with jazz-jam band, idletime, opening for acts like The Funky Meters, Leftover Salmon, Derek Trucks, Rebirth Brass Band, and North Mississippi Allstars.

In 2003, Ted moved to New York to be a horn player for hire and hone his jazz chops. It quickly became apparent that his biggest asset was his experience in New Orleans. He started leading his own groups performing sets of southern Louisiana standards mixed with modern jazz tunes and pulled in early influences like the Piedmont blues, country and folk songs that he loved as a kid.

Hefko released his first all-original album in 2009, Egyptland, a collection of scenes and stories set in New Orleans. This was followed by the jazzier and more playful, If I Walked On Water.  A few years later, he and his live band stopped in the Crescent City to record Distillations of The Blues. That stop rekindled his love for New Orleans. He moved back in 2014 and has been performing at a wide variety of taverns all over town and touring regionally with a line-up of up-and-coming local players.

Gas Station Guru is the fourth album from roots and rhythm ensemble Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires.  Recorded in Ted’s hometown of New Orleans, the album is  a new release on Onager Records.The record features guitarist Mem Shannon, who lent his distinctive style to “Two Vices.”  Pianist Sherman Bernard adds his authentic New Orleans feel to “Ten Dollar Hat” and “The Next Train” features contributions from members of the Cajun band T’Canaille.