311 brings its long-playing concert, and legions of fans, back to New Orleans

Photo provided by BRIAN BOWEN SMITH -- 311, from left, are Tim Mahoney, Chad Sexton, Nick Hexum, P-Nut and S.A. Martinez.
Photo provided by BRIAN BOWEN SMITH -- 311, from left, are Tim Mahoney, Chad Sexton, Nick Hexum, P-Nut and S.A. Martinez.

Marathon men

he band 311, which turns rock, reggae and hip-hop into a distinctly hybrid sound, is bringing its biannual 311 Day concert back to New Orleans.

Fans from 50 U.S. states and 15 countries have bought tickets for the Tuesday, March 11, show at the New Orleans Arena, aka the Smoothie King Center.

The band staged the inaugural 311 Day in New Orleans in 2000. In 2008, 311 Day sold out the New Orleans Arena, performing 63 songs during a marathon show lasting five-plus hours.

The conventions and sporting events that often fill the city forced the event out in 2010 and 2012, so the concert moved to Las Vegas.

The group’s bassist, known as P-Nut, is thrilled to return to the Crescent City.

“We made it work this time, and we’re super, super thankful,” he said from his home near Pasadena, Calif. “Unlike Las Vegas, it seems like it’s going to be a much more organized event for the fans. They’ll take over Bourbon Street. It’s going to be our street for that night. And then they’ll go to the arena the next day and watch us play our marathon.”

Louisiana is important to P-Nut for another reason. He met his wife, who’s from Ascension Parish, at a 1993 show at the Varsity Theatre in Baton Rouge. They reconnected two days later when 311 played Tipitina’s.

The musician’s future bride hadn’t heard 311 prior to the Varsity show. A friend of hers introduced her to the band’s first album hours before the Varsity show and invited her to come along.

“My wife’s friend played the first riff from the album, and in a matter of seconds into the song, my wife was like, ‘Oh, I want to see that.’ She attended the show, got into it and bellied up right in front me. We were both staring at each other like we had clocks over our heads. We saw each other again at Tipitina’s and exchanged phone numbers.”

The couple married in Louisiana in 2001. The family now has two children, ages 3 and 5 months.

“We spend a lot of time in Louisiana with my wife’s family,” P-Nut said. “The people, the culture, the music and, of course, the food, everything kind of rings as a second home to me.”

311 Day, always a special occasion for fans who’ve stuck by the band for more than two decades, happens the same day as the release of the 311’s 11th album, “Stereolithic.”

P-Nut and his bandmates are eager to share the new album with fans. They recorded it with veteran collaborator Scott Ralston back in the producer’s seat. Ralston has been the group’s in-concert sound engineer for the past two years.

“Scott understands us better than anybody,” P-Nut said. “He was there when we first moved to Los Angeles, working on our first demos. Having him back, having his strong ideas about where we’re supposed to go and how we’re gonna get there, has everything to do with how good ‘Stereolithic’ is.

“It’s easily the best album we’ve done in 10 years. We couldn’t be more excited, and we love sharing it with our family in Louisiana. We can’t wait to be there and play that show. We’re going to play until we collapse, and the fans are going to dance and jump and hang out until they collapse as well. And we’ll do again in two years.”