I’m Back Live, and Alive, in the KAOS Studio

Fourteen months after the KAOS studio closed to volunteers and most staff, I’m back at the control board slinging New Orleans music, honoring the life of Lloyd Price, exploring the new Jon Batiste record and digging deeper into the 2009 Midnite Disturbers’ performance at JazzFest. The recording of the show is available right now by clicking the arrow below. (But note that this is the version I edited for Bellingham so I say “KMRE” instead of “KAOS” on station IDs.)

For 60 weeks, I’ve prepared and recorded a Gumbo YaYa show in my upstairs spare bedroom — the one where my youngest son grew up in and which still has cats peering at me from the wallpaper. It’s a little creepy but so is going into a studio inside a building on a college campus that is almost like a ghost town. The first show was a little rough but I got it done and the music is good.

Back in the studio after all 14 months

Lloyd Price died last week at the age of 88. While he was long past his big hits (“Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality,” “Stagger Lee,” “I’m Gonna Get Married”), the Rock n Roll Hall of Famer was an entrepreneur involved in music, publication, construction and food processing. He also was a writer with an autobiography and a collection of essays “Sumdumhonky” which I’m reading now.

Lloyd Price was drafted and sent to Korea just as his singing career was taking off.

Price zoomed onto the music scene with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” recorded in 1952 with Fats Domino banging out the song’s distinctive song opening triplets. The song became one of the biggest selling R&B records of 1952, crossing over to white audiences. He was drafted in 1954 and served in Korea so was taken out of commission at a time when Little Richard came screaming into the scene.

Upon his return to the music scene, he recorded a folk song Stagger Lee that went to the top of both the R&B and Pop charts. He followed that up with two other hits “Personality” and “I’m Gonna Get Married.”

Other highlights of the show include tracks from new records by Monk Boudreaux, Jon Batiste, and Secret Six Jazz Band. I also feature another track from the 2009 JazzFest performance by the Midnite Disturbers featuring some awesome trumpet work by Shamarr Allen and Trombone Shorty. Bumps Blackwell does a decent job of staging his new song (at the time) in a demo for Specialty Records. When Little Richard showed up to Cosimo Matassa’s studio he cut another hit with “Good Golly Miss Golly.” You’ll hear back to back tracks by Guitar Shorty and Guitar Slim – both songs recorded in New Orleans.

I throw in some Hot 8 Brass Band, Cowboy Mouth, Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and much more. But the true joy of the show, at least for me, was to be able to do the backsell of the songs right after they were played for everyone. Check it out!

All Good Things and Not So Good Must Come to An End

All good things come to an end . . .right. This week is my last pre-recorded show. Next week, I’m back live in the studio. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Check out this week’s show so you have something to compare when you hear me live next week.

WWOZ, the New Orleans community radio station, did its festing in place programming again this weekend, celebrating the postponed New Orleans Jazz Fest by airing past performances. I spent a lot of time glued to the station as a result and was rewarded with one of those finds that got my serious attention. I had heard of the Midnight Disturbers before, but I had never heard them. On this week’s show, you’ll hear the same song that had me rushing to my computer to buy a recording. The band’s opening song at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest – “Baker’s Dozen” and you won’t have to wait long cause its the second song in my show.

The Disturbers were formed by Stanton Moore of Galactic with fellow drummer Kevin O’Day. The 2009 version includes Shamarr Allen, Trombone Shorty, Mark Mullins, Big Sam Williams (Big Sam’s Funky Nation), Ben Ellman and Skerik . . .to name a few.

In a way, the show starts with a Trombone Shorty double shot because in addition to being prominent in the Disturbers, he also performs in the opening track “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” a song made famous by his grandfather Jesse Hill. Yes, the song with a chorus of “create a disturbance in your mind” . . . a Midnight Disturbance perhaps.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue rocking the Acura Stage at JazzFest – Photo by me.

The Original Pinettes and Bonerama jump in after that before I swing into a more country set led by Kelcy Mae (Ever More Nest) and the Deslondes. Then we get a little funky with Billy Iuso and Dumpstaphunk. Little Sonny Jones offers up “Further on up the Road” . . .”yea you got to reap just what you sow.” Several other great tracks follow.

Later in the show, I do a full set of Lafayette style music with Beusoleil, Steve Riley, Sean Ardoin, Rosie Ledet and John Delafose. The show ends appropriately with Jon Cleary’s “All Good Things” got to come to an end some time.

To answer my own question above, going back into the studio is a GREAT thing. The shows might sound a little messier, particularly as I relearn how to do it live but I think you’ll find that I’ll sound more real and a lot happier. Cheers.

Take a Joy Ride Without Leaving Your Driveway

We take a joy ride with the help of The Melatauns and dozens of other New Orleans musical acts on this week’s show.You can get it started while I fill you in on the show.

We’ve been cooped up long enough so let’s hit the road with The Melataun’s “Joy Ride” — a song that reminded me of my childhood visits to Pontchartrain Beach — an amusement park that featured a wooden roller coaster called the Zephyr. We stay on track with Kenny Neal’s “Blues Mobile,” Marva Wright’s “Further On Up the Road,” Paul Sanchez’ “Drive Right Back” and Sonny Landreth’s “U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile.”

But “What Goes Around Comes Around” (Rebirth Brass Band) and so we dive into a little weirdness including Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie rendition of “My Blue Heaven” redone as a historical ménage à trois and Bon Bon Vivant’s “The Bones.”

Here’s hoping that Cosmic Cajuns will not be the last recording from the famous Saturn Bar.

I set aside 16 minutes for a live performance at the now closed Saturn Bar by Michot’s Melody Makers. That set also includes Booker performing live in Manchester England.

You’ll also hear the New Orleans Suspects, Shawn Williams, Albanie Falletta, James Andrews, the Subdudes, Creole String Beans, and Papa Mali, among others. It’s a two-hour show afterall.

One more recorded show before I’m back in the studio doing live shows. Subscribe if you like and thanks for tuning in.

Another Round of Talkative Horns Joined by Great Guitar

This week’s show continues to explore Craig Klein‘s new record Talkative Horns – A Musical Conversation on Lucien Barbarin with more excerpts from my interview with the Grammy winning trombonist. But to balance the horns out, you’ll hear some fancy guitar work by John Rankin, Mem Shannon, Lynn Drury, Little Freddie King, Tab Benoit and Pee Wee Crayton.

Yes, you can start the show with the player below and still read on.

Lucien Barbarin

This show starts off with a Craig Klein song “If I Could Hug You” by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. Later, you’ll hear him perform the song again with Kevin Louis on trumpet. Craig talks about his new record’s extensive use of horn mutes, the funky riff that Louis came up with to enliven their version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rockin Chair” and how Lucien Barbarin helped Craig score a job with Harry Connick Jr’s big band back in the 1990’s. You can learn more about Klein’s send up of his good friend Lucien Barbarin from my previous show and acquire the record here. To round out the set, I also include tracks from other Klein projects, Bonerama and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers.

But about those guitars, let’s start with John Rankin who before the pandemic held court at the Columns Hotel on Tuesday evenings as well as a Sunday lunch jazz show at Superior Seafood (both on St. Charles Street). His “Last in April, First in May” is an instrumental ode to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which has been postponed this year to October. But worry not, WWOZ will feature a virtual festival this weekend drawing upon the community station’s vast library of past festival performances.

The guitar work continues with Walter “Wolfman” Washington covering “Use Me,” Lynn Drury’s song “I Just Get Down,” and Tab Benoit’s “Lost in Your Lovin’.” Later Little Freddie King and Mem Shannon hop on to wow you with their dexterity.

Pee Wee Crayton recorded in New Orleans in 1954

And the show closes with Blues Hall of Famer Pee Wee Crayton serving up another example of how the roots of rock ‘n’ roll stretch deeply into New Orleans. Working with Dave Bartholomew’s band (essentially the same as Fats Domino’s), Crayton recorded with Imperial Records at the J&M Studio on Rampart Street in 1954. You’ll hear “You Know Yeah” on this show so get it started.

There’s other surprises as well. So listen to the whole show and then subscribe. Also some great news. Just two more shows recorded from my home before I go back into the studio to do live radio. Let’s hear it for the VAX!

Talkative horns, mutes and friendship

This week, Craig Klein joins me on the show virtually from New Orleans to talk about his new sweet record made in homage to his friend, fellow trombonist Lucien Barbarin who died of cancer early last year. In the spirit of his record Talkative Horns – A Musical Conversation with Lucien Barbarin, the show also features other songs with muted horns and trombones.

The opening track is “Lily of the Valley” from a record Leroy Jones produced in memory of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band — a group that both Jones and Lucien Barbarin performed in during their youth. Craig Klein, who was not part of that seminal band, did play on the record.

Craig Klein

On the show, which you can start up with the player above, Craig talks about his friendship with Lucien, the Barbarin family and the origins of the record that they were to produce together. Craig is a ubiquitous site in the New Orleans music scene. Aside from performing on countless albums and touring with Harry Connick, Jr., he’s a founding member of Bonerama, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers (which just won a grammy) and the Storyville Stompers and performs at Preservation Hall and with the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. After the loss of his friend, Craig landed on a concept of a musical conversation using short solos and mutes to simulate communication — performing with trumpeter Kevin Louis who performed regularly with Lucien at Preservation Hall.

The result is a playful, interplay of long cornet and trombone that sounds very much like a musical conversation held together by Steve Detroy’s casually swinging piano. Molly Reeves on guitar, Michell Player on bass and Gerry Barbarin Anderson (Lucien’s nephew) on drums round out the record’s sound. Stick around for his description of recording “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

Craig was generous with his time so I’ll include more of his conversation in next week’s show and play a few more from his record which is available on Bandcamp. Also included in today’s show is Lucien Barbarin and the Palm Court Swingsters doing “Just a Little While to Stay Here” where Lucien uses a mute on his trombone.

I also include some other fine trombone performances by Trombone Shorty, Kid Ory, Corey Henry, Big Sam Williams and Russell Ramirez.

Gal Holiday

Later in the show Vanessa Niemann gets on virtually with an introduction to a song she wrote about her grandfather “In My Dreams Again.” You’ll hear two other tracks by Vanessa who performs under the name Gal Holiday.

Thank you for listening to the show. You can subscribe to this blog and get alerts when new shows arrive. By the way, this week’s show is the KMRE version. There’s really no difference between the KAOS and KMRE recordings aside from station identifications.

April 1st Wreaks Havoc on New Orleans Programming

For over six years I have featured music from Louisiana, mostly from New Orleans. This week’s show, however, is a bit of a departure. Not sure what happened, but a check of the calendar might shed some light on the situation. Get it started and I’ll try to explain.

It was a dark and stormy night (actually the show airs in Olympia on Thursday mornings). Still a strange thing happened when I attempted to play Kermit Ruffin’s “Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans),” and “The City of New Orleans” by Arlo Guthrie played instead.

I twisted a few nobs, cranked the huge lever over my head, held by breath for six and half seconds and then proceeded with the next set of what I hoped would be music from New Orleans and instead I subjected my listeners to some awesome songs by regional bands along the I-5 corridor: Vaudeville Etiquette, Kate Dinsmore, the Righteous Mothers, and the Blackberry Bushes.

Before taking a sledgehammer to my console, I checked the calendar and good thing too. I’m not sure what forces come to play on April Fool’s Day but it was beyond my control. After that first set, I could only muster one song per set from New Orleans area. And I challenged listeners to pick which one it was.

Anna Gordon is featured in this week’s show. No, she’s not from New Orleans. She’s an Evergreen State College grad.

So, in a set loaded with The Beat, Fine Young Cannibals and the Crazy 8s, you had to locate the New Orleans Rocksteady band 007. In the next set with Bruce Hornsby, the Cave Singers, Rockapella and Curtis Harding, you had to catch the Revivalists — a New Orleans based band. Later, you had to find the New Orleans song hidden among Devil Makes Three, Deadstring Brothers and local phenom Anna Gordon. (Here’s her bandcamp site.)

And so it went for the rest of show until the end. I think I’ll have things in proper working order next week but for now you can enjoy two hours of music that is only sort of from New Orleans. Cheers.

Live Shows Return to NOLA and Celebrate Sweet Emma

Get a first hand impression of what it is like to be a musician as live music moves back indoors in New Orleans, learn about the New Orleans drummer who brought the blues backbeat to Chicago and celebrate the 124th birth anniversary of a pioneering African American female pianist, vocalist and bandleader who once shared the silver screen with actor Steve McQueen. All this and more when you listen to this week’s show (right below)

Welcome to another edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa – the home recorded series is about to hit its one-year mark. Just last week, at the direction of the Mayor of New Orleans, live music came back inside — with some restrictions. Jeremy Kelley, saxophonist and co-leader of Bon Bon Vivant joins us at about the 70-minute mark to talk about what its like to be getting back to doing live, in-person shows (both the joy and horror of it). As promised on the show, here’s a link to outdoor New Orleans venues that are considered safer than going inside.

But before we hear from Jeremy, we catch songs by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Dirty Bourbon River Show, Corey Henry, Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses, Galactic and Leyla McCalla.

You’ll also hear three songs featuring Sweet Emma Barrett who was born this week 124 years ago and was a pioneering Jazz woman who taught herself on piano, led her own band and was a highly recognizable character with her red outfit crowned by a skullcap with leg garters that jingled with bells when she played the keys. You might recall a few shows back, I featured dancehalls, including the Happy Landing Club. During the 1950’s, she and her band played there regularly. She also was a regular with the early Preservation Hall Jazz Band and you can see her play and sing briefly in the 1965 film Cincinnati Kid starring a brooding Steve McQueen. Here’s the clip.

Performing on two of the Sweet Emma songs is another Preservation Hall regular of the time Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau. I mention this mainly as an excuse to play Helen Gillet’s song dedicated to the stand up bass player who made his own instruments out of old barrels and who you might recall was depicted in the play and Netflix show Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Another birth anniversary celebration takes us up to Chicago with Armand “Jump” Jackson, a New Orleans drummer, who was also a bandleader who got into record producing. He’s noted for emphasizing the blues backbeat and you’ll hear one song that perhaps over-emphasizes that beat — “Midnight Shuffle.”

The show meanders on in the last 30 minutes with tracks by Joe Krown, Harry Connick Jr., Charlie Dennard, Charlie Halloran, Kid Eggplant and The Electric Arch. I think it works but let me know if you think differently. Cheers!

Celebrating “Frogman”, Grammy winners & Irish Heritage

This week’s show is crammed with stories and recognitions, starting with the opening track by Louis Armstrong – “Irish Black Bottom” and carrying on with Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s 84th birthday, and grammy wins by the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and Bobby Rush. Go ahead and get it started and then read on.

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five – Irish Black Bottom

I’m not sure what possessed Louis Armstrong to do Percy Venable’s “Irish Black Bottom.” Some have surmised that it was part of his act at the time he recorded it in November 1927 with his Hot Five. Certainly the song’s novelty fits with the sense of humor many associate with Satchmo. It helps to know that Black Bottom refers to a dance craze of that era — which was likely begun as a result of a Jelly Roll Morton song recorded a bit earlier called “Black Bottom Stomp.” Black Bottom refers to a neighborhood in Detroit which was occupied predominantly by African Americans but was named for its fertile dark soil.

The song opens the show and I follow through with a token set of Irish-like songs in honor of a day in which some celebrate Irish Heritage. Marc Gunn, Gina Forsyth, the Zydepunks and the Valparaiso Men’s Chorus represent in that set. I then keep the folk vibe going for one more set with the Tom Paines, Luke Winslow-King and Theresa Andersson, among others.

But then I repeat a short clip from my interview with the New Orleans Nightcrawlers who just won a grammy for their album Atmosphere. In the clip, Matt Perrine talks about how the band mediates between honoring the rich New Orleans music culture and incorporating new elements of interest to the nine members of this band. I follow that up with a couple of songs by Bobby Rush who also just won a grammy — his second in three years. He’s 87 years old.

Speaking of octogenarians, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, who was there when it all happened during the New Orleans R&B boom, turns 84 on Friday. I celebrate his birthday with three songs (the limit according to federal streaming rules).

The real Clarence “Frogman” Henry (left) in a scene from the HBO show “Treme” where he notes how like other early R&B artists, he did not reap the financial benefits of his songs. He turns 84 Friday.

But wait! There’s more. Allen Toussaint sings “Brickyard Blues” a song that was recorded by five different artists when he wrote it in 1974. But Allen recognizes Scottish soul singer Frankie Miller as his inspiration. Here’s the Miller version of Brickyard Blues.

And finally, near the end of this week’s two-hour show, I talk briefly about the Leroy Jones documentary “A Man and His Trumpet” streaming on Netflix. I play two songs by this exceptionally talented and dedicated trumpet player and band leader — perhaps the first member to be recruited by Danny Barker for the famous Fairview Baptist Marching Band. If you love New Orleans music, you should catch this documentary with great stories delivered by Jones as well as Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick Jr., Greg Stafford and Herlin Riley. As promised on the show, his goofy trailer.

Thanks for tuning in. Please subscribe and drop me a note to let me know what you think of the show.

Funk & a Parade of R&B Masters Make the Gumbo

Johnny Adams could and did sing just about anything and thanks to a wide assortment of recordings, you can hear him masterfully handle blues, gospel, funk, r&b and country. Today’s show demonstrates his upper register as he accompanies a driving guitar riff backed up by organ and horns from a B-side funk recording at the Sea-Saint Studios in 1978, called “Chasing Rainbows.”. It does a great job of introducing the rest of the music that you will hear when you start the player right below. (You can do it now and still read the rest of this.)

Cosimo Matassa, who saw thousands of singers stream through his French Quarter recording studio in his day, believed Adams to be the best because of his range. But I also suspect Matassa liked him because Adams was genuinely a good person who had to work hard for every bit of success he had. Jay Mazza in Up Front and Center describes how Adams would almost run off the stage after each set into the audience to thank people for coming to see him sing. Adams died in 1998 of prostate cancer.

The cover of Johnny Adams After All the Good is Gone. The title track was paired with “Chasing Rainbows” and released as a single in 1978.

Another gospel-trained singer, Chuck Carbo, sings a soulful number called “Black Widow” shortly into the first full set. He’s followed by Jon Cleary with “Unputdownable.” Paula and the Pontiacs and Big Al & the Heavyweights also weigh in on that set. Stay with that first set long enough and you’ll hear Arsene Delay cover the Stones “Miss You” backed up by the Charlie Wooten Project. (I like her interpretation.)

A reminder that Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa plays music from New Orleans but I make exception for other fine Louisiana musicians, including Carol Fran and BeuoSoleil who you’ll also hear later in the show.

Another R&B highlight is Joe Diamond singing Gossip, Gossip – an Allen Toussaint production where you can hear Toussaint talking briefly in the beginning and end in a simulation of gossip.. (He does it well!)

The Hackberry Ramblers bring on “Poor Hobo” and I pair that song with Gal Holiday’s “Last to Leave.” I also throw in a side of Creole String Beans in that set along with the Radiators making sure that we “Never Let Your Fire Go Out.”

To cap off the parade of R&B senior statesmen, you’ll hear Lee Dorsey with “Wonder Woman” along with a genuine 60’s throwback by Lydia Marcelle “Everybody Dance.” I think you’ll like it.

The show finishes with Bon Bon Vivant’s “Pinkerton” in recognition of the band’s one-year celebration of streaming live weekly shows from their Facebook feed — which also appears on my Facebook page as well every Sunday at 6 p.m. (PST)

Bon Bon Vivant performing from their “living room” as they’ve been doing almost every Sunday for a year. Catch their one year retrospective show this Sunday at 6 p.m. on their Facebook page.

Clarinetist’s Birthday Sets Up Celebration of Dancehalls

The birth anniversary of Israel Gorman, an early New Orleans jazz clarinetist, allows this week’s show to transport us to the high energy of New Orleans dancehalls — past, current and future.

Israel Gorman – Photo by Al Rose – Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum

Once again, I’m humbled by the opportunity to learn more about New Orleans music through this show. Until this week, I did not know about Israel Gorman. Thank you to the 64 Parishes website for starting my education on this early jazz man who was at least four years older than Louis Armstrong. He was born March 4, 1896, making him old enough to perform his clarinet in Storyville saloons before World War 1 ended the red light district and sent him to fight in France. And while Gorman, like many New Orleans musicians, played in Chicago and New York, it was his recording at a dancehall near the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in the 1950’s that solidifies his place in music history. On some of the songs, you can hear the conversations from the audience and diners at Happy Landing Restaurant and Club and the shuffling of dancers feet. As far as music recording quality, it falls short of today’s standards. But it puts your ears in the room.

This listening experience has encouraged me to look more deeply into dancehalls — a source of community identity and historical interest that has spurred symposiums. Every worthy community has had one. I’ll never forget flying out of the Olympia Airport on July 21, 2000 to see a large column of smoke rising up from the Evergreen Ballroom, ending a 70-year history of bringing great music to the area. (An early highlight of doing the Gumbo YaYa show was when a listener called to tell me about seeing Fats Domino perform at the Evergreen Ballroom during his heyday. (Here’s an early post and show about the famous Dew Drop Inn.)

Today’s show includes other dancehall gems such as Jacques Gauthe and his Creole Rice Yerba Buena Band, Kid Thomas (who Gorman played with during the early years of Preservation Hall) and his Algiers Stompers, Champion Jack Dupree and a contemporary quartet that seeks to capture the magic of dancehalls of yesteryear.

Happy Landing – Past Prime. See the picture on the Mixcloud player to see a more stylized shot of the venue.

I continue in this vein for about an hour, aided further by Riverside Jazz Collective, Aurora Nealand and Smoking Time Jazz Club. And perhaps the highlight is Louis Armstrong’s “Potato Head Blues.” (How progressive of Satchmo to have avoided the gender tag in the title)

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band provides our transitional link from dancehall to funk, cajun and latin music. Later in the show, I also recognize Jazon Marsalis’ 44th birthday, spinning a couple of tracks with him on vibraphone.

Thank you for tuning in. Please let me know what you think of the music.