It’s Not All About Lil’ Liza Jane

This week’s show has no overarching plan, just another two-hour showcase of New Orleans jazz, funk, R&B, brass, and old time swing by contemporary groups as well as more classic recordings. The first tune you’ll hear when you start the player below is “The Joint is Jumpin'” by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers.

The headline for this post is a reference to another rendition of the New Orleans standard “Lil’ Liza Jane” – this time by All That including a prologue by the band to drive home the point that the song is a standard for many New Orleans bands — even the pizza delivery guys knows that. (By the way, some background on Liza in a previous post.)

In the first full set you’ll hear George Porter Jr., the aforementioned All That, Hot 8 Brass Band, Kristin Diable and a rambunctious number by Egg Yolk Jubilee (“Kingfish”).

Frog and Henry 2018 Record Cover

The second set takes a different direction with John Mooney, Papa Mali, Guitar Slim, Snooks Eaglin and Jean Knight. Later in the second hour, I have a set of old timey songs starting with contemporary band Frog and Henry doing a number made famous by King Oliver in 1923 called “Buddy’s Habit.” Oliver’s band of New Orleans musicians were living and performing in Chicago and they picked up the song from Charlie Straight’s Orchestra which had a tipsy tuba player who became a local legend when he tumbled off the stage backwards while playing his instrument. You’ll also hear the Boswell Sisters singing their number 1 hit “The Object of My Affection” along with the Big Dixie Swingers (“A Little Picture Playhouse”) and Danny Barker singing a novelty song called “Nagasaki.”

If you make it all the way to the end, Jon Batiste does his beautiful song “Don’t Stop.”

Well I hope I have given you enough reason to listen to the show. You can listen to it directly from this page, on KAOS on Thursday mornings starting at 10 a.m. (PST), KMRE on Friday evenings starting at 7 p.m. (PST) or go to my Mixcloud profile. My best to you until next week.

Celebrating Irma Thomas’ 80th Birthday

When you hear Irma Thomas called the Soul Queen of New Orleans, its natural and correct to assume its a reference to one of her singing styles. But I think it also can refer to her role as a sustainer of the city’s soul. Happy 80th birthday to Irma Thomas!

She “had four children by age 19” adorns just about every write up of her and my guess is that this repeated fact helps establish that nothing has come easy for Ms. Thomas. She has worked for her success, raised (more than four) children, held down day jobs, lost her home to Hurricane Katrina and performed music through six decades that have not always been kind. Here’s a short bio from the Delgado Community College Women Center — an empowerment center she’s been deeply involved in since she earned her associates degree in business from Delgado – – – at the age of 60. Oh, and the center bears her name.

Irma Thomas at the Chicago Blues Festival, 2016.

This week’s show features songs to show off some of Irma’s range, starting with her version of Fats Domino’s “I Just Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind.” I follow that up with “Cry On” recorded when she first started with Minit records (during the Allen Toussaint heyday). Also “Back Water Blues” and “Thinking of You.” There’s a few other gems in this set, including her vocals with Galactic (“Heart of Steel”) and her harmonizing with Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson from their Sing It! record.

So that first 20 minutes is all about Irma and good reason to listen to the show, but there’s reason continue to listen as well! What with The Crooked Vines “Everything New” from their latest, the New Orleans Suspects covering James Booker’s “Classified” followed by James Booker covering Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog.”

A little more name dropping: Henry Gray, Leyla McCalla, Larry Garner, Lost Bayou Rambler, Arsene Delay, Free Spirit Brass Band, Mindi Abair rocking with Trombone Shorty and the New Orleans Johnnys.

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Mardi Gras Gumbo-Pendium

If you’re looking for Mardi Gras music to celebrate Fat Tuesday, I have assembled some of my Mardi Gras shows from the past starting with the most recent and running in order to the oldest. Click the sideways arrow in the player and it will play the show without you having to leave the page.

Last week’s show started with Valentine’s Day inspired songs but ends with a full hour of Mardi Gras tracks.

The 2020 Mardi Gras show is almost all Mardi Gras music

The Mardi Gras show from 2019

From 2018

And from 2016

Love, Beads & Mardi Gras Chicken

Valentines Day and Fat Tuesday are once again closely aligned to allow for a show of bittersweet love songs and songs for a bittersweet Mardi Gras. And for good measure, a chicken named “Renard”tossed into the radio show pot.

Once again, the nomadic Easter, which moves around based on the proximity of the full moon to the spring equinox, has caused Mardi Gras to land close to Valentine’s Day. So I’ve mashed them together with an hour of love songs and hour of Mardi Gras tunes. Read on and listen on (player is above) for another mash up story.

Charlie Gabriel, vocalist and clarinetist, on “I Think I Love You.” (Photo – American Routes, WWNO Public Radio)

Love songs, like their subject, can have a sharp edge – as evidenced by my opening track from Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Clarinetist Charlie Gabriel sings the band’s original song “I Think I Love You” which at least starts off sounding like love is reciprocated. But then, the flowers die. Fortunately, Camile Baudoin, guitarist for the Radiators, follows up with the more optimistic “It’s You I Love.”

This Valentine show seemed like a good time for a rare Gumbo YaYa airing of Aaron Neville’s big hit “Tell It Like It Is” — the song that turned his career around and an anthem for those who no longer wish to have their heart stomped on. The theme carries on with Yvette Landry & the Jukes (“I Need Somebody Bad Tonight”), Ingrid Lucia (“My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms”), Shotgun Jazz Band (“I Love You So Much It Hurts”), Clarence “Frogman” Henry (“I Don’t Know Why But I Do”), and Donna Angelle’s crush song for Boozoo Chavis, “Old Man’s Sweetheart.” And somewhere in there, you’ll hear an excellent cover of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” by Gal Holiday.

The turn toward Mardi Gras happens after Louis Armstong and Lil Hardin do “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” – a love song despite the damage done by lyrics written over a decade after the recording that actually made “barbecue” barbecue.

Aaron’s brother Art was 16 when he sang with the Hawkettes on the classic “Mardi Gras Mambo” — the song that kicks off the second hour of the show. All the songs in that set are great but I want to draw attention to the less-often heard “Hey Mardi Gras, Here I Am” by Chuck Carbo who grew up in the Zion City part of New Orleans in 1930’s and sings about Mardi Gras in an R&B swinging style.

Another highlight is the voice of Davis Rogan who comes on at about 90 minutes into the show to introduce a song he wrote with his wife Stephanie, “Mardi Gras Chicken.” Rogan, who earlier in his musical career formed a band that blended hip hop with New Orleans brass and funk, checked another item off his mash-up bucket list with “Mardi Gras Chicken”– portraying the Cajun/Creole Mardi Gras tradition known as Courir de Mardi Gras or Grand Courir with a New Orleans Mardi Gras brass band sound — including a bass line originated by Tuba Fats and performed by fellow Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band alumn Kirk Joseph. The song follows the fortunes of “Renard” the chicken who is chased by Courir revelers led by “Louie.”

Davis Rogan as “Louie” and Stephanie Rogan as the wily “Renard” re-enacting their “Mardi Gras Chicken” song during last year’s Mardi Gras celebration. (Courtesy of the Rogans)

The show finishes with a few songs depicting and honoring the highly original cultural phenomenon that can be witnessed in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day (If you’re lucky) – Black Masking Indians.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras to you all. Thanks for tuning in. Let me know what you think of the show and consider subscribing using the widget in the right hand column. Cheers!

Bilbo Birthday for Harold Dejan (Olympia Brass Band)

I celebrate the Bilbo Baggins birthday of Harold “Duke” Dejan, founder of the second generation of the Olympia Brass Band by starting this week’s show with “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” and “It Ain’t My Fault.”

Harold Dejan at top with the saxophone section of the Algier’s Naval Base Band during WW II. From the Louisiana State Museum collection.

Dejan, a saxophonist and bandleader, would be eleventy one years old on February 4. We lost him in 2002 after many decades of keeping the brass band tradition alive before the new generation of brass bands such Dirty Dozen, Rebirth, Soul Rebels, Hot 8 and this year’s grammy nominated New Orleans Nightcrawlers took up the mantle and greatly expanded the audience.

I flow into a short set of not-frequently-played Mardi Gras numbers – The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band with “Dancin’ at the Mardi Gras,” Cha Wa’s “All on a Mardi Gras Day,” New Orleans Suspects’ “Yo Flambeaux,” and Davis Rogan’s “Mardi Gras Chicken” — a new edition to the Mardi Gras library from last year.

This year, there will be no official Mardi Gras parades because of COVID-19 safeguards. However, the city is adapting by decorating homes like floats.

Speaking of new, the next set features a new release by The Crooked Vines from their Mostly Live record, a track from Bon Bon Vivant‘s recently released Dancing in the Darkness and Glen David Andrews “Where We Gonna Go.”

Well, no matter where you go, keep this show rolling cause with the help of Andrews and Galactic, it gets funky with “Day of the Dolphin” by Brides of Jesus (Billy Iuso) and Walter “Wolfman” Washington‘s “Glasshouse.”

Aurora Nealand project

Later highlights include Marla Dixon singing a heart-rendering rendition of “When Things Go Wrong” at the Dew Drop with her Shotgun Jazz Band and Aurora Nealand’s fascinating project The Monocle where she plays all the instruments and handles vocals “Another Man” from Kindhumankind.

I’ll lay into more Mardi Gras music next week. Thanks for tuning in.

New Orleans Nightcrawlers Second Line to a Grammy Nom

You’ll hear about two dozens performances by New Orleans piano players on this week’s show. But only after I introduce four of the members of one my favorite bands, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers who have a Grammy nomination for their latest record, Atmosphere. You’ll also hear three tracks from that record. Go ahead and get it started.

One of the perks of hosting a radio show is the excuse to score interviews with musicians I love. And recently I had the chance to zoom interview four of the nine members of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. This brass band is what sold me on New Orleans music. A band that both honors tradition and innovates. Their latest album “Atmosphere” is a just the latest example. It made my favorites of 2020 list. But more importantly its up for a grammy which will be awarded in March this year

From left to right – Craig Klein, Kevin Clark, me, Brent Rose and Matt Perrine.

After Jon Cleary opens the show with “Po Boy Blues,” you’ll hear from saxophonist Brent Rose, who grew up in Lynnwood Washington before landing in New Orleans via a stint in the Marine Corps Band. He introduces his song “Gentilly Groove”.

Craig Klein, who has been featured on this show before, explains the importance of the band’s rhythm section which consists of New Birth and Preservation Hall Brass Band drummers Caytonio “Tanio” Hingle and Kerry “Fatman” Hunter.

Matt Perrine, who plays tuba and produced the record, comes on before the third song to explain the very New Orleans approach to getting nine high-demand musicians together long enough to record an album. (Hint: Food is involved.)

L- R – Bernie sitting in, Miles Lyons, Kerry Hunter, Brent Rose, Kevin Clark, Craig Klein, Barney Floyd, Matt Perrine, Jason Mingledorff, Caytanio Hingle.

To give you a sense of how busy these musicians are, Kevin Clark lays out what a typical work week looked like for him and his trumpet before COVID restrictions. In normal times, these musicians perform pretty much every day in a wide range of projects and gigs. A grammy would be a big deal for them and yet, even if they win, you will likely still be able to see them in a New Orleans night club or restaurant plying their craft once live music moves back indoors.

After the Nightcrawlers three songs, its time for more piano. In fact, the rest of the show features performances by two dozen New Orleans piano players – Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Fats Domino, Jelly Roll Morton, Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, Marcia Ball (honorary New Orleanian), James Booker, Tuts Washington, Champion Jack Dupree, Josh Paxton, David Torkanowsky, Tom McDermott, Amanda Walker, Henry Butler . . .ah geez, just listen to the show will ya!

The program finishes with a New Orleans piano player who has played Olympia a few times. I promised on the show to share a link to Davis Rogan’s Facebook page where he does live performances every Wednesday though some times its on Thursdays. Here it is.

Booker’s King of Road marks new administration rolling in

While we don’t have a monarchy in this country, as we recently reaffirmed, you can be “King of the Road” and wouldn’t it be nice if this new administration finally comes through with the promise of infrastructure investment. With that in mind, I start this show with James Booker’s rendition of the Roger Miller classic.

Snooks Eaglin

The show airs on KAOS on January 21 (and KMRE the following evening,) which is the birth anniversary of the “Human Jukebox” Snooks Eaglin. He claimed to have the ability to play 2,500 songs. You’ll hear three from his repertoire on this show in the first full set, including a JazzFest performance of Larry Williams’ “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” While his early recordings were solo acoustic folk and blues, his later recordings were R&B with Dave Bartholomew, James Booker, and Professor Longhair. He played guitar on the first Wild Magnolias record. He died in 2009 but would be in his mid-70s if still alive.

In the second set, Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie, an invention of Dr. Brice Miller, will “Fly Me (and you) to the Moon” followed by a lesser known number by Dr. John the Lower Ninth (“Them”) and Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses energetic “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” The set closes with Dave Bartholomew’s “Bouncin’ the Boogie” from 1952 – yea, the cool music started a long time ago.

The show flows on from there with nothing but highlights including New Birth Brass Band’s send up of civil rights lawyer and advocate A.P Touro, Shotgun Jazz Band‘s “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes with “American Funk Classic,” and Little Sonny Jones with another R&B oldie “Worried Blues.”

I assembled the show in between skiing in the Methow Valley this week. I mention this mainly as an excuse to add a picture from my trip to this page but also since its a 10-hour round trip drive for me to that cross-country ski mecca, Larry Garner‘s “Slower Traffic, Keep Right” seemed appropriate for the show. . .not to mention The Abitals “Just Got Paid.”

Near Mazama and Goat Rock – January 2021

You can listen to the show by clicking the arrow in the player above. Thanks so much for visiting this page and please consider subscribing. (its free) Cheers.

Sage Advice: “Don’t You Lie to Me” starts this week’s show

This week’s show celebrates the birth anniversary of three highly regarded New Orleans area musicians: Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal, Big Chief Bo Dollis and Allen Toussaint. You’ll also hear and hear about a New Orleans twist of a song from the great mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap.”

Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal

Paul Sinegal, who died the summer of 2019, would have been 77 this week. His career spans blues, zydeco and R&B. A good part of his career was spent as a guitarist with Clifton Chenier’s band, including his stage debut as a young teen. He also worked with Rockin’ Dopsie and Buckwheat Zydeco. He was a regular performer at Ponderosa Stomp. In 1999, Sinegal released The Buck Stops Here – a record produced on Allen Toussaint’s NYNO Label and featured several songs written by Toussaint. The show starts with Sinegal’s “Don’t You Lie to Me” and you’ll hear him later with “Monkey in a Sack.”

Big Chief Bo Dollis

Big Chief Bo Dollis was a pioneer along with his mentor Big Chief Tootie Montana in the cultural arena known as Mardi Gras Indians. Dollis and Montana elevated the sewing and construction of the “suits” (never call them costumes) to such a high level that much of the rough action and violence that was once associated with Mardi Gras Indians stopped. Who would want to fight and mess up such a great suit — which can also weigh around 100 pounds. Dollis, who also would have been 77 this year, is featured with two Wild Magnolias numbers “New Suit” and “Coconut Milk”

In the six years of this show, you’ve heard a lot about Allen Toussaint because its impossible to do a New Orleans show without frequent appearances by him, his songs and his extensive music production work. In this week’s show, you’ll here him sing “Oh My” with Dave Bartholomew on trumpet, the Paul Simon classic “American Tune” and a early online dating novelty song called “Computer Lady.” But you’ll also hear Toussaint classics “Ride Your Pony” and “Night People” by The Meters and Stanton Moore respectively.

At just after the first hour mark, Matt Perrine of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers (and countless other music projects) introduces “Big Bottom” — a song played by the parody heavy metal band Spinal Tap in the movie by Rob Reiner. Here’s the original version. It’s fun to compare this powerful Nightcrawler version, arranged by Perrine after years of noodling on how to convert the plodding rock beat into a New Orleans style song, to the original. The Nightcrawlers are up for a Grammy for their new release Atmosphere that includes the song “Big Bottom.”

Lots of other fun stuff in between all this, including at least three appearances by bass player George Porter Jr. and some great but not well known songs by Eric Lindell, Marcia Ball, the Radiators, Yvette Landry, Buckwheat Zydeco and the New Orleans Suspects — just to name drop a few.

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Twelfth Night for a Different Mardi Gras Season

Happy Twelfth Night and the start of Mardi Gras Season. As I write this, the “Phunny Phorty Phellows” who typically celebrate the day with a crowded and loud streetcar ride are prepared for a special COVID-adjusted event. It’s going to be a different Mardi Gras season this year and this week’s show is bookended by songs that reflect how I feel.

Tim Laughlin’s “King of the Mardi Gras” opens the show. With no parades and parties to preside over, there will be no Krewe of Rex royalty this year. The show ends with The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band performing “The Saints” from their post-Katrina record I Wanna Go Back to New Orleans. It’s going to be a slow recovery as we wait for the population to get vaccinated. When it finally happens, many of us will be needing to go back to New Orleans.

I’ve assembled a diverse mix of music this show including the rocksteady New Orleans band 007 doing “Won’t You Come Home Now,” the JazzFest Superjam group Dragon Smoke with “Love and Compassion,” Lafayette HonkyTonker Kevin Sekhani singing from his latest Day Ain’t Done., and Leyla McCalla sharing “Changing Tide” from her Langston Hughes tribute, Vari-Colored Songs.

The Deslondes sing “Beautiful Friend”

There’s 25 other songs in the two-hour show ranging from jazz, blues, soul, alt-Zydeco, indie rock, alt-country, and songs that defy a genre assignment — other than . . . it’s New Orleans music.

If you have questions about the music or musicians, please let me know. My goal is to get you closer to the diverse and deep New Orleans music scene so that when things calm down, we can “go back to New Orleans.”

Cheers.

Top 10 Favorite 2020 Records from New Orleans

This week’s show is a look (and listen) back at the great music made during hard times this year. You’ll hear at least two and usually three tracks from each of my top 10 favorite releases this year. (But hey, they’re all great so check out my annual summary.) You’ll also hear a few band voices such as Matt Perrine (Nightcrawlers), Craig Klein (Vipers and Nightcrawlers), and Abigail Cosio (Bon Bon Vivant).

New Orleans NightcrawlersAtmosphere  – First record in 11 years for this funky brass band and it nails a Grammy nomination. No surprise given the collective talent of these nine musicians with a love for creating innovative music based on the New Orleans brass and second line tradition. At about three-fourths through the show, you’ll hear Matt Perrine talk about what makes the Nightcrawlers unique. Also, the show opens with “The Lick” and here’s the five-hour video that I mention in the show.

Shake ’em Up Jazz BandThe Boy in the Boat – Lots to enjoy with this late 2019 release, including Chloe Feoranzo‘s clarinet and Marla Dixon’s trumpet but what sets this record apart from the many other excellent New Orleans swing releases is the singing. From Haruka Kikuchi’s rendition of “Salty Dog” to the harmonizing on “Nuts to You,” this album never fails to make me smile.

Smoking Time Jazz Club Mean Tones and High Notes – This band made my top ten last year with Contrapuntal Stomp and this year’s record is even better with jaw-dropping performances that don’t get in the way of great song choices. Everybody needs to get vaccinated so I can go see this band live.

John “Papa” GrosCentral City – Former funkmaster has improved on his earlier excellent solo release, Rivers of Fire, with a tasty mix of original songs and covers, including John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me.” This a playful record made in a very New Orleans way.

Bon Bon Vivant – Dancing in the Darkness – When COVID hit the fan this year, Abigail Cosio and partner Jeremy Kelley created community with fellow musicians and fans through heartfelt and continuously improving live music feeds. Meanwhile, they were waiting for the right time to spring this record of pandemic prescient songs. I’m so glad to be dancing, even if the “Ship is Sinking.” Near the end of this show, Abigail introduces her song “This Year.”

New Orleans Jazz VipersIs There a Chance for Me  – For nearly two decades, this band has helped defined the Frenchmen Street music scene with a swing sound in which every member of the band takes turns shining and singing. Lots of songs about love, making it just that much more fun to grab your partner and show off your footwork. Trombonist Craig Klein gets on the show midway through to introduce the title track which has a fascinating history

Sierra Green & the Soul MachineSierra Green & the Soul Machine – Came out December of last year and by February, Offbeat Magazine recognized her as Emerging Artist of the Year. This record will make you hope that COVID is just a temporary setback. We need her music.

Alex McMurray –Lucky One  – McMurray is a musical chameleon capable of rock and rock steady, sea shanties and swing. But at his core, and quite evidence in this record particularly, is a maturing storyteller whose voice delivers droll, yet heartfelt, introspection.

Paul SanchezI’m a song, I’m a story, I’m a ghost  – Like McMurry who he partners with in The Write Brothers, Sanchez delivers heartfelt songs with a voice to match. His duet on “Walking in Liverpool” alone is worth the album.

Colin Lake Forces of Nature – Apparently, these songs were recorded before Lake and his wife sold their New Orleans home, bought a sailboat and began a life of itinerant Caribbean sailors. And yet, the vibe of the album manages to capture a reflective, meditative mood with themes more relevant than ever.

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