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Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield team up for A Beautiful World

This week on KAOS and KMRE, I’m reprising a show that aired three years ago shortly after Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield released their album “A Beautiful World.”

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Today’s show features the new Basin Street release by Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield.  Just the tonic you were looking for after the late summer rains.  Ruffins and Mayfield have a lot in common. Same town, same label, same instrument.  But there styles are very different.  Lot of help though including Cyril Neville and some cameos by native NOLA actor Wendell Pierce.  Other new releases featured as well including the Stanton Moore send up of Allen Toussaint.

Gumbo YaYa Attempts to Clear the Air with Fire and Smoke

If smoke has been getting into your eyes lately, perhaps its also worth getting it into your ears with this week’s show featuring “Fire” by Rebirth Brass Band and “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” by Buckwheat Zydeco.

The first full set attempts to exorcise the fire and smoke demons bedeviling the West Coast — though a rational climate policy would be a far better approach. I start with”Something in the Air” by Kid Eggplant and the Trad Melatauns and written by Papa Eggplant (aka Sidney Snow) and featuring Bruce Brackman on clarinet.

In recognition of the passing of Frederick “Toots” Hilbert, the show dives into a Jamaican-theme set starting with Toots and the Maytals performing the classic Fats Domino hit “Let the Four Winds Blow.” It’s an appropriate choice given the pivotal role Domino and songs like “Be My Guest” (which you will also hear) play in helping to shape early Rock Steady and Reggae music. The set progresses from there culminating in Bonerama’s “Sun Lion” and returning to the clarinet with Dr. Michael White’s take on Bob Marley’s “One Love.”

Lee Mohler (second from left) with Artesian Rumble Arkestra at Honkfest West in Seattle.

Lee Mohler joins me at that point. Lee is a trumpet player for the Artesian Rumble Arkestra — a collective of Olympia-area musicians who best exemplify, at least locally, the spirit of New Orleans second line music. Lee also serenaded our children and their classmates on an overnight school field trip playing “Taps” while they crawled into sleeping bags on a gymnasium floor in the Columbia Gorge in what feels like about two hundred years ago. Lee and I have visited New Orleans together and he shares some of his love for the music with Smoking Time Jazz Club playing in the background.

I also recognize the passing of blues guitarist Bryan Lee who held down for many years a regular stint at the Old Absinthe House. Lee has 17 albums to his name but I thought, given his passing, I would honor him with a very upbeat original song from his all-Gospel final release – Sanctuary.

Maria Muldaur, Shamarr Allen, Sarah Quintana, Guitar Lightnin Lee, Spider Murphy and over a dozen others join us to fill out two hours of music from New Orleans. Thanks for tuning in. Consider subscribing which means you’ll get a notice every time a new show posted. Cheers.

K-Doe, Kermit, Morgus, others join Gumbo YaYa’s 300th show

This week, I celebrate six years of spinning New Orleans music on KAOS. Longevity does not suggest popularity since a show’s survival on community radio mainly depends on the ability to understand and follow FCC and station rules and a stubborn consistency on the part of the DJ. I often wonder what Olympia and Bellingham listeners must think when they hear musicians with names like Kermit, K-Doe and Quintron from a city over 2,600 miles away.

But its my show’s birthday and I’ll do what I want to. So for my 300th show in celebration of six years on the air, you’ll hear music from those names and many more. That is, if you click the sideways arrow above to listen. Or if the player is not visible (sometimes happen) here’s the link to the show.

This live album gives some idea what Vaughan’s was like during Kermit’s 20-year Thursday night gig..

This week’s celebfation provided a good reason to start off with “Happy Birthday Hallelujah” by the Brass-a-Holics. Then I transport to the dance floor of Vaughan’s thanks to songs by Kermit Ruffins and Corey Henry. These two musicians have anchored the Thursday night live show at this Ninth Ward lounge for three decades. Vaughan’s only offers live music one night a week but its a helluva night. Just ask Jay Mazza who wrote a book about it.

Ingrid Lucia follows up with an enticing invitation for a “Midnight Rendevous” and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes drive home my desperate desire to hang out in a crowded bar listening to live music with another jam from their recent Maple Leaf live double-disc release.

Then the crazy stuff starts with Morgus the Magnificent. One of the original late night TV fright show hosts, Morgus was created by Sidney Noel Rideau who did some other amazing things in his 90 years on the planet. But when he passed away last week, the city mourned for Morgus and his various stints on New Orleans television in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – – and beyond in the form of reruns. I’ve written about Morgus more extensively here. On this week’s show you’ll hear an early R&B favorite “Morgus the Magnificent” and Galactic’s inspired use of one of his skits in “Friends of Science.” The Iguanas, John Mooney and the Soul Rebels, Alexey Marti, Bon Bon Vivant,the Hot 8 Brass Band and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers fill out that set.

Ernie K-Doe is the patron saint of this website and as well as Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa so he has to make an appearance on my annual celebrations. Quintron introduces him with his take on K-Doe’s “Certain Girl” and just as the earworm drills in, Ernie takes over with his original version of that song. Why? “Can’t Tell Ya.” (You’ll also hear a little bit of K-Doe when he deejayed for WTUL.). And here’s more about the interesting relationship of Quintron and K-Doe.

Louis Armstrong, Jean Knight, Slim Harpo, Aurora Nealand, some more brass bands, Allen Toussaint and many more join the party if you wish to hang with me for the full two hours of music. As a birthday present, consider going to the upper right hand corner of this page and subscribing to weekly alerts about the show.

Oh, and if you forgot to click the sideways arrow, here it is again:

From Katrina to COVID, the music survives but for how long

Fifteen years ago, New Orleans was literally underwater. And while the city has bounced back, I’m not sure our country has learned very much from the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. This week’s show is my seventh annual Katrina recognition kicked off by the Free Agents Brass Band sounding both joyous and angry upon its return to New Orleans after Katrina in “We Made It Through That Water.” Start it now and then read on.

First, the good news. Based on initial reports, evacuations in anticipation of the recent Hurricane Laura, while complicated by the pandemic, seems to have saved lives. It was a different story 15 years ago when despite a mandatory evacuation perhaps as many as 200,000 were left behind and roughly 1,000 died in Orleans Parish alone. Yes, some chose to stay behind. But many others had no transportation or financial means to leave. Public buses that could have been used to aid in evacuation were left idle.

The bad news? The continued erosion of the state’s wetlands and delta lands means even greater damage to populated areas. On this show, you’ll hear James Karst, spokesman for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, describe the threat coastal erosion poses but also of the good work his nonprofit is doing to correct it. On his suggestion, you’ll hear Bonerama’s jamming song “Mr. Go” — a reference to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet channel that contributed to the flooding of New Orleans and erosion of Louisiana wetlands. The channel is now closed.

New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. Floodwaters were present for roughly six weeks.

In Northwest United States, the most immediate effect of climate change appears to be wildfires. In the Southeast, its the ferocity of hurricanes. It’s time we pay attention to what’s happening. It would be nice to have a national plan for controlling carbon emissions but at the very least, we should be aggressively working to mitigate some of the harsher impacts of climate change.

The power of the water when the levees broke pushed houses off foundations and cars down several blocks.

Today’s show includes some of my regular Katrina songs such as Shamarr Allen’s “Katrina and the Flood” and Trombone Shorty’s “Hurricane Season.” But I’ve added some different songs to the mix to make for a show featuring blues, rock, jazz and, of course, lots of brass.

By the way, here’s how you can access my other Katrina recognition shows:

The 2019 Katrina recognition show focused on ‘the delta and Louisiana coastline.

The 2018 Katrina recognition show was dedicated to Puerto Rico which had just been chewed up by Hurricane Maria.

The 2017 Katrina recognition show was dedicated to ALL flood victims.

The 2016 show focused on the Louisiana Flood of 1927 but I didn’t record it. Sorry.

The 2015 Katrina recognition show was a two-parter (10 year anniversary). The first goes into the detail of the storm and its impact. The second focuses on the musicians and their stories. The shows features short excerpts from Spike Lee’s movie “When the Levees Broke.” Both shows can be accessed at the end of the page on this link.

The 2014 show was a pilot for Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa and I did it as part of the morning show I was doing at the time. No recording. No webpage.

Next week, I’ll be celebrating SIX YEARS of GUMBO YAs YAs. Hope you can join me.

Baton Rouge Band’s No. 1 Song Inspired by Lucy in the Sky

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve misunderstood lyrics to the point of singing them out loud in their mind-mangled state. But when John Gourrier did that, he ended up writing a number one song. Judy in Disguise (with Glasses).

The Beatle’s “Lucy in the Sky” was initially heard by Gourrier, who fronted the Baton Rouge band John Fred and the Playboys, as Lucy in Disguise. While Gourrier and the band are often referred to as a novelty act and a one-hit wonder, Gourrier performed for 50 years and left behind several other musical gems including the one that starts this week’s show.

The first set is bookended with versions of the Judy in Disguise. The original kicks it off and Jello Biafra & the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars finish with a rather more raucous version.

This show also includes a stunny version of “It All Ends the Same” by Antoine Diel & Misfit Power, Jonathon Long whose also from Baton Rouge shares a number from his latest record, Champion Jack Dupree serves up two helpings of Cabbage Greens, the Radiators jam on “Like Dreamers Do,” and two dozen other New Orleans area musicians share their music with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Missed ‘Hittin’ On Nothin’, Third Time is the Charm

I love doing this show but the COVID closure of the KAOS studio has made it a true act of love.. Instead of slinging CD’s in real time, rocking out to the music and recording the show as it happens, I assemble the show, loading it up one song file at a time. But some times mistakes are made and for some reason, after my second try last week, I still had not managed to play Irma Thomas’ “Hittin on Nothin.’ That’s right I failed to hit Hittin on Nothin.

The first full set of this week’s show starts with that song and I think I got it right this time. The set is rounded out with Larry Williams’ “Bad Boy,” Creole String Beans “Seven Nights to Rock,” Lloyd Price’s “Where You At?” and a one-off record credited to “Marie Boubarere.” It’s possible this singer worked under other names as related by Dan Phillips in his wonderful music blog “Home of the Groove.

Bobby Rush joins the show in the second set with a message recorded from his home. At 86, this grammy winning guitarist, singer, songwriter is still cranking out original music. Check out his website. That set also includes Leyla McCalla, Davell Crawford and Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes amongothers.

Andre Bouvier does a straight send up of the Kinks indictment of wealth “Sunny Afternoon” and from that song we flow into Smoky Greenwell’s anthem for the 99 percent and Occupy wall street movement.

Lena Prima has a done a wide mix of music including some wonderful personal songs of her own, but her live performance harkens to her father, Louie, in her live album recorded at the Dew Drop in Mandeville. You can hear and feel it when I do back to back Prima songs.

Later, Roland Guerin, who was Allen Toussaint”s bass player when he toured near the end of this life, does a song off his latest album and Delfeayo Marsalis takes a nice turn with the Sesame Street TV show theme song.

Much more in this show but I’ll let you discover those gems on your own. Let me know think by commenting on this page or you can reach me through Facebook. Keep tuned in.

A Gumbo Soundtrack for Your Summer Trip

Why should a little global pandemic stand in the way of a virtual summer trip.

​”Good times are down the road. . . .Mama won’t let me go. ” If sung today, Marcia Ball might sing her line as “COVID won’t let me go.” But why should a little global pandemic stand in the way of a virtual summer trip. Put your virtual mask on, click the sideways arrow in the box below and let’s get this week’s musical journey started with a ride on the “Magic Bus” courtesy of Billy Iuso.

You can go “Down the Road” with Marcia Ball in a “Big Old Rusty Car” by Big Al and The Heavyweights, on an “August Night” (Preservation Hall) going from “Austin to Destin” with Davis Rogan, on the Next Train (Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires), in the “Dog Days” (Little Queenie) of “High Summer” (Alex McMurray)​ and if you’re not “King of the Road”(James Booker cover)  by then you can “Go Out on the Road” (Hurray for the Riff Raff) on “Southern Nights” (Allen Toussaint’s long version). And that’s just the first half of the show.

Jimmy Carter had just moved into the White House when Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights” began its climb to being the number one song in both the Billboard’s pop and country charts. But that version is nothing like the song delivered by the man who wrote it. Allen Toussaint started as a teenager working to shape the sound of New Orleans R&B with the help of Irma Thomas (who sings a Toussaint song later in the show), Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey and The Meters. But when he sings his autobiographical “Southern Nights,” he becomes a young city boy exploring the fascinating yet spooky outdoors in the backwaters of Louisiana on a weekend trip to visit relatives who don’t quite speak the same language. Yea, nice thing about a virtual trip like this is you don’t need to worry about the mosquitos!

Another song where it’s probably better to hear it than experience it is”Dog Days” by Leigh Harris (Little Queenie). In less than six minutes, this song covers all the aspects of the August heat in New Orleans. “How many baths can you take in one day.”

The second half of the show is a mixed bag of music featuring a bit of reggae by a no longer active Rock Steady group from New Orleans (007) and Dr. Michael White covering Bob Marley’s “One Love.” Later listen to Irma Thomas pivot on stage in a live recording to do a song she hadn’t sung in years. The band helps out with the forgotten lyrics with a great little jam near the end on “Hittin’ on Nothin.”

The show finishes with a Bon Bon Vivant number, “The Alchemist.” Abigail Cosio and Jeremy Kelley and their merry band of friends and musicians have created a relaxed and yet deceptively high tech presentation for their weekly live Facebook shows . The sound is great. The visuals are fun with camera work that puts you in the intimate room with them. You can watch the roughly one-hour shows at 5 p.m. West Coast time on Sundays or any time afterwards as a recording. And now because of some sort of magic that Jeremy hooked me up with, the same performance will show live on the Gumbo YaYa Facebook page.

Jeremy Kelley and Abigail Cosio of Bon Bon Vivant with friends and band members are providing a quality live feed of their weekly Sunday shows.

As I write this, I’ve been informed that COVID-19 virus was discovered in the building where the KAOS studio is located. As a result, the studio is in lockdown and the Olympia broadcast of the show will be postponed one week. Meanwhile in Bellingham (the City of Subdued Excitement), KMRE will be airing this week’s Gumbo YaYa two hours earlier this Friday (5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.) because of its airing of the virtual Subdued Stringband Jamboree. But you can listen to the full show now. Thank you for tuning in.

Live venues need our love if not our attendance

“How long can New Orleans survive without live music? ” That’s the headline of a recent Slate article and it makes me wonder how we’re going to work through this in the long run. Cause, we’re gonna have to figure something out! This week’s Gumbo YaYa is dedicated to the venues and their operators around the country who are wondering if they will ever open again.

But first we take a trip to one of the more venerable of the New Orleans 130 plus music venues, Preservation Hall. Listener Sam Cagle shares his story of stumbling onto the place just off Bourbon Street just as it was getting established in the summer of 1961. Sam had just gotten out of training camp, preparing to a be an Air Force officer with six weeks to kill before he started his senior year in college. Taking a tip from a cadet who lived there, he decided to spend his last few free weeks in the August heat of New Orleans. His story is right after the first song and for mood setting, I throw in some Preservation Hall classics with George Lewis, Punch Miller, Sweet Emma, Percy Humphrey and others. By the way, I wrote up a longer piece on Preservation Hall a few years back.

The Slate article makes the point that New Orleans has a unique ecosystem for developing music artists and its large number of small music venues is an essential part of that biology. But the stickiness of COVID-19 is making it likely that many of the venue proprietors, who mostly do not earn much of a profit even when open, may not survive.

The same concerns hold for venues in my neck of the woods and anywhere else where COVID is keeping us mostly at home. I don’t have a solution other than we all should be thinking about how we can keep live music alive. And for inspiration, I play sets of music that were recorded live including songs by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Mem Shannon, Debbie Davis and Josh Paxton, Rebirth Brass Band, Marla Dixon and the Shotgun Jazz Band, Professor Longhair, Billy Iuso, Kermit Ruffins, Sonny Landreth, the Roamin’ Jasmine and others.

To help musicians in New Orleans, consider supporting the Feed the Second Line group. Thank you for listening and please consider subscribing. It’s Free!

Hard Way to Live When You Live Like You’re Dead

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing with a show until its all put together. Then it’s like a musical version of a Rorschach test. Except there’s no need for a psychology degree to interpret the opening song by Bon Bon Vivant with “It’s a hard way of living when you’re dead. . .when you’re living like you’re already dead.” (You can hear that song right now when you start the show in the box below. )

It’s not surprising that the longer the COVID period stretches on, the more I think about Prince Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe. Not that I’m ready to leave the castle. Or give up on masks and hand sanitizer. But the castle doesn’t have to be a prison.

The New Orleans Suspects catch that spirit of escape with “Neighborhood Strut” followed by All That, a band featuring Kirk Joseph and Davis Rogan, taking us back to the 1970’s with “Roll With It.” Sunpie Barnes declares”I don’t want no more of dem black beans, cornbread, molasses” in “Down in the Bottom.” Later, after Irvin Mayfield’s “The Elder Negro Speaks” serves as a recognition for the late Congressman John Lewis (who fortunately didn’t accept the status quo), Cyril Neville and the Royal Southern Brotherhood sing their protest anthem “Stand Up.”

With the ability to gather in front of live music gone for the time being, we live in the era of virtual festivals. Which does have the advantage allowing us to experience New Orleans without getting on a plane. I plug the upcoming Satchmo SummerFest which will be doing Louis Armstrong inspired cooking demonstrations on local television and musical performances shared on the festival’s Facebook live page  on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2. The annual festival is in honor of Louis Armstrong’s birthday. “Yes, I’m in the Barrel” a 1925 Armstrong Hot Five recording heralds this event in the show.

Other highlights of this week’s program include a 10-minute plus version of “Hold ‘Em Joe” featuring bluegrass and New Orleans musicians and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux – performing before a live audience at the Maple Leaf Bar. Spencer Bohren covers Hank Williams’ “Mind Your Own Business.” Allday Radio directs us to “Get Over Me, I’m Over You.” Terrance Simien and his Zydeco band performs “Johnny Too Bad.” And much more. It’s two hours of music from New Orleans. Thanks for tuning in.

A COVID Hatchet Not So Deep in our Heads

If the line “There is a hatchet not so deep in my head” from Dr. John’s “Holdin’ Pattern” speaks to you, then this is your show. The persistence of COVID-19 feels like a holding pattern which is a problem for all those whose livelihoods depend on our ability to gather –such as brass band musicians. I’ll tell you about the show and more once you get it started. (click sideways arrow in box below and it will play while you continue to read.)

The uptick in COVID-19 infections and its impact on our health care system has slowed down the possibility of having live shows and congregating. I’m not an advocate of rushing this process but I do worry what impact it will have on our culture — particularly the unique New Orleans brass band culture.

The New Orleans Brass Band Musicians Relief Fund is currently crowdsourcing funding through GoFundMe and seeking larger donations to provide emergency cash grants to musicians. The relief fund was started by the Save Our Brass Culture Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for the city’s brass band musicians, with Seth Bailin, a saxophonist who plays with New Orleans brass bands, and Joanna Farley, who used to work in disaster response.

From the Save Our Brass Culture Foundation website

You’ll hear me make a plug for this foundation in the second hour as I play a long set of brass band music that includes the following: Lazy Boyz Brass Band with “Come and Dance,” The Hot 8 Brass Band with “War Time,” The To Be Continued Brass Band with “Numba2 (We Dem Folks)” edited for radio, The Original Pinettes Brass Band with “We Got Music,” The Soul Rebels with Trombone Shorty with “Sabor Latino,” Treme Brass Band with “Tuba Fats,” Rebirth Brass Band with “Dilemma,” and the Forgotten Souls Brass Band with “The Second Half.” It’s about 45 minutes of brass music.

Before that you’ll hear a set of blues and some jazz and I finish with three very unique songs by Elizabeth Joan Kelly, Helen Gillet and Aurora Nealand operating under the name The Monocle.

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Galactic Drummer Drives the Beat for Today’s Show

This week’s show is carried by the rhythms of Stanton Moore who turns 48 on the day the show airs on KAOS (July 9, 2020). You can listen to it now though by clicking the sideways arrow below.

Over its 26-year history, the New Orleans band Galactic has been adept at funk, R&B, rock, soul and hip hop, performing with an ever changing cast of singers ranging from Boots Riley to Irma Thomas. And driving the beat throughout that quarter century is the only hometown member of the band, Stanton Moore. On today’s show, you’ll hear songs from his own albums, as well as from Galactic and two other bands that perform his songs.

But its a two-hour show so you’ll hear a lot more if you stay with it. Here are some highlights:

A song by Dragon Smoke – a group that includes Stanton and Robert Mercurio from Glactic as well as Ivan Neville and Eric Lindell.

Larry Williams singing “Bony Moronie” — original recording from 1957.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys performing “Les Vigilants” and joined by Pine Leaf Boys, Bonsoir Catin and Jesse Lege for a full set of Cajun music.

Hackberry Ramblers rocking out with a cover “Proud Mary.” You need to hear it to believe it.

Twerk Thomson Trio doing a robust version “Oh You Beautiful Doll” recorded two years ago but sounding like a 78 rpm record from 1938.

There’s more but I’m tired and got things to do. Why tell you about it when you can listen to it for yourself.