Another show of strictly New Orleans jazz

Every once and a while, I enjoy living up to the stereotypical impression of a New Orleans music show and play only jazz. So if you’re looking for my usual mix of funk, R&B, zydeco, Mardi Gras Indian, country, rock and all stuff in between. This show ain’t it. But its very listenable – get it started and you’ll hear why.

Smoking Time Jazz Club at The Spotted Cat

Al Hirt was a presence growing up in Uptown New Orleans in the 60’s. He was the godfather of one of the neighbor’s kids that I would play with and my parents regularly visited Hirt’s club on Bourbon Street. He starts off the show with “Jazz Me Blues.” But I mix it up in the next set with Kid Ory, the Smoking Time Jazz Club and Ingrid Lucia.

Dr. Michael White anchors the second set with his “West African Strut” supported by songs by Linnzi Zaorski and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

I get to play my vinyl autographed version of a Willie Humphrey’s album with Sarah Quintana and Lena Prima rounding out the next set. The show rolls on bouncing between traditional New Orleans jazz, some contemporary jazz, a bit of swing and a couple brass band numbers, including “Get a Life” by the Original Pinettes.

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Gumbo YaYa celebrates five years as a community radio show

I was in my 30’s when I finally understood that the deep depression I experienced every time I moved was related to having left New Orleans when I was a child. Hosting a radio show of New Orleans music has been cathartic. And today’s show marks five years on the air. (you can get the show started and then continue reading this post.)

Joe Lastie’s “New Orleans in Me” speaks to how when you live away from New Orleans (as happened with hundreds of thousands of residents post Hurricane Katrina) , the city stays with you. The song has always resonated for me and it opens this show as a way to honor why I’ve been doing this show for five years.

I was 10 when my family moved away and my heart stayed with the city, aided by frequent visits, until I moved out of the south after I graduated from college. The Northwest was such a good fit for me that over time, I lost touch with my New Orleans feelings — except that sense of loss that would return every time I moved into a new apartment or home.

By the time I returned to visit my sister who had moved back, it had been almost 30 years since I had visited New Orleans. I caught the New Orleans Nightcrawlers at the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which caused me to have almost a mystical experience. I just loved their sound and quickly learned that there was more to New Orleans music than Dixieland. The Nightcrawlers open the first full set of the show with “Can of Worms.”

I do a funk set with Mem Shannon, Allen Toussaint and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. I make sure New Orleans Bounce is represented with the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia doing “Lift Dat Leg Up.”

I try to hint at the diversity of New Orleans music with original songs by Leyla McCalla, Anders Osborne, Kelcy Mae and Lena Prima. I throw in a fun set of Zydeco as well since that is music I would not have learned to love if I had not been doing this show. I hope you have a chance to listen to some of my shows and appreciate the uniquely melting pot American music that emanates from New Orleans

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14 years after Katrina and Louisiana is still losing its coastline

This year’s recognition show of Hurricane Katrina floats downriver to the disappearing wetlands of Louisiana’s coastline. Get it started and read on.

This is my fifth show recognizing the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and this year I chose to address the existential issue of whether our country is prepared to hold on to a critical part of its ecosystem and culture – through music (of course).

Perhaps I was affected by reading recently Mike Tidwell’s book “Bayou Farewell” where he details his experiences hitching rides through the bayous of southern Louisiana, working on shrimp and crab boats along the way and basically embedding himself in the Cajun and Vietnamese communities — two refugee populations who have found a home in the delta of the fourth longest river in the world. I found his culturally sensitive approach to an environmental book appealing but also heart breaking.

Tidwell’s book was written and released a few years before Hurricane Katrina but the specter of what a large hurricane could do to the increasingly barren coast runs throughout the book basically serving as a predictor of the damage that was caused by Katrina’s storm surge. Tidwell is also the founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

One of the most telling stories from his book is when riding out to check crab traps with a local named Tim, he heard the story of how Tim, when he “was a kid” would land his boat by a tree on the bank of a canal dug out by Texaco. The now dead tree trunk stuck out of the water 50 feet from shore. The reference to being a kid stopped the author cold because it made the boat pilot “sound like an old man looking back on a long lifetime. In reality he’s seventeen, looking back maybe ten years. It’s happening that fast.”

Fast . . .At the cumulative rate of about 30 square miles a year. The good and sad part of this story is that unlike climate change, a solution to this problem doesn’t require worldwide buy in, but rather a commitment of resources to increase diversions of fresh water carrying much needed nutrients and sediment into the state’s coastal areas. For less than one-third of the annual cost of occupying Afghanistan, this problem could be largely licked.

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana has done the research, developed the plan, and has been advocating and actually doing things to move the issue forward. But it needs our support. Similarly, the Voice of the Wetlands, a nonprofit volunteer-based organization with the same goal, has been attempting to raise awareness, particularly through its annual music festival in October.

In telling this story, I play the music of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit, Del Rey, Eric Lindell, Marcia Ball, Sonny Landreth, Helen Gillet, and many others. Thanks for tuning in and please consider subscribing. Cheers.

Active NOLA musicians play their own compositions in today’s show

The concept for today’s show originates from our need at KAOS to periodically record the composer when we put up our play list on Spinitron. This got me thinking a bit more about how musicians are compensated for the airing of their music. Start the show and then read on.

Broadcast Music, Inc. is one of four United States performing rights organizations, along with the ASCAP, SESAC and Global Music Rights. It collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed. 

As I understand it, the broadcast of music over a terrestrial radio station generates income for the composer but not for the performer. However, the streaming of the song on the Internet possibly generates revenue for both the performer and composer. I write “possibly” because there are a lot of “if’s” which I don’t have the brain bandwidth to understand. Also, the amount of money per spin is a small fraction of a penny.

The relevant piece of information here is that because BMI does a spot check on what we play, requiring us to list the composer, I decided to do a show that featured exclusively NOLA musicians playing their own compositions. I added an additional requirement that the musician be active — or at least still alive.

So here is what you’ll hear: Paula (Rangell) and the Pontiacs performing her original song . The prolific Alex Murray performing one of his originals. Flow Tribe doing their unique “Oh Yea.” Tin Men performing an original by band member Washboard Chaz Leary. Meschiya Lake performing a song by her sousaphone player Jason Jurzek. And on it goes. We cover jazz, blues, rock, and stuff in between.

The one exception to my self-imposed active musician rule is Leigh Harris’ wonderful “Dog Days.” Harris, known as Lil Queenie, is struggling with cancer. Here’s here fundraising site for her hospice care. All the rest of the performers heard on this show can be seen live usually playing around the New Orleans area.

I enjoyed creating this show and I bet you’ll enjoy listening to it. (did you get it started yet?) Please consider subscribing. Cheers.

Today’s show finishes with a Second Line

This week’s show has no organizing principle (other than the show’s underlying commitment to New Orleans and Lafayette music). However late in the show, I do about 30 minutes of brass bands that will get you buck jumping or at least shaking some body part. Get it started by clicking the sideways triangle below and I’ll tell you more.

George Lewis with Preservation Hall kicks off the show with “The Sweet By and By.” But the next set is a mix of stuff including the Tin Men doing “Jesus Always Gets His Man.” Mem Shannon singing his song “Dirty Dishes” and Frog and Henry performing the classic “Song of a Wanderer.”

A didgeridoo opens the next set with “Bayou Billabong” followed by Little Queenie and Shamarr Allen. Sets that follow include Eric Lindell, Oliver Morgan, Dana Abbott and Aurora Nealand. A four-song set of music from Lafayette includes Sonny Landreth, Pine Leaf Boys, Tab Benoit and Roddie Romero.

Dancing in the cemetery as part of the Second Line

Somewhere around 80 minute mark, Rebirth kicks in with “Roll With It” followed by the Original Pin Stripe Brass Band, the Forgotten Souls Brass Band and an entertaining Taylor Swift cover by Shamarr Allen.

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Touring New Orleans trumpeter and songwriter talks on today’s show

One of the many cool aspects of my role as host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa is getting to meet musicians who I admire. Last week, it was Bon Bon Vivant. This week its Shamarr Allen, a talented songwriter who happens to be a damn good trumpeter. (Get it started will ya!)

Today’s show kicks off with Allen Toussaint’s project to bring together (for perhaps the last time) the R&B greats of Earl Palmer, Alvin “Red” Tyler, Ed Frank, and Lee Allen. Crescent City Gold was recorded in the 90’s. I play “Hang Tough” to be consistent with today’s goal of digging deeper in some of my favorite CDs while giving some neglected artists some air time.

To tease his upcoming interview, the first full set starts with Shamarr Allen’s “Can You Feel It.” I thought Corey Henry’s “Feeling Tremazin” folowed Shamarr’s song nicely.

The next set goes country with The Big Dixie Swingers, The Deslondes, and Kevin Sekhani (originally from Lafayette). I follow that with a jazz set of Percy Humphrey, Al Hirt and Frog and Henry who will be performing in the region through the middle of the month. (See calendar)

Shamarr Allen

Almost an hour into the show, Shamarr Allen called as he was driving his way across North California to perform in Lake Tahoe. He’ll get into Oregon on Tuesday and play Seattle next Thursday, followed by gigs in Portland and Tacoma. This is his first tour of the Northwest and its long overdue.

While its hard to categorize Mr. Allen’s music, its easy to enjoy. His “Meet Me on Frenchmen Street” could easily put him in the treasured category of classic New Orleans musicians who manage to keep the New Orleans jazz tradition fresh.

But his “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More” shows the depth of his song writing as he, Dee-1, Benny Pete and Paul Sanchez express their disgust of the BP Gulf spill and the havoc that all spills cause. You’ll see him wear a shirt in that video that says “My trumpet (image of one) is my weapon.” But his lyrics are powerful too.

But its that sweet spot between tradition and innovation that Mr. Allen excels and a perfect example is the video recording of his song “Ruin My Day” which he filmed as part of the NPR tiny desk contest. A positive song about life’s vagaries recorded in the House of Dance and Feathers.

While the radio interview is short, you will get a glimpse into this artist’s history, his family (his uncle is founder and curator of House of Dance and Feathers) and his music. I finish the interview with a spin of his “House of Dance and Feathers” a song he wrote for the music “Nine Lives.”

Here’s just the interview with Mr. Allen:

The show carries on after Mr. Allen signs off including songs by Larry Garner, Dash Rip Rock, Henry Butler, Johnny Adams, Cha Wa and more. Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.

Bon Bon Vivant Plays KAOS Studio and Gumbo YaYa

Jeremy Kelley was assembling his saxophone when he identified the band that starts today’s show. You won’t have to guess cause I’ll just tell you but get it started now and then read on about today’s studio set with Bon Bon Vivant. (click the sideways arrow below)

Bon Bon Vivant first caught my ears with their album recorded live at the New Orleans Mint. This group offers beautiful harmonies with hip swaying rhythms, haunting lyrics and engaging melodies. This is music for the body, brain and soul. And this isn’t just music that copies the New Orleans. These cats live there.

Dirty Bourbon River Show kicks off today’s show with “”Ain’t No Place (Like New Orleans)”. This song that could have been written by the members of Bon Bon Vivant who hail from California originally but have been living and performing for at least a decade in New Orleans making great music. While the two sisters and Jeremy made the eastern migration together, they found the other California refugees in New Orleans.

I wasn’t surprised when members of the band also recognized the very talented Carolyn Broussard who opened the first full set of the show with “Sweet Inspiration” from her Revival! release. Albanie Falletta and John Fohl, both active musicians in New Orleans, finish out that set.

While Bon Bon Vivant was setting up in the adjacent studio at KAOS today, I played a set of music featuring Raymond Weber on drums. He turned 53 today He’s performed with a wide variety of groups, including Harry Connick Jr., Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary, a Jerry Garcia tribute band, and Dumpstaphunk. But HBO Treme fans might recognize him from when he played himself as the drummer for Antoine Batiste and his Soul Apostles which was featured in the second season. It’s a fast paced set.

When I learned that Jason Jurzak, the BBV’s sousaphonist, wrote songs and performed with Meschiya Lake, well it was easy to pull out her “Bad Kids Club” record and play a Jurzak original “Flim Flam Man.” Lots of fun music followed including songs by Frog and Henry, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, Louie Ludwig and the Shotgun Jazz Band.

Finally, a little less than an hour in to the show, the six-piece band kicked off with “Lost Soul.” Their music is hard to describe and easy to dance to. As mentioned Jeremy Kelley plays sax (soprano and tenor), his partner, Abigail Cosio writes the songs, plays guitar and sings. Her sister, Glori Cosio, adds harmony and rhythm. Ryan Brown handles the accordion and engineers the band’s live recordings. Jason handles the base line on the sousaphone and Brad Webb is their drummer for this tour, filling in for regular drummer Ry D’Antonio who had to skip the tour so he could be a supportive new papa.

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like this band so stay listening through the early sets so you can catch them. Or, just play this version below which just includes the band’s five song set in the KAOS radio studio.

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Art Neville carried the NOLA sound from R&B to Funk to Unique

Another sad loss for the world and New Orleans with the death of Art Neville at 81. His 60 plus years of performing spanned the early years of New Orleans R&B to funk to the rich gumbo of the Neville Brothers. This week’s show has almost an hour of Art’s music. Get it started by clicking the triangle in the player below and then read on.

Barely 17, Art Neville recorded with his high school band a song that would entertain over seven decades of Mardi Gras revelers. “Mardi Gras Mambo” may not ever have charted but it has been a seasonal favorite ever since its recording in January 1955 in a local radio station studio.

Art Neville hooked up with Harold Battiste and recorded with Specialty Records after that cranking out songs like “Cha Chooky-Doo,” “Oooh Wee Baby” and “Please Listen to My Song.” You’ll hear those and others early on in the show before I move on to his more funkier stuff.

As a keyboardist, he became known as “Poppa Funk” anchoring the sound of The Meters and playing songs that would define the New Orleans funk sound. You’ll get three tracks from The Meters in this show — including “Africa” which the Neville Brothers would later cover.

Art’s uncle, George Landry, and the Meter’s association with Allen Toussaint would lead into musical history when they recorded “Wild Tchoupitoulas” — an album of music derived from the Mardi Gras Indian culture and the chants of their uncle in his role as Big Chief Jolly. In this album, you can hear the Neville Brothers sound developing — particularly in the context of Mardi Gras Indian numbers.

But my Neville Brothers’ set focuses on their New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival performances and the importance Art and his siblings played in supporting that institution. You’ll hear “Yellow Moon” for instance from the 2001 JazzFest.

The last half of the show includes a full set of brass bands, some country and swamp pop, and ends with Houseman DeClouet singing “The Truth Iz Out.” I know you’ll like this show. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can get wind of future shows.

How high can a sousaphone play?

Shamarr Allen’s New Orleans anthem “Party All Night” starts off today’s show and I follow it with some jazzy numbers that feature strong sousaphone and trombone performances. You can hear it all by clicking the sideways triangle below and you’ll still be able read on.

Matt Perrine sneaks another surprise run on the sousaphone hitting high notes that don’t even sound like a tuba in “Devil Take It’ to start the first full set. Ben Jaffe also represents himself well on the big horn in Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s take off “Bonjour Cousin.” The set finishes with “The Object of My Affection” by Frog and Henry. Both Frog and Henry and Shamarr Allen will be playing in venues along the I-5 corridor in August (calendar)

I spin a couple of classic funk songs from New Orleans: “Hip Drop” by the Explosions and “Dap Walk” by Ernie and the Top Notes. Trombone Shorty finishes that set and then I play another jazz set that features trombonist Charlie Halloran, Tuba Skinny and Dr. John.

Then its time to celebrate Little Freddie King’s 79th birthday with two numbers that highlight his guitar work. Marcia Ball lightens up that set with her song about the town gossip “Louella.” Lots more follows but by now, you’re probably into it enough to stay listening. I hope you’ll consider subscribing as well (top right hand side of page). Thanks for tuning in.

More NOLA Acts making the I-5 Circuit

More acts from Louisiana and particularly New Orleans are visiting the relatively cooler Northwest during the summer. This show showcases some of those groups so get it started and the read on.

As far as I can tell, Billy Iuso is not visiting the Northwest. He seems content rocking out clubs like Tipitina’s and Chickie Wah Wah in New Orleans. Yet, his “Trippin’ Over Dragons” opens the show. Deacon John sings an old-style swing number for you to open an R&B set before we get on to three that you should make a point to catch when they’re in the Northwest.

Bon Bon Vivant will be in the KAOS studio August 1 and performing in Olympia August 2.

Bon Bon Vivant will be in the KAOS studio during my show on August 1 and will perform at Octapas Cafe in Olympia the next evening. The band’s new song “Pinkerton” from their Live at the Circus should be sufficient temptation for you. Shamarr Allen follows with his unique take on the Gnarls Barkley number “Crazy.” Trumpeter-extraordinaire Shamarr will be in Seattle, Portland and Tacoma in mid-August. The set finishes with Rebirth Brass Band’s “Take ‘Em to the Moon.” Rebirth will be playing Seattle, Bellingham and Vancouver BC next week. (By the way more details are available on my calendar page.)

How about Marcia Ball? I play her number “Watermelon Time” to get your mouth watering for her two evenings of performances in Seattle in August. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes takes a rare turn on the piano to highlight his gigs and appearances at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival at the end of July.

If you’ve made it through the show so far then you’re ready for some zydeco with three groups that played the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland last week (Chubby Carrier, Lil Pookie and Feufollet). A second set kicks off with Dwayne Dopsie who will also be up in Vancouver B.C for the Vancouver Folk Fest.

Later in the show you’ll hear Sonny Landreth (playing Mt. Vernon in August) and Frog and Henry (playing all over the region in August). I provide an encore performance of Shamarr Allen and finish the show with a track off of the Bonerama does Led Zeppelin record.

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