December Dance Party with Only One Reindeer

I keep the first of the month dance party tradition rolling into the holiday season with the help of New Orleans and Lafayette musicians, digging a bit deeper to get your hips to swing and your tired dogs high steppin’. First up is Linnzi Zaorski with the “Rhythm in Me.”

In the first full set you’ll get to boogie to a bit of Zydeco, an R&B version of “Lil Liza Jane,” a brass band groove and a blues song. The next set swings from funk to R&B before running into a jazzy swamp number by Bluesiana.

Kermit Ruffins

And so it goes through the show bouncing between genres and rhythm speeds but always with a focus to keep you moving.

Kermit Ruffins will explain how to do the “Fat Tuesday.” Johnny Adams will have you “Chasing Rainbows.” And Arsene Delay will let you catch your breath with a “Slow Drag.”

Flow Tribe will go “Back ‘n’ Forth” while Shotgun Jazz Band will be “Steppin’ on the Gas.” Creole String Beans will get you “Barefootin'” while Marcia Ball makes sure “The Party’s Still Going On.” And as the show wears on, Smoking Time Jazz Club will make sure there’s “Friction.” Erica Falls simply sings “Dance.”

And Debbie Davis and family will “Run Run Rudolph.” Remember to stretch before and after.

All Female Gumbo Ya Ya for 2021

Great singing and rocking rhythms as the women take center stage on this week’s Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. You can listen to the show right from this page using the player below

Arsene Delay starts the show with the title track from her record “Coming Home.” Thirty songs follow all featuring a woman singer, musician and/or bandleader, including new music by Lynn Drury and Tiffany Pollack and great classics by Marva Wright and Irma Thomas.

But before you get to them, you’ll hear “My Sin” by the all-female Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band and “My Darlin’ New Orleans” featuring a beat poet intro by Little Queenie.

Miss Sophie Lee sings “You Do Something To Me” on this week’s show which puts female musicians front and center.

Throughout the show you’ll hear Gumbo YaYa show shout outs by Marla Dixon who fronts the Shotgun Jazz Band, Debbie Davis, Vanessa Niemann of Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, Tiffany Pollack, Lynn Drury, Shawn Williams, Sierra Green, Lena Prima and Kelcy Mae.

Each year this show gets easier in terms of having a choice of female musicians and harder in having to make those tough choices. Here’s previous shows featuring exclusively female musical artists:

Al Hirt, Art Neville, Herb Hardesty and other veterans share their music

As with last year‘s Veterans Day show, this year’s features music from New Orleans area musicians who served in the military. One way perhaps to reduce the chance of war in the future is to give respect to the lives of people who we send off to fight. Whether these musicians saw combat or not, their service in the military often came with a price, some times to their careers. Veterans Day used to be Armistice Day — a celebration of peace. Here’s the link to Veterans for Peace who seek to reclaim this day’s purpose.

This show also features an interview with Kevin Clarke, Grammy winning trumpet player with the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, talking about his friendship with Al Hirt who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. You can listen the interview as part of the whole show (below) or you can just listen to the eight-minute interview segment.

I start the show with a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Wartime Blues” and then flow into Lee Dorsey’s “Gotta Find a Job” to kick off the first full set of music. While serving on a Navy destroyer during World War II, Dorsey was injured by a Japanese fighter plane attack. After leaving the military, Dorsey returned to New Orleans and learned auto body repair with funding provided by the G.I. Bill. Despite his music success, he continued to work at his shop through most of his life.

R&B pianist and Army band leader Paul Gayten follows with “Nervous Boogie.” Lloyd Price, whose career was short circuited when he was drafted and sent to Korea, offers up “Chee Koo Baby.” Dale Hawkins, who lied about his age and served during the Korean War, sings “Suzie-Q” (yes, the song that later would be a hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Ellis Marsalis, a Marine, delivers “Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)”

The next set is dedicated to saxophonist Herb Hardesty who was a member of the famed 99th Flying Squadron better known as the Tuskegee Airman – the first African American squadron to be deployed overseas during World War II.  You’ll hear him play baritone saxophone on Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday” and tenor on a couple of other Domino songs featuring his solos. The set starts with his original song “Just a Little Bit of Everything.”

Kevin Clarke shares his memories of Al Hirt in this week’s show.

Then Kevin Clarke, who won a grammy this year for his performance with the New Orleans Nightcrawlers’ album Atmosphere, talks about making a point to befriend Al Hirt when he first moved to New Orleans in the 1990’s. As part of Clarke’s reminiscence, you’ll hear “Java,” the theme from the “Green Hornet” and “Cornet Chop Suey.” Below is the player for just that interview.

The next set highlights the Navy service of Art and Charles Neville with Art’s “Let’s Rock” along with The Meters “The World is a Bit Under the Weather. Leo Neocentelli served during the Vietnam War but returned in time to contribute his guitar licks to The Meter’s groove. Two Neville Brother songs follow that.

Willie Durisseau and brother Jimmy.

Willie Durisseau is far from a household name but he was an active Cajun fiddler in the 1930’s performing at  House Dances, known in French as bals de maison, held in small towns in the Arcadiana area of Louisiana.  But thanks to Louis Michot, with Lost Bayou Ramblers and Corey Ledet, he was recorded playing the fiddle at age 101. He also served our country and fought in Okinawa – the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II. Other veterans in that set include Clarence “Gatemout” Brown, Eddie Bo, Rockin’ Tabby Thomas, Chuck Carbo and Derrick Moss’ Soul Rebels (Derrick served in the Air Force Reserves).

Also in this week’s show: Dave Bartholomew, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Allen Toussaint and Robert “Bumps” Blackwell (who was stationed at nearby Fort Lewis)– all veterans.

I finish with a couple of songs focused on peace, most notably Louie Ludwig’s “World Without War.” Thanks for listening. Please subscribe.

November Dance Party starts funky but ends up in Panama

Welcome to this month’s Dance Party edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. Ivan Neville’s collaborative project with Cris Jacobs titled Neville Jacobs kicks off the show with a very appropriate number called “Dance for Me Mama.”

The Meters, which includes Ivan’s uncle Art, starts off the first full set with “No More Okey Doke” — a silly title with a danceable groove. And speaking of danceable grooves, I would never have thought I could boogie to “If I Were a Carpenter” but somehow Eldridge Holmes’ cover pulls it off. Chuck Carbo, Corey Henry, Danny White, Big Sam and Sierra Green keep the beat flowing. This week’s show features extra long sets and less talking cause you really can’t dance when I’m blathering on.

Papa Grows Funk and Cha Wa takes into the second half hour which finishes strong with Rebirth’s “Hot Butt Naked Sex,” Paula and the Pontiacs “Rough n’ Tumble Man,” Allen Toussaint’s “Shoorah, Shoorah” (from a 1976 vinyl record) and Kid Eggplant’s touching love song “Vasectomy.”

We get a little reggae beat going with the second half of the show where Lil’ Rascals Brass Band does “Rasta Second Line” and Alex McMurray’s Rock Steady project, 007, performs “Alidina.”

Later you’ll hear songs by Meschiya Lake, Charlie Wooten and Arsene Delay, King James & the Special Men, George Porter Jr., Billy Iuso, Earl King and Lynn Drury.

The pace changes but doesn’t really slow down with Meschiya Lake’s “Anytime is Saturday Night,” Smoky Greenwell’s “Back to the Boogie,” and Dr. Michael White doing “Panama.” Thanks for tuning in and dancin’ to the beat.

Day of the Dead Takes On Greater Significance

Partly because I’m at the age where I know more people who are dead and partly because the pandemic is helping to increase that number for all of us, the Day of the Dead holds more meaning now. While the playlist for this show is similar to past Day of the Dead (Halloween) shows, the vibe (my vibe) has definitely changed.

The show kicks off with a riff on “St. James Infirmary” by Wendell Pierce playing the character of Antoine Batiste in the HBO series Treme. Batiste is waiting in the Touro Emergency Room when he does his impromptu singing, accompanied by an anonymous slap beat on a tin waste can.

Day of the Dead

What follows is music about death including a Preservation Hall Jazz Band version of “St. James Infirmary,” King Oliver’s “Dead Man Blues,” Treme Brass Band’s “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead,” Dirty Bourbon River Show’s “All My Friends are Dead” and Spencer Bohren’s “Ghost Train.”

That theme rolls into the next set with Shotgun Jazz Band’s “White Ghost Shivers” and a fascinating song called “Seven Skeletons Found in the Yard.”

After the first hour, its voodoo time with the help of The Neville Brothers, Spider Murphy, Charles Sheffield, Sunpie Barnes, and Benny Turner.

If you make it that far, you’ll hear my annual send up of Morgus the Magnificent — the original New Orleans fright show host that spawned a movie and a regional hit by Mac Rebennack, Jerry Byrne and Frankie Ford from 1059. This year, you’ll also hear the Creole String Beans cover of the same song. Here’s an earlier post with a lot more detail on Morgus, his show and the song.

I finish with a few spirituals including the most recognized one, “Saints,” by the Zion Harmonizers. My best to you and love to all those who are remembering a lost one.

“You’re my good for nothin’ sweet hunk o’trash.”

One of the highlights of Dr. John’s send-up record of Louis Armstrong is his duet with Shemekia Copeland “Sweet Hunk o’Trash.” The song caps the opening four-song set that also features piano players Amasa Miller, Jon Cleary, and Henry Butler.

When you start the player above, Walter “Wolfman” Washington will kick it off with “The Big Easy” — a showcase of his guitar and malleable voice, backed up by a solid horn section — making it clear you’re about to listen to two hours of New Orleans music.

Cover of Charmaine Neville Band’s It’s About Time

Charmaine Neville kicks off the first set with “Can You Tell Me” a sweet, sultry number co-written with her percussionist Gregory Boyd doing a steel pan solo. Helping out are Amasa Miller on piano, and Reggie Houston on saxophone and I think the whole band chimes in on the chorus. Henry Butler percusses his way into that song’s closing vibe with his rhythmic “Henry’s Boogie.” Jon Cleary slows the tempo down a bit while still staying funky with “Oh No No No” and then Shemekia and Dr. John cover Hunk o’Trash . They make it uniquely theirs but in case you were curious about the Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday version, here it is.

Free Spirit Brass Band ramp it back up in the second full set with “Red Dress.” The unique project by New Orleans producers Steve Reynolds and Scott Billington of remixing Alan Lomax field recordings with studio musicians and rhythms follows.

Frustrated by the Congressional deadlock? Perhaps you’ll dig Smoky Greenwell’s latest single “Filibuster Blues.” With songs like “Progressives Unite” and “Get Out and Vote,” Smoky has been putting his politics where his sax and harmonica is — well except he still plays those, and sings. If you don’t want to here it on my show, try it on Soundcloud.

Rebirth Brass Band, which is performing in the Northwest this weekend, do “Who’s Rockin’, Who’s Rollin’?” followed by The Radiators “Long Hard Journey Home” (the version recorded for the Treme TV Show).

Also on the show: Danny Barker, Albanie Falletta, Dirty Bourbon River Show, Sarah Quintana, Dash Rip Rock, David Egan and the Olympia Brass Band. Thanks for tuning in.

You Just Never Know What You’ll Hear – It’s Gumbo Ain’t It?

Earl King addresses some of the reason’s why I do this show in the kick off song “No City Like New Orleans.” But hang on to your ear buds cause its my usual meandering ride through the city’s musical corners.

Kenny Neal at 2013 New Orleans JazzFest – Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsee

In recognition of the second cancelled New Orleans JazzFest, Kenny Neal starts the first full set of this week’s show with an original song that flows into a Jimmy Reed medley. Neal apprenticed with Slim Harpo, Buddy Guy and his own blues musician father Raful Neal. He’s been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and recently won the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year. I put his 13-minute track up front on this show so that if you’re short of time, you’ll at least catch this unique live performance at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Marva Wright and Bobby Rush round out that set.

The second set is a classic Gumbo YaYa mash up featuring Ted Hefko with a country-style number “My Life in Bars” followed by Bamboula 2000 and a Haiti sendoff by Cyril Neville. Then, I take a hard left turn by The Electric Arch that somehow goes really nicely when followed by Michael Doucet. Five distinctly different acts whose songs seem to flow well together. Either that or I inhaled too deeply on my way to the studio (. . .just kidding, its against KAOS rules).

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was primarily an East Texas-West Louisiana musician but he was living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and his music is so brilliant, I can’t help but gravitate to his vast library when planning a show. You’ll hear “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” where he demonstrates his talent on guitar and violin. The Zion Harmonizers follow that with “My Record Will Be There” along with John Fohl’s “Do or Die” and John Fogerty’s recast of “Proud Mary” with Jennifer Hudson sharing vocals and Rebirth Brass Band backing them both up. (Just an hour into the show and its worth the wait)

If you’re still listening by then, thank you and perhaps Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales will be a good reward, along with Colin Lake, Clifton Chenier, Rosie Ledet, Little Queenie and Louis Prima . . .to name a few. Thanks for tuning in. If you like or not like something. . . LET ME KNOW!

Stomp Your Way Through October’s Dance Party

This month’s Gumbo YaYa Dance Party takes a 10-song dive into stomps. Within the first half hour, you will stomp through Mobile (Shotgun Jazz Band), Fort Worth (Aurora Nealand), Mahogany Hall (Louis Armstrong),Shreveport (Smoking Time Jazz Club), Louisiana (Clifton Chenier), a Roadhouse (Matt Perrine) and a Big Pasture (Hackberry Ramblers).

But perhaps the most significant “Stomp” I share is by the piano player who helped fuel the craze. You’ll hear “Black Bottom Stomp” by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers — a band assembled by the maestro in Chicago from New Orleans musicians fleeing north during the Great Migration in the 1920’s, including Kid Ory on trombone and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo.

But its a dance party, so I move on to “boogies” such as Benny Turner’s “Mojo Boogie,” C.J. Chenier’s “Zydeco Boogie,” James Andrews “Banana Boogie” and Ghalia & Mama’s Boys’ “Hiccup Boogie.”

Shamarr Allen ramps it up further with his kick-ass version of Taylor Swift’s “Shaking It Off” and Corey Henry maintains the sweaty momentum with “Tell Ya Mama Nem.” You’ll also hear Earl King, the Explosions, Benny Spellman, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and three live danceable performances by Flow Tribe, Midnite Disturbers and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes.

Thanks for tuning in, limbering up and shaking your money maker. My best to you and I’ll check in with you next week.

Haiti & New Orleans – A Treasured Melting Pot

I cannot help but wonder at the talent, beauty and opportunities the United States loses out on when we deny entry to refugees. This week’s show starts off with a musical nod to the travesty that resulted in one of our country’s diplomats resigning in disgust.

Lakou Mizik, a Haitian band, recorded HaitiNola in New Orleans to celebrate and highlight the city’s shared cultural heritage with New Orleans. That shared experience dates back to the early 1800’s when the first and only successful slave rebellion in the Americas resulted in the formation of Haiti, scattering French refugees and their slaves and some free people of colors throughout the Caribbean. As luck would have it, a large portion, roughly 10,000 people, ended up in New Orleans doubling the size of the city and changing it forever.

This public radio podcast goes into greater detail on the history and the shared architecture, art, food, language and music that evolved from this cultural infusion to the city. In this week’s show, you’ll hear Lakou Mizik perform with King James and the Special Men followed by tracks from Bamboula 2000, Sunpie Barnes, and Fredy Omar. Apparently, the U.S. has a tradition of diplomats resigning over its treatment of Haiti, dating back to Fredrick Douglass who would later say “Haiti is Black, and we have not yet forgiven Haiti for being Black.”  That was in 1893 and it seems that things have not changed.

This week’s show has very little New Orleans style jazz. Near the end of the show, you will hear Haruka Kikuchi‘s wonderful rendition of Salty Dog, including some lyrics sung in Japanese, that she does with Shake’Em Up Jazz Band. But its stands nearly alone in the hot jazz category. Instead, you’ll hear Egg Yolk Jubilee getting loud with “Black Drawers,” Garage a Trois fusing it up with “Calm Down,” and George Porter Jr. funking it up with “Nice, Very Nice.” Also, I feature two songs by The Soul Rebels who will be performing in Olympia and Seattle in February 2022.

Bonerama from the band’s “Live at the Old Point” 2001 release

I also need to say a little bit about the New Orleans band Bonerama mostly so I have an excuse to display this gratuitous photo. The band is still active though with fewer trombonists and more clothing. On this show, you’ll hear the band’s performance of “Blues for Ben.”

Moving into a Bluesier, Funky Fall

A fall freshet of rain (almost two inches) has slaked the thirst of my drought-stressed landscape and brushed off the dust of summer. We’re in that sweet spot where the sun shines enough to ensure the oncoming chill and damp doesn’t quite over stay its welcome. Well, at least for now. And the other harbinger of Autumn? The arrival of students on the Evergreen State College campus starting Monday.

This week’s show was captured, as usual, during its original broadcast on KAOS and edited for rebroadcast on KMRE. Since returning to producing live shows in the KAOS studios in May, the campus of the Evergreen State College has been rather ghostly. Empty parking lots, an occasional distant body scurrying across the square, the quiet yet freaky noises of previously unnoticed machinery in the College Activities Building where the studio resides.

But this week, there were some stirrings. More cars in the lot, students animatedly chatting in pairs on the square and after 20 months, this four-year college appears to be coming back to life with in-person classes and activities. Next week, the studio, which has been empty every time I’ve come in for my show over the last four months, will be a lot more active. I’ll have to get used to other people working near me again.

Why this description? Well, this milieu can affect my show, even though it features music from a city over 2,600 miles away. You’ll hear a good example when I break tradition and start the first set with a song that is by Jonathan Bree a New Zealander whose song, “You’re So Cool,” is very different than what I usually play. But given that it was a request by a student who was listening as my earlier morning show was ending, I wanted to be welcoming and play the song. It was followed by good company – Clayton Doley‘s “Disbelief.” This piano-playing Aussie went to New Orleans and jammed with some of its best horn players, creating Bayou Billabong. Preservation Hall Jazz Band follows with its Cuban-influenced original “Santiago.” Before the set ends, I get back on message with The Melatauns’ “Day of Sunshine” followed by Dr. Brice Miller’s poignant yet jammin’ “You are my Sunshine.” And that’s just the first full set — which you can listen to right now by using the player above.

Other show highlights include:

  • The Shiz which bills themselves as “New Orleans conscious, hippie, lesbeaux Folk-Rock and Soul”
  • A nearly 8 and half minute rendition of “Let Me Do My Thing” by The Hot 8 Brass Band — edited for radio but not to be confused with the radio version of this song which is half as long. Here’s the site to donate to help the family of bandleader Bennie Pete who died from COVID-19 earlier this month.
  • Sarah Quintana performing with a kazoo.
  • Greetings and songs by Sonny Landreth and Andrew Duhon.
  • Dozens of other great New Orleans songs.

Thanks for tuning in, subscribing, listening, being kind, helping others and cleaning up after yourself.