It’s looking a lot like Mardi Gras

A walk around Uptown and Central City New Orleans today left no doubt that Mardi Gras season is upon us.

IMG_2016Officially, the carnival season begins the 12th night after Christmas (the Epiphany), creating a seamless flow from Winter Holiday to Mardi Gras parties.

The season starts cautiously but gradually works up to the crescendo that is Mardi Gras Day or what some call Fat Tuesday–the last day before the faithful must endure the rigors of Lent.

We’re at the penultimate weekend of Mardi Gras when over a dozen parades will roll down St. Charles Avenue as well as through the French Quarter.

Women (Krewe of Cleopatra), wine-lovers (Krewe of Cork), alien fans (Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus) and those who prefer shoe-box sized parade floats (‘tit Rex) are just a few of the rolling shows happening this weekend.

But the Mardi Gras spirit is not limited to the parades. Doors are festooned with wreaths of purple, green and gold, along with banners, masks, signs, and, of course, braids and braids of beads. IMG_2008

And after school lets out, you can easily hear the drum beat of student musicians sharpening their band performance and building endurance for the marathon of parades to come.

I’m going to celebrate Mardi Gras in Olympia.  (Wouldn’t want to miss Artesian Rumble Arkestra’s annual pub crawl)  and I’ll be back in time for the world debut of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa – Thursday edition. It will, of course, be a show featuring Mardi Gras music. Until then, let the good times roll.

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KIPP Central City Academy rehearsing for Mardi Gras.

 

 

KAOS to start serving Gumbo YaYa on Thursdays

Ruby Ru and Anch will guest host the LAST Monday edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa on January 25. But starting February, KAOS is shaking up the world.

Olympia’s community radio station is scrambling its morning line up of world music starting February 1. On that Monday, the mellifluous voice of Anch will kick off the week with her Vitamin D-infused, southern hemisphere focused program, Sundrenched, during my old 10 a.m. to noon slot.

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Scott Steven’s Spin the Globe program is the only world music show not moving anywhere. It’s going to stay on Fridays.

DJ Kalambre’s Sonidoz de la Tierra has been delivering the hottest music in the alternative Latin world and a helluva lot more on Tuesday evenings. But now, he’s going to get us dancing at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays in the world music slot previously handled by Anch.

Veteran KAOS hosts  David and Juli, who are also members of Olympia’s  brass band Artesian Rumble Arkestra, will take over the Wednesday slot with their long-standing program Xenophilia.

And sliding into the Thursday shift previously held by Xenophilia will be yours truly, host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa .  Just as I’ve been doing on Mondays, I’ll be spinning the music of New Orleans. I’m not just talking Dixieland, here. I play the whole muffuletta — brass bands, blues, funk, R&B, Mardi Gras Indian, hip hop, swing, country, cajun, zydeco and everything in between.

The new Thursday edition of Gumbo YaYa will premiere February 4th with a special focus on Carnival and Mardi Gras. In fact,  I’m headed to NOLA right now to get some first hand experience.  (Such sacrifices I make for this show!)

Until then, you can catch many of the past shows edited for replay at Mixcloud.

Rebirth headed back to the Tractor and Dante’s

Good news.  A loyal following of Rebirth Brass Band fans in the Northwest is ensuring that the New Orleans band plays the Wet Coast more than once a year.

Last year, they came to Seattle and Portland twice and the venerable brass band returns to the Tractor Tavern in Seattle this Friday, January 22, and Dante’s in Portland on Saturday, January 23.

As with the last engagement, the Tractor will host two evening shows at $25 a pop or $40 for the whole night. Spring for both, its worth it. Unless you’d rather catch them at their home base in New Orleans at the Maple Leaf and pay only $20 for the evening.

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Rebirth Brass Band performing at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, September 2015

Founded by the Frazier brothers – Phillip on sousaphone and Keith on bass drum–Rebirth Brass Band has been blending jazz, funk, soul, and hip hop with the brass band New Orleans tradition for over 30 years. While the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is largely credited for bringing the New Orleans brass bands into contemporary times, Rebirth has been doing it almost as long and in a far more entertaining manner (my blog, my opinion).

With the co-founders now past 50, the band just recently ceased doing parades. But that long history of Second Lines have built a repertoire of street anthems like Feel Like Funkin’ It Up, Do Watcha Wanna, and Let’s Go Get ’em.

The band’s line up has evolved over the years. Co-founder Kermit Ruffins split off to do his own thing over 20 years ago. So have Glen David Andrews, Shamarr Allen,  and Corey Henry, to name a few.

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Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar in Uptown New Orleans every Tuesday night except when the band tours.

The current line-up includes the hard-to-miss Derrick Tabb, an amazing snare drummer who towers over the group and is active with Roots of Music, a group he co-founded to provide after-school programs for kids at-risk.  You might recognize trombonist Stafford Agee from the television show, Treme, since he and others of the band had cameo roles. But if you’ve listened to the show, you’ve definitely heard him play since its Agee’s trombone really playing when you see actor Wendell Pierce (Antoine Batiste) put lips to mouthpiece. Also on trombone is Gregory Veals. Vincent Broussard is on saxophone and Glen Hall and Chadrick Honore’ are on trumpets.

The band has 17 recordings in its library including a 25th anniversary release and a 2012 grammy winner, Rebirth of New Orleans. The band’s most recent release was 2014’s Move Your Body.  You can count on the band to get you moving and smiling.

Upcoming Northwest Performances of New Orleans Artists

  • Rebirth Brass Band – at Tractor Tavern in Seattle, January 22 and Dantes in Portland, January 23.
  • Nigel Hall – at the Showbox in Seattle, February 4 and the Roseland in Portland, February 5.
  • Jon Cleary – at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, February 8.
  • Galactic – at the Showbox in Seattle, February 26 and Crystal Ballroom in Portland, February 27.
  • The Revivalists – at Neumos in Seattle, March 9 and Aladdin Theater in Portland, March 10.
  • Trombone Shorty – at the Moore Theater in Seattle, April 14 and Keller Auditorium, Portland, April 15.
  • Walter Wolfman Washington – opening for Bettye LaVette at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, May 12 – 15.

Sonny Landreth, slide guitar master, to tour Northwest

Sonny Landreth is hitting the Northwest this week with his longstanding group (bassist David Ranson and drummer Brian Brignac). This is the same trio that recorded his 2015 release, Bound by the Blues which showcases Sonny’s unique mastery of the slide guitar.

Veteran slide guitarist brings his unique sound to the Northwest. Photo by Jack Spencer
Veteran slide guitarist brings his unique sound to the Northwest. Photo by Jack Spencer

Raised in Lafayette, LA, Landreth got his professional start as a teenager performing with Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band and five decades later he continues to showcase a sound inflected with Zydeco. Yet his guitar is so unique, it’s easily recognizable . . .at least to his fans.

And that’s the thing. Sonny Landreth is probably one of the most talented guitarists that not enough folks know about.  His tour in the Northwest should help.

He plays Jazzbones in Tacoma on Friday, January 15. He’ll be in Victoria and Vancouver Saturday and Sunday.  Seattle’s Triple Door will feature him for two nights, (January 18 and 19). And he’ll finish his wet coast tour next Wednesday, January 20 at Portland’s Aladdin Theater.

When reached by email, he wrote: “We’ll be playing a mix of old and new that will include songs off Bound By The Blues as well as some from most of my previous albums.”

Other New Orleans acts coming to the Northwest:

  • Rebirth Brass Band – at Tractor Tavern in Seattle, January 22 and Dantes in Portland, January 23.
  • Nigel Hall – at the Showbox in Seattle, February 4 and the Roseland in Portland, February 5.
  • Jon Cleary – at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, February 8.
  • Galactic – at the Showbox in Seattle, February 26 and Crystal Ballroom in Portland, February 27.
  • The Revivalists – at Neumos in Seattle, March 9 and Aladdin Theater in Portland, March 10.
  • Trombone Shorty – at the Moore Theater in Seattle, April 14 and Keller Auditorium, Portland, April 15.
  • Walter Wolfman Washington – opening for Bettye LaVette at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, May 12 – 15.