This week’s show features a track from Marcia Ball’s new CD and “Roll With It” from Rebirth Brass Band’s classic 1997 release We Come to Party. Which is what the iconic New Orleans brass band will be doing in Seattle and Portland in April. Marcia Ball just finished a two-night engagement at Jazz Alley in Seattle. Here them in more with this edited recording of my March 29 edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.
Happy Spring! I didn’t record last week’s show because it was the pledge drive and I always seem to booger up the sound level when I do a pledge drive. And because of other complications, I won’t be recording tomorrow’s show either.
So I think this is an excellent time to introduce you to Bill Boelens and his wonderful show “Back Down the Bayou” on Baton Rouge community radio WHYR. Bill’s show airs on Sundays and features roots music with a distinct Louisiana and Southern flair.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bill on my last trip to New Orleans. We shopped for music at the Louisiana Music Factory and had lunch at the Camellia Grill on Carrolton. Bill’s quite knowledgeable about regional scene and has excellent taste in the music. I get lots of ideas for my show by listening to his. Here’s a couple of his latest programs.
By the way, its no coincidence that Bill’s show is also on a community radio station. If you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate your financial support of community radio whichever one you listen to in your community. If it happens to my station, KAOS Olympa, here’s the link to pledge.
This post doesn’t have a hole in it but your bucket might. This week’s show has a few stories to it, including one about the first record where you hear Louis Armstrong’s voice, a bloody New Orleans nightclub that gets renamed in song and the birthday of a first rate R&B star whose career was disrupted by the draft and served in Korea. Start the show (Earl King kicks it off) and then keep reading.
Last weekend during a Northwest sun break, the song “That Bucket Has a Hole In It” came to mind while tossing weeds in the five-gallon buckets we use to garden. Unable to shake the tune, I rolled with it and assembled a two-set program of “bucket” songs for today’s show.
The set starts with “Gut Bucket Blues” — the third song recorded by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five but the first to be released and the first to showcase his exuberant stage presence. As Ricky Riccardi eloquently explains in his blog post, the song “contains the first ever glimpse of Louis Armstrong’s personality, in all its glory.”
Recorded in Chicago in 1925, this Hot Five recording includes three other New Orleans expats (Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet an Johnny St. Cyr on banjo) and the future Mrs. Armstrong (Lil Harden) on piano. As each band member takes a solo, Armstrong yells out encouragement. By the time he recorded Gut Bucket Blues, Armstrong was a veteran performer on stage and in the studio, having recorded with bandleaders Joe Oliver and Fletcher Henderson. But with this Hot Five recording, Louis Armstrong steps out for the first time, demonstrating the style he would take to an international level. There’s more fun details about this song and how it was recorded so I’ll give another plug to author Riccardi’s entertaining blog: The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong.
I round out the set with Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s “The Bucket’s Got a Hole In It” and Eddie Bo’s catchy “Check Your Bucket” which while very different from the Prez Hall’s song is certainly connected by lyrics.
The second set starts with a gory story involving an early Little Freddie King gig that went horribly wrong. As he explains in this YouTube video, he got a gig at a nightclub for the weekend. And every night, an incident occurred that resulted in someone losing a lot of blood. At one point, he described taking cover from gunfire behind a juke box. He memorialized the experience in his song “Mixed Bucket of Blood.” The song is followed by Dr. John’s very different take of “Gut Bucket Blues” and the Hot 8 Brass Band’s “Bottom of the Bucket.”
Later in the show I do a long set of drinking songs that in song title form reads like this: Liquor Pang, Drinking Days, Drunk Too Much, Still Drunk, Drink a Little Poison 4 U Die.
Finally, I close with a rousing tribute to Lloyd Price who had five hit R&B songs in the early 50’s before getting drafted into the Army and had to serve in Korea. I tell more of this story in my Veteran’s Day post. I play one of his hits he cut after returning from the military (“Stagger Lee”) along with “Rock N’ Roll Dance” and “Come Into My Heart.”
Thanks for listening.
In Uptown New Orleans where I grew up, the horse-drawn Roman Candy Wagon rolling by was a big occasion. But that was 50 years ago and rolling street vendors, a long tradition in New Orleans, are pretty much gone. Before reading the rest of this story, click the arrow below and get Louis Jordan and rest of my show going.
My family used to frequent a vegetable vendor who would set up near McMann School at the corner of Claiborne and Nashville. But apparently over the years, the tradition had died out until all that was left was Mr. Okra. And now he is gone. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Ann Maloney for the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Family, friends and customers filed through the Marigny Opera House on Ferdinand Street on Sunday (Feb. 25) afternoon to say good-bye to beloved street peddler Arthur J. “Mr. Okra” Robinson, who was laid out dressed just as they might remember him, with his suspenders and, in his hands, a straw hat topped with plastic fruit. His truck keys were looped around his little finger. . .
. . .Arthur Robinson was often called the last of the New Orleans Street vendors because he upheld a tradition of shouting out his wares with “I’ve got apples. I’ve got mangos…,” as he drove through the city streets. It was a tradition that was popular into the mid-1900s in New Orleans. By 2005, Robinson said of himself: “I’m about the only one that really goes around anymore. Most all the old peddlers are dead now, just about.”
It wasn’t just vegetables and fruit. Louis Armstrong got his start as a musician working with an owner of junk wagon. At age 7, he would blow a tin horn to attract attention as the wagon rolled through the streets of New Orleans.
And apparently the Roman Candy Wagon is still operating (though these days most folks see it on display at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.)
In this week’s show, I include a short interview with Craig Klein, a founding member of Bonerama ,who co-wrote a song dedicated to Mr. Okra. You’ll hear that song about 15 minutes into the show. I also feature Louie Ludwig’s wonderful ode to fake news “Troll Factory.” I have a set on drinking bourbon and whiskey and a Latin-inflected set featuring Los Hombres Calientes, the Iguanas and Los Po-Boy-Citos. And much more.
Thanks for listening.