Thirteen years since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the lives of over a thousand New Orleans residents, scattering survivors throughout the country. And yet, based on our abysmal response to the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we’ve learned little. Get this year’s annual Katrina recognition dedicated to Puerto Rico started.
Shamarr Allen creates the intensity of a hurricane with the opening track of this show “Katrina and the Flood.” It’s become almost a tradition to play that song as well as Marva Wright’s heart-wrenching “The Levee is Breaking Down” which comes off her post-Katrina album, After the Levees Broke.
This year’s show features the KAOS premiere of “You and Me” a song written to dramatize the story of Tim Bruneau, a New Orleans police officer who was working when the levees broke. Bruneau found the body of 23-year-old Marie Latino after the hurricane had passed but before the city had started to flood. After several attempts to have the body picked up, he put her in the back seat of his car. But after failing to find a hospital to take the body, he was ordered to “undo” what he did. He placed Latino’s body in a body bag and returned it to where he found, where it floated on flood waters until it was picked up a few days later. The song is poignant and haunting. An autopsy later revealed that she had been shot instead of killed by the storm as originally believed.
Sonny Landreth song “Blue Tarp Blues” references President George Bush’s famous looking out from Air Force One and Marcia Ball sings Randy Newman’s ode to the 1927 Louisiana flood. I finish the show with Dee-1 and Shamarr Allen singing about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico titled “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More.”
Area fires have clouded my eyes and I’m seeing rodents of unusual size. Start the show with James Andrews’ “Catch the Willie” and I’ll explain.
The Northwest has been blanketed with smoke this week, perhaps playing tricks on my eyes. But there really are rodents of unusual size around in Washington and Oregon. I’m talking about nutria or Myocastor coypus — a semi-aquatic rodent that is native to South America but was introduced into the states as a potential fur-creating creature. As often happens though, the beast is just a nuisance now, creating a problem in Louisiana but also in the more temperate parts of Oregon and Washington. A documentary about them is getting screenings in the region including Olympia at the Capitol Theater (Olympia Film Society) on September 30 at 7:30 p.m. The director will be at the movie to take questions.
All this might be interesting to you (you haven’t stopped reading so far) but you might be asking what does it have to do with my show? Aside from giving my current home and my hometown something else in common, this week’s show includes “Norris the Nocturnal Nutria” by Benny Grunch & the Bunch. It’s sort of a Christmas song and its not very serious but it is in fact the only song I know of that even touches on the subject of coypus or nutria. That’s LARGELY it.
But before you get to that song, you’ll hear an awesome rendition of “Bill Bailey” by clarinetist and singer Doreen Ketchens who does a duet of the song with I believe her husband Lawrence who, in the course of the song, has been struck by “jazz lightning.” It really is quite good. Perhaps its playing right now if you started it when I asked you. If you didn’t, scroll back up and click the arrow.
Lots of other fun stuff follows but I’ll let you decide if its worth it. Cheers.
As best as I can tell, Barbara George and Bobby Mitchell never recorded together but these two New Orleans R&B artists might have crossed paths while cutting records at J&M Studio (Cosimo Matassa). If they did, they might have noticed they had the same birthdays. Start the show and read on.
Born in Algiers on August 16, 1935, Bobby Mitchell was the second of 17 children and might have developed his singing ability just to get noticed among his sibling crowd. In 1950, Mitchell formed the first New Orleans doo wop group, The Toppers. Their first recording was in 1953 with “I’m Crying” and “Rack “Em Up.” Later, when that group was decimated by the draft, Mitchell recorded with a seven-piece with his biggest hit being “Try Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In 1957, he got on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand with “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” (you will hear that one on this show). But it was Fats Domino’s version that was a bigger hit. Mitchell suffered early heart problems and retired in the early 60’s. He became an x-ray technician at Charity Hospital and died on March 17, 1989. I start the show with Mitchell’s “Mama Don’t Allow” and later you’ll hear him singing “Sister Lucy.”
Barbara George was born in Charity hospital on August 16, 1942. Since she was younger, she didn’t get into the J&M studio until 1961, working under the guidance of Harold Battiste and AFO records. Her most recognizable song is the number 1 R&B song in its time, “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More).” Later in 1961, AFO produced the one and only Barbara George album “I Know” featuring mostly songs she wrote. I play “I Know” and a song she recorded in 1968 with Eddie Bo’s help, “Something You Got.”
This show also features some reggae, including two versions Bob Marley’s “One Love” — the first by One Love Brass Band and the second one by The Nevilles performing live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Speaking of Nevilles, Charmaine Neville and her band does a spacey number called “Rocket Nine” or “Rocket V” depending on whether you listen to the recording or read the liner notes.
As always, thanks for tuning in and let me know what you’d like to hear in the future. Cheers.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation visits the Northwest this week so this show features two of his songs and a short interview with the band’s charismatic frontman Sam Williams. Let’s get started and I’ll tell you more.
Big Sam just got back from a tour of Spain when I talked with him today about his trip to the west coast. He leaves tomorrow (Friday, August 3rd) for San Francisco. He’ll play Mississippi Studio in Portland on Monday, August 6 and the Nectar Lounge in Seattle on Tuesday, August 7.
We talked about how he lost his prized trombone when his touring van got broken into last time he came out to the west. We also talked about how Wendell Pierce copied some of his moves and his style when he played Antoine Batiste in the HBO TV show Treme. In fact the broad outline of the character was patterned after Mr. Williams.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s new release Songs in the Key of Funk delivers on his earlier promise to include more dance songs. In this show, I play “What’s My Name (Big Sam” and “Buzzin.” But to get those songs and the interview, you have to listen to few other sets including a set of Led Zeppelin cover songs featuring a sousaphone on “Dyer Maker” and a three trombone salute to “When the Levee Breaks.”
Rolling with the HBO theme, Davis Rogan sings about the hassles of fake pot when acting in a song called “Prop Weed.” Also, this show includes my favorite version of St. James Infirmary, a rocking version led by Clint Maedgen and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band