Rodents of Unusual Size, Jazz lightning & Willie

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.

nutriaThe 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.


Author: Tim Sweeney

Host of Sweeney's Gumbo YaYa - a two-hour radio show that featured the music of New Orleans. It aired from September 2014 through March 2022, broadcast live on KAOS in Olympia and as a recording KMRE Bellingham and some Pacifica Network stations. Maintaining blog for a while longer.

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