Gumbo YaYa 2018 – Top 10 CDs of the Year

My list of top ten releases from New Orleans is based on my experience as the host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa, a Northwest community radio show that features New Orleans and other Louisiana music. To see a larger list of releases, check out my 2018 summary. This show features two tracks from each of the top 10 releases.

Bon Bon VivantLive At The New Orleans Jazz Museum –  This original group features sweet sister harmonies, a genre-bending style and a clear affection for New Orleans history performed before the perfect live audience.  This is a group to watch and you can, very easily because they perform live in New Orleans regularly.

Riverside Jazz Collective: Stomp Off, Let’s Go – Recorded at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music by New Orleans pros who can  be heard regularly around town, particularly at The Bombay Club. This album features gently time-worn “songs that are melodically and emotionally durable.”  

Ivan Neville and Cris JacobsNeville Jacobs – A magic combination formed from a post-Jazz Fest card game where New Orleans funk and soul meets Baltimore rock and blues.  The chemistry is so solid, I listen to this CD with the hope that there will be a second one.

Cha WaSpyboy – Waiting for the next generation to pick up the mantle for The Wild Magnolias (except with a strong brass sound ) Look no further then this second release of this millennial group that has the fire!  Grammy nominated too.  “Get On Out Of the Way” 

Michot’s Melody Makers: Blood Moon – Lost Bayou Ramblers’ co-founder Louis Michot stretches the boundaries of Cajun music to his heart and my ears content with this project. I get calls from listeners wanting to know more when I play from this CD — and for good reason.

Helen GilletHelkiase– On the surface, Gillet and her music may seem far afield of what you might expect out of New Orleans. But this French and English singing cellist has been embedded in the city for most of her professional life. Her latest project can be edgy, melodic, soothing and tense.  Check out her KAOS studio performance  and interview from this summer

Jon Batiste:  Hollywood Africans – He may be world famous as the late night show bandleader but Batiste is more importantly a world-class musician with some powerful music to share, In this very personal release, he offers up originals with a fresh look at a couple standards. His reverent timing invites the listener to slow down and listen “with all you got, . . .don’t stop.”

Gal HolidayLost & Found – After 14 years in the vanguard of the New Orleans country music scene, Gal Holiday — aka Vanessa Neuman — and her Honky-Tonk Revue know how to deliver authentic old-time Patsy Cline style country. And while her band is solid, Vanessa’s voice is the star of the show.

Jonathon LongJonathon Long –  His third release is the charm. He dropped the “Boogie” from his name and added a lot of himself in his singing and songwriting. This self-titled album produced by Samantha Fish and featuring muscular guitar work and soulful, personal lyrics represents a new addition to Southern Rock.

Jon ClearyDyna-Mite – If you’ve been waiting for Cleary’s full band follow up to his 2016 Grammy win, wait no more!  With two more songs and a wider range (including a reggae-inflected song), Dyna-Mite blows away his Grammy-worthy earlier release.

I also play a track from Ever More Nest — Kelcy Mae’s latest project which was a close contender for being part of the top 10 list.

Christmas Time from New Orleans

How can there be a war on Christmas when anyone who wants to enjoy this popular event is able to? Not only is this holiday community property, its a wonderful way to examine our culture. In this show, you get a look at Christmas through the lens of New Orleans music (with some help from cajun and zydeco musicians_

Allen Toussaint

What better way start the Gumbo Ya Ya show than with Art Neville’s “Gumbo Christmas”. Snow is pretty rare in New Orleans and a “white” Christmas is almost unfathomable so I start the next set with Allen Toussaint’s delightful “The Day It Snows on Christmas.”

The set ends with Louis Armstrong’s version of “Christmas Night in Harlem” which was a bigger hit than the original 1934 recording by Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. As sung by Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer in the Whiteman version, the song has minstrel elements that seem to play off the same attraction held by the popular radio show of the time, Amos N’ Andy. Armstrong wised removed those elements, streamlined the song, focused on the swinging parts and made the song a bigger hit.

You get a soulful, blues reading of the “Night Before Christmas” by the man who either inspired the name of the Little Richard hit or got his nickname from it: Ready Teddy McQuisten. And if you’re not familiar with the song “Ready Teddy,” don’t worry. I play it right after the reading.

Kelcy Mae’s original and poignant song about separating from her partner during the holidays as they each head to their respective families plays off a pun of “Merry Me” as it recognizes and honors the achievement of legalizing same sex marriages. Here’s her video of that song.

Wayne Toups sings “Louisiana Santa” and Smoky Greenwell drives home a very cool version of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” For those who love horns, New Birth Brass Band belts out “Second Line Santa”

Shamarr Allen sings his original “Santa Passed My House By” with the assistance of what like is his own child. There’s more to this show so please enjoy. Consider subscribing, it’s free. If you celebrate this holiday, Merry Christmas. Otherwise, enjoy the season and some time off with your loved ones.

Your 2018 New Orleans Music Buying Guide

Here’s a list of 2018 releases from New Orleans musicians for you to consider and you can listen to them with my latest show. No rational order to the list other than this is the order you’ll hear them on the show, which you can start right now. The song played is in italics.

The Big Dixie Swingers: Ranch Stressing – A fiddler and crooning banjoist backed up by trumpet, clarinet and drums perform a collection of pre-war Western Swing, Country Blues, and popular songs.  Razz Matazz Soup

Big Sam’s Funky Nation: Songs in the Key of Funk: Volume One – Trombonist Big Sam Williams brings back the funk for his latest release with his actively touring band.  Dance to the CD then dance to him when he comes through your area. “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further”

Sean ArdoinKreole Rock and Soul Ardoin’s grammy nominated release of  soul, rock and pop songs, all with a distinctive creole flavor, is designed to get you to dance — instructional dance video included. “Kick Rocks”

Marcia Ball: Shine Bright  – Her dual Texas and Louisiana musicianship status is on full display in support of a seasoned voice that leaves no doubt of the veracity of her songs. “I Got to Find Somebody”

Jonathon Long: Jonathon Long –  In his third release, this Baton Rouge-based guitarist and singer has seen “the light” and put more emphasis on his songwriting and singing.  A damn good idea well executed  by producer Samantha Fish. “The Light”

Ever More Nest: The Place That You Call Home  –  Kelcy Mae’s latest project offers a deeply intimate perspective on the saying “there’s no place like home.” This Shreveport native lives and works in New Orleans and recorded this beautiful album in Nashville for a national audience. “Broken Bones”

Tin Men:  Sing with Me – Washboard Chaz anchors and lends his voice to this unique trio which showcases the fascinating songs of Alex McMurray (guitar and vocals) and the sousaphone wizardry of Matt Perrine.  “Scraper Man”

Riverside Jazz Collective: Stomp Off, Let’s Go – Recorded at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music by New Orleans pros who can  be heard regularly around town, particularly at The Bombay Club, this album features gently time-worn “songs that are melodically and emotionally durable.”  “Ready for the River”

Sabertooth Swing: Extinct Possibilities – Another sharp traditional New Orleans jazz band that manages to make it all sound fresh and fun. “Alcohol”

Bon Bon Vivant: Live At The New Orleans Jazz Museum – Enjoyable sister harmonies, genre-bending style and a clear affection for New Orleans history performed before the perfect live audience. “The Jazz Axe Man”

Jon Cleary: Dyna-Mite – If you’ve been waiting for Cleary’s full band follow up to his 2016 Grammy win, wait no more!  – “Dyna-Mite”

Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs: Neville Jacobs – New Orleans funk and soul meets Baltimore rock and blues.  I hope its not a one off. “Make Up of a Fool”

Gal Holiday: Lost & Found – Vanessa Neuman, aka Gal Holiday, lays down a tasty selection of mostly original honky tonk country tunes. “Come Home”

Ghalia & Mama’s Boys: Let the Demons Out  – Energetic vocals of Belgium-born Ghalia Vauthier, who has been mining the Mississippi River blues scene for this release — well supported by Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys.  “Hoodo Evil Man”

Little Freddie King: Fried Rice & Chicken – Straight, no chaser blues by a man who is still a treasured member of the Ninth Ward live music scene. “Mean Little Woman”

Old Riley & Water:  Biting Through –  Gritty, fuzzy, stripped down blues from a group I hadn’t heard of till the album turned up at KAOS — they regularly perform at House of Blues in New Orleans.  “Trouble”

Keith Stone with Red Gravy: Blues with a Taste of New Orleans – Keith Stone has clearly made it back home with this solid cast of musicians delivering exactly what the album title promises, with an extra serving of red gravy. “Blue Eyed Angel”

Eric Lindell: Revolution in Your Heart – Another great release of southern R&B. This time, Lindell plays just about every instrument. “Grandpa Jim”

Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires: Gas Station Guru – Saxophonist/bandleader Hefko takes you through a laid back set of R&B, blues and jazz that is steeped in New Orleans. “The Roofer”

Shawn Williams:   Motel Livin’ – Falling somewhere near the alt-country zone, her second album is a gripping compendium of lyrical songs that may leave you a bit unnerved but fully entertained. “Best of Me”

Helen Gillet: Helkiase– A French and English singing cellist with a strong attraction to improvisation, jazz, funk and New Orleans, Gillet’s latest project can be edgy, melodic, soothing and tense.  Check out her KAOS studio performance  and interview from this summer. “Vautour”

Cyril Neville: Endangered Species: The Essential Recordings:If you’re not a close follower of the most soulful and political of the Neville brothers, then this release serves as a nice sampler of his five releases from his Endangered Species label. “Ayiti”

Cha Wa: Spyboy – Waiting for the next generation to pick up the mantle for The Wild Magnolias (but perhaps with more brass!) Look no further then this second release of this millennial group that has the fire!  Grammy nominated too.  “Get On Out Of the Way” 

Michot’s Melody Makers: Blood Moon – Cajun music for new ears, and broad-minded old ones, crafted with respect to tradition. “La Lune est Croche”

Lena Prima:  Prima La Famiglia You don’t have to be Italian to enjoy Lena’s reconnection with her roots. They’re songs her father would sing but this time, its her voice. “Come On A My House”

Jon BatisteHollywood Africans – If you’re a fan of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” you know what he looks like.  The late night show bandleader provides a much deeper glance with this release featuring solo piano and singing.  “Don’t Stop”

Louie Ludwig‘sTroll Factory” – No album this year from this politically impish New Orleans songwriter and video maker but his proletariat perspective of this new world sweat shop hits it out of the proverbial Zenit Arena.  If you like, check out his YouTube Channel.

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Show focuses on happier reasons to remember December 7th

December 7th is most recognized in the United States as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day but its also the birthday of two very important New Orleans musicians: Louis Prima and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.  Get the show started and then read on about their music and other features of this episode of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.

LOUIS PRIMA

The attack on Pearl Harbor was 31 years off when Louis Prima was born in 1910. He grew up listening to the nascent jazz of New Orleans, including Louis Armstrong. He formed a jazz band when he was a teenager, moved into swing during the 30’s, led a big band in the 40’s and was part of jump blues scene before settling down in the Las Vegas scene in the 1950’s. Like Satchmo, Prima played the trumpet but it was his singing that made him famous. 

My first real encounter of him was his singing  “I Wanna Be Like You” in the Disney animation “Jungle Book.”  Later, he claimed that voicing the swinging orangutan King Louie in the film was a highlight of his career. You’ll hear that song on this show along with one of his Italian songs.  His daughter, Lena Prima, also sings a song in his set. 

Monk Boudreaux featured on the 2013 OffBeat Magazine Jazz Fest Guide. Boudreaux performed at the first New Orleans Jazz an Heritage Festival in 1970. 

Bombs were dropping on Pearl Harbor when Big Chief Monk Boudreaux was born in 1941.  Of course, he wasn’t the chief of the Golden Eagles then.  As a Black Indian of Mardi Gras Chief, Boudreaux was highly regarded.  But when he paired with his buddy Big Chief Bo Dollis and formed the Wild Magnolias, the recording put the unusual cultural art form of Mardi Gras Indians on an international stage.  Tootie Montana may be the Chief of All Chiefs but Boudreaux is the Chief of all recording chiefs.  I could almost fill a whole show of his performances without ever violating the federal streaming rule that prohibits playing more than three songs from one artist name. Boudreaux performs with a wide range of artists, including Tab Benoit and Anders Osborne (songs featured in this show.)

There’s lots more to the show but why don’t you just let it flow over you.  Hang in there to near the end and you’ll get an encore performance of Chief Boudreaux performing with his grandson J’wan Boudreaux, the spy boy for the Golden Eagles who fronts his own band, Cha Wa.  Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.  Thank you.