Al “Carnival Time” Johnson turns 80 and other fun music

I celebrate the 80th birthday of Al “Carnival Time” Johnson in today’s show whose big hit became his nickname. But that’s just the first set so get it started and hear the show while you read about it.

Like too many musicians, Johnson missed out on the big pay day for his 1960 “Carnival Time” a number that is part of the New Orleans Mardi Gras songbook. After getting drafted and serving in the Army, he returned to New Orleans to find his record label owner dead and the rights to his song tied up in a legal mess that didn’t get straightened out until 1999.

More than a one-hit wonder, Johnson has a classic R&B voice that is showcased in the song about his neighborhood the “Lower Ninth Ward Blues.” He’s been inducted in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and still performs. Check out his website to learn more about this living legend.

Lots of other music follow in today’s show including songs by several brass bands such as The Young Olympians, the Soul Rebels, Hot 8 Brass Band and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers.

The jazz end of the show is held up by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, the New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown doing a stunning version of Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” from a Jazz Fest performance.

It’s a pretty solid mix of jazz, funk, blues, swing and things in between. Thanks for tuning in and please subscribe.


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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