New Orleans Musicians Co-Host First Shelter-in-Place Show

The first original Gumbo YaYa show since the state’s shelter-in-place order ended my live broadcasts is aided greatly by the kindness of New Orleans musicians who sent me audio clips recorded from their shelter. You’ll hear their voices and their music when you click the sideways arrow below. If you keep reading, you’ll learn a bit more about these talented artists.

Dr. John’s “Locked Down” starts the show and I follow that up with a set dedicated to everyone who is having to get out there and work to ensure essential services. Preservation Hall Jazz Band does a lively version of “St. James Infirmary” followed by the original “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” with Huey “Piano” Smith & The Clowns. But please stay with the show at least to the 20 minute mark when you’ll get to meet Antoine Diel.

Antoine Diel

Born in Manila, Philippines but raised in California, Antoine Diel is a fixture in the New Orleans club scene with regular gigs (at least until recently) at the Spotted Cat, the Carousel Room at Hotel Monteleone and Buffa’s. He checks into the show after I play his beautiful rendition of “Dahil Sa Iyo” which he sings both in Tagalog and English (“Because of You”). You’ll then hear two cuts off his record On the Corner of Hope and New Orleans. Here’s his website where you can find more of his music and say hi to him.

Abigail Cosio of Bon Bon Vivant comes on next (about 35 minutes in). Her band plays infectious music (perhaps not the best description in a pandemic) that she writes. You’ll want to catch her regular Facebook feeds where she and fellow band member and partner Jeremy Kelley do live shows (with other remotely placed musicians) in very creative ways. You can support the band by buying their music but they are also directing tips to the Krewe of Red Beans project Feed the Frontline NOLA which according to the website is working to “feed hospital workers across New Orleans, employ out-of-work musicians/artists, and support locally-owned restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Carlo Nuccio, Joe Cabral and Alex McMurray performing at Atchafalaya Restaurant Sunday Brunch

Alex McMurray is the bard of New Orleans, detailing its deep crevices and taking us to places that tourist rarely frequent. He kicks off his set (after about 50 minutes into the show) with a journey to Hank’s Supermarket on St. Claude Avenue — not too far away from the Saturn and the Carnaval Lounge where he has on a semi-frequent basis assembled a mix of musicians to perform sea shanties under the moniker of the Valparaiso Men’s Chorus. He also has records featuring Rock Steady, vintage American folk music, and original songs by him and other well-regarded New Orleans songwriters (Write Brothers). But his most prolific and still active project is Tin Men featuring one of the best sousaphone players performing anywhere, Matt Perine, and Washboard Chaz Leary. I play one of their songs in Alex’s set. Here’s his website.

Robert Snow aka Kid Eggplant – I couldn’t believe my luck when I bought one of his records last year from Louisiana Music Factory on impulse just because I liked the cover. And it turned out to be great and one of my favorites of the year. How often does that happen? (Never seems to work with wine) Robert is a native of New Orleans and hearing him talk takes me back to my days in the 60’s as a kid in New Orleans. Yes, he goes by the name of Kid Eggplant and his band is the Melatauns usually with with an adjective like “swinging” or “mighty.” While he’s adept at podcasts and live Facebook shows, for some reason he doesn’t have a website. Make it a shelter in place project, Robert! Look for these key words on your favorite streaming service “Kid Eggplant,” “Melatauns” and “Abitals” and of course you can order his music from your local independent record shop.

Kelcy Mae

I have two of Kelcy Mae‘s solo albums (she has three) and I play them regularly on my show. But you’ll hear Kelcy introduce (about an hour and 20 minutes in) her latest project, Ever More Nest, on this show. She also has her own website where I learned she was born on St. Patrick’s Day in Shreveport, Louisiana. She came to New Orleans to attend university and has pretty much stayed, creating music like you’ll hear during her set.

The last musician to co-host the show is a Jack Sledge, a New York native now in New Orleans and he introduces his latest release. Here’s his website.

I finish the show with a set of music by Ellis Marsalis, Jr. who died last week from what appears to be complications of COVID-19. Marsalis was not just a great musician and composer. He was a teacher (Harry Connick Jr. and Donald Harrison to name two students) . He was a mentor and father (Wynton, Delfeayo, Branford and Jason). He was a major force in the New Orleans community, creating affordable housing through the Musician’s Village.

I’m going to try to coax a few more New Orleans musicians to send radio drops for the next show. Sonny Landreth already has. So consider subscribing and stay healthy and we’ll talk again soon.

Author: Tim Sweeney

Host of Sweeney's Gumbo YaYa - a two-hour radio show featuring the music of New Orleans -- every Thursday starting at 10 a.m. (PST) on community radio station KAOS 89.3 FM Olympia, Washington -- www.kaosradio.org. Show also airs on Fridays, 7 p.m., KMRE, 102.3 FM, Bellingham.

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