A Gumbo Soundtrack for Your Summer Trip

Why should a little global pandemic stand in the way of a virtual summer trip.

​”Good times are down the road. . . .Mama won’t let me go. ” If sung today, Marcia Ball might sing her line as “COVID won’t let me go.” But why should a little global pandemic stand in the way of a virtual summer trip. Put your virtual mask on, click the sideways arrow in the box below and let’s get this week’s musical journey started with a ride on the “Magic Bus” courtesy of Billy Iuso.

You can go “Down the Road” with Marcia Ball in a “Big Old Rusty Car” by Big Al and The Heavyweights, on an “August Night” (Preservation Hall) going from “Austin to Destin” with Davis Rogan, on the Next Train (Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires), in the “Dog Days” (Little Queenie) of “High Summer” (Alex McMurray)​ and if you’re not “King of the Road”(James Booker cover)  by then you can “Go Out on the Road” (Hurray for the Riff Raff) on “Southern Nights” (Allen Toussaint’s long version). And that’s just the first half of the show.

Jimmy Carter had just moved into the White House when Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights” began its climb to being the number one song in both the Billboard’s pop and country charts. But that version is nothing like the song delivered by the man who wrote it. Allen Toussaint started as a teenager working to shape the sound of New Orleans R&B with the help of Irma Thomas (who sings a Toussaint song later in the show), Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey and The Meters. But when he sings his autobiographical “Southern Nights,” he becomes a young city boy exploring the fascinating yet spooky outdoors in the backwaters of Louisiana on a weekend trip to visit relatives who don’t quite speak the same language. Yea, nice thing about a virtual trip like this is you don’t need to worry about the mosquitos!

Another song where it’s probably better to hear it than experience it is”Dog Days” by Leigh Harris (Little Queenie). In less than six minutes, this song covers all the aspects of the August heat in New Orleans. “How many baths can you take in one day.”

The second half of the show is a mixed bag of music featuring a bit of reggae by a no longer active Rock Steady group from New Orleans (007) and Dr. Michael White covering Bob Marley’s “One Love.” Later listen to Irma Thomas pivot on stage in a live recording to do a song she hadn’t sung in years. The band helps out with the forgotten lyrics with a great little jam near the end on “Hittin’ on Nothin.”

The show finishes with a Bon Bon Vivant number, “The Alchemist.” Abigail Cosio and Jeremy Kelley and their merry band of friends and musicians have created a relaxed and yet deceptively high tech presentation for their weekly live Facebook shows . The sound is great. The visuals are fun with camera work that puts you in the intimate room with them. You can watch the roughly one-hour shows at 5 p.m. West Coast time on Sundays or any time afterwards as a recording. And now because of some sort of magic that Jeremy hooked me up with, the same performance will show live on the Gumbo YaYa Facebook page.

Jeremy Kelley and Abigail Cosio of Bon Bon Vivant with friends and band members are providing a quality live feed of their weekly Sunday shows.

As I write this, I’ve been informed that COVID-19 virus was discovered in the building where the KAOS studio is located. As a result, the studio is in lockdown and the Olympia broadcast of the show will be postponed one week. Meanwhile in Bellingham (the City of Subdued Excitement), KMRE will be airing this week’s Gumbo YaYa two hours earlier this Friday (5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.) because of its airing of the virtual Subdued Stringband Jamboree. But you can listen to the full show now. Thank you for tuning in.

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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