Another Gift Guide Browse through 2020 NOLA Music

The 2020 crop of new releases out of New Orleans is worth a deeper dive for this week’s show, particularly since I’ve added a couple of new ones and included a short interview with members of Bon Bon Vivant.

As with last week, the bands and records are listed in the order played during the show which you can listen to while reading this by using the player below. Also each listing includes the name of the song played and links to their music (buy buy buy!)

Debbie Davis & Josh Paxton – Interesting Times – Their second release together featuring Davis’ velvet voice backed by Paxton’s scene-stealing piano. Provocative song choices for interesting times. “Swing Brother Swing”

The New Orleans Swinging GypsiesHot Boudin –  Literally a toe-tapping example of how talented New Orleans musicians can put a fresh spin on a classic style. “First Flight”

New Orleans NightcrawlersAtmosphere  – Their “Live at the Old Point Bar” sold me on New Orleans music. Now with their first record in 11 years, this loose funky brass band scores a Grammy nomination with tight, creative arrangements. “Big Bottom”

New Orleans JohnnysOutta Ya Mind – In the tradition of the New Orleans Suspects and the Radiators, the Johnnys invigorate New Orleans rock with saxophone swing and lyrics embedded in the city. “Good People”.

Roland Guerin– Grass Roots – Artful studio release (came out in 2019) by this bass player who has worked with Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis and George Benson. “Stick to the Basics”

Colin LakeForces of Nature – This Seattle native lives in New Orleans and continues to define his sound with this new record, fondly reminiscent of Eric Lindell while still being original. “Just Begun”

Bon Bon Vivant – Dancing in Darkness – Abigail Cosio and partner Jeremy Kelley create community this year with fellow musicians and fans and emerge from the Year of COVID better than ever. You’ll hear them briefly discuss their release and livestreaming after “Ship is Sinking.” Also hear “Hell or High Water” and “Die Young.” Also, I made a mistake on the day their Facebook livestream happens. You can see them live almost every SUNDAY at 5 p.m. (Left Coast Time) on Facebook, including from my own Facebook page.

Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales – Shake the Rum – This hip trombonist/bandleader wears Calypso well. And you’ll learn to check the mirror next time you eat a whole mango. “Mango Vert”

Shake ’em Up Jazz BandThe Boy in the Boat – Swinging jazz by excellent musicians with vocals that make this record shine. As evidence, the harmonizing on “Nuts to You”

The Abitals Hot Box – Four good musicians and drinking buddies generating new music or Y’at savants plotting a new swamp pop invasion? A unique gift choice for the accordion fan on your list. “Leave Me Alone.”

Tuba Skinny – Quarantine Album: Unreleased B-Sides – You know the band is talented when the rejects of three previous albums is this good. Available for download only on its bandcamp page. “Spoonful”

Glen David Andrews – Live from my Living Room  -His trombone has been part of Lil Rascals, New Birth and Treme Brass Bands. Now literally from his living room to yours. “Treme Hideaway”

Smoking Time Jazz Club Mean Tones and High Notes – Jaw-dropping performances don’t get in the way of great song choices. This is an exceptional record worthy of gifting to any music fan of New Orleans jazz. The Breeze”

The Write BrothersInto the Sky  – Second release by this collective of songwriters that were originally conceived as a New Orleans version of The Highwaymen. This one barely got made given the health decline and death of Spencer Bohren. Here is the story of the record’s making. “Do It”

Putumayo Presents New Orleans Mambo -Putumayo’s nod to the “Spanish Tinge” of New Orleans music featuring the well-known (Dr. John and The Neville Brothers) and the should be well known (Los Po-Boy-Citos and Otro). “Jive Samba”

John “Papa” GrosCentral City – Former funkmaster sharpens his vocals and gets playful in a very New Orleans way. “Yeah Yeah Yeah”

Paul SanchezI’m a song, I’m a story, I’m a ghost  – Talented songwriter with a heart rendering voice and songs to match. “Mary Don’t Two Step”

Michot’s Melody Makers: Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn: Live from the Saturn Bar, New Orleans Lost Bayou Rambler Louis Michot’s journey into new Cajun music frontiers continues with December 2019 performance at the Saturn. “T’as vole mon traineau”

Colin LakeForces of Nature – I missed him in last week’s swing through these new releases. So he gets a well-deserved second listen. This time “Alajuela”

Lena Prima The Lena Prima Big Band, Live in Concert – As early records attest, Lena can write good songs. She also can front a big band and honor her father’s legacy in an entertaining live Las Vegas show. “Just a Gigolo (I Ain’t Got Nobody)”

New Orleans Jazz VipersIs There a Chance for Me  – If you can’t swing on Frenchmen Street, why not swing at home with the toast of Frenchmen Street. “Somebody Stole My Gal'”

Kid Eggplant and the Trad MelataunsKid Eggplant and the Trad Melatauns Traditional style, but original songs with contemporary themes – “Falto Besos”

The Write BrothersInto the Sky – Spencer Bohren fans will want this posthumously released record in their collection. He was only able to sing lead on this one song but his influence, including his son as producer, is felt throughout. “Every Highway”

Alex McMurray: Lucky One and also Road Songs – His guitar work lovingly wraps around Spencer Bohren’s voice in the previous song. Now you hear one from his solo project. On these two records, McMurray sings contemporary, universal stories such as “Dear Old Daddy” from Lucky One.

Charlie and the Tropicales – Celebrate the winter holiday in the tropics! Seven unique seasonal songs from Halloran’s calypso project (originally released in 2019). “Latitude 29”

Bobby Rush Rawer than Raw – Grammy Winner Bobby Rush demonstrates once again how to create amazingly simple yet deeply moving blues. “Don’t Start Me Talking”

Sierra Green & the Soul MachineSierra Green & the Soul Machine – Offbeat Magazine named her Emerging Artist of the Year. Then it all shut down. Damn COVID! “Wrong Wrong Wrong”

Cowboy Mouth: Open Wide (EP) – New Orleans rocking band continues a 30-year streak. “Kiss the Baby”

Dr. Michel WhiteLive -The live format allows this accomplished clarinetist to stretch out on Canal Street Blues, Summertime and others. “I Love You Too Much to Ever Leave You”


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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