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.

One last Gumbo YaYa encore – All Jazz Show

Next week, I’ll have a new show with my voice recorded in the echoey abandoned bedroom of my grown youngest son. But first one more repeat show – this one featuring All Jazz. Since the show was recorded last September, there will be no reference to yesterday’s loss to complications of COVID-19 of New Orleans jazz great — Ellis Marsalis. I will provide a tribute to him next week on my first original show in a month. Here’s this week’s show.

Smoking Time Jazz Club at The Spotted Cat

Al Hirt was a presence growing up in Uptown New Orleans in the 60’s. He was the godfather of one of the neighbor’s kids that I would play with and my parents regularly visited Hirt’s club on Bourbon Street. He starts off the show with “Jazz Me Blues.” But I mix it up in the next set with Kid Ory, the Smoking Time Jazz Club and Ingrid Lucia.

Dr. Michael White anchors the second set with his “West African Strut” supported by songs by Linnzi Zaorski and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

I get to play my vinyl autographed version of a Willie Humphrey’s album with Sarah Quintana and Lena Prima rounding out the next set. The show rolls on bouncing between traditional New Orleans jazz, some contemporary jazz, a bit of swing and a couple brass band numbers, including “Get a Life” by the Original Pinettes.

Debbie Davis and Josh Paxton, who are coming out with a new release, close this recorded show with “Caravan.” However, on the live KAOS and KMRE broadcasts, two lagniappe songs fill out the show to make up for the loss of public service announcements.

I hope you enjoy the show. Next show I hope to feature the voices of some of the musicians I play for you speaking to how they’re doing and how you can learn more about them. If you subscribe, you’ll get an email announcing future shows. Thanks much.

Quarantine Gumbo YaYa Episode 2 Features Trombone Shorty

With more public spaces being closed in our state (Washington), the one safe public space is our airwaves. Unfortunately, access to the air studio is still restricted to paid employees so this week is another ENCORE PERFORMANCE!

You can click the arrow in the box above and the music will play while you read the rest of this. This is a repeat of my first show of 2020 which was a celebration of Troy Andrews’ 34th birthday — a millennial musician, singer, songwriter and children’s book author who has been able to amass a considerable play list that represents the past, present and, I hope, the future of New Orleans music.

Today it’s all about Trombone Shorty on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. His act includes the name “Orleans Avenue Band” which refers to a street in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans where he grew up. And while he tours the world, his act always embodies a healthy dose of his hometown.

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Trombone Shorty with his band Orleans Avenue closing out the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — an annual tradition. (Photo by Tim Sweeney)

According to the Trombone Shorty website, Andrews got his nickname when he picked up his instrument at four. His older brother, noted trumpeter James Andrews, gave him the tag. “My parents pushed me toward trombone because they didn’t need another trumpet player.”

The moment was memorialized in a legendary 1990 photo (with a great story to go with it) from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Bo Diddley was performing on stage when the crowd deposited before him a four-year-old boy barely hanging on to a trombone. When Trombone Shorty blew his horn on that stage with Diddley’s mouth agape, it was tantamount to King Arthur pulling a sword out of a stone in terms of creating a New Orleans music legend.

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Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (Photo by Tim Sweeney)

On today’s show, you’ll only hear three songs directly attributed to Troy Andrews — which is the limit that federal law places on me when I stream a show. However, every song you’ll hear until the last one is a song in which he performs. This means the show includes Dr. John, Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Allen Toussaint, Lenny Kravitz, Mindi Abair, Rebirth Brass Band, Los Hombres Calientes, The Soul Rebels, Hot 8 Brass Band, Stanton Moore, Lakou Mizik and the To Be Continued Brass Band. As well as his own band Orleans Avenue.

Andrews has not forgotten his community now that he’s an international star. He founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation which provides professional support to budding musicians in New Orleans and he’s the author of two children’s books that details stories from his childhood. The self-titled first book tells the story of how he got his nickname and received a Caldecott Honor Book award.

Thank you for listening to the show. Please consider subscribing to my blog. Cheers.

COVID KAOS Closure Conjures Encore

Located on the campus of the Evergreen State College, the KAOS studio is closed as the world grapples with controlling the coronavirus. So this week, with the help of station manager Jon Hamilton who agreed to load the show into the station computer, we’re airing a repeat of one of my favorites from last year — An All Female YaYa Show. You can wait till 10 a.m. (PST) Thursday when it airs on 89.3 FM (and streaming) – or you can listen to it now by clicking the sideways arrow below).

Just as she did in my previous All-Female shows, Ingrid Lucia kicks off this show of women vocalists and bandleaders– this time by leading us on a “Bourbon Street Parade” from her 2010 Live from New Orleans record.

Meschiya Lake

Meschiya Lake follows with her invocation “I Believe in Music” from 2013’s Fooler’s Gold. Lynn Drury then takes us straight to the heart and heartache of New Orleans’ live music scene with “Frenchmen Street” from Sugar on the Floor. Dana Abbott anchors the first full set with “You’re Mine.” By that time, resistance is futile.

The second set will get heels a flying with Doreen Ketchens, Albanie Falletta and Marla Dixon’s Shotgun Jazz Band. The exercise will be good for you for the following set will definitely give you pause.

The set begins with a funeral march that seems to get more optimistic as it progresses until Aurora Nealand’s intones “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The beat and swing builds up to a great drum solo. The song is “Flee as a Bird” — a hymn with the song credit given to Mary Dana — a song catcher who worked South Carolina church scene in the mid-19th century. Bon Bon Vivant’s poet laureate, songwriter and front lady Abigail Cosio takes it from there with “Old Forgotten Tune.” While her band can rock you, this song is just her guitar and voice singing a story of loss and how music and memories entwine. The song was inspired by a cowboy poet line she read in the library at the Will Roger’s Historic Park. This set ends with “Harm”– the first track from Elizabeth Joan Kelly’s new release Farewell, Doomed Planet! which “is about the apocalypse. And Chernobyl wolves. Pollution. And space travel. Existential dread. And whales. ”

A Lafayette-style set follows with Yvette Landry, Bonsoir Catin and Sweet Cecilia with a well-placed serving of Gal Holiday. Later you’ll hear Linnzi Zaorski’s take of the Andrew Sisters hit “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” — a song from a 1930’s Yiddish musical that was also oddly a hit in Nazi Germany until authorities got wind of its Jewish provenance.

Leyla McCalla, Debbie Davis, Carol Fran, Tank and the Bangas and the Original Pinettes Brass Band (New Orleans only all-female brass band) take a turn. Margie Perez, Little Queenie and Shawn Williams bat clean up.

Thanks for listening, stay healthy and please consider subscribing.

Let’s “Steal Away” from all this

There’s nothing like listening to an album three times in a row. Admittedly, I was cleaning house and fielding calls from relatives about the impact of the novel coronavirus on our community, so it wasn’t always a deep listen. But after three laps of Walter “Wolfman” Washington’s My Future is My Past, I have a better understanding of what he’s done with his latest release. Go ahead and listen to the show which starts with his song while you read on from here.

I don’t know if I really knew what to make of Washington’s album when I picked it up last year. A highly regarded guitarist who can lay down funk, blues and R&B licks, his latest release gives him the opportunity to show off his soulful side. His singing takes front stage, though his guitar is very much evident throughout the album. This week’s show features his original “Steal Away” and I’ll be sharing more gems from his album in later shows.

After Washington, we move quickly into Anders Osborne territory with “Standing With Angels” followed by Buckwheat Zydeco’s “Let Your Yeah be Yeah” (a song made famous by Jimmy Cliff) and Billy Iuso’s cover of Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” with Kirk Joseph on sousaphone.

If you’re looking for jazz you’ll have to wait until the second hour cause I also provide a double shot of Galactic (playing locally next week) as well as Trombone Shorty and Rebirth Brass Band (scheduled for April in the Northwest). A sweet country set follows with Sweet Cecilia and also The Hackberry Ramblers and The Deslondes.

Lots more to explore if you listen to the whole show. Thanks for tuning in.

Cellist Helen Gillet visits Olympia and Gumbo YaYa

Helen Gillet’s return to the Northwest gave me an excuse to talk with her on air and feature her music. But there’s lots of other fun songs to appreciate on this show.

Helen Gillet blasts off at Octapas on Sunday

Gillet and her magic cello will perform at Octapas Cafe, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. This will be her third visit to Olympia but her first time to perform at a public venue in town. (Helen’s website)I play three of her songs on the show, including Carolina — a song about the extinct Carolina Parakeet that was inspired by a mural painted by students from a school for the blind. She tells the story in our brief conversation which you can catch about an hour into the show.

But first, you’ll hear a fun show opener by Lil’ Buck Sinegal called “Monkey in a Sack.” If you’ve never heard Sinegal perform then just playing the first song from the show should be worth your while. (have you clicked the sideway arrow above to start the show yet?)

Kirk Joseph

Other audio treats include a raspy banjo-inflected “Hound Dog,” the Boswell Sisters “Put that Sun Back in the Sky,” David Egan’s “Funky Dreams,” and Louis Prima rocking it with bandleader, saxophonist and fellow New Orleanian Sam Butera. And that’s just the first full set.

Some of my other favorites in the show include Kirk Joseph, sousaphonist, performing an original “Not Yet, Son” and Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie’s take on “Sunnyside of the Street.”

As usual, the show flows from R&B to Jazz to Funk to Swing as if you enjoy it all, which if you listen to my show — you pretty much have to. Thanks for tuning in and please subscribe.

Henry Gray’s life spans the history of Chicago Blues

This week’s show provides a brief glimpse into the days of early rock n’ roll recording and honors one of the key architects of the Chicago blues sound. And that’s just the first hour. You got some listening to do. Turn it on before you read on!

The life of Henry Gray, who died last week at 95, spans the history of urban Chicago blues as African Americans migrated from the south to escape racism and poverty following the end of World War 2. And like the previous migration following World War 1, music came with them. Except instead of jazz, it was the blues led by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Chess records. In the middle all this was a rural Louisiana piano player who help define Chicago blues.

But that was after the war when he had served in the South Pacific. Before, in a small town outside Baton Rouge called Alsen, Gray played the usual songbook expected of a Baptist family. But somehow, he was encouraged to other styles of play and by the time he was 16, he was entertaining audiences in local clubs. A habit that stayed with him throughout his life. Returning back to Louisiana to care for his mom and the family business, he was an annual favorite at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His last appearance was 2018.

This show also celebrates the birth anniversaries of Roy Montrell and Clarence Garlow. Montrell played guitar in the Fats Domino touring band for 17 years, taught Mac Rebennak (Dr. John) how to play the guitar and co-wrote and sang “(Everytime I hear) That Mellow Saxophone.”Garlow is known for “Bon Ton Roulay” and having played with Clifton Chenier in the early years of Zydeco. Both were in the Cosimo Matassa studio in the 50’s recording early rock n’ roll songs such as “Heebie Jeebies.”

What else can I tell you about this show? There’s a four-song set on fishing and two songs by Helen Gillet who will be performing in Olympia next week. And much more. Just keep listening and consider subscribing. Cheers.

Carnival Music Rings in Mardi Gras

This week’s Mardi Gras starts with a bit of a mystery. “Dat’s Mardi Gras” is credited to someone named Jake the Snake who as best I can tell is not the professional wrestler that I read about when I googled the name. But the song is fun so get it started now.

There’s also a dive bar in New Orleans called “Snake and Jakes” but so far I’ve not been able to find the real name of the show starter. Identifying song credits get easier after that one though.

The Marching 100 – St. Augustine High School parading during Carnival Season.

A fortunate stop at a Thrift Store on St. Claude during my last NOLA visit scored me the next song in the show which details the adventures of Liese Dettmer in viewing the super Krewe parade Endymion. Beau Jocque keeps the groove rolling with his “Mardi Gras Blues.” That first set rolls on with Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” — the version recorded in Cosimo Matassa’s studio in 1959 with Mac Rebennak on guitar. Later known as Dr. John, Mac later recalled how Professor Longhair got on the drums to demonstrate the beat he wanted for this iconic recording. That rhythm rolls on through a series of Mardi Gras Indian numbers by Cha Wa and Bo Dollis and Monk Beaudreaux. Oh, and let’s not forget one of the earliest Mardi Gras Indian crossover hits to the R&B charts – James “Sugar Boy” Crawford’s “Jockomo” which inspired the Dixie Cups “Iko Iko” cover.

Two birthdays are recognized. Leroy Jones turned 62 on the day of the show so we celebrate with three songs featuring his fine jazz trumpet. Sam Williams turn 39 which gave me an excuse to play songs by Big Sam’s Funky Nation, including a lengthy jam by this trombonist/bandleader from the 2010 Jazzfest.

You’ll hear more Mardi Gras songs throughout the show as well as a wonderfully unique version of The Saints by The Wild Magnolias. I hope you enjoy. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you can get information about future shows. Cheers.

A Return in Time for Valentine’s Day Show

Love is a prolific muse and you’ll hear various musical manifestations of this on today’s Valentine’s Day Show — enhanced a bit by my recent visit to New Orleans.

Krewe Boheme Parade

Antoine Diel’s opening”Say That You Love Me’ set the tone while also enticing my station manager to pay notice. In the next set, stylish kazoos support Sarah Quintana’s hop skipping “You Me 1 2 3″and we get an optimistic “New Girl” from a band named after a beer and sporting a record cover photo of the bass player at age seven (Robert Snow aka Kid Eggplant) smoking a cigarette. More research needed here. (Actually I met him and his father at one of their gigs last week and his dad vouched for him.)

It’s also Carnival Season which is why this show includes a song from Tank and the Bangas — nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy. The award didn’t go their way but Tank or rather Tarriona “Tank” Ball was the Supreme Green Fairy headlining this year’s Krewe Boheme parade. Because she came early in the procession, I wasn’t ready to take a picture. So you get a different one on this page.

You will hear “Mr. Lion”by Tank and the Bangas on the show. Before you get there though, you will hear Eight Dice Cloth, Zazou City, Arsene Delay, Meschiya Lake BeauSoleil, Shannon Powell, Donna Angelle and others do their take musical take on love.

Robert Snow (aka Kid Eggplant) performing with his father Sydney.

It’s not mushy love though. Particularly when there is Davis Rogan to lament Why You “Do Me that Way.” Egg Yolk Jubilee answers with a song about an infatuation gone awry with an emergency room nurse — I’m waiting for “Emergency Ward – The Film” could be the greatest camp horror film from New Orleans ever. The movie would have to make room for Kid Eggplant’s Hobson’s Choice — as Kid Eggplant and the Melatauns “Vasectomy.” Quintron and Miss Pussycat finish the dysfunctional love set with “Love is Like a Blob.” Yes, I spelled that right, though I had trouble saying it on the show.

Thanks for tuning in. Please subscribe and I’ll check in with you next week with a new show.

Strange weather with Django & Guilded Splinters

This week’s show starts off with a Django Reinhardt inspired song but then takes a deep dive into some dark covers of songs by Marianne Faithfull, the Kinks and Dr. John.

Zazou City starts the show with “Django in the Jungle” followed by “Midnight Blues” by Tuba Skinny. Then Antoine Diel and his powerful voice takes over with “Strange Weather” — the song written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan for Marianne Faithfull and inspired by Faithfull’s struggle with drug rehab and a relationship that ended with her partner committing suicide.

The songs get a bit more upbeat after that . . . at least for a while But then Sabertooth Swing does a version of “Alcohol” by The Kinks. “Sad memories I cannot recall. Who thought I would fall a slave to demon alcohol.”

You’ll hear a rarely played song by Frankie Lowery “I Ain’t Had No Sleep” followed by Chuck Carbo’s swinging but somewhat depressing “Average Kind of Guy.” We dip into Crescent Gold (Allen Toussaint’s R&B dream team recording) for “Junco Partner.” By the time the show cleared the hour mark, it just seemed natural to play Dee-1’s reggae-inflected “Fighting Thru Depression.” Don’t worry. It’s a positive song.

If you can make it that far, stick around for the 12 and half minute version of Dr. John’s legendary “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” featuring Jello Biafra and a smartly recruited group of New Orleans rockers. No deep message here. Just fun.

As for the show, its not nearly as depressing as my description sounds. I hope you enjoy the show. Please subscribe.