Gumbo YaYa March Dance Party Dives into Funk, Swing and Blues

Mardi Gras is over but the dancing can continue with the help of over two dozen New Orleans acts ready to kick off March in style. Start the show to hear Jason Ricci and Joe Krown offer up some “Real Good Funk.”

Big Sam’s Funky Nation rocks the opening of the first full set with “Feet on the Floor” followed by Marcia Ball’s “Right Back In It” and a retro disco-like cover of “Fly Me to the Moon” by Dr. Brice Miller’s alter ego Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie.

It’s not all funk cause the second full set is loaded with hot jazz by Meschiya Lake, Jacques Gauthe, Shotgun Jazz Band, Treme Brass Band, and Smoking Time Jazz Club.

This week’s show features “Dame Tu Reloj.”

The show switches gears but still stays danceable with The Iguanas and Panorama Jazz Band, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and The Neville Brothers.

Where’s the R&B? Next set features Irma Thomas and Ernie K-Doe (Patron Saint of this Blog). Later Lloyd Price demonstrates why he is an underappreciated progenitor of ‘rock n’ roll.”

And so the show rolls and rocks and boogies with additional help from Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, John Lisi & Delta Funk, Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet, The Meters, Professor Longhair, Dana Abbott and Professor Longhair.

Enjoy the show and stay tuned for next week’s farewell show. Last Gumbo YaYa!

February Gumbo YaYa Dance Party!

This month’s Gumbo YaYa dance party arrives a week late but will still leave you breathless if you try to boogie to the full show.

John Fred & his Playboy Band kicks the show off with “Down In New Orleans” and I keep it in the swamp pop and R&B realm for a couple more songs with help from Lil Buck and G.G. Shin. But then Jon Cleary moves in with a little funk and Lynn Drury kicks up to rock with “Sugar on the Floor.”

John Fred and Playboy Band

Later, a blues set features Kenny Wayne Shepherd (from Shreveport), Benny Turner and 81-year-old Little Freddie King who is still performing live to local New Orleans audiences. Later, blues fans will recognize Mama Boys backing up Ghalia and Guitar Lightnin Lee with “Amsterdam.”

Brass bands, swing and rock fill out the show. By the time Buckwheat Zydeco cranks up “Hot Tamale Baby” anyone my age will be on the couch looking for the oxygen tank. But hey, there will be a smile on my face as I desperately suck in air. Enjoy!

New Year Brings Hope for a Real Carnival Season

Even with the latest COVID-19 variant running amok through our planet, there’s hope for Mardi Gras and the Carnival Season in New Orleans. This week’s show marks the start of the 2022 Carnival season and its also my monthly dance party. So let’s boogie like we don’t care what happens.

Olympia Brass Band kicks off the show with Professor Longhair’s classic Mardi Gras song, quickly followed by Trombone Shorty’s “Nervis” in recognition of his turning 36 last week. Chuck Carbo gets funky with an Eddie Bo produced number called “Can I Be Your Squeeze” and I finish the first full set with the classic Mardi Gras Mambo by the Hawketts.

Ernie K-Doe alerts us to “Here Comes the Girls” while two live numbers by the Crooked Vines and J and the Causeways ramp up the funk. Later, Bonerama will lay one down for the grey pony tail dancers (“Misty Mountain Hop”) and a Latin-inflected set featuring Alexey Marti gives us a tempo shift.

Yea, there is more. But it’s a dance show so just let it happen. (Have you clicked the player above yet!?) See you next week.

December Dance Party with Only One Reindeer

I keep the first of the month dance party tradition rolling into the holiday season with the help of New Orleans and Lafayette musicians, digging a bit deeper to get your hips to swing and your tired dogs high steppin’. First up is Linnzi Zaorski with the “Rhythm in Me.”

In the first full set you’ll get to boogie to a bit of Zydeco, an R&B version of “Lil Liza Jane,” a brass band groove and a blues song. The next set swings from funk to R&B before running into a jazzy swamp number by Bluesiana.

Kermit Ruffins

And so it goes through the show bouncing between genres and rhythm speeds but always with a focus to keep you moving.

Kermit Ruffins will explain how to do the “Fat Tuesday.” Johnny Adams will have you “Chasing Rainbows.” And Arsene Delay will let you catch your breath with a “Slow Drag.”

Flow Tribe will go “Back ‘n’ Forth” while Shotgun Jazz Band will be “Steppin’ on the Gas.” Creole String Beans will get you “Barefootin'” while Marcia Ball makes sure “The Party’s Still Going On.” And as the show wears on, Smoking Time Jazz Club will make sure there’s “Friction.” Erica Falls simply sings “Dance.”

And Debbie Davis and family will “Run Run Rudolph.” Remember to stretch before and after.

November Dance Party starts funky but ends up in Panama

Welcome to this month’s Dance Party edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. Ivan Neville’s collaborative project with Cris Jacobs titled Neville Jacobs kicks off the show with a very appropriate number called “Dance for Me Mama.”

The Meters, which includes Ivan’s uncle Art, starts off the first full set with “No More Okey Doke” — a silly title with a danceable groove. And speaking of danceable grooves, I would never have thought I could boogie to “If I Were a Carpenter” but somehow Eldridge Holmes’ cover pulls it off. Chuck Carbo, Corey Henry, Danny White, Big Sam and Sierra Green keep the beat flowing. This week’s show features extra long sets and less talking cause you really can’t dance when I’m blathering on.

Papa Grows Funk and Cha Wa takes into the second half hour which finishes strong with Rebirth’s “Hot Butt Naked Sex,” Paula and the Pontiacs “Rough n’ Tumble Man,” Allen Toussaint’s “Shoorah, Shoorah” (from a 1976 vinyl record) and Kid Eggplant’s touching love song “Vasectomy.”

We get a little reggae beat going with the second half of the show where Lil’ Rascals Brass Band does “Rasta Second Line” and Alex McMurray’s Rock Steady project, 007, performs “Alidina.”

Later you’ll hear songs by Meschiya Lake, Charlie Wooten and Arsene Delay, King James & the Special Men, George Porter Jr., Billy Iuso, Earl King and Lynn Drury.

The pace changes but doesn’t really slow down with Meschiya Lake’s “Anytime is Saturday Night,” Smoky Greenwell’s “Back to the Boogie,” and Dr. Michael White doing “Panama.” Thanks for tuning in and dancin’ to the beat.

Stomp Your Way Through October’s Dance Party

This month’s Gumbo YaYa Dance Party takes a 10-song dive into stomps. Within the first half hour, you will stomp through Mobile (Shotgun Jazz Band), Fort Worth (Aurora Nealand), Mahogany Hall (Louis Armstrong),Shreveport (Smoking Time Jazz Club), Louisiana (Clifton Chenier), a Roadhouse (Matt Perrine) and a Big Pasture (Hackberry Ramblers).

But perhaps the most significant “Stomp” I share is by the piano player who helped fuel the craze. You’ll hear “Black Bottom Stomp” by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers — a band assembled by the maestro in Chicago from New Orleans musicians fleeing north during the Great Migration in the 1920’s, including Kid Ory on trombone and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo.

But its a dance party, so I move on to “boogies” such as Benny Turner’s “Mojo Boogie,” C.J. Chenier’s “Zydeco Boogie,” James Andrews “Banana Boogie” and Ghalia & Mama’s Boys’ “Hiccup Boogie.”

Shamarr Allen ramps it up further with his kick-ass version of Taylor Swift’s “Shaking It Off” and Corey Henry maintains the sweaty momentum with “Tell Ya Mama Nem.” You’ll also hear Earl King, the Explosions, Benny Spellman, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and three live danceable performances by Flow Tribe, Midnite Disturbers and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes.

Thanks for tuning in, limbering up and shaking your money maker. My best to you and I’ll check in with you next week.

Mama Don’t Like It But I Do – You Too?

This month’s Gumbo YaYa dance party starts off with Smiley Lewis’ “Mama Don’t Like It” an R&B spinoff of the even older “Mama Don’t Allow” standard. And a fitting start to the September dance party edition of Gumbo Ya Ya. If you can read this while dancing, go ahead and start the player below.

First, a nod to the victims of the Gulf of Mexico storm Ida, hitting Louisiana and Mississippi with Category 4 winds and picking up sky loads of water that created flash flooding in New Jersey and New York City. This is the time of year that I have produced a show-long annual recognition of Hurricane Katrina – a tradition I decided to retire this year.

This first long set of songs and a set later in the show were all recorded in the famous Cosimo Matassa studios which was located in the French Quarter in the 1950’s and 1960’s. You’ll hear some you expect such as Fats Domino and Little Richard but also Jessie Hill, Shirley & Lee, Paul Gayten, Roland Cook, Chris Kenner and The Showmen. These songs got the country to dance and still works for me.

The show allows you to catch your breath (because you are dancing to all this, right?) with a waltz by Shotgun Jazz Band and gradually works the pace back up to a frenzy with Tuba Skinny, Meschiya Lake, and Chloe Feoranzo. Later, Eddie Bo (“Check Your Bucket”), Earl King and two from the Meters allow us to show off our more funky moves.

Later in the show, if you have the stamina, we spin some Zydeco and a bit of salsa — thanks to Terrance Simien, Donna Angelle, Fredy Omar and Jon Cleary.

Al “Carnival Time” Johnson recording “Red Beans”

A little after the 30 minute mark, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson sings his new song “Red Beans”— a tribute to the Krewe of Red Beans which has been doing great work in supporting New Orleans’ entertainment community. Here’s more on them.