Black Music Month – New Orleans Funk Edition 2021

A deep dive into Funk marks my third show in honor of African American Music Appreciation Month. In addition to celebrating another cultural gift to the world by African Americans, the show makes a pretty solid argument for why New Orleans should also be considered the birth place of Funk.

Get the music started and read on.

While James Brown is widely considered the originator of “Funk,” his work is built off of rhythms that derive from New Orleans. (Read Benjamin Doleac and Alexander Stewart for the academic explanation.)

The Meters, who formed in 1965 but didn’t release a record until 1969, combined those New Orleans rhythms (Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste) with George Porter’s bass, Art Neville’s organ and Leo Nocentelli’s guitar to make early funk classics like “Cissy Strut” and “Look-ka Py Py.” On the show you’ll hear a later song of the band’s “Funkify Your Life.”

As the in-house studio band for Allen Toussaint’s Sansu Records, the Meters provided the backing vocals and rhythm for a wide range of music by Lee Dorsey, Robert Palmer, Albert King, Etta James, the Pointer Sisters, LaBelle and Paul Mccartney. In fact, it was at McCartney’s record release party (Venus and Mars)  in New Orleans when Mick Jagger heard the Meters and arranged for the band to tour with the Rolling Stones.  In this week’s show, you’ll hear other Sansu artists including Betty Harris and Danny White. 

Later, you’ll hear a track from the seminal Wild Tchoupitoulas record which brought together the four Neville brothers as they assist their Uncle George Landry (Big Chief Jolly) record the first major release of a full Mardi Gras Indian album. It was this project that resulted in the brothers coming together as a band. 

You’ll also hear contemporary funk musicians who are still performing Walter Wolfman Washington, Corey Henry, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Sierra Green, Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels and Hot 8 Brass Band. It’s two hours of funk — another great music form that would not exist if not for the fertile creativity of African American artists. 

Next week, the last show for this year’s African American Music Appreciation Month will focus on Blues and Zydeco. Please consider subscribing.

Black Music Month – New Orleans Jazz

As part of my month-long celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month, this week’s show is devoted to New Orleans jazz created by musicians of color. Check it out with the player below. (Last week’s show focused on R&B)

Drummer Joe Lastie, a product of New Orleans Ninth Ward and a family of musicians, starts the show with a song he produced with Big Chief David Montana that honors the resilience of the love for New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina survivors. It’s a modern song steeped in the musical traditions that formed jazz.

While the origins of jazz are grist for scholarly debate, one thing is crystal clear to me. The music bubbled up from the creative cauldron of people of color living, working and playing in New Orleans. For more details (without getting scholarly), I like the National Park Service webpage on this topic written in part by Dr. Michael White and Ellis Marsalis. You can read that page while listening to the show which carries on with some of the more well-known pioneers of jazz: Jelly Roll Morton, King Joe Oliver, Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Kid Ory and Lil Hardin. Okay, so Hardin was from Memphis but she ended up in Chicago with a scrum of New Orleans musicians and she helped whip them into shape, writing and arranging some of the earliest recordings.

You might find interesting this page on Onward Brass Band (also featured in the show) which tells the story of Paul Barbarin, Louis Cottrell, Danny Barker and others in that band. Check out the picture of them drinking (champagne?) with Janis Joplin.

Here’s some pages on my site that might be interesting reading and you can go to them without disturbing your listen to my show posted above.
Louis Armstrong Park
Some Storyville history contained in Basin Street Blues
Danny Barker’s contribution to New Orleans and brass bands
New Orleans dancehalls

Swinging into African American Music Appreciation Month

This week’s show takes a deep dive into the swinging, danceable music that got folks bumping body parts in such a way that it helped create a boom in babies, giving my generation its name. You can listen to this first of my June episodes in celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month using the player below.

As far as I’m concerned, all the music I enjoy is connected directly,or at least indirectly, to African American musicians and songwriters. So its not a stretch to do a month of music featuring exclusively African American artists. This week’s show covers the post World War II music scene in New Orleans where Jump Blues evolved into R&B and then later got called Rock ‘n’ Roll.

After Percy Mayfield kicks off the show with a personal song about returning to Louisiana to settle down, I get down to business with Champion Jack Dupree’s “Junker Blues” a much covered song that served as a basis for several other R&B numbers such as Fats Domino’s “The Fat Man” and Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (You’ll hear all of them.),

Fats Domino (left) and Dave Bartholomew generated a mountain of hits, enjoyed by a broad audience.

You’ll hear some songs that are considered on the short list for “first Rock ‘n’ Roll song” — a designation that will never get settled but is fun to argue about. This means Louis Jordan, Roy Brown and Erline Harris take the radio stage.

New Orleans was a hot bed for the nascent R&B scene. When Dave Bartholomew, no slouch performer himself, got Antoine Domino into the J&M (Cosimo Matassa) studio, he propelled the city into the sites of other record companies who sent their scouts out to find the next star. Smiley Lewis, Larry Williams, Chick and Chuck Carbo and the Spiders, the Barons, Earl King, Larry Darnell, Little Mr. Midnight, Huey “Piano” Smith, L’il Millet, Shirley and Lee all scrambled into the studio and cut 45’s that got folks dancing.

I also do a set of music by the stable of artists who worked with Allen Toussaint Ernie K-Doe, Benny Spellman, Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, Eldridge Holmes and Diamond Joe.

When music industry executives adopted the term “Rhythm and Blues” or “R&B” to replace “race music” they probably were just trying to make the marketing term less offensive to African American audiences. But it also set the stage for a crossover to white audiences. Fats Domino, whose shows resulted in white and black audiences dancing together (and sometimes causing problems as a result) was the first big crossover African American artist.

But it seems like it was Little Richard, sent to New Orleans by Specialty Records, who blew the doors open. Little Richard didn’t record the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song but after “Tutti Frutti” and “Rip It Up” (which you’ll hear), the line between Rock and R&B was gone. Domino used to say that what he played didn’t change but but they called it did.

Well whatever you call it, you’ll get almost two hours of it in today’s show in honor of African American Music Appreciation Music. Thanks for listening.

More Smiles Makes For More Music

We are all seeing more smiles these days as the vaccinated unveil their beaming faces. And more live music is getting scheduled! This week’s show gets into all that and much more. Let’s start with Shotgun Jazz Band’s “Smiles” which you can hear right now with the player below.

Over the last year, we’ve had to do it all with our eyes and eyebrows (. . .and ears for those with that kind of dexterity). Now we can add our mouths to our nonverbal repertoire. That can be good for those who are ready to strip off the cloth, but, not so good for those who appreciated, and benefitted from, having literally a “guarded” expression.

Eric Lindell knows what I’m talking about and you will too when you hear his “The Look.” Dr. John with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band follows up with “When You’re Smiling;” Buckwheat Zydeco, with Dwight Yoakum chiming in, sings “Hey, Good Lookin'” and the set ends with Chester Zardis and the New Orleans Footwarmers doing “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile” a song that first appeared in a 1931 Merrie Melodies cartoon short. Zardis was a pioneer in the slap stand-up bass and probably would have been better known had he done the Chicago-New York thing. Instead, he stayed close to home. He was born 121 years ago this week.

From the cover of the New Birth Brass Band Second Line record cover.

I play a full set, nearly 20 minutes, of New Birth Brass Band songs — largely because of tumbling onto Hot 8 Brass Band’s “Milwaukee Fat” which is dedicated to Kerwin James, the sousaphonist for New Birth. James was both a survivor and victim of Hurricane Katrina. He escaped the flooded city in 2005 with his instrument but suffered a stroke a few months later. His death set off a spontaneous musical parade in his old neighborhood, the Treme, which in turn resulted in an invasion of police cars to shut the unpermitted event down. Rebirth Brass Band snare drummer Derrick Tabb and trombonist/singer Glen David Andrews were arrested for disturbing the peace. Many have argued that this conflict signaled a sea change in post-Katrina New Orleans as newcomers moving into the city clashed with historic mores of the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States.

The important thing to know for your ear is that some damn good brass band music is played. In all the New Birth songs, you can feel the power of Kerwin James’ horn.

I’ve been diving into the KAOS vinyl vault and coming up with some gems. I do a Balfa set starting with the brothers in New York, then one by Dewey and his group and then finally one by his daughter and her group. The first two are on vinyl. All three feature excellent Cajun fiddling.

From the back cover of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band “Voodoo” record.

I also play the title track from Dirty Dozen’s third record “Voodoo.” The Dirty Dozens will be touring the Northwest so it was my delight this week to put my first new entry in over a year to my Northwest live New Orleans music page. I see Shamarr Allen is touring too but not up here yet.

I play a track of the just-received Tuba Skinny record — well its really Maria Muldaur’s record but the Tuba Skinny musicians are prominently feature. I also dive deeper into new releases by Monk Boudreaux, Kid Eggplant and Jon Batiste.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you’re listening to the show and if you like it, subscribe to this blog so you’ll get notices of fresh shows (pretty much one a week.)

Please Hug This Show!

I got my first outside of the bubble hug last week. I was one half of a consenting pair of fully vaccinated adults performing a full body stand-up snuggle. Sigh! I then selected the music for this week’s show.

Bobby Rush, who looks and acts like he does a lot of hugging, started the show with “Good Stuff.” This guy has won two Grammys while in his 80’s. And he’s still making music (the best may still be out there!)

Then its a full set of brass band – – Lil Rascals, Forgotten Souls and Hot 8. The Hot 8 number is spiffed up in a remix by Lack of Afro. Definitely a set of music to warm up the body and get

A set of hot jazz follows featuring Marla Dixon’s two bands (Shotgun and Shake ‘Em Up). Then its Secret Six Jazz Band from their new debut album. And the set finishes with Eddie Edwards represented in the form of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s “Barnyard Blues.” Edwards, a New Orleans native who was also an electrician and minor league ballplayer, was born 130 years ago this weekend. That’s a picture of Mr. Edwards in the Mixcloud player above which you should have activated by now so that you can listen while reading this.

So the motion of hugging makes me think of squeezing an accordion which is what I serve up next in the form of Eddie (lots of Ed’s today) LeJeune, Johnny Sansone and the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars.

Just released this month

I premiered, at least for KAOS and KMRE, three new records today: Peace Love & Donuts by Robert Snow and his merry band of vegetables, Kid Eggplant and the Groovy Melatauns; Down Below by Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires, and Bloodstains and Tears by Monk Boudreaux. I’ll dive deeper into them next week.

If you can make it past the first half of the show, you’ll hear a set that captures some of my euphoria resulting from being able to touch and be touched again. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers do “If I Could Hug You.” Antoine Diel sings Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.” And then Dash Rip Rock totally readjusts the mood (you’re welcome) with “Touch of You.” Some times, just a “dash” is all you need.

If you’re one of the few who make it to the last section of the show, you’ll hear the Radiators, Allen Toussaint performing with Nicholas Payton, Alex McMurray, Al Hirt and the Meters. Yea, I like to mix it up and then give it a big hug (assuming consent and vaccination, of course).

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I’m Back Live, and Alive, in the KAOS Studio

Fourteen months after the KAOS studio closed to volunteers and most staff, I’m back at the control board slinging New Orleans music, honoring the life of Lloyd Price, exploring the new Jon Batiste record and digging deeper into the 2009 Midnite Disturbers’ performance at JazzFest. The recording of the show is available right now by clicking the arrow below. (But note that this is the version I edited for Bellingham so I say “KMRE” instead of “KAOS” on station IDs.)

For 60 weeks, I’ve prepared and recorded a Gumbo YaYa show in my upstairs spare bedroom — the one where my youngest son grew up in and which still has cats peering at me from the wallpaper. It’s a little creepy but so is going into a studio inside a building on a college campus that is almost like a ghost town. The first show was a little rough but I got it done and the music is good.

Back in the studio after all 14 months

Lloyd Price died last week at the age of 88. While he was long past his big hits (“Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality,” “Stagger Lee,” “I’m Gonna Get Married”), the Rock n Roll Hall of Famer was an entrepreneur involved in music, publication, construction and food processing. He also was a writer with an autobiography and a collection of essays “Sumdumhonky” which I’m reading now.

Lloyd Price was drafted and sent to Korea just as his singing career was taking off.

Price zoomed onto the music scene with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” recorded in 1952 with Fats Domino banging out the song’s distinctive song opening triplets. The song became one of the biggest selling R&B records of 1952, crossing over to white audiences. He was drafted in 1954 and served in Korea so was taken out of commission at a time when Little Richard came screaming into the scene.

Upon his return to the music scene, he recorded a folk song Stagger Lee that went to the top of both the R&B and Pop charts. He followed that up with two other hits “Personality” and “I’m Gonna Get Married.”

Other highlights of the show include tracks from new records by Monk Boudreaux, Jon Batiste, and Secret Six Jazz Band. I also feature another track from the 2009 JazzFest performance by the Midnite Disturbers featuring some awesome trumpet work by Shamarr Allen and Trombone Shorty. Bumps Blackwell does a decent job of staging his new song (at the time) in a demo for Specialty Records. When Little Richard showed up to Cosimo Matassa’s studio he cut another hit with “Good Golly Miss Golly.” You’ll hear back to back tracks by Guitar Shorty and Guitar Slim – both songs recorded in New Orleans.

I throw in some Hot 8 Brass Band, Cowboy Mouth, Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and much more. But the true joy of the show, at least for me, was to be able to do the backsell of the songs right after they were played for everyone. Check it out!

All Good Things and Not So Good Must Come to An End

All good things come to an end . . .right. This week is my last pre-recorded show. Next week, I’m back live in the studio. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Check out this week’s show so you have something to compare when you hear me live next week.

WWOZ, the New Orleans community radio station, did its festing in place programming again this weekend, celebrating the postponed New Orleans Jazz Fest by airing past performances. I spent a lot of time glued to the station as a result and was rewarded with one of those finds that got my serious attention. I had heard of the Midnight Disturbers before, but I had never heard them. On this week’s show, you’ll hear the same song that had me rushing to my computer to buy a recording. The band’s opening song at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest – “Baker’s Dozen” and you won’t have to wait long cause its the second song in my show.

The Disturbers were formed by Stanton Moore of Galactic with fellow drummer Kevin O’Day. The 2009 version includes Shamarr Allen, Trombone Shorty, Mark Mullins, Big Sam Williams (Big Sam’s Funky Nation), Ben Ellman and Skerik . . .to name a few.

In a way, the show starts with a Trombone Shorty double shot because in addition to being prominent in the Disturbers, he also performs in the opening track “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” a song made famous by his grandfather Jesse Hill. Yes, the song with a chorus of “create a disturbance in your mind” . . . a Midnight Disturbance perhaps.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue rocking the Acura Stage at JazzFest – Photo by me.

The Original Pinettes and Bonerama jump in after that before I swing into a more country set led by Kelcy Mae (Ever More Nest) and the Deslondes. Then we get a little funky with Billy Iuso and Dumpstaphunk. Little Sonny Jones offers up “Further on up the Road” . . .”yea you got to reap just what you sow.” Several other great tracks follow.

Later in the show, I do a full set of Lafayette style music with Beusoleil, Steve Riley, Sean Ardoin, Rosie Ledet and John Delafose. The show ends appropriately with Jon Cleary’s “All Good Things” got to come to an end some time.

To answer my own question above, going back into the studio is a GREAT thing. The shows might sound a little messier, particularly as I relearn how to do it live but I think you’ll find that I’ll sound more real and a lot happier. Cheers.

Take a Joy Ride Without Leaving Your Driveway

We take a joy ride with the help of The Melatauns and dozens of other New Orleans musical acts on this week’s show.You can get it started while I fill you in on the show.

We’ve been cooped up long enough so let’s hit the road with The Melataun’s “Joy Ride” — a song that reminded me of my childhood visits to Pontchartrain Beach — an amusement park that featured a wooden roller coaster called the Zephyr. We stay on track with Kenny Neal’s “Blues Mobile,” Marva Wright’s “Further On Up the Road,” Paul Sanchez’ “Drive Right Back” and Sonny Landreth’s “U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile.”

But “What Goes Around Comes Around” (Rebirth Brass Band) and so we dive into a little weirdness including Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie rendition of “My Blue Heaven” redone as a historical ménage à trois and Bon Bon Vivant’s “The Bones.”

Here’s hoping that Cosmic Cajuns will not be the last recording from the famous Saturn Bar.

I set aside 16 minutes for a live performance at the now closed Saturn Bar by Michot’s Melody Makers. That set also includes Booker performing live in Manchester England.

You’ll also hear the New Orleans Suspects, Shawn Williams, Albanie Falletta, James Andrews, the Subdudes, Creole String Beans, and Papa Mali, among others. It’s a two-hour show afterall.

One more recorded show before I’m back in the studio doing live shows. Subscribe if you like and thanks for tuning in.

Another Round of Talkative Horns Joined by Great Guitar

This week’s show continues to explore Craig Klein‘s new record Talkative Horns – A Musical Conversation on Lucien Barbarin with more excerpts from my interview with the Grammy winning trombonist. But to balance the horns out, you’ll hear some fancy guitar work by John Rankin, Mem Shannon, Lynn Drury, Little Freddie King, Tab Benoit and Pee Wee Crayton.

Yes, you can start the show with the player below and still read on.

Lucien Barbarin

This show starts off with a Craig Klein song “If I Could Hug You” by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. Later, you’ll hear him perform the song again with Kevin Louis on trumpet. Craig talks about his new record’s extensive use of horn mutes, the funky riff that Louis came up with to enliven their version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rockin Chair” and how Lucien Barbarin helped Craig score a job with Harry Connick Jr’s big band back in the 1990’s. You can learn more about Klein’s send up of his good friend Lucien Barbarin from my previous show and acquire the record here. To round out the set, I also include tracks from other Klein projects, Bonerama and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers.

But about those guitars, let’s start with John Rankin who before the pandemic held court at the Columns Hotel on Tuesday evenings as well as a Sunday lunch jazz show at Superior Seafood (both on St. Charles Street). His “Last in April, First in May” is an instrumental ode to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which has been postponed this year to October. But worry not, WWOZ will feature a virtual festival this weekend drawing upon the community station’s vast library of past festival performances.

The guitar work continues with Walter “Wolfman” Washington covering “Use Me,” Lynn Drury’s song “I Just Get Down,” and Tab Benoit’s “Lost in Your Lovin’.” Later Little Freddie King and Mem Shannon hop on to wow you with their dexterity.

Pee Wee Crayton recorded in New Orleans in 1954

And the show closes with Blues Hall of Famer Pee Wee Crayton serving up another example of how the roots of rock ‘n’ roll stretch deeply into New Orleans. Working with Dave Bartholomew’s band (essentially the same as Fats Domino’s), Crayton recorded with Imperial Records at the J&M Studio on Rampart Street in 1954. You’ll hear “You Know Yeah” on this show so get it started.

There’s other surprises as well. So listen to the whole show and then subscribe. Also some great news. Just two more shows recorded from my home before I go back into the studio to do live radio. Let’s hear it for the VAX!

Talkative horns, mutes and friendship

This week, Craig Klein joins me on the show virtually from New Orleans to talk about his new sweet record made in homage to his friend, fellow trombonist Lucien Barbarin who died of cancer early last year. In the spirit of his record Talkative Horns – A Musical Conversation with Lucien Barbarin, the show also features other songs with muted horns and trombones.

The opening track is “Lily of the Valley” from a record Leroy Jones produced in memory of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band — a group that both Jones and Lucien Barbarin performed in during their youth. Craig Klein, who was not part of that seminal band, did play on the record.

Craig Klein

On the show, which you can start up with the player above, Craig talks about his friendship with Lucien, the Barbarin family and the origins of the record that they were to produce together. Craig is a ubiquitous site in the New Orleans music scene. Aside from performing on countless albums and touring with Harry Connick, Jr., he’s a founding member of Bonerama, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers (which just won a grammy) and the Storyville Stompers and performs at Preservation Hall and with the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. After the loss of his friend, Craig landed on a concept of a musical conversation using short solos and mutes to simulate communication — performing with trumpeter Kevin Louis who performed regularly with Lucien at Preservation Hall.

The result is a playful, interplay of long cornet and trombone that sounds very much like a musical conversation held together by Steve Detroy’s casually swinging piano. Molly Reeves on guitar, Michell Player on bass and Gerry Barbarin Anderson (Lucien’s nephew) on drums round out the record’s sound. Stick around for his description of recording “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

Craig was generous with his time so I’ll include more of his conversation in next week’s show and play a few more from his record which is available on Bandcamp. Also included in today’s show is Lucien Barbarin and the Palm Court Swingsters doing “Just a Little While to Stay Here” where Lucien uses a mute on his trombone.

I also include some other fine trombone performances by Trombone Shorty, Kid Ory, Corey Henry, Big Sam Williams and Russell Ramirez.

Gal Holiday

Later in the show Vanessa Niemann gets on virtually with an introduction to a song she wrote about her grandfather “In My Dreams Again.” You’ll hear two other tracks by Vanessa who performs under the name Gal Holiday.

Thank you for listening to the show. You can subscribe to this blog and get alerts when new shows arrive. By the way, this week’s show is the KMRE version. There’s really no difference between the KAOS and KMRE recordings aside from station identifications.