June not only holds the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States (Juneteenth or June 19), it is also African American Music Appreciation Month. Though my show is no longer airing live, you can still listen to recordings of the series of shows I made last year in honor of this month.(Use the links below to go to the page then activate the embedded player on that page.)
The June 3rd, 2021 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.
The June 10th, 2021 show is about Jazz with references to stories about Basin Street, Danny Barker, Storyville and New Orleans dancehalls.
The June 17th, 2021 show makes a pretty solid argument for why New Orleans should also be considered the birth place of Funk.
Finally, I really enjoyed doing a Black Music Month appreciation show the year before where I provide some history on the month’s recognition and some great music. But for the record, every show is a celebration of African American Music because without African Americans, there would be no New Orleans music.
I have hung up my headset and retired the show with this week’s farewell program. I’m healthy . . .just hewing to my philosophy of ending activities when they are still fun to do. I’ll explain this a bit more but first go ahead and demonstrate your multitask abilities by starting the show while still reading.
Since September 8 2014, I have produced a weekly radio show that features “Just a Little Bit of Everything ” which is the title of the Herb Hardesty’s 1961 single that kicks off the first full set of music. However, the common element has always been a strong connection with New Orleans and Lafayette.
The show broadcast live from the KAOS studio on the campus of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, first on Mondays and then later on Thursdays. A few years back, community station KMRE (Bellingham) began running edited versions of the show on Fridays. More recently, the show has aired on KOCF (Fern Ridge), WPHW (Hartwell) and occasionally other stations that participate in the Pacifica Network. In all, I produced about 380 episode with over 300 of them available to listen through this website.
When I first started as a volunteer deejay with KAOS , I considered a show featuring exclusively New Orleans music. But worried about the limited format. Over the course of my first year doing a morning drive-time show, I found myself digging into the KAOS music collection and was surprised by the depth of music coming out of the city –my birthplace and home for most of childhood.
So that’s what I’ve done, play songs by musicians such as Earl King who kicks off the show with “No City Like New Orleans,” Johnny Adams who swings through “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” and Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses jamming through “Minor Drag.”
I’m not a fan of long goodbyes but I also believe its important that radio stations provide closure when a show ends (as opposed to abruptly changing format with no warning). So I made it a finale show and asked listeners to call in and say hi. And over a dozen did! My favorite comment was from a listener who said she was going to JazzFest this April as a result of what she had heard on the show. (I couldn’t have received a better report card.)
Today’s show takes a sentimental walk through some previously covered material, including “St. James Infirmary” a personal lifelong favorite which has an interesting pedigree. Here’s more detail on that history. This week’s segment includes a clip from the Treme TV series featuring Wendell Pierce riffing off that song in the Touro Emergency Room.
Later, I play the original version of “Basis Street Blues” by Louis Armstrong and hint at its fascinating history detailed more in a previous show and post including how that song acquired lyrics which then resulted in the City of New Orleans returning the “Basin Street” name after eliminating it during a blush of civic post-Storyville shame (I guess tourism promotion beat out virtue and vanity). Satchmo scats on this early pre-lyric version of the song.
The Treme Brass Band does a great job on “Darktown Strutters Ball” a song with lyrics and a title that has caused me concern and in which I explore in a show and post.
I touch on the topic of Nine Lives a book by Dan Baum about people’s lives in New Orleans — originally sent to write about Hurricane Katrina, Baum ended up with a book detailing unique aspects of New Orleans culture such as Mardi Gras Indians, and marching bands. I play a song about Tootie Montana in today’s show.
This week’s show also includes a couple of clips from interviews including a funny description by Irvin Mayfield of his good friend Kermit Ruffins. You’ll also hear Kermit sing from his Happy Talk release. Here’s the interview of Kermit and Irvin in Kermit’s Mother-in-Law club about their album collaboration.
So this is it. I’m done creating new shows though you can listen to the 300 shows available through this website. I’m looking to travel a bit more and explore even more new music. And I’m going to keep this blog going. I suspect it will be quiet for a few weeks but don’t be surprised if I return with non-radio show type posts regarding music. Thanks for listening. But to keep in touch, you should subscribe .(right hand column)
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.
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!
Parades are rolling, crowds are gathering and there is the usual mayhem (both good and bad) that accompanies the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras and this week’s show provides the soundtrack to get you ready to “Do Whatcha Wanna.”
The first voice you’ll hear after I start the show is Kermit Ruffins rallying the troops (in this case Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty and Irvin Mayfield) for an extended second line pulled from the Los Hombres Calientes collection. And you’ll later get the feel of being there as music rolls by first with the Mardi Gras Indians Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors rapping out their rhythm and then with The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band giving you that feel of watching a parade band go by – first the music a bit distant, then the volume increases as it comes to where you are standing, blasting away in your face and then it recedes as it moves on down the street. Pretty cool given the song, “Dancin’ at the Mardi Gras,” was recorded in a studio.
Al “Carnival Time” Johnson steps up next — not to sing the song that gave him his middle name but rather — to sing a new song in honor of the socially responsible new parade krewe, “Krewe of Red Beans.” Not only does this Krewe raise money and perform services that benefit the city’s arts and entertainment culture, they strive to create a fun parade event that everyone can enjoy and feel good about. Yes, I get on my soap box a bit but you can cut to the chase and read their “Costume Code of Ethics.”
Other aspects of Mardi Gras is explored by music, including the first all-female parade krewe, Krewe of Muses, noted for their parade throws of decorated shoes. Lena Prima sings her song “Muses Shoes” and Liese Dettmer sings about her experience with the super Krewe parade Endymion. Later, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes portrays the two century old tradition of skull gangs leading his “We Are the Northside Skull and Bone Gang.”
You’ll hear a couple versions of “Mardi Gras Mambo.” The original, of course, featuring Art Neville and The Hawkettes but also one by Fredy Omar Con Su Banda. I like them both.
Cha Wa, Wild Magnolias, Bo Dollis, and Monk Boudreaux lay on some stylized Mardi Gras Indian music. The Melatauns do “Outta Be in the Quarter” and Chuck Carbo sings “Hey Mardi Gras (Here I Am).” There’s some other surprises because, its Mardi Gras!
This week’s show offers some rare New Orleans jazz tracks as I dive into the use of the KAOS turntables — revealing in the process some studio maintenance needs. But hey, you probably won’t notice when you use the player below
There was a time when Bourbon Street was known for its jazz clubs such as Louis Prima’s brother Leon’s 500 Club, Famous Door, Pete Fountain’s Quarter Inn, and Dan’s Pier 600 where Al Hirt performed regularly before opening his own club on the street. Those performances are memorialized by a 1958 album titled “Al Hirt “Swingin’ Dixie!” at Dan’s Pier 600 in New Orelans. You’ll hear two tracks from this classic including Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” to open the show.
I embraced Compact Disc technology. I loved the ease of use, the clean sound and the long play. But I hung on to my turntable and my modest collection of LPs. And as the years have passed, I’ve gradually added to the collection. Reading liner notes are definitely easier with the larger LPs. Somewhere in my record shop dives, I came up with Al Hirt recorded at Dan’s Pier 600.
Back in the late 70’s after my Dad died and I was preparing to move to the West Coast, I wanted to have something to remember him by so I went through his collection of records and selected Bunk Johnson’s 1953 release “The Last Testament of a Great New Orleans Jazzman.” You’ll hear a couple tracks from that somewhat ragged album. You’ll also hear from a handful of other LPs, including Willie Humphrey’s “New Orleans Clarinet” released by Smoky Mary Phonograph Company.
During the show, I noticed that the studio’s Turntable 1 had a disturbing hum and no music coming out of one channel, so I stopped using it. I filled in with CD versions of New Orleans jazz numbers by Meschiya Lake, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Smoking Time Jazz Club, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, Tuba Skinny, Aurora Nealand and a lengthy Mardi Gras medley from the first album of the band that was titled at that time ReBirth Jazz Band. The result is two hours of music from New Orleans that many folks associate with the city. I’ll get back to funk, R&B, rock and country from the city next week. Meanwhile, enjoy!
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.”
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!
I will take full credit for the brilliant alignment of this week’s show theme and the live studio performance of Bon Bon Vivant in the KAOS studio on the campus of The Evergreen State College. Why not? Start the show and read on.
Bon Bon Vivant is scheduled to play its first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this year. If all goes well, it will be the first JazzFest since 2019. Last week, I featured New Orleans bands who are scheduled for the first weekend of the venerable festival. And as luck would have it, Bon Bon Vivant is scheduled for the second week. So you’ll hear this exciting band perform five of their songs live in the KAOS studio “Last Night’s Glitter,” “Ship is Sinking,” “Nature Vs. Nurture,” “Lady Luck, ” and “Tracks.”
You’ll also hear other New Orleans acts featured on the second weekend lineup of JazzFest, including Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Irma Thomas, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Meschiya Lake, Ted Hefko, Sarah Quintana, John Mooney and, of course, Trombone Shorty who traditionally closes the festival but for this show opens it.
Back to Bon Bon Vivant, this is their second visit to the KAOS studio but the first since the pandemic. In fact, it was the first studio appearance of any band in the studio since the pandemic. It was fun to see the studio gradually fill up with curious Evergreen students involved in the station — well until they all had to go to class. Journeyman studio engineer and recent Evergreen graduate Isaac Chavez handled the work of getting the five-piece band in the tight quarters and sounding right.
Between songs, you’ll hear Abigail Cosio and Jeremy Kelley (wife and husband team) with the help of other band members talk about what it has been like to be a musician in New Orleans and touring in this era, about being scheduled for JazzFest for the first time, how they met and their ties to the Northwest. You’ll also hear some great information about the Krewe of Red Beans -a group, which could have just been one of a dozen parade party clubs, that has turned into a fundraising and brainstorming dynamo focused on nurturing the art and music culture of New Orleans. The Krewe parades on Lundi Gras (the day before Mardi Gras) and enlists Bon Bon Vivant as one of its bands. The Krewe also allows members from around the world, including me, to join and support their mission. You’ll hear all this in the first hour. I hope you’ll listen to this creative band and check them out. They are very good at doing online performances as well.
Of particular note of this live recording is that you can clearly hear the original lyrics sung by Abigail (also written by her) with the help of her sister Glori and Jeremy.
Here’s hoping that the third time really is the charm. After two years of planning great line-ups only to be COVID cancelled, Jazzfest has once again tantalized our live music taste buds with the promise of a New Orleans Spring we haven’t seen since 2019.
This week’s show indulges in that hope by working through some of the local New Orleans acts that will be performing at the Fair Grounds Race Course in the last weekend of April restarting a tradition that ran unbroken from 1970 until two years ago.
To say that this year’s festival is a big (add expletive) deal is an understatement.
This week’s show starts with Don Vappie, a world class banjo player who sings in French and English and helps sustain the Creole sound with his Creole Jazz Serenaders. Every song afterwards is by a musician scheduled to take the stage on that first weekend, including Jon Cleary, Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band, Alexey Marti, Aurora Nealand, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, the Original Pin Stripe Brass Band and Delfeayo Marsalis.
JazzFest is a chance for musicians and music lovers alike to remember and honor those that have died. In the first weekend, special events are scheduled to mark the passing of Ellis Marsalis, Jr. , Dr. John, Spencer Bohren, and George Wein. Also, the Hot 8 Brass Band will perform — a band that has lost too many of its band members, including its bandleader and founder Bennie Pete last summer. You’ll hear Spencer and Bennie in this week’s show.
As usual, the lineup includes non-New Orleans acts such as Lionel Ritchie, the Avett Brothers, Foo Fighters and The Who. But you won’t hear them on my New Orleans music show. Not that I do a particularly good job of covering the over 100 New Orleans area acts that will be performing. I only had time for 26 songs in this two-hour show.
However, you will hear a classic recording by Clarence “Frogman” Henry who will be part of a “New Orleans Classic Recording Revue” with the Dixie Cups and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. And despite the name, its not all jazz so this show’s mix includes the New Orleans Spiritualettes, Cha Wa , Jamie Lynn Vessels and Lakou Mizik which is a Haitian band that has recorded in New Orleans.
Another musician you won’t hear at JazzFest but will certainly see is Jon Batiste. He’s featured in the official festival poster created by Terrance Osborne whose work can be easily seen and purchased at his studio on Magazine Street. Batiste will not be able to make the festival but his spirit will preside. The Osborne image conjures up Batiste’s grammy-nominated song “Freedom” and its accompanying video of dancing in the streets.
Next week I’ll feature music by acts scheduled for the second week including Bon Bon Vivant which is touring the Northwest right now and will be performing in Tacoma on February 2, 2022. Yes, 2/02/2022. And then the next morning, they’ll be in the KAOS studio with me. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!
I know I’m not the only person whose attraction to New Orleans grew as a result of attending the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival. In this week’s show, you’ll hear how it hooked a young Wisconsin musician into making New Orleans his home.
Ted Hefko is an established New Orleans musician with a handful of records and many years experience of leading a band, but he was not even out of high school when he attended his first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His experience prompted him to return to Madison, Wisconsin, get his diploma, pack up his few belongings and move to New Orleans. You’ll hear him tell this story on today’s show.
But first, Dr. Michael White will entertain you with “Mpingo Blues” and you’ll be subjected to another set of live music. Remember last week’s show? Well, I didn’t get to all the songs I wanted to, such as The Radiators doing “7 Devils” from the 2006 JazzFest — the event that has resulted in nearly annual visits to my birthplace (and not for JazzFest). By the way, the Jazzfest line up for this year has just been announced. And you’ll find Ted Hefko and his band on the list. Also on the JazzFest line up (for the first time) is Bon Bon Vivant an they will be making its second appearance in the KAOS studio in two weeks!
In this week’s show You’ll also hear live performances by Sonny Landreth, Harry Connick, Jr. Sunpie Barnes and Smoky Greenwell, J & the Causeways, Boozoo Chavis and Kermit Ruffins.
At about the 25 minute mark, I start sharing clips from an interview I had with Hefko who plays guitar and saxophone, leads a band called “The Thousandaires” and writes songs. He tells the story of his moving to New Orleans and starting his professional music career, his tenure in New York and his return. His latest album is Down Below. You’ll hear him perform “The Next Train,” “Egyptland,” and “Into My Head.”
More music follows including Helen Gillet, John “Papa” Grow, the Big Dixie Swingers, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Lynn Drury, Andrew Duhon, Rosie Ledet and Kristin Diable to name a few.
If its been too long since you’ve experienced live music than this week’s show might offer some joy, starting with the funky Meters 2010 JazzFest extended performance of “Fire on the Bayou.” For that song alone, you should start the player below.
While studio recordings can offer more perfection and audio wizardry, live recordings deliver more of the energy you would feel if you were in the audience and offer up freer, more loose performances. Given a choice, I almost always choose the live performance even if they are not as technically exacting as the studio recording.
Perhaps no record better exemplifies that trade-off than Kermit Ruffins’ Live at Vaughan’s. Kermit’s horn playing and singing may not always be on the mark, but this 12-track release puts you in the middle of the dance floor at Vaughan’s during one of his now historic Thursday night performances. The fun is infectious. You’ll hear “Hide the Reefer” from that set on this show. . . but that will be later.
First, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience will cover “Johnny Too Bad” from his Live! Worldwide release. Debbie Davis sings “Lulu’s Back in Town” and you’ll hear the audience go wild on Josh Paxton frenetic piano solo. And you’ll visit two famous New Orleans bars to hear the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and New Orleans Jazz Vipers do their thing (a Craig Klein double feature.)
Later, Taylor Smith of the Roamin’ Jasmine explains how recording a performance at his neighborhood bar was easier and more fun than dealing with the pressure associated with recording in a studio. You’ll hear his group do “That’s a Pretty Good Love” from Live at Horace’s Bar.
As promised on my show, here’s a link to the video of Champion Jack Dupree at the 1990 New Orleans Jazz Fest when Allen Toussaint suddenly joined him at the piano. You’ll hear Dupree start with his soulful “Bring Me Flowers While I’m Living” and then Toussaint sneaks in and plays on the high keys. Eventually, the two move into a boogie woogie number with the 80-year-old Dupree getting up and doing some very interesting boogie moves of his own. You just never know what might happen in a live performance.
Also, during the show, you’ll be transported to the street for a Second Line parade with a performance of “Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” by Rebirth Brass Band, recorded on the street as part of the HBO Treme show. You’ll also hear Paul Sanchez speak emotionally about the value of friendship in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a way of introducing guests at his live performance of “Home.”
Another reason to enjoy live performances (and their recordings) is for the extended versions of familiar songs and the improvisational jams that make the moment feel special and unique. You’ll get that experience throughout the show but definitely with the New Orleans Suspects rendition of “Big Chief” from their Caught Live at the Maple Leaf and Glen David Andrews “Brothers Johnson Jam” from Live at Three Muses.
Live music is starting to come back, so please support these musicians whenever and where ever you can. And I’ll keep spinning the records. Thanks for tuning in.