Birthdays and Brass Make for a Rockin’ Show

Three key birthdays lined up for today’s show along with two visits by premiere New Orleans brass bands. But the show starts with a rollicking bluegrass number with a sousaphone pumping out the baseline. You can listen and read on by clicking the sideways arrow below.

John Hartford most likely pulled deeply from his steamboat pilot days on the Mississippi and Tennesse rivers when he wrote the song that opens today’s show. Sadly, he was dead by the time a group of country musicians joined New Orleans musicians on the Maple Leaf stage to cover his “Miss Ferris.” In the first full set, you’ll hear another song from that project.

But the core of the show is celebrating Cyril Neville and Ed Volker’s 71st birthday and Donna Angelle’s 68th. All three were born on October 10, the date this show aired on KAOS. As the youngest of the Neville brothers, Cyril is perhaps the best known of the three birthday musicians. But this show focuses on his non-Neville performances: two solo songs and one with the Royal Southern Brotherhood.

Ed Volker (The Radiators) photo from Offbeat Magazine and by Kim Welsh

Ed Volker is the distinctive looking keyboardist and songwriter for The Radiators, a jam band that deployed a New Orleans sensibility to rock and won a legend of fans starting in 1978 going through today. And the band has the same line-up it started with. Three Radiators are songs are played on today’s show.

Donna Angelle is a multi-instrumentalist who chose to be prominent on the accordion and lead her own band. She broke the glass ceiling for women band leaders in Zydeco and was closely followed by Rosie Ledet. You’ll hear three of her songs, including “Ladies Night” and one song by Ledet.

The Dirty Dozen and Hot 8 Brass Bands are playing the area this month so you’ll hear a couple songs each by them. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band lead the new wave of brass bands in the 70’s that reinvigorated the traditional New Orleans brass band sound. I play Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” which you can probably hear live when the Dozen perform at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham on October 19 and Pantages Theater the next night.

The Hot 8 Brass Band has had their struggles with car accidents and shootings that have changed their line up over the years and created heart break for the remaining members and their families. But they’ll be in Portland and Seattle October 21st and 22nd respectively. I play the short version of their “Sexual Healing” cover and “Bingo Bango.”

There’s more to the show including Doreen Ketchens and Aurora Nealand on clarinet but you should just listen to the whole thing and let me know what you think. Thanks for tuning in.

Baby Face and Joe Avery on today’s show

“Baby face. I’m up in heaven when I’m in your fond embrace.” Little Richard rode those lyrics to Number 2 in the United Kingdom’s pop charts in early 1959. You can hear it right now if you click the sideways arrow below.

Of the many standards that a New Orleans musician would need to know, “Baby Face” may seem like an odd choice until you hear how it so readily adapts from rock and roll, to brass band to improvisational piano. Today’s show subjects you to three versions. In addition to Little Richard who recorded his version in New Orleans in 1956, you’ll hear Mahogany Brass Band and James Booker.

On the way to those songs, you’ll hear Lillian Boutte singing “After You’ve Gone,” Irma Thomas doing the classic “Early in the Morning,” Cha Wa doing “Tootie Ma” and the Yockamo All-Stars jamming on “Blow, Blow Tenor.” It’s not all jazz though. You’ll also hear Rising Appalachia, Slim Harpo, Lee Dorsey and Earl King.

But in the second hour, I celebrate the 127th birthday anniversary of Joe “Kid” Avery, the composer of the most popular second line song of all time. It’s called “Joe Avery’s Piece” but also just “Second Line” given its close association with that activity.

I do a set of spirituals after that and many other surprises. Thanks for tuning in.  Please subscribe. Cheers.

Gumbo Ya Ya Plays Country Music

I’ve been so enjoying watching the Ken Burn’s PBS documentary on Country Music that this week features nearly an hour of country music from Louisiana. Get on the hayride by starting the show (click sideways arrow below)

It seems you can learn a lot about love from country music (which was known on the Billboard charts as “hillbilly” at the same time that R&B music was categorized as “race” music.) Exhibit A is the opening song by Rocket Morgan. Known for his rockabilly, Rocket bares his heart with the forlorn song a “Too High a Price (to Pay for Love).”

It’s been fun watching Gal Holiday’s career as she steadfastly occupies the two-step country western dance crowd in New Orleans clubs. She kicks off the first set with her refined sound. Ken Swartz kicks up the pace a bit more with his country-inflected “Smile Away the Blues.” And the set finishes with the early 20th century retro sound of the Big Dixie Swingers.

The Burns documentary drives home the importance of the clear channel powerful radio stations that blasted country music throughout the country. Most major markets had some sort of country show with the most well known coming from WSM’s Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Hank Williams got his break in playing the Opry after being the star on the Louisiana Hayride broadcast out of Shreveport Louisiana.

Yvette Landry, who lives and performs in the Lafayette area, is an excellent example of how Swamp Pop, country, cajun and blues all come together. Her fine voice is on display with “Friday Night Special” – a song that drives home the point that country music is about the story. She is followed up nicely by The Deslondes performing “Heavenly Home.” Werly Fairburn, who grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry, finishes that set. Later, the talented Alex McMurray channels Waylon Jennings with “Texas Again.”

The back half of the show is a mix of music including two brass band numbers and Kermit Ruffins getting serious with “West Indies Jazz Dance.”

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Featuring the Not So Famous and Almost Forgotten

By definition, my show of New Orleans music features a number of musicians that are not well known outside of the city or at least outside the world collective of New Orleans music lovers. But today, I make a particular point to reach into the dusty edges of my music collection. Get it started by clicking the sideways arrow in the next box and then read on.

Today’s show starts with Sam Price and his True Believers — a group that regularly plays along the Gulf Coast but isn’t well known in the Northwest where my show airs. He “has soul in his dancing shoes. . . dancing right where I want to be.”

Slim Saunders was part of the Cosimo Matassa’s studio scene but rarely sang lead. One exception is “Let’s Have Some Fun” with the usual strong J&M studio musician line up — this time Sugar Boy Crawford, Snooks Eaglin, Frank Fields and Edgar Myles. Martha Carter kept Irma Thomas company as the only female artists on the Ric and Ron Labels. She sings “I Don’t Talk Too Much.” Wallace Johnson finishes the first fll set.

Allen Toussaint showed great faith in Willie Harper, helping produce a dozen sides through his studio. None of his songs really caught fire but I like “Walk Ya Out of My Life.” Betty Harris sings “What I’d Do Wrong” and Ted Graham’s Kings of Funk finishes that set.

The show continues with a set of jazz and a set of funk and soul before I spin some cajun and country. One of the bands featured is a band that grew out of Tulane University called Smilin’ Myron. While no longer active, they had an active live performance career as an opening act during 1990’s. Stay on later in the show to hear “Astral Project.”

I hope you enjoy today’s show. Please consider subscribing and you will get a notice of when a new show is available. Cheers.

Another show of strictly New Orleans jazz

Every once and a while, I enjoy living up to the stereotypical impression of a New Orleans music show and play only jazz. So if you’re looking for my usual mix of funk, R&B, zydeco, Mardi Gras Indian, country, rock and all stuff in between. This show ain’t it. But its very listenable – get it started and you’ll hear why.

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.

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Gumbo YaYa celebrates five years as a community radio show

I was in my 30’s when I finally understood that the deep depression I experienced every time I moved was related to having left New Orleans when I was a child. Hosting a radio show of New Orleans music has been cathartic. And today’s show marks five years on the air. (you can get the show started and then continue reading this post.)

Joe Lastie’s “New Orleans in Me” speaks to how when you live away from New Orleans (as happened with hundreds of thousands of residents post Hurricane Katrina) , the city stays with you. The song has always resonated for me and it opens this show as a way to honor why I’ve been doing this show for five years.

I was 10 when my family moved away and my heart stayed with the city, aided by frequent visits, until I moved out of the south after I graduated from college. The Northwest was such a good fit for me that over time, I lost touch with my New Orleans feelings — except that sense of loss that would return every time I moved into a new apartment or home.

By the time I returned to visit my sister who had moved back, it had been almost 30 years since I had visited New Orleans. I caught the New Orleans Nightcrawlers at the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which caused me to have almost a mystical experience. I just loved their sound and quickly learned that there was more to New Orleans music than Dixieland. The Nightcrawlers open the first full set of the show with “Can of Worms.”

I do a funk set with Mem Shannon, Allen Toussaint and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. I make sure New Orleans Bounce is represented with the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia doing “Lift Dat Leg Up.”

I try to hint at the diversity of New Orleans music with original songs by Leyla McCalla, Anders Osborne, Kelcy Mae and Lena Prima. I throw in a fun set of Zydeco as well since that is music I would not have learned to love if I had not been doing this show. I hope you have a chance to listen to some of my shows and appreciate the uniquely melting pot American music that emanates from New Orleans

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Active NOLA musicians play their own compositions in today’s show

The concept for today’s show originates from our need at KAOS to periodically record the composer when we put up our play list on Spinitron. This got me thinking a bit more about how musicians are compensated for the airing of their music. Start the show and then read on.

Broadcast Music, Inc. is one of four United States performing rights organizations, along with the ASCAP, SESAC and Global Music Rights. It collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed. 

As I understand it, the broadcast of music over a terrestrial radio station generates income for the composer but not for the performer. However, the streaming of the song on the Internet possibly generates revenue for both the performer and composer. I write “possibly” because there are a lot of “if’s” which I don’t have the brain bandwidth to understand. Also, the amount of money per spin is a small fraction of a penny.

The relevant piece of information here is that because BMI does a spot check on what we play, requiring us to list the composer, I decided to do a show that featured exclusively NOLA musicians playing their own compositions. I added an additional requirement that the musician be active — or at least still alive.

So here is what you’ll hear: Paula (Rangell) and the Pontiacs performing her original song . The prolific Alex Murray performing one of his originals. Flow Tribe doing their unique “Oh Yea.” Tin Men performing an original by band member Washboard Chaz Leary. Meschiya Lake performing a song by her sousaphone player Jason Jurzek. And on it goes. We cover jazz, blues, rock, and stuff in between.

The one exception to my self-imposed active musician rule is Leigh Harris’ wonderful “Dog Days.” Harris, known as Lil Queenie, is struggling with cancer. Here’s here fundraising site for her hospice care. All the rest of the performers heard on this show can be seen live usually playing around the New Orleans area.

I enjoyed creating this show and I bet you’ll enjoy listening to it. (did you get it started yet?) Please consider subscribing. Cheers.

Today’s show finishes with a Second Line

This week’s show has no organizing principle (other than the show’s underlying commitment to New Orleans and Lafayette music). However late in the show, I do about 30 minutes of brass bands that will get you buck jumping or at least shaking some body part. Get it started by clicking the sideways triangle below and I’ll tell you more.

George Lewis with Preservation Hall kicks off the show with “The Sweet By and By.” But the next set is a mix of stuff including the Tin Men doing “Jesus Always Gets His Man.” Mem Shannon singing his song “Dirty Dishes” and Frog and Henry performing the classic “Song of a Wanderer.”

A didgeridoo opens the next set with “Bayou Billabong” followed by Little Queenie and Shamarr Allen. Sets that follow include Eric Lindell, Oliver Morgan, Dana Abbott and Aurora Nealand. A four-song set of music from Lafayette includes Sonny Landreth, Pine Leaf Boys, Tab Benoit and Roddie Romero.

Dancing in the cemetery as part of the Second Line

Somewhere around 80 minute mark, Rebirth kicks in with “Roll With It” followed by the Original Pin Stripe Brass Band, the Forgotten Souls Brass Band and an entertaining Taylor Swift cover by Shamarr Allen.

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Touring New Orleans trumpeter and songwriter talks on today’s show

One of the many cool aspects of my role as host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa is getting to meet musicians who I admire. Last week, it was Bon Bon Vivant. This week its Shamarr Allen, a talented songwriter who happens to be a damn good trumpeter. (Get it started will ya!)

Today’s show kicks off with Allen Toussaint’s project to bring together (for perhaps the last time) the R&B greats of Earl Palmer, Alvin “Red” Tyler, Ed Frank, and Lee Allen. Crescent City Gold was recorded in the 90’s. I play “Hang Tough” to be consistent with today’s goal of digging deeper in some of my favorite CDs while giving some neglected artists some air time.

To tease his upcoming interview, the first full set starts with Shamarr Allen’s “Can You Feel It.” I thought Corey Henry’s “Feeling Tremazin” folowed Shamarr’s song nicely.

The next set goes country with The Big Dixie Swingers, The Deslondes, and Kevin Sekhani (originally from Lafayette). I follow that with a jazz set of Percy Humphrey, Al Hirt and Frog and Henry who will be performing in the region through the middle of the month. (See calendar)

Shamarr Allen

Almost an hour into the show, Shamarr Allen called as he was driving his way across North California to perform in Lake Tahoe. He’ll get into Oregon on Tuesday and play Seattle next Thursday, followed by gigs in Portland and Tacoma. This is his first tour of the Northwest and its long overdue.

While its hard to categorize Mr. Allen’s music, its easy to enjoy. His “Meet Me on Frenchmen Street” could easily put him in the treasured category of classic New Orleans musicians who manage to keep the New Orleans jazz tradition fresh.

But his “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More” shows the depth of his song writing as he, Dee-1, Benny Pete and Paul Sanchez express their disgust of the BP Gulf spill and the havoc that all spills cause. You’ll see him wear a shirt in that video that says “My trumpet (image of one) is my weapon.” But his lyrics are powerful too.

But its that sweet spot between tradition and innovation that Mr. Allen excels and a perfect example is the video recording of his song “Ruin My Day” which he filmed as part of the NPR tiny desk contest. A positive song about life’s vagaries recorded in the House of Dance and Feathers.

While the radio interview is short, you will get a glimpse into this artist’s history, his family (his uncle is founder and curator of House of Dance and Feathers) and his music. I finish the interview with a spin of his “House of Dance and Feathers” a song he wrote for the music “Nine Lives.”

Here’s just the interview with Mr. Allen:

The show carries on after Mr. Allen signs off including songs by Larry Garner, Dash Rip Rock, Henry Butler, Johnny Adams, Cha Wa and more. Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.

Bon Bon Vivant Plays KAOS Studio and Gumbo YaYa

Jeremy Kelley was assembling his saxophone when he identified the band that starts today’s show. You won’t have to guess cause I’ll just tell you but get it started now and then read on about today’s studio set with Bon Bon Vivant. (click the sideways arrow below)

Bon Bon Vivant first caught my ears with their album recorded live at the New Orleans Mint. This group offers beautiful harmonies with hip swaying rhythms, haunting lyrics and engaging melodies. This is music for the body, brain and soul. And this isn’t just music that copies the New Orleans. These cats live there.

Dirty Bourbon River Show kicks off today’s show with “”Ain’t No Place (Like New Orleans)”. This song that could have been written by the members of Bon Bon Vivant who hail from California originally but have been living and performing for at least a decade in New Orleans making great music. While the two sisters and Jeremy made the eastern migration together, they found the other California refugees in New Orleans.

I wasn’t surprised when members of the band also recognized the very talented Carolyn Broussard who opened the first full set of the show with “Sweet Inspiration” from her Revival! release. Albanie Falletta and John Fohl, both active musicians in New Orleans, finish out that set.

While Bon Bon Vivant was setting up in the adjacent studio at KAOS today, I played a set of music featuring Raymond Weber on drums. He turned 53 today He’s performed with a wide variety of groups, including Harry Connick Jr., Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary, a Jerry Garcia tribute band, and Dumpstaphunk. But HBO Treme fans might recognize him from when he played himself as the drummer for Antoine Batiste and his Soul Apostles which was featured in the second season. It’s a fast paced set.

When I learned that Jason Jurzak, the BBV’s sousaphonist, wrote songs and performed with Meschiya Lake, well it was easy to pull out her “Bad Kids Club” record and play a Jurzak original “Flim Flam Man.” Lots of fun music followed including songs by Frog and Henry, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, Louie Ludwig and the Shotgun Jazz Band.

Finally, a little less than an hour in to the show, the six-piece band kicked off with “Lost Soul.” Their music is hard to describe and easy to dance to. As mentioned Jeremy Kelley plays sax (soprano and tenor), his partner, Abigail Cosio writes the songs, plays guitar and sings. Her sister, Glori Cosio, adds harmony and rhythm. Ryan Brown handles the accordion and engineers the band’s live recordings. Jason handles the base line on the sousaphone and Brad Webb is their drummer for this tour, filling in for regular drummer Ry D’Antonio who had to skip the tour so he could be a supportive new papa.

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like this band so stay listening through the early sets so you can catch them. Or, just play this version below which just includes the band’s five song set in the KAOS radio studio.

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