New Orleans music is comfortable with crossing to the other side

New Orleanians have no trouble remembering their dead — most cemeteries in the city feature above ground crypts creating a daily reminder for those who pass by them. And the city has three centuries of dead to honor. This week’s show celebrates the Day of the Dead .

When I was a kid in New Orleans, I always had the day after Halloween off. I attended Our Lady of Lourdes on Napoleon Avenue and like all Catholic Schools at the time, Lourdes recognized All Saints Day by giving us a school holiday. At the time, I just thought the nuns wanted to give us a break after a night full of knocking on doors and jacking up on candy. Later I learned how religious holidays tend to congregate around earlier non-Christian based celebrations — in this case Samhain is often cited as the genesis for Halloween, All Saints Day and the more populist — All Souls Day. And then there is Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which in Mexican culture is a time to remember friends and family who have died.

This show isn’t just about remembering our dead; several of the songs address preparing for death: Spencer Bohren (who died last year of cancer) sings “Ghost Train,” Tangle Eye’s “O Death,” John Scofield’s New Orleans recorded song “The Angel of Death,” and the jazz standard for mortality “St. James Infirmary” by Ingrid Lucia and James Andrews.

You’ll also hear Coco Robicheaux’s “Walking with the Spirit,” Treme Brass Band’s “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead” and an edited-for-radio version of the Dirty Bourbon River Show song “All My Friends Are Dead.” The song in this show that perhaps best represents the practice of remembering someone who has died, is Yvette Landry’s song about her father “Fishing’s Better Anyway.”

But wait, in a two-hour radio show, you get more – Zombies (Diablo’s Horns), Voodoo (several songs including Dash Rip Rock’s pre-Amazon mail order Voodoo Doll) and, of course, Morgus the Magnificent. Yes, I’ve written a whole post on him and just featured him when Sidney Noel Rideau (the actor who created and portrayed Morgus) died. But its a tradition to include him in this show and this one features a short snippet of an early skit he performed with his sidekick Chopsley.

Thanks for reading all the way to this point. Perhaps you’ll consider subscribing. I do shows every week. My best to you and your loved ones who passed on.

Helping you vote with music from New Orleans – Part Two

With two weeks left before election day, over 800,000 ballots in my state have been turned in. Turnout is even stronger where this show is broadcast with ballots turned in by nearly one out of three voters. Over 42 million have already voted nationwide. Wow!

For those who haven’t voted yet, here’s music to vote . . .or to listen to while waiting to vote.

This week’s songs, like last week’s songs, are selected to get you into a frame of mind for exercising your right to vote, starting with John Boutte’s cover of “A Change is Gonna Come” — a song inspired by a racist experience when Sam Cooke attempted to check into a Shreveport motel.

The Meters gives us “People Say” to start the first full set and Leyla McCalla puts Langston Hughes words to music with “Song for a Dark Girl.” It’s a set designed to remind us that its been a long, long journey for racial equity and justice and we’re not done yet. This set finishes with The Neville Brothers’ “Sons and Daughters (Reprise)” and Rebirth Brass Band’s “Take it to the Street.”

Allen Toussaint’s sings “We Are America”

Allen Toussaint starts “Yes We Can Can” by singing “We are America” to a New Orleans Jazz Fest audience. His song enlivens a second half hour set of music that includes The Hot 8 Brass Band’s “Working Together,” Marcia Ball’s “World Full of Love,” Smoky Greenwell’s “Get Out and Vote,” and Tab Benoit and Dr. John doing “We Ain’t Gonna Lose No More.”

In the second half of the show, Davis Rogan’s “Joe Biden Will Do Just Fine” pairs nicely with Paula and The Pontiacs doing “Play to Win.” Eric Lindell follows up with “Revolution” as in a revolution in our heart. New Orleans Suspects offers up “Whatcha Gonna Do” and Dr. Michael White delivers “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

The show ends with an amazing Louis Armstrong cover of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” Amazing because first it was recorded less than a year after Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded the original Second, its clearly a funk version which is unusual for Armstrong who would live only a year after the release of this song. And finally, the song comes across so well, particularly for the vibe I was going for. Let me know what you think.

Music to Inspire Voting (or listen to while waiting to vote)

The 2020 voting season is upon us. Every voter in Washington should have received a ballot by now so I’ve compiled for today’s show (and next week’s) a soundtrack for completing your ballot or, if you live in one of those states that hasn’t mastered mail balloting yet, music to help you wait in line to vote.

This show includes songs of optimism such as Eric Lindell’s “Love and Compassion” which he released at the start of the Obama administration as well as the less rosy (but still oddly upbeat)”Ship is Sinking” — a new release by Bon Bon Vivant.

Yes, I placed Delfeayo Marsalis’ “Make America Great Again,” George Porter Jr.’s “Careful Who You Idolize” and Kevin Sekhani’s “Ballad of a Lonely Clown” together on purpose. I make no endorsements on this show.

Voting lines in Georgia. Here in Washington, ballots come in the mail.

My world affair set includes C.J. Chenier’s “We Gotta Have Peace” and Louis Ludwig’s “God Hates Flags” along with a rare broadcast of “Whistleblower” by The Monocle (aka Aurora Nealand).

Davis Rogan jumps in with his latest song “Joe Biden Will Do Just Fine” where he urges all of us who supported one of the many other Democratic candidates for the nomination to suck it up and vote for Joe and Kamala. By the way Davis, I also was a Jesse Jackson supporter, elected as one of his alternate precinct delegates back when this state still held caucuses.

There’s an economy set as well with Leyla McCalla’s “Money is King,” Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s rendition of “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further,” The Big Dixie Swingers with “I Haven’t Got a Pot” and I reach far back into the last century for Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Please Mr. Nixon.”

You can be assured that this show does not harangue you about voting. If you’re reading this, you don’t need to be convinced. On KAOS, my show follows Democracy Now! — how could you listen to that show and not want to vote. This is simply about entertaining and providing some inspiration while you ponder your choices for 2020. Let me know what you think.

Digging deep for October New Orleans music show

For this week’s show, I casually thumbed (digitally) through my collection of roughly 15,000 songs -almost all from Louisiana and mostly from New Orleans. I selected mostly songs that I haven’t played in awhile if at all, including breaking into a new release by a band I just got acquainted with The New Orleans Johnnys. You can start the show now which begins with Jon Cleary doing “Big Greasy.”

The Beatles hanging with Fats Domino

After Cleary sings and I get on to say “hi,” I play Paul McCartney’s version of “I Want To Walk You Home” from the two-disc Fats Domino tribute release. There’s no secret of the high affection McCartney has for Domino. And McCartney’s rendition of the song can best be described as loving. And there’s much more to love in that same set including Irma Thomas covering Nora Jones’ “Thinking About You” and Alex McMurray’s “The Get Go.”

The second set includes two great jams, one from a band not from New Orleans but is well regarded there. I pulled “Once You’re There” by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe from a live recording featured on a WWOZ release. Charlie Wooton Project follows it with “Fulton Alley” — providing over 16 minutes of fine musicianship.

Because the COVID-19 restrictions are still keeping me from the KAOS studio, my shows are not broadcast live allowing me to do longer sets and fewer breaks. And this week, I did some deep dives for music by John “Papa” Gros, Herlin Riley, Little Sonny Jones, Lil Rascals Brass Band, Helen Gillet, and Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet.

Near the end of the show, I do two tracks by The New Orleans Johnnys which I believe used to perform under the moniker “N’awlins Johnnys.” If so, I appreciate the change. They’re not a gimmicky band for tourist. Thier new album “Outta Ya Mind” delivers original New Orleans funk rock songs. I look forward to hearing more from them. You’ll also hear another track from the latest record by the prolific octogenarian Bobby Rush.

Oh, I forgot to mention the reason for the moon picture on the Mixcloud bar. Miss Sophie Lee sings “Blue Moon.” Tonight is a full moon which means later in the month, we’ll get another one . . . a blue moon. Cheers. Drop me line and consider subscribing.

Gumbo YaYa Attempts to Clear the Air with Fire and Smoke

If smoke has been getting into your eyes lately, perhaps its also worth getting it into your ears with this week’s show featuring “Fire” by Rebirth Brass Band and “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” by Buckwheat Zydeco.

The first full set attempts to exorcise the fire and smoke demons bedeviling the West Coast — though a rational climate policy would be a far better approach. I start with”Something in the Air” by Kid Eggplant and the Trad Melatauns and written by Papa Eggplant (aka Sidney Snow) and featuring Bruce Brackman on clarinet.

In recognition of the passing of Frederick “Toots” Hilbert, the show dives into a Jamaican-theme set starting with Toots and the Maytals performing the classic Fats Domino hit “Let the Four Winds Blow.” It’s an appropriate choice given the pivotal role Domino and songs like “Be My Guest” (which you will also hear) play in helping to shape early Rock Steady and Reggae music. The set progresses from there culminating in Bonerama’s “Sun Lion” and returning to the clarinet with Dr. Michael White’s take on Bob Marley’s “One Love.”

Lee Mohler (second from left) with Artesian Rumble Arkestra at Honkfest West in Seattle.

Lee Mohler joins me at that point. Lee is a trumpet player for the Artesian Rumble Arkestra — a collective of Olympia-area musicians who best exemplify, at least locally, the spirit of New Orleans second line music. Lee also serenaded our children and their classmates on an overnight school field trip playing “Taps” while they crawled into sleeping bags on a gymnasium floor in the Columbia Gorge in what feels like about two hundred years ago. Lee and I have visited New Orleans together and he shares some of his love for the music with Smoking Time Jazz Club playing in the background.

I also recognize the passing of blues guitarist Bryan Lee who held down for many years a regular stint at the Old Absinthe House. Lee has 17 albums to his name but I thought, given his passing, I would honor him with a very upbeat original song from his all-Gospel final release – Sanctuary.

Maria Muldaur, Shamarr Allen, Sarah Quintana, Guitar Lightnin Lee, Spider Murphy and over a dozen others join us to fill out two hours of music from New Orleans. Thanks for tuning in. Consider subscribing which means you’ll get a notice every time a new show posted. Cheers.

K-Doe, Kermit, Morgus, others join Gumbo YaYa’s 300th show

This week, I celebrate six years of spinning New Orleans music on KAOS. Longevity does not suggest popularity since a show’s survival on community radio mainly depends on the ability to understand and follow FCC and station rules and a stubborn consistency on the part of the DJ. I often wonder what Olympia and Bellingham listeners must think when they hear musicians with names like Kermit, K-Doe and Quintron from a city over 2,600 miles away.

But its my show’s birthday and I’ll do what I want to. So for my 300th show in celebration of six years on the air, you’ll hear music from those names and many more. That is, if you click the sideways arrow above to listen. Or if the player is not visible (sometimes happen) here’s the link to the show.

This live album gives some idea what Vaughan’s was like during Kermit’s 20-year Thursday night gig..

This week’s celebfation provided a good reason to start off with “Happy Birthday Hallelujah” by the Brass-a-Holics. Then I transport to the dance floor of Vaughan’s thanks to songs by Kermit Ruffins and Corey Henry. These two musicians have anchored the Thursday night live show at this Ninth Ward lounge for three decades. Vaughan’s only offers live music one night a week but its a helluva night. Just ask Jay Mazza who wrote a book about it.

Ingrid Lucia follows up with an enticing invitation for a “Midnight Rendevous” and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes drive home my desperate desire to hang out in a crowded bar listening to live music with another jam from their recent Maple Leaf live double-disc release.

Then the crazy stuff starts with Morgus the Magnificent. One of the original late night TV fright show hosts, Morgus was created by Sidney Noel Rideau who did some other amazing things in his 90 years on the planet. But when he passed away last week, the city mourned for Morgus and his various stints on New Orleans television in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – – and beyond in the form of reruns. I’ve written about Morgus more extensively here. On this week’s show you’ll hear an early R&B favorite “Morgus the Magnificent” and Galactic’s inspired use of one of his skits in “Friends of Science.” The Iguanas, John Mooney and the Soul Rebels, Alexey Marti, Bon Bon Vivant,the Hot 8 Brass Band and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers fill out that set.

Ernie K-Doe is the patron saint of this website and as well as Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa so he has to make an appearance on my annual celebrations. Quintron introduces him with his take on K-Doe’s “Certain Girl” and just as the earworm drills in, Ernie takes over with his original version of that song. Why? “Can’t Tell Ya.” (You’ll also hear a little bit of K-Doe when he deejayed for WTUL.). And here’s more about the interesting relationship of Quintron and K-Doe.

Louis Armstrong, Jean Knight, Slim Harpo, Aurora Nealand, some more brass bands, Allen Toussaint and many more join the party if you wish to hang with me for the full two hours of music. As a birthday present, consider going to the upper right hand corner of this page and subscribing to weekly alerts about the show.

Oh, and if you forgot to click the sideways arrow, here it is again:

From Katrina to COVID, the music survives but for how long

Fifteen years ago, New Orleans was literally underwater. And while the city has bounced back, I’m not sure our country has learned very much from the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. This week’s show is my seventh annual Katrina recognition kicked off by the Free Agents Brass Band sounding both joyous and angry upon its return to New Orleans after Katrina in “We Made It Through That Water.” Start it now and then read on.

First, the good news. Based on initial reports, evacuations in anticipation of the recent Hurricane Laura, while complicated by the pandemic, seems to have saved lives. It was a different story 15 years ago when despite a mandatory evacuation perhaps as many as 200,000 were left behind and roughly 1,000 died in Orleans Parish alone. Yes, some chose to stay behind. But many others had no transportation or financial means to leave. Public buses that could have been used to aid in evacuation were left idle.

The bad news? The continued erosion of the state’s wetlands and delta lands means even greater damage to populated areas. On this show, you’ll hear James Karst, spokesman for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, describe the threat coastal erosion poses but also of the good work his nonprofit is doing to correct it. On his suggestion, you’ll hear Bonerama’s jamming song “Mr. Go” — a reference to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet channel that contributed to the flooding of New Orleans and erosion of Louisiana wetlands. The channel is now closed.

New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. Floodwaters were present for roughly six weeks.

In Northwest United States, the most immediate effect of climate change appears to be wildfires. In the Southeast, its the ferocity of hurricanes. It’s time we pay attention to what’s happening. It would be nice to have a national plan for controlling carbon emissions but at the very least, we should be aggressively working to mitigate some of the harsher impacts of climate change.

The power of the water when the levees broke pushed houses off foundations and cars down several blocks.

Today’s show includes some of my regular Katrina songs such as Shamarr Allen’s “Katrina and the Flood” and Trombone Shorty’s “Hurricane Season.” But I’ve added some different songs to the mix to make for a show featuring blues, rock, jazz and, of course, lots of brass.

By the way, here’s how you can access my other Katrina recognition shows:

The 2019 Katrina recognition show focused on ‘the delta and Louisiana coastline.

The 2018 Katrina recognition show was dedicated to Puerto Rico which had just been chewed up by Hurricane Maria.

The 2017 Katrina recognition show was dedicated to ALL flood victims.

The 2016 show focused on the Louisiana Flood of 1927 but I didn’t record it. Sorry.

The 2015 Katrina recognition show was a two-parter (10 year anniversary). The first goes into the detail of the storm and its impact. The second focuses on the musicians and their stories. The shows features short excerpts from Spike Lee’s movie “When the Levees Broke.” Both shows can be accessed at the end of the page on this link.

The 2014 show was a pilot for Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa and I did it as part of the morning show I was doing at the time. No recording. No webpage.

Next week, I’ll be celebrating SIX YEARS of GUMBO YAs YAs. Hope you can join me.

Baton Rouge Band’s No. 1 Song Inspired by Lucy in the Sky

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve misunderstood lyrics to the point of singing them out loud in their mind-mangled state. But when John Gourrier did that, he ended up writing a number one song. Judy in Disguise (with Glasses).

The Beatle’s “Lucy in the Sky” was initially heard by Gourrier, who fronted the Baton Rouge band John Fred and the Playboys, as Lucy in Disguise. While Gourrier and the band are often referred to as a novelty act and a one-hit wonder, Gourrier performed for 50 years and left behind several other musical gems including the one that starts this week’s show.

The first set is bookended with versions of the Judy in Disguise. The original kicks it off and Jello Biafra & the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars finish with a rather more raucous version.

This show also includes a stunny version of “It All Ends the Same” by Antoine Diel & Misfit Power, Jonathon Long whose also from Baton Rouge shares a number from his latest record, Champion Jack Dupree serves up two helpings of Cabbage Greens, the Radiators jam on “Like Dreamers Do,” and two dozen other New Orleans area musicians share their music with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Missed ‘Hittin’ On Nothin’, Third Time is the Charm

I love doing this show but the COVID closure of the KAOS studio has made it a true act of love.. Instead of slinging CD’s in real time, rocking out to the music and recording the show as it happens, I assemble the show, loading it up one song file at a time. But some times mistakes are made and for some reason, after my second try last week, I still had not managed to play Irma Thomas’ “Hittin on Nothin.’ That’s right I failed to hit Hittin on Nothin.

The first full set of this week’s show starts with that song and I think I got it right this time. The set is rounded out with Larry Williams’ “Bad Boy,” Creole String Beans “Seven Nights to Rock,” Lloyd Price’s “Where You At?” and a one-off record credited to “Marie Boubarere.” It’s possible this singer worked under other names as related by Dan Phillips in his wonderful music blog “Home of the Groove.

Bobby Rush joins the show in the second set with a message recorded from his home. At 86, this grammy winning guitarist, singer, songwriter is still cranking out original music. Check out his website. That set also includes Leyla McCalla, Davell Crawford and Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes amongothers.

Andre Bouvier does a straight send up of the Kinks indictment of wealth “Sunny Afternoon” and from that song we flow into Smoky Greenwell’s anthem for the 99 percent and Occupy wall street movement.

Lena Prima has a done a wide mix of music including some wonderful personal songs of her own, but her live performance harkens to her father, Louie, in her live album recorded at the Dew Drop in Mandeville. You can hear and feel it when I do back to back Prima songs.

Later, Roland Guerin, who was Allen Toussaint”s bass player when he toured near the end of this life, does a song off his latest album and Delfeayo Marsalis takes a nice turn with the Sesame Street TV show theme song.

Much more in this show but I’ll let you discover those gems on your own. Let me know think by commenting on this page or you can reach me through Facebook. Keep tuned in.

A Gumbo Soundtrack for Your Summer Trip

Why should a little global pandemic stand in the way of a virtual summer trip.

​”Good times are down the road. . . .Mama won’t let me go. ” If sung today, Marcia Ball might sing her line as “COVID won’t let me go.” But why should a little global pandemic stand in the way of a virtual summer trip. Put your virtual mask on, click the sideways arrow in the box below and let’s get this week’s musical journey started with a ride on the “Magic Bus” courtesy of Billy Iuso.

You can go “Down the Road” with Marcia Ball in a “Big Old Rusty Car” by Big Al and The Heavyweights, on an “August Night” (Preservation Hall) going from “Austin to Destin” with Davis Rogan, on the Next Train (Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires), in the “Dog Days” (Little Queenie) of “High Summer” (Alex McMurray)​ and if you’re not “King of the Road”(James Booker cover)  by then you can “Go Out on the Road” (Hurray for the Riff Raff) on “Southern Nights” (Allen Toussaint’s long version). And that’s just the first half of the show.

Jimmy Carter had just moved into the White House when Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights” began its climb to being the number one song in both the Billboard’s pop and country charts. But that version is nothing like the song delivered by the man who wrote it. Allen Toussaint started as a teenager working to shape the sound of New Orleans R&B with the help of Irma Thomas (who sings a Toussaint song later in the show), Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey and The Meters. But when he sings his autobiographical “Southern Nights,” he becomes a young city boy exploring the fascinating yet spooky outdoors in the backwaters of Louisiana on a weekend trip to visit relatives who don’t quite speak the same language. Yea, nice thing about a virtual trip like this is you don’t need to worry about the mosquitos!

Another song where it’s probably better to hear it than experience it is”Dog Days” by Leigh Harris (Little Queenie). In less than six minutes, this song covers all the aspects of the August heat in New Orleans. “How many baths can you take in one day.”

The second half of the show is a mixed bag of music featuring a bit of reggae by a no longer active Rock Steady group from New Orleans (007) and Dr. Michael White covering Bob Marley’s “One Love.” Later listen to Irma Thomas pivot on stage in a live recording to do a song she hadn’t sung in years. The band helps out with the forgotten lyrics with a great little jam near the end on “Hittin’ on Nothin.”

The show finishes with a Bon Bon Vivant number, “The Alchemist.” Abigail Cosio and Jeremy Kelley and their merry band of friends and musicians have created a relaxed and yet deceptively high tech presentation for their weekly live Facebook shows . The sound is great. The visuals are fun with camera work that puts you in the intimate room with them. You can watch the roughly one-hour shows at 5 p.m. West Coast time on Sundays or any time afterwards as a recording. And now because of some sort of magic that Jeremy hooked me up with, the same performance will show live on the Gumbo YaYa Facebook page.

Jeremy Kelley and Abigail Cosio of Bon Bon Vivant with friends and band members are providing a quality live feed of their weekly Sunday shows.

As I write this, I’ve been informed that COVID-19 virus was discovered in the building where the KAOS studio is located. As a result, the studio is in lockdown and the Olympia broadcast of the show will be postponed one week. Meanwhile in Bellingham (the City of Subdued Excitement), KMRE will be airing this week’s Gumbo YaYa two hours earlier this Friday (5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.) because of its airing of the virtual Subdued Stringband Jamboree. But you can listen to the full show now. Thank you for tuning in.