Join Me On Audio Tour of My Latest New Orleans trip

My first trip back to New Orleans in over 22 months comes to life in this week’s show, featuring musicians I saw perform live during my short visit made shorter by an unplanned diversion to Bossier City, Louisiana. Start the show and then read on about the trip.

Our nonstop flight from Seattle to New Orleans was met with dense fog and a malfunction of the airport’s guidance system. With gas running low and no Rudolph to guide our sleigh in, we landed at Shreveport in the Northwest corner of Louisiana — about as far away from New Orleans as we could get and still stay in the state. Eventually, we ended up in a casino hotel on the other side of the river from the airport in Bossier City — a far cry from Frenchmen Street. “Gamblin’ Blues” by Champion Jack Dupree helps paint the picture on my show.

Eventually, we got to hang on Frenchmen Street on Thursday night. The famous music neighborhood seems a bit diminished after a worldwide pandemic and another hurricane. A couple of clubs are closed and others are operating on more limited hours. But the music is there to be heard and seen. In the show, you’ll hear music that follows our bar-hopping course.

Jason and Lyrette Neville with their funk and soul band.

We started at Three Muses with Tom McDermott playing his Jelly Roll Morton and rag time influenced piano behind a plastic glass. After dinner, we walked down to the bottom of the street to the Yard with Jason Neville Funky Soul Band. Jason is son of Aaron Neville and performs with his wife Lirette, daughter of New Orleans Jazz Legend “Sullivan Dabney,” and a solid band of funk professionals. The band does mostly covers with a signature style and unfortunately I have no recordings of their music. (The Neville’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” cover fills in) You’ll just to have to take my word for it that it was worth the stop. In fact, I think most of my group would have been happy staying there the whole evening. But, we pushed on.

Marty Peters (sax) and the Party Meters

We landed at Bamboulas where Marty Peters and Party Meters were holding court. Peters plays saxophone and clarinet and his hot jazz quintet explores a similar vein of music as the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. My favorite feature of this group is the singing by Peters and his trumpet player, Jeff Kreis. The two also offer up a bit of comic repartee to enliven the show — as they do in “Somebody Stole My Gal.”. But wait, there was more.

I’ve wanted to catch Shawn Williams live ever since hearing her Motel Livin’ record. And since she was just across the street at Favela Chic, I moved the group again. This was my first time in this relatively new music venue and I was a bit disappointed in the sound quality. I’m not sure if that was the venue’s fault or the fault of the brass band blazing on the corner just outside. You need to hear Shawn’s words and that just wasn’t possible. Still, it was good to see her perform live. On the show, I play her “Buried Alive.”

One of a dozen light installations on the Lafitte Greenway

New Orleans is more than the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street and its imperative to get out into one of the hoods. The Greenway Supernova in Mid City on Friday night was a solid choice. A combination art event, fundraiser and concert in support of the Friends of Lafitte Greenway – a 2.6 mile greenbelt trail that runs from Louis Armstrong Park to Bayou St. John. Twelve luminary artworks dotted the park, anchored by a crafts fair, silent auction and two music stages.

Bon Bon Vivant

My favorite light installation hung from a sprawling oak tree and involved some intentional spotlighting of “deconstructed disco balls” which cast spiral shadows and random sparklies. Later, singer and songwriter Abigal Cosio pointed out that people have been dancing to mirrored balls long before disco. In addition to being right on that one, she was also the reason we were there. She fronts the band Bon Bon Vivant who did an evening outdoor concert under the cheery lights.

As we got into the weekend, the clubs became more active. We caught John Saavedra’s G & the Swinging Gypsies digging deep into Django Reinhardt’s songbook at Bamboula’s on Saturday. I have a recording of this group when it featured Gisell Anguizola on vocals and tap. But it appears Gisell lives and performs in San Diego now.

Dragon Smoke at Tipitina’s

The highlight of Saturday was Dragon Smoke at Tipitinas (well there also was an awesome meal at Herbsaint, a walk through the lit holiday decorations at Roosevelt Hotel and a street car ride all the way up town and back along St Charles and Carrollton). Dragon Smoke is a group formed in 2003 as part of New Orleans JazzFest tradition called Superjam which puts together people from bands who don’t normally play together. In this case, the Galactic rhythm section of drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio pair up with keyboardist Ivan Neville (Aaron’s oldest son and leader of Dumpstaphunk) and guitarist, singer/songwriter Eric Lindell. The band alternated jamming on songs led by Neville and Lindell. The communication between musicians was strong, creating improvisational riffs that stayed tight and strong the whole night.

J (on Keyboards) & the Causeways

J and the Causeways opened for Dragon Smoke (exactly on time by the way). Bandleader Jordan Anderson handles the keyboards, singing and songwriting with the help the help of a horn and rhythm section and tasteful rhythm and lead guitar by Evan Hall.

Our last night, Sunday, found out us back out at Mid City for a Christmas show at the Broadside but first we shopped at the pop-up Art Market in City Park where the Secret Six Band entertained us.

Finale song at The Very Loose Cattle Christmas Show at the Broadside

During the pandemic, The Broadside Theater opened an outdoor venue in its parking lot–which is where we caught “The Very Loose Cattle Christmas Show.” Loose Cattle is fronted by part-time New Orleans resident Michael Cerveris (You might know him as music manager “Mervin Frey” from the HBO show “Treme.”). The show was two hours of Christmas songs – reverent (O Holy Night) and irreverent (“Drunk This Christmas”). The show a featured a steady flow of guests such as Meschiya Lake, Antoine Diel, Mia Borders, Paul Sanchez, Arsene Delay, Lilli Lewis, and John Boutte. Stage musicians included two members of the grammy winning New Orleans Nightcrawlers (Craig Klein and Jason Mingledorff), The Iguanas bassist Rene Coman and Josh Paxton on piano. Cerveris generously taped and posted the entire show on YouTube– Merry Christmas.

John Lisi & Delta Funk
Ted Hefko

We finished the night with a couple more shows on Frenchmen Street featuring John Lisi & Delta Funk performing to a packed Cafe Negril audience followed by Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires.

The show starts with Louis Armstrong singing “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans.” On air, I promised I’d provide the link to the original recording of that song featuring Billie Holiday singing with Louis Armstrong.

Here’s posts of other trips I’ve taken to New Orleans:

Mouth Watering Jazz Fest Food Inspires This Week’s Show

Perhaps the hardest part about listening to the WWOZ live feed of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is hearing the on-air hosts talk about the food. Shrimp and lump crab ravigote, fried green tomatoes, catfish almondine, Key Lime tart, crawfish strudel — for starters. Listen to today’s show to be subjected to similar punishment with appropriate musical accompaniment.

Crawfish sack and crawfish beignets served by Patton’s Caterers at Jazz Fest this year.

The show starts with the basics of greens, gumbo, red beans and fried fish. Or put in terms of songs: Champion Jack Dupree’s “Cabbage Greens #1,” Rebirth Brass Band’s cover “Shrimp and Gumbo,” Professor Longhair’s “Red Beans” and Charmaine Neville’s inspired version of the the Louis Jordan classic “Saturday Night Fish Fry.”

During the air breaks you’ll hear descriptions of food sold by vendors at Jazz Fest such as fried crab cake with smoked tomato and jalapeno tartar, alligator pie, crabmeat stuff shrimp — just to name a few.

I do songs about catfish stew (Bobby Rush), chicken (C.J. Chenier) and a wide range of other songs from coffee to sweet potatoes.

Crawfish strudel with white chocolate bread pudding served by Cottage Catering at Jazz Fest this year.

At one point, I list off all the dishes served at Jazz Fest that have crawfish in it. There’s lot of them as well as good old spicy boiled crawfish where you “Suck the Heads and Squeeze the Tip” following the Radiator’s song advice.

I also do a sweet set and list of menu items on desserts near the end. So stay with the whole show. And thanks for tuning in.

Audio slideshow of latest trip to New Orleans

I miss the days when my Dad would pull out the slide projector and set up the screen and we’d look at the slides of our last vacation.  Well, get my show started and you’ll hear an audio slideshow of my trip to New Orleans last week.

Since this show was part of the KAOS pledge drive, I have the honor of Anch Bergeson, host of Sundrenched, and Vertis Love, host of Old Ship of Zion (KAOS shows) as company.  I kept our discussion of New Orleans but edited out the pledge requests. However, if you want to support our community radio station, its easy to do.

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Vincent Broussard of Rebirth Brass Band powers his saxophone at the Maple Leaf Bar.

For West Coast visitors, there’s a nice alignment for catching Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar on Tuesday nights.  Usually, flights are cheaper on Tuesday and the two-hour time change helps in terms of staying up late enough to see this venerable band that usually doesn’t start performing until after 10:30 p.m.  This show recognizes how I started last week’s trip with Rebirth’s “Who’s Rockin’, Who’s Rollin”

My next set portrays our ride on the Natchez boat down the Mississippi, an easy and fun tourist activity and I feature two bands we saw later in the day at clubs on Frenchmen Street (Bon Bon Vivant and Tin Men).

I do a set featuring coffee because my wife, Kim, still raves about the cup of coffee she had at Morning Call located at City Park. Most tourists get their cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. Morning Call used to be there but now they have a wonderful place at City Park. I finish the set with a Corey Henry song because we ended the day at Vaughan’s in the Bywater for his weekly late Thursday night performance.

Lena Prima, Louis’ daughter, is a wonderful performer with an excellent band and  a crowd-pleasing songbook.  She holds court in the Carousel Room of the Monteleone Hotel every Friday night.  I play “Scuba Diver” off her live album which pretty accurately captures the music but to catch the antics, you’ll have to wait for my narrative after that set.

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Helen Gillet at the Courtyard Brewery

I caught up with Helen Gillet at the Courtyard Brewery’s fourth anniversary party and she gave me her latest release and I play “You Found Me.”  Charles Sheffield “It’s Your Voodoo Working” and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Swamp Ghost” symbolize the Krewe of Boo parade we caught.

 

It took some deciphering but we figured out how to catch up with the Men of Luck’s Second Line parade on Sunday.  Cyril Neville’s “Running with the Second Line.” capture that feeling.

 

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Men of Luck Social Aid and Pleasure Club parade hits St. Charles Street

 

Here’s what one day at JazzFest 2018 looked like

Thank you Anch and Scott for covering my show the last two weeks while I journeyed the length and depth of Florida visiting relatives. My trip started with a couple of nights in New Orleans, including the last day of Jazz Fest.  Here’s some pictures from that day.  Don’t forget to tune me in this Thursday (May 24) to hear these folks.

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Rode our bikes to the festival grounds and saw this control box painted to honor Deacon John Moore

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Original member of the famous Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band, Leroy Jones and his group entertained in the Economy Hall Tent.

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Keeping the tradition alive, the Young Pinstripe Brass Band at the Jazz and Heritage Stage

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Nice to see the truck, sad to remember that Mr. Okra died this year.

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George Porter (on bass and tie dye) and his Runnin’ Pardners held down the Gentilly Stage.

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Great opportunity to see the famed Zion Harmonizers in the Gospel Tent

 

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Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue rocked the Acura Stage to close out the festival.

Recent NOLA trip inspired latest show

One of the great aspects of doing a show on New Orleans music is the impetus it provides me to get my butt down there regularly.  My latest trip was an epic one. Go ahead and get yesterday’s show started while I tell you a bit more.

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Me and Visa have a long-term relationship after my trip to the Louisiana Music Factory. The good news is I’ll be digging deep into these and other releases in weeks to come on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa

I stayed the first week with members of Olympia’s Artestian Rumble Arkestra not far from the nightclubs on Frenchmen Street.  I also used the opportunity to see some high school buddies who didn’t need much encouragement to drive in from their homes in Florida and Georgia to spend some time with me in New Orleans.

But there were many other great highlights, one of which is featured in yesterday’s show – an interview with trumpters Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield about their latest release, A Beautiful World.   They were generous with their time and stories and the whole experience was enhanced by our location — the Mother-in-Law lounge which for many years was the home and business of patron saint of my show and blog, Ernie K-Doe.

I’ll have more to share in the weeks to come including interviews with Bonerama band leaders Mark Mullins and Craig Klein, co-founder of Roots of Music and Rebirth Drummer Derrick Tabb and co-founder of the Black Men of Labor Fred Johnson with Treme Brass Band leader Benny Jones.

Artesian Rumble Lands on Frenchmen Street

Thank you Anch for covering my show yesterday.  I’ve been in New Orleans with some of the members of the Artesian Rumble Arkestra. This activist Olympia band is a regular participant in HonkFests and I’ve had the honor of being allowed to tag along with them as they journey into the birthplace of jazz.  Two band members in attendance are also air show hosts on KAOS – Juli Kelen and David Moseley.

One of the highlights of the trip here is to experience the Black Men of Labor parade this Sunday and this afternoon we will meet with two of the founders – Fred Johnson and Benny Jones.  Some brass instruments were brought down to donate to the youth music programs, Roots of Music but before handing the instruments over, some of the band members took the instruments on a test run outside where we are staying which just happens to be on Frenchmen Street. Other band members accompanied them with instruments they brought from home or improvised with trash can lids and a bicycle bell.

The last few nights, we’ve been going to the Frenchmen Street clubs to catch music both in the clubs and on the street.  Well, today, about 10 blocks from that scene but still on Frenchmen Street, the Artesian Rumble Arkestra made its New Orleans debut.

New Orleans guidebook writer to be on Gumbo YaYa

It was a typical New Orleans experience meeting Michael Murphy.

My sister, brother-in-law and I were standing on the sidewalk along Chartres Street looking around, pointing and arguing.  An invitation for just about any social-by-nature New Orleans denizen to politely butt in. In this case, we were in the hands of a professional.

Guidebook writer and tour guide extraordinaire Michael Murphy had just stepped out of a nearby bookstore when he untangled our conversation. My sister had thought that Morning Call Coffee Stand , which had abandoned the French Quarter in the 70’s in favor of a strip mall in Metairie, had returned to the area. Nope, Murphy explained. It opened up a great new location at City Park–a satisfying compromise of continuing a century long legacy of serving cafe au lait and beignets to locals while still taking full advantage of the city’s daily onslaught of sightseers.

Michael_Murpy_FEAR_Da_web-300x260As will happen in New Orleans, a good deed of offering directions turns into a 15-minute conversation where we each share how we ended up in a city we all loved.

In Murphy’s case, it was love at first sight, having visited the city in the 80’s on a business trip.  He moved down about seven years ago and has made it his calling to acquaint others with the charms of the city. In addition to being a hotel concierge and conducting private tours, he’s the author of four unique guidebooks.

“Eat Dat” is not your typical restaurant guide. While the book provides “best of” lists, it  really shines when Murphy focuses on the stories and personalities behind the cuisine. “Hear Dat,” to be released in mid-April, introduces readers to the wide range of New Orleans music and night clubs and the talented professionals who make it happen. It’s a tough assignment. But he does a good job of covering the broad range of live music you will find in New Orleans from Jazz and R&B to Hip Hop and Alternative Rock. .

Having bravely written about food and music in a city that takes both personally and seriously, Murphy throws caution to the wind with another release, “Fear Dat” about New Orleans voodoo and stories of “assorted butchery & mayhem.” He also has written a very practical guidebook called  “111 things Not to Miss in New Orleans.”

Murphy and I will rekindle our relationship on the air on Thursday when I hope I can get him to share a few ideas on how visitors to New Orleans can make the most of this year’s festival season.

Podcast of the show, including the interview with Michael Murphy. I apologize for the distortion in the interview. New recorder and not used to using it on live interviews.

It’s looking a lot like Mardi Gras

A walk around Uptown and Central City New Orleans today left no doubt that Mardi Gras season is upon us.

IMG_2016Officially, the carnival season begins the 12th night after Christmas (the Epiphany), creating a seamless flow from Winter Holiday to Mardi Gras parties.

The season starts cautiously but gradually works up to the crescendo that is Mardi Gras Day or what some call Fat Tuesday–the last day before the faithful must endure the rigors of Lent.

We’re at the penultimate weekend of Mardi Gras when over a dozen parades will roll down St. Charles Avenue as well as through the French Quarter.

Women (Krewe of Cleopatra), wine-lovers (Krewe of Cork), alien fans (Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus) and those who prefer shoe-box sized parade floats (‘tit Rex) are just a few of the rolling shows happening this weekend.

But the Mardi Gras spirit is not limited to the parades. Doors are festooned with wreaths of purple, green and gold, along with banners, masks, signs, and, of course, braids and braids of beads. IMG_2008

And after school lets out, you can easily hear the drum beat of student musicians sharpening their band performance and building endurance for the marathon of parades to come.

I’m going to celebrate Mardi Gras in Olympia.  (Wouldn’t want to miss Artesian Rumble Arkestra’s annual pub crawl)  and I’ll be back in time for the world debut of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa – Thursday edition. It will, of course, be a show featuring Mardi Gras music. Until then, let the good times roll.

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KIPP Central City Academy rehearsing for Mardi Gras.