Crawfish, New Tracks, and a Germaine Performance & more

Marcia Ball kicks off this week’s show with “Crawfishin'” which I play in honor of the fact that we’re now in the height of the mud bug season. But there’s more mouth-watering songs in the show so get it started and then read more of what’s on the menu.

Latest Smoking Time Jazz Club record

Smoking Time Jazz Club is proving to a prolific recording group as well as a live performance band. In the first full set, check out “Snake Hip Dance” from their barely released Contrapuntal Stomp. Tom Worrell lays down “Crawfish Fiesta” from a live performance of piano night, the WWOZ benefit that happens between the two weekends of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. (This year, it looks like the event has moved to House of Blues).

I start the second full set with Leyla McCalla’s “Money is King” from her latest The Capitalist Blues . That set is all new music including Big Al and the Heavyweights doing “Fool for You” and Herlin Riley’s wonderful funky jazz number “Wings and Roots.”

Later in the show, you’ll hear Little Queenie, Tuts Washington, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, James Booker, and Miss Sophie Lee. I spin two more tracks from the Smithsonian Folkways not-yet-released 50 year anniversary of Jazz Fest with a big band performance by Al Belletto and a birthday spin (she turn’s 87!) of Germaine Bazzle scatting with Red Tyler’s Quintet.

At about the hour mark, you’ll hear the Hot 8 Brass Band’s sweaty dance anthem “Get Up” — the 20th anniversary version and then later to end the show I play the Diesel remix of that song — which was recently featured in a soccer highlight show “Match of the Week.”

Oh I left stuff out of this description so you’ll have some surprises along the way. Thanks for listening. Please subscribe and tell ALL your friends about Gumbo YaYa.

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A touch of Irish but I’m a bit grumpy about it

This week’s show gives a gentle nod to my Irish heritage but I don’t go overboard. Well, unless you count the two raucous sea shanties. Go ahead and get it started while I explain.

St. Alphonsus Church, now a art and cultural center, is located in the Irish Channel area of New Orleans.

As I’ve said before, New Orleans needs little reason to put on a party. But given that St. Patrick’s Day appears to be our equivalent of Irish-American heritage day, the city has a lot to party about. You’ll find the parades and block parties are centered around a neighborhood in New Orleans along the Mississippi River called the Irish Channel. And while the large influx of Irish families in the first half of the 19th century fanned out throughout the city, many did seem to settle in this Garden District neighborhood since it wasn’t very far from where they go off the boat from Ireland.

My experience with the Irish Channel was as a kid when I gigged as an altar boy for an itinerant priest who would do mass for convents and shut ins. One day, he got a prime time slot, doing mass at St. Alphonsus Church (now a cultural center) in the heart of the Irish Channel. I lived just a few miles away but it may as well been a world away in 1966. All the other neighborhood altar boys, hanging out in the altar boy locker room, sounded like Bobby Kennedy. That’s New Orleans for you.

Well, back to the show, I don’t spend too much time on the Irish theme. I don’t have a lot of music that fits frankly. And I’m not a big fan of the whole St. Patrick’s Day celebration — which you’ll get a taste of when you hear the show. Instead, I treat you to Louis Jordan’s 1949 classic “Saturday Night Fish Fry” and carry on that early R&B vibe with Chubby Newsome and Percy Mayfield

This 5-disc set will be released in May

Later, I take a dive into the brand new Smithsonian Folkways recording celebrating 50 years of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Yes, this year is the 50th anniversary. I play a track with Snooks Eaglin getting excited about the huge crowd he had and we rock to a live version of “Back On Dumaine” when Anders Osborne’s heart ache over the end of his marriage was fresh. I also play from the new release by Herlin Riley, singing a jazzy version of “Wang Dang Doodle.”

Lots of other great stuff in between. Give it a listen. And “Erin Go Bragh.”

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A Show for the Post-Mardi Gras Blues and Funk

The day after Mardi Gras can be unsettling because even though you can “Do Whatcha Wanna” on Fat Tuesday, the next day is accompanied by a hangover, sore feet and vocal chords and, for some, a broken heart. Get the show started and let Alex McMurray’s song “The Day After Mardi Gras Day” fill you in.

In some ways, it was a relief to get out of the party zone with the show and get reacquainted with other New Orleans music. In this show you’ll hear Kristin Diable, Mem Shannon, Dana Abbott, Glen David Andrews, Henry Butler, Carlo Ditta, and many more.

On re-listening to this show, I’m most impressed by Lil Queenie doing a cover of David Bowie’s “Stay” from her new release Purple Heart. Other covers include Carlo Ditta channelling Leonard Cohen in a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” and Mem Shannon’s persuasive take of Tom Petty’s “Don’t Back Down.”

I start a new feature called “Gumbo YaYa Earworm” where I play a song from the last show that stuck in my head. If you have that malady when you listen to my show, let me know the culprit and I’ll include it in the next show.

I also replay a segment of Helen Gillet’s live in-studio performance at KAOS last summer where she talked about Alcide Pavageau, a well-regarded New Orleans bass player who was born on this day in 1888. The song is called “Slow Drag Pavageau” and is featured on her latest album.

What would like to hear in future shows? Let me know. Cheers.

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2019 Mardi Gras show makes the music still feel fresh

Today’s show finds that magic balance between delivering the classic Mardi Gras feel while still being fresh. Get it started and you’ll see what I mean. (you can click the arrow in the box below and still read on)

Even if you are tired of hearing Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” you can’t help but appreciate how much rhythm and action he packs into less than three minutes. The version that starts the show is the 1959 New Orleans recording featuring Mac Rebennack (before his Dr. John days) on guitar.

The first full set features Los Hombres Calientes (Irvin Mayfield and Bill Summers group) doing “Mardi Gras Bayou” followed by Kermit Ruffin’s “Do the Fat Tuesday” and Chuck Carbo’s rarely played “Hey Mardi Gras (Here I Am).”

Krewe of Muses Parade

The musical Nine Lives has a scathing critique of the Rex Parade crowd with the song “King of Mardi Gras” which opens the next set followed by Louie Ludwig’s “The Things You’ve Done On Mardi Gras Day” — just released this carnival season. The set finishes with Lena Prima’s original song “Muses Shoeses” inspired by the Krewe of Muses parade.

Al Hirt provides some fast paced transition to Mardi Gras Indian songs, starting with the “in the streets” recording of Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles followed by some fancied up numbers by Bo Dollis (with some help on the last number by Galactic).

We take a trip out to the swamps for some cajun style Mardi Gras before returning to New Orleans and pulling from Lil Queenie’s new album which features a spoken word opening to her classic “My Darlin’ New Orleans.”

Some dance numbers, a few more Mardi Gras tunes and we finish with a different version of Professor Longhair performing “Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Thanks for tuning in. Stay listening by subscribing to this blog. Cheers.

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Celebrating Birthday of Swamp Pop Pioneer

If you grew up with the phrase “See You Later Alligator,” chances are you are also familiar with the hit song by Bill Haley and the Comets. Today’s show features songs by the songwriter (Robert Charles Guidry) who wrote and originally recorded that record.

However, the show starts with Dr. John singing “Let the Good Times Roll” which you would know by now if you would just click the arrow below.

Born February 21, 1938, Bobby Charles is noted for being an early adopter and developer of the “swamp pop” sound that originated from south Louisiana’s Acadiana region. Swamp Pop had its heyday in the early 60’s but has seen a resurgence with recent releases by Roddie Romero, The Revelers and Yvette Landry. The latter featuring covers of Bobby Charles songs, including “Yea, Yea Baby” which you’ll hear in the show. I also play Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans” and Bobby Charles” rollicking rendition of “Take It Easy, Greasy.”

Today’s show kicks off though with a solid set of jazz with Dr. Michael White, Tuba Skinny, Kid Ory, Smoking Time Jazz Club, Louis Armstrong, and Eight Dice Cloth.

This show also features some Cajun music and another set of Mardi Gras inspired songs, including Los Hombres Calientes’ “Mardi Gras Second Line.”

Stick with the show into the second hour and you’ll hear Maria Muldaur’s naughty version of “Trombone Man Blues” and a sweet, bluesy cover of “If I Had a Hammer.” The show finishes with Jon Cleary’s “Zulu Strut.”

Thanks for tuning in.

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Valentine Show Seeks to Make Love a Bit Easier

I know I’m buying into the whole commercial thing of doing songs about love on Valentine’s Day. So what! Once you start the show with the Tin Men’s cover of “I’m in Love Again,” you won’t care either.

I mean, you can’t go wrong with a song about love where the besotted one (in this case Fats Domino who originally sang the song) suggests to his new lover “Baby, don’t you let your dog bite me.”

Earl King takes it up a notch with his “Love is a Way of Life” from his Sexual Telepathy album. Teedy Boutte follows that up with a cover of “Piece of My Heart.” But really it was all a set up for me to play “Ten Commandments of Love.” Yea, if you’re still with me by then, you are a softy.

Cover of Lindell’s album – Matters of the Heart

Eric Lindell provides a more contemporary original rhythm and blues tune called “You Look So Good in Love,” followed by The Iguanas edgy “Nervous.” Kelcy Mae rocks out the end of the set with “(Don’t Be Stupid with) My Love.”

Yvette Landry & the Jukes do the hit off her new album, “I Need Somebody Bad,” (“because I just lost somebody good.”) The Write Brothers follow that up with another lost love song “Losin’ You” and Snooks Eaglin takes on the classic “Careless Love” to finish that set of frustrated love songs.

The next set features some great jazz with Kid Thomas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Shotgun Jazz Band, finishing with Maria Muldaur’s version of the Blu Lu Barker number “Loan Me Your Husband.”

Michael Doucet, the force behind BeauSoleil, turned 68 on Valentine’s Day so I do a set of his music.

I take a short Mardi Gras music break – yes, its still Mardi Gras season — before finishing with one last love song set with Lynn Drury, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Big Al and the Heavyweights. If you hang in there for this set, you’ll get a treat of Lenny Kravitz singing “Whole Lotta Loving” with Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty backing him up .

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Earl King lives on and so does Chewbacchus

I’m a little late in posting last Thursday’s show but I’m hoping its worth the wait, featuring music written by and in some cases performed by Earl Silas Johnson – aka Earl King.

Born in the Irish Channel district of New Orleans on February 7, 1934, Earl Silas Johnson is behind one of the more covered Mardi Gras standards, “Big Chief.” So in today’s show (which you should have playing by now – click the arrow above) I dive into Earl King’s music as well as other Mardi Gras numbers — including perhaps the most covered “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” song written by Professor Longhair.

Chewbacca in the Chewbacchus Parade

This weekend, the 2019 Mardi Gras parade season ramped up with the quirky, Sci-Fi parade “Krewe of Chewbacchus.” The 900-member, self-described satirical space cult, walks, pedals, pushes but does not drive its contraptions down its parade route. Only three rules: No unicorns unless with rocket thrusters; no elves unless cyborgs; and no whinebots.

Earl King kicks the show off with one of my favorites: “No City Like New Orleans.” Later I play an early recording of his called “Til I Say Well Done” and an example of him funking it up with “Do the Grind.” Covers of King songs by The Roamin’ Jasmine and Dr. John round out my tribute to what would have been his 85th birthday if we hadn’t lost him in 2003. I finish the Earl King segment with The Radiator’s tribute song “King Earl.”

The fun continues though with new music by Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Lena Prima. Benny Turner, Big Al and the Heavyweights and Yvette Landry and the Jukes.

Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing (upper right hand side of page).

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Gumbo YaYa asks “What Do You Want?”

Back in the 80’s, I think I played the grooves off my Tubes album with the song “What Do You Want From Life.” The last line regarding a “baby’s arm holding an apple” never failed to crack me up. In this show, I’m perhaps just a bit more of serious in my pursuit of an answer from the perspective of New Orleans music. Go ahead, get it started . . .you might need to.

What do you want from life? if its Slim Harpo, its money, not alibis. But for Scott Ramminger, its without a doubt a new body. (I can relate). Fats Domino is content if you’ll just let him walk you home. But John Mooney feels like hollerin’ instead. Dr. John would like to make sure New Orleans can mourn properly in a post-Katrina song.

Lots of musicians need love, don’t we all. Johnny Adams needs a lot of loving while Yvette Landry needs somebody bad (since she just lost somebody good). Carol Fran would be happy just to be “be’d with”. Chubby Carrier channels Bad Company with “Feel Like Making Love.”

Some needs are a bit hard to explain, like the Radiators “I Want to Go Where the Green Arrow Goes” while others are relatively clear (sort of) such as Marcia Ball’s need for “The Right Tool for the Job.”

Rebirth Brass Band makes it clear they feel like “Busting Loose” while Charmaine Neville is happy with a good song and Albanie Falletta seeks “Someone to Dance With.”

My hope is you’ll at least need to listen to a bit of the show and let me know what you think by subscribing or leaving a comment. Cheers.

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Gumbo Show starts out in Lafayette

This show dives into Lafayette music, with a strong assist from Yvette Landry’s new swamp pop album, Louisiana Lovin’. If you click the player below, you’ll start the show with Dr. John and Cyril Neville singing”Chickee’ Le Pas” – – whatever the heck that means.

Yvette Landry’

Landry starts off the first full set of music with “Yea Yea Baby,” a wonderful duet with Roddie Romero who a few years back almost won himself a grammy for his Gulfstream release — which is where the second song “One Trick Pony” comes from. (Here’s more on Romero.) In the interest of balance, Michael Doucet does “Fonky Bayou” and Fernest Arceneaux performs “It’s Alright.”

Zachary Richard continues the Lafayette groove with a live performance from the Acadien music festival. Later, Landry does an encore from her new album, a cover of “Take it Easy, Greasy.” In all, its a great way to start the show but I do eventually take us back to New Orleans with some classic funk.

The Explosions do two of their three singles they recorded under the guidance of Eddie Bo as producer. It seemed to fit to spin Bo’s 1960 release “Every Dog Has Its Day” during that set.

I play cuts from new records by Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Big Al and the Heavyweights and the Radiators. You can see the full playlist here or just let the music flow over you. Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.

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Kicking off Mardi Gras season with my sister Kate

As I’ve mentioned before on my radio show, I wouldn’t be doing a program on New Orleans program if my sister hadn’t helped me reconnect with my birthplace over a dozen years ago. So it was fun to finally do a show with her in the radio studio. Get it started before reading on.

Me and my sister Kate in our home in New Orleans as kids. My ears were big for their age.

My big sister Katie was the one who taught me to take the bus from our house on Nashville Avenue in Uptown New Orleans down Freret Street to our school on Napoleon. We referred to the ride as the “Freret Jet.” Our family moved away from New Orleans before we could finish school but our hearts stayed there.

Later as adults, when Kate moved back to New Orleans, I visited her and reconnected with the music of New Orleans. So it was really cool to have her hang out with me in the KAOS studio for this show as we celebrated the start of the 2019 Mardi Gras season with songs like The Hawkettte’s “Mardi Gras Mambo” and the New Orleans Suspects “Carnivale.”

Morgus in his laboratory

In the 1960’s, Kate and I and our older brothers would huddle around our teeny black & white television set and watch the Saturday night late movie on WWL TV — not for the movie but to watch the antics of the nutty guy who introduced the show “Morgus the Magnificent.” Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the debut of this New Orleans cultural icon. You can read my earlier blog post that gets deeper into his story. For today, we listened to Dr. John’s “Morgus the Magnificent” and Galactic’s “Friends of Science” in honor of the occasion.

New Orleans songwriter Andrew Duhon called in for a brief interview to promote his Olympia performance this week. Duhon has three albums under his belt and we played two songs from his latest. It was quite a delight to hear him talk about how the Freret Street Fair had inspired his song “Street Fair.” I also played his nostalgic song “They Don’t Make ’em.” His interview starts about an hour in and lasts about 10 minutes.

Because the New Orleans Saints are headed into the playoffs with a big game with the Philadelphia Eagles, you’ll hear a set of Black and Gold spirit by the Brassaholics and other Saints related songs by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes and the Pinstripe Brass Band.

You’ll also hear Chuck Carbo and Eddie Bo (off a vinyl record) and other surprises as well. Thanks for tuning in.

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