Dr. Ford and Joan Jett inspired Gumbo YaYa Show

I can’t imagine the courage it takes to sit in front of a national audience and talk about a painful past trauma, nor can I imagine the determination required to break into a male-dominated pop culture field. Start my show and read on about the two women who subconsciously affected this week’s show.

danielle nicole

Danielle Nicole, bass player and singer for Trampled by Turtles, has a solo career with early recordings hat feature New Orleans musicians.

No theme this week.  I just selected some strong tracks and was getting them lined up on my Thursday morning show.  But that was also the day that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford sat before a mostly male Senate panel and talked about a painful episode in her life that she still carries with her today.  With the 24-hour news cycle bombarding me with the latest development, it was hard not to think about her and the courage such action takes.

Add that to my experience the night before where I had attended the premiere of the Joan Jett documentary, “Bad Reputation.”   The story of Jett’s path as a female rocker was enlightening. It was because of her movie that I pulled from the KAOS blues shelf a neglected copy of  Ghalia and Mama’s Boys to kick off the show.  (Actually, I start with  the Radiators but she’s the first one I introduce.)

And in the seething anger of the moment (I broadcast live on KAOS right after “Democracy Now” which on the day of my show reported on stories of women molested by men who got away with it), I picked the track “Hoodoo Evil Man”.

Singer/Songwriter/Rocker Ghalia is from Brussels but she recorded the song in New Orleans with Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys.  That’s close enough for me. Also, in this week’s show, I play other female rockers including Danielle Nicole, who is from Kansas and was lead singer for Trampled by Turtles. Nicole did a release with Galactic drummer Stanton Moore and New Orleans blues-rocker Anders Osborne that included the song, “Didn’t Do You No Good.”

I didn’t set out to do a show focusing on women rockers and to be honest, this show is more spiced rather than infused with women performers. (About once a year, I do an exclusively female show. Here’s the last one.) But this show includes a new release by Kelcy Mae’s latest project, two tracks by Kara Grainger. Aurora Kneeland’s alter ego “Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers,” Gal Holiday, Albanie Falletta, the Original Pinettes, Rosie Ledet, and a rocking song by Irma Thomas.

 

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Vinyl Gumbo! Can you hear the difference

If you long for LPs then this week’s show is for you. Over an hour of vinyl New Orleans music is waiting to be heard, just click the application below and get it spinning.

hirt fountain vinylI still own the first CD player I bought for my stereo.  And I love it.  I love the ease of playing CDs. I love being able to quickly find the track I want to hear. I like being able to repeat tracks. I love how clean the sound is.  I really don’t miss vinyl.

Yet, I still buy LPs.  And you’ll hear some of them on this show, including Pete Fountain, Professor Longhair, Al Hirt, Willie Humphrey, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Beausoleil,  Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Huey “Piano” Smith and John Mooney.  Nothing like playing a continuous stream of LPs to appreciate the work of DJs before the digital era. It really is a lot more effort playing off of turntables.

But aside from the crackling of the needle contacting the surface, I really can’t tell the difference in the sound.  Perhaps you will.

Also, on today’s show, I honor Eddie Bo’s birth anniversary.  Noted perhaps mostly for his funk, Edwin Bocage was a piano player skilled in jazz and other music genre as well. He was also a talented builder, who even in his mid-70’s was active in rebuilding his home damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  I play a couple of his lesser known numbers in today’s show along with a couple of new releases by Eric Lindell and Keith Stone along with a handful of contemporary female New Orleans artists to offer some gender balance wrapped in very fine music.  Thanks for tuning in.

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Celebrating Four Years of Gumbo YaYa

I love birthdays and so it was no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed myself on today’s Anniversary show. I hope you enjoy listening to it. (Go ahead and click the arrow right below and get it started)

birthday-cake-four-candles-mdMarcia Ball’s “The Party’s Still Going On,” which kicked off the show, totally fit my mood. In September of 2014 when the first Gumbo YaYa was recorded, I  was a little nervous about how long I’d be able to sustain a show, aired in the Pacific Northwest, of strictly New Orleans music. After all, the KAOS air studio is more than 2,720 miles from Frenchmen Street).

But with the help and kindness of New Orleans musicians, music distributors and labels ike Basin Street Records, I’ve been getting some current music.   I’m surprised how much variety the New Orleans format offers.  And what particularly amazes me is how much I’ve learned in the last four years.  (Several trips to New Orleans have helped — I like this hobby!).

On my bucket list for my next New Orleans visit is catching Lena Prima and her talented band in the Carousel Room of the Monteleone Hotel. Yes, its a total tourist thing but damn she does a great job, backed up by her band led by husband and bass player Tim Fahey.  Early in today’s show, she pulls off a bit of a medley that starts as you might expect, then gets you and your body moving (guaranteed) by the end.

Got a phone call from a listener when I played The Wild Magnolia’s “Coochie Molly” a rocking song (thank you June Yamagishi on guitar) that dovetailed nicely in to the next track, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers live version of “Tchfuncta/On that Day.”  That set finishes with Galactic’s “Wild Man” with chanting by Big Chief Bo Dollis. In fact, all three songs in that set feature chanting by Mardi Gras Indian Big Chiefs.

Another Big Chief performs later in the show but only on the saxophone — Donald Harrison Jr. backs up Davell Crawford in “River/White Socks & Drawers.” When he’s not playing jazz saxophone, Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. is working on his next Mardi Gras suit. Oh, and before I forget, Dr. John and Big Freedia do some vocals on that Crawford song.

The show also features an in-studio performance (recorded earlier this summer) of “”Kibi” by Helen Gillet.  I have other surprises, including a 12-minute live version of the oft-covered “Big Chief.” Thanks so much for putting up with these posts and shows for four years. As long as you don’t complain to management, I’m committed to ensuring that “The Party’s Still Going On,”

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Katrina 13 year anniversary – What the hell!

Thirteen years since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the lives of over a thousand New Orleans residents, scattering survivors throughout the country.  And yet, based on our abysmal response to the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we’ve learned little.  Get this year’s annual Katrina recognition dedicated to Puerto Rico started.

katrina3Shamarr Allen creates the intensity of a hurricane with the opening track of this show “Katrina and the Flood.”  It’s become almost a tradition to play that song as well as Marva Wright’s heart-wrenching “The Levee is Breaking Down” which comes off her post-Katrina album, After the Levees Broke.

This year’s show features the KAOS premiere of “You and Me” a song written to dramatize the story of Tim Bruneau, a New Orleans police officer who was working when the levees broke. Bruneau found the body of 23-year-old Marie Latino after the hurricane had passed but before the city had started to flood.  After several attempts to have the body picked up, he put her in the back seat of his car.  But after failing to find a  hospital to take the body, he was ordered to “undo” what he did.  He placed Latino’s body in a body bag and returned it to where he found, where it floated on flood waters until it was picked up a few days later.  The song is poignant and haunting.  An autopsy later revealed that she had been shot instead of killed by the storm as originally believed.

Sonny Landreth song “Blue Tarp Blues” references President George Bush’s famous looking out from Air Force One and Marcia Ball sings Randy Newman’s ode to the 1927 Louisiana flood. I finish the show with Dee-1 and Shamarr Allen singing about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico titled “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More.”

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Rodents of Unusual Size, Jazz lightning & Willie

Area fires  have clouded my eyes and I’m seeing rodents of unusual size. Start the show with James Andrews’ “Catch the Willie” and I’ll explain.

nutriaThe Northwest has been blanketed with smoke this week, perhaps playing tricks on my eyes. But there really are rodents of unusual size around in Washington and Oregon. I’m talking about nutria or Myocastor coypus —   a semi-aquatic rodent that is native to South America but was introduced into the states as a potential fur-creating creature. As often happens though, the beast is just a nuisance now, creating a problem in Louisiana but also in the more temperate parts of  Oregon and Washington.  A documentary about them is getting screenings in the region including Olympia at the Capitol Theater (Olympia Film Society) on September 30 at 7:30 p.m.  The director will be at the movie to take questions.

All this might be interesting to you (you haven’t stopped reading so far)  but you might be asking what does it have to do with my show? Aside from giving my current home and my hometown something else in common, this week’s show includes “Norris the Nocturnal Nutria” by Benny Grunch & the Bunch. It’s sort of a Christmas song and its not very serious but it is in fact the only song I know of that even touches on the subject of coypus or nutria. That’s LARGELY it.

jazz-lightning

But before you get to that song, you’ll hear an awesome rendition of “Bill Bailey” by clarinetist and singer Doreen Ketchens who does a duet of the song with I believe her husband Lawrence who, in the course of the song, has been struck by “jazz lightning.” It really is quite good.  Perhaps its playing right now if you started it when I asked you. If you didn’t, scroll back up and click the arrow.

Lots of other fun stuff follows but I’ll let you decide if its worth it.  Cheers.

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Two early R&B singers celebrated and “One Love”

As best as I can tell, Barbara George and Bobby Mitchell never recorded together but these two New Orleans R&B artists might have crossed paths while cutting records at J&M Studio (Cosimo Matassa).  If they did, they might have noticed they had the same birthdays. Start the show and read on.

bobby mitchell

Bobby Mitchell

Born in Algiers on August 16, 1935, Bobby Mitchell was the second of 17 children and might have developed his singing ability just to get noticed among his sibling crowd. In 1950, Mitchell formed the first New Orleans doo wop group, The Toppers.  Their first recording was in 1953 with “I’m Crying” and “Rack “Em Up.” Later, when that group was decimated by the draft, Mitchell recorded with a seven-piece with his biggest hit being “Try Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In 1957, he got on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand with “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” (you will hear that one on this show). But it was Fats Domino’s version that was a bigger hit.  Mitchell suffered early heart problems and retired in the early 60’s.  He became an x-ray technician at Charity Hospital and died on March 17, 1989. I start the show with Mitchell’s “Mama Don’t Allow” and later you’ll hear him singing “Sister Lucy.”

barbara george

Barbara George

 

Barbara George was born in Charity hospital on August 16, 1942. Since she was younger, she didn’t get into the J&M studio until 1961, working under the guidance of Harold Battiste and AFO records. Her most recognizable song is  the number 1 R&B song in its time, “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More).” Later in 1961, AFO produced the one and only Barbara George album “I Know” featuring mostly songs she wrote.  I play “I Know” and a song she recorded in 1968 with Eddie Bo’s help, “Something You Got.”

This show also features some reggae, including two versions Bob Marley’s “One Love” — the first by One Love Brass Band and the second one by The Nevilles performing live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Speaking of Nevilles, Charmaine Neville and her band does a spacey number called “Rocket Nine” or “Rocket V” depending on whether you listen to the recording or read the liner notes.

As always, thanks for tuning in and let me know what you’d like to hear in the future.  Cheers.

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Big Sam delivers on promise of more dance music

Big Sam’s Funky Nation visits the Northwest this week so this show features two of his songs and a short interview with the band’s charismatic frontman Sam Williams. Let’s get started and I’ll tell you more.

bigsamjazzfest2016k

Big Sam’s Funky Nation

Big Sam just got back from a tour of Spain when I talked with him today about his trip to the west coast. He leaves tomorrow (Friday, August 3rd) for San Francisco. He’ll play Mississippi Studio in Portland on Monday, August 6 and the Nectar Lounge in Seattle on Tuesday, August 7.

We talked about how he lost his prized trombone when his touring van got broken into last time he came out to the west. We also talked about how Wendell Pierce copied some of his moves and his style when he played Antoine Batiste in the HBO TV show Treme. In fact the broad outline of the character was patterned after Mr. Williams.

Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s new release Songs in the Key of Funk  delivers on his earlier promise to include more dance songs. In this show, I play “What’s My Name (Big Sam” and “Buzzin.” But to get those songs and the interview, you have to listen to few other sets including a set of Led Zeppelin cover songs featuring a sousaphone on “Dyer Maker” and a three trombone salute to “When the Levee Breaks.”

Rolling with the HBO theme, Davis Rogan sings about the hassles of fake pot when acting in a song called “Prop Weed.” Also, this show includes my favorite version of St. James Infirmary, a rocking version led by Clint Maedgen and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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A Full House: Three Kings and Two Shows

I’ve got two shows to share with you this week because I had to dash off last week and didnt’ have a chance to edit and upload until now

Start with this one which has three “kings” in it.

little freddie kingI celebrated Little Freddie King’s birthday with a song by him followed by a song by his namesake, Freddie King.  (That’s two of the kings). Little Freddie King is actually Fred Martin and he turned 78 last week.  I spin “I Used to be Down” from his latest release.  To get to that song though, I “force” you to listen to two jazz and rhythm and blues sets that include  tracks from new releases by Jon Cleary,  Sabertooth Swing and Tin Men. I hope you can survive and stick with the show for the third king.

Later in the show, I do a set of songs that Elvis Presley popularized, including Smiley Lewis singing “One Night of Sin.”  Elvis took the melody but toned down the lyrics so it was moreof  a love song and less of a confessional.  I did this so I could talk about “The King” a documentary about the American Dream viewed from the perspective of Elvis Presley’s life.  I interviewed the director, Eugene Jerecki for a different program, and I include a one-minute clip of that interview where he describes the amazing music in this movie.

The July 26 show celebrates saxophonists Kevin Harris’ birthday by playing “Swampthang” from the New Orleans Suspects live album recorded at the Maple Leaf club.  Kevin Harris, who performs with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, blows his horn with with the Suspect’s Jeff Watkins that must made that old nightclub feel like it was coming down.  This song alone is worth playing the show but you’ll also hear  Lil Queenie (and Dog Days by Leigh Harris), Dr. John, Charmaine Neville, Lena Prima, Slim Harpo, Zigaboo Modeliste, Larry Garner, Tab Benoit to name a few.

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Helen Gillet performs on Gumbo YaYa and at Olympia concert

Jazz-based cellist, singer, composer and improviser Helen Gillet graced the KAOS studio during my July 12, 2018 show.  She also performs this evening in my backyard.  Go ahead and get the radio show started which begins with Jon Cleary’s new song “Big Greasy.”

helen

Helen is a total pro.  Despite feeling under the weather, she braved I-5 traffic and arrived exactly when she said she would.  She set up quickly with the help of our talented KAOS Music Department and as a result, we got to spend over an hour together on the air talking about her music, New Orleans and she performed one of my favoriteH’s (“Atchafalaya”).

She also talked a bit about her experience learning the cello in Singapore and the difficulties with how to categorize her music which is so difficult to define yet so pleasing to listen to.

I’m sorry if you missed the Olympia concert. Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss the next one.

Here is just the interview and music of Helen Gillet:

 

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Honoring Henry Butler, Smiley Lewis and Freedom

Welcome to my July 5th, 2018 edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.  There’s lot to love about this extra-long show so go ahead and get it started.

henry butler

Henry Butler performing in Port Townsend, WA in August 2017. He died July 2, 2018.

We lost Henry Butler on Monday, July 2 to colon cancer. He was born in New Orleans September 21, 1948 and grew up in the Calliope housing project. He lost his sight to glaucoma as an infant and learned how to play a variety of instruments while attending the Louisiana State School for the Blind. He was known for piano playing, smoothly handling jazz, blues, classical and improvisation and had a powerful voice. He was a teacher and entertainer. In this show, I play his “Down by the Riverside,” “Henry’s Boogie” and “Jamaica Farewell.”

Throughout the show, I touch on the theme of America and Freedom as interpreted by New Orleans musicians including songs by Shamarr Allen and Dee-1 (“Only in America”), Rebirth Brass Band (“Freedom”), and Delfeayo Marsalis (“Make America Great Again” with Wendell Pierce.)

I also celebrate Smiley Lewis’s birth anniversary (July 5, 1913) with “Shame, “Shame, Shame” and “Don’t Jive Me.”

The first song is by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with “Dead Dog in the Road.” New songs by Shawn Williams, Tin Men, and Cyril Neville.  And much more in this extra long edition of the show.

 

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