For over six years I have featured music from Louisiana, mostly from New Orleans. This week’s show, however, is a bit of a departure. Not sure what happened, but a check of the calendar might shed some light on the situation. Get it started and I’ll try to explain.
It was a dark and stormy night (actually the show airs in Olympia on Thursday mornings). Still a strange thing happened when I attempted to play Kermit Ruffin’s “Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans),” and “The City of New Orleans” by Arlo Guthrie played instead.
I twisted a few nobs, cranked the huge lever over my head, held by breath for six and half seconds and then proceeded with the next set of what I hoped would be music from New Orleans and instead I subjected my listeners to some awesome songs by regional bands along the I-5 corridor: Vaudeville Etiquette, Kate Dinsmore, the Righteous Mothers, and the Blackberry Bushes.
Before taking a sledgehammer to my console, I checked the calendar and good thing too. I’m not sure what forces come to play on April Fool’s Day but it was beyond my control. After that first set, I could only muster one song per set from New Orleans area. And I challenged listeners to pick which one it was.
So, in a set loaded with The Beat, Fine Young Cannibals and the Crazy 8s, you had to locate the New Orleans Rocksteady band 007. In the next set with Bruce Hornsby, the Cave Singers, Rockapella and Curtis Harding, you had to catch the Revivalists — a New Orleans based band. Later, you had to find the New Orleans song hidden among Devil Makes Three, Deadstring Brothers and local phenom Anna Gordon. (Here’s her bandcamp site.)
And so it went for the rest of show until the end. I think I’ll have things in proper working order next week but for now you can enjoy two hours of music that is only sort of from New Orleans. Cheers.
Happy Twelfth Night and the start of Mardi Gras Season. As I write this, the “Phunny Phorty Phellows” who typically celebrate the day with a crowded and loud streetcar ride are prepared for a special COVID-adjusted event. It’s going to be a different Mardi Gras season this year and this week’s show is bookended by songs that reflect how I feel.
Tim Laughlin’s “King of the Mardi Gras” opens the show. With no parades and parties to preside over, there will be no Krewe of Rex royalty this year. The show ends with The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band performing “The Saints” from their post-Katrina record I Wanna Go Back to New Orleans. It’s going to be a slow recovery as we wait for the population to get vaccinated. When it finally happens, many of us will be needing to go back to New Orleans.
I’ve assembled a diverse mix of music this show including the rocksteady New Orleans band 007 doing “Won’t You Come Home Now,” the JazzFest Superjam group Dragon Smoke with “Love and Compassion,” Lafayette HonkyTonker Kevin Sekhani singing from his latest Day Ain’t Done., and Leyla McCalla sharing “Changing Tide” from her Langston Hughes tribute, Vari-Colored Songs.
There’s 25 other songs in the two-hour show ranging from jazz, blues, soul, alt-Zydeco, indie rock, alt-country, and songs that defy a genre assignment — other than . . . it’s New Orleans music.
If you have questions about the music or musicians, please let me know. My goal is to get you closer to the diverse and deep New Orleans music scene so that when things calm down, we can “go back to New Orleans.”
To me, the Thanksgiving holiday is about being at home with loved ones. And so this show is about getting home and being home.
After Earl King sings about “Eating and Sleeping” (a succinct description of the typical Thanksgiving Day), I move on to this show’s theme with Seth Walker’s “Home Again.” I switch genre with a rock steady number by New Orleans reggae group 007 and finish the set with Clifton Chenier doing “I Am Coming Home.”
The Radiators do “The Long Hard Journey Home” and Lloyd Price asks for a another chance with “Let Me Come Home Baby.” Hoagy Carmichael’s early composition “My Home, New Orleans” gets a wonderful instrumental treatment by Al Hirt later in the show followed by Papa Grows Funk.
Before performing “Home”, Paul Sanchez introduces horn players Craig Klein and Shamarr Allen with a story of how these musicians helped him restore his home after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. Stay with the show through to the end and you’ll hear Lena Prima’s song “Come On a My House” and Clarence Brown singing “On My Way Back Home.”
I hope the holidays find you in a place that you can call home. My best to you. Thanks for listening.