. . . without African Americans, there would be no New Orleans music.
June not only holds the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States (Juneteenth or June 19), it is also African American Music Appreciation Month. Though my show is no longer airing live, you can still listen to recordings of the series of shows I made in 2021 in honor of this month. (Use the links below to go to the page then activate the embedded player on that page.)
The June 3rd, 2021 show covers the post World War II music scene in New Orleans where Jump Blues evolved into R&B and then later got called Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The June 10th, 2021 show is about Jazz with references to stories about Basin Street, Danny Barker, Storyville and New Orleans dancehalls.
The June 17th, 2021 show makes a pretty solid argument for why New Orleans should also be considered the birth place of Funk.
Finally, I really enjoyed doing a Black Music Month appreciation show the year before where I provided some history on the month’s recognition and some great music. But for the record, every show is a celebration of African American Music because without African Americans, there would be no New Orleans music.
Two more distinct African American music genre close out my month-long celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month. Be prepared to to hear some of the top Blues and Zydeco artists of Louisiana when you click the sideways arrow below.
Little Freddie King who is still active at 80 kicks off the show with “Louisiana Train Wreck.” You’ll also hear Professor Longhair, Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Slim, Snooks Eaglin, Marva Wright and many more.
The last 30 minutes of the show features Zydeco, another genre of music created by African American Creoles who settled in the more rural parts of south Louisiana , mixing French dance songs with Blues. Clifton Chenier sings the song that allegedly gives the music its name, having to do with the way the French word for green beans sounds when sung in this style.
In addition to this show broadcast on June 24 and 25, these are the other shows in 2021 in honor of African American Music Appreciation Month:
A deep dive into Funk marks my third show in honor of African American Music Appreciation Month. In addition to celebrating another cultural gift to the world by African Americans, the show makes a pretty solid argument for why New Orleans should also be considered the birth place of Funk.
Get the music started and read on.
While James Brown is widely considered the originator of “Funk,” his work is built off of rhythms that derive from New Orleans. (Read Benjamin Doleac and Alexander Stewart for the academic explanation.)
The Meters, who formed in 1965 but didn’t release a record until 1969, combined those New Orleans rhythms (Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste) with George Porter’s bass, Art Neville’s organ and Leo Nocentelli’s guitar to make early funk classics like “Cissy Strut” and “Look-ka Py Py.” On the show you’ll hear a later song of the band’s “Funkify Your Life.”
As the in-house studio band for Allen Toussaint’s Sansu Records, the Meters provided the backing vocals and rhythm for a wide range of music by Lee Dorsey, Robert Palmer, Albert King, Etta James, the Pointer Sisters, LaBelle and Paul Mccartney. In fact, it was at McCartney’s record release party (Venus and Mars) in New Orleans when Mick Jagger heard the Meters and arranged for the band to tour with the Rolling Stones. In this week’s show, you’ll hear other Sansu artists including Betty Harris and Danny White.
Later, you’ll hear a track from the seminal Wild Tchoupitoulas record which brought together the four Neville brothers as they assist their Uncle George Landry (Big Chief Jolly) record the first major release of a full Mardi Gras Indian album. It was this project that resulted in the brothers coming together as a band.
You’ll also hear contemporary funk musicians who are still performing Walter Wolfman Washington, Corey Henry, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Sierra Green, Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels and Hot 8 Brass Band. It’s two hours of funk — another great music form that would not exist if not for the fertile creativity of African American artists.
Next week, the last show for this year’s African American Music Appreciation Month will focus on Blues and Zydeco. Please consider subscribing.
As part of my month-long celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month, this week’s show is devoted to New Orleans jazz created by musicians of color. Check it out with the player below. (Last week’s show focused on R&B)
Drummer Joe Lastie, a product of New Orleans Ninth Ward and a family of musicians, starts the show with a song he produced with Big Chief David Montana that honors the resilience of the love for New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina survivors. It’s a modern song steeped in the musical traditions that formed jazz.
While the origins of jazz are grist for scholarly debate, one thing is crystal clear to me. The music bubbled up from the creative cauldron of people of color living, working and playing in New Orleans. For more details (without getting scholarly), I like the National Park Service webpage on this topic written in part by Dr. Michael White and Ellis Marsalis. You can read that page while listening to the show which carries on with some of the more well-known pioneers of jazz: Jelly Roll Morton, King Joe Oliver, Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Kid Ory and Lil Hardin. Okay, so Hardin was from Memphis but she ended up in Chicago with a scrum of New Orleans musicians and she helped whip them into shape, writing and arranging some of the earliest recordings.
You might find interesting this page on Onward Brass Band (also featured in the show) which tells the story of Paul Barbarin, Louis Cottrell, Danny Barker and others in that band. Check out the picture of them drinking (champagne?) with Janis Joplin.
This week’s show takes a deep dive into the swinging, danceable music that got folks bumping body parts in such a way that it helped create a boom in babies, giving my generation its name. You can listen to this first of my June episodes in celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month using the player below.
As far as I’m concerned, all the music I enjoy is connected directly,or at least indirectly, to African American musicians and songwriters. So its not a stretch to do a month of music featuring exclusively African American artists. This week’s show covers the post World War II music scene in New Orleans where Jump Blues evolved into R&B and then later got called Rock ‘n’ Roll.
After Percy Mayfield kicks off the show with a personal song about returning to Louisiana to settle down, I get down to business with Champion Jack Dupree’s “Junker Blues” a much covered song that served as a basis for several other R&B numbers such as Fats Domino’s “The Fat Man” and Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (You’ll hear all of them.),
You’ll hear some songs that are considered on the short list for “first Rock ‘n’ Roll song” — a designation that will never get settled but is fun to argue about. This means Louis Jordan, Roy Brown and Erline Harris take the radio stage.
New Orleans was a hot bed for the nascent R&B scene. When Dave Bartholomew, no slouch performer himself, got Antoine Domino into the J&M (Cosimo Matassa) studio, he propelled the city into the sites of other record companies who sent their scouts out to find the next star. Smiley Lewis, Larry Williams, Chick and Chuck Carbo and the Spiders, the Barons, Earl King, Larry Darnell, Little Mr. Midnight, Huey “Piano” Smith, L’il Millet, Shirley and Lee all scrambled into the studio and cut 45’s that got folks dancing.
When music industry executives adopted the term “Rhythm and Blues” or “R&B” to replace “race music” they probably were just trying to make the marketing term less offensive to African American audiences. But it also set the stage for a crossover to white audiences. Fats Domino, whose shows resulted in white and black audiences dancing together (and sometimes causing problems as a result) was the first big crossover African American artist.
But it seems like it was Little Richard, sent to New Orleans by Specialty Records, who blew the doors open. Little Richard didn’t record the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song but after “Tutti Frutti” and “Rip It Up” (which you’ll hear), the line between Rock and R&B was gone. Domino used to say that what he played didn’t change but but they called it did.
Well whatever you call it, you’ll get almost two hours of it in today’s show in honor of African American Music Appreciation Music. Thanks for listening.