This fire season over 100 large fires have incinerated two million acres of land in the U.S. And new fires are reported each day. . . Let’s play some music, starting with Rebirth Brass Band’s “Fire.” (you can listen to the show while still staying on this page using the player below)
While New Orleans sits on the western side of the hurricane season, Olympia sits on the western edge of the fires. We might be mostly safe from the flame but the smoke is creating a haze and red hue to our sunlight. Air quality is holding but is vulnerable to a shift in the winds. New Orleans Suspects kick off the first full set with “You Got the Fire” carried on by Mike Doussan’s “Breathe” and Papa Grows Funk “Fire in the Garage.” The Royal Southern Brotherhood finish the set with “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire.”
Fire and smoke in song are metaphors usually for love though Randy Newman’s “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield” covered by Papa Mali seems more about destruction. Alexey Marti does his instrumental “Fire Land” and Trombone Shorty performs “Fire and Brimstone.” You’ll even hear the patron saint of this show, Ernie K-Doe, say his trademark “Burn K-Doe Burn.”
Midway through the show, we take a break from the fire for “Indian Summer” one of my favorites of Eric Lindell along with a radio edit version of Tiffany Pollack’s “Crawfish and Beer.” In honor of Davis Rogan coming to Olympia, I play an All That song and Buckwheat Zydeco does Bruce Springsteen’s “Back In Your Arms.”
But I eventually bring it back to theme of fire aided by Bon Bon Vivant’s “Burn” and New Birth Brass Band’s “Smoke That Fire.” The topic gives me an excuse to play the nine-minute live version of “All Our Fire” by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes at the Maple Leaf Bar and I finish the theme with the Neville’s “Fire on the Bayou.” And somewhere before that, Davell Crawford does “Fire and Rain” with Nicholas Payton doing his interpretation of that song on trumpet.
There’s more music that follows. The player is above and you can listen from this page. Just don’t let smoke get in your eyes.
Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing with a show until its all put together. Then it’s like a musical version of a Rorschach test. Except there’s no need for a psychology degree to interpret the opening song by Bon Bon Vivant with “It’s a hard way of living when you’re dead. . .when you’re living like you’re already dead.” (You can hear that song right now when you start the show in the box below. )
It’s not surprising that the longer the COVID period stretches on, the more I think about Prince Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe. Not that I’m ready to leave the castle. Or give up on masks and hand sanitizer. But the castle doesn’t have to be a prison.
The New Orleans Suspects catch that spirit of escape with “Neighborhood Strut” followed by All That, a band featuring Kirk Joseph and Davis Rogan, taking us back to the 1970’s with “Roll With It.” Sunpie Barnes declares”I don’t want no more of dem black beans, cornbread, molasses” in “Down in the Bottom.” Later, after Irvin Mayfield’s “The Elder Negro Speaks” serves as a recognition for the late Congressman John Lewis (who fortunately didn’t accept the status quo), Cyril Neville and the Royal Southern Brotherhood sing their protest anthem “Stand Up.”
With the ability to gather in front of live music gone for the time being, we live in the era of virtual festivals. Which does have the advantage allowing us to experience New Orleans without getting on a plane. I plug the upcoming Satchmo SummerFest which will be doing Louis Armstrong inspired cooking demonstrations on local television and musical performances shared on the festival’s Facebook live page on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2. The annual festival is in honor of Louis Armstrong’s birthday. “Yes, I’m in the Barrel” a 1925 Armstrong Hot Five recording heralds this event in the show.
Other highlights of this week’s program include a 10-minute plus version of “Hold ‘Em Joe” featuring bluegrass and New Orleans musicians and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux – performing before a live audience at the Maple Leaf Bar. Spencer Bohren covers Hank Williams’ “Mind Your Own Business.” Allday Radio directs us to “Get Over Me, I’m Over You.” Terrance Simien and his Zydeco band performs “Johnny Too Bad.” And much more. It’s two hours of music from New Orleans. Thanks for tuning in.