Often when people hear about my New Orleans music show they assume its a jazz show. It’s not. And I occasionally worry that I let them down with my wide mix of blues, Mardi Gras Indian, rock, swamp pop, cajun, folk, hip hop, R&B with some jazz thrown in. Today’s show is for those folks. You can listen to it while I ramble on.
For the first hour, this show features traditional New Orleans jazz with Bunk Johnson, Preservation Hall Jazz Band (listen for the Tiger roars!), Jelly Roll Morton, Tuba Skinny, Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, King Oliver and a couple of obscure tracks from a Smithsonian Folkways album featuring 1920’s era dance hall bands from New Orleans. I finish with a bit of Cuban jazz by New Orleans resident Alexey Marti.
The second hour starts with a recognition of the little known Adolph Smith, a tenor with a locally popular R&B group, The Monitors. He also wrote some songs sung by The Spiders. I finish the R&B set with songs by Davell Crawford and John Mooney.
Later in the show, I venture into the Bonerama does Led Zeppelin – including the amazing cover “Heartbreaker” featuring Matt Perrine’s sousaphone performance the defies gravity. I also play from Aurora Nealand’s modern piece The Monocle.
This week’s show serves up a strong doze of New Orleans style jazz and swing but also country and rhythm and blues, including a classic by Chuck Carbo. Get it started while I tell you who else is in the show.
Albanie Falletta’s wonderful “Black Coffee Blues” kicks off the show, followed by a swinging love song by Antoine Diel, Al Hirt and his band at his best with “Yellow Dog Blues,” and the amazing Aurora Nealand performing “Touploulou.”
Dee Dee Bridgewater does a duet with Glen David Andrews on “Whoopin’ Blues.” David Egan rocks its with “Dead End Friend” and Eddie Bo does the instrumental “Just Wonder.”
Stay with the show for Chuck Carbo’s “Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On.” After a country set featuring new releases by Gal Holiday and Shawn Williams, jazz fans patience will be rewarded with the Riverside Jazz Collective” “Just Gone” from their new release, Stomp Off, Let’s Go.
Also, this show includes songs by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, Larry Williams, James Andrews, Galactic, Dr. Michael White, the Big Dixie Swingers, Bon Bon Vivant, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and Quintron.
With Mardi Gras over, we enter Lent and confront 40 days of reflection and deprivation. Don’t deprive yourself of the music, get my show started and then read on.
After the fun of the holidays and partying of carnival season, true believers in Lent settle down to a period designed to eliminate distraction and focus mind on prayer and connection.
While I’m not exactly a true believer, I am fascinated with the ability of religious practices to focus the mind on self-reflection. So today’s show displays that theme through music.
Alex McMurray sets the tone with “The Day after Mardi Gras Day.” I follow up with a rocking, bluesy set of reflection featuring Kevin Sekhani (“Wrong Direction”), Anders Osborne (“Echoes of My Sins”) and Honey Island Swamp Band (“No Easy Way”).
The ashes placed on the foreheads of Catholics speaks to our mortality. We are dust and to dust we shall return. Leyla McCalla’s “Let It Fall” beautifully captures that feeling as does Howard Fishman’s gospel like “When I Die.”
Other traditional songs with new twists include Aurora Nealand’s “His Eye is On the Sparrow,” Shotgun Jazz Band “Down by the Riverside,” and the Neville’s revision of a Steve Miller hit renamed “Fear, Hate, Envy, Jealousy.”
There’s lot more to explore in the show. Thanks for listening!
This week’s show features exclusively female musicians, vocalists and bandleaders. You can start the show now and finish reading while you listen.
Female-focused shows have gotten easier since my first one in 2015 but there’s still a serious imbalance particularly when looking for horn players.
The Original Pinettes Brass Band, as best as I can tell, is still the only female brass band. And its rare to see a female musician in any of the male-dominated brass bands.
Where the balance tips the other way is in the area of vocalists. Debbie Davis, Ingrid Lucia, Linnzi Zaorski, Charmaine Neville, Lena Prima and Meschiya Lake are featured in this latest show. I also plays songs with the amazing musicianship (and vocals) of Aurora Nealand (clarinet and saxophone) and Helen Gillet (cello) as well as singer songwriters Kelcy Mae and Gina Forsyth.
This show I was able to add a funk song thanks to picking up Erica Falls album and zydeco with the almost all-female band Bonsoir, Catin. I reckon these shows are getting easier to do because my library of female-generated music is getting deeper as opposed to any seismic-level gender shift. I may have a taller stack of applicable CDs now but it still pales when placed next to the pile of other NOLA music I have.
In which case, it seems appropriate to continue in the future doing special shows where I feature exclusively women. Why not keep the thumb on the scale until it doesn’t matter anymore. And anyway, I didn’t do justice to a great many other female artists who did not get played today. I’ll do another female exclusive show soon and meanwhile they all go back into my rotation for my other shows.
Here’s the playlist. If you got ideas for me, let me know.
Here’s Part One of my survey of New Orleans (and nearby) releases for 2015 worthy of your attention. I’ve played this music on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa and I’ll play them a lot more through the rest of this month. So many good releases, there will be a part two very soon. The first four albums below were featured heavily in my November 30 show and many of the albums following those four were featured in this show.
The New Orleans Jazz Vipers – An institution on Frenchmen Street that gained fame through the HBO series Treme, the Vipers have locked in their reputation with their fifth release, Going, Going Gone. The six-member band will take you back to the day when swing bands were laying the foundation for R&B.
Red Hot Brass Band – Fire-bearded Doyle Cooper keeps the spirit alive. Don’t let his youth fool you. Doyle grew up in the tradition and has the chops to prove it. His band’s inaugural release Hot Off the Presses hits the usual touchstones like Tiger Rag, West End Blues, Bourbon Street Parade and Go To the Mardi Gras. But there’s nothing stale about their execution.
Shotgun Jazz Band – I dare you to try to sit still while listening to Yearning. They bill themselves as playing traditional New Orleans jazz in the spirit of the Great Revivalists. It’s fresh, uncluttered and expertly delivered. It came out late enough last year that I’m including it in this 2015 review.
Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses – I totally missed this 2014 release until I bought The Lookback Transmission from Aurora during a break at the Maison last spring. Uber-talented Nealand demonstrates her ability to put a fresh, entertaining spin on traditional jazz and swing. Having sousaphone savant Matt Perrine backing her doesn’t hurt either. Everyone of the 16 tracks are a delight.
Peter Novelli – His third release, St. Amant Sessions, reminds me how engaging blues can be, particularly in the hands of a songwriter and performer who knows how to shake it up with zydeco, swamp, slide and funk. From Shreveport Stomp to I-10 Boogie to his anecdotal Drinkin’ and Driving, Novelli has solidified his space on the KAOS blues shelf.
Little Freddie King – His distinctive delta/country blues makes him easy to love. His persistence in returning to the city after Katrina to live, perform and record is another testament of why I love New Orleans. His latest Messin’ Around tha Livin’ Room (a reference to the Algiers studio he recorded in) delivers beyond expectation.
Papa Mali – Also recorded at the The Living Room, Music is Love mixes covers of Joni Mitchell, Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Lead Belly and the title track by David Crosby with a few originals by this former reggae rocker, turned funk, blues, swamp guru.
Josh Garrett – Having returned to Louisiana after a brief flirtation with Nashville, Garrett deploys just the right mix of delta blues, soul, swing and swamp in Honey For My Queen. Baton Rouge legend James Johnson who played with Slim Harpo joins in while fiddler Waylon Thibodeux adds one more reminder where this music is coming from.
The Deslondes – This young band defies New Orleans music stereotype while creating country-infused songs rooted in the city’s soul. The self-titled debut album presents an array of facets with all five band members contributing songs and taking turns on singing. Like all memorable CDs, this one grows on me the more I push “play.”
Lynn Drury – Another 2014 release that I missed last year but deserves mention. I fell in love with Lynn when I first caught the video of her CD title track “Come to My House” video. This collection is a powerful observation of love with wonderful, occasionally sultry vocals and excellent guitar support by Alex McMurray.
The Radiators – The band that wouldn’t die. Allegedly retired, the Radz still occasionally perform for those lucky enough to catch them. For the rest of us, there is the Wild and Free releases. Part II includes vintage performances from the Dream Palace, Tipitina’s and Knight Studios. Get your fishhead on.
Clayton Doley – Funky didgeridoo! What else needs to be said? A lot if we’re talking about Bayou Billabong. Doley’s an Aussie but he recorded part of this CD at the Music Shed in New Orleans with the backing of the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (as in Jon Cleary and . . .) and the Treme Funktet.
Jon Cleary –Speaking of Cleary, his releases are always a delight. Sadly, for GoGo Juice, he switched from Basin Street Records, which has always done a great job of sharing music with KAOS, to a new label which has failed in that chore. Still, the cuts I’ve heard on line show he continues to be a master of blending soul, funk and R&B.
Catch my show on Mondays or online. And subscribe to the blog to be sure to catch Part 2 of this 2015 retrospective.
It’s not hard catching live music in New Orleans. Musicians in NOLA are like Olympia baristas, they’re just about everywhere and they’re really good at what they do.
One memorable experience during my visit last month was watching Kelcy Mae perform in an incredibly artful, yet defunct, cafe located in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. The cool thing is that you too could catch a performance of a talented young artist there.
The event is described as “modern-day speakeasy” and when I first arrived at the renovated building on Oretha Castle Boulevard (about a mile walk from Canal Street), my first sense was that I had gotten the wrong address.
The building is owned and was painstakingly redone by Elizabeth and Gary Eckman who incorporated original artwork and craftsmanship into their renovation of the century-old building, creating a modern space while retaining the grandeur of the past.
The building doesn’t look like your typical New Orleans music venue. Yet on Tuesdays, the space transforms into the Milo Music Parlor — the brainchild of Kim Vu-Dinh, a self-described music nerd who also runs Milo Records. Because of Kim’s good sense to keep KAOS on her distribution list, I’ve featured the excellent new music promoted by Milo Records on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.
Each week, Milo’s Music Parlor hosts a different musician or band who performs in this intimate space that feels like a large living room. The additional twist is that about halfway through the performance, the musicians take a break and Kim interviews them for a podcast featured on It’s New Orleans— “web radio for locals, exiles, and lovers of New Orleans everywhere.”
Originally from California with a significant detour through Alaska, Ms. Vu-Dinh is an attorney who has clearly found her passion and home in the New Orleans music scene. In introducing Gal Holiday, she insightfully touches on the melting pot music milieu of New Orleans.
“To some it may seem unlikely that this classic honky tonk band called New Orleans home. To others, who’ve heard them, it may come as no surprise that they flourish in a town where tradition in every genre is paid respect with high caliber musicianship.”
As I’ve tried to demonstrate on my show, New Orleans music does not fit tidily into one or two music genres. It’s not just jazz, or Dixieland, or Iko Iko. Each generation, each neighborhood, seems to contribute a new energy and style that somehow absorbs nicely into the city’s traditions, rhythms and dialect.
In a city that is attracting more than its share of Millennials, uber-talented young musicians continue to make their mark on New Orleans. And you can witness it happening at Milo Music Parlor. The programs are open to the public for an affordable cover charge and the show ends with plenty of time to catch music elsewhere. Check the schedule here.
Next week, the Music Parlor will host Aurora Nealand who will perform her avant garde solo project Monocle and later in the month David Doucet and Al Tharp of Beausoleil will be at the Parlor.
Consider subscribing to my blog (see upper right corner of page) and catching my shows of New Orleans music on KAOS or the edited versions on Mixcloud
Occasionally, when someone learns about my New Orleans music show, they’ll ask me: “Have you seen. . .
And I know where they are going.
Yes! I have watched all 36 episodes of HBO’s Treme — some of them more than once including the commentary and music notes. The program is that good at portraying New Orleans.
The show ran from 2010 to 2013 and chronicled the lives of New Orleans residents upon their return to the city after Hurricane Katrina. And the show’s creators, producers and writers nailed it. The show is well regarded in New Orleans as having captured the unique and diverse culture and character of the city–both the good and the not so good.
Unfortunately, the show wasn’t sufficiently well regarded beyond the city (at least at the time) so no new episodes are being made. But if you’re reading this blog, you probably already understand the disconnect between being good and being popular. A theme that Treme also explores.
There’s lots of reasons to love this show, the main one for me is the music. There’s lot of New Orleans music in it. Literally hundreds of New Orleans-based musicians participated in its filming. Some of them even acted.
Yesterday, I pulled up the full cast listing of the show on IMDB and did a search for “self” and “selves” as in people and bands portraying themselves. I found over 250 listings. While some of the people playing themselves were politicians, chefs, writers, community activists and Mardi Gras Indian Chiefs, most of them were musicians.
Some are well known like Dr. John, Fats Domino, Trombone Shorty and Irma Thomas. Others are not but should be such as Aurora Nealand, John Boutte, Tom McDermott, and Kermit Ruffins.
Several of the fictional characters are musicians attempting to make a living. One is a journeyman trombonists, played by Wendell Pierce, struggling to find gigs so he can pay rent and child support. Two others busk on the street and are learning the New Orleans style of music.
Throughout the series, the viewer is treated to music venues such as Tipitina’s, House of Blues, Blue Nile, Spotted Cat, and Snug Harbor and the music you hear on the show is recorded in situ. What you see is truly what you hear
In many cases, the musicians simply perform, either in the background or as a part of the plot. In other cases though, they deliver lines from a script or, in the case of Dr. John, ad lib. It’s a wonderful blend of reality and fiction.
Cornell Williams, a bass player who in real life performs with Jon Cleary, portrays a member of a band formed by Wendell Pierce’s character and helps another character recover from drug addiction.
A more bizarre blending of real life and fiction is the character Davis McAlary, who often supplies the show’s comic relief and social commentary. McAlary is a musician and an on again, off again deejay at WWOZ, which is a real community radio station in New Orleans. His character was inspired by Davis Rogan who has released several albums of original songs and was a deejay for WWOZ. To really twist your brain, you will see in various Treme scenes the real Davis performing on piano backing up the fictional Davis. (Another character is patterned after Donald Harrison Jr. who is also seen regularly in the show.)
If you have a propensity to love New Orleans, its food, culture and music, watching Treme will deepen that love. If you know little about New Orleans but are interested, the show is a great place to start your education. Well, subscribing to this blog (upper right hand corner) and listening to my show won’t hurt either.
Here’s my Holiday buying guide of 2014 releases for that special person in your life who digs music from New Orleans. Don’t know anyone like that? Yea, you do. (This is actually Part 1. I’ve added a Part 2.)
Let’s stay in touch, sign up on the right to follow my blog
The Revivalists – – This seven member contemporary rock group with a New Orleans flair has been exciting audiences since 2007. The City of Sound double disc wisely includes a live set so you can get a feel for the band in action.
Hurray for Riff Raff – Alynda Lee Segarra may be from New York but she found her passion and honed her talent on the streets of New Orleans. Small Town Heroes, the latest from this Americana songwriter puts a fresh spin on roots music.
New Orleans Suspect – Third release is the charm for this textbook gumbo yaya band that draws direct influences from the Meters, Nevilles, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Radiators. Destined to make my overall top 10 list for 2014, Ouroboros means the Suspects no longer need to be compared to their previous projects.
Glen David Andrews – He’s Troy Andrews cousin but don’t expect Trombone Shorty despite Glen’s awesome trombone work. Instead you’ll get a double shot of gospel and soul in Redemption, growled out by an unrepentant preacher who has no intention of ceasing his prowling of nightclubs. Thank goodness.
Jimmy Carpenter – This blues saxman with Walter Wolfman Washington’s band on his resume’ hits full stride on his second solo release, Walk Away. Carpenter offers up smooth, swingy blues with wonderful touches that make it clear where he calls home.
Ingrid Lucia – If you only know her wonderful version of “Zat You Santa Claus,” Living the Life is your opportunity to fall deeply in love with this voice, starting with her opening track, “Do You Remember Walter.” We didn’t get this album at KAOS but I’ve gradually been buying tracks, like “Put the Radio On,” since she released this album.
Royal Southern Brotherhood – Cyril Neville’s vocals complement this royal group of southern blues artists (Devon Allman, Yonrico Scott, Charlie Wooten and Mike Zito). Another entry for my top ten list, HeartSoulBlood magically fuses blues to soul and R&B. Speaking of magic, Magic Honey was Cyril’s solo release this year.
Lena Prima is living testament to writer Chris Rose’s posit that “New Orleans girls never live anywhere else and even if they do, they always come back.” Starting Something tracks the return of the prodigal daughter of Louis Prima to New Orleans. The more you listen, the more you’ll be delighted she came home.
Henry Butler – Brilliantly paired with New York trumpeter Steven Bernstein, Henry Butler demonstrates his virtuosity on piano while providing something for almost every Jazz taste on Viper’s Drag.
Louis Prima Jr. – Lena’s little brother demonstrates how to make swing and rock and roll relevant and hip in the 21st Century. With Blow, Louis Junior goes his own way without straying too far from his pop’s tree. He and his band are not NOLA based but the album provides more than a passing nod to the city where he first connected with music.
The Last Hombres – Odd Fellows Rest is a product of a band that has been rambling about for over a decade until the drummer settled down in New Orleans and invited the band to bunker down and find their collective muse. Combine the pedal steel of The New Riders of the Purple Sage with songwriting reminiscent of Tom Petty and throw in some tasteful Hot 8 Brass Band and you have a CD that gets better with every spin.
Flow Tribe – Self described as “bizarrely irresistable,” this funk rock band of six genuine NOLA hipsters (with birth certificates to prove it) give you a taste of what its like to see them live with five upbeat studio tracks on Alligator White. (See if you can catch their reference to what’s been described as the best dive bar in New Orleans.)
Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers The perfect gift for the historian/adventurer on your list, Age of Exploration is the first release of this New Orleans rockabilly group. This Shackleton-themed concept album is largely the product of hardworking reeds-woman Aurora Nealand. Another CD that hasn’t found its way to KAOS, I’ve only heard the two tracks I’ve purchased online but I want more.
The Iguanas – This year brought us, Juarez, the eighth album by a venerable New Orleans group that has been keeping dancers happy by blending Latin styles with New Orleans groove. If you have ever seen them live, say at Rock ‘N’ Bowl, you know what I’m talking about.
Billy Pierce and Friends – Fine slide blues made exceptional on Take Me Back to the Delta by his “friends,” notably Sonny Landreth, Jimmy Carpenter, Waylon Thibodeaux and the guys who put the Bone in Bonerama (Craig Klein, Mark Mullins and Greg Hicks). It’s not all New Orleans music but by the time you get to “Give Me A Dollar,” it won’t matter.
Marcia Ball – She may be from Texas but she has her NOLA residency card for reasons that are amply supplied by The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man. How does she do it?
Rebirth Brass Band – Erasing all doubt that they could top their grammy winning Rebirth of New Orleans album of 2012, these guys did that and more with Move Your Body. After 31 years of playing all night gigs and second lining, Rebirth is doing their most entertaining work. Want to loosen up a boring party, play the track HBNS. Oh yea! (A no brainer for my top 10)