Moving into a Bluesier, Funky Fall

A fall freshet of rain (almost two inches) has slaked the thirst of my drought-stressed landscape and brushed off the dust of summer. We’re in that sweet spot where the sun shines enough to ensure the oncoming chill and damp doesn’t quite over stay its welcome. Well, at least for now. And the other harbinger of Autumn? The arrival of students on the Evergreen State College campus starting Monday.

This week’s show was captured, as usual, during its original broadcast on KAOS and edited for rebroadcast on KMRE. Since returning to producing live shows in the KAOS studios in May, the campus of the Evergreen State College has been rather ghostly. Empty parking lots, an occasional distant body scurrying across the square, the quiet yet freaky noises of previously unnoticed machinery in the College Activities Building where the studio resides.

But this week, there were some stirrings. More cars in the lot, students animatedly chatting in pairs on the square and after 20 months, this four-year college appears to be coming back to life with in-person classes and activities. Next week, the studio, which has been empty every time I’ve come in for my show over the last four months, will be a lot more active. I’ll have to get used to other people working near me again.

Why this description? Well, this milieu can affect my show, even though it features music from a city over 2,600 miles away. You’ll hear a good example when I break tradition and start the first set with a song that is by Jonathan Bree a New Zealander whose song, “You’re So Cool,” is very different than what I usually play. But given that it was a request by a student who was listening as my earlier morning show was ending, I wanted to be welcoming and play the song. It was followed by good company – Clayton Doley‘s “Disbelief.” This piano-playing Aussie went to New Orleans and jammed with some of its best horn players, creating Bayou Billabong. Preservation Hall Jazz Band follows with its Cuban-influenced original “Santiago.” Before the set ends, I get back on message with The Melatauns’ “Day of Sunshine” followed by Dr. Brice Miller’s poignant yet jammin’ “You are my Sunshine.” And that’s just the first full set — which you can listen to right now by using the player above.

Other show highlights include:

  • The Shiz which bills themselves as “New Orleans conscious, hippie, lesbeaux Folk-Rock and Soul”
  • A nearly 8 and half minute rendition of “Let Me Do My Thing” by The Hot 8 Brass Band — edited for radio but not to be confused with the radio version of this song which is half as long. Here’s the site to donate to help the family of bandleader Bennie Pete who died from COVID-19 earlier this month.
  • Sarah Quintana performing with a kazoo.
  • Greetings and songs by Sonny Landreth and Andrew Duhon.
  • Dozens of other great New Orleans songs.

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Seven Year Itch – Time to Move On?

Why am I still doing this show? Isn’t seven years long enough?

I’ve produced over 350 radio episodes focusing exclusively on music from New Orleans with some some well justified forays into Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Mamou and other nearby swamp lands. Perhaps its time to move?

On the plus side, the music I play is damn good. Hear for yourself when you get the player started above with my seventh anniversary show. How can you not be a fan with Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet’s opening number “You Came” as in “you came to the party.” That party stays funky with help from Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes and Flow Tribe.

My roots with New Orleans go back to the early 1960s with my Dad playing from his jazz record collection that included several from native son Pete Fountain. You’ll hear Fountain’s version of “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” along with songs by Royal Street favorite Doreen Ketchens and Rebirth Brass Band.

Bennie Pete – a screen capture from a video on the The Hot 8 Brass Band’s website

It’s not all party though. Bennie Pete died last week at 45. As bandleader and sousaphonist for The Hot 8 Brass Band, Pete and his band has been a symbol of the city’s resilience since Hurricane Katrina. The band was featured in Spike Lee’s epic documentary on the city and the storm “When the Levees Broke” and has gone through one tragic event after another including three band member deaths to gun violence (one a shooting by New Orleans Police Department). The band’s record Tombstone was intended to put the bad shit behind them. I play the the first and last track from that release and the song “We Goin’ Make It.” Long live Bennie Pete!

As in past anniversary shows, I point to the gateway acts that have fueled my 15 year addiction to this city’s music scene. Notably, you will hear the New Orleans Nightcrawlers who grabbed my attention with their Live at the Old Point Bar. This album makes me wish I was in the Algier’s Point bar that night in 2010. On the other hand, I was there for the Radiators performance at the 2006 Jazzfest– the one right after Hurricane Katrina. You’ll hear a a great jam from that performance.

On the question that started this post, as long as I’m having fun, I see no reason to stop doing the show. What do you think?