Tiffany Pollack, Okra, Cajun Singles and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Tiffany Pollack & Co. hits the post-pandemic music scene with momentum from a brand new record that opens up new avenues for this singer, songwriter, band leader and occasional mortician. One song kicks off this week’s show which she calls in on about an hour later for a live KAOS radio interview. (The episode below is the KMRE version of the same show and airs in Bellingham on Fridays).

Tiffany Pollack -Currently performing regularly on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.

Following up on the success of her blues album recorded with cousin Eric Johansen, New Orleans-based Pollack collected a dozen of her original songs, went to Memphis with her band and recorded Bayou Liberty with the assistance of producer and blues musician John Nemeth. But its far from a blues album. In the course of our conversation, we both agreed our favorite track is Mountain, a Western style number featuring pedal steel and sweet vocals. Others songs channel honky-tonks, early morning smoky (now smoke-free) nightclubs and sticky-seated dives where you go mainly for the crawfish and beer.

As a mother of three, she also shares how her kids do a good job of keeping her in her place, no matter how bright her music star shines. And yea, she talks briefly about how as a licensed funeral director she still gets called in to do services for that short-handed business.

From the 1956 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

A great find of fresh okra at the Olympia Farmer’s Market last weekend inspired a set of music featuring two versions of Mr. Okra — a song written by Sonia Tetlow and Craig Klein in honor of Arthur James Robins (Mr. Okra) who drove a colorful vegetable truck through the streets of New Orleans with sing-song amplified announcements of available produce. He died in 2018 (NPR story). To introduce that song, I play a brief clip from an earlier interview with Craig Klein about the process of writing that song with Tetlow. Later in the set, Monk Boudreaux sings a Jamaican-inflected “Mr. Okra Man” – in his own take of the street vendor. The set ends with the Tin Men’s “The Darling of the Okra Strut” which, best I can tell, really has nothing to do with the mucilaginous vegetable. (However, it did get me thinking about whether okra are interstellar aliens! Afterall we call them “pods.”)

This week’s show also includes another set of Cajun music, thanks to Olympia-area producer and musician Calvin Johnson’s secret stash of collectible 45 rpm records. This time, I throw in a live recorded song by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys from Bill Boelens Festivals Acadiens 1991-1997.

The show’s first full set rocks with Cowboy Mouth’s early hit “Jenny Says” and The Radiators urging us to “Never Let Your Fire Go Out.” Later Tommy Malone sings “All Dressed Up,” the Honeypots perform “Witness”, Los Hombres Calientes does a send up of “George Porter” and Davis Rogan’s gives us his original song “Fly Away.” Davis, by the way, will be performing in Olympia on August 26 in a house concert. Message me to learn more about it. Thanks for tuning in.

Tiffany Pollack & Co. at the “Legendary” HiHo Lounge pre-COVID.

A little Barker, lots of New Orleans blues, funk and jazz

I have no elevator pitch for today’s show. It features music from New Orleans so includes jazz, blues, funk, rock, a bawdy song or two, a couple of brass band numbers and some cutting edge Cajun music. You can play it now if you like while I tell you a bit more.

The Heavyweight Brass Band kicks off the show. They’re Canadian but they embedded in New Orleans for the This City record and on “Dance Out On the Corner” you’ll hear the baritone saxophone of the Dirty Dozen’s Roger Lewis and the trumpet and vocals of fellow Canadian now New Orleans resident Marla Dixon.

The second song (the bawdy one) is sung by Maria Muldaur. It was an early hit for Muldaur as well as the songwriter. Lu Barker recorded “Don’t You Feel My Leg” in the 30’s which helped her and her husband Danny Barker in their performing career. Later, after the couple had semi-retired back to New Orleans, a young Muldaur recorded the same song for her first hit. Muldaur will close out this year’s Danny Barker Festival happening this weekend in New Orleans with a concert at Snug Harbor. I also play a popular Danny Barker number titled “Save the Bones for Henry Jones.”

In this show, you’ll also hear a some blues by Ghalia and Mama’s Boys and Bobby Rush (who song might also be consider a bit bawdy), Cajun by the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Bonsoir Catin, funk by Naughty Professor, rock by Lightnin’ Lee and a lot of songs that just kind of defy categorization. Thanks for checking it out.

As Mardi Gras heats up so does immigration songs

This weekend, the Mardi Gras parade season heats up so I start today’s show with like-themed music.  In fact, the opening Cowboy Mouth song kicks ass.  But this show was more inspired by the recent State of Union address.  Go ahead and get it started and read on.

Earlier this week, I was put off by the President’s State of the Union remarks about immigration. In particular, comments that used a very broad brush to suggest that all immigrants are gangsters.  I’m so glad Trump wasn’t in charge of immigration when my great grandparents immigrated from Cork, Ireland.  News reports of Irish thugs and gangs in New York during the mid-19th Century might be considered threatening enough to block Irish immigration under his standards.  immigration

New Orleans music is very much a melting pot of cultures. Today being the first day of February, African American month, I’ll start with the role of slaves and their descendants in creating jazz, blues, funk and every other kind of music I love and listen to.  Nicholas Payton’s “Jazz is a Four-Letter Word” says its better. “All of this exemplifies the genius of Black creation.”  Definitely hang in for his eight-minute wonder later in the show..

The migration of French-speakers from Acadia (political refugees who refused to pledge loyalty to the English King) to southern Louisiana gave us Cajun culture.  Listen for the three-song set on Cajun music.

Haitian refugees, Cubans, Central Americans who helped rebuild the city after Katrina and musicians from all over the world continue to stir the Gumbo Ya Ya pot. And this show has a taste of all that and some.

I even play Davis Rogan’s allegorical song about New Orleans newcomers which argues that unless we’re Native Americans, we’re all immigrants.

I hope you enjoy the show and consider subscribing to be alerted when I post new shows.