I celebrate the Bilbo Baggins birthday of Harold “Duke” Dejan, founder of the second generation of the Olympia Brass Band by starting this week’s show with “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” and “It Ain’t My Fault.”
Dejan, a saxophonist and bandleader, would be eleventy one years old on February 4. We lost him in 2002 after many decades of keeping the brass band tradition alive before the new generation of brass bands such Dirty Dozen, Rebirth, Soul Rebels, Hot 8 and this year’s grammy nominated New Orleans Nightcrawlers took up the mantle and greatly expanded the audience.
Well, no matter where you go, keep this show rolling cause with the help of Andrews and Galactic, it gets funky with “Day of the Dolphin” by Brides of Jesus (Billy Iuso) and Walter “Wolfman” Washington‘s “Glasshouse.”
Later highlights include Marla Dixon singing a heart-rendering rendition of “When Things Go Wrong” at the Dew Drop with her Shotgun Jazz Band and Aurora Nealand’s fascinating project The Monocle where she plays all the instruments and handles vocals “Another Man” from Kindhumankind.
I’ll lay into more Mardi Gras music next week. Thanks for tuning in.
My list of top ten releases from New Orleans is based on my experience as the host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa, a Northwest community radio show that features New Orleans and other Louisiana music. To see a larger list of releases, check out my 2018 summary. This show features two tracks from each of the top 10 releases.
Bon Bon Vivant: Live At The New Orleans Jazz Museum – This original group features sweet sister harmonies, a genre-bending style and a clear affection for New Orleans history performed before the perfect live audience. This is a group to watch and you can, very easily because they perform live in New Orleans regularly.
Riverside Jazz Collective:Stomp Off, Let’s Go – Recorded at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music by New Orleans pros who can be heard regularly around town, particularly at The Bombay Club. This album features gently time-worn “songs that are melodically and emotionally durable.”
Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs: Neville Jacobs – A magic combination formed from a post-Jazz Fest card game where New Orleans funk and soul meets Baltimore rock and blues. The chemistry is so solid, I listen to this CD with the hope that there will be a second one.
Cha Wa: Spyboy – Waiting for the next generation to pick up the mantle for The Wild Magnolias (except with a strong brass sound ) Look no further then this second release of this millennial group that has the fire! Grammy nominated too. “Get On Out Of the Way”
Michot’s Melody Makers: Blood Moon – Lost Bayou Ramblers’ co-founder Louis Michot stretches the boundaries of Cajun music to his heart and my ears content with this project. I get calls from listeners wanting to know more when I play from this CD — and for good reason.
Helen Gillet: Helkiase– On the surface, Gillet and her music may seem far afield of what you might expect out of New Orleans. But this French and English singing cellist has been embedded in the city for most of her professional life. Her latest project can be edgy, melodic, soothing and tense. Check out her KAOS studio performance and interview from this summer. “
Jon Batiste: Hollywood Africans – He may be world famous as the late night show bandleader but Batiste is more importantly a world-class musician with some powerful music to share, In this very personal release, he offers up originals with a fresh look at a couple standards. His reverent timing invites the listener to slow down and listen “with all you got, . . .don’t stop.”
Gal Holiday: Lost & Found – After 14 years in the vanguard of the New Orleans country music scene, Gal Holiday — aka Vanessa Neuman — and her Honky-Tonk Revue know how to deliver authentic old-time Patsy Cline style country. And while her band is solid, Vanessa’s voice is the star of the show.
Jonathon Long: Jonathon Long – His third release is the charm. He dropped the “Boogie” from his name and added a lot of himself in his singing and songwriting. This self-titled album produced by Samantha Fish and featuring muscular guitar work and soulful, personal lyrics represents a new addition to Southern Rock.
Jon Cleary: Dyna-Mite – If you’ve been waiting for Cleary’s full band follow up to his 2016 Grammy win, wait no more! With two more songs and a wider range (including a reggae-inflected song), Dyna-Mite blows away his Grammy-worthy earlier release.
I also play a track from Ever More Nest — Kelcy Mae’s latest project which was a close contender for being part of the top 10 list.
December 7th is most recognized in the United States as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day but its also the birthday of two very important New Orleans musicians: Louis Prima and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. Get the show started and then read on about their music and other features of this episode of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was 31 years off when Louis Prima was born in 1910. He grew up listening to the nascent jazz of New Orleans, including Louis Armstrong. He formed a jazz band when he was a teenager, moved into swing during the 30’s, led a big band in the 40’s and was part of jump blues scene before settling down in the Las Vegas scene in the 1950’s. Like Satchmo, Prima played the trumpet but it was his singing that made him famous.
My first real encounter of him was his singing “I Wanna Be Like You” in the Disney animation “Jungle Book.” Later, he claimed that voicing the swinging orangutan King Louie in the film was a highlight of his career. You’ll hear that song on this show along with one of his Italian songs. His daughter, Lena Prima, also sings a song in his set.
Bombs were dropping on Pearl Harbor when Big Chief Monk Boudreaux was born in 1941. Of course, he wasn’t the chief of the Golden Eagles then. As a Black Indian of Mardi Gras Chief, Boudreaux was highly regarded. But when he paired with his buddy Big Chief Bo Dollis and formed the Wild Magnolias, the recording put the unusual cultural art form of Mardi Gras Indians on an international stage. Tootie Montana may be the Chief of All Chiefs but Boudreaux is the Chief of all recording chiefs. I could almost fill a whole show of his performances without ever violating the federal streaming rule that prohibits playing more than three songs from one artist name. Boudreaux performs with a wide range of artists, including Tab Benoit and Anders Osborne (songs featured in this show.)
There’s lots more to the show but why don’t you just let it flow over you. Hang in there to near the end and you’ll get an encore performance of Chief Boudreaux performing with his grandson J’wan Boudreaux, the spy boy for the Golden Eagles who fronts his own band, Cha Wa. Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing. Thank you.
This week’s show is the last one before the 2018 Mardi Gras Day and Valentine’s Day so I mix Mardi Gras party music with love songs in this podcast. Go ahead and get it started and then read about the Davis Rogan interview
This is my fifth show during the 2018 Mardi Gras season and I’ve started each one with a different version of Professor Longhair’s Mardi Gras anthem – “Go to the Mardi Gras. ” For this, the last show before Fat Tuesday, I play ‘Fess himself. You have permission to whistle along.
I reach back into the heyday of New Orleans R&B for the Hawkettes’ “Mardi Gras Mambo” and, as is the tradition, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson performs the song that gave him his middle name. Cha Wa and The Wild Magnolias make appearances to represent Mardi Gras Indians, Louis Armstrong performs “Zulu King” and I play the rarely heard “King of the Mardi Gras” from the Nine Lives musical. The New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Papa Grows Funk and Galactic add a party-level amount of funk. Marcia Ball, the Radiators and Slim Harpo contribute love songs.
I play three songs by Davis Rogan, one from each of his albums, and then he calls in and we talk about his upcoming performance in Olympia, trade some stories about neighborhood schools, hear his idea for creating a Museum for Southern Racists and learn more about the connection between his music and his work on the HBO “Treme” show where he served as songwriter/technical consultant and the inspiration for one of the lead characters, D J Davis played by Steve Zahn. If you just want to hear Rogan’s music and interview instead of the whole show, here it is.
Here’s this year’s survey of New Orleans music releases that deserve your attention. This is music I played on my radio show Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. (By the way, so many release, here’s Part Two )
Eric Lindell – When I listen to Matters of the Heart, I imagine an artist on a serious Zoloft high. When I first started playing this CD on KAOS, it seemed liked every track bubbled over with happy feelings and love. But there’s deep stuff as well on this release that harken back to Lindell’s blues days. This is a strong release that just makes me wish even more he would break out of his habit of only touring sunny places and get his happy butt up to the Northwest.
Honey Island Swamp Band – When Hurricane Katrina stirred a serious dose of New Orleans talent into our national musical melting pot, four New Orleans musicians found themselves in San Francisco and formed this band. Demolition Dayis its second full-length album and the first recorded in New Orleans — under the direction of North Mississippi All-Stars Luther Dickinson, who also co-produced Lindell’s release. The CD captures the essence of the band’s jam band live personae while delivering tight singular songs that define the band’s self-described genre “Bayou Americana.”
John “Papa” Gros – After over a dozen years fronting Papa Grows Funk, which anchored the Monday slot at the famed Maple Leaf Bar, this standout keyboardist has produced a solo release that reflects the wide range of his talent and interests. River’s on Fire has it all: rock, funk, reggae, a love song, and a serious nod to mentor and New Orleans saint, Allen Toussaint. I hope new releases become an annual Papa ritual.
Benny Turner – With his fourth release, this veteran bluesman takes us back with a set of previously recorded but hard to find funky, blues numbers, including a duet with Marva Wright, the powerhouse New Orleans blues and gospel singer who died in 2010. Turner played bass and managed Ms. Wright’s band for 20 years. What a treat it is to hear her voice again on “Pity on this Lovesick Fool.” The CD’s title track “When She’s Gone” is about another important woman in Turner’s life, his mother
Dee-1– As a card-carrying AARP member, I’m not qualified to review rap. But David Augustine Jr., who performs under the name Dee-1, doesn’t care because this inclusive artist erects a big enough tent for us all to be in and listen to his stories. Originally attracted by the humor he expresses in paying off his student loan (Sallie Mae Back) and his love for his aging but paid for car (NO Car Note), I find myself drawn to the many other fine tracks on his 2016 mixtape Slingshot David– released on the heels of the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge this summer.
Leyla McCalla – Singing in Haitian Creole, French and English and accompanied by her own haunting cello playing, Leyla McCalla digs deep into the roots tying Haiti and New Orleans together. A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey is an exploration of the oppressed and the oppressor and an excellent follow up to her previous release where she put music to the words of Langston Hughes.
The Roamin’ Jasmin –Taylor Smith, leader and bass player of The Roamin’ Jasmine, once again demonstrates with his band’s second release his genius at fresh, upbeat arrangements of obscure blues, jazz, rockabilly and R&B tunes. An amazing achievement for this young New Orleans transplant. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that his five original numbers, including the title track Blues Shuffle Heart, are quite good.
Meschiya Lake –She is such a kick. In fact, you and your partner will be kicking up your heels on the living room rug every time you play Bad Kids Club, released December of last year but close enough to count in this year’s summary. Looking for the slow number, no problem. Her songs are listed by beats per second. This release showcases a singer and band arriving at peak performance.
Lena Prima – Blessed with a strong voice and famous pedigree, Lena Prima and the Lena Prima Band demonstrate that hard work doesn’t hurt either. This tight group has provided countless evenings entertaining Carousel Room patrons at the Monteleone Hotel. And that experience pours out in the nearly solid hour of hip-swinging numbers on Live at the Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall. Play this release, close your eyes and transport yourself.
Cha Wa -. With vocals by Creole Wild West Spyboy Honey Banister and J’Wan Boudreaux, grandson of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Funk ‘n’ Feathers is helping to expand the audience for the music of the Mardi Gras Indian — a truly original cultural tradition in New Orleans. The release got a lot of play not only on my show but also other KAOS world music programs in our shared weekday time block. If you’re familiar with Mardi Gras Indian songs, you’ve heard it all before. But not quite this way.
Roddie Romero & the Hub-City All-Stars – I have not been totally faithful to New Orleans on my radio show this year and this group is one reason why I’ve been reaching upriver to Lafayette for additional tunes. The product of boyhood friends Roddie Romero and keyboardist/songwriter Eric Adcock, Gulfstream makes rural Louisiana come so alive you can smell the salt tang of the bayou just by listening to it. (Breaking News – Gulfstream is a 2017 Grammy nominee for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Here’s more about the album.
Darcy Malone and the Tangle – Still Life has a retro Alt Band feel with some fun twists . Clearly, the Tangle is not your typical Frenchmen Street band. But it could only happen in New Orleans. Darcy is the daughter of The Radiator’s guitarist Dave Malone, and the saxophone and keyboards that keep things interesting are by LSU music grad Jagon Eldridge. Here’s your proof that the NOLA music scene continues to grow.
Cowboy Mouth: Speaking of which, this band has been challenging the New Orleans music stereotype for 25 years. The Name of the Band Is… provides new recordings of nine of the band’s regular live show songs and three fresh tracks.The band’s strength continues to be drummer Fred LeBlanc’s sharp and clear vocals that showcases the lyrics, which you want to hear, while still allowing you to rock out.