Mouth Watering Jazz Fest Food Inspires This Week’s Show

Perhaps the hardest part about listening to the WWOZ live feed of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is hearing the on-air hosts talk about the food. Shrimp and lump crab ravigote, fried green tomatoes, catfish almondine, Key Lime tart, crawfish strudel — for starters. Listen to today’s show to be subjected to similar punishment with appropriate musical accompaniment.

Crawfish sack and crawfish beignets served by Patton’s Caterers at Jazz Fest this year.

The show starts with the basics of greens, gumbo, red beans and fried fish. Or put in terms of songs: Champion Jack Dupree’s “Cabbage Greens #1,” Rebirth Brass Band’s cover “Shrimp and Gumbo,” Professor Longhair’s “Red Beans” and Charmaine Neville’s inspired version of the the Louis Jordan classic “Saturday Night Fish Fry.”

During the air breaks you’ll hear descriptions of food sold by vendors at Jazz Fest such as fried crab cake with smoked tomato and jalapeno tartar, alligator pie, crabmeat stuff shrimp — just to name a few.

I do songs about catfish stew (Bobby Rush), chicken (C.J. Chenier) and a wide range of other songs from coffee to sweet potatoes.

Crawfish strudel with white chocolate bread pudding served by Cottage Catering at Jazz Fest this year.

At one point, I list off all the dishes served at Jazz Fest that have crawfish in it. There’s lot of them as well as good old spicy boiled crawfish where you “Suck the Heads and Squeeze the Tip” following the Radiator’s song advice.

I also do a sweet set and list of menu items on desserts near the end. So stay with the whole show. And thanks for tuning in.

Hot 8 Brass Band release includes NOLA Banksy art

The name Banksy is world known now after one of his pieces self-shredded during its auction recently.  But the anonymous English street artist was hardly a household name when the Hot 8 Brass Band included his art on 2012 CD release “The Life and Times of  . ”  Get the show started and then read on.

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Banksy street art that appeared in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and feature don the 2012 Hot 8 Brass Band release

Banksy, whose art has appeared on walls throughout the world, visited New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and his work captured the community’s affection.  Abraham Lincoln pushing a shopping cart, a little girl flying a refrigerator and a brass band marching down the street.  In today’s show, I play “Ghost Town” off the Hot 8 release.

But before you get to that song, you’ll hear Seattle-area musician, Del Rey, performing “Going Back to New Orleans,” Champion Jack Dupree with “Yella Pocahontas,” Charmaine Neville and the Iguanas.  To name a few.

Tank and the Bangas, who will be performing in Seattle and Portland in November, are on this show as well doing “Rollercoaster” Live at Gasa Gasa and Kermit Ruffins performs “If I Only Had a Brain.”

I also feature an early R&B set with Little Richard, Leo Price and Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns.  Thanks for tuning and please subscribe so you can be informed of when new shows are available.

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Two early R&B singers celebrated and “One Love”

As best as I can tell, Barbara George and Bobby Mitchell never recorded together but these two New Orleans R&B artists might have crossed paths while cutting records at J&M Studio (Cosimo Matassa).  If they did, they might have noticed they had the same birthdays. Start the show and read on.

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Bobby Mitchell

Born in Algiers on August 16, 1935, Bobby Mitchell was the second of 17 children and might have developed his singing ability just to get noticed among his sibling crowd. In 1950, Mitchell formed the first New Orleans doo wop group, The Toppers.  Their first recording was in 1953 with “I’m Crying” and “Rack “Em Up.” Later, when that group was decimated by the draft, Mitchell recorded with a seven-piece with his biggest hit being “Try Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In 1957, he got on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand with “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” (you will hear that one on this show). But it was Fats Domino’s version that was a bigger hit.  Mitchell suffered early heart problems and retired in the early 60’s.  He became an x-ray technician at Charity Hospital and died on March 17, 1989. I start the show with Mitchell’s “Mama Don’t Allow” and later you’ll hear him singing “Sister Lucy.”

barbara george
Barbara George

 

Barbara George was born in Charity hospital on August 16, 1942. Since she was younger, she didn’t get into the J&M studio until 1961, working under the guidance of Harold Battiste and AFO records. Her most recognizable song is  the number 1 R&B song in its time, “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More).” Later in 1961, AFO produced the one and only Barbara George album “I Know” featuring mostly songs she wrote.  I play “I Know” and a song she recorded in 1968 with Eddie Bo’s help, “Something You Got.”

This show also features some reggae, including two versions Bob Marley’s “One Love” — the first by One Love Brass Band and the second one by The Nevilles performing live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Speaking of Nevilles, Charmaine Neville and her band does a spacey number called “Rocket Nine” or “Rocket V” depending on whether you listen to the recording or read the liner notes.

As always, thanks for tuning in and let me know what you’d like to hear in the future.  Cheers.

Funky Eliza Jane and Satchmo’s famous quote star in today’s show.

“I don’t know, boss. . but I won’t do it again,” is allegedly how Louis Armstrong responded to a pointed question from the president of Okeh records when he asked him who was playing trumpet on a song recorded by a competing label. The song was “Drop that Sack” and you’ll hear it on today’s show.

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Armstrong strayed from his label briefly to record with Vocalion under a band named after his wife Lil Harden.

Helen Gillet’s memorable “De mémoire de Rose opens the show followed by Satchmo’s 1926 recording and a live recording of Big Sam’s Funky Nation at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival doing almost 12 minutes of funk with some familiar touchstones throughout, including “Eliza Jane.”

I do a set of jazz, swing numbers followed by a Latin-inflected number by Charmaine Neville and her band appropriately titled “Dance.”  I break into the new release by Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue and offer up some New Orleans Suspects, Seth Walker, Professor Longhair and Lena Prima.

Near the end of the show catch a great number sung by Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes with the Smoky Greenwell Band followed by Rosie Ledet’s “It Might Be You” from her latest release. If you stay with me long enough, you’ll catch another Helen Gillet number.

Thanks for tuning in.

Happy Holidays – 2017

Here’s the edited version of my holiday show, aired December 21, 2017 on the community radio station, KAOS, 89.3 FM.  Holiday music with a very distinctive New Orleans bent.

Songs by Alex McMurray, Fats Domino, Kermit Ruffins, Charmaine Neville, Theryl “Houseman” Declouet, Smoky Greenwell, Lena Prima, Craig Klein (Bonerama) and many more.

Next post will be my top 10 albums of 2017.  Stay Warm!

Plenty of music for one all-women show but still an imbalance

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.

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The cover photo of The Original Pinettes Brass Band CD – “Finally”

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.

Hot Poop music shop in Walla Walla made for a worthy stop

Go ahead and click the arrow to get my show started before reading the rest.
Okay, so we actually went to Walla Walla to check out the town and the wine scene. But I had spent a pleasurable afternoon at the Hot Poop music store on Main Street several years back so I was anxious to see if it was still thriving.

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Hot Poop owner Jim McGuinn peering over the counter loaded with items

When I noted how much stock was in the store, the owner, Jim McGuinn, joked that it could all be mine for three easy payments.  The store does suffer from a lot of clutter but its fun clutter to poke through, including autographed guitars and 8-track tapes if you make it all the way to the back.

I found some NOLA CDs that weren’t already in my collection, including a 1991 release by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band that I hadn’t seen before.  They also had some Radiator releases — always a positive indicator that I should dig deeper into a store.

Today’s show features choice cut from the music I found there along with some other gems such as a Wynton Marsalis take of Layla (Eric Clapton does assist on that one). with Charmaine Neville performs the eclectic “Leave Room for the Dancers” and I follow that up with Diablo’s Horns’ original Bending Like a Willow Tree.  If you can hang in there through those songs, stick around for a charming version of Don’t Worry, Be Happy with Glen David Anderson doing some humorous vocal responses.

More women are taking the music stage in New Orleans

The obvious struggle by Republican candidates in their most recent debate to think of an American woman deserving to be on the $10 bill once again illustrated the dearth of awareness of women’s role in our history.

This issue is brought home to me almost every time I map out music for my New Orleans show. Perhaps because my knowledge and music library is not as extensive as I would like, I struggle to bring gender balance to my shows, particularly when  I play early jazz, R&B, funk and brass bands. But I also sense that New Orleans is no different than the broader music world where female musicians have struggled to get into the spotlight.

Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, was a pioneer in a male-dominated New Orleans R&B scene.
Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, was a pioneer in a male-dominated New Orleans R&B scene.

Finding music I can play that feature early New Orleans jazz women is pretty much impossible.  I only have a little more luck when I move into the New Orleans R&B era. Lots of great music recorded out of J&M Recording Studio heyday, but with the huge exception of Irma Thomas, and also Shirley Goodman, its mostly guys.

With the help of Jeff Hannusch’s book “The Soul of New Orleans – A Legacy of Rhythm and Blues,” I have learned about Jean Knight (Mr. Big Stuff), Martha Carter,  Mathilda Jones, and Barbara George.  And, of course, the Dixie Cups.

If you don’t recognize some of those names, you’re not alone. Finding their music to play on the radio takes work.

Similarly you might recognize Marva Wright and Charmaine Neville but what about Leigh Harris (Little Queenie) or jazz singer Germaine Bazzle? Many excellent female musicians  worked in New Orleans during the 20th Century but their recordings are sparse and scarce.

Fortunately, change is happening.  While it still doesn’t feel balanced, there is an increasing number of New Orleans-based women musicians who are getting recognized in our new century.  Helen Gillet, Aurora Nealand, Kelcy Mae, and Ingrid Lucia are carving a living out of the NOLA music landscape. Perhaps the most well-known in recent years is Alynda Lee Segarra who is the driving force behind Hurray for the Riff Raff.

And there’s growing recognition.  New Orleans Women In Music, founded in 2007, promotes the careers of women musicians through information, network and other support.

Debbie Davis is a member of the New Orleans Nightingale collective which has help put a spotlight on New Orleans female musicians.
Debbie Davis is a member of the New Orleans Nightingale collective which has help put a spotlight on New Orleans female musicians.

The New Orleans Nightingales is a marketing collective with whom Ingrid Lucia has produced a compilation featuring 19 female musicians.  Here’s the website description: “Steeped in the musical traditions of early American music, the ladies of the New Orleans Nightingales bring new life to this hundred year art form through new compositions, vibrant live performances and a commitment to the idea that traditional jazz and folk music is still evolving.”

I’m going to tip the gender balance scale of my next radio show, leaning heavily on the double X chromosome for my tunes.   Here’s the edited version of the show on Mixcloud.

Portland Blues Festival serves up a sweet NOLA line up

Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival seems to have a serious jones for New Orleans music.

In previous years, the festival has held Second Line parades, filled its dancing stage with Zydeco and Cajun music and featured New Orleans acts such as Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic and the Stooges Brass Band. But this year, as we approach the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, the festival doubled down putting together a stellar New Orleans line up for its Friday (July 3) show.

Yes, we’ll get a return performance by Galactic, a versatile funk and soul band that hit the I-5 Tour as recently as February.  This time, the band will feature Macy Gray on vocals as the band harkens back to its soul and R&B roots when Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet fronted the group. Galactic takes the Brewery Stage at 9 p.m.

Allen Toussaint looking over his shoulder at a Paddlewheeler cruising the Misssissippi while performing at French Quarter Festival this year. He'll be playing by the Willamette River this Friday.
Allen Toussaint looking over his shoulder at a Paddlewheeler cruising the Misssissippi while performing at French Quarter Festival this year. He’ll be playing beside the Willamette River this Friday.

But the headliner for the day is Allen Toussaint (7 p.m. Brewery Stage).  This uber-talented composer, producer and pianist extraordinaire is closely aligned with the New Orleans R&B and funk sound. He was there from the beginning and now at 77, he continues to prove he can do full justice to his amazing legacy of songs.

“Working in a Coal Mine,” “Mother-in-Law,” “Lipstick Traces on a Cigarette,” “Fortune Teller,” “Sneaking Sally through the Alley,” “Night People,” “On Your Way Down,” “Ride Your Pony,” “Yes, We Can” and so many more song that you’ll recognize.  This guy has made a boat load of money from others singing his songs. The pleasant surprise is how ass-kicking good he is when he sings them.

He started his own New Orleans-based record label in the 60’s and he was the first to do a major recording in New Orleans (with Elvis Costello) after Katrina. He’ll have just returned from performing in London when he takes the waterfront stage on July 3 and I’m struck how the Portland setting is so similar to the French Quarter Festival stage where I last saw him perform in April. His band and performance will be as sharp as the suit he’ll be wearing.

Another New Orleans star attraction is Charmaine Neville. Daughter of saxophonist Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers, Charmaine has toured the world but has stayed closer to home in recent years. She and her band will dish up a jazzy soul set at the Brewery Stage starting at 5:15 p.m.

(From Left) Jeff Mercurio, Ben Ellman, Dan Vogel, Jeff Raines and Stanton Moore.
Galactic will perform at the Waterfront Blues Festival on Friday as part of a New Orleans line up.

Likely to hop on the stage with Charmaine is her former band leader now Portland resident, Reggie Houston. This native New Orleans saxophonist has been making Portland a hipper place ever since he called it home in 2004. With over two decades of performing with Fats Domino, you know Houston and his Crescent City Connection band is going to rock the Brewery Stage (3:45 p.m.)

Other highlights include venerable guitarist Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal (First Tech Stage, noon), Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band (First Tech Stage, 8:15 p.m.) and the Dog Hill Stompers (Front Porch Stage, 10 p.m.)

See you there, but if you miss it, I’ll be playing some of what I hear on my show on Monday.  Have a safe Fourth of July.