Funk & a Parade of R&B Masters Make the Gumbo

Johnny Adams could and did sing just about anything and thanks to a wide assortment of recordings, you can hear him masterfully handle blues, gospel, funk, r&b and country. Today’s show demonstrates his upper register as he accompanies a driving guitar riff backed up by organ and horns from a B-side funk recording at the Sea-Saint Studios in 1978, called “Chasing Rainbows.”. It does a great job of introducing the rest of the music that you will hear when you start the player right below. (You can do it now and still read the rest of this.)

Cosimo Matassa, who saw thousands of singers stream through his French Quarter recording studio in his day, believed Adams to be the best because of his range. But I also suspect Matassa liked him because Adams was genuinely a good person who had to work hard for every bit of success he had. Jay Mazza in Up Front and Center describes how Adams would almost run off the stage after each set into the audience to thank people for coming to see him sing. Adams died in 1998 of prostate cancer.

The cover of Johnny Adams After All the Good is Gone. The title track was paired with “Chasing Rainbows” and released as a single in 1978.

Another gospel-trained singer, Chuck Carbo, sings a soulful number called “Black Widow” shortly into the first full set. He’s followed by Jon Cleary with “Unputdownable.” Paula and the Pontiacs and Big Al & the Heavyweights also weigh in on that set. Stay with that first set long enough and you’ll hear Arsene Delay cover the Stones “Miss You” backed up by the Charlie Wooten Project. (I like her interpretation.)

A reminder that Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa plays music from New Orleans but I make exception for other fine Louisiana musicians, including Carol Fran and BeuoSoleil who you’ll also hear later in the show.

Another R&B highlight is Joe Diamond singing Gossip, Gossip – an Allen Toussaint production where you can hear Toussaint talking briefly in the beginning and end in a simulation of gossip.. (He does it well!)

The Hackberry Ramblers bring on “Poor Hobo” and I pair that song with Gal Holiday’s “Last to Leave.” I also throw in a side of Creole String Beans in that set along with the Radiators making sure that we “Never Let Your Fire Go Out.”

To cap off the parade of R&B senior statesmen, you’ll hear Lee Dorsey with “Wonder Woman” along with a genuine 60’s throwback by Lydia Marcelle “Everybody Dance.” I think you’ll like it.

The show finishes with Bon Bon Vivant’s “Pinkerton” in recognition of the band’s one-year celebration of streaming live weekly shows from their Facebook feed — which also appears on my Facebook page as well every Sunday at 6 p.m. (PST)

Bon Bon Vivant performing from their “living room” as they’ve been doing almost every Sunday for a year. Catch their one year retrospective show this Sunday at 6 p.m. on their Facebook page.

Love, Beads & Mardi Gras Chicken

Valentines Day and Fat Tuesday are once again closely aligned to allow for a show of bittersweet love songs and songs for a bittersweet Mardi Gras. And for good measure, a chicken named “Renard”tossed into the radio show pot.

Once again, the nomadic Easter, which moves around based on the proximity of the full moon to the spring equinox, has caused Mardi Gras to land close to Valentine’s Day. So I’ve mashed them together with an hour of love songs and hour of Mardi Gras tunes. Read on and listen on (player is above) for another mash up story.

Charlie Gabriel, vocalist and clarinetist, on “I Think I Love You.” (Photo – American Routes, WWNO Public Radio)

Love songs, like their subject, can have a sharp edge – as evidenced by my opening track from Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Clarinetist Charlie Gabriel sings the band’s original song “I Think I Love You” which at least starts off sounding like love is reciprocated. But then, the flowers die. Fortunately, Camile Baudoin, guitarist for the Radiators, follows up with the more optimistic “It’s You I Love.”

This Valentine show seemed like a good time for a rare Gumbo YaYa airing of Aaron Neville’s big hit “Tell It Like It Is” — the song that turned his career around and an anthem for those who no longer wish to have their heart stomped on. The theme carries on with Yvette Landry & the Jukes (“I Need Somebody Bad Tonight”), Ingrid Lucia (“My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms”), Shotgun Jazz Band (“I Love You So Much It Hurts”), Clarence “Frogman” Henry (“I Don’t Know Why But I Do”), and Donna Angelle’s crush song for Boozoo Chavis, “Old Man’s Sweetheart.” And somewhere in there, you’ll hear an excellent cover of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” by Gal Holiday.

The turn toward Mardi Gras happens after Louis Armstong and Lil Hardin do “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” – a love song despite the damage done by lyrics written over a decade after the recording that actually made “barbecue” barbecue.

Aaron’s brother Art was 16 when he sang with the Hawkettes on the classic “Mardi Gras Mambo” — the song that kicks off the second hour of the show. All the songs in that set are great but I want to draw attention to the less-often heard “Hey Mardi Gras, Here I Am” by Chuck Carbo who grew up in the Zion City part of New Orleans in 1930’s and sings about Mardi Gras in an R&B swinging style.

Another highlight is the voice of Davis Rogan who comes on at about 90 minutes into the show to introduce a song he wrote with his wife Stephanie, “Mardi Gras Chicken.” Rogan, who earlier in his musical career formed a band that blended hip hop with New Orleans brass and funk, checked another item off his mash-up bucket list with “Mardi Gras Chicken”– portraying the Cajun/Creole Mardi Gras tradition known as Courir de Mardi Gras or Grand Courir with a New Orleans Mardi Gras brass band sound — including a bass line originated by Tuba Fats and performed by fellow Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band alumn Kirk Joseph. The song follows the fortunes of “Renard” the chicken who is chased by Courir revelers led by “Louie.”

Davis Rogan as “Louie” and Stephanie Rogan as the wily “Renard” re-enacting their “Mardi Gras Chicken” song during last year’s Mardi Gras celebration. (Courtesy of the Rogans)

The show finishes with a few songs depicting and honoring the highly original cultural phenomenon that can be witnessed in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day (If you’re lucky) – Black Masking Indians.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras to you all. Thanks for tuning in. Let me know what you think of the show and consider subscribing using the widget in the right hand column. Cheers!

Recognizing New Orleans Veterans, a few Peace Songs

This week’s show is a Gumbo YaYa send up of Louisiana musicians whose careers intersected with the military in honor of Veterans Day. Please be advised that while I honor our veterans, I do not honor war.

The show starts with Louis Prima’s rendition of “White Cliffs of Dover” – a WW II era song that uses the air battle over Britain following the fall of France as its backdrop. A scary time for the world.

My earliest experience with a war veteran is my father, a professor and administrator at Tulane whose life was punctuated and shortened by anxiety episodes that were eventually traced to his two years as a blimp pilot during World War II.

Veterans pay a price for our collective foreign policy actions and we owe them for the burden they carry. Today, you’ll hear the music of those Louisiana musicians who served in the military while also spinning music that seeks a more peaceful approach to our conflicts.

Saxophonist Herb Hardesty served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

The first vet you’ll hear is Ellis Marsalis Jr. who was a member of the Marine Corps. And while the next number is by Fats Domino, his song features the rocking saxophone of Herb Hardesty a WW II member of the Tuskegee Airmen — the all-black 99th Flying Squadron.

You also hear Lloyd Price, whose musical career was red hot when he was drafted and sent to Korea. By the time Price returned to the music scene, Little Richard and many others had grabbed the limelight. 

Lloyd Price was hitting the charts with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” when he was sent to Korea.

Lee Dorsey and Dale Hawkins both served on Navy destroyers. Dorsey was injured in an air attack during World War II. Hawkins lied about his age and served during the Korean War. Edgar Blanchard served in Europe in World War II. Rockin’ Tabby Thomas was in the Army between World War II and the Korean War. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was in the Army Corps of Engineers.

Al “Carnival Time” Johnson lost legal control of his hit song during his stint with the Army at Fort Bliss. Red Alvin Tyler and Eddie Bo also served in the Army. Chuck Carbo was in the Coast Guard. Paul Gayten directed an Army band during his military service. Al Hirt was in the service during World War II and played the bugle (no surprise there).

Because the draft ended, its harder to find younger musicians with military service. However, Derrick Moss, drummer and co-founder of Soul Rebels Brass Band, references his Air Force Reserve service on the band’s website. You’ll hear music from all these veterans, and more.

Smoky Greenwell’s “Power of Peace,” Louis Ludwig’s “World Without War,” Black Bayou Construkt’s “Jones for War,” Dr. John’s “Lay My Burden Down,” Gina Forsyth “4th of July,” the Subdudes’ “Lonely Soldier,” Meschiya Lake’s “I’ll Wait for You” and other songs wrap around the songs of these veterans with the message that the best way we can honor war veterans is to avoid creating more of them.

By the way, I did a similar show three years ago. And my list of veteran musicians has grown since that show . . .as it will when I next to do this show. For instance, I’ve just learned Dennis Paul Williams, artist and guitarist with Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas served as a Marine in Japan. Also, Allen Toussaint was drafted by the Army in 1963 and Eddie Edwards served in the Army from July 1918 to March 1919.Thank you for listening.

2019 Mardi Gras show makes the music still feel fresh

Today’s show finds that magic balance between delivering the classic Mardi Gras feel while still being fresh. Get it started and you’ll see what I mean. (you can click the arrow in the box below and still read on)

Even if you are tired of hearing Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” you can’t help but appreciate how much rhythm and action he packs into less than three minutes. The version that starts the show is the 1959 New Orleans recording featuring Mac Rebennack (before his Dr. John days) on guitar.

The first full set features Los Hombres Calientes (Irvin Mayfield and Bill Summers group) doing “Mardi Gras Bayou” followed by Kermit Ruffin’s “Do the Fat Tuesday” and Chuck Carbo’s rarely played “Hey Mardi Gras (Here I Am).”

Krewe of Muses Parade

The musical Nine Lives has a scathing critique of the Rex Parade crowd with the song “King of Mardi Gras” which opens the next set followed by Louie Ludwig’s “The Things You’ve Done On Mardi Gras Day” — just released this carnival season. The set finishes with Lena Prima’s original song “Muses Shoeses” inspired by the Krewe of Muses parade.

Al Hirt provides some fast paced transition to Mardi Gras Indian songs, starting with the “in the streets” recording of Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles followed by some fancied up numbers by Bo Dollis (with some help on the last number by Galactic).

We take a trip out to the swamps for some cajun style Mardi Gras before returning to New Orleans and pulling from Lil Queenie’s new album which features a spoken word opening to her classic “My Darlin’ New Orleans.”

Some dance numbers, a few more Mardi Gras tunes and we finish with a different version of Professor Longhair performing “Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Thanks for tuning in. Stay listening by subscribing to this blog. Cheers.

Gumbo YaYa serving thick in jazz, spiced with Carbo

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.”

carboStay 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.