Checking out the First Week Lineup of the 2022 New Orleans JazzFest

Here’s hoping that the third time really is the charm. After two years of planning great line-ups only to be COVID cancelled, Jazzfest has once again tantalized our live music taste buds with the promise of a New Orleans Spring we haven’t seen since 2019.

This week’s show indulges in that hope by working through some of the local New Orleans acts that will be performing at the Fair Grounds Race Course in the last weekend of April restarting a tradition that ran unbroken from 1970 until two years ago.

To say that this year’s festival is a big (add expletive) deal is an understatement.

This week’s show starts with Don Vappie, a world class banjo player who sings in French and English and helps sustain the Creole sound with his Creole Jazz Serenaders. Every song afterwards is by a musician scheduled to take the stage on that first weekend, including Jon Cleary, Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band, Alexey Marti, Aurora Nealand, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, the Original Pin Stripe Brass Band and Delfeayo Marsalis.

JazzFest is a chance for musicians and music lovers alike to remember and honor those that have died. In the first weekend, special events are scheduled to mark the passing of Ellis Marsalis, Jr. , Dr. John, Spencer Bohren, and George Wein. Also, the Hot 8 Brass Band will perform — a band that has lost too many of its band members, including its bandleader and founder Bennie Pete last summer. You’ll hear Spencer and Bennie in this week’s show.

As usual, the lineup includes non-New Orleans acts such as Lionel Ritchie, the Avett Brothers, Foo Fighters and The Who. But you won’t hear them on my New Orleans music show. Not that I do a particularly good job of covering the over 100 New Orleans area acts that will be performing. I only had time for 26 songs in this two-hour show.

However, you will hear a classic recording by Clarence “Frogman” Henry who will be part of a “New Orleans Classic Recording Revue” with the Dixie Cups and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. And despite the name, its not all jazz so this show’s mix includes the New Orleans Spiritualettes, Cha Wa , Jamie Lynn Vessels and Lakou Mizik which is a Haitian band that has recorded in New Orleans.

Image from the 2022 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival by Terrance Osborne.

Another musician you won’t hear at JazzFest but will certainly see is Jon Batiste. He’s featured in the official festival poster created by Terrance Osborne whose work can be easily seen and purchased at his studio on Magazine Street. Batiste will not be able to make the festival but his spirit will preside. The Osborne image conjures up Batiste’s grammy-nominated song “Freedom” and its accompanying video of dancing in the streets.

Next week I’ll feature music by acts scheduled for the second week including Bon Bon Vivant which is touring the Northwest right now and will be performing in Tacoma on February 2, 2022. Yes, 2/02/2022. And then the next morning, they’ll be in the KAOS studio with me. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!

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Celebrating “Frogman”, Grammy winners & Irish Heritage

This week’s show is crammed with stories and recognitions, starting with the opening track by Louis Armstrong – “Irish Black Bottom” and carrying on with Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s 84th birthday, and grammy wins by the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and Bobby Rush. Go ahead and get it started and then read on.

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five – Irish Black Bottom

I’m not sure what possessed Louis Armstrong to do Percy Venable’s “Irish Black Bottom.” Some have surmised that it was part of his act at the time he recorded it in November 1927 with his Hot Five. Certainly the song’s novelty fits with the sense of humor many associate with Satchmo. It helps to know that Black Bottom refers to a dance craze of that era — which was likely begun as a result of a Jelly Roll Morton song recorded a bit earlier called “Black Bottom Stomp.” Black Bottom refers to a neighborhood in Detroit which was occupied predominantly by African Americans but was named for its fertile dark soil.

The song opens the show and I follow through with a token set of Irish-like songs in honor of a day in which some celebrate Irish Heritage. Marc Gunn, Gina Forsyth, the Zydepunks and the Valparaiso Men’s Chorus represent in that set. I then keep the folk vibe going for one more set with the Tom Paines, Luke Winslow-King and Theresa Andersson, among others.

But then I repeat a short clip from my interview with the New Orleans Nightcrawlers who just won a grammy for their album Atmosphere. In the clip, Matt Perrine talks about how the band mediates between honoring the rich New Orleans music culture and incorporating new elements of interest to the nine members of this band. I follow that up with a couple of songs by Bobby Rush who also just won a grammy — his second in three years. He’s 87 years old.

Speaking of octogenarians, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, who was there when it all happened during the New Orleans R&B boom, turns 84 on Friday. I celebrate his birthday with three songs (the limit according to federal streaming rules).

The real Clarence “Frogman” Henry (left) in a scene from the HBO show “Treme” where he notes how like other early R&B artists, he did not reap the financial benefits of his songs. He turns 84 Friday.

But wait! There’s more. Allen Toussaint sings “Brickyard Blues” a song that was recorded by five different artists when he wrote it in 1974. But Allen recognizes Scottish soul singer Frankie Miller as his inspiration. Here’s the Miller version of Brickyard Blues.

And finally, near the end of this week’s two-hour show, I talk briefly about the Leroy Jones documentary “A Man and His Trumpet” streaming on Netflix. I play two songs by this exceptionally talented and dedicated trumpet player and band leader — perhaps the first member to be recruited by Danny Barker for the famous Fairview Baptist Marching Band. If you love New Orleans music, you should catch this documentary with great stories delivered by Jones as well as Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick Jr., Greg Stafford and Herlin Riley. As promised on the show, his goofy trailer.

Thanks for tuning in. Please subscribe and drop me a note to let me know what you think of the show.