Gumbo Ya Ya Plays Country Music

I’ve been so enjoying watching the Ken Burn’s PBS documentary on Country Music that this week features nearly an hour of country music from Louisiana. Get on the hayride by starting the show (click sideways arrow below)

It seems you can learn a lot about love from country music (which was known on the Billboard charts as “hillbilly” at the same time that R&B music was categorized as “race” music.) Exhibit A is the opening song by Rocket Morgan. Known for his rockabilly, Rocket bares his heart with the forlorn song a “Too High a Price (to Pay for Love).”

It’s been fun watching Gal Holiday’s career as she steadfastly occupies the two-step country western dance crowd in New Orleans clubs. She kicks off the first set with her refined sound. Ken Swartz kicks up the pace a bit more with his country-inflected “Smile Away the Blues.” And the set finishes with the early 20th century retro sound of the Big Dixie Swingers.

The Burns documentary drives home the importance of the clear channel powerful radio stations that blasted country music throughout the country. Most major markets had some sort of country show with the most well known coming from WSM’s Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Hank Williams got his break in playing the Opry after being the star on the Louisiana Hayride broadcast out of Shreveport Louisiana.

Yvette Landry, who lives and performs in the Lafayette area, is an excellent example of how Swamp Pop, country, cajun and blues all come together. Her fine voice is on display with “Friday Night Special” – a song that drives home the point that country music is about the story. She is followed up nicely by The Deslondes performing “Heavenly Home.” Werly Fairburn, who grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry, finishes that set. Later, the talented Alex McMurray channels Waylon Jennings with “Texas Again.”

The back half of the show is a mix of music including two brass band numbers and Kermit Ruffins getting serious with “West Indies Jazz Dance.”

Thanks for tuning in.