Normally at this time of year, I do a full show dedicated to Hurricane Katrina, but after doing six such shows it seemed time to adjust. Instead, this week’s show offers one set of music featuring Trombone Shorty, Shamarr Allen, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.
It’s not that I don’t think Hurricane Katrina has lost its significance but with an earthquake in Haiti, frenzied evacuations in Afghanistan and a persistent plague across the globe combined with wildfires and other increasingly dangerous events, it seemed like a good year to tone it down.
And focus on the start of school instead with the help of Davis Rogan’s very funny “Mr. Rogan” about his life as a music teacher during the day and New Orleans musician at night. Larry Williams follows that up with “Little School Girl” and Shamarr Allen returns, this time with his son Jarrel Allen and friend Dinerall Shavers (son of the the late drummer for Hot 8 Brass Band) to do “Ima holla back” about doing your homework before playing on your Nintendo. Check out their video below.
Later sets include New Birth Brass Band, the Original Pinettes and grammy-winning New Orleans Nightcrawlers. I also play a vinyl track from Keith Richards debut solo album from 1988 featuring Ivan Neville, Michael Doucet and Buckwheat Zydeco accordionist Stanley Dural. Another vinyl track offers the hard to find recording of “Drink Jax Beer” by Ramsey McLean & the Survivors (with Charmaine Neville singing).
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The news was getting to me when I took the air today (August 19, 2021). JazzFest and French Quarter Fest were cancelled and life once again seems to be backpedaling as COVID rears its ugly head. So I guess I was a little grumpy at the start. Hear for yourself.
To get out of my funk, I turned to my reliable performers: Al Hirt, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Beausoleil, as well as some strong new contenders such as the New Orleans Dancehall Quartet and the Smoking Time Jazz Club.
Jon Cleary’s “Doin’ Bad, Feelin’ Good,” Bon Bon Vivant’s “Dancing in the Darkness” and Dr. John’s “What Goes Around Comes Around” provided some necessary mental adjustment. By the time, Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors chanted out “Sing My Song” I was swinging the other way.
And then Davis Rogan called from the sunny white sands of Grayton Beach, Florida. He’s coming to Seattle, Olympia and Portland next week for house concerts. You can hear our chat starting around the 55 minute mark. And if you want to attend the Olympia show, let me know.
This show also features two fine musicians from Shreveport: David Egan and Buddy Flett. The New Orleans Swinging Gypsies, featuring a tap danced rhythm, does Irving Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby,” Shamarr Allen performs the War classic “The World is a Ghetto” (He also performs in the region this week.)
Sierra Green, Coolbone, Aurora Nealand and Champion Jack Dupree handle the anchor leg of the show. Thanks for tuning in.
As COVID cases begin to rise again, bands that thought the coast was clear are starting to announce their tour plans, or in some cases, already getting out there and performing. This week’s show features those New Orleans acts with plans to tour the Northwest as well as new records released in recent months.
There’s other music in this two-hour show (featuring the KMRE edit version), including Helen Gillet, Kevin Sekhani, Josh Garrett, Debbie Davis and Josh Paxton, Egg Yolk Jubilee to cite a few.
The funky Meters jump on around the 35 minute mark to do a live version of “Fire on the Bayou” from the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Once again, COVID has cancelled this very important event to the New Orleans economy. The news sucks but the song is good.
Coco Robicheaux’s “Working Man” kicks off this week’s musical exploration of our love-hate relationship with working and, more specifically, holding a job. Inspired by our worldwide collective midlife crisis over how we value (and pay for) work, the show can be heard right now using the player below.
Jobs – Can’t live without them and often can’t live with them. Shotgun Jazz Band (“Get a Working Man”) and Chubby Newsome (“Find a Job”) lay down the first part of that equation. And then Spider Murphy’s “Mr. Money Talks” and Jon Cleary’s “Viva La Money” pile on.
I get up in the morning and kiss my love goodbye and I come home in the evening in time to say goodnight.
Coco Robicheaux “Working Man”
The horns of Bonerama support Billy Pierce’s “Paycheck to Paycheck” while Kid Eggplant puts a more modern twist on the job scene ( “building a website for my business”) with “Workin’ Stiff.”
Most musicians have to work day jobs . . .at least initially. But even after Lee Dorsey hit it big with “Working in the Coal Mine” he worked at his body repair shop. Galactic does an instrumental version of that classic number in this show. You’ll hear Dorsey sing “Work, Work, Work” and “Gotta Find a Job.”
Mem Shannon’s “Payin’ My Dues” explores the frustrations of being a musician “Drove 1200 miles to play a club and the sign on the door said this joint just shut down. . .” Keith Stone sings about how its “Time to Move On” and Davis Rogan, with some indelicate radio necessary editing by me, airs out his grievances with three of his former employers with help from Cheeky Blakk in “I Quit.” This Davis original inspired the HBO “Treme” scene where you actually see and hear Cheeky Blakk sing the chorus the way it was meant to be sung (when not on the radio.) And here’s the original unedited Davis Rogan version.
It all degenerates from there in a cannabis (“Let’s Go Smoke Some Pot” by Dash Rip Rock), gin infused (“I Got Loaded” by Creole String Bean”) and drug-induced (“Medicated” by Honey Island Swamp Band”) blur.
One of the biggest differences now that I’m back doing live shows in the KAOS studio (aside from more verbal screwups) is the ability to use the turntable. This week’s program spins some collectible 45s, celebrates Larry Garner’s birthday, relives DJ Davis’ memories of his ’89 Camry and witnesses Jello Biafra’s take on a Dr. John classic
But first, we get in the zone with Los Po-Boy -Citos’ “Cool Man” with Naughty Professor, Robert Ward and Charlie Wooten extending the vibe into the next set.
Larry Garner built a solid reputation in Europe as a blues musicians but he’s never forgotten his home, Baton Rouge, or the issues of the everyday person. His songs are personal and relatable. I barely scratch the surface of his music catalog, playing one song from each of the three records in the KAOS library. But it should be more than enough for you to want to learn more about him.
While sharing some shade beside Ward Lake on one of our “heat dome” days, I had the opportunity to chat with Calvin Johnson (the Northwest one, not the New Orleans CJ). Shortly after, he loaned me a box of singles (that play on turntables at 45 rpm) from independent labels Swallow, Cajun Jamboree and Crazy Cajun records. Like Johnson’s K Records , these studios helped bring music to the world that might not otherwise have been recorded. On this show you’ll hear Marc Savoy, Rodney LeJune, Rockin’ Sidney, Joe Bonsall and the Orange Playboys, and Vin Bruce.
Last week’s show included a fun number by Dee-1 called “No Car Note” where he sings about how loves his ’98 Honda — largely because its paid for. This week, you’ll hear DJ Davis Rogan (who is a bit older than Dee-1) sing the praises of his ’89 Camry. It’s my nod to my gearhead listeners.
Other treats in this week’s Gumbo YaYa include Jello Biafra performing “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” with an ad hoc New Orleans band led by Fred LeBlanc (I also play a track by Egg Yolk Jubilee which is the horn section for Biafra’s performance) , Bonerama doing Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times” and Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint’s “River in Reverse” collaboration.
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.
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.”
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!
The 2020 voting season is upon us. Every voter in Washington should have received a ballot by now so I’ve compiled for today’s show (and next week’s) a soundtrack for completing your ballot or, if you live in one of those states that hasn’t mastered mail balloting yet, music to help you wait in line to vote.
This show includes songs of optimism such as Eric Lindell’s “Love and Compassion” which he released at the start of the Obama administration as well as the less rosy (but still oddly upbeat)”Ship is Sinking” — a new release by Bon Bon Vivant.
Yes, I placed Delfeayo Marsalis’ “Make America Great Again,” George Porter Jr.’s “Careful Who You Idolize” and Kevin Sekhani’s “Ballad of a Lonely Clown” together on purpose. I make no endorsements on this show.
My world affair set includes C.J. Chenier’s “We Gotta Have Peace” and Louis Ludwig’s “God Hates Flags” along with a rare broadcast of “Whistleblower” by The Monocle (aka Aurora Nealand).
Davis Rogan jumps in with his latest song “Joe Biden Will Do Just Fine” where he urges all of us who supported one of the many other Democratic candidates for the nomination to suck it up and vote for Joe and Kamala. By the way Davis, I also was a Jesse Jackson supporter, elected as one of his alternate precinct delegates back when this state still held caucuses.
There’s an economy set as well with Leyla McCalla’s “Money is King,” Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s rendition of “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further,” The Big Dixie Swingers with “I Haven’t Got a Pot” and I reach far back into the last century for Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Please Mr. Nixon.”
You can be assured that this show does not harangue you about voting. If you’re reading this, you don’t need to be convinced. On KAOS, my show follows Democracy Now! — how could you listen to that show and not want to vote. This is simply about entertaining and providing some inspiration while you ponder your choices for 2020. Let me know what you think.
Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing with a show until its all put together. Then it’s like a musical version of a Rorschach test. Except there’s no need for a psychology degree to interpret the opening song by Bon Bon Vivant with “It’s a hard way of living when you’re dead. . .when you’re living like you’re already dead.” (You can hear that song right now when you start the show in the box below. )
It’s not surprising that the longer the COVID period stretches on, the more I think about Prince Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe. Not that I’m ready to leave the castle. Or give up on masks and hand sanitizer. But the castle doesn’t have to be a prison.
The New Orleans Suspects catch that spirit of escape with “Neighborhood Strut” followed by All That, a band featuring Kirk Joseph and Davis Rogan, taking us back to the 1970’s with “Roll With It.” Sunpie Barnes declares”I don’t want no more of dem black beans, cornbread, molasses” in “Down in the Bottom.” Later, after Irvin Mayfield’s “The Elder Negro Speaks” serves as a recognition for the late Congressman John Lewis (who fortunately didn’t accept the status quo), Cyril Neville and the Royal Southern Brotherhood sing their protest anthem “Stand Up.”
With the ability to gather in front of live music gone for the time being, we live in the era of virtual festivals. Which does have the advantage allowing us to experience New Orleans without getting on a plane. I plug the upcoming Satchmo SummerFest which will be doing Louis Armstrong inspired cooking demonstrations on local television and musical performances shared on the festival’s Facebook live page on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2. The annual festival is in honor of Louis Armstrong’s birthday. “Yes, I’m in the Barrel” a 1925 Armstrong Hot Five recording heralds this event in the show.
Other highlights of this week’s program include a 10-minute plus version of “Hold ‘Em Joe” featuring bluegrass and New Orleans musicians and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux – performing before a live audience at the Maple Leaf Bar. Spencer Bohren covers Hank Williams’ “Mind Your Own Business.” Allday Radio directs us to “Get Over Me, I’m Over You.” Terrance Simien and his Zydeco band performs “Johnny Too Bad.” And much more. It’s two hours of music from New Orleans. Thanks for tuning in.
Shamarr Allen wants to keep you in shape for when Second Lines return. This means today’s show kicks off with”Quarantine and Chill” and Allen’s exhortation that “just because you’re stuck in the house, don’t mean you can’t . . .show me that footwork!”
Get my show started and I’ll fill you in on the rest of the program’s line up.
Four more fine New Orleans artists help me out with calling the music this week, starting with Debbie Davis, former member of the Pfister Sisters. Davis has just released her second record with pianist Josh Paxton t– Interesting Times. She introduces us to her new album (about 5 minutes into the show) with “Other Than Everything, Everything’s Great” and “Will It Go Round in Circles.” She sings two more times in the set — David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” from her latest record and Lou Reed’s “After Hours” from an earlier project — Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers.
Lena Prima comes on (at about 38 minutes into the show) to talk about how she’s been doing during the quarantine. As you can see from the picture, she’s been busy making masks. In her set, you’ll hear songs from three of her albums — the title track “Since the Storm”written by her husband who leads her band, “Jump for Joy” from her album of original songs Starting Something and a live recording of a classic pulled from her father’s songbook, “Scuba Diver.”
You will meet Sierra Green at about the 50 minute mark. Sierra Green & the Soul Machine recently received Offbeat Magazine‘s Best Emerging Artist award. You’ll hear two tracks from her self-titled debut record and, just for fun, I finish that set with Glen David Andrews powering through a Galactic number (You Don’t Know). If you were waiting to dance, wait no more!
Davis Rogan was scheduled to perform at Octapas in Olympia next month but obviously those plans are no longer. Like just about every professional musician with a mortgage, Davis has been learning how to get his music and his tip jar out on the Internet. You can catch his live performances on his Facebook page Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 4 p.m. (Left Coast Times). Rogan joins the show about 65 minutes in and introduces his latest single “Mardi Gras Chicken” followed by “No Blues” and “Fly Away.”
I throw in a set of Zydeco and Cajun along with a long string of brass band music kicked off by Chuck Carbo’s “Hurt Coming On.” But before I do that, I make a pitch for supporting community radio. My show airs on Thursdays on KAOS and Fridays on KMRE. Listener support is essential to these stations continued survival.
As for me, I just want to smile and you can make me smile by subscribing to this blog. I’ll be back next week.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation visits the Northwest this week so this show features two of his songs and a short interview with the band’s charismatic frontman Sam Williams. Let’s get started and I’ll tell you more.
Big Sam just got back from a tour of Spain when I talked with him today about his trip to the west coast. He leaves tomorrow (Friday, August 3rd) for San Francisco. He’ll play Mississippi Studio in Portland on Monday, August 6 and the Nectar Lounge in Seattle on Tuesday, August 7.
We talked about how he lost his prized trombone when his touring van got broken into last time he came out to the west. We also talked about how Wendell Pierce copied some of his moves and his style when he played Antoine Batiste in the HBO TV show Treme. In fact the broad outline of the character was patterned after Mr. Williams.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s new release Songs in the Key of Funk delivers on his earlier promise to include more dance songs. In this show, I play “What’s My Name (Big Sam” and “Buzzin.” But to get those songs and the interview, you have to listen to few other sets including a set of Led Zeppelin cover songs featuring a sousaphone on “Dyer Maker” and a three trombone salute to “When the Levee Breaks.”
Rolling with the HBO theme, Davis Rogan sings about the hassles of fake pot when acting in a song called “Prop Weed.” Also, this show includes my favorite version of St. James Infirmary, a rocking version led by Clint Maedgen and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band