If you’re looking for the song that perfectly captures what it’s like to live in the kind of heat we have endured during this record breaking summer check out the first song on this week’s show. . . But stick around for ice cream and fireworks.
If the heat has caused you to change your shirt or take more than one bath in a day then you’ll appreciate “Dog Days” written and sung by Leigh Harris, better known as Little Queenie. In addition to her steamy lyrics, the song features a gravity-defying sousaphone performance by Matt Perrine. The song is the opening track from her 2006 Polychrome Junction.
The show bounces between the twin themes of Independence Day and Summer with songs like Dee-1’s “No Car Note” expressing the economic freedom of owning a vehicle that is paid for to George Lewis’ “Ice Cream.” Later, Louis Armstrong and his Hot 5 show off their improvisational “Fireworks” from a 1928 recording.
Stay with the show and you’ll hear “Freedom” — the live 1991 Mardi Gras performance by Rebirth Brass Band in honor of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Louie Ludwig sings “God Hates Flags” and Dr. John and Tab Benoit do “We Ain’t Gonna Lose No More.”
Henry Gray does “Cold Chills” and Dr. Michael White covers “Happy Together.” Gal Holiday sings “Found Myself Instead” followed by The Soul Rebels with “Living for the City.” In short, I’m back to my usual mix of jazz, country, blues, rock, and funk.
Have a safe holiday and remember Little Queenie’s words: “It’s not the heat, its the humidity.”
This week’s show starts off with a Django Reinhardt inspired song but then takes a deep dive into some dark covers of songs by Marianne Faithfull, the Kinks and Dr. John.
Zazou City starts the show with “Django in the Jungle” followed by “Midnight Blues” by Tuba Skinny. Then Antoine Diel and his powerful voice takes over with “Strange Weather” — the song written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan for Marianne Faithfull and inspired by Faithfull’s struggle with drug rehab and a relationship that ended with her partner committing suicide.
The songs get a bit more upbeat after that . . . at least for a while But then Sabertooth Swing does a version of “Alcohol” by The Kinks. “Sad memories I cannot recall. Who thought I would fall a slave to demon alcohol.”
You’ll hear a rarely played song by Frankie Lowery “I Ain’t Had No Sleep” followed by Chuck Carbo’s swinging but somewhat depressing “Average Kind of Guy.” We dip into Crescent Gold (Allen Toussaint’s R&B dream team recording) for “Junco Partner.” By the time the show cleared the hour mark, it just seemed natural to play Dee-1’s reggae-inflected “Fighting Thru Depression.” Don’t worry. It’s a positive song.
If you can make it that far, stick around for the 12 and half minute version of Dr. John’s legendary “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” featuring Jello Biafra and a smartly recruited group of New Orleans rockers. No deep message here. Just fun.
As for the show, its not nearly as depressing as my description sounds. I hope you enjoy the show. Please subscribe.
Here’s this year’s survey of New Orleans music releases that deserve your attention. This is music I played on my radio show Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. (By the way, so many release, here’s Part Two )
Eric Lindell – When I listen to Matters of the Heart, I imagine an artist on a serious Zoloft high. When I first started playing this CD on KAOS, it seemed liked every track bubbled over with happy feelings and love. But there’s deep stuff as well on this release that harken back to Lindell’s blues days. This is a strong release that just makes me wish even more he would break out of his habit of only touring sunny places and get his happy butt up to the Northwest.
Honey Island Swamp Band – When Hurricane Katrina stirred a serious dose of New Orleans talent into our national musical melting pot, four New Orleans musicians found themselves in San Francisco and formed this band. Demolition Dayis its second full-length album and the first recorded in New Orleans — under the direction of North Mississippi All-Stars Luther Dickinson, who also co-produced Lindell’s release. The CD captures the essence of the band’s jam band live personae while delivering tight singular songs that define the band’s self-described genre “Bayou Americana.”
John “Papa” Gros – After over a dozen years fronting Papa Grows Funk, which anchored the Monday slot at the famed Maple Leaf Bar, this standout keyboardist has produced a solo release that reflects the wide range of his talent and interests. River’s on Fire has it all: rock, funk, reggae, a love song, and a serious nod to mentor and New Orleans saint, Allen Toussaint. I hope new releases become an annual Papa ritual.
Benny Turner – With his fourth release, this veteran bluesman takes us back with a set of previously recorded but hard to find funky, blues numbers, including a duet with Marva Wright, the powerhouse New Orleans blues and gospel singer who died in 2010. Turner played bass and managed Ms. Wright’s band for 20 years. What a treat it is to hear her voice again on “Pity on this Lovesick Fool.” The CD’s title track “When She’s Gone” is about another important woman in Turner’s life, his mother
Dee-1– As a card-carrying AARP member, I’m not qualified to review rap. But David Augustine Jr., who performs under the name Dee-1, doesn’t care because this inclusive artist erects a big enough tent for us all to be in and listen to his stories. Originally attracted by the humor he expresses in paying off his student loan (Sallie Mae Back) and his love for his aging but paid for car (NO Car Note), I find myself drawn to the many other fine tracks on his 2016 mixtape Slingshot David– released on the heels of the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge this summer.
Leyla McCalla – Singing in Haitian Creole, French and English and accompanied by her own haunting cello playing, Leyla McCalla digs deep into the roots tying Haiti and New Orleans together. A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey is an exploration of the oppressed and the oppressor and an excellent follow up to her previous release where she put music to the words of Langston Hughes.
The Roamin’ Jasmin –Taylor Smith, leader and bass player of The Roamin’ Jasmine, once again demonstrates with his band’s second release his genius at fresh, upbeat arrangements of obscure blues, jazz, rockabilly and R&B tunes. An amazing achievement for this young New Orleans transplant. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that his five original numbers, including the title track Blues Shuffle Heart, are quite good.
Meschiya Lake –She is such a kick. In fact, you and your partner will be kicking up your heels on the living room rug every time you play Bad Kids Club, released December of last year but close enough to count in this year’s summary. Looking for the slow number, no problem. Her songs are listed by beats per second. This release showcases a singer and band arriving at peak performance.
Lena Prima – Blessed with a strong voice and famous pedigree, Lena Prima and the Lena Prima Band demonstrate that hard work doesn’t hurt either. This tight group has provided countless evenings entertaining Carousel Room patrons at the Monteleone Hotel. And that experience pours out in the nearly solid hour of hip-swinging numbers on Live at the Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall. Play this release, close your eyes and transport yourself.
Cha Wa -. With vocals by Creole Wild West Spyboy Honey Banister and J’Wan Boudreaux, grandson of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Funk ‘n’ Feathers is helping to expand the audience for the music of the Mardi Gras Indian — a truly original cultural tradition in New Orleans. The release got a lot of play not only on my show but also other KAOS world music programs in our shared weekday time block. If you’re familiar with Mardi Gras Indian songs, you’ve heard it all before. But not quite this way.
Roddie Romero & the Hub-City All-Stars – I have not been totally faithful to New Orleans on my radio show this year and this group is one reason why I’ve been reaching upriver to Lafayette for additional tunes. The product of boyhood friends Roddie Romero and keyboardist/songwriter Eric Adcock, Gulfstream makes rural Louisiana come so alive you can smell the salt tang of the bayou just by listening to it. (Breaking News – Gulfstream is a 2017 Grammy nominee for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Here’s more about the album.
Darcy Malone and the Tangle – Still Life has a retro Alt Band feel with some fun twists . Clearly, the Tangle is not your typical Frenchmen Street band. But it could only happen in New Orleans. Darcy is the daughter of The Radiator’s guitarist Dave Malone, and the saxophone and keyboards that keep things interesting are by LSU music grad Jagon Eldridge. Here’s your proof that the NOLA music scene continues to grow.
Cowboy Mouth: Speaking of which, this band has been challenging the New Orleans music stereotype for 25 years. The Name of the Band Is… provides new recordings of nine of the band’s regular live show songs and three fresh tracks.The band’s strength continues to be drummer Fred LeBlanc’s sharp and clear vocals that showcases the lyrics, which you want to hear, while still allowing you to rock out.