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.
We are all seeing more smiles these days as the vaccinated unveil their beaming faces. And more live music is getting scheduled! This week’s show gets into all that and much more. Let’s start with Shotgun Jazz Band’s “Smiles” which you can hear right now with the player below.
Over the last year, we’ve had to do it all with our eyes and eyebrows (. . .and ears for those with that kind of dexterity). Now we can add our mouths to our nonverbal repertoire. That can be good for those who are ready to strip off the cloth, but, not so good for those who appreciated, and benefitted from, having literally a “guarded” expression.
Eric Lindell knows what I’m talking about and you will too when you hear his “The Look.” Dr. John with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band follows up with “When You’re Smiling;” Buckwheat Zydeco, with Dwight Yoakum chiming in, sings “Hey, Good Lookin'” and the set ends with Chester Zardis and the New Orleans Footwarmers doing “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile” a song that first appeared in a 1931 Merrie Melodies cartoon short. Zardis was a pioneer in the slap stand-up bass and probably would have been better known had he done the Chicago-New York thing. Instead, he stayed close to home. He was born 121 years ago this week.
I play a full set, nearly 20 minutes, of New Birth Brass Band songs — largely because of tumbling onto Hot 8 Brass Band’s “Milwaukee Fat” which is dedicated to Kerwin James, the sousaphonist for New Birth. James was both a survivor and victim of Hurricane Katrina. He escaped the flooded city in 2005 with his instrument but suffered a stroke a few months later. His death set off a spontaneous musical parade in his old neighborhood, the Treme, which in turn resulted in an invasion of police cars to shut the unpermitted event down. Rebirth Brass Band snare drummer Derrick Tabb and trombonist/singer Glen David Andrews were arrested for disturbing the peace. Many have argued that this conflict signaled a sea change in post-Katrina New Orleans as newcomers moving into the city clashed with historic mores of the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States.
The important thing to know for your ear is that some damn good brass band music is played. In all the New Birth songs, you can feel the power of Kerwin James’ horn.
I’ve been diving into the KAOS vinyl vault and coming up with some gems. I do a Balfa set starting with the brothers in New York, then one by Dewey and his group and then finally one by his daughter and her group. The first two are on vinyl. All three feature excellent Cajun fiddling.
I also play the title track from Dirty Dozen’s third record “Voodoo.” The Dirty Dozens will be touring the Northwest so it was my delight this week to put my first new entry in over a year to my Northwest live New Orleans music page. I see Shamarr Allen is touring too but not up here yet.
I play a track of the just-received Tuba Skinny record — well its really Maria Muldaur’s record but the Tuba Skinny musicians are prominently feature. I also dive deeper into new releases by Monk Boudreaux, Kid Eggplant and Jon Batiste.
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I have no elevator pitch for today’s show. It features music from New Orleans so includes jazz, blues, funk, rock, a bawdy song or two, a couple of brass band numbers and some cutting edge Cajun music. You can play it now if you like while I tell you a bit more.
The Heavyweight Brass Band kicks off the show. They’re Canadian but they embedded in New Orleans for the This City record and on “Dance Out On the Corner” you’ll hear the baritone saxophone of the Dirty Dozen’s Roger Lewis and the trumpet and vocals of fellow Canadian now New Orleans resident Marla Dixon.
The second song (the bawdy one) is sung by Maria Muldaur. It was an early hit for Muldaur as well as the songwriter. Lu Barker recorded “Don’t You Feel My Leg” in the 30’s which helped her and her husband Danny Barker in their performing career. Later, after the couple had semi-retired back to New Orleans, a young Muldaur recorded the same song for her first hit. Muldaur will close out this year’s Danny Barker Festival happening this weekend in New Orleans with a concert at Snug Harbor. I also play a popular Danny Barker number titled “Save the Bones for Henry Jones.”
In this show, you’ll also hear a some blues by Ghalia and Mama’s Boys and Bobby Rush (who song might also be consider a bit bawdy), Cajun by the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Bonsoir Catin, funk by Naughty Professor, rock by Lightnin’ Lee and a lot of songs that just kind of defy categorization. Thanks for checking it out.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band kicks off this week’s show with “It Ain’t What You Think.” Well maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Get it started to find out.
The next set starts with a 2019 New Orleans record that I didn’t have a chance to get to during last week’s show of 2019 in review. Lakou Mizik, from Haiti, recorded their latest album HaitiNola in New Orleans and I play a track featuring Leyla McCalla, a singer/songwriter with strong family ties to Haiti. The set carries on with another new release by The Electric Arch and a Latin number by The Iguanas.
The show carries on swinging from funk, jazz, R&B and zydeco — accented with a tasteful number of winter holiday songs. This show includes a jazzy cover of “Wang Dang Doodle,” a new song by the Soul Rebels, the Sailor’s Hornpipe with Alex McMurray’s Valaparaiso Men’s Chorus and a raunchy cover of “Ooh – Poo – Pah – Doo.”
Three key birthdays lined up for today’s show along with two visits by premiere New Orleans brass bands. But the show starts with a rollicking bluegrass number with a sousaphone pumping out the baseline. You can listen and read on by clicking the sideways arrow below.
John Hartford most likely pulled deeply from his steamboat pilot days on the Mississippi and Tennesse rivers when he wrote the song that opens today’s show. Sadly, he was dead by the time a group of country musicians joined New Orleans musicians on the Maple Leaf stage to cover his “Miss Ferris.” In the first full set, you’ll hear another song from that project.
But the core of the show is celebrating Cyril Neville and Ed Volker’s 71st birthday and Donna Angelle’s 68th. All three were born on October 10, the date this show aired on KAOS. As the youngest of the Neville brothers, Cyril is perhaps the best known of the three birthday musicians. But this show focuses on his non-Neville performances: two solo songs and one with the Royal Southern Brotherhood.
Ed Volker is the distinctive looking keyboardist and songwriter for The Radiators, a jam band that deployed a New Orleans sensibility to rock and won a legend of fans starting in 1978 going through today. And the band has the same line-up it started with. Three Radiators are songs are played on today’s show.
Donna Angelle is a multi-instrumentalist who chose to be prominent on the accordion and lead her own band. She broke the glass ceiling for women band leaders in Zydeco and was closely followed by Rosie Ledet. You’ll hear three of her songs, including “Ladies Night” and one song by Ledet.
The Dirty Dozen and Hot 8 Brass Bands are playing the area this month so you’ll hear a couple songs each by them. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band lead the new wave of brass bands in the 70’s that reinvigorated the traditional New Orleans brass band sound. I play Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” which you can probably hear live when the Dozen perform at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham on October 19 and Pantages Theater the next night.
The Hot 8 Brass Band has had their struggles with car accidents and shootings that have changed their line up over the years and created heart break for the remaining members and their families. But they’ll be in Portland and Seattle October 21st and 22nd respectively. I play the short version of their “Sexual Healing” cover and “Bingo Bango.”
There’s more to the show including Doreen Ketchens and Aurora Nealand on clarinet but you should just listen to the whole thing and let me know what you think. Thanks for tuning in.
Our pleasant summers typically create a musical wave of touring performers in our region. Today’s show explores the music of performers from New Orleans (and Lafayette) who will be touring our area soon. And there’s a bumper crop so start listening while I tell you more about upcoming shows.
Delfeayo Marsalis, Dr. John and Donald Harrison Jr. get us started. And sadly, these performers will not be playing our area any time soon.
However, Quintron, an eclectic organist and inventor from New Orleans, will do shows in Portland and Seattle and is rumored (from a reliable source) that he will be performing in Olympia most likely on July 5. He does an instrumental version of Ernie K-Doe’s New Orleans hit “Certain Girl.” I also play Ernie K-Doe’s “Here Come the Girls” because Ernie is the patron saint of my show and this blog, and he has a connection with Quintron.
Albanie Falleta, a solo swing guitarist and vocalists, will be at Traditions Cafe in Olympia on June 24. Originally from Monroe, Louisiana but now living in New Orleans, Falleta has performed at Traditions before and has been building a devoted local following. Her “Black Coffee Blues” kick off the second full set of this show.
Grammy Winner Rebirth Brass Band returns to Seattle for two shows at the Tractor Tavern (“Why Your Feet Hurt”) and Big Sam’s Funky Nation (“Hard to Handle”) will grace Mississippi Studios in Portland the Nectar Lounge in Seattle.
Helen Gillet, a cellist from Belgium who relocated to New Orleans about 15 years ago, will be performing in Olympia in July. And Davis Rogan, who performed in Olympia this February just booked a return engagement here for mid-August. You’ll hear examples of their music as well as others playing in the area, including Pine Leaf Boys, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Better than Ezra, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, The Revivalists and Marc Broussard. It’s a great line up and you can see when and where they’re playing on my concert page.
Go ahead and click the arrow to get my show started before reading the rest.
Okay, so we actually went to Walla Walla to check out the town and the wine scene. But since I had spent a pleasurable afternoon at the Hot Poop music store on Main Street several years back, I was anxious to see if it was still thriving.
When I noted how much stock was in the store, the owner, Jim McGuinn, joked that it could all be mine for three easy payments. The store does suffer from a lot of clutter but its fun clutter to poke through, including autographed guitars and 8-track tapes if you make it all the way to the back.
I found some NOLA CDs that weren’t already in my collection, including a 1991 release by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band that I hadn’t seen before. They also had some Radiator releases — always a positive indicator that I should dig deeper into a store.
Today’s show features choice cuts from the music I found there along with some other gems such as a Wynton Marsalis take of Layla (Eric Clapton does assist on that one). Charmaine Neville performs the eclectic “Leave Room for the Dancers” and I follow that up with Diablo’s Horns’ original “Bending Like a Willow Tree.” If you can hang in there through those songs, stick around for a charming version of Don’t Worry, Be Happy with Glen David Anderson doing some humorous vocal responses.
Good news. A loyal following of Rebirth Brass Band fans in the Northwest is ensuring that the New Orleans band plays the Wet Coast more than once a year.
Last year, they came to Seattle and Portland twice and the venerable brass band returns to the Tractor Tavern in Seattle this Friday, January 22, and Dante’s in Portland on Saturday, January 23.
As with the last engagement, the Tractor will host two evening shows at $25 a pop or $40 for the whole night. Spring for both, its worth it. Unless you’d rather catch them at their home base in New Orleans at the Maple Leaf and pay only $20 for the evening.
Founded by the Frazier brothers – Phillip on sousaphone and Keith on bass drum–Rebirth Brass Band has been blending jazz, funk, soul, and hip hop with the brass band New Orleans tradition for over 30 years. While the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is largely credited for bringing the New Orleans brass bands into contemporary times, Rebirth has been doing it almost as long and in a far more entertaining manner (my blog, my opinion).
With the co-founders now past 50, the band just recently ceased doing parades. But that long history of Second Lines have built a repertoire of street anthems like Feel Like Funkin’ It Up, Do Watcha Wanna, and Let’s Go Get ’em.
The band’s line up has evolved over the years. Co-founder Kermit Ruffins split off to do his own thing over 20 years ago. So have Glen David Andrews, Shamarr Allen, and Corey Henry, to name a few.
The current line-up includes the hard-to-miss Derrick Tabb, an amazing snare drummer who towers over the group and is active with Roots of Music, a group he co-founded to provide after-school programs for kids at-risk. You might recognize trombonist Stafford Agee from the television show, Treme, since he and others of the band had cameo roles. But if you’ve listened to the show, you’ve definitely heard him play since its Agee’s trombone really playing when you see actor Wendell Pierce (Antoine Batiste) put lips to mouthpiece. Also on trombone is Gregory Veals. Vincent Broussard is on saxophone and Glen Hall and Chadrick Honore’ are on trumpets.
The band has 17 recordings in its library including a 25th anniversary release and a 2012 grammy winner, Rebirth of New Orleans. The band’s most recent release was 2014’s Move Your Body. You can count on the band to get you moving and smiling.
Upcoming Northwest Performances of New Orleans Artists
Rebirth Brass Band – at Tractor Tavern in Seattle, January 22 and Dantes in Portland, January 23.
Nigel Hall – at the Showbox in Seattle, February 4 and the Roseland in Portland, February 5.
I doubt the Census Bureau can tell us where we might find the highest concentration of tuba players, but if it could, I’d guess that New Orleans would be near the top.
Just think of all those Second Lines with sousaphone players blasting the beat out over the heads of dancers.
A quick trivia detour: The sousaphone is the wrap around version of the tuba, making it easier to carry and project sound forward. From what I’ve read, the sousaphone, named after military-band extraordinaire John Philip Sousa was a modified version of a tuba-like instrument, called a helicon, designed to be played while riding a horse. Tally Ho!
In honor of David filling in for me while I screw off on the beach, here are five notable tuba/sousaphone players from New Orleans.
Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen – Mr. Lacen was part of Danny Barker’s Fairview Baptist Church band and became a bandleader and mentor to many. Famous for playing the streets, he also toured the world. Over a decade after his passing in 2004, Tuba Fats is still fondly remembered in New Orleans with a special day of recognition (Tuba Fats Tuesday after JazzFest) and a square named in his honor in the Treme.
Kirk Joseph – Another alumnus of Barker’s band of youthful brass players, Mr. Joseph was one of the founders of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band which reinvigorated the New Orleans brass band sound. He continues to play today mixing tradition with the contemporary and maintaining his credentials as the hip godfather of brass music.
Phil Frazier – Founding member of my favorite brass band, Mr. Frazier, along with his brother Keith, have been keeping the beat for Rebirth Brass Band since 1983. Influenced by the two previously mentioned tuba players, Phil has charted his own territory with Rebirth, laying down funky bass lines for the band that scored a grammy in 2012 with its album “Rebirth of New Orleans.”
Matt Perrine – It’s hard to avoid Mr. Perrine if you watch any number of New Orleans acts such as Bonerama and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. But to catch his latest work, check out “Linger Til Dawn” featuring awesome vocals by his wife Debbie Davis and some tasty interpretations of classics like “Sunny Afternoon” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”
Here’s my Holiday buying guide of 2014 releases for that special person in your life who digs music from New Orleans. Don’t know anyone like that? Yea, you do. (This is actually Part 1. I’ve added a Part 2.)
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The Revivalists – – This seven member contemporary rock group with a New Orleans flair has been exciting audiences since 2007. The City of Sound double disc wisely includes a live set so you can get a feel for the band in action.
Hurray for Riff Raff – Alynda Lee Segarra may be from New York but she found her passion and honed her talent on the streets of New Orleans. Small Town Heroes, the latest from this Americana songwriter puts a fresh spin on roots music.
New Orleans Suspect – Third release is the charm for this textbook gumbo yaya band that draws direct influences from the Meters, Nevilles, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Radiators. Destined to make my overall top 10 list for 2014, Ouroboros means the Suspects no longer need to be compared to their previous projects.
Glen David Andrews – He’s Troy Andrews cousin but don’t expect Trombone Shorty despite Glen’s awesome trombone work. Instead you’ll get a double shot of gospel and soul in Redemption, growled out by an unrepentant preacher who has no intention of ceasing his prowling of nightclubs. Thank goodness.
Jimmy Carpenter – This blues saxman with Walter Wolfman Washington’s band on his resume’ hits full stride on his second solo release, Walk Away. Carpenter offers up smooth, swingy blues with wonderful touches that make it clear where he calls home.
Ingrid Lucia – If you only know her wonderful version of “Zat You Santa Claus,” Living the Life is your opportunity to fall deeply in love with this voice, starting with her opening track, “Do You Remember Walter.” We didn’t get this album at KAOS but I’ve gradually been buying tracks, like “Put the Radio On,” since she released this album.
Royal Southern Brotherhood – Cyril Neville’s vocals complement this royal group of southern blues artists (Devon Allman, Yonrico Scott, Charlie Wooten and Mike Zito). Another entry for my top ten list, HeartSoulBlood magically fuses blues to soul and R&B. Speaking of magic, Magic Honey was Cyril’s solo release this year.
Lena Prima is living testament to writer Chris Rose’s posit that “New Orleans girls never live anywhere else and even if they do, they always come back.” Starting Something tracks the return of the prodigal daughter of Louis Prima to New Orleans. The more you listen, the more you’ll be delighted she came home.
Henry Butler – Brilliantly paired with New York trumpeter Steven Bernstein, Henry Butler demonstrates his virtuosity on piano while providing something for almost every Jazz taste on Viper’s Drag.
Louis Prima Jr. – Lena’s little brother demonstrates how to make swing and rock and roll relevant and hip in the 21st Century. With Blow, Louis Junior goes his own way without straying too far from his pop’s tree. He and his band are not NOLA based but the album provides more than a passing nod to the city where he first connected with music.
The Last Hombres – Odd Fellows Rest is a product of a band that has been rambling about for over a decade until the drummer settled down in New Orleans and invited the band to bunker down and find their collective muse. Combine the pedal steel of The New Riders of the Purple Sage with songwriting reminiscent of Tom Petty and throw in some tasteful Hot 8 Brass Band and you have a CD that gets better with every spin.
Flow Tribe – Self described as “bizarrely irresistable,” this funk rock band of six genuine NOLA hipsters (with birth certificates to prove it) give you a taste of what its like to see them live with five upbeat studio tracks on Alligator White. (See if you can catch their reference to what’s been described as the best dive bar in New Orleans.)
Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers The perfect gift for the historian/adventurer on your list, Age of Exploration is the first release of this New Orleans rockabilly group. This Shackleton-themed concept album is largely the product of hardworking reeds-woman Aurora Nealand. Another CD that hasn’t found its way to KAOS, I’ve only heard the two tracks I’ve purchased online but I want more.
The Iguanas – This year brought us, Juarez, the eighth album by a venerable New Orleans group that has been keeping dancers happy by blending Latin styles with New Orleans groove. If you have ever seen them live, say at Rock ‘N’ Bowl, you know what I’m talking about.
Billy Pierce and Friends – Fine slide blues made exceptional on Take Me Back to the Delta by his “friends,” notably Sonny Landreth, Jimmy Carpenter, Waylon Thibodeaux and the guys who put the Bone in Bonerama (Craig Klein, Mark Mullins and Greg Hicks). It’s not all New Orleans music but by the time you get to “Give Me A Dollar,” it won’t matter.
Marcia Ball – She may be from Texas but she has her NOLA residency card for reasons that are amply supplied by The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man. How does she do it?
Rebirth Brass Band – Erasing all doubt that they could top their grammy winning Rebirth of New Orleans album of 2012, these guys did that and more with Move Your Body. After 31 years of playing all night gigs and second lining, Rebirth is doing their most entertaining work. Want to loosen up a boring party, play the track HBNS. Oh yea! (A no brainer for my top 10)