When you hear Irma Thomas called the Soul Queen of New Orleans, its natural and correct to assume its a reference to one of her singing styles. But I think it also can refer to her role as a sustainer of the city’s soul. Happy 80th birthday to Irma Thomas!
She “had four children by age 19” adorns just about every write up of her and my guess is that this repeated fact helps establish that nothing has come easy for Ms. Thomas. She has worked for her success, raised (more than four) children, held down day jobs, lost her home to Hurricane Katrina and performed music through six decades that have not always been kind. Here’s a short bio from the Delgado Community College Women Center — an empowerment center she’s been deeply involved in since she earned her associates degree in business from Delgado – – – at the age of 60. Oh, and the center bears her name.
This week’s show features songs to show off some of Irma’s range, starting with her version of Fats Domino’s “I Just Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind.” I follow that up with “Cry On” recorded when she first started with Minit records (during the Allen Toussaint heyday). Also “Back Water Blues” and “Thinking of You.” There’s a few other gems in this set, including her vocals with Galactic (“Heart of Steel”) and her harmonizing with Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson from their Sing It! record.
So that first 20 minutes is all about Irma and good reason to listen to the show, but there’s reason continue to listen as well! What with The Crooked Vines “Everything New” from their latest, the New Orleans Suspects covering James Booker’s “Classified” followed by James Booker covering Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog.”
A little more name dropping: Henry Gray, Leyla McCalla, Larry Garner, Lost Bayou Rambler, Arsene Delay, Free Spirit Brass Band, Mindi Abair rocking with Trombone Shorty and the New Orleans Johnnys.
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This week’s show is carried by the rhythms of Stanton Moore who turns 48 on the day the show airs on KAOS (July 9, 2020). You can listen to it now though by clicking the sideways arrow below.
Over its 26-year history, the New Orleans band Galactic has been adept at funk, R&B, rock, soul and hip hop, performing with an ever changing cast of singers ranging from Boots Riley to Irma Thomas. And driving the beat throughout that quarter century is the only hometown member of the band, Stanton Moore. On today’s show, you’ll hear songs from his own albums, as well as from Galactic and two other bands that perform his songs.
But its a two-hour show so you’ll hear a lot more if you stay with it. Here are some highlights:
A song by Dragon Smoke – a group that includes Stanton and Robert Mercurio from Glactic as well as Ivan Neville and Eric Lindell.
Larry Williams singing “Bony Moronie” — original recording from 1957.
He grew up in the tradition but has charted his own musical path.
Today is Troy Andrews’ 34th birthday — a millennial musician, singer, songwriter and children’s book author who has been able to amass a considerable play list that represents the past, present and, I hope, the future of New Orleans music. Today it’s all about Trombone Shorty on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. (Recording of the show below).
According to the Trombone Shorty website, Andrews got his nickname when he picked up his instrument at four. His older brother, noted trumpeter James Andrews, gave him the tag. “My parents pushed me toward trombone because they didn’t need another trumpet player.”
The moment was memorialized in a legendary 1990 photo (with a great story to go with it) from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Bo Diddley was performing on stage when the crowd deposited before him a four-year-old boy barely hanging on to a trombone. When Trombone Shorty blew his horn on that stage with Diddley’s mouth agape, it was tantamount to King Arthur pulling a sword out of a stone in terms of creating a New Orleans music legend.
On today’s show, you’ll only hear three songs directly attributed to Troy Andrews — which is the limit that federal law places on me when I stream a show. However, every song you’ll hear until the last one is a song in which he performs. This means the show includes Dr. John, Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Allen Toussaint, Lenny Kravitz, Mindi Abair, Rebirth Brass Band, Los Hombres Calientes, The Soul Rebels, Hot 8 Brass Band, Stanton Moore, Lakou Mizik and the To Be Continued Brass Band. As well as his own band Orleans Avenue.
Andrews has not forgotten his community now that he’s an international star. He founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation which provides professional support to budding musicians in New Orleans and he’s the author of two children’s books that details stories from his childhood. The self-titled first book tells the story of how he got his nickname and received a Caldecott Honor Book award.
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Nothing like putting up a new calendar to feel the passage of time. Was 2018 a good year? What about 2019? Welcome to my musical reflection of this new year (first show of 2019) with amazing music from New Orleans. You can play it now while you finish reading
No matter how good my life is, it all seems hollow with our growing unhoused population, a gridlock country and a world that requires solutions built from collaboration rather than conflict. These thoughts guided my selections of songs.
Earl King kicks off the show with his “Make a Better World” followed by Lee Dorsey singing “Why Wait Until Tomorrow.” Later, Colin Lake performs his original song “The World Alive” followed by Tom Hambone’s “Faith” from his NOLA Sessions’ recording
The Radiators exhort us to “Never Let Your Fire Go Out” aided by The Neville Brothers “Wake Up” and Galactic’s “Action Speaks Louder than Words.”
“Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further” written and sung by Allen Toussaint with help from Elvis Costello seemed to fit right in at this point, along with “Street Symphony” by the Subdudes and an encore by Toussaint with “We’re All Connected.”
Carlo Ditto and Louie Ludwig songs take on complacency when it comes to war and Irma Thomas and James Booker close it off with “River is Waiting” and “Amen” respectively.
In between the above are appropriate songs by Dr. John, Helen Gillet, Paul Sanchez, the Iguanas, John Mooney, Mem Shannon, Marcia Ball and Ever More Nest.
I wish you a happy and fulfilling year. Stay engaged!
I love birthdays and so it was no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed myself on today’s Anniversary show. I hope you enjoy listening to it. (Go ahead and click the arrow right below and get it started)
Marcia Ball’s “The Party’s Still Going On,” which kicked off the show, totally fit my mood. In September of 2014 when the first Gumbo YaYa was recorded, I was a little nervous about how long I’d be able to sustain a show, aired in the Pacific Northwest, of strictly New Orleans music. After all, the KAOS air studio is more than 2,720 miles from Frenchmen Street).
But with the help and kindness of New Orleans musicians, music distributors and labels ike Basin Street Records, I’ve been getting some current music. I’m surprised how much variety the New Orleans format offers. And what particularly amazes me is how much I’ve learned in the last four years. (Several trips to New Orleans have helped — I like this hobby!).
On my bucket list for my next New Orleans visit is catching Lena Prima and her talented band in the Carousel Room of the Monteleone Hotel. Yes, its a total tourist thing but damn she does a great job, backed up by her band led by husband and bass player Tim Fahey. Early in today’s show, she pulls off a bit of a medley that starts as you might expect, then gets you and your body moving (guaranteed) by the end.
Got a phone call from a listener when I played The Wild Magnolia’s “Coochie Molly” a rocking song (thank you June Yamagishi on guitar) that dovetailed nicely in to the next track, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers live version of “Tchfuncta/On that Day.” That set finishes with Galactic’s “Wild Man” with chanting by Big Chief Bo Dollis. In fact, all three songs in that set feature chanting by Mardi Gras Indian Big Chiefs.
Another Big Chief performs later in the show but only on the saxophone — Donald Harrison Jr. backs up Davell Crawford in “River/White Socks & Drawers.” When he’s not playing jazz saxophone, Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. is working on his next Mardi Gras suit. Oh, and before I forget, Dr. John and Big Freedia do some vocals on that Crawford song.
The show also features an in-studio performance (recorded earlier this summer) of “”Kibi” by Helen Gillet. I have other surprises, including a 12-minute live version of the oft-covered “Big Chief.” Thanks so much for putting up with these posts and shows for four years. As long as you don’t complain to management, I’m committed to ensuring that “The Party’s Still Going On,”
As best as I can tell, Barbara George and Bobby Mitchell never recorded together but these two New Orleans R&B artists might have crossed paths while cutting records at J&M Studio (Cosimo Matassa). If they did, they might have noticed they had the same birthdays. Start the show and read on.
Born in Algiers on August 16, 1935, Bobby Mitchell was the second of 17 children and might have developed his singing ability just to get noticed among his sibling crowd. In 1950, Mitchell formed the first New Orleans doo wop group, The Toppers. Their first recording was in 1953 with “I’m Crying” and “Rack “Em Up.” Later, when that group was decimated by the draft, Mitchell recorded with a seven-piece with his biggest hit being “Try Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In 1957, he got on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand with “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” (you will hear that one on this show). But it was Fats Domino’s version that was a bigger hit. Mitchell suffered early heart problems and retired in the early 60’s. He became an x-ray technician at Charity Hospital and died on March 17, 1989. I start the show with Mitchell’s “Mama Don’t Allow” and later you’ll hear him singing “Sister Lucy.”
Barbara George was born in Charity hospital on August 16, 1942. Since she was younger, she didn’t get into the J&M studio until 1961, working under the guidance of Harold Battiste and AFO records. Her most recognizable song is the number 1 R&B song in its time, “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More).” Later in 1961, AFO produced the one and only Barbara George album “I Know” featuring mostly songs she wrote. I play “I Know” and a song she recorded in 1968 with Eddie Bo’s help, “Something You Got.”
This show also features some reggae, including two versions Bob Marley’s “One Love” — the first by One Love Brass Band and the second one by The Nevilles performing live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Speaking of Nevilles, Charmaine Neville and her band does a spacey number called “Rocket Nine” or “Rocket V” depending on whether you listen to the recording or read the liner notes.
As always, thanks for tuning in and let me know what you’d like to hear in the future. Cheers.
Hello. Today’s show marked three full years of airing a show about New Orleans music in a town over 2200 miles away from the Crescent City. My thanks to community radio station KAOS and its listeners and supporters for letting me do this show.
The show kicks off with Theryl “Houseman” Declouet with his infamous introduction regarding the third world status of New Orleans at a Galactic concert and flows quickly into Shamarr Allen’s “Party All Night.” Al Hirt takes a turn and so does patron saint of this website and the show, Ernie K-Doe, with his classic “A Certain Girl.” Who is she? Can’t tell ya. I have reggae and hornpipes, jazz and blues and an amazing live airing of the Radiator’s 7 Devils from the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It was that concert that cinched the deal for me that I would be coming back to New Orleans as often as I could.
Here’s the edited show from today (September 7, 2017) marking three years. Thank you for listening.
In previous years, the festival has held Second Line parades, filled its dancing stage with Zydeco and Cajun music and featured New Orleans acts such as Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic and the Stooges Brass Band. But this year, as we approach the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, the festival doubled down putting together a stellar New Orleans line up for its Friday (July 3) show.
Yes, we’ll get a return performance by Galactic, a versatile funk and soul band that hit the I-5 Tour as recently as February. This time, the band will feature Macy Gray on vocals as the band harkens back to its soul and R&B roots when Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet fronted the group. Galactic takes the Brewery Stage at 9 p.m.
But the headliner for the day is Allen Toussaint (7 p.m. Brewery Stage). This uber-talented composer, producer and pianist extraordinaire is closely aligned with the New Orleans R&B and funk sound. He was there from the beginning and now at 77, he continues to prove he can do full justice to his amazing legacy of songs.
“Working in a Coal Mine,” “Mother-in-Law,” “Lipstick Traces on a Cigarette,” “Fortune Teller,” “Sneaking Sally through the Alley,” “Night People,” “On Your Way Down,” “Ride Your Pony,” “Yes, We Can” and so many more song that you’ll recognize. This guy has made a boat load of money from others singing his songs. The pleasant surprise is how ass-kicking good he is when he sings them.
He started his own New Orleans-based record label in the 60’s and he was the first to do a major recording in New Orleans (with Elvis Costello) after Katrina. He’ll have just returned from performing in London when he takes the waterfront stage on July 3 and I’m struck how the Portland setting is so similar to the French Quarter Festival stage where I last saw him perform in April. His band and performance will be as sharp as the suit he’ll be wearing.
Another New Orleans star attraction is Charmaine Neville. Daughter of saxophonist Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers, Charmaine has toured the world but has stayed closer to home in recent years. She and her band will dish up a jazzy soul set at the Brewery Stage starting at 5:15 p.m.
Likely to hop on the stage with Charmaine is her former band leader now Portland resident, Reggie Houston. This native New Orleans saxophonist has been making Portland a hipper place ever since he called it home in 2004. With over two decades of performing with Fats Domino, you know Houston and his Crescent City Connection band is going to rock the Brewery Stage (3:45 p.m.)
Other highlights include venerable guitarist Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal (First Tech Stage, noon), Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band (First Tech Stage, 8:15 p.m.) and the Dog Hill Stompers (Front Porch Stage, 10 p.m.)
See you there, but if you miss it, I’ll be playing some of what I hear on my show on Monday. Have a safe Fourth of July.
Galactic, an ever evolving New Orleans band that tours nationally, will be on the wet side of the Cascades this coming week.
On Thursday February 26, Galactic will take the stage at Bellingham’s Wild Buffalo before rolling down to Seattle’s Showbox on Friday and finishing its tour of Interstate-5 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland on Saturday.
The band formed in 1994 and was inspired by The Meters and other funk bands playing in Benny’s Bar, a long-gone uptown establishment located not more than a football field from where the Nevilles used to live. The band’s original name Galactic Prophylactic was quickly shortened while it led a second wave of New Orleans funk bands.
The first decade, Galactic was powered by the vocals of journeyman R&B and soul singer Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet. With its jam band tendencies, the group developed a loyal following for its live shows.
While the band has gone through a number of personnel changes over the years, the core of the group includes founding members Jeff Raines (guitar), Robert Mercurio (bass), Stanton Moore (drums) and Rich Vogel (keyboards). Also, saxophonist Ben Ellman, who produced Trombone Shorty’s first two albums, has been a long-time mainstay of the band.
After the departure of DeClouet in 2004, the band got into producing its own music using loops and samples and invited a wide range of mostly New Orleans talent into the studio with them. Ya-ka-may, probably my favorite Galactic album, includes Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty, John Boutte, Katey Red, Big Freedia, and Big Chief Bo Dollis. The first song also includes a sample from the fright night show Morgus the Magnificent.
Individually, Galactic band members are highly active musicians and music producers involved in a wide range of other projects, including some with Seattle saxophonist Skerik (who will be in Portland Maine on Saturday). This week’s I-5 tour is an excellent chance to catch them live. But if you can’t do that, I’ll be playing my favorite Galactic numbers on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa on Monday. (Sneak tip: I will have tickets to the Portland show to give away.)
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Like most communities, New Orleans loves Halloween. Voodoo Music Fest, for instance, is always timed for around October 31. But this story is about Morgus the Magnificent and the music he inspired.
If you ever watched horror movies on television during the last century, chances are you’re familiar with the occupation of “Horror Host” — the sometimes creepy, usually campy personality who introduced the late Friday or Saturday night movie with tongue firmly in cheek.
Pioneered by Vampira, who dressed like Morticia Addams and hosted KABC-TV late night movies in Los Angeles in the 50’s, Shock Hosts proliferated across the country after Screen Gems saw a nifty way to cash in on its aging library of horror films. Classic monster movies like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy were packaged with lesser movies and sent to local stations with the suggestion they air the movies using a costumed host.
One of the stations that took up the idea was WWL-TV in New Orleans and the city hasn’t been the same since.
On a Saturday night in January 1959, Morgus the Magnificent, along with his sidekick Chopsley and a talking skull named Eric, hit the local airwaves. He immediately captured the attention of TV viewers and, six decades later, continues to be a favorite in the hearts, minds and T-shirts of NOLA residents.
Within four months of his show’s premiere, Morgus would be memorialized in song. Frankie Ford, Jerry Byrne and Mac Rebennak (the future Dr. John) recorded Morgus and the Three Ghouls at Cosimo Matassa’s studio on Governor Nicholls Street. While never a hit, it plays locally on occasion and showed up on Dr. John’s anthology Mos’ Scocious. In 1962, Morgus became the first Horror Host to have his own movie, The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus.
Morgus wasn’t your typical monster or vampire show host. He was a benevolent, though somewhat high strung, mad scientist working out of his laboratory above the Old City Ice House in the French Quarter. Filled with superhuman self confidence in his genius, he would devise ill-conceived schemes and experiments that had good intentions but would always fail miserably.
I recollect one show I watched as kid in the 60’s where he created his own weight reduction clinic and during the commercial breaks he demonstrated weight-loss technologies straight out of a Vincent Price movie, including a swinging pendulum (lose weight or else). Needless to say, by the end of the show his clients had lost more than pounds.
Morgus was the creation of Sid Noel Rideau, a native New Orleanian with a wacky imagination. He did a brief stint of Morgus in Detroit where he apparently recorded a surf rock tune called Werewolf under the name of Morgus and the Darringers.
But my favorite song representation of him was done by the band Galactic on their 2010 release Ya-Ka-May. The CD’s first track, Friends of Science, samples a typical opening of one of Morgus’ shows. “Good evening my dear students, and of course friends of science and those of the higher order.” You’ll find over a dozen New Orleans artists credited in the CD’s liner notes, including Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Big Freedia and Trombone Shorty. But there’s no mention of Morgus or Rideau.
Apparently, Galactic had a hard time getting permission from Rideau but finally did with the condition that it would be uncredited. In promoting the album to Offbeat magazine, Galactic’s bass player Robert Mercurio pondered “how many people are going to get that one. I think maybe you’d have to be from New Orleans to really get that voice.”
Not necessarily. Not if you catch the distinctive voice of Morgus when he’s played on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa, this Monday (show now airs on Thursdays), starting at 10 a.m. Also, if you’ve read this far, perhaps you would like to subscribe by clinking the link in the upper right column.