Black Music Month – New Orleans Funk Edition 2021

A deep dive into Funk marks my third show in honor of African American Music Appreciation Month. In addition to celebrating another cultural gift to the world by African Americans, the show makes a pretty solid argument for why New Orleans should also be considered the birth place of Funk.

Get the music started and read on.

While James Brown is widely considered the originator of “Funk,” his work is built off of rhythms that derive from New Orleans. (Read Benjamin Doleac and Alexander Stewart for the academic explanation.)

The Meters, who formed in 1965 but didn’t release a record until 1969, combined those New Orleans rhythms (Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste) with George Porter’s bass, Art Neville’s organ and Leo Nocentelli’s guitar to make early funk classics like “Cissy Strut” and “Look-ka Py Py.” On the show you’ll hear a later song of the band’s “Funkify Your Life.”

As the in-house studio band for Allen Toussaint’s Sansu Records, the Meters provided the backing vocals and rhythm for a wide range of music by Lee Dorsey, Robert Palmer, Albert King, Etta James, the Pointer Sisters, LaBelle and Paul Mccartney. In fact, it was at McCartney’s record release party (Venus and Mars)  in New Orleans when Mick Jagger heard the Meters and arranged for the band to tour with the Rolling Stones.  In this week’s show, you’ll hear other Sansu artists including Betty Harris and Danny White. 

Later, you’ll hear a track from the seminal Wild Tchoupitoulas record which brought together the four Neville brothers as they assist their Uncle George Landry (Big Chief Jolly) record the first major release of a full Mardi Gras Indian album. It was this project that resulted in the brothers coming together as a band. 

You’ll also hear contemporary funk musicians who are still performing Walter Wolfman Washington, Corey Henry, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Sierra Green, Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels and Hot 8 Brass Band. It’s two hours of funk — another great music form that would not exist if not for the fertile creativity of African American artists. 

Next week, the last show for this year’s African American Music Appreciation Month will focus on Blues and Zydeco. Please consider subscribing.

Sage Advice: “Don’t You Lie to Me” starts this week’s show

This week’s show celebrates the birth anniversary of three highly regarded New Orleans area musicians: Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal, Big Chief Bo Dollis and Allen Toussaint. You’ll also hear and hear about a New Orleans twist of a song from the great mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap.”

Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal

Paul Sinegal, who died the summer of 2019, would have been 77 this week. His career spans blues, zydeco and R&B. A good part of his career was spent as a guitarist with Clifton Chenier’s band, including his stage debut as a young teen. He also worked with Rockin’ Dopsie and Buckwheat Zydeco. He was a regular performer at Ponderosa Stomp. In 1999, Sinegal released The Buck Stops Here – a record produced on Allen Toussaint’s NYNO Label and featured several songs written by Toussaint. The show starts with Sinegal’s “Don’t You Lie to Me” and you’ll hear him later with “Monkey in a Sack.”

Big Chief Bo Dollis

Big Chief Bo Dollis was a pioneer along with his mentor Big Chief Tootie Montana in the cultural arena known as Mardi Gras Indians. Dollis and Montana elevated the sewing and construction of the “suits” (never call them costumes) to such a high level that much of the rough action and violence that was once associated with Mardi Gras Indians stopped. Who would want to fight and mess up such a great suit — which can also weigh around 100 pounds. Dollis, who also would have been 77 this year, is featured with two Wild Magnolias numbers “New Suit” and “Coconut Milk”

In the six years of this show, you’ve heard a lot about Allen Toussaint because its impossible to do a New Orleans show without frequent appearances by him, his songs and his extensive music production work. In this week’s show, you’ll here him sing “Oh My” with Dave Bartholomew on trumpet, the Paul Simon classic “American Tune” and a early online dating novelty song called “Computer Lady.” But you’ll also hear Toussaint classics “Ride Your Pony” and “Night People” by The Meters and Stanton Moore respectively.

At just after the first hour mark, Matt Perrine of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers (and countless other music projects) introduces “Big Bottom” — a song played by the parody heavy metal band Spinal Tap in the movie by Rob Reiner. Here’s the original version. It’s fun to compare this powerful Nightcrawler version, arranged by Perrine after years of noodling on how to convert the plodding rock beat into a New Orleans style song, to the original. The Nightcrawlers are up for a Grammy for their new release Atmosphere that includes the song “Big Bottom.”

Lots of other fun stuff in between all this, including at least three appearances by bass player George Porter Jr. and some great but not well known songs by Eric Lindell, Marcia Ball, the Radiators, Yvette Landry, Buckwheat Zydeco and the New Orleans Suspects — just to name drop a few.

Thanks for tuning in and checking out this website. You can subscribe and not miss future shows!

Music to Inspire Voting (or listen to while waiting to vote)

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.

Voting lines in Georgia. Here in Washington, ballots come in the mail.

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.

No Such Thing As Too Much Funk

Last week’s African-American Music Month show celebrated the many styles of music generated by New Orleans musicians of color. Just about every genre . . .except for funk. Today’s show is all about the funk starting with The Meters’ “The World Is A Little Under the Weather” from 1971. You got two hours of listening so you best get started now.

When you talk about funk, there’s James Brown (who was inspired by Little Richard’s New Orleans sessions) and then there is The Meters –formed in 1965 by Zigaboo Modeliste (drums), George Porter Jr. (bass), Leo Nocentelli (guitar), and Art Neville (keyboards). Allen Toussaint used The Meters as his studio band, supporting Lee Dorsey on “Ride Your Pony” and “Working in the Coal Mine. By 1969, The Meters were doing their own thing with “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut.” In addition to Weather, you’ll hear the band’s “Zony Mash” and “Stretch Your Rubber Band.” You’ll also hear Eddie Bo with an extended version of his big hit “Hook and Sling.”

To continue to honor African-American Music Month, this show features black artists including Sierra Green, Chocolate Milk, Hot 8 Brass Band, Eldridge Holmes, Rebirth Brass Band, Glen David Andrews, George Porter Jr. and his Runnin’ Pardners, Cyril Neville, Mem Shannon, Dumpstaphunk and more. The two exceptions are songs are by Galactic that feature Irma Thomas and Glen David Andrews on vocals.

It’s all about the groove. Thanks for tuning in.

June-uary and Boswells bring change in the weather

The Boswell Sisters

The Boswell Sisters start this week’s show with “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” a song that begins with the line “Change in the weather, change in the sea. From now on, there’ll be a change in me.” Like many Boswell numbers, the song smartly shifts tempo, and then serves as an anthem for personal change. A fitting song for the times — not to mention the weather. You can listen to that song and the rest of the show right now by clicking the side arrow below.

Earl King follows the opening song with “Love Can Change the World” and Debbie Davis, who once sang with the Pfister Sisters, a New Orleans group inspired by the Boswells, lays down a pointed song called “Your Racist Friend.”

Later in the show, I play a set of contemporary alternative rock by The Revivalists and The Iceman Special. The Revivalists are well known for a number 1 song called “Wish I Knew You” (when I was young). Instead though I play a nine-minute live version of “Soulfight.”

Near the end of the hour, you will hear a set of music handpicked by Mark and Edith, regular visitors to New Orleans but also listeners and supporters of KAOS. You’ll hear these Olympia residents explain why they love New Orleans. I very much appreciated their plug for supporting community radio. Here’s how you can join them in doing that for KAOS and KMRE .

My brass band guarantee for this show is a bit more jazzier than usual with original songs by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Soul Rebels. Later you’ll hear George Porter Jr. doing “Check Out Your Mind” — a nice counterpoint to the Boswell’s “There’ll Be Some Changes Made.”

As usual this show contains a mix of musical genres including vintage jazz, some swing, a bit of blues, rock, swamp pop, and Mardi Gras songs. I hope you enjoy. Please consider subscribing and feel free to leave a comment on the music you like.

Here’s what one day at JazzFest 2018 looked like

Thank you Anch and Scott for covering my show the last two weeks while I journeyed the length and depth of Florida visiting relatives. My trip started with a couple of nights in New Orleans, including the last day of Jazz Fest.  Here’s some pictures from that day.  Don’t forget to tune me in this Thursday (May 24) to hear these folks.

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Rode our bikes to the festival grounds and saw this control box painted to honor Deacon John Moore

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Original member of the famous Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band, Leroy Jones and his group entertained in the Economy Hall Tent.

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Keeping the tradition alive, the Young Pinstripe Brass Band at the Jazz and Heritage Stage

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Nice to see the truck, sad to remember that Mr. Okra died this year.

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George Porter (on bass and tie dye) and his Runnin’ Pardners held down the Gentilly Stage.

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Great opportunity to see the famed Zion Harmonizers in the Gospel Tent

 

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Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue rocked the Acura Stage to close out the festival.

New Orleans deserves more recognition for its funk

This week’s show is a funky one.  Get the show started by clicking the Mixcloud arrow then read how Ohio scooped New Orleans on the funk

meters.jpgA recent NPR story about Dayton, Ohio having a Funk Hall of Fame took me a bit by surprise.  It’s not that I have anything against Ohio though I resent the tendency of their vote for president seeming to count more than mine. And yes, there are some fine funk bands from Dayton (Ohio Players, Heatwave, Zapp, etc.).

Like many though, when I think of funk masters, I think James Brown, George Clinton and, well, The Meters.  In the late 60’s, Art Neville (keyboards), George Porter, Jr. (bass), Leo Nocentelli (guitar) and Zigaboo Modeliste (drums) became the studio band for Allen Toussaint backing hits like “Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky,” sung by Lee Dorsey. And while they didn’t make it as big as some of the mid-70 funk bands, The Meters, along with James Brown, are widely considered to be the originators of the funk sound.

But its not that simple.  The Meters were influenced by New Orleans parade rhythms, Professor Longhair,  and Earl Palmer, who before moving to Los Angles to be part of the famed “Wrecking Crew,” was part of the Cosimo Matassa studio band that created many of the early R&B hits by Fats Domino and Little Richard.  The same Little Richard sound that James Brown cited as being an influence on his funk sound.

So why isn’t the Funk Hall of Fame in New Orleans?  Probably for the same reason there’s not a decent Jazz or R&B museum in New Orleans. Dayton made it happen and New Orleans didn’t.   Well, least the music is good. Other acts on this show include Corey Henry, Galactic, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Dr. John, Eddie Bo, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Jon Cleary, Papa Grows Funk and Walter “Wolfman” Washington.

Community Stations like KAOS; WWOZ make a difference

Picture yourself at Tipitina’s in the early 80’s preparing to catch some funk by Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter, Jr., and just as the band is about to begin, a microphone descends from the ceiling.

In the early years of WWOZ, Tipitina’s was the home of the station.

You would have been witnessing an early, glorious moment in community radio. Located in the beer storage room above the uptown New Orleans night club was the nascent community radio station, WWOZ. With that simple, low-tech approach, the station was able to broadcast a live performance–launching a 30-year tradition of supporting local music.

WWOZ has come a long way from that beer closet and now is readily recognized as the “Guardian of the Groove” in New Orleans.

While serving a smaller market, KAOS has a similar reputation for supporting the often overshadowed music scene in Olympia.

With the KAOS Fall Member Drive and the WWOZ Fall Member Drive, I thought it timely to talk about my two favorite radio stations and why financial support is essential to both.

Like many, I listen to more than one station. But I only pledge to KAOS and WWOZ.  I pledge to KAOS because its my default station that I listen to the most, providing a wide range of music and programming. I pledge to WWOZ because I love New Orleans and its music. Listening to the station connects me, albeit remotely, to the city I was born in. Without WWOZ, I would not have had the confidence to launch Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa – a show that wouldn’t exist without KAOS.

Here are the features I like about these stations.  They both are non-commercial, community radio stations. They both invite and train members of the community to volunteer as on-air hosts (deejays). While being “volunteer powered” means they’re not as slick as some commercial radio stations, the hosts convey an authentic, honest voice, portraying Olympia and New Orleans in a way that gives me a deeper understanding. These deejays work in the same community, walk the same sidewalks,  drink at the same bars (you get the idea.).

Both stations are cheerleaders for local music, regularly announcing live music events, hosting studio performances and interviewing musicians and other performers. This boosterism can matter.  In 1987, KAOS hosted the the first radio broadcast of Nirvana and this summer, Seattle’s Vaudeville Etiquette was written up by the music tracker CMJ because of airplay it received on KAOS.

Just last week, local musician Greg Black stopped by the KAOS table at Arts Walk and offered the station his new CD, recorded two blocks away at Dub Narcotic Studio. You’ll hear it, along with other local music, on KAOS.

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Ernie K-Doe, New Orleans singer and lounge owner, was a deejay with New Orleans community radio station WWOZ.

And like WWOZ whose shows have been hosted by musicians like James Booker, David Torkanowsky and Ernie K-Doe (this blog’s patron saint), many of the KAOS on-air hosts are musicians themselves.

Both stations offer more than music. WWOZ , owned by the same folks who bring us Jazz Fest, focuses on programs that delve into the music and culture of New Orleans. KAOS has a broader mission, providing alternative perspectives such as National Native News, Counter Spin and Workers Independent News. as well as locally produced public affairs programs like Parallel University, Speaking of Wellness and the one I contribute to, Community Connections Report.

Strong listener support for these stations are crucial. The additional funding helps enrich the quality of the programming. But it also demonstrates to underwriters and funders that the station is a valued resource worthy of their support. Please take the time to pledge to KAOS and pledge to WWOZ this week or whenever you read this.