The day after Mardi Gras can be unsettling because even though you can “Do Whatcha Wanna” on Fat Tuesday, the next day is accompanied by a hangover, sore feet and vocal chords and, for some, a broken heart. Get the show started and let Alex McMurray’s song “The Day After Mardi Gras Day” fill you in.
In some ways, it was a relief to get out of the party zone with the show and get reacquainted with other New Orleans music. In this show you’ll hear Kristin Diable, Mem Shannon, Dana Abbott, Glen David Andrews, Henry Butler, Carlo Ditta, and many more.
On re-listening to this show, I’m most impressed by Lil Queenie doing a cover of David Bowie’s “Stay” from her new release Purple Heart. Other covers include Carlo Ditta channelling Leonard Cohen in a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” and Mem Shannon’s persuasive take of Tom Petty’s “Don’t Back Down.”
I start a new feature called “Gumbo YaYa Earworm” where I play a song from the last show that stuck in my head. If you have that malady when you listen to my show, let me know the culprit and I’ll include it in the next show.
I also replay a segment of Helen Gillet’s live in-studio performance at KAOS last summer where she talked about Alcide Pavageau, a well-regarded New Orleans bass player who was born on this day in 1888. The song is called “Slow Drag Pavageau” and is featured on her latest album.
What would like to hear in future shows? Let me know. Cheers.
My list of top ten releases from New Orleans is based on my experience as the host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa, a Northwest community radio show that features New Orleans and other Louisiana music. To see a larger list of releases, check out my 2018 summary. This show features two tracks from each of the top 10 releases.
Bon Bon Vivant: Live At The New Orleans Jazz Museum – This original group features sweet sister harmonies, a genre-bending style and a clear affection for New Orleans history performed before the perfect live audience. This is a group to watch and you can, very easily because they perform live in New Orleans regularly.
Riverside Jazz Collective:Stomp Off, Let’s Go – Recorded at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music by New Orleans pros who can be heard regularly around town, particularly at The Bombay Club. This album features gently time-worn “songs that are melodically and emotionally durable.”
Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs: Neville Jacobs – A magic combination formed from a post-Jazz Fest card game where New Orleans funk and soul meets Baltimore rock and blues. The chemistry is so solid, I listen to this CD with the hope that there will be a second one.
Cha Wa: Spyboy – Waiting for the next generation to pick up the mantle for The Wild Magnolias (except with a strong brass sound ) Look no further then this second release of this millennial group that has the fire! Grammy nominated too. “Get On Out Of the Way”
Michot’s Melody Makers: Blood Moon – Lost Bayou Ramblers’ co-founder Louis Michot stretches the boundaries of Cajun music to his heart and my ears content with this project. I get calls from listeners wanting to know more when I play from this CD — and for good reason.
Helen Gillet: Helkiase– On the surface, Gillet and her music may seem far afield of what you might expect out of New Orleans. But this French and English singing cellist has been embedded in the city for most of her professional life. Her latest project can be edgy, melodic, soothing and tense. Check out her KAOS studio performance and interview from this summer. “
Jon Batiste: Hollywood Africans – He may be world famous as the late night show bandleader but Batiste is more importantly a world-class musician with some powerful music to share, In this very personal release, he offers up originals with a fresh look at a couple standards. His reverent timing invites the listener to slow down and listen “with all you got, . . .don’t stop.”
Gal Holiday: Lost & Found – After 14 years in the vanguard of the New Orleans country music scene, Gal Holiday — aka Vanessa Neuman — and her Honky-Tonk Revue know how to deliver authentic old-time Patsy Cline style country. And while her band is solid, Vanessa’s voice is the star of the show.
Jonathon Long: Jonathon Long – His third release is the charm. He dropped the “Boogie” from his name and added a lot of himself in his singing and songwriting. This self-titled album produced by Samantha Fish and featuring muscular guitar work and soulful, personal lyrics represents a new addition to Southern Rock.
Jon Cleary: Dyna-Mite – If you’ve been waiting for Cleary’s full band follow up to his 2016 Grammy win, wait no more! With two more songs and a wider range (including a reggae-inflected song), Dyna-Mite blows away his Grammy-worthy earlier release.
I also play a track from Ever More Nest — Kelcy Mae’s latest project which was a close contender for being part of the top 10 list.
I miss the days when my Dad would pull out the slide projector and set up the screen and we’d look at the slides of our last vacation. Well, get my show started and you’ll hear an audio slideshow of my trip to New Orleans last week.
Since this show was part of the KAOS pledge drive, I have the honor of Anch Bergeson, host of Sundrenched, and Vertis Love, host of Old Ship of Zion (KAOS shows) as company. I kept our discussion of New Orleans but edited out the pledge requests. However, if you want to support our community radio station, its easy to do.
For West Coast visitors, there’s a nice alignment for catching Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar on Tuesday nights. Usually, flights are cheaper on Tuesday and the two-hour time change helps in terms of staying up late enough to see this venerable band that usually doesn’t start performing until after 10:30 p.m. This show recognizes how I started last week’s trip with Rebirth’s “Who’s Rockin’, Who’s Rollin”
My next set portrays our ride on the Natchez boat down the Mississippi, an easy and fun tourist activity and I feature two bands we saw later in the day at clubs on Frenchmen Street (Bon Bon Vivant and Tin Men).
I do a set featuring coffee because my wife, Kim, still raves about the cup of coffee she had at Morning Call located at City Park. Most tourists get their cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. Morning Call used to be there but now they have a wonderful place at City Park. I finish the set with a Corey Henry song because we ended the day at Vaughan’s in the Bywater for his weekly late Thursday night performance.
Lena Prima, Louis’ daughter, is a wonderful performer with an excellent band and a crowd-pleasing songbook. She holds court in the Carousel Room of the Monteleone Hotel every Friday night. I play “Scuba Diver” off her live album which pretty accurately captures the music but to catch the antics, you’ll have to wait for my narrative after that set.
I caught up with Helen Gillet at the Courtyard Brewery’s fourth anniversary party and she gave me her latest release and I play “You Found Me.” Charles Sheffield “It’s Your Voodoo Working” and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Swamp Ghost” symbolize the Krewe of Boo parade we caught.
It took some deciphering but we figured out how to catch up with the Men of Luck’s Second Line parade on Sunday. Cyril Neville’s “Running with the Second Line.” capture that feeling.
Jazz-based cellist, singer, composer and improviser Helen Gillet graced the KAOS studio during my July 12, 2018 show. She also performs this evening in my backyard. Go ahead and get the radio show started which begins with Jon Cleary’s new song “Big Greasy.”
Helen is a total pro. Despite feeling under the weather, she braved I-5 traffic and arrived exactly when she said she would. She set up quickly with the help of our talented KAOS Music Department and as a result, we got to spend over an hour together on the air talking about her music, New Orleans and she performed one of my favoriteH’s (“Atchafalaya”).
She also talked a bit about her experience learning the cello in Singapore and the difficulties with how to categorize her music which is so difficult to define yet so pleasing to listen to.
I’m sorry if you missed the Olympia concert. Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss the next one.
Here is just the interview and music of Helen Gillet:
“I don’t know, boss. . but I won’t do it again,” is allegedly how Louis Armstrong responded to a pointed question from the president of Okeh records when he asked him who was playing trumpet on a song recorded by a competing label. The song was “Drop that Sack” and you’ll hear it on today’s show.
Helen Gillet’s memorable “De mémoire de Rose opens the show followed by Satchmo’s 1926 recording and a live recording of Big Sam’s Funky Nation at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival doing almost 12 minutes of funk with some familiar touchstones throughout, including “Eliza Jane.”
I do a set of jazz, swing numbers followed by a Latin-inflected number by Charmaine Neville and her band appropriately titled “Dance.” I break into the new release by Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue and offer up some New Orleans Suspects, Seth Walker, Professor Longhair and Lena Prima.
Near the end of the show catch a great number sung by Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes with the Smoky Greenwell Band followed by Rosie Ledet’s “It Might Be You” from her latest release. If you stay with me long enough, you’ll catch another Helen Gillet number.
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.
This week’s show features exclusively female musicians, vocalists and bandleaders. You can start the show now and finish reading while you listen.
Female-focused shows have gotten easier since my first one in 2015 but there’s still a serious imbalance particularly when looking for horn players.
The Original Pinettes Brass Band, as best as I can tell, is still the only female brass band. And its rare to see a female musician in any of the male-dominated brass bands.
Where the balance tips the other way is in the area of vocalists. Debbie Davis, Ingrid Lucia, Linnzi Zaorski, Charmaine Neville, Lena Prima and Meschiya Lake are featured in this latest show. I also plays songs with the amazing musicianship (and vocals) of Aurora Nealand (clarinet and saxophone) and Helen Gillet (cello) as well as singer songwriters Kelcy Mae and Gina Forsyth.
This show I was able to add a funk song thanks to picking up Erica Falls album and zydeco with the almost all-female band Bonsoir, Catin. I reckon these shows are getting easier to do because my library of female-generated music is getting deeper as opposed to any seismic-level gender shift. I may have a taller stack of applicable CDs now but it still pales when placed next to the pile of other NOLA music I have.
In which case, it seems appropriate to continue in the future doing special shows where I feature exclusively women. Why not keep the thumb on the scale until it doesn’t matter anymore. And anyway, I didn’t do justice to a great many other female artists who did not get played today. I’ll do another female exclusive show soon and meanwhile they all go back into my rotation for my other shows.
Here’s the playlist. If you got ideas for me, let me know.
I have to admit, I tend to play zydeco and cajun tunes with English titles because demonstrating my language ignorance on the radio is right up there with playing Pictionary in terms of personal embarrasment. But this last week, we’ve been hosting a young women from France who has decided to live in Olympia, where her parents met, fell in love and is her birthplace. So I invited Noémie to sit on my show this morning and what a great time.
The result is a wonderful mix of French-language songs from Louisiana. Songs from Beausoleil, Pine Leaf Boys, Gina Delafose, Bonsour Catin, Clifton Chenier, Helen Gillet, Sweet Crude and more.
This week’s show starts with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band in honor of Walter Payton, father of trumpeter Nicholas Payton and the sousaphone player for that storied New Orleans band.
I then take a twist toward more contemporary music with Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Sneaky Pete, Jello Biafra and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All Stars, Helen Gillet and the Dirty Bourbon River Show. I then head back into R&B, including playing High Blood Pressure from the Huey “Piano” Smith album I bought in Ballard last weekend and another round of brass bands. I mixed tracks from new releases by Benny Turner, Naughty Professor and Stanton Moore. The show, as edited below, finishes with Cowboy Mouth’s relationship dirge “Broken Up.” Enjoy!
So many great releases this year, I had to break it up into two parts. As you will see, there is no order or reason to who is Part 1 versus Part 2.
This is not a comprehensive list of New Orleans 2015 releases but rather music I played on my show this year, thanks to the generosity of the artists who shared their creations with me or my station. Not every artist can afford to distribute music to a West Coast small market station like KAOS. So if you did, thank you.
Tubaluba– I’m starting close to home because this Seattle-based brass band has every intention of closing the gap between the Northwest and New Orleans. Crescent City wannabe Josh Wilson leads the group with total dedication to capturing the spirit and tradition of New Orleans brass and R&B music. Their first release Champagne Sunday delivers. You can catch these guys locally. So do it!
Helen Gillet – This Belgian cellist creates haunting, beautiful melodies often to a hypnotic rhythm capable of transporting you far from wherever you are. If you’ve caught her one-person performances using loops, you’ll find that her latest release Bangkok Silver ably recreates that experience and more. I’ve only caught two tracks so far but I want more.
Shamarr Allen – This creative young trumpeter who writes infectiously upbeat songs with lyrics that open himself to his audience (including giving out his real phone number) isn’t planning on releasing True Orleans until spring 2016. Throughout this year though, he’s been sharing his musical ideas with fans through “mixtapes“available for download. His past CDs are fun too. Check him out.
Paul Sanchez – Speaking of fearless songwriters, this founding member of Cowboy Mouth clearly loves challenges, like putting Dan Baum’s Nine Lives to music. With his 12th solo release, his vision goes global with The World is Round: Everything That Ends Begin Again. Filled with enjoyable tracks that bounce between pop, rock and folk, the CD provides a complete orbit of a man who truly lives and loves to write songs.
Dash Rip Rock – Over the last two decades, this three-piece band with a bent sense of humor and distinctive alt-country swamp punk sound has built a loyal regional following. Their latest release Wrongheaded leans deliciously toward Southern rock emphasizing stories over humor. There’s commitment in this release. They ain’t coming home until the sun comes up.
Jello Biafra and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All Stars– Dash Rip Rock’s Bill Davis got Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) down to his city on a dare and put together a kick ass band for a night that I suspect many will remember till their dying day. Thankfully, for the many of us who missed it, Walk on Jindal’s Splintersdoes a good job of capturing the experience.
Billy Iuso – A journeyman guitarist that you may have heard but not heard of, Iuso continues building a strong repertoire of original songs with his latest release, Overstanding. He first caught my attention with his live show at the Freret Street Festival this year where every song just got better the longer he jammed.
Sneaky Pete & the Fens – If you have overdosed on too many versions of “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans,” then Live in Pompeii could be your anecdote. Writer Peter Orr turns to music to tell stories about his troubled girl, New Orleans — the Cajun Haiti “where half the state is toxic and the other half is in the sea.” Recorded in a grocery store that serves the Marigny neighborhood but sells a mezzanine level full of Mardi Gras paraphernalia, Orr shares what he loves and fears about his city.
Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers– Kermit does that delicate balancing act of playing to the tourists while also sustaining the love and loyalty of locals. He’s the genuine article. Grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, co-founded Rebirth Brass Band, saved the Mother-in-Law Lounge and reveres Satchmo. His latest serving, #imsoneworleans, contributes to his icon status.
Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires – I had a hard time deciding what music shelf to place Distillations of the Blues when it arrived in the studio. Is it jazz, blues, folk or country? Trained mostly in New Orleans but having spent a good chunk of his professional life in New York, Hefko has returned home creating music, with engaging lyrics, that is fortunately a lot easier to listen to than it is define.
Charlie Dennard – Another example of the incredible depth of talent in New Orleans, Dennard lays down 10 jazzy, groove-based tracks on 5 o’clock Charlie with his Hammond B-3 organ and the able contributions of the rest of his trio. Grab your favorite mellow mood maker, it’s happy hour time.
Galactic – This year’s release Into The Deep harkens back to their first decade when the band was fronted by soul singer Theryl Declouet while illustrating how much this talented group has learned over their 20 years. A strong guest list of vocalists including Mavis Stables and Macy Gray carry the load this time. The band tours the Northwest February 26 and 27, 2016.
The Revivalists– With a sound designed to garner alternative rock air time, the Revivalists have built a national audience based on strong songwriting and energetic live performances. Galactic’s Ben Ellman returns as producer for Men Amongst Mountains which builds on the success they had with their previous City of Sound release. They hit the Northwest on March 9 and 10. 2016.
Smoky Greenwell – His New Orleans Blues Jam – Live at the Old U.S. Mint was released last year but didn’t find its way into the studio until this summer. The band righteously does straight ahead blues with a sweet number by accordionist, vocalist and park ranger Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes.
Thank you so much for reading this blog and listening to my show. If you like to keep in touch, please subscribe or send me an email. I may not live in New Orleans but my ears spend a lot of time there. Have a Happy New Year. Also check out last year’s review of 2014 releases.