Last Gumbo YaYa Show But the Blog Will Carry On

I have hung up my headset and retired the show with this week’s farewell program. I’m healthy . . .just hewing to my philosophy of ending activities when they are still fun to do. I’ll explain this a bit more but first go ahead and demonstrate your multitask abilities by starting the show while still reading.

Since September 8 2014, I have produced a weekly radio show that features “Just a Little Bit of Everything ” which is the title of the Herb Hardesty’s 1961 single that kicks off the first full set of music. However, the common element has always been a strong connection with New Orleans and Lafayette.

The show broadcast live from the KAOS studio on the campus of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, first on Mondays and then later on Thursdays. A few years back, community station KMRE (Bellingham) began running edited versions of the show on Fridays. More recently, the show has aired on KOCF (Fern Ridge), WPHW (Hartwell) and occasionally other stations that participate in the Pacifica Network. In all, I produced about 380 episode with over 300 of them available to listen through this website.

Doing a post-Christmas show featuring my top 10 of 2019 with my sons — one of the highlights of my time doing the show.

When I first started as a volunteer deejay with KAOS , I considered a show featuring exclusively New Orleans music. But worried about the limited format. Over the course of my first year doing a morning drive-time show, I found myself digging into the KAOS music collection and was surprised by the depth of music coming out of the city –my birthplace and home for most of childhood.

So that’s what I’ve done, play songs by musicians such as Earl King who kicks off the show with “No City Like New Orleans,” Johnny Adams who swings through “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” and Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses jamming through “Minor Drag.”

I’m not a fan of long goodbyes but I also believe its important that radio stations provide closure when a show ends (as opposed to abruptly changing format with no warning). So I made it a finale show and asked listeners to call in and say hi. And over a dozen did! My favorite comment was from a listener who said she was going to JazzFest this April as a result of what she had heard on the show. (I couldn’t have received a better report card.)

Today’s show takes a sentimental walk through some previously covered material, including “St. James Infirmary” a personal lifelong favorite which has an interesting pedigree. Here’s more detail on that history. This week’s segment includes a clip from the Treme TV series featuring Wendell Pierce riffing off that song in the Touro Emergency Room.

The HBO series “Treme” had just wrapped its original run on TV when I started my show. Third from left is Wendell Pierce who played the fictional character Antoine Batiste. In this picture, he’s parading with actual members of Rebirth Brass Band.

Later, I play the original version of “Basis Street Blues” by Louis Armstrong and hint at its fascinating history detailed more in a previous show and post including how that song acquired lyrics which then resulted in the City of New Orleans returning the “Basin Street” name after eliminating it during a blush of civic post-Storyville shame (I guess tourism promotion beat out virtue and vanity). Satchmo scats on this early pre-lyric version of the song.

The Treme Brass Band does a great job on “Darktown Strutters Ball” a song with lyrics and a title that has caused me concern and in which I explore in a show and post.

I touch on the topic of Nine Lives a book by Dan Baum about people’s lives in New Orleans — originally sent to write about Hurricane Katrina, Baum ended up with a book detailing unique aspects of New Orleans culture such as Mardi Gras Indians, and marching bands. I play a song about Tootie Montana in today’s show.

This week’s show also includes a couple of clips from interviews including a funny description by Irvin Mayfield of his good friend Kermit Ruffins. You’ll also hear Kermit sing from his Happy Talk release. Here’s the interview of Kermit and Irvin in Kermit’s Mother-in-Law club about their album collaboration.

You’ll also hear Craig Klein saying why his New Orleans Nightcrawlers, which won a Grammy last year, sound so authentic. I pull that clip from an interview with four-ninths of the band last year.

Irma Thomas sings her big hit “Ruler of My Heart” on this show.

And you’ll hear an example of the messages I aired from New Orleans musicians during the COVID quarantine of 2020. For my final show, I chose Marla Dixon to repeat her delightful summary of her COVID life. Here’s the full show and full recording of Marla’s message from that time.

So this is it. I’m done creating new shows though you can listen to the 300 shows available through this website. I’m looking to travel a bit more and explore even more new music. And I’m going to keep this blog going. I suspect it will be quiet for a few weeks but don’t be surprised if I return with non-radio show type posts regarding music. Thanks for listening. But to keep in touch, you should subscribe .(right hand column)

Al Hirt, Art Neville, Herb Hardesty and other veterans share their music

As with last year‘s Veterans Day show, this year’s features music from New Orleans area musicians who served in the military. One way perhaps to reduce the chance of war in the future is to give respect to the lives of people who we send off to fight. Whether these musicians saw combat or not, their service in the military often came with a price, some times to their careers. Veterans Day used to be Armistice Day — a celebration of peace. Here’s the link to Veterans for Peace who seek to reclaim this day’s purpose.

This show also features an interview with Kevin Clarke, Grammy winning trumpet player with the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, talking about his friendship with Al Hirt who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. You can listen the interview as part of the whole show (below) or you can just listen to the eight-minute interview segment.

I start the show with a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Wartime Blues” and then flow into Lee Dorsey’s “Gotta Find a Job” to kick off the first full set of music. While serving on a Navy destroyer during World War II, Dorsey was injured by a Japanese fighter plane attack. After leaving the military, Dorsey returned to New Orleans and learned auto body repair with funding provided by the G.I. Bill. Despite his music success, he continued to work at his shop through most of his life.

R&B pianist and Army band leader Paul Gayten follows with “Nervous Boogie.” Lloyd Price, whose career was short circuited when he was drafted and sent to Korea, offers up “Chee Koo Baby.” Dale Hawkins, who lied about his age and served during the Korean War, sings “Suzie-Q” (yes, the song that later would be a hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Ellis Marsalis, a Marine, delivers “Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)”

The next set is dedicated to saxophonist Herb Hardesty who was a member of the famed 99th Flying Squadron better known as the Tuskegee Airman – the first African American squadron to be deployed overseas during World War II.  You’ll hear him play baritone saxophone on Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday” and tenor on a couple of other Domino songs featuring his solos. The set starts with his original song “Just a Little Bit of Everything.”

Kevin Clarke shares his memories of Al Hirt in this week’s show.

Then Kevin Clarke, who won a grammy this year for his performance with the New Orleans Nightcrawlers’ album Atmosphere, talks about making a point to befriend Al Hirt when he first moved to New Orleans in the 1990’s. As part of Clarke’s reminiscence, you’ll hear “Java,” the theme from the “Green Hornet” and “Cornet Chop Suey.” Below is the player for just that interview.

The next set highlights the Navy service of Art and Charles Neville with Art’s “Let’s Rock” along with The Meters “The World is a Bit Under the Weather. Leo Neocentelli served during the Vietnam War but returned in time to contribute his guitar licks to The Meter’s groove. Two Neville Brother songs follow that.

Willie Durisseau and brother Jimmy.

Willie Durisseau is far from a household name but he was an active Cajun fiddler in the 1930’s performing at  House Dances, known in French as bals de maison, held in small towns in the Arcadiana area of Louisiana.  But thanks to Louis Michot, with Lost Bayou Ramblers and Corey Ledet, he was recorded playing the fiddle at age 101. He also served our country and fought in Okinawa – the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II. Other veterans in that set include Clarence “Gatemout” Brown, Eddie Bo, Rockin’ Tabby Thomas, Chuck Carbo and Derrick Moss’ Soul Rebels (Derrick served in the Air Force Reserves).

Also in this week’s show: Dave Bartholomew, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Allen Toussaint and Robert “Bumps” Blackwell (who was stationed at nearby Fort Lewis)– all veterans.

I finish with a couple of songs focused on peace, most notably Louie Ludwig’s “World Without War.” Thanks for listening. Please subscribe.

Recognizing New Orleans Veterans, a few Peace Songs

This week’s show is a Gumbo YaYa send up of Louisiana musicians whose careers intersected with the military in honor of Veterans Day. Please be advised that while I honor our veterans, I do not honor war.

The show starts with Louis Prima’s rendition of “White Cliffs of Dover” – a WW II era song that uses the air battle over Britain following the fall of France as its backdrop. A scary time for the world.

My earliest experience with a war veteran is my father, a professor and administrator at Tulane whose life was punctuated and shortened by anxiety episodes that were eventually traced to his two years as a blimp pilot during World War II.

Veterans pay a price for our collective foreign policy actions and we owe them for the burden they carry. Today, you’ll hear the music of those Louisiana musicians who served in the military while also spinning music that seeks a more peaceful approach to our conflicts.

Saxophonist Herb Hardesty served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

The first vet you’ll hear is Ellis Marsalis Jr. who was a member of the Marine Corps. And while the next number is by Fats Domino, his song features the rocking saxophone of Herb Hardesty a WW II member of the Tuskegee Airmen — the all-black 99th Flying Squadron.

You also hear Lloyd Price, whose musical career was red hot when he was drafted and sent to Korea. By the time Price returned to the music scene, Little Richard and many others had grabbed the limelight. 

Lloyd Price was hitting the charts with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” when he was sent to Korea.

Lee Dorsey and Dale Hawkins both served on Navy destroyers. Dorsey was injured in an air attack during World War II. Hawkins lied about his age and served during the Korean War. Edgar Blanchard served in Europe in World War II. Rockin’ Tabby Thomas was in the Army between World War II and the Korean War. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was in the Army Corps of Engineers.

Al “Carnival Time” Johnson lost legal control of his hit song during his stint with the Army at Fort Bliss. Red Alvin Tyler and Eddie Bo also served in the Army. Chuck Carbo was in the Coast Guard. Paul Gayten directed an Army band during his military service. Al Hirt was in the service during World War II and played the bugle (no surprise there).

Because the draft ended, its harder to find younger musicians with military service. However, Derrick Moss, drummer and co-founder of Soul Rebels Brass Band, references his Air Force Reserve service on the band’s website. You’ll hear music from all these veterans, and more.

Smoky Greenwell’s “Power of Peace,” Louis Ludwig’s “World Without War,” Black Bayou Construkt’s “Jones for War,” Dr. John’s “Lay My Burden Down,” Gina Forsyth “4th of July,” the Subdudes’ “Lonely Soldier,” Meschiya Lake’s “I’ll Wait for You” and other songs wrap around the songs of these veterans with the message that the best way we can honor war veterans is to avoid creating more of them.

By the way, I did a similar show three years ago. And my list of veteran musicians has grown since that show . . .as it will when I next to do this show. For instance, I’ve just learned Dennis Paul Williams, artist and guitarist with Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas served as a Marine in Japan. Also, Allen Toussaint was drafted by the Army in 1963 and Eddie Edwards served in the Army from July 1918 to March 1919.Thank you for listening.

NOLA musicians are on the Veteran’s Day honor roll

In preparation for today’s show (two days before Veteran’s Day), I made an attempt to identify New Orleans musicians who had served in the military so I could play them to start off my show.  Go ahead and click the podcast so you can listen while you finish reading this.

I did not find a source of information that was comprehensive so my list of New Orleans musicians who are veterans is far from comprehensive. If you know of one that I missed, please let me know. I’ll be happy to include them in a future recognition.

Herb Hardesty on Sax
Saxophonist Herb Hardesty served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

Herb Hardesty, long-time saxophonist for Fats Domino but also had a solo career, signed up with the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941.  While playing with the Army band, Hardesty learned to play the saxophone (he had been playing trumpet). He served in World War II as part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen (99th Flying Squadron). I do not possess any of his solo work, so I played Domino’s When My Dreamboat Comes Home which features two fine solos by Hardesty.

Like Hardesty, guitarist Edgar Blanchard was stationed in Europe during World War II before coming back to form the Gondoliers and be the bandleader at the Dew Drop Inn. I played his Stepping High recorded in the Cosimo Matassa studio in honor of his service.

Paul Gayten led an Army Band in Biloxi for his military service before migrating to New Orleans and kicking off his musical career. Arguably his greater accomplishment was his work as an A&R man for Chess Records but my show has him singing Just One More Chance.

lloyd price korea
Lloyd Price’s music career was interrupted when drafted and sent to Korea.

Lloyd Price had  five top 10 R&B hits under his belt including the number 1 song  Lawdy Miss Clawdy when he got drafted and sent to Korea in 1954.

In an interview with Bill Forman of the Colorado Springs Independent, Price argued that the military draft policies were racist, applied disproportionately on Black Americans.  “I never was supposed to go because I was my family’s sole supporter, and it was against the law to take more than four boys from the same family.”

By the time he returned, the field had gotten more crowded with singers like Little Richard. But he bounced back with hits like Stagger Lee and Personality and later he started his own record label. On the show, I  play his 1953 song, Tell Me Pretty Baby.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Al Hirt was a bugler in Army during World War II.  He plays Diga Diga Doo on today’s show which would have been a much cooler way to wake up soldiers than Reveille.  I also play songs by Dale Hawkins and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown to recognize their service.  And I finish with “Working in the Coal Mine” by Lee Dorsey who spent World War II in the Navy before starting his music career in New Orleans.

Two other NOLA performers who didn’t make it in the show but have military service are Ellis Marsalis and Ernest Joseph “Tabby” Thomas.

Today’s show also features a lot of other great music and two more clips from my interview Irvin Mayfield and Kermit Ruffins including one where Ruffins demonstrates the differences in brass band beats by banging on the bar at his Mother-in-Law Lounge on Claiborne.