Moving into a Bluesier, Funky Fall

A fall freshet of rain (almost two inches) has slaked the thirst of my drought-stressed landscape and brushed off the dust of summer. We’re in that sweet spot where the sun shines enough to ensure the oncoming chill and damp doesn’t quite over stay its welcome. Well, at least for now. And the other harbinger of Autumn? The arrival of students on the Evergreen State College campus starting Monday.

This week’s show was captured, as usual, during its original broadcast on KAOS and edited for rebroadcast on KMRE. Since returning to producing live shows in the KAOS studios in May, the campus of the Evergreen State College has been rather ghostly. Empty parking lots, an occasional distant body scurrying across the square, the quiet yet freaky noises of previously unnoticed machinery in the College Activities Building where the studio resides.

But this week, there were some stirrings. More cars in the lot, students animatedly chatting in pairs on the square and after 20 months, this four-year college appears to be coming back to life with in-person classes and activities. Next week, the studio, which has been empty every time I’ve come in for my show over the last four months, will be a lot more active. I’ll have to get used to other people working near me again.

Why this description? Well, this milieu can affect my show, even though it features music from a city over 2,600 miles away. You’ll hear a good example when I break tradition and start the first set with a song that is by Jonathan Bree a New Zealander whose song, “You’re So Cool,” is very different than what I usually play. But given that it was a request by a student who was listening as my earlier morning show was ending, I wanted to be welcoming and play the song. It was followed by good company – Clayton Doley‘s “Disbelief.” This piano-playing Aussie went to New Orleans and jammed with some of its best horn players, creating Bayou Billabong. Preservation Hall Jazz Band follows with its Cuban-influenced original “Santiago.” Before the set ends, I get back on message with The Melatauns’ “Day of Sunshine” followed by Dr. Brice Miller’s poignant yet jammin’ “You are my Sunshine.” And that’s just the first full set — which you can listen to right now by using the player above.

Other show highlights include:

  • The Shiz which bills themselves as “New Orleans conscious, hippie, lesbeaux Folk-Rock and Soul”
  • A nearly 8 and half minute rendition of “Let Me Do My Thing” by The Hot 8 Brass Band — edited for radio but not to be confused with the radio version of this song which is half as long. Here’s the site to donate to help the family of bandleader Bennie Pete who died from COVID-19 earlier this month.
  • Sarah Quintana performing with a kazoo.
  • Greetings and songs by Sonny Landreth and Andrew Duhon.
  • Dozens of other great New Orleans songs.

Thanks for tuning in, subscribing, listening, being kind, helping others and cleaning up after yourself.

Seven Year Itch – Time to Move On?

Why am I still doing this show? Isn’t seven years long enough?

I’ve produced over 350 radio episodes focusing exclusively on music from New Orleans with some some well justified forays into Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Mamou and other nearby swamp lands. Perhaps its time to move?

On the plus side, the music I play is damn good. Hear for yourself when you get the player started above with my seventh anniversary show. How can you not be a fan with Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet’s opening number “You Came” as in “you came to the party.” That party stays funky with help from Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes and Flow Tribe.

My roots with New Orleans go back to the early 1960s with my Dad playing from his jazz record collection that included several from native son Pete Fountain. You’ll hear Fountain’s version of “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” along with songs by Royal Street favorite Doreen Ketchens and Rebirth Brass Band.

Bennie Pete – a screen capture from a video on the The Hot 8 Brass Band’s website

It’s not all party though. Bennie Pete died last week at 45. As bandleader and sousaphonist for The Hot 8 Brass Band, Pete and his band has been a symbol of the city’s resilience since Hurricane Katrina. The band was featured in Spike Lee’s epic documentary on the city and the storm “When the Levees Broke” and has gone through one tragic event after another including three band member deaths to gun violence (one a shooting by New Orleans Police Department). The band’s record Tombstone was intended to put the bad shit behind them. I play the the first and last track from that release and the song “We Goin’ Make It.” Long live Bennie Pete!

As in past anniversary shows, I point to the gateway acts that have fueled my 15 year addiction to this city’s music scene. Notably, you will hear the New Orleans Nightcrawlers who grabbed my attention with their Live at the Old Point Bar. This album makes me wish I was in the Algier’s Point bar that night in 2010. On the other hand, I was there for the Radiators performance at the 2006 Jazzfest– the one right after Hurricane Katrina. You’ll hear a a great jam from that performance.

On the question that started this post, as long as I’m having fun, I see no reason to stop doing the show. What do you think?

More Smiles Makes For More Music

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.

From the cover of the New Birth Brass Band Second Line record cover.

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.

From the back cover of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band “Voodoo” record.

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.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you’re listening to the show and if you like it, subscribe to this blog so you’ll get notices of fresh shows (pretty much one a week.)

Helping you vote with music from New Orleans – Part Two

With two weeks left before election day, over 800,000 ballots in my state have been turned in. Turnout is even stronger where this show is broadcast with ballots turned in by nearly one out of three voters. Over 42 million have already voted nationwide. Wow!

For those who haven’t voted yet, here’s music to vote . . .or to listen to while waiting to vote.

This week’s songs, like last week’s songs, are selected to get you into a frame of mind for exercising your right to vote, starting with John Boutte’s cover of “A Change is Gonna Come” — a song inspired by a racist experience when Sam Cooke attempted to check into a Shreveport motel.

The Meters gives us “People Say” to start the first full set and Leyla McCalla puts Langston Hughes words to music with “Song for a Dark Girl.” It’s a set designed to remind us that its been a long, long journey for racial equity and justice and we’re not done yet. This set finishes with The Neville Brothers’ “Sons and Daughters (Reprise)” and Rebirth Brass Band’s “Take it to the Street.”

Allen Toussaint’s sings “We Are America”

Allen Toussaint starts “Yes We Can Can” by singing “We are America” to a New Orleans Jazz Fest audience. His song enlivens a second half hour set of music that includes The Hot 8 Brass Band’s “Working Together,” Marcia Ball’s “World Full of Love,” Smoky Greenwell’s “Get Out and Vote,” and Tab Benoit and Dr. John doing “We Ain’t Gonna Lose No More.”

In the second half of the show, Davis Rogan’s “Joe Biden Will Do Just Fine” pairs nicely with Paula and The Pontiacs doing “Play to Win.” Eric Lindell follows up with “Revolution” as in a revolution in our heart. New Orleans Suspects offers up “Whatcha Gonna Do” and Dr. Michael White delivers “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

The show ends with an amazing Louis Armstrong cover of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” Amazing because first it was recorded less than a year after Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded the original Second, its clearly a funk version which is unusual for Armstrong who would live only a year after the release of this song. And finally, the song comes across so well, particularly for the vibe I was going for. Let me know what you think.

A COVID Hatchet Not So Deep in our Heads

If the line “There is a hatchet not so deep in my head” from Dr. John’s “Holdin’ Pattern” speaks to you, then this is your show. The persistence of COVID-19 feels like a holding pattern which is a problem for all those whose livelihoods depend on our ability to gather –such as brass band musicians. I’ll tell you about the show and more once you get it started. (click sideways arrow in box below and it will play while you continue to read.)

The uptick in COVID-19 infections and its impact on our health care system has slowed down the possibility of having live shows and congregating. I’m not an advocate of rushing this process but I do worry what impact it will have on our culture — particularly the unique New Orleans brass band culture.

The New Orleans Brass Band Musicians Relief Fund is currently crowdsourcing funding through GoFundMe and seeking larger donations to provide emergency cash grants to musicians. The relief fund was started by the Save Our Brass Culture Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for the city’s brass band musicians, with Seth Bailin, a saxophonist who plays with New Orleans brass bands, and Joanna Farley, who used to work in disaster response.

From the Save Our Brass Culture Foundation website

You’ll hear me make a plug for this foundation in the second hour as I play a long set of brass band music that includes the following: Lazy Boyz Brass Band with “Come and Dance,” The Hot 8 Brass Band with “War Time,” The To Be Continued Brass Band with “Numba2 (We Dem Folks)” edited for radio, The Original Pinettes Brass Band with “We Got Music,” The Soul Rebels with Trombone Shorty with “Sabor Latino,” Treme Brass Band with “Tuba Fats,” Rebirth Brass Band with “Dilemma,” and the Forgotten Souls Brass Band with “The Second Half.” It’s about 45 minutes of brass music.

Before that you’ll hear a set of blues and some jazz and I finish with three very unique songs by Elizabeth Joan Kelly, Helen Gillet and Aurora Nealand operating under the name The Monocle.

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Trombone Shorty – New Orleans music past, present & future

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.”

Trombone Shorty with his band Orleans Avenue closing out the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — an annual tradition. (Photo by Tim Sweeney)

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.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (Photo by Tim Sweeney)

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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Birthdays and Brass Make for a Rockin’ Show

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 (The Radiators) photo from Offbeat Magazine and by Kim Welsh

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.

Crawfish, New Tracks, and a Germaine Performance & more

Marcia Ball kicks off this week’s show with “Crawfishin'” which I play in honor of the fact that we’re now in the height of the mud bug season. But there’s more mouth-watering songs in the show so get it started and then read more of what’s on the menu.

Latest Smoking Time Jazz Club record

Smoking Time Jazz Club is proving to a prolific recording group as well as a live performance band. In the first full set, check out “Snake Hip Dance” from their barely released Contrapuntal Stomp. Tom Worrell lays down “Crawfish Fiesta” from a live performance of piano night, the WWOZ benefit that happens between the two weekends of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. (This year, it looks like the event has moved to House of Blues).

I start the second full set with Leyla McCalla’s “Money is King” from her latest The Capitalist Blues . That set is all new music including Big Al and the Heavyweights doing “Fool for You” and Herlin Riley’s wonderful funky jazz number “Wings and Roots.”

Later in the show, you’ll hear Little Queenie, Tuts Washington, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, James Booker, and Miss Sophie Lee. I spin two more tracks from the Smithsonian Folkways not-yet-released 50 year anniversary of Jazz Fest with a big band performance by Al Belletto and a birthday spin (she turn’s 87!) of Germaine Bazzle scatting with Red Tyler’s Quintet.

At about the hour mark, you’ll hear the Hot 8 Brass Band’s sweaty dance anthem “Get Up” — the 20th anniversary version and then later to end the show I play the Diesel remix of that song — which was recently featured in a soccer highlight show “Match of the Week.”

Oh I left stuff out of this description so you’ll have some surprises along the way. Thanks for listening. Please subscribe and tell ALL your friends about Gumbo YaYa.

Hot 8 Brass Band release includes NOLA Banksy art

The name Banksy is world known now after one of his pieces self-shredded during its auction recently.  But the anonymous English street artist was hardly a household name when the Hot 8 Brass Band included his art on 2012 CD release “The Life and Times of  . ”  Get the show started and then read on.

banksy2
Banksy street art that appeared in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and feature don the 2012 Hot 8 Brass Band release

Banksy, whose art has appeared on walls throughout the world, visited New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and his work captured the community’s affection.  Abraham Lincoln pushing a shopping cart, a little girl flying a refrigerator and a brass band marching down the street.  In today’s show, I play “Ghost Town” off the Hot 8 release.

But before you get to that song, you’ll hear Seattle-area musician, Del Rey, performing “Going Back to New Orleans,” Champion Jack Dupree with “Yella Pocahontas,” Charmaine Neville and the Iguanas.  To name a few.

Tank and the Bangas, who will be performing in Seattle and Portland in November, are on this show as well doing “Rollercoaster” Live at Gasa Gasa and Kermit Ruffins performs “If I Only Had a Brain.”

I also feature an early R&B set with Little Richard, Leo Price and Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns.  Thanks for tuning and please subscribe so you can be informed of when new shows are available.

banksy

With one hand, New Orleans piano player let the good times roll

This week’s show is about the one-handed piano player you have likely heard but not heard of. Edward Frank played on scores of R&B hits created in the Cosimo Matassa cauldron in the 50’s and early 60’s. But there’s more to the story so go ahead and get this week’s show started, kicked off by BeauSoleil’s “Bon Temps Rouler.”

EDWARD FRANK
Edward Frank on piano.

This show celebrates Edward Frank’s birth anniversary. He was born June 14, 1932  and died in February 1997.  Despite his early R&B history, he spent his later years playing more contemporary jazz at venues such as the Palm Court Cafe and Preservation Hall. He was a talented horn arranger and keyboardist, involved with  Dr. John’s “Goin’ Back to New Orleans,” the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s”Jelly,” Snooks Eaglin’s “Soul’s Edge,” Tommy Ridgley’s “Since the Blues Began”and Chuck Carbo’s  “Drawers Trouble” and “The Barber’s Blues.”

Frank was born and attended high school in New Orleans. Except for a stint at college and some time in Houston working Bobby Blue Bland, he mostly made his home in New Orleans.  He also played in Europe with Lillian Boutte.  His performances were made more remarkable because of a disability that rendered his left arm paralyzed. This show features Frank playing piano on songs by Lloyd Price, Bobby Charles and Shirley and Lee (backing them up on their hit, “Let the Good Times Roll.”)

But first you’ll be treated to a set that includes Carlo Ditta’s “Tell It Like It Is,” the New Orleans Jazz Vipers’ “Swing that Music” and Professor Longhair recorded live in Chicago.

Stay with the show after the Edward Frank set because Davis Rogan, another New Orleans piano player, calls into the show to talk about how he was given a valuable life lesson by Ed Frank after losing a spot in Kermit Ruffin’s band.  This show also has songs by Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Hot 8 Brass Band (doing a long cover of “Sexual Healing”), Chocolate Milk, Corey Henry, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and a new song by Gal Holiday and her Honky Tonk Revue.

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