This week, I celebrate six years of spinning New Orleans music on KAOS. Longevity does not suggest popularity since a show’s survival on community radio mainly depends on the ability to understand and follow FCC and station rules and a stubborn consistency on the part of the DJ. I often wonder what Olympia and Bellingham listeners must think when they hear musicians with names like Kermit, K-Doe and Quintron from a city over 2,600 miles away.
But its my show’s birthday and I’ll do what I want to. So for my 300th show in celebration of six years on the air, you’ll hear music from those names and many more. That is, if you click the sideways arrow above to listen. Or if the player is not visible (sometimes happen) here’s the link to the show.
This week’s celebration provided a good reason to start off with “Happy Birthday Hallelujah” by the Brass-a-Holics. Then I transport to the dance floor of Vaughan’s thanks to songs by Kermit Ruffins and Corey Henry. These two musicians have anchored the Thursday night live show at this Ninth Ward lounge for three decades. Vaughan’s only offers live music one night a week but its a helluva night. Just ask Jay Mazza who wrote a book about it.
Ingrid Lucia follows up with an enticing invitation for a “Midnight Rendevous” and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes drive home my desperate desire to hang out in a crowded bar listening to live music with another jam from their recent Maple Leaf live double-disc release.
Then the crazy stuff starts with Morgus the Magnificent. One of the original late night TV fright show hosts, Morgus was created by Sidney Noel Rideau who did some other amazing things in his 90 years on the planet. But when he passed away last week, the city mourned for Morgus and his various stints on New Orleans television in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – – and beyond in the form of reruns. I’ve written about Morgus more extensively here. On this week’s show you’ll hear an early R&B favorite “Morgus the Magnificent” and Galactic’s inspired use of one of his skits in “Friends of Science.” The Iguanas, John Mooney and the Soul Rebels, Alexey Marti, Bon Bon Vivant,the Hot 8 Brass Band and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers fill out that set.
Ernie K-Doe is the patron saint of this website and as well as Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa so he has to make an appearance on my annual celebrations. Quintron introduces him with his take on K-Doe’s “Certain Girl” and just as the earworm drills in, Ernie takes over with his original version of that song. Why? “Can’t Tell Ya.” (You’ll also hear a little bit of K-Doe when he deejayed for WTUL.) And here’s more about the interesting relationship of Quintron and K-Doe.
Louis Armstrong, Jean Knight, Slim Harpo, Aurora Nealand, some more brass bands, Allen Toussaint and many more join the party if you wish to hang with me for the full two hours of music. As a birthday present, consider going to the upper right hand corner of this page and subscribing to weekly alerts about the show.
Oh, and if you forgot to click the sideways arrow, here it is again:
You’ll hear some damn good singing on this week’s show- most likely related to the all-female cast of the show.
Just as she did last year, Ingrid Lucia kicks off this show of women vocalists and bandleaders– this time by leading us on a “Bourbon Street Parade” from her 2010 Live from New Orleans record.
Meschiya Lake follows with her invocation “I Believe in Music” from 2013’s Fooler’s Gold. Lynn Drury then takes us straight to the heart and heartache of New Orleans’ live music scene with “Frenchmen Street” from Sugar on the Floor. Dana Abbott anchors the first full set with “You’re Mine.” By that time, resistance is futile.
The second set will get heels a flying with Doreen Ketchens, Albanie Falletta and Marla Dixon’s Shotgun Jazz Band. The exercise will be good for you for the following set will definitely give you pause.
The set begins with a funeral march that seems to get more optimistic as it progresses until Aurora Nealand’s intones “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The beat and swing builds up to a great drum solo. The song is “Flee as a Bird” — a hymn with the song credit given to Mary Dana — a song catcher who worked South Carolina church scene in the mid-19th century. Bon Bon Vivant’s poet laureate, songwriter and front lady Abigail Cosio takes it from there with “Old Forgotten Tune.” While her band can rock you, this song is just her guitar and voice singing a story of loss and how music and memories entwine. The song was inspired by a cowboy poet line she read in the library at the Will Roger’s Historic Park. This set ends with “Harm”– the first track from Elizabeth Joan Kelly’s new release Farewell, Doomed Planet! which “is about the apocalypse. And Chernobyl wolves. Pollution. And space travel. Existential dread. And whales. ”
A Lafayette-style set follows with Yvette Landry, Bonsoir Catin and Sweet Cecilia with a well-placed serving of Gal Holiday. Later you’ll hear Linnzi Zaorski’s take of the Andrew Sisters hit “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” — a song from a 1930’s Yiddish musical that was also oddly a hit in Nazi Germany until authorities got wind of its Jewish provenance.
Leyla McCalla, Debbie Davis, Carol Fran, Tank and the Bangas and the Original Pinettes Brass Band (New Orleans only all-female brass band) take a turn. Margie Perez, Little Queenie and Shawn Williams bat clean up.
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Click the arrow in the box to this week’s edited show started and then read about what you will hear
New Orleans vocalists have such a deep musician’s bench to pull from for their recordings that its no surprise they’re great to listen to. But there’s no question who the star is in the songs I played today. . .starting with “Sweet Home New Orleans” by Dr. John. It’s the voice!
Alexandra Scott follows with her haunting “Something Altogether New.” I played a rare major label song with Harry Connick Jr. doing “Wish I Were Him” and Antoine Diel does a duet with Arsene Delay singing “Bless You (For the Good That is in You).
Later sets include Marva Wright, Linnzi Zaorski, Lena Prima, Aaron Neville, Johnny Adams, Percy Mayfield, Ingrid Lucia, and Debbie Davis. Sarah Quintana, Miss Sophie Lee and Theryl Declouet (Houseman) keep the focus on the voice. Though in every case, there is excellent support.
I realize I could easily do another show of vocalists without repeating. Afterall, this show does not include Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, Fats Domino, John Boutte to name a few. Instead, I finish twith a tribute to my alma mater, a trio of songs on Georgia to honor the University of Georgia marching band getting to perform in the Rose Bowl and now the NCAA championship. Go dawgs!
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 play 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.
This week’s show is about money. . .because despite community radio being free of commercial pressure it still depends on hard green cash to run. You can start the show now while you finish reading this. (Don’t worry, I’ve edited out the lengthy pledge appeals.)
As a 12-year-old, I would turn the radio on instead of going to sleep and from the shadows of my bedroom in Norman, Oklahoma, I would listen to deejays from Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas. The deejays would tell me about the weather, describe the music, and talk about their day while their commercials would hail the virtues of car dealers and appliance stores in their communities. Snuggled in my bed, I would envision what it would be like to live there.
I’ve always loved radio for its ability to ground me in the moment while also transporting me to other places. Unlike the constructed mass appeal of television, radio is a personal and live experience. One person speaking into a mike, sharing music and stories, talking to me wherever I might be.
While much of commercial radio has changed to a more decentralized and impersonal experience, community radio, particularly KAOS, 89.3 FM, Olympia, has moved in the other direction. Housed and supported by The Evergreen State College, KAOS trains its volunteer deejays, works with them on developing a show, provides them the studio platform and then cuts them loose to do their thing. The result is some inconsistency in delivery and mechanics but because of that diversity, the station preserves the spontaneity and joy of being in the moment. I tell that to myself every time I push the wrong button or cue up the wrong song or stammer through some sort of transition.
We’re not slick, we’re real
And though we wouldn’t exist if not for the generous support of the college and its students, we do need to show that the station has listeners. Listeners who appreciate the station’s existence enough to help underwrite its cost. It’s a different model from the commercial era, but worth it if you love real radio.
(Today’s show – see above podcast – starts with the New Orleans Suspects, features two songs by Chubby Newsome recorded in New Orleans, a vinyl track of Huey “Piano” Smith, the Tin Men, Lil Rascals Brass Band, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars, Ingrid Lucia, James Andrews and much more)
Here’s my Holiday buying guide of 2014 releases for that special person in your life who digs music from New Orleans. Don’t know anyone like that? Yea, you do. (This is actually Part 1. I’ve added a Part 2.)
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The Revivalists – – This seven member contemporary rock group with a New Orleans flair has been exciting audiences since 2007. The City of Sound double disc wisely includes a live set so you can get a feel for the band in action.
Hurray for Riff Raff – Alynda Lee Segarra may be from New York but she found her passion and honed her talent on the streets of New Orleans. Small Town Heroes, the latest from this Americana songwriter puts a fresh spin on roots music.
New Orleans Suspect – Third release is the charm for this textbook gumbo yaya band that draws direct influences from the Meters, Nevilles, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Radiators. Destined to make my overall top 10 list for 2014, Ouroboros means the Suspects no longer need to be compared to their previous projects.
Glen David Andrews – He’s Troy Andrews cousin but don’t expect Trombone Shorty despite Glen’s awesome trombone work. Instead you’ll get a double shot of gospel and soul in Redemption, growled out by an unrepentant preacher who has no intention of ceasing his prowling of nightclubs. Thank goodness.
Jimmy Carpenter – This blues saxman with Walter Wolfman Washington’s band on his resume’ hits full stride on his second solo release, Walk Away. Carpenter offers up smooth, swingy blues with wonderful touches that make it clear where he calls home.
Ingrid Lucia – If you only know her wonderful version of “Zat You Santa Claus,” Living the Life is your opportunity to fall deeply in love with this voice, starting with her opening track, “Do You Remember Walter.” We didn’t get this album at KAOS but I’ve gradually been buying tracks, like “Put the Radio On,” since she released this album.
Royal Southern Brotherhood – Cyril Neville’s vocals complement this royal group of southern blues artists (Devon Allman, Yonrico Scott, Charlie Wooten and Mike Zito). Another entry for my top ten list, HeartSoulBlood magically fuses blues to soul and R&B. Speaking of magic, Magic Honey was Cyril’s solo release this year.
Lena Prima is living testament to writer Chris Rose’s posit that “New Orleans girls never live anywhere else and even if they do, they always come back.” Starting Something tracks the return of the prodigal daughter of Louis Prima to New Orleans. The more you listen, the more you’ll be delighted she came home.
Henry Butler – Brilliantly paired with New York trumpeter Steven Bernstein, Henry Butler demonstrates his virtuosity on piano while providing something for almost every Jazz taste on Viper’s Drag.
Louis Prima Jr. – Lena’s little brother demonstrates how to make swing and rock and roll relevant and hip in the 21st Century. With Blow, Louis Junior goes his own way without straying too far from his pop’s tree. He and his band are not NOLA based but the album provides more than a passing nod to the city where he first connected with music.
The Last Hombres – Odd Fellows Rest is a product of a band that has been rambling about for over a decade until the drummer settled down in New Orleans and invited the band to bunker down and find their collective muse. Combine the pedal steel of The New Riders of the Purple Sage with songwriting reminiscent of Tom Petty and throw in some tasteful Hot 8 Brass Band and you have a CD that gets better with every spin.
Flow Tribe – Self described as “bizarrely irresistable,” this funk rock band of six genuine NOLA hipsters (with birth certificates to prove it) give you a taste of what its like to see them live with five upbeat studio tracks on Alligator White. (See if you can catch their reference to what’s been described as the best dive bar in New Orleans.)
Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers The perfect gift for the historian/adventurer on your list, Age of Exploration is the first release of this New Orleans rockabilly group. This Shackleton-themed concept album is largely the product of hardworking reeds-woman Aurora Nealand. Another CD that hasn’t found its way to KAOS, I’ve only heard the two tracks I’ve purchased online but I want more.
The Iguanas – This year brought us, Juarez, the eighth album by a venerable New Orleans group that has been keeping dancers happy by blending Latin styles with New Orleans groove. If you have ever seen them live, say at Rock ‘N’ Bowl, you know what I’m talking about.
Billy Pierce and Friends – Fine slide blues made exceptional on Take Me Back to the Delta by his “friends,” notably Sonny Landreth, Jimmy Carpenter, Waylon Thibodeaux and the guys who put the Bone in Bonerama (Craig Klein, Mark Mullins and Greg Hicks). It’s not all New Orleans music but by the time you get to “Give Me A Dollar,” it won’t matter.
Marcia Ball – She may be from Texas but she has her NOLA residency card for reasons that are amply supplied by The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man. How does she do it?
Rebirth Brass Band – Erasing all doubt that they could top their grammy winning Rebirth of New Orleans album of 2012, these guys did that and more with Move Your Body. After 31 years of playing all night gigs and second lining, Rebirth is doing their most entertaining work. Want to loosen up a boring party, play the track HBNS. Oh yea! (A no brainer for my top 10)