Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Where Wearing a Mask has a Dual Purpose

Parades are rolling, crowds are gathering and there is the usual mayhem (both good and bad) that accompanies the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras and this week’s show provides the soundtrack to get you ready to “Do Whatcha Wanna.”

The first voice you’ll hear after I start the show is Kermit Ruffins rallying the troops (in this case Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty and Irvin Mayfield) for an extended second line pulled from the Los Hombres Calientes collection. And you’ll later get the feel of being there as music rolls by first with the Mardi Gras Indians Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors rapping out their rhythm and then with The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band giving you that feel of watching a parade band go by – first the music a bit distant, then the volume increases as it comes to where you are standing, blasting away in your face and then it recedes as it moves on down the street. Pretty cool given the song, “Dancin’ at the Mardi Gras,” was recorded in a studio.

Al “Carnival Time” Johnson steps up next — not to sing the song that gave him his middle name but rather — to sing a new song in honor of the socially responsible new parade krewe, “Krewe of Red Beans.” Not only does this Krewe raise money and perform services that benefit the city’s arts and entertainment culture, they strive to create a fun parade event that everyone can enjoy and feel good about. Yes, I get on my soap box a bit but you can cut to the chase and read their “Costume Code of Ethics.”

Other aspects of Mardi Gras is explored by music, including the first all-female parade krewe, Krewe of Muses, noted for their parade throws of decorated shoes. Lena Prima sings her song “Muses Shoes” and Liese Dettmer sings about her experience with the super Krewe parade Endymion. Later, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes portrays the two century old tradition of skull gangs leading his “We Are the Northside Skull and Bone Gang.”

Picture from the Original Northside Skull and Bone Gang facebook page.

You’ll hear a couple versions of “Mardi Gras Mambo.” The original, of course, featuring Art Neville and The Hawkettes but also one by Fredy Omar Con Su Banda. I like them both.

Cha Wa, Wild Magnolias, Bo Dollis, and Monk Boudreaux lay on some stylized Mardi Gras Indian music. The Melatauns do “Outta Be in the Quarter” and Chuck Carbo sings “Hey Mardi Gras (Here I Am).” There’s some other surprises because, its Mardi Gras!

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Another example of how New Orleans and Jazzfest latches on

I know I’m not the only person whose attraction to New Orleans grew as a result of attending the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival. In this week’s show, you’ll hear how it hooked a young Wisconsin musician into making New Orleans his home.

Ted Hefko is an established New Orleans musician with a handful of records and many years experience of leading a band, but he was not even out of high school when he attended his first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His experience prompted him to return to Madison, Wisconsin, get his diploma, pack up his few belongings and move to New Orleans. You’ll hear him tell this story on today’s show.

But first, Dr. Michael White will entertain you with “Mpingo Blues” and you’ll be subjected to another set of live music. Remember last week’s show? Well, I didn’t get to all the songs I wanted to, such as The Radiators doing “7 Devils” from the 2006 JazzFest — the event that has resulted in nearly annual visits to my birthplace (and not for JazzFest). By the way, the Jazzfest line up for this year has just been announced. And you’ll find Ted Hefko and his band on the list. Also on the JazzFest line up (for the first time) is Bon Bon Vivant an they will be making its second appearance in the KAOS studio in two weeks!

In this week’s show You’ll also hear live performances by Sonny Landreth, Harry Connick, Jr. Sunpie Barnes and Smoky Greenwell, J & the Causeways, Boozoo Chavis and Kermit Ruffins.

Ted Hefko

At about the 25 minute mark, I start sharing clips from an interview I had with Hefko who plays guitar and saxophone, leads a band called “The Thousandaires” and writes songs. He tells the story of his moving to New Orleans and starting his professional music career, his tenure in New York and his return. His latest album is Down Below. You’ll hear him perform “The Next Train,” “Egyptland,” and “Into My Head.”

More music follows including Helen Gillet, John “Papa” Grow, the Big Dixie Swingers, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Lynn Drury, Andrew Duhon, Rosie Ledet and Kristin Diable to name a few.

A Show To Satisfy that Live Music Craving

If its been too long since you’ve experienced live music than this week’s show might offer some joy, starting with the funky Meters 2010 JazzFest extended performance of “Fire on the Bayou.” For that song alone, you should start the player below.

While studio recordings can offer more perfection and audio wizardry, live recordings deliver more of the energy you would feel if you were in the audience and offer up freer, more loose performances. Given a choice, I almost always choose the live performance even if they are not as technically exacting as the studio recording.

Perhaps no record better exemplifies that trade-off than Kermit Ruffins’ Live at Vaughan’s. Kermit’s horn playing and singing may not always be on the mark, but this 12-track release puts you in the middle of the dance floor at Vaughan’s during one of his now historic Thursday night performances. The fun is infectious. You’ll hear “Hide the Reefer” from that set on this show. . . but that will be later.

First, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience will cover “Johnny Too Bad” from his Live! Worldwide release. Debbie Davis sings “Lulu’s Back in Town” and you’ll hear the audience go wild on Josh Paxton frenetic piano solo. And you’ll visit two famous New Orleans bars to hear the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and New Orleans Jazz Vipers do their thing (a Craig Klein double feature.)

Later, Taylor Smith of the Roamin’ Jasmine explains how recording a performance at his neighborhood bar was easier and more fun than dealing with the pressure associated with recording in a studio. You’ll hear his group do “That’s a Pretty Good Love” from Live at Horace’s Bar.

Champion Jack Dupree showing off his abdominal muscles with Allen Toussaint on piano

As promised on my show, here’s a link to the video of Champion Jack Dupree at the 1990 New Orleans Jazz Fest when Allen Toussaint suddenly joined him at the piano. You’ll hear Dupree start with his soulful “Bring Me Flowers While I’m Living” and then Toussaint sneaks in and plays on the high keys. Eventually, the two move into a boogie woogie number with the 80-year-old Dupree getting up and doing some very interesting boogie moves of his own. You just never know what might happen in a live performance.

Also, during the show, you’ll be transported to the street for a Second Line parade with a performance of “Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” by Rebirth Brass Band, recorded on the street as part of the HBO Treme show. You’ll also hear Paul Sanchez speak emotionally about the value of friendship in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a way of introducing guests at his live performance of “Home.”

Glen David Andrews performing at Louis Armstrong Park

Another reason to enjoy live performances (and their recordings) is for the extended versions of familiar songs and the improvisational jams that make the moment feel special and unique. You’ll get that experience throughout the show but definitely with the New Orleans Suspects rendition of “Big Chief” from their Caught Live at the Maple Leaf and Glen David Andrews “Brothers Johnson Jam” from Live at Three Muses.

Live music is starting to come back, so please support these musicians whenever and where ever you can. And I’ll keep spinning the records. Thanks for tuning in.

Letting It Snow and Ho Ho Ho the New Orleans Way

As I write this and prepare for this week’s show, the forecast for New Orleans is a mostly sunny day with a high of 79 degrees. But close your eyes and start my show and we’ll conjure up this winter’s celebration with music by New Orleans musicians.

The 2021 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner Don Vappie kicks us off the show with a swinging “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Kenny Neal drives home that point with his “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Whether you celebrate Christmas or Solstice or some other winter holiday or nothing at all, most of the messages of the songs I play on this week’s show are universal. And capturing one of my more hipper ideals is Kermit Ruffins with his “Crazy Cool Christmas.” But don’t worry, the show gets un-hip pretty quickly with an airing of the “12 Yats of Christmas.” A little about New Orleans accents in one of my earliest posts.

As a kid in New Orleans, a White Christmas was only a dream. I recall one snow day as a child and it was pretty wimpy. The Radiators sing about their first snow while Allen Toussant delivers is classic “The Day It Snows in New Orleans.” Here’s a previous Christmas week post that goes a bit more into memories of snow in New Orleans.

Next set goes into the struggles of holidays when its may be missing something or someone. Ted Hefko introduces “It’s Cold in Here” with how his partner had to always be away during the Christmas season cause of work while Kelcy Mae sings about the struggles couples have when they have competing family interests to satisfy during the holiday — a song that become even more poignant when it turns into a celebration of legal same sex marriage. Marva Wright drives home the relevant point with her powerful “Stocking Full of Love.”

At this point in the show, just over halfway, Santa makes an appearance with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington’s “Jingle Bells,” Earl King’s “Santa, Don’t Let Me Down,” Frankie Ford’s “Santa Won the Lottery,” Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias with Bonerama give us “Shakana Santa Shake,” and two songs about Rudolph by Fats Domino and Debbie Davis and Matt Perriine.

If you made it through the show this far you will be rewarded by a great new Christmas single by Bon Bon Vivant “The Old Christmas Song” and some other treats — don’t want to ruin the surprise. And I always love to hear Smoky Greenwell’s rhythmic Frosty the Snowman. Check it out.

Y’all have a wonderful winter holiday whether its Christmas, Kwanzaa or just yelling at the radio . . .as long as you’re listening. Cheers.

December Dance Party with Only One Reindeer

I keep the first of the month dance party tradition rolling into the holiday season with the help of New Orleans and Lafayette musicians, digging a bit deeper to get your hips to swing and your tired dogs high steppin’. First up is Linnzi Zaorski with the “Rhythm in Me.”

In the first full set you’ll get to boogie to a bit of Zydeco, an R&B version of “Lil Liza Jane,” a brass band groove and a blues song. The next set swings from funk to R&B before running into a jazzy swamp number by Bluesiana.

Kermit Ruffins

And so it goes through the show bouncing between genres and rhythm speeds but always with a focus to keep you moving.

Kermit Ruffins will explain how to do the “Fat Tuesday.” Johnny Adams will have you “Chasing Rainbows.” And Arsene Delay will let you catch your breath with a “Slow Drag.”

Flow Tribe will go “Back ‘n’ Forth” while Shotgun Jazz Band will be “Steppin’ on the Gas.” Creole String Beans will get you “Barefootin'” while Marcia Ball makes sure “The Party’s Still Going On.” And as the show wears on, Smoking Time Jazz Club will make sure there’s “Friction.” Erica Falls simply sings “Dance.”

And Debbie Davis and family will “Run Run Rudolph.” Remember to stretch before and after.

K-Doe, Kermit, Morgus, others join Gumbo YaYa’s 300th show

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 live album gives some idea what Vaughan’s was like during Kermit’s 20-year Thursday night gig..

This week’s celebfation 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:

2019 Mardi Gras show makes the music still feel fresh

Today’s show finds that magic balance between delivering the classic Mardi Gras feel while still being fresh. Get it started and you’ll see what I mean. (you can click the arrow in the box below and still read on)

Even if you are tired of hearing Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” you can’t help but appreciate how much rhythm and action he packs into less than three minutes. The version that starts the show is the 1959 New Orleans recording featuring Mac Rebennack (before his Dr. John days) on guitar.

The first full set features Los Hombres Calientes (Irvin Mayfield and Bill Summers group) doing “Mardi Gras Bayou” followed by Kermit Ruffin’s “Do the Fat Tuesday” and Chuck Carbo’s rarely played “Hey Mardi Gras (Here I Am).”

Krewe of Muses Parade

The musical Nine Lives has a scathing critique of the Rex Parade crowd with the song “King of Mardi Gras” which opens the next set followed by Louie Ludwig’s “The Things You’ve Done On Mardi Gras Day” — just released this carnival season. The set finishes with Lena Prima’s original song “Muses Shoeses” inspired by the Krewe of Muses parade.

Al Hirt provides some fast paced transition to Mardi Gras Indian songs, starting with the “in the streets” recording of Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles followed by some fancied up numbers by Bo Dollis (with some help on the last number by Galactic).

We take a trip out to the swamps for some cajun style Mardi Gras before returning to New Orleans and pulling from Lil Queenie’s new album which features a spoken word opening to her classic “My Darlin’ New Orleans.”

Some dance numbers, a few more Mardi Gras tunes and we finish with a different version of Professor Longhair performing “Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Thanks for tuning in. Stay listening by subscribing to this blog. Cheers.

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

KAOS/Gumbo YaYa’s – Top Ten 2017 New Orleans CD’s

Here are my top 10 New Orleans music releases.  All of these have been played on my show on KAOS in 2017 (For more new releases played on my show this year, go to my end of year roundup.)  You can listen to the show featuring these releases while you read about them.

A Beautiful World.jpgA Beautiful World – Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield hit a home run with this home town love note featuring over 50 New Orleans musicians with originals and covers that totally capture Ruffins’ style and vibe.  Mayfield, as producer and master trumpeter, does a great job of letting the relaxed, hip style of Ruffins shine through.

boneramaHot Like Fire – Mark Mullins and Craig Klein are solidly in their comfort zone with their latest Bonerama release, their first through Basin Street Records. The album’s strength is the talent of the musicians, especially Matt Perrine, who contributed three songs as well as his sousaphone expertise and Bert Cotten, whose guitar gives this brass heavy release a rocking feel.

roamin-jasmine-live-at-horaces-barLive at Horace’s – Taylor Smith may regret putting his favorite neighborhood (Central City) bar on the international map but the cozy Horace’s apparently was just the venue for him to showcase his energetic style of New Orleans R&B.  Guitar Slim, Earl King, Elmore James and Blind Lemon Jefferson all get  the Roamin’ Jasmine treatment in this set.

SoItIsSo It Is –  This is the second release by Preservation Hall Jazz Band with all original tunes. While Preservation Hall, with its musician’s collective, is known for keeping the tradition alive, the recording/touring band is keeping the tradition alive by providing fresh music that connects New Orleans to its Afro-Cuban roots. It’s totally hip and hard to stop playing.

With-You-in-Mind-Cover-980x980With You in Mind – Stanton Moore was still grieving the unexpected death of Allen Toussaint, the central architect of New Orleans R&B and Funk in the 60’s and beyond, when he went into the studio with David Torkanowsky and James Singleton. With the help of Cyril Neville, Nicholas Payton, Trombone Shorty and Donald Harrison Jr, the trio captured Toussaint’s joy for life as well as ability to touch your heart.

hot 8 on the spotOn the Spot – The Hot 8 Brass Band does brass band music right. Given my fondness for this band and its sound, I would be hard pressed to not have them on my list.  But after 20 years, this band is not resting on its laurels.  The band covers Stevie Wonder and the classic St. James Infirmary in its usual ear-opening style but it also offers new songs that speak to this band’s amazing ability to keep on plugging against adversity.

sketchSketch –  Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes should be getting a helluva a lot more attention, particularly after this release. While the band can play just about any style, the members seem most entertaining with their original funk rock sound.  They have a reputation as a party band, but its members are professionals who know how to play and create unique, entertaining music.

marsalisMake America Great Again – This late 2016 release is Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra’s formula for what truly makes our country great.  Yes, he starts with the Star Spangled Banner and lays down some solid swinging big band sounds through 14 tracks but there’s sharp commentary spliced in between the jazzy sounds.  This is a great release for a deejay of New Orleans music show. It has a bit everything with top-flight craftsmanship.

dirty bourbonThe Flying Musical Circus – Noah Adams is the brainchild, singer and songwriter of this frenetically entertaining group, the Dirty Bourbon River Show.  “New Orleans Big Brass Circus Rock Music” is the elevator pitch for the music but even if that doesn’t appeal to you, give this album a listen. The music is deep and its elephant free

CreaturesFront_mini.jpgCreatures  – If Sweet Crude makes it big and it certainly has the potential, you might be able to point to this album as when they figured it all out.  This is a uniquely Louisiana-band with strong roots in Arcadia, but its clearly a pop band, that sings in French and English, with the opportunity to grow a wider audience.  Get on the ground floor with Creatures.

Happy Holidays – 2017

Here’s the edited version of my holiday show, aired December 21, 2017 on the community radio station, KAOS, 89.3 FM.  Holiday music with a very distinctive New Orleans bent.

Songs by Alex McMurray, Fats Domino, Kermit Ruffins, Charmaine Neville, Theryl “Houseman” Declouet, Smoky Greenwell, Lena Prima, Craig Klein (Bonerama) and many more.

Next post will be my top 10 albums of 2017.  Stay Warm!