If smoke has been getting into your eyes lately, perhaps its also worth getting it into your ears with this week’s show featuring “Fire” by Rebirth Brass Band and “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” by Buckwheat Zydeco.
The first full set attempts to exorcise the fire and smoke demons bedeviling the West Coast — though a rational climate policy would be a far better approach. I start with”Something in the Air” by Kid Eggplant and the Trad Melatauns and written by Papa Eggplant (aka Sidney Snow) and featuring Bruce Brackman on clarinet.
In recognition of the passing of Frederick “Toots” Hilbert, the show dives into a Jamaican-theme set starting with Toots and the Maytals performing the classic Fats Domino hit “Let the Four Winds Blow.” It’s an appropriate choice given the pivotal role Domino and songs like “Be My Guest” (which you will also hear) play in helping to shape early Rock Steady and Reggae music. The set progresses from there culminating in Bonerama’s “Sun Lion” and returning to the clarinet with Dr. Michael White’s take on Bob Marley’s “One Love.”
Lee Mohler joins me at that point. Lee is a trumpet player for the Artesian Rumble Arkestra — a collective of Olympia-area musicians who best exemplify, at least locally, the spirit of New Orleans second line music. Lee also serenaded our children and their classmates on an overnight school field trip playing “Taps” while they crawled into sleeping bags on a gymnasium floor in the Columbia Gorge in what feels like about two hundred years ago. Lee and I have visited New Orleans together and he shares some of his love for the music with Smoking Time Jazz Club playing in the background.
I also recognize the passing of blues guitarist Bryan Lee who held down for many years a regular stint at the Old Absinthe House. Lee has 17 albums to his name but I thought, given his passing, I would honor him with a very upbeat original song from his all-Gospel final release – Sanctuary.
Maria Muldaur, Shamarr Allen, Sarah Quintana, Guitar Lightnin Lee, Spider Murphy and over a dozen others join us to fill out two hours of music from New Orleans. Thanks for tuning in. Consider subscribing which means you’ll get a notice every time a new show posted. Cheers.
The first original Gumbo YaYa show since the state’s shelter-in-place order ended my live broadcasts is aided greatly by the kindness of New Orleans musicians who sent me audio clips recorded from their shelter. You’ll hear their voices and their music when you click the sideways arrow below. If you keep reading, you’ll learn a bit more about these talented artists.
Dr. John’s “Locked Down” starts the show and I follow that up with a set dedicated to everyone who is having to get out there and work to ensure essential services. Preservation Hall Jazz Band does a lively version of “St. James Infirmary” followed by the original “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” with Huey “Piano” Smith & The Clowns. But please stay with the show at least to the 20 minute mark when you’ll get to meet Antoine Diel.
Born in Manila, Philippines but raised in California, Antoine Diel is a fixture in the New Orleans club scene with regular gigs (at least until recently) at the Spotted Cat, the Carousel Room at Hotel Monteleone and Buffa’s. He checks into the show after I play his beautiful rendition of “Dahil Sa Iyo” which he sings both in Tagalog and English (“Because of You”). You’ll then hear two cuts off his record On the Corner of Hope and New Orleans. Here’s his website where you can find more of his music and say hi to him.
Abigail Cosio of Bon Bon Vivant comes on next (about 35 minutes in). Her band plays infectious music (perhaps not the best description in a pandemic) that she writes. You’ll want to catch her regular Facebook feeds where she and fellow band member and partner Jeremy Kelley do live shows (with other remotely placed musicians) in very creative ways. You can support the band by buying their music but they are also directing tips to the Krewe of Red Beans project Feed the Frontline NOLA which according to the website is working to “feed hospital workers across New Orleans, employ out-of-work musicians/artists, and support locally-owned restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Alex McMurray is the bard of New Orleans, detailing its deep crevices and taking us to places that tourist rarely frequent. He kicks off his set (after about 50 minutes into the show) with a journey to Hank’s Supermarket on St. Claude Avenue — not too far away from the Saturn and the Carnaval Lounge where he has on a semi-frequent basis assembled a mix of musicians to perform sea shanties under the moniker of the Valparaiso Men’s Chorus. He also has records featuring Rock Steady, vintage American folk music, and original songs by him and other well-regarded New Orleans songwriters (Write Brothers). But his most prolific and still active project is Tin Men featuring one of the best sousaphone players performing anywhere, Matt Perine, and Washboard Chaz Leary. I play one of their songs in Alex’s set. Here’s his website.
Robert Snow aka Kid Eggplant – I couldn’t believe my luck when I bought one of his records last year from Louisiana Music Factory on impulse just because I liked the cover. And it turned out to be great and one of my favorites of the year. How often does that happen? (Never seems to work with wine) Robert is a native of New Orleans and hearing him talk takes me back to my days in the 60’s as a kid in New Orleans. Yes, he goes by the name of Kid Eggplant and his band is the Melatauns usually with with an adjective like “swinging” or “mighty.” While he’s adept at podcasts and live Facebook shows, for some reason he doesn’t have a website. Make it a shelter in place project, Robert! Look for these key words on your favorite streaming service “Kid Eggplant,” “Melatauns” and “Abitals” and of course you can order his music from your local independent record shop.
I have two of Kelcy Mae‘s solo albums (she has three) and I play them regularly on my show. But you’ll hear Kelcy introduce (about an hour and 20 minutes in) her latest project, Ever More Nest, on this show. She also has her own website where I learned she was born on St. Patrick’s Day in Shreveport, Louisiana. She came to New Orleans to attend university and has pretty much stayed, creating music like you’ll hear during her set.
The last musician to co-host the show is a Jack Sledge, a New York native now in New Orleans and he introduces his latest release. Here’s his website.
I finish the show with a set of music by Ellis Marsalis, Jr. who died last week from what appears to be complications of COVID-19. Marsalis was not just a great musician and composer. He was a teacher (Harry Connick Jr. and Donald Harrison to name two students) . He was a mentor and father (Wynton, Delfeayo, Branford and Jason). He was a major force in the New Orleans community, creating affordable housing through the Musician’s Village.
I’m going to try to coax a few more New Orleans musicians to send radio drops for the next show. Sonny Landreth already has. So consider subscribing and stay healthy and we’ll talk again soon.
Love is a prolific muse and you’ll hear various musical manifestations of this on today’s Valentine’s Day Show — enhanced a bit by my recent visit to New Orleans.
Antoine Diel’s opening”Say That You Love Me’ set the tone while also enticing my station manager to pay notice. In the next set, stylish kazoos support Sarah Quintana’s hop skipping “You Me 1 2 3″and we get an optimistic “New Girl” from a band named after a beer and sporting a record cover photo of the bass player at age seven (Robert Snow aka Kid Eggplant) smoking a cigarette. More research needed here. (Actually I met him and his father at one of their gigs last week and his dad vouched for him.)
It’s also Carnival Season which is why this show includes a song from Tank and the Bangas — nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy. The award didn’t go their way but Tank or rather Tarriona “Tank” Ball was the Supreme Green Fairy headlining this year’s Krewe Boheme parade. Because she came early in the procession, I wasn’t ready to take a picture. So you get a different one on this page.
You will hear “Mr. Lion”by Tank and the Bangas on the show. Before you get there though, you will hear Eight Dice Cloth, Zazou City, Arsene Delay, Meschiya Lake BeauSoleil, Shannon Powell, Donna Angelle and others do their take musical take on love.
It’s not mushy love though. Particularly when there is Davis Rogan to lament Why You “Do Me that Way.” Egg Yolk Jubilee answers with a song about an infatuation gone awry with an emergency room nurse — I’m waiting for “Emergency Ward – The Film” could be the greatest camp horror film from New Orleans ever. The movie would have to make room for Kid Eggplant’s Hobson’s Choice — as Kid Eggplant and the Melatauns “Vasectomy.” Quintron and Miss Pussycat finish the dysfunctional love set with “Love is Like a Blob.” Yes, I spelled that right, though I had trouble saying it on the show.
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This year’s top 10 selections run a range of New Orleans music with jazz, brass band, blues, R&B, Latin rhythms and African beats. And for lagniappe, you’ll meet my sons who extended their Christmas visit home to include hanging out with me in the studio when we aired this show on Boxing Day. (Just click the sideways arrow below to get started.)
Today’s show features selections from the 10 records I enjoyed playing the most this year. But the real treat for me was being in the studio with my son’s Riley and Devlin. As always, I edited this version of the program by removing KAOS announcements. So some of the freewheeling conversation is lost but I did manage to keep some of our chatter in. The show also airs in Bellingham on community radio station KMRE on Friday nights.
The show starts with “World Without Music by the To Be Continued Brass Band. Below are brief descriptions of my favorite records for this year.
To Be Continued Brass Band – TBC II – This band has a history that IS New Orleans. And they seem to be making it on their own terms. No label. No Website. No liner notes or anything but a logo on their CD. Lots of friends help out though including J’Wan Boudreaux (Cha Wa), Glen David Andrews, DJ Action Jackson and Erion Williams (Soul Rebels).
Kid Eggplant And the Melatauns – Big Trouble in Little Chalmette – Can you say “Party Record!” Listen to your vegetables, they’re good for you. I can’t believe my luck in stumbling across this record. It’s a creative mix of R&B, doo-wop, blues slide (with frog sounds), and retro 80’s rocks (“snip snip”).
Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie – What Had Happened Was. . . – Dr. Brice Miller, of Mahogany Brass Band fame, has created a time machine and a mythical savant to transport the hipness of Louis Armstrong and New Orleans’ early jazz days into the funkified vibe of today. Each song is introduced with a story using the opener “What Had Happened Was. .” I’m so delighted to introduce you to one of the greatest . . .
Smoking Time Jazz Club – Contrapuntal Stomp– The band lives up to its name with 16 tracks of traditional jazz numbers that can heat up the dance floor. This journeymen band of talented musicians do more than revive; they reinvigorate. If the only thing this record did was introduce me to Earl “Snakehips” Tucker, it would still be on my top 10. (if you go to the link, be sure to catch at least half of the two-minute video of this amazing dancer.)
Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – Released by Smithsonian Folkways in honor of the festival’s 50th year, this five CD set offers a historic sampling of the diverse music styles that have graced the many Jazz Fest stages over the years – focusing on the local artists who have made his festival so exceptional. A lot of care was taken to showcase the sweep of talent that has graced the dozen or more stages of the festival during the last half century.
Leyla McCalla – The Capitalist -Her third release, proficient in Haitian creole, French, banjo, guitar and cello, she continues the city’s tradition of creatively blending and bending musical genres while continuing to creatively community her message of social and economic justice. Plus she’s got a wonderful voice.
Bonerama – Bonerama Plays Zeppelin – Zeppelin with New Orleans funk and rhythms. It’s a reverent yet original adaptation of the band’s hits except with trombones as the lead voice and Matt Perrine’s magical sousaphone handling the bass line. Be sure to catch “Heartbreaker” where Perrine defies gravity with his instrument.
Alexey Marti – Mundo – This Havana-born and New Orleans-based percussionist second release showcases his 15 original songs which include samba, bossa nova, ballad, and salsa — demonstrating new depths to this highly respected and in-demand musician. His record features musicians from New York, Spain and Cuba and flows smoothly through your ears like a morning cup of cafecito.
Bamboula 2000 – Cuba to Congo Square – For a quarter century, this band has been keeping the spirit of Congo Square alive. If you’re searching for the connection between New Orleans jazz rhythms and Africa, this latest release will help you find it it with rhythm’s from djembe, congas, talking drums, bata, atumpan, shekere, dun dun, and fontonfrom.
Smoky Greenwell – Blues and the Power of Peace – Holding down the blues end of this year’s list is journeymen New Orleans musician Smoky Greenwell. This is the perfect apology gift for going ballistic on your Trump-voting relative during the holidays. The latest record by this New Orleans blues harmonica (and saxophone) player strikes enough of a conciliatory note without surrendering a single political point. Get out and vote, baby!
I ordered some new releases from Louisiana Music Factory and this show has at least one cut from each of my new acquisitions. Start it up.
Bamboula 2000’s “Cuba to Congo Square” starts the show. And then I quickly shift gears into a new release featuring a very entertaining number by Kid Eggplant – “I caught you slippin in. . Yea, you stink like gin. “
I won’t spoil the rest of the show for you but do expect some country, cajun, brass band, blues, rock and more R&B. Thanks for tuning in.