“What in the world can a working man do”

Coco Robicheaux’s “Working Man” kicks off this week’s musical exploration of our love-hate relationship with working and, more specifically, holding a job. Inspired by our worldwide collective midlife crisis over how we value (and pay for) work, the show can be heard right now using the player below.

Jobs – Can’t live without them and often can’t live with them. Shotgun Jazz Band (“Get a Working Man”) and Chubby Newsome (“Find a Job”) lay down the first part of that equation. And then Spider Murphy’s “Mr. Money Talks” and Jon Cleary’s “Viva La Money” pile on.

I get up in the morning and kiss my love goodbye and I come home in the evening in time to say goodnight.

Coco Robicheaux “Working Man”

The horns of Bonerama support Billy Pierce’s “Paycheck to Paycheck” while Kid Eggplant puts a more modern twist on the job scene ( “building a website for my business”) with “Workin’ Stiff.”

Lee Dorsey in the junkyard while working at his auto body repair show. Photo by Michael P. Smith

Most musicians have to work day jobs . . .at least initially. But even after Lee Dorsey hit it big with “Working in the Coal Mine” he worked at his body repair shop. Galactic does an instrumental version of that classic number in this show. You’ll hear Dorsey sing “Work, Work, Work” and “Gotta Find a Job.”

Mem Shannon’s “Payin’ My Dues” explores the frustrations of being a musician “Drove 1200 miles to play a club and the sign on the door said this joint just shut down. . .” Keith Stone sings about how its “Time to Move On” and Davis Rogan, with some indelicate radio necessary editing by me, airs out his grievances with three of his former employers with help from Cheeky Blakk in “I Quit.” This Davis original inspired the HBO “Treme” scene where you actually see and hear Cheeky Blakk sing the chorus the way it was meant to be sung (when not on the radio.) And here’s the original unedited Davis Rogan version.

It all degenerates from there in a cannabis (“Let’s Go Smoke Some Pot” by Dash Rip Rock), gin infused (“I Got Loaded” by Creole String Bean”) and drug-induced (“Medicated” by Honey Island Swamp Band”) blur.

And you’re invited to listen and enjoy.

Funk & a Parade of R&B Masters Make the Gumbo

Johnny Adams could and did sing just about anything and thanks to a wide assortment of recordings, you can hear him masterfully handle blues, gospel, funk, r&b and country. Today’s show demonstrates his upper register as he accompanies a driving guitar riff backed up by organ and horns from a B-side funk recording at the Sea-Saint Studios in 1978, called “Chasing Rainbows.”. It does a great job of introducing the rest of the music that you will hear when you start the player right below. (You can do it now and still read the rest of this.)

Cosimo Matassa, who saw thousands of singers stream through his French Quarter recording studio in his day, believed Adams to be the best because of his range. But I also suspect Matassa liked him because Adams was genuinely a good person who had to work hard for every bit of success he had. Jay Mazza in Up Front and Center describes how Adams would almost run off the stage after each set into the audience to thank people for coming to see him sing. Adams died in 1998 of prostate cancer.

The cover of Johnny Adams After All the Good is Gone. The title track was paired with “Chasing Rainbows” and released as a single in 1978.

Another gospel-trained singer, Chuck Carbo, sings a soulful number called “Black Widow” shortly into the first full set. He’s followed by Jon Cleary with “Unputdownable.” Paula and the Pontiacs and Big Al & the Heavyweights also weigh in on that set. Stay with that first set long enough and you’ll hear Arsene Delay cover the Stones “Miss You” backed up by the Charlie Wooten Project. (I like her interpretation.)

A reminder that Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa plays music from New Orleans but I make exception for other fine Louisiana musicians, including Carol Fran and BeuoSoleil who you’ll also hear later in the show.

Another R&B highlight is Joe Diamond singing Gossip, Gossip – an Allen Toussaint production where you can hear Toussaint talking briefly in the beginning and end in a simulation of gossip.. (He does it well!)

The Hackberry Ramblers bring on “Poor Hobo” and I pair that song with Gal Holiday’s “Last to Leave.” I also throw in a side of Creole String Beans in that set along with the Radiators making sure that we “Never Let Your Fire Go Out.”

To cap off the parade of R&B senior statesmen, you’ll hear Lee Dorsey with “Wonder Woman” along with a genuine 60’s throwback by Lydia Marcelle “Everybody Dance.” I think you’ll like it.

The show finishes with Bon Bon Vivant’s “Pinkerton” in recognition of the band’s one-year celebration of streaming live weekly shows from their Facebook feed — which also appears on my Facebook page as well every Sunday at 6 p.m. (PST)

Bon Bon Vivant performing from their “living room” as they’ve been doing almost every Sunday for a year. Catch their one year retrospective show this Sunday at 6 p.m. on their Facebook page.

Tuck In for the 2020 Gumbo YaYa Thanksgiving Feast

I’m serving up several helpings of chicken, catfish and sweet potatoes along with some fried neck bones, cream beans and frim fram sauce. Tuck your napkin in, start the player below and lets eat!

Ghalia & Mama Boys start us off early with “4 a.m. Chicken.” Robert Ward brings on the second entree (Potato Soup) which is a good thing because the New Orleans Jazz Vipers then dish up “All Meat and No Potatoes.”

And that’s how it goes for two hours with double servings of Tin Men (“Avocado Woo Woo” and “Hard Candy”), Cyril Neville (“Cream them Beans” and “New Orleans Cookin”), Lee Dorsey (“Candy Yams” and “Shortnin’ Bread”) and Los Po-Boy Citos (“Sweet Tater Pie” and “Fried Neck Bones and Home Fries.”)

Are you getting enough to eat?

Actress Kim Dickens as Chef Desautel in the TV show “Treme”

How about Professor Longhair’s “Red Beans,” Kermit Ruffins’ “Chicken and Dumplings,” Dave Bartholomew’s “Shrimp and Gumbo” or the Radiators “Papaya.”

And yes, we finish with a nice helping of Jambalaya cooked up by Dr. Michael White. My best to you this holiday.

New Orleans deserves more recognition for its funk

This week’s show is a funky one.  Get the show started by clicking the Mixcloud arrow then read how Ohio scooped New Orleans on the funk

meters.jpgA recent NPR story about Dayton, Ohio having a Funk Hall of Fame took me a bit by surprise.  It’s not that I have anything against Ohio though I resent the tendency of their vote for president seeming to count more than mine. And yes, there are some fine funk bands from Dayton (Ohio Players, Heatwave, Zapp, etc.).

Like many though, when I think of funk masters, I think James Brown, George Clinton and, well, The Meters.  In the late 60’s, Art Neville (keyboards), George Porter, Jr. (bass), Leo Nocentelli (guitar) and Zigaboo Modeliste (drums) became the studio band for Allen Toussaint backing hits like “Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky,” sung by Lee Dorsey. And while they didn’t make it as big as some of the mid-70 funk bands, The Meters, along with James Brown, are widely considered to be the originators of the funk sound.

But its not that simple.  The Meters were influenced by New Orleans parade rhythms, Professor Longhair,  and Earl Palmer, who before moving to Los Angles to be part of the famed “Wrecking Crew,” was part of the Cosimo Matassa studio band that created many of the early R&B hits by Fats Domino and Little Richard.  The same Little Richard sound that James Brown cited as being an influence on his funk sound.

So why isn’t the Funk Hall of Fame in New Orleans?  Probably for the same reason there’s not a decent Jazz or R&B museum in New Orleans. Dayton made it happen and New Orleans didn’t.   Well, least the music is good. Other acts on this show include Corey Henry, Galactic, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Dr. John, Eddie Bo, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Jon Cleary, Papa Grows Funk and Walter “Wolfman” Washington.

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.