The smile beneath the mask, the festivals that we’ll miss

Six weeks into our Shelter in Place and this week’s show looks at the smiles behind our masks, the festivals we are missing and the ways we are coping. You can start it now as I share with you more details.

This show includes four more messages from New Orleans musicians – Tiffany Pollack, Charlie Halloran, Louie Ludwig and Noah Young. But the show starts with Shotgun Jazz Band’s “Smile” in recognition of the pleasant expressions that our cloth masks cover.

This weekend would be the start of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Also this weekend, in Olympia, we would normally hold our Spring Arts Walk and Procession of the Species. I don’t wish to diminish the significant economic aspects of community celebrations, but for me, Arts Walk, the Procession and other such events serve as a mirror where we can collectively see ourselves. There’s no way to virtually replicate that but I can try.

The first full set features three songs from New Orleans Jazz Fest Past — Flow Tribe performing in 2012, gospel rocker Raymond Myles in 1994 and a very special performance by The Radiator at the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina — another catastrophe where recovery was made more difficult by a less than competent federal emergency response.

Tiffany Pollack signs on at the 23 minute mark to introduce herself (formally an embalmer!) She and her cousin Eric Johanson knocked it out of the park with last year’s Blues in My Blood record. You’ll hear a couple tracks from that one and her jazz single “Comes Love.” Check out her shows on her Facebook page and YouTube channel every Monday and Friday starting at 6 p.m. Left Coast time or 8 p.m. New Orleans time.

Like all of us, I’m getting tired of drinking at home. I miss that wonderful randomness of going to a bar or club, seeing what I see and hearing what I hear. It’s kind of back to that community mirror thing where I feel a sense of belonging. Doc Souchon starts the next set with a drinking song, followed by Dwayne Dopsie‘s “Harry’s Creole Bar.” Taylor Smith, from a previous radio interview, talks about his neighborhood bar Horace’s where he and his band the Roamin’ Jasmine recorded their last record from which you’ll hear “I Can’t Believe You’re in Love with Me.” I finish with a less than savory bar ballad by Little Freddie King, “Mixed Bucket of Blood.”

The very active (when not Sheltered in Place) trombonist and bandleader Charlie Halloran joins us next at the 55 minute mark where he shares with us what he has been up to under the COVID restrictions. He introduces his latest record from his calypso group (Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales) from which you’ll hear two tracks. I also spin one from Charlie Halloran and the Quality 6.

New release by Sierra Green

The next set features tracks from new releases by Cowboy Mouth, Sierra Green & the Soul Machine and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. Later, Noah Young joins the show to introduce his latest record by the band Slugger and you’ll hear “Take a Breath” featuring Ray Wimbly and Mykia Jovan. I also spin”Starkist” from Slugger’s previous release. The set is finished by a track from the new Jason Marsalis Live — just released by Basin Street Records.

Louie Ludwig first got my attention with his record I Got Nothin to Say. Later when most folks were still figuring out what had gone down during the 2016 election, he released the song and video “Troll Factory.” Now, Ludwig has turned his attentions more fully to film making and was working on a documentary about the New Orleans music recording history. However, as he explains in his comments on the show, the project has turned into a weekly video report focusing on the COVID-19 effects in New Orleans. His latest one is about the loss of the festival season.

There’s a bit more in the show but its nice to have some surprises. Please support these musicians and the others I’ve featured in previous shows. You can support me (emotionally) by subscribing to this free blog (go back to the top and look to the right).

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.

With Mr. Okra’s death, an end of an era

In Uptown New Orleans where I grew up, the horse-drawn Roman Candy Wagon rolling by was a big occasion.  But that was 50 years ago and rolling street vendors, a long tradition in New Orleans, are pretty much gone.  Before reading the rest of this story, click the arrow below and get Louis Jordan and rest of my show going.

 

mr.-okra.jpg
Mr. Okra, aka Arthur J. Robinson, died this month.

My family used to frequent a vegetable vendor who would set up near McMann School at the corner of Claiborne and Nashville.  But apparently over the years, the tradition had died out until all that was left was Mr. Okra. And now he is gone.  Here’s an excerpt from an article by Ann Maloney for the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Family, friends and customers filed through the Marigny Opera House on Ferdinand Street on Sunday (Feb. 25) afternoon to say good-bye to beloved street peddler Arthur J. “Mr. Okra” Robinson, who was laid out dressed just as they might remember him, with his suspenders and, in his hands, a straw hat topped with plastic fruit. His truck keys were looped around his little finger. . .

. . .Arthur Robinson was often called the last of the New Orleans Street vendors because he upheld a tradition of shouting out his wares with “I’ve got apples. I’ve got mangos…,” as he drove through the city streets. It was a tradition that was popular into the mid-1900s in New Orleans. By 2005, Robinson said of himself: “I’m about the only one that really goes around anymore. Most all the old peddlers are dead now, just about.”

It wasn’t just vegetables and fruit.  Louis Armstrong got his start as a musician working with an owner of junk wagon. At age 7, he would blow a tin horn to attract attention as the wagon rolled through the streets of New Orleans.

And apparently the Roman Candy Wagon is still operating (though these days most folks see it on display at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.)

In this week’s show, I include a short interview with Craig Klein, a founding member of Bonerama ,who co-wrote a song dedicated to Mr. Okra.  You’ll hear that song about 15 minutes into the show.  I also feature Louie Ludwig’s wonderful ode to fake news “Troll Factory.”  I have a set on drinking bourbon and whiskey and a Latin-inflected set featuring Los Hombres Calientes, the Iguanas and Los Po-Boy-Citos. And much more.

Thanks for listening.