Cellist Helen Gillet visits Olympia and Gumbo YaYa

Helen Gillet’s return to the Northwest gave me an excuse to talk with her on air and feature her music. But there’s lots of other fun songs to appreciate on this show.

Helen Gillet blasts off at Octapas on Sunday

Gillet and her magic cello will perform at Octapas Cafe, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. This will be her third visit to Olympia but her first time to perform at a public venue in town. (Helen’s website)I play three of her songs on the show, including Carolina — a song about the extinct Carolina Parakeet that was inspired by a mural painted by students from a school for the blind. She tells the story in our brief conversation which you can catch about an hour into the show.

But first, you’ll hear a fun show opener by Lil’ Buck Sinegal called “Monkey in a Sack.” If you’ve never heard Sinegal perform then just playing the first song from the show should be worth your while. (have you clicked the sideway arrow above to start the show yet?)

Kirk Joseph

Other audio treats include a raspy banjo-inflected “Hound Dog,” the Boswell Sisters “Put that Sun Back in the Sky,” David Egan’s “Funky Dreams,” and Louis Prima rocking it with bandleader, saxophonist and fellow New Orleanian Sam Butera. And that’s just the first full set.

Some of my other favorites in the show include Kirk Joseph, sousaphonist, performing an original “Not Yet, Son” and Ecirb Muller’s Twisted Dixie’s take on “Sunnyside of the Street.”

As usual, the show flows from R&B to Jazz to Funk to Swing as if you enjoy it all, which if you listen to my show — you pretty much have to. Thanks for tuning in and please subscribe.

Show focuses on happier reasons to remember December 7th

December 7th is most recognized in the United States as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day but its also the birthday of two very important New Orleans musicians: Louis Prima and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.  Get the show started and then read on about their music and other features of this episode of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.

LOUIS PRIMA

The attack on Pearl Harbor was 31 years off when Louis Prima was born in 1910. He grew up listening to the nascent jazz of New Orleans, including Louis Armstrong. He formed a jazz band when he was a teenager, moved into swing during the 30’s, led a big band in the 40’s and was part of jump blues scene before settling down in the Las Vegas scene in the 1950’s. Like Satchmo, Prima played the trumpet but it was his singing that made him famous. 

My first real encounter of him was his singing  “I Wanna Be Like You” in the Disney animation “Jungle Book.”  Later, he claimed that voicing the swinging orangutan King Louie in the film was a highlight of his career. You’ll hear that song on this show along with one of his Italian songs.  His daughter, Lena Prima, also sings a song in his set. 

Monk Boudreaux featured on the 2013 OffBeat Magazine Jazz Fest Guide. Boudreaux performed at the first New Orleans Jazz an Heritage Festival in 1970. 

Bombs were dropping on Pearl Harbor when Big Chief Monk Boudreaux was born in 1941.  Of course, he wasn’t the chief of the Golden Eagles then.  As a Black Indian of Mardi Gras Chief, Boudreaux was highly regarded.  But when he paired with his buddy Big Chief Bo Dollis and formed the Wild Magnolias, the recording put the unusual cultural art form of Mardi Gras Indians on an international stage.  Tootie Montana may be the Chief of All Chiefs but Boudreaux is the Chief of all recording chiefs.  I could almost fill a whole show of his performances without ever violating the federal streaming rule that prohibits playing more than three songs from one artist name. Boudreaux performs with a wide range of artists, including Tab Benoit and Anders Osborne (songs featured in this show.)

There’s lots more to the show but why don’t you just let it flow over you.  Hang in there to near the end and you’ll get an encore performance of Chief Boudreaux performing with his grandson J’wan Boudreaux, the spy boy for the Golden Eagles who fronts his own band, Cha Wa.  Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.  Thank you.

Your 2014 New Orleans music buying guide – Part 1

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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One caveat: I’m still trying to  get KAOS on the distribution list of New Orleans artists. Thank you Basin Street Records, Alligator Records, Vizztone and Louisiana Red Hot Records (all amazing independent labels) for sending KAOS your new releases. If someone’s missing, here’s how they can hook up with my show. 

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.

The New Orleans Suspects nail it with their release Ourboros.
The New Orleans Suspects, with journeymen musicians from classic NOLA bands, make their own history with Ouroboros.

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 comes home in body and spirit with Starting Something.
Lena Prima comes home in body and spirit with Starting Something.

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.)

Rockabilly does quite capture the adventure that Rory Danger and the Dangers Dangers offer in The Age of Exploration.
“Rockabilly” does not quite capture the adventure that Rory Danger and the Dangers Dangers set listeners on in The Age of Exploration.

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)

Wow!  So much music and I’ve got more to write about and play. I’ve written Part II to this guide. I’ll be playing only new music December 8 and 15, from 10 a.m. to noon, KAOS 89.3 FM, Olympia.

(If you missed December 8, here is the playlist.)