Show lowers the energy but not the enjoyment

This week’s show is an attempt to bring the energy down and relax. But it still will make you move. Listen to the New Orleans Suspects “Get It Started” by activating the player below.

Lately, I’ve had a twinge in my neck. It could be that my body is responding to an encroaching COVID and an entrenching Trump but it could also be that I just got carried away during my dance show two weeks ago. Either way, this week seemed like a good time to chillax a bit.

So after the Suspects get us moving with the opening number, we slide into a heart wrenching version of “Release Me” by the Shotgun Jazz Band with first the trombone and then the clarinet running us through the melody before Marla Dixon pleads “Please release me. . .let me go.” Six words have rarely spoken to me so clearly.

Sweet Cecelia – two sisters and a cousin sing Les Freres Guidry on this week’s show

And yet, there’s much more to enjoy in the show. Another highlight is Sweet Cecelia – two sisters and their cousin singing about their uncles and grandfather in very simple terms – albeit in Cajun French. In the show, I provide some translation.

Initially, I really questioned my use of Terence Higgins frenetic and funky “Barber Shop” but a chill show shouldn’t be all slow music. Our brains need to rest, not die. Afterall, we have to stay sharp for when the Zydepunks lay the haunting “Tumbalalaika” on us.

There’s a healthy helping of soul with Johnny Adams laying down “Who Will the Next Fool Be” (no political statement there. . .right.) And you’ll get to hear Carol Fran belt out her big hit “Emmitt Lee.” Much later, Irma Thomas, backed up by Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson, sings “Woman on the Move.” “I don’t ever want to lose my ambition.” She got that right.

Also, sprinkled through the show are some sweet covers by John Rankin (“I’m Walkin'”), Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers (“Grits Ain’t Groceries”), and the Neville Brothers (“Caravan”)

I hope you enjoy listening. (did you forget to start the player? Go back up and click the Mixcloud arrow.) Leave a comment if you have any suggestions.. Thank you for tuning in.

A Trumpeter, Trombonist, Guitarist and Keyboardist Walk into . . .

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This week’s Gumbo YaYa features the voices and music of Marla Dixon, Craig Klein, Billy Iuso and John “Papa” Gros plus a birthday anniversary and more. Go ahead and play the show which starts with a live Wild Magnolia performance in recognition of the 2020 JazzFest that didn’t happen.

Each week, I’ve been including recorded messages from New Orleans musicians and playing a set of their music as a way for me and listeners of the show to learn a bit more about them. What comes out clear from this week’s set of artists is how passionate they are about their profession and the music they make.

Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band – Marla Dixon is second from right

After the Wild Magnolia song, we hear from Marla Dixon (at about 8 and half minutes in) who sings and plays trumpet for the Shotgun Jazz Band and the all-female Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band which has played festivals in Europe. You’ll hear her perform with both those bands, including a live performance at the Dew Drop Dance & Social Hall (not to be confused with the old Central City Dew Drop Inn) plus a lagniappe spin of her request, Captain John Handy’s “Panama.” I unfortunately got mixed up and did not play her request “Streets of the City” so I will get to that one in my next show. Dixon is fully embedded in New Orleans and its music scene but Northwest listeners attuned to Canadian speak will recognize her origins when she pronounces “out” as in “out-choruses.”

Craig Klein is very much a native of the city. A former member of Harry Connick Jr.’s big band, he formed Bonerama with Mark Mullins over 20 years ago but is also on a long list of other recordings and involved in a string of New Orleans bands. He will tell you a bit about it (starting around the 26 minute mark), as well as fill you in on the New Orleans Nightcrawlers’ latest release Atmosphere and the New Orleans Jazz Vipers new record, Is There a Chance for Me. You’ll hear tracks from both plus the title track from Bonerama’s Hot Like Fire.

Billy Iuso on guitar performing with Bonerama flanked by trombonists Mark Mullins (left) and Craig Klein.

Billy Iuso caught my attention at the 2015 Freret Street Festival — an event I attended for two reasons. First, to check out my old elementary school — the former Our Lady of Lourdes on the corner of Freret and Napoleon — and to see Bonerama live for the first time. As luck would have it, we got to the Bonerama stage early and caught Iuso’s show. His songs have a way of pulling me in and holding me. You’ll hear his greeting at about the 52 minute mark followed by tracks from four of his records, including one under the name of Brides of Jesus.

John “Papa” Gros was the bandleader of the funk group Papa Grows Funk which held down the Monday slot at the Maple Leaf for a decade. When the band broke up, funk fans all over the world were heartbroken. And the story of the band was retold in a highly entertaining documentary called “Do U Want It.” Now, Gros is doing his own thing but years of helping others with their gigs and recordings pays off with quality support in his latest record – Central City. Starting at the 73 minute mark, Gros talks about his line up and the origins of one of its tracks “Old Joe’s Turkey” – a song you’ll hear along with another track from that new release. I also spin one from his previous solo effort Rivers on Fire and I couldn’t resist including one from his funkier days, “Pass It!”

Near the end of the show, I celebrate the birthday anniversary of Bobby Marchan, recognize the passing of Big Al Carson and close with the Funky Meters performing live at a previous JazzFest.

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A little Barker, lots of New Orleans blues, funk and jazz

I have no elevator pitch for today’s show. It features music from New Orleans so includes jazz, blues, funk, rock, a bawdy song or two, a couple of brass band numbers and some cutting edge Cajun music. You can play it now if you like while I tell you a bit more.

The Heavyweight Brass Band kicks off the show. They’re Canadian but they embedded in New Orleans for the This City record and on “Dance Out On the Corner” you’ll hear the baritone saxophone of the Dirty Dozen’s Roger Lewis and the trumpet and vocals of fellow Canadian now New Orleans resident Marla Dixon.

The second song (the bawdy one) is sung by Maria Muldaur. It was an early hit for Muldaur as well as the songwriter. Lu Barker recorded “Don’t You Feel My Leg” in the 30’s which helped her and her husband Danny Barker in their performing career. Later, after the couple had semi-retired back to New Orleans, a young Muldaur recorded the same song for her first hit. Muldaur will close out this year’s Danny Barker Festival happening this weekend in New Orleans with a concert at Snug Harbor. I also play a popular Danny Barker number titled “Save the Bones for Henry Jones.”

In this show, you’ll also hear a some blues by Ghalia and Mama’s Boys and Bobby Rush (who song might also be consider a bit bawdy), Cajun by the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Bonsoir Catin, funk by Naughty Professor, rock by Lightnin’ Lee and a lot of songs that just kind of defy categorization. Thanks for checking it out.