If you’re looking for the song that perfectly captures what it’s like to live in the kind of heat we have endured during this record breaking summer check out the first song on this week’s show. . . But stick around for ice cream and fireworks.
If the heat has caused you to change your shirt or take more than one bath in a day then you’ll appreciate “Dog Days” written and sung by Leigh Harris, better known as Little Queenie. In addition to her steamy lyrics, the song features a gravity-defying sousaphone performance by Matt Perrine. The song is the opening track from her 2006 Polychrome Junction.
The show bounces between the twin themes of Independence Day and Summer with songs like Dee-1’s “No Car Note” expressing the economic freedom of owning a vehicle that is paid for to George Lewis’ “Ice Cream.” Later, Louis Armstrong and his Hot 5 show off their improvisational “Fireworks” from a 1928 recording.
Stay with the show and you’ll hear “Freedom” — the live 1991 Mardi Gras performance by Rebirth Brass Band in honor of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Louie Ludwig sings “God Hates Flags” and Dr. John and Tab Benoit do “We Ain’t Gonna Lose No More.”
Henry Gray does “Cold Chills” and Dr. Michael White covers “Happy Together.” Gal Holiday sings “Found Myself Instead” followed by The Soul Rebels with “Living for the City.” In short, I’m back to my usual mix of jazz, country, blues, rock, and funk.
Have a safe holiday and remember Little Queenie’s words: “It’s not the heat, its the humidity.”
You’ll hear about two dozens performances by New Orleans piano players on this week’s show. But only after I introduce four of the members of one my favorite bands, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers who have a Grammy nomination for their latest record, Atmosphere. You’ll also hear three tracks from that record. Go ahead and get it started.
One of the perks of hosting a radio show is the excuse to score interviews with musicians I love. And recently I had the chance to zoom interview four of the nine members of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. This brass band is what sold me on New Orleans music. A band that both honors tradition and innovates. Their latest album “Atmosphere” is a just the latest example. It made my favorites of 2020 list. But more importantly its up for a grammy which will be awarded in March this year. (Postscript: They won!)
After Jon Cleary opens the show with “Po Boy Blues,” you’ll hear from saxophonist Brent Rose, who grew up in Lynnwood Washington before landing in New Orleans via a stint in the Marine Corps Band. He introduces his song “Gentilly Groove”.
Craig Klein, who has been featured on this show before, explains the importance of the band’s rhythm section which consists of New Birth and Preservation Hall Brass Band drummers Caytonio “Tanio” Hingle and Kerry “Fatman” Hunter.
Matt Perrine, who plays tuba and produced the record, comes on before the third song to explain the very New Orleans approach to getting nine high-demand musicians together long enough to record an album. (Hint: Food is involved.)
To give you a sense of how busy these musicians are, Kevin Clark lays out what a typical work week looked like for him and his trumpet before COVID restrictions. In normal times, these musicians perform pretty much every day in a wide range of projects and gigs. A grammy would be a big deal for them and yet, even if they win, you will likely still be able to see them in a New Orleans night club or restaurant plying their craft once live music moves back indoors.
After the Nightcrawlers three songs, its time for more piano. In fact, the rest of the show features performances by two dozen New Orleans piano players – Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Fats Domino, Jelly Roll Morton, Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, Marcia Ball (honorary New Orleanian), James Booker, Tuts Washington, Champion Jack Dupree, Josh Paxton, David Torkanowsky, Tom McDermott, Amanda Walker, Henry Butler . . .ah geez, just listen to the show will ya!
The program finishes with a New Orleans piano player who has played Olympia a few times. I promised on the show to share a link to Davis Rogan’s Facebook page where he does live performances every Wednesday though some times its on Thursdays. Here it is.
This week’s show celebrates the birth anniversary of three highly regarded New Orleans area musicians: Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal, Big Chief Bo Dollis and Allen Toussaint. You’ll also hear and hear about a New Orleans twist of a song from the great mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap.”
Paul Sinegal, who died the summer of 2019, would have been 77 this week. His career spans blues, zydeco and R&B. A good part of his career was spent as a guitarist with Clifton Chenier’s band, including his stage debut as a young teen. He also worked with Rockin’ Dopsie and Buckwheat Zydeco. He was a regular performer at Ponderosa Stomp. In 1999, Sinegal released The Buck Stops Here – a record produced on Allen Toussaint’s NYNO Label and featured several songs written by Toussaint. The show starts with Sinegal’s “Don’t You Lie to Me” and you’ll hear him later with “Monkey in a Sack.”
Big Chief Bo Dollis was a pioneer along with his mentor Big Chief Tootie Montana in the cultural arena known as Mardi Gras Indians. Dollis and Montana elevated the sewing and construction of the “suits” (never call them costumes) to such a high level that much of the rough action and violence that was once associated with Mardi Gras Indians stopped. Who would want to fight and mess up such a great suit — which can also weigh around 100 pounds. Dollis, who also would have been 77 this year, is featured with two Wild Magnolias numbers “New Suit” and “Coconut Milk”
In the six years of this show, you’ve heard a lot about Allen Toussaint because its impossible to do a New Orleans show without frequent appearances by him, his songs and his extensive music production work. In this week’s show, you’ll here him sing “Oh My” with Dave Bartholomew on trumpet, the Paul Simon classic “American Tune” and a early online dating novelty song called “Computer Lady.” But you’ll also hear Toussaint classics “Ride Your Pony” and “Night People” by The Meters and Stanton Moore respectively.
At just after the first hour mark, Matt Perrine of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers (and countless other music projects) introduces “Big Bottom” — a song played by the parody heavy metal band Spinal Tap in the movie by Rob Reiner. Here’s the original version. It’s fun to compare this powerful Nightcrawler version, arranged by Perrine after years of noodling on how to convert the plodding rock beat into a New Orleans style song, to the original. The Nightcrawlers are up for a Grammy for their new release Atmosphere that includes the song “Big Bottom.”
Lots of other fun stuff in between all this, including at least three appearances by bass player George Porter Jr. and some great but not well known songs by Eric Lindell, Marcia Ball, the Radiators, Yvette Landry, Buckwheat Zydeco and the New Orleans Suspects — just to name drop a few.
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This week’s show is a look (and listen) back at the great music made during hard times this year. You’ll hear at least two and usually three tracks from each of my top 10 favorite releases this year. (But hey, they’re all great so check out my annual summary.) You’ll also hear a few band voices such as Matt Perrine (Nightcrawlers), Craig Klein (Vipers and Nightcrawlers), and Abigail Cosio (Bon Bon Vivant).
New Orleans Nightcrawlers –Atmosphere – First record in 11 years for this funky brass band and it nails a Grammy nomination. No surprise given the collective talent of these nine musicians with a love for creating innovative music based on the New Orleans brass and second line tradition. At about three-fourths through the show, you’ll hear Matt Perrine talk about what makes the Nightcrawlers unique. Also, the show opens with “The Lick” and here’s the five-hour video that I mention in the show.
Shake ’em Up Jazz Band: The Boy in the Boat – Lots to enjoy with this late 2019 release, including Chloe Feoranzo‘s clarinet and Marla Dixon’s trumpet but what sets this record apart from the many other excellent New Orleans swing releases is the singing. From Haruka Kikuchi’s rendition of “Salty Dog” to the harmonizing on “Nuts to You,” this album never fails to make me smile.
Smoking Time Jazz Club– Mean Tones and High Notes – This band made my top ten last year with Contrapuntal Stomp and this year’s record is even better with jaw-dropping performances that don’t get in the way of great song choices. Everybody needs to get vaccinated so I can go see this band live.
John “Papa” Gros – Central City – Former funkmaster has improved on his earlier excellent solo release, Rivers of Fire, with a tasty mix of original songs and covers, including John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me.” This a playful record made in a very New Orleans way.
Bon Bon Vivant – Dancing in the Darkness – When COVID hit the fan this year, Abigail Cosio and partner Jeremy Kelley created community with fellow musicians and fans through heartfelt and continuously improving live music feeds. Meanwhile, they were waiting for the right time to spring this record of pandemic prescient songs. I’m so glad to be dancing, even if the “Ship is Sinking.” Near the end of this show, Abigail introduces her song “This Year.”
New Orleans Jazz Vipers: Is There a Chance for Me – For nearly two decades, this band has helped defined the Frenchmen Street music scene with a swing sound in which every member of the band takes turns shining and singing. Lots of songs about love, making it just that much more fun to grab your partner and show off your footwork. Trombonist Craig Klein gets on the show midway through to introduce the title track which has a fascinating history
Sierra Green & the Soul Machine: Sierra Green & the Soul Machine – Came out December of last year and by February, Offbeat Magazine recognized her as Emerging Artist of the Year. This record will make you hope that COVID is just a temporary setback. We need her music.
Alex McMurray –Lucky One – McMurray is a musical chameleon capable of rock and rock steady, sea shanties and swing. But at his core, and quite evidence in this record particularly, is a maturing storyteller whose voice delivers droll, yet heartfelt, introspection.
Paul Sanchez – I’m a song, I’m a story, I’m a ghost – Like McMurry who he partners with in The Write Brothers, Sanchez delivers heartfelt songs with a voice to match. His duet on “Walking in Liverpool” alone is worth the album.
Colin Lake – Forces of Nature – Apparently, these songs were recorded before Lake and his wife sold their New Orleans home, bought a sailboat and began a life of itinerant Caribbean sailors. And yet, the vibe of the album manages to capture a reflective, meditative mood with themes more relevant than ever.
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Today’s show begins with an Allen Toussaint song of unity and tolerance and ends with Delfeayo Marsalis’ erudite dissection of the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Perhaps in this the 244th year of our nation, we can make real progress toward the equitable society imagined in our Declaration of Independence. Let the show begin.
President Obama was only in office a few months when Allen Toussaint took the stage at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and sang “We are America – we are some of yesterday and we are some of tomorrow. . .” as an intro to his “Yes We Can Can.”
Seven years later, trombonist and bandleader Delfeayo Marsalis released “Make America Great Again” with its title song featuring a narration by Wendell Pierce (a high school mate of Delfeayo) that indicts the phrase with “there will always be those of us who long for “the good old days,” either because we weren’t there or we’ve simply forgotten what those days were actually like.”
The show’s first full set is introduced by veteran blues musician Smoky Greenwell, speaking from New Orleans to introduce two songs from his latest album (one of my favorites of 2019) “Common Ground” and “Get Out and Vote.” Smoky celebrates a birthday on Fourth of July.
In addition to Smoky’s birthday, I celebrate four other birth anniversaries. Lee Allen, the tenor sax that brought us New Orleans rock n’ roll, would have turned 94 on July 2. You’ll hear three of his songs and a good argument for why Lee Circle, currently named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee should be renamed after the Lee Allen song “Walkin’ with Mr. Lee.”
New Orleans favorite son Pete Fountain would have turned 90 on July 3. Fountain’s clarinet was the soundtrack of my childhood, a favorite of my clarinet playing father who taught at Tulane in the 60’s. You’ll hear a couple of his songs with his good buddy Al Hirt.
Reggie Houston lives in Portland now but is New Orleans through and through. Bless him for making a major move late in life that seems to have been good for him and Portland — as attested by his work with the annual Waterfront Blues Festival. His “Before I Grow Too Old” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” just seemed perfect for the show. Reggie turns 73 this week.
I suspect Matt Perrine is well known in the music industry as one of the world’s finest sousaphone players but its not like that distinction scores you the cover of Esquire Magazine — though it might get you a cameo in The Simpsons. He turns 51 and while I could do a whole show of his performance given his prolific studio work — I limited him to two of his own songs. He turns 51.
Lots of other music to enjoy in today’s show including Leigh Harris with “Make a Better World,” Walter “Wolfman” Washington with “Trials and Tribulations,” and Cowboy Mouth’s new “Oh Toulouse.” Thanks for tuning in. Stay safe this weekend.
Shamarr Allen’s New Orleans anthem “Party All Night” starts off today’s show and I follow it with some jazzy numbers that feature strong sousaphone and trombone performances. You can hear it all by clicking the sideways triangle below and you’ll still be able read on.
Matt Perrine sneaks another surprise run on the sousaphone hitting high notes that don’t even sound like a tuba in “Devil Take It’ to start the first full set. Ben Jaffe also represents himself well on the big horn in Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s take off “Bonjour Cousin.” The set finishes with “The Object of My Affection” by Frog and Henry. Both Frog and Henry and Shamarr Allen will be playing in venues along the I-5 corridor in August (calendar)
I spin a couple of classic funk songs from New Orleans: “Hip Drop” by the Explosions and “Dap Walk” by Ernie and the Top Notes. Trombone Shorty finishes that set and then I play another jazz set that features trombonist Charlie Halloran, Tuba Skinny and Dr. John.
Then its time to celebrate Little Freddie King’s 79th birthday with two numbers that highlight his guitar work. Marcia Ball lightens up that set with her song about the town gossip “Louella.” Lots more follows but by now, you’re probably into it enough to stay listening. I hope you’ll consider subscribing as well (top right hand side of page). Thanks for tuning in.
This week’s show is one of me catching up on playing music I’ve been meaning to get to but hadn’t been able to work it into a set. Here it is, with announcements edited out.
Tin Men’s “Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing” is another fine demonstration of how well Matt Perrine can play melody on a sousaphone. Their new album is Sing with Me and it kicks off the show. I dive into an earlier album of Bon Bon Vivant by playing the title track from”Paint & Pageantry,” serving notice that this show will rock a bit more than usual. By the time Bill Pierce does the Sonny Landreth number “Zydecoldsmobile” we are definitely rocking.
For some reason the 2001 release The Hoodoo Kings sitting in the KAOS blues section managed to elude my discovery until recently. This one-off album features Eddie Bo of New Orleans along with two well-regarded Baton Rouge musicians, Raful Neal and Rockin’ Tabby Thomas. I played “Luberta” and expect to hear more from this album in future shows. Ivan Neville’s collaboration with Chris Jacobs makes its debut on my show with “Money Talks” and I also play the opening track of the Ever More Nest release “Unraveling.”
A new group called Old Riley and Water also debut on my show and I play from Lena Prima’s new release Prima La Famiglia. There’s more in the show but if I haven’t convinced you to start playing by now, there’s no point writing any more. But if you do like, please subscribe. See you next week.
I love this version by Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers with the sousaphone bass line handled by her husband Matt Perrine. Matt shows up later in the show with his own project, Matt Perrine and Sunflower City. Yes, its a sunny day but the song, originally recorded by the Kinks, seems to capture Amazon’s petulant response to the city’s modest attempt to try to get the $700 billion company to take some responsibility for the housing shortages in Seattle.
Enough politics, let’s talk immigration instead. Anders Osborne moved to New Orleans as youth from Uddevalla, Sweden. Today, he turned 52 and I play his song “My Old Heart.” The Dirty Bourbon River Show’s “Ruffian Since Birth” provides a nice follow up to Osborne’s number
Diablo’s Horns offers a silly take on addiction (and seasonal allergies) in their song “The Sneeze” and The Crooked Vines heat things up with “Organ Holler.” I’m almost done with my sequential march through Marcia Ball’s latest release Shine Bright and perhaps my favorite surprise in this show was finding Bon Bon Vivant’s latest release and playing “Dust.”
Another fun discovery is Mary Flower’s “Main Street Blues” which features Dr. Michael White (clarinet), Washboard Chaz and Matt Perrine (sousaphone). Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe. Cheers.
Craig Klein and Mark Mullins might joke they formed Bonerama as a way to give trombonists greater job security but there’s no hiding the enthusiasm they have for their instrument serving as the band’s main voice. Bonerama’s latest release (it’s seventh in almost 20 years) is aptly named “Hot Like Fire.”
I caught up with the two after a band practice at Craig’s house in the Lower Garden District late last month. The album features seven original tunes by Craig, Mark and Matt Perrine, who plays bass and sousaphone. The songs range from catchy numbers like “Happy” and “Hot Like Fire” to the complex “High Horse.” The album’s two covers include Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” and Allen Toussaint’s “Basic Lady.”
Reluctant to pick one genre for their music style, Mark and Craig give it three – Brass Rock and Funk. But “Hot Like Fire” also throws in a little reggae and jazz. At KAOS, it goes on our Funk shelf where its been getting some good play.
Greg Hicks adds the third trombone to the band with Bert Cotton on guitar and Alex Joseph “A.J.” Hall on drums. Click on the interview above to hear Craig and Mark talk about all nine songs, with samples of the songs, as well as the band’s origins and their connection with Basin Street Records.
If Taylor Smith was a moth, New Orleans would be the light.
And that light is shining bright for a lot of musicians, young and old, who have found their muse in New Orleans. The Roamin’ Jasmine‘s bandleader initially visited New Orleans as part of the ancient college ritual, Spring Break.
But fortunately, the music major managed to wander beyond the beer-chugging Bourbon Street scene to where the real magic happens. As a University of Miami senior, he had yet to find his musical niche in Florida so, as it has for generations before him, New Orleans proved to be both eye and ear opening.
Captivated by the scene, he and his roommate moved to New Orleans after graduation in 2010. He stayed for a year but then went looking for greener pastures, doing a couple of tours with bands and ending up in his hometown Boston.
“But I realized I wasn’t playing music that much. I came back to visit one time while I was living in Boston and thought why did I ever leave this. Every minute I was here, I was going to jam sessions, going to people’s houses and they’re having a campfire and playing tunes. I even played on the streets a few times.”
Smith returned to New Orleans in 2012 and soon after formed The Roamin’ Jasmine which plays regularly in New Orleans and is currently doing a tour in Alaska. Smith’s experience is not unique.
Throughout the years, musicians have been finding their way to the birthplace of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Fats Domino and The Meters. Jon Cleary, who has mastered a wide range of New Orleans piano styles, was raised in England but took a one-way trip to the city as a young musician.
In 1995, Japanese blues guitar sensation June Yamagishi abandoned an established career to immigrate to New Orleans — much to the benefit of the Wild Magnolias and Papa Grows Funk. Matt Perrine, whose sousaphone and bass anchor countless New Orleans recordings, migrated from California to the city in 1992. Others, like guitarist/songwriter Alex McMurray and the founding members of Galactic, were college students (Tulane and Loyola respectively) who decided to stick around after graduation. University of New Orleans jazz program also has contributed a number of new residents as well.
The magnetic force of New Orleans seems to have only gotten stronger since Hurricane Katrina. Last week, I attended a Rising Appalachia concert where the two sisters that fronted the band referred often to the enriching years they spent in New Orleans following Katrina.
In my last visit to New Orleans, every musician I talked with (and most are delighted to chat) was from some other place. Pianist Bart Ramsay (Zazou City) has lived in the city a long time but hails from Chicago. Another pianist was from New Jersey. A saxophone player was from the Midwest. Everyone had a story about how they came to New Orleans and found their bliss.
Josh Wilson, whose Seattle-based band Tubaluba is heavily influenced by the New Orleans brass sound, did a pilgrimage to New Orleans specifically to improve his New Orleans piano skills. He connected with Jelly Roll Morton specialist Tom McDermott and seriously considered moving to the city permanently.
But its more than just the professional milieu that is attractive. The daily infusion of tourists and the large number of clubs and venues provide a wealth of employment opportunities for musicians — allowing them to lead a reasonably normal life. They can catch their child’s soccer game in the afternoon, play a gig in the evening and sleep in their own bed that night.
“I’ve never been to any city where I’ve met so many working-class musicians. New Orleans is really nurturing in that way; the quality of life is very good,” Kristin Diable told American Songwriter magazine. Diable, Americana singer/songwriter, is from Baton Rouge but for a time she tried her luck in New York City. “Within a year of being in New Orleans, I was making 10 times more money than I ever made in New York City.” The influx of new talent is not without its controversy. Some have argued that newcomers don’t take the time to learn the history, culture and style of New Orleans music.
The debate raises the question of what is New Orleans music. Is it jazz, R&B, bounce, funk, roots, hip hop Mardi Gras Indian? Or is it all of the above and more. The lesson and legacy of Congo Square is that the city’s musical storehouse relies on its continued ability to welcome and nurture different styles.
So I’ll keep playing music from New Orleans whether or not you might think its New Orleans music. For this Monday’s show, I’ll emphasize music by those who made a conscious decision to make New Orleans their home. Oh yea, and I’ll have a little more of my interview with the effervescent Taylor Smith. (Whoops. Left the interview on the wrong computer. I’ll include with podcast and air it next week.)