Another example of how New Orleans and Jazzfest latches on

I know I’m not the only person whose attraction to New Orleans grew as a result of attending the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival. In this week’s show, you’ll hear how it hooked a young Wisconsin musician into making New Orleans his home.

Ted Hefko is an established New Orleans musician with a handful of records and many years experience of leading a band, but he was not even out of high school when he attended his first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His experience prompted him to return to Madison, Wisconsin, get his diploma, pack up his few belongings and move to New Orleans. You’ll hear him tell this story on today’s show.

But first, Dr. Michael White will entertain you with “Mpingo Blues” and you’ll be subjected to another set of live music. Remember last week’s show? Well, I didn’t get to all the songs I wanted to, such as The Radiators doing “7 Devils” from the 2006 JazzFest — the event that has resulted in nearly annual visits to my birthplace (and not for JazzFest). By the way, the Jazzfest line up for this year has just been announced. And you’ll find Ted Hefko and his band on the list. Also on the JazzFest line up (for the first time) is Bon Bon Vivant an they will be making its second appearance in the KAOS studio in two weeks!

In this week’s show You’ll also hear live performances by Sonny Landreth, Harry Connick, Jr. Sunpie Barnes and Smoky Greenwell, J & the Causeways, Boozoo Chavis and Kermit Ruffins.

Ted Hefko

At about the 25 minute mark, I start sharing clips from an interview I had with Hefko who plays guitar and saxophone, leads a band called “The Thousandaires” and writes songs. He tells the story of his moving to New Orleans and starting his professional music career, his tenure in New York and his return. His latest album is Down Below. You’ll hear him perform “The Next Train,” “Egyptland,” and “Into My Head.”

More music follows including Helen Gillet, John “Papa” Grow, the Big Dixie Swingers, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Lynn Drury, Andrew Duhon, Rosie Ledet and Kristin Diable to name a few.

A Show To Satisfy that Live Music Craving

If its been too long since you’ve experienced live music than this week’s show might offer some joy, starting with the funky Meters 2010 JazzFest extended performance of “Fire on the Bayou.” For that song alone, you should start the player below.

While studio recordings can offer more perfection and audio wizardry, live recordings deliver more of the energy you would feel if you were in the audience and offer up freer, more loose performances. Given a choice, I almost always choose the live performance even if they are not as technically exacting as the studio recording.

Perhaps no record better exemplifies that trade-off than Kermit Ruffins’ Live at Vaughan’s. Kermit’s horn playing and singing may not always be on the mark, but this 12-track release puts you in the middle of the dance floor at Vaughan’s during one of his now historic Thursday night performances. The fun is infectious. You’ll hear “Hide the Reefer” from that set on this show. . . but that will be later.

First, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience will cover “Johnny Too Bad” from his Live! Worldwide release. Debbie Davis sings “Lulu’s Back in Town” and you’ll hear the audience go wild on Josh Paxton frenetic piano solo. And you’ll visit two famous New Orleans bars to hear the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and New Orleans Jazz Vipers do their thing (a Craig Klein double feature.)

Later, Taylor Smith of the Roamin’ Jasmine explains how recording a performance at his neighborhood bar was easier and more fun than dealing with the pressure associated with recording in a studio. You’ll hear his group do “That’s a Pretty Good Love” from Live at Horace’s Bar.

Champion Jack Dupree showing off his abdominal muscles with Allen Toussaint on piano

As promised on my show, here’s a link to the video of Champion Jack Dupree at the 1990 New Orleans Jazz Fest when Allen Toussaint suddenly joined him at the piano. You’ll hear Dupree start with his soulful “Bring Me Flowers While I’m Living” and then Toussaint sneaks in and plays on the high keys. Eventually, the two move into a boogie woogie number with the 80-year-old Dupree getting up and doing some very interesting boogie moves of his own. You just never know what might happen in a live performance.

Also, during the show, you’ll be transported to the street for a Second Line parade with a performance of “Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” by Rebirth Brass Band, recorded on the street as part of the HBO Treme show. You’ll also hear Paul Sanchez speak emotionally about the value of friendship in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a way of introducing guests at his live performance of “Home.”

Glen David Andrews performing at Louis Armstrong Park

Another reason to enjoy live performances (and their recordings) is for the extended versions of familiar songs and the improvisational jams that make the moment feel special and unique. You’ll get that experience throughout the show but definitely with the New Orleans Suspects rendition of “Big Chief” from their Caught Live at the Maple Leaf and Glen David Andrews “Brothers Johnson Jam” from Live at Three Muses.

Live music is starting to come back, so please support these musicians whenever and where ever you can. And I’ll keep spinning the records. Thanks for tuning in.

George Wein’s influence in New Orleans will live forever

I cannot imagine what the New Orleans music scene would look like today without the half century legacy of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. So it should be no surprise that I give a nod to the recent passing of George Wein, one of the founders of the festival in this week’s show

First though, Fats Domino kicks off the program with one of his less well-known hits “I’m Ready.” A song that charted in the spring of 1959 with Domino cautioning: “Talking on the phone is not my speed. Don’t send me no letter, ’cause I can’t read. Don’t be long, ’cause I’ll be gone. We’ll go rock and rolling all night long.”

George Wein was a jazz pianist with his own nightclub and record label when he was hired in 1954 to organize a music festival in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Jazz Festival was a smash and he was invited to replicate that success in other communities, including New Orleans. While it took several years for the New Orleans festival to manifest, it appears that Wein was pivotal in helping to develop the concept of an affordable event with multiple stages where audiences were free to roam about and sample a variety of music. In short, the modern music festival. (though the affordability issue today is debatable.)

Wein was a regular performer over the years at the festival and I feature in this week’s show his 2003 performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” from the Smithsonian Folkways 50th anniversary JazzFest compilation. You’ll also hear Beausoleil from that same compilation in recognition of that band’s upcoming performance in Olympia. See my calendar page.

But before Wein and after Domino, I feature a different kind of New Orleans music set starting with Quintron & Miss Pussycat’s “Shoplifter.” The distorted organ post-punk dance sound may not be what you think of as New Orleans music, but it is very much part of the New Orleans music scene. Galactic follows up with “Shibuya” — a very deep track from their release recorded live at Tipitina’s along with Papa Grows Funk’s “Gorillafaceugmopotamus!” and Lena Prima’s “Frog Legs Man.” It’s one wild set and I dare you to listen to all 25 minutes of it.

Noted for her clarinet and saxophone, Aurora Nealand is multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer.

Later in the show, I highlight four projects by Aurora Nealand who has been recognized by DownBeat Magazine for her ability to perform with clarinet and soprano saxophone. So you will hear her work with nightclub mainstays Panorama Jazz Band and The Royal Roses. You’ll also hear from her unique rockabilly project Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers and her original solo project called The Monocle which has been brought to life in a fully staged adaptation a few year’s back.

Tank and the Bangas, Lakou Mizik, Alex McMurray and the New Orleans Swinging Gypsies follow along with others including two covers of “I’m Ready” by Davell Crawford and someone named “George” from an unmarked Jay Miller recording included in the Swamp Pop by the Bayou compilation.

Thanks for tuning in.

Another Round of Talkative Horns Joined by Great Guitar

This week’s show continues to explore Craig Klein‘s new record Talkative Horns – A Musical Conversation on Lucien Barbarin with more excerpts from my interview with the Grammy winning trombonist. But to balance the horns out, you’ll hear some fancy guitar work by John Rankin, Mem Shannon, Lynn Drury, Little Freddie King, Tab Benoit and Pee Wee Crayton.

Yes, you can start the show with the player below and still read on.

Lucien Barbarin

This show starts off with a Craig Klein song “If I Could Hug You” by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. Later, you’ll hear him perform the song again with Kevin Louis on trumpet. Craig talks about his new record’s extensive use of horn mutes, the funky riff that Louis came up with to enliven their version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rockin Chair” and how Lucien Barbarin helped Craig score a job with Harry Connick Jr’s big band back in the 1990’s. You can learn more about Klein’s send up of his good friend Lucien Barbarin from my previous show and acquire the record here. To round out the set, I also include tracks from other Klein projects, Bonerama and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers.

But about those guitars, let’s start with John Rankin who before the pandemic held court at the Columns Hotel on Tuesday evenings as well as a Sunday lunch jazz show at Superior Seafood (both on St. Charles Street). His “Last in April, First in May” is an instrumental ode to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which has been postponed this year to October. But worry not, WWOZ will feature a virtual festival this weekend drawing upon the community station’s vast library of past festival performances.

The guitar work continues with Walter “Wolfman” Washington covering “Use Me,” Lynn Drury’s song “I Just Get Down,” and Tab Benoit’s “Lost in Your Lovin’.” Later Little Freddie King and Mem Shannon hop on to wow you with their dexterity.

Pee Wee Crayton recorded in New Orleans in 1954

And the show closes with Blues Hall of Famer Pee Wee Crayton serving up another example of how the roots of rock ‘n’ roll stretch deeply into New Orleans. Working with Dave Bartholomew’s band (essentially the same as Fats Domino’s), Crayton recorded with Imperial Records at the J&M Studio on Rampart Street in 1954. You’ll hear “You Know Yeah” on this show so get it started.

There’s other surprises as well. So listen to the whole show and then subscribe. Also some great news. Just two more shows recorded from my home before I go back into the studio to do live radio. Let’s hear it for the VAX!

Two extended JazzFest performances anchors this week’s show

Champion Jack Dupree and Sam Williams couldn’t be more different in their style of music but they hold a common ground as dear to them as it is to my show: New Orleans. And I feature knock out JazzFest performances by both of them in this week’s show. Go ahead get it started.

Big Sam of Big Sam’s Funky Nation kicked off his 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival performance with a nearly 12-minute song he titled “Play Them Funky Horns” a mash up of songs that even includes a few bars of “Liza Jane.” It’s a nice preview for his upcoming performance in Portland (Mississippi Studios) and Seattle (Tractor Tavern) next week. That song kicks off the first full set on this show and will get you moving — guaranteed.

Twenty festivals previously, in 1990, Champion Jack Dupree sat on the stage — his first return to New Orleans in over 30 years of living in Europe — with a master of ceremonies Allen Toussaint — whose job was to interview the long-missed expatriate — one of the few remaining original barrelhouse piano maestros. During a soulful number called “Bring Me Flowers While I’m Living,” Dupree is joined by a Toussaint who lays in on the high side of the keys some pretty flourishes.

The duo continue through that song and into a boogie woogie number that ended with Dupree (80 plus years old at that time) getting up demonstrating is own boogie woogie moves that included some incredible abdominal exertions. The performances has been available in video online for years and this year the Smithsonian Folkways included the performance in its five-disk retrospective in honor of the 50th annual JazzFest. You’ll find that song in the second hour of the show.

In between, the show features performances by Jon Cleary, Shamarr Allen, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dwayne Dopsie, Frog and Henry, Leyla McCalla, Dana Abbott, Galactic and The Crooked Vines (just to name a few).

I also celebrate Little Joe Gaines 100th birthday anniversary by playing his two solo numbers by Mercury, including “Snuff Dipper.”

Check out whose playing the Northwest this summer here.

A touch of Irish but I’m a bit grumpy about it

This week’s show gives a gentle nod to my Irish heritage but I don’t go overboard. Well, unless you count the two raucous sea shanties. Go ahead and get it started while I explain.

St. Alphonsus Church, now a art and cultural center, is located in the Irish Channel area of New Orleans.

As I’ve said before, New Orleans needs little reason to put on a party. But given that St. Patrick’s Day appears to be our equivalent of Irish-American heritage day, the city has a lot to party about. You’ll find the parades and block parties are centered around a neighborhood in New Orleans along the Mississippi River called the Irish Channel. And while the large influx of Irish families in the first half of the 19th century fanned out throughout the city, many did seem to settle in this Garden District neighborhood since it wasn’t very far from where they go off the boat from Ireland.

My experience with the Irish Channel was as a kid when I gigged as an altar boy for an itinerant priest who would do mass for convents and shut ins. One day, he got a prime time slot, doing mass at St. Alphonsus Church (now a cultural center) in the heart of the Irish Channel. I lived just a few miles away but it may as well been a world away in 1966. All the other neighborhood altar boys, hanging out in the altar boy locker room, sounded like Bobby Kennedy. That’s New Orleans for you.

Well, back to the show, I don’t spend too much time on the Irish theme. I don’t have a lot of music that fits frankly. And I’m not a big fan of the whole St. Patrick’s Day celebration — which you’ll get a taste of when you hear the show. Instead, I treat you to Louis Jordan’s 1949 classic “Saturday Night Fish Fry” and carry on that early R&B vibe with Chubby Newsome and Percy Mayfield

This 5-disc set will be released in May

Later, I take a dive into the brand new Smithsonian Folkways recording celebrating 50 years of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Yes, this year is the 50th anniversary. I play a track with Snooks Eaglin getting excited about the huge crowd he had and we rock to a live version of “Back On Dumaine” when Anders Osborne’s heart ache over the end of his marriage was fresh. I also play from the new release by Herlin Riley, singing a jazzy version of “Wang Dang Doodle.”

Lots of other great stuff in between. Give it a listen. And “Erin Go Bragh.”

Three years of Gumbo YaYa

Hello.  Today’s show marked three full years of airing a show about New Orleans music in a town over 2200 miles away from the Crescent City.  My thanks to community radio station KAOS and its listeners and supporters for letting me do this show.

Inkedcb_bday_LIThe show kicks off with Theryl “Houseman” Declouet with his infamous introduction regarding the third world status of New Orleans at a Galactic concert and flows quickly into Shamarr Allen’s “Party All Night.”  Al Hirt takes a turn and so does patron saint of this website and the show, Ernie K-Doe, with his classic “A Certain Girl.”  Who is she? Can’t tell ya.  I have reggae and hornpipes, jazz and blues and an amazing live airing of the Radiator’s 7 Devils from the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  It was that concert that cinched the deal for me that I would be coming back to New Orleans as often as I could.

Here’s the edited show from today (September 7, 2017) marking three years.  Thank you for listening.

Jello Biafra releases NOLA recording in time for Jazz Fest

Lágbájá, Nigerian afro-beat artist, performed on the first day of Jazz Fest.

The 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival kicked off today at the fairgrounds with 11 music stages and goes full tilt until 7 p.m. Jazz Fest carries on through Sunday before taking a three day break, then picking up for four more days starting Thursday, April 30. Here’s the lineup.

This year, I decided to go to the earlier French Quarter Festival and while I have no regrets, I can’t help but wish I was still in town for Jazz Fest–particularly as I listen to the WWOZ broadcast from the festival grounds.

Perhaps the most intriguing artist for Thursday is Lágbájá, a Nigerian afrobeat musician known as the “masked one” who has been outspoken in his country’s politics. He takes the Congo Square stage during the afternoon. Headliners for today are Keith Urban, Wilco and Jimmy Cliff. Saturday and Sunday features The Who, John Legend, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga and Jimmy Buffett. But those are just the headliners, there are many gems in the schedule and I encourage you to stream WWOZ during the festival to get a sense of the fun and flavor of Jazz Fest.

On another note, the long awaited recording of the 2011 Mother’s Day performance of

JELLO BIAFRA AND THE NEW ORLEANS RAUNCH & SOUL ALLSTARS
JELLO BIAFRA AND THE NEW ORLEANS RAUNCH & SOUL ALLSTARS

Jello Biafra (think Dead Kennedys ) with Bill Davis (Dash Rip Rock), Fred Le Blanc (Cowboy Mouth)  and the horn section from Egg Yolk Jubilee at the 12 Bar has been released. Perhaps you’ve seen the video of Biafra goofing with Ooh Poo Pah Doo. Now there is a marginally better audio version available on Alternative Tentacles and I’ll play a couple of cuts on Monday’s show.

Finally, having just completed our spring membership drive, I want to thank those of you who have supported community radio, either KAOS, WWOZ or your own community radio.  Membership drives are hard on everyone but a necessary chore to ensure that we can demonstrate listener support to other funders. If you haven’t had a chance to be a member of community radio, I invite you to be a KAOS member.

I still have lots of sorting through of my recordings and notes I took while in New Orleans. I hope to start sharing soon. For now, I’m going to enjoy my community’s Procession of the Species and get ready for Monday’s show. Listen to the recorded, edited version on Mixcloud.

Five things to know about the New Orleans Jazz Fest

I originally posted this in 2015 but have updated it so the links are still good and the information is relatively ageless.

It’s never too late to make plans for Jazz Fest.  If you accept this mission, you will join the millions of satisfied music lovers worldwide who have made this pilgrimage during the 50+ year history of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The 1975 New Orleans Jazz Festival Poster

To help you move from idle curiosity into action, here are a handful of things you should know about the New Orleans Jazz Fest. (Also, here’s a later post as to why you might consider visiting New Orleans when it is not JazzFest.)

1. It’s more than Jazz. The festival combines world-class and national acts with some of the best regional music of all types.  There are stages for blues, gospel, zydeco and cajun, world, kids stuff and, of course jazz. On the rest of the stages you’ll see funk, hip hop, Mardi Gras Indian, rock, folk, latin, pop, brass bands, oh heck,  . . look at the  lineup. Not to mention, you’ll have access to Second Line parade demonstrations, excellent food and local crafts.

2. Last weekend in April and first weekend in May. That’s always the formula. This means that the 2020 festival starts Thursday, April 23 and runs through Sunday May 3, with three-days to recuperate in the middle (no festival shows Monday – Wednesday). Go for the day or the whole fest.

New Orleans Fair Grounds is 145-acres. During Jazz Fest, 12 stages operate.

3. Tickets are easy to get at the gate. You can procrastinate and/or be spontaneous. They will have a ticket waiting for you (unless they book the Rolling Stones again). It’s highly unlikely the festival will sell out. It takes a lot of bodies to fill the Fair Grounds Race Course. Day passes are $75 and sold with efficiency at the entry points. You can buy in at advance if you want. But after Ticketmaster takes its pound of flesh, you save less than a price of beer per ticket.  Or you can buy a brass pass and go all seven days.

4. Hotels can be expensive but plentiful; cheaper further out.  It’s over $300 a night to stay downtown/French Quarter. Cheaper further out. If you have a car, Slidell, Metairie or some other suburb is an affordable option. But not as fun as being in close. Since I like embedding in a neighborhood, I use AirBnB. Yes, almost everyone charges more during Jazz Fest.

5. The best shows are not always the “big” shows.  The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage folks always assemble an intriguing top of ticket with big acts such as  Elton John, The Who, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Paul Simon and other big touring acts you can see just about anywhere.  I understand if you have to see one of these. However, if you skew your viewing portfolio toward local legends and masters, particularly those who rarely perform together these days, you will reap even bigger dividends.

The founding members of The Meters performed at 2015 Jazz Fest, from left: George Porter, Jr., Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, , and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste. You can count on unique acts.

Each year, the festival attracts New Orleans centric acts that you might otherwise be able to catch. Try to catch acts that form just for this event (such as musical tributes) or come back together again (the Radiators, Meters)

LagniappeAt some point, you must get your ass in the Economy Hall Tent and shake it.  (Second Line Umbrella optional)Nuff said.

There are lots of other resources for the details, starting with Jazz Fest site.  To hear some of the music that you would hear at Jazz Fest, be sure to tune in on Thursdays.   Also, join me on my journey, learning about the New Orleans music scene by subscribing (upper right side of this page)

Jazzfest, New Music and Tubaluba

I’m stealing an idea from my son, Riley, who uses Fridays to write about various loose ends for his progressive political blog.

So below are three items: Jazzfest lineup, great new music at KAOS and a heads up on my Monday interview.

splash_header_2015New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has announced its 2015 line up. As usual, the music is far from limited to jazz and offers some unique shows and musician pairings. I’ll provide more depth in a later post.  Right now, you need to know the festival is seven days stretched over 10, starting Friday April 24 and ending Sunday, May 3. Be sure to check the line up by day if you’re planning a trip.

While there’s some interesting headliners (e.g. Elton John and The Who), I recommend some of the harder to see local acts like: a reunion of the Radiators; Henry Butler recreating his 2014 album with Steve Bernstein and the Hot 9; a hip hop pairing of Juvenile and Mannie Fresh; Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk playing with his uncle, Art Neville; The Dirty Dozen Band; George Porter Jr. & the Runnin’ Pardners, and, best of all,  The Meters with all four founding members–worth the price of admission right there.

New Music in the KAOS Studio – I’m loving the music we’re getting in the studio from

There is lot to love about Lynn Drury’s new album, Come to My House.

New Orleans artists. Since writing about the 2014 releases (Part 1 and Part 2), we’ve received two CDs from Lynn Drury, including her latest one “Come To My House.”  I’m afraid I have a serious music crush on this earthy singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Check out “I Know You Want Me, Baby” and  you’ll know what I mean.

Paul Sanchez has been my hero since he achieved the herculean task of creating a musical out of Nine Lives — a non-fiction book by Dan Baum that unveils the diverse talents and strengths of New Orleans residents. His latest CD instills heart-warming, reflective feelings that are more entertaining and less expensive than therapy.  I’m looking forward to digging deeper into: The World Is Round – Everything that Ends Begins Again.

If you’re worried traditional New Orleans jazz is dying out, look no further than the Shotgun Jazz Band. It’s fourth album Yearning, carries you to Frenchmen Street with a solid mix of standards and less heard wonders.

Josh Wilson (green pants) will be on air with me on Monday talking about his Tubaluba's upcoming performance at Rhythm & Rye.
Josh Wilson (green pants) will be on air with me on Monday talking about his Tubaluba’s upcoming performance at Rhythm & Rye.

Tubaluba – Seattle’s answer to New Orleans brass bands – Josh Wilson, who plays the bass drum and keyboards for Seattle’s Tubaluba, will be on the phone with me during Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa this Monday (just after 11 a.m.). I caught Tubaluba at the 2013 Seattle Honkfest. The band members are clearly fans of New Orleans brass band music. Wilson even has a WWOZ sticker on his bass drum.  The interview will highlight the band’s upcoming performance in Olympia at Rhythm & Rye on January 24.

That’s your heads up and preview for my next show. Join me, won’t you?