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.
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.
This week’s show is about money. . .because despite community radio being free of commercial pressure it still depends on hard green cash to run. You can start the show now while you finish reading this. (Don’t worry, I’ve edited out the lengthy pledge appeals.)
As a 12-year-old, I would turn the radio on instead of going to sleep and from the shadows of my bedroom in Norman, Oklahoma, I would listen to deejays from Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas. The deejays would tell me about the weather, describe the music, and talk about their day while their commercials would hail the virtues of car dealers and appliance stores in their communities. Snuggled in my bed, I would envision what it would be like to live there.
I’ve always loved radio for its ability to ground me in the moment while also transporting me to other places. Unlike the constructed mass appeal of television, radio is a personal and live experience. One person speaking into a mike, sharing music and stories, talking to me wherever I might be.
While much of commercial radio has changed to a more decentralized and impersonal experience, community radio, particularly KAOS, 89.3 FM, Olympia, has moved in the other direction. Housed and supported by The Evergreen State College, KAOS trains its volunteer deejays, works with them on developing a show, provides them the studio platform and then cuts them loose to do their thing. The result is some inconsistency in delivery and mechanics but because of that diversity, the station preserves the spontaneity and joy of being in the moment. I tell that to myself every time I push the wrong button or cue up the wrong song or stammer through some sort of transition.
We’re not slick, we’re real
And though we wouldn’t exist if not for the generous support of the college and its students, we do need to show that the station has listeners. Listeners who appreciate the station’s existence enough to help underwrite its cost. It’s a different model from the commercial era, but worth it if you love real radio.
(Today’s show – see above podcast – starts with the New Orleans Suspects, features two songs by Chubby Newsome recorded in New Orleans, a vinyl track of Huey “Piano” Smith, the Tin Men, Lil Rascals Brass Band, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars, Ingrid Lucia, James Andrews and much more)
So much great music, I couldn’t put it all in one post so here’s part two. (Check out 2016 Part 1) As you will quickly notice, there is no order to my lists. The only rule is I only list music from New Orleans (and nearby locales) I play on my show. Like the following:
Corey Henry – I’ve been waiting for Lapeitah, Henry’s debut solo album, ever since I heard “Boe Money” the song that carries his nickname on Galactic’s 2010 Ya Ka May release. Henry’s powerful trombone and songwriting mix of funk, R&B, soul and hip hop creates the experience I associate with the music I hear at New Orleans nightclubs. It’s no coincidence that Henry and his Treme Funket was the undisputed heir apparent of Kermit Ruffins legendary Thursday spot at Vaughn’s. Lapeitah does an excellent job of putting you in that Ninth Ward club with him.
The New Orleans Suspects – Just as you would not want to ever miss a live performance of the New Orleans Suspects, you should not go without possessing their fourth album–and second one with original songs. Kaleidoscoped delivers eight original numbers that makes me miss New Orleans and the original grooves that these journeymen musicians produce.
Kenny Neal – Bloodline hooks you from the opening number “Ain’t Gon Let the Blues Die.” And the rest of the album holds true to the promise. Nominated for best contemporary blues album grammy, this 2016 release is a full nod toward the amazing support this successful blues artist has received from his family members, who back him up on vocals and instruments throughout the album.
Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat just scored Rush’s fourth grammy nomination– this time for best traditional blues album. Though he lives in Mississippi by way of Chicago and his birthplace Homer, La., this release is actually the first one that the 83-year-old blues veteran has recorded in New Orleans and some cool folks stop by to help out, such as Cornell Williams (bass), Kirk Joseph (sousaphone), Shane Theriot (guitar), and David Torkanowsky (keyboards). Be sure to cue up and listen to “Funk O De Funk.”
Miss Sophie Lee – Nightclub owner Sophie Lee returns to the recording studio with Traverse the Universe. She has a sweet voice and her band does a nice turn with the handful of standards on the album but its her original songs, particularly her title track, that had me reaching for it to play regularly on my show.
Jeff Chaz – Chaz and his trio are hardworking blues musicians who can be seen regularly playing on Frenchmen Street and the French Quarter. He put out two releases this year: Sounds Like the Blues to Me and The Silence is Killing Me. Both are solid blues albums with numbers like “Fried Chicken Store” and “Savin’ Everything for You.” The latter release offers a holiday tune as well – “Merry Christmas to You.”
Herlin Riley – A regular with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Riley can be a straight up jazz drummer but there’s no question where his roots lie. As he says: “As a boy growing up in New Orleans, way before you heard that big bass drum in the street parades, you could feel it coming from four or five blocks away, and it would literally beckon you to come on down to the street, check out this music, and participate in it. ” Riley jazzes it up on New Directions but by the time you get to his hip version of Tutti Ma, you will like the direction he’s headed.
Dr. John – Recorded in 2014 in the historic Saenger Theater on Canal Street in New Orleans, The Musical Mojo of Dr. John offers two discs of many of New Orleans elite such as Irma Thomas, Cyril and Aaron Neville, Anders Osborne, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Zigaboo Modeliste and Dave Malone, paired with familiar outsiders like Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, Chuck Leavell, and Mavis Staples. With the venerable Mac Rebennak (Dr. John) in the middle, how can you not be satisfied wit dat package!
Smoky Greenwell – Another visiting musician who came to the city for a gig and stayed a lifetime, Greenwell has been cranking out the blues in New Orleans for 35 years and his last two releases are arguably his best. I particularly like it when he puts down his harmonica and reaches for his saxophone on South Louisiana Blues.
Gina Forsyth– This New Orleans-based musician is wickedly good on fiddle and guitar. Yea, you don’t expect this type of music in New Orleans. So what. Copper Rooster and Other Tunes and Tales provides a dozen and a half smile inducing old timey numbers that will have you reaching for the play again button.
Mark and the Pentones – This blues trio, fronted by guitarist Mark Penton, may be one of the best reasons to stumble down Bourbon Street. Currently anchoring the swing shift at Funky Pirate Blues Club on Fridays and Saturdays, the Pentones released its debut album, Don’t Leave Nothin Behind, late last year with some subtle surprises among the 11 tracks. I particularly like “Jodie,” “Too Many Second Lines” and “I B Cing You.”
Keith Stone – The Prodigal Returns is the aptly named debut album of a native New Orleanian who sowed some wild oats in the 90’s as an area blues guitarist, settled down to be a minister in Kentucky and then came back home after Hurricane Katrina. The album features playful piano, strong guitar licks, and a solid horn arrangements. If you’re a dislocated NOLA homeboy feeling the tug of that big magnet at the end of the Mississippi River, this album will talk to you.
Louisiana Soul Revival Featuring Doug Duffey – Okay, I’ve wandered all the way up to Monroe, La. to grab this one. But all’s fair if the music is great. From the distinctive bass line opening of “Funky Bidneh” to the inviting saxophone on its last track “Love Into My Life”, this band’s debut release has a full sound that puts you front and center of your own Soul Revival.
Anders Osborne – This prolific musician, songwriter, and producer released two albums this year. Spacedust and Ocean Views and Flower Box. My station didn’t get Flower Box (that happens but don’t let it happen to your album) and I almost missed Spacedust because the music director justifiably placed it in our Folk, Country and Bluegrass shelf. I love his voice and his songs and I don’t care what shelf I have to check, I’ll be regularly reaching for his music to play on my show.
Allen Toussaint – This one breaks my heart. A year after his death, I still grieve. American Tunes is his last studio album, released this year posthumously. There’s little between you and Toussaint other than his piano, a drummer and bass. He doesn’t even sing except on a Paul Simon cover– though others do. As I listento him run through Big Chief , he’s in the room with me, playing the piano, with his leather sandal and sock clad feet working the pedals.
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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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.
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 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.)
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)