Another Gift Guide Browse through 2020 NOLA Music

The 2020 crop of new releases out of New Orleans is worth a deeper dive for this week’s show, particularly since I’ve added a couple of new ones and included a short interview with members of Bon Bon Vivant.

As with last week, the bands and records are listed in the order played during the show which you can listen to while reading this by using the player below. Also each listing includes the name of the song played and links to their music (buy buy buy!)

Debbie Davis & Josh Paxton – Interesting Times – Their second release together featuring Davis’ velvet voice backed by Paxton’s scene-stealing piano. Provocative song choices for interesting times. “Swing Brother Swing”

The New Orleans Swinging GypsiesHot Boudin –  Literally a toe-tapping example of how talented New Orleans musicians can put a fresh spin on a classic style. “First Flight”

New Orleans NightcrawlersAtmosphere  – Their “Live at the Old Point Bar” sold me on New Orleans music. Now with their first record in 11 years, this loose funky brass band scores a Grammy nomination with tight, creative arrangements. “Big Bottom”

New Orleans JohnnysOutta Ya Mind – In the tradition of the New Orleans Suspects and the Radiators, the Johnnys invigorate New Orleans rock with saxophone swing and lyrics embedded in the city. “Good People”.

Roland Guerin– Grass Roots – Artful studio release (came out in 2019) by this bass player who has worked with Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis and George Benson. “Stick to the Basics”

Colin LakeForces of Nature – This Seattle native lives in New Orleans and continues to define his sound with this new record, fondly reminiscent of Eric Lindell while still being original. “Just Begun”

Bon Bon Vivant – Dancing in Darkness – Abigail Cosio and partner Jeremy Kelley create community this year with fellow musicians and fans and emerge from the Year of COVID better than ever. You’ll hear them briefly discuss their release and livestreaming after “Ship is Sinking.” Also hear “Hell or High Water” and “Die Young.” Also, I made a mistake on the day their Facebook livestream happens. You can see them live almost every SUNDAY at 5 p.m. (Left Coast Time) on Facebook, including from my own Facebook page.

Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales – Shake the Rum – This hip trombonist/bandleader wears Calypso well. And you’ll learn to check the mirror next time you eat a whole mango. “Mango Vert”

Shake ’em Up Jazz BandThe Boy in the Boat – Swinging jazz by excellent musicians with vocals that make this record shine. As evidence, the harmonizing on “Nuts to You”

The Abitals Hot Box – Four good musicians and drinking buddies generating new music or Y’at savants plotting a new swamp pop invasion? A unique gift choice for the accordion fan on your list. “Leave Me Alone.”

Tuba Skinny – Quarantine Album: Unreleased B-Sides – You know the band is talented when the rejects of three previous albums is this good. Available for download only on its bandcamp page. “Spoonful”

Glen David Andrews – Live from my Living Room  -His trombone has been part of Lil Rascals, New Birth and Treme Brass Bands. Now literally from his living room to yours. “Treme Hideaway”

Smoking Time Jazz Club Mean Tones and High Notes – Jaw-dropping performances don’t get in the way of great song choices. This is an exceptional record worthy of gifting to any music fan of New Orleans jazz. The Breeze”

The Write BrothersInto the Sky  – Second release by this collective of songwriters that were originally conceived as a New Orleans version of The Highwaymen. This one barely got made given the health decline and death of Spencer Bohren. Here is the story of the record’s making. “Do It”

Putumayo Presents New Orleans Mambo -Putumayo’s nod to the “Spanish Tinge” of New Orleans music featuring the well-known (Dr. John and The Neville Brothers) and the should be well known (Los Po-Boy-Citos and Otro). “Jive Samba”

John “Papa” GrosCentral City – Former funkmaster sharpens his vocals and gets playful in a very New Orleans way. “Yeah Yeah Yeah”

Paul SanchezI’m a song, I’m a story, I’m a ghost  – Talented songwriter with a heart rendering voice and songs to match. “Mary Don’t Two Step”

Michot’s Melody Makers: Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn: Live from the Saturn Bar, New Orleans Lost Bayou Rambler Louis Michot’s journey into new Cajun music frontiers continues with December 2019 performance at the Saturn. “T’as vole mon traineau”

Colin LakeForces of Nature – I missed him in last week’s swing through these new releases. So he gets a well-deserved second listen. This time “Alajuela”

Lena Prima The Lena Prima Big Band, Live in Concert – As early records attest, Lena can write good songs. She also can front a big band and honor her father’s legacy in an entertaining live Las Vegas show. “Just a Gigolo (I Ain’t Got Nobody)”

New Orleans Jazz VipersIs There a Chance for Me  – If you can’t swing on Frenchmen Street, why not swing at home with the toast of Frenchmen Street. “Somebody Stole My Gal'”

Kid Eggplant and the Trad MelataunsKid Eggplant and the Trad Melatauns Traditional style, but original songs with contemporary themes – “Falto Besos”

The Write BrothersInto the Sky – Spencer Bohren fans will want this posthumously released record in their collection. He was only able to sing lead on this one song but his influence, including his son as producer, is felt throughout. “Every Highway”

Alex McMurray: Lucky One and also Road Songs – His guitar work lovingly wraps around Spencer Bohren’s voice in the previous song. Now you hear one from his solo project. On these two records, McMurray sings contemporary, universal stories such as “Dear Old Daddy” from Lucky One.

Charlie and the Tropicales – Celebrate the winter holiday in the tropics! Seven unique seasonal songs from Halloran’s calypso project (originally released in 2019). “Latitude 29”

Bobby Rush Rawer than Raw – Grammy Winner Bobby Rush demonstrates once again how to create amazingly simple yet deeply moving blues. “Don’t Start Me Talking”

Sierra Green & the Soul MachineSierra Green & the Soul Machine – Offbeat Magazine named her Emerging Artist of the Year. Then it all shut down. Damn COVID! “Wrong Wrong Wrong”

Cowboy Mouth: Open Wide (EP) – New Orleans rocking band continues a 30-year streak. “Kiss the Baby”

Dr. Michel WhiteLive -The live format allows this accomplished clarinetist to stretch out on Canal Street Blues, Summertime and others. “I Love You Too Much to Ever Leave You”

New Orleans Music Buying Guide 2020

Be good to musicians and your friends’ ears by giving music this holiday. All new music on today’s show creating a guide to your music shopping. Many of these bands offer multiple formats and/or use Bandcamp. (Finding out how people listen to music is the hardest part about giving music these days but is it any tougher than guessing someone’s sweater size?)

You’ll find links to the bands, the name of their new record and the song I play in the same order of how you’ll hear them on the show. What are you waiting for? Get the show started and grab your credit card. Hey, also, check the following week show where I do a different mix of mostly the same releases.

Kid Eggplant and the Trad MelataunsKid Eggplant and the Trad Melatauns Traditional style, but original songs with contemporary themes – “Blue Tooth Fairy”

Shake ’em Up Jazz BandThe Boy in the Boat – Swinging jazz by excellent musicians with vocals that make this record shine. “Say Si Si”

John “Papa” GrosCentral City – Former funkmaster gets playful in a very New Orleans way. “Please Don’t Bury Me.”

Smoking Time Jazz Club Mean Tones and High Notes – Jaw-dropping performances don’t get in the way of great song choices. Friction

Bon Bon Vivant – Dancing in Darkness – Abigail Cosio and partner Jeremy Kelley create community with fellow musicians and fans and emerge from the Year of COVID better than ever. “Dancing in Darkness” (radio edit)

New Orleans Jazz VipersIs There a Chance for Me  – If you can’t swing on Frenchmen Street, why not swing at home with the toast of Frenchmen Street. “Evenin'”

New Orleans Johnnys –  Outta Ya Mind – Rocking songs with a saxophone swing and lyrics embedded in New Orleans. “Outta Ya Mind”.

Putumayo Presents New Orleans Mambo -Putumayo’s nod to the “Spanish Tinge” of New Orleans music featuring the well-known (Dr. John and The Neville Brothers) and the should be well known (The Iguanas and Otro). “Nature Boy”

Lena Prima The Lena Prima Big Band, Live in Concert – As early records attest, Lena can write songs. She also can front a big band and honor her father’s legacy in a live Las Vegas show. “5 Months, 2 Weeks, 2 Days, Jump, Jive ‘an Wail.”

Bobby Rush Rawer than Raw – Bobby Rush demonstrates once again how to create amazingly simple yet deeply moving blues. “Smokestack Lightning”

New Orleans NightcrawlersAtmosphere  – First record in 11 years for this funky brass band and it nails a Grammy nomination. Don’t’ think; buy it. “Gentilly Groove”

Tuba SkinnyQuarantine Album: Unreleased B-Sides – You know the band’s talented when the rejects of three previous albums can sound this good. Available for download only on its bandcamp page. “Any Kind of Man”

The New Orleans Swinging GypsiesHot Boudin –  Another fine example of how New Orleans bands can put a fresh spin on a classic style. “Baby Brown”

Debbie Davis & Josh Paxton – Interesting Times – Second time around for this inspired duo. Davis’ velvet voice backed by Paxton’s sensitive piano touch that steals the show when unleashed, as in the opening track. “Will It Go Around in Circles.”

Jason MarsalisLive  – Recorded at Little Gem Saloon, Jason dazzles on the vibraphone. “At the House, In Da Pocket”

Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales – Shake the Rum – This hip trombonist/bandleader wears Calypso well, particularly when John Boutte sings. Oh, and he has a holiday record too. “Dorothy”

Glen David Andrews – Live from my Living Room  -His trombone has been part of Lil Rascals, New Birth and Treme Brass Bands. Now literally from his living room to yours. “Where We Gonna Go.”

Sierra Green & the Soul MachineSierra Green & the Soul Machine – Came out December of last year and by February, Offbeat Magazine recognized her as Emerging Artist of the Year. Then it all shut down. Damn COVID! “Get Up to Get Down”

Alex McMurray: Lucky One and also Road Songs – Through hard work, exploration and prolific creativity, Murray has weaved his songs into the New Orleans music canon. “Little Mercy”

Roland Guerin– Grass Roots – Artful studio release (came out in 2019) by this bass player who has worked with Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis and George Benson. “After Math”

Slugger -Eclipse (EP)  – This funk, jazz group seemed to be hitting stride when COVID crashed down. They also released a live record Uncut Buzz from Maple Leaf Bar. “Praise Break”

Paul SanchezI’m a song, I’m a story, I’m a ghost  – Talented songwriter with a heart rendering voice and songs to match. “Great Wide Open World”

Michot’s Melody Makers: Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn: Live from the Saturn Bar, New Orleans Lost Bayou Rambler Louis Michot’s journey into new Cajun music frontiers continues with December 2019 performance at the Saturn. “Baionne”

The Abitals Hot Box – Perhaps if the Fab Four had come from Abita Springs, Louisiana and Lennon had played an accordion, they might have sounded like this. Original songs. “1000 Times”

Cowboy Mouth: Open Wide (EP) – Yes, the band still performs and records and these five tracks are an excellent edition to the band’s 30 year catalogue. “Oh Toulouse!”

Jack Sledge: Notes of a Drifter – Brooklyn rocker moves to New Orleans for the Gulf Coast experience. He’s not embedded yet but its still fun.

Sonny LandrethBlack Top Run– This studio release is what fans have come to expect – distinctive vocals and guitar. What one YouTube fan described as an eargasm. “The Wilds of Wonder”

Dr. Michel WhiteLive -Hear this accomplished clarinetist stretch out on Canal Street Blues, Summertime and others. “Caribbean Girl”

Shamarr Allen – Quarantine and Chill – Early on, Shamarr put a smile on quarantined faces with this sweet song and video. Show me your footwork!

The Write BrothersInto the Sky  – Second release by this collective of songwriters. This one barely got made given the health decline and death of Spencer Bohren. You won’t hear it on today’s show cause I haven’t gotten the CD yet. But subscribe and stay tuned. Louisiana Music Factory has just sent it off to me. Meanwhile, here is the story of the record’s making.

The smile beneath the mask, the festivals that we’ll miss

Six weeks into our Shelter in Place and this week’s show looks at the smiles behind our masks, the festivals we are missing and the ways we are coping. You can start it now as I share with you more details.

This show includes four more messages from New Orleans musicians – Tiffany Pollack, Charlie Halloran, Louie Ludwig and Noah Young. But the show starts with Shotgun Jazz Band’s “Smile” in recognition of the pleasant expressions that our cloth masks cover.

This weekend would be the start of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Also this weekend, in Olympia, we would normally hold our Spring Arts Walk and Procession of the Species. I don’t wish to diminish the significant economic aspects of community celebrations, but for me, Arts Walk, the Procession and other such events serve as a mirror where we can collectively see ourselves. There’s no way to virtually replicate that but I can try.

The first full set features three songs from New Orleans Jazz Fest Past — Flow Tribe performing in 2012, gospel rocker Raymond Myles in 1994 and a very special performance by The Radiator at the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina — another catastrophe where recovery was made more difficult by a less than competent federal emergency response.

Tiffany Pollack signs on at the 23 minute mark to introduce herself (formally an embalmer!) She and her cousin Eric Johanson knocked it out of the park with last year’s Blues in My Blood record. You’ll hear a couple tracks from that one and her jazz single “Comes Love.” Check out her shows on her Facebook page and YouTube channel every Monday and Friday starting at 6 p.m. Left Coast time or 8 p.m. New Orleans time.

Like all of us, I’m getting tired of drinking at home. I miss that wonderful randomness of going to a bar or club, seeing what I see and hearing what I hear. It’s kind of back to that community mirror thing where I feel a sense of belonging. Doc Souchon starts the next set with a drinking song, followed by Dwayne Dopsie‘s “Harry’s Creole Bar.” Taylor Smith, from a previous radio interview, talks about his neighborhood bar Horace’s where he and his band the Roamin’ Jasmine recorded their last record from which you’ll hear “I Can’t Believe You’re in Love with Me.” I finish with a less than savory bar ballad by Little Freddie King, “Mixed Bucket of Blood.”

The very active (when not Sheltered in Place) trombonist and bandleader Charlie Halloran joins us next at the 55 minute mark where he shares with us what he has been up to under the COVID restrictions. He introduces his latest record from his calypso group (Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales) from which you’ll hear two tracks. I also spin one from Charlie Halloran and the Quality 6.

New release by Sierra Green

The next set features tracks from new releases by Cowboy Mouth, Sierra Green & the Soul Machine and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. Later, Noah Young joins the show to introduce his latest record by the band Slugger and you’ll hear “Take a Breath” featuring Ray Wimbly and Mykia Jovan. I also spin”Starkist” from Slugger’s previous release. The set is finished by a track from the new Jason Marsalis Live — just released by Basin Street Records.

Louie Ludwig first got my attention with his record I Got Nothin to Say. Later when most folks were still figuring out what had gone down during the 2016 election, he released the song and video “Troll Factory.” Now, Ludwig has turned his attentions more fully to film making and was working on a documentary about the New Orleans music recording history. However, as he explains in his comments on the show, the project has turned into a weekly video report focusing on the COVID-19 effects in New Orleans. His latest one is about the loss of the festival season.

There’s a bit more in the show but its nice to have some surprises. Please support these musicians and the others I’ve featured in previous shows. You can support me (emotionally) by subscribing to this free blog (go back to the top and look to the right).