A COVID Hatchet Not So Deep in our Heads

If the line “There is a hatchet not so deep in my head” from Dr. John’s “Holdin’ Pattern” speaks to you, then this is your show. The persistence of COVID-19 feels like a holding pattern which is a problem for all those whose livelihoods depend on our ability to gather –such as brass band musicians. I’ll tell you about the show and more once you get it started. (click sideways arrow in box below and it will play while you continue to read.)

The uptick in COVID-19 infections and its impact on our health care system has slowed down the possibility of having live shows and congregating. I’m not an advocate of rushing this process but I do worry what impact it will have on our culture — particularly the unique New Orleans brass band culture.

The New Orleans Brass Band Musicians Relief Fund is currently crowdsourcing funding through GoFundMe and seeking larger donations to provide emergency cash grants to musicians. The relief fund was started by the Save Our Brass Culture Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for the city’s brass band musicians, with Seth Bailin, a saxophonist who plays with New Orleans brass bands, and Joanna Farley, who used to work in disaster response.

From the Save Our Brass Culture Foundation website

You’ll hear me make a plug for this foundation in the second hour as I play a long set of brass band music that includes the following: Lazy Boyz Brass Band with “Come and Dance,” The Hot 8 Brass Band with “War Time,” The To Be Continued Brass Band with “Numba2 (We Dem Folks)” edited for radio, The Original Pinettes Brass Band with “We Got Music,” The Soul Rebels with Trombone Shorty with “Sabor Latino,” Treme Brass Band with “Tuba Fats,” Rebirth Brass Band with “Dilemma,” and the Forgotten Souls Brass Band with “The Second Half.” It’s about 45 minutes of brass music.

Before that you’ll hear a set of blues and some jazz and I finish with three very unique songs by Elizabeth Joan Kelly, Helen Gillet and Aurora Nealand operating under the name The Monocle.

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Plenty of music for one all-women show but still an imbalance

This week’s show features exclusively female musicians, vocalists and bandleaders. You can start the show now and finish reading while you listen.

Female-focused shows have gotten easier since my first one in 2015  but there’s still a serious imbalance particularly when looking for horn players.

original-pinettes-brass-band-elsa-hahne
The cover photo of The Original Pinettes Brass Band CD – “Finally”

The Original Pinettes Brass Band, as best as I can tell, is still the only female brass band.  And its rare to see a female musician in any of the male-dominated brass bands.

Where the balance tips the other way is in the area of vocalists.  Debbie Davis, Ingrid Lucia, Linnzi Zaorski, Charmaine Neville, Lena Prima and Meschiya Lake are featured in this latest show.   I also play songs with the amazing musicianship (and vocals) of Aurora Nealand (clarinet and saxophone) and Helen Gillet (cello) as well as singer songwriters Kelcy Mae and Gina Forsyth.

This show I was able to add a funk song thanks to picking up Erica Falls album and zydeco with the almost all-female band Bonsoir, Catin.  I reckon these shows are getting easier to do because my library of female-generated music is getting deeper as opposed to any seismic-level gender shift. I may have a taller stack of applicable CDs now but it still pales when placed next to the pile of other NOLA music I have.

In which case, it seems appropriate to continue in the future doing special shows where I feature exclusively women.  Why not keep the thumb on the scale until it doesn’t matter anymore.  And anyway,  I didn’t do justice to a great many other female artists who did not get played today.  I’ll do another female exclusive show soon and meanwhile they all go back into my rotation for my other shows.

Here’s the playlist.  If you got ideas for me, let me know.