This fire season over 100 large fires have incinerated two million acres of land in the U.S. And new fires are reported each day. . . Let’s play some music, starting with Rebirth Brass Band’s “Fire.” (you can listen to the show while still staying on this page using the player below)
While New Orleans sits on the western side of the hurricane season, Olympia sits on the western edge of the fires. We might be mostly safe from the flame but the smoke is creating a haze and red hue to our sunlight. Air quality is holding but is vulnerable to a shift in the winds. New Orleans Suspects kick off the first full set with “You Got the Fire” carried on by Mike Doussan’s “Breathe” and Papa Grows Funk “Fire in the Garage.” The Royal Southern Brotherhood finish the set with “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire.”
Fire and smoke in song are metaphors usually for love though Randy Newman’s “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield” covered by Papa Mali seems more about destruction. Alexey Marti does his instrumental “Fire Land” and Trombone Shorty performs “Fire and Brimstone.” You’ll even hear the patron saint of this show, Ernie K-Doe, say his trademark “Burn K-Doe Burn.”
Midway through the show, we take a break from the fire for “Indian Summer” one of my favorites of Eric Lindell along with a radio edit version of Tiffany Pollack’s “Crawfish and Beer.” In honor of Davis Rogan coming to Olympia, I play an All That song and Buckwheat Zydeco does Bruce Springsteen’s “Back In Your Arms.”
But I eventually bring it back to theme of fire aided by Bon Bon Vivant’s “Burn” and New Birth Brass Band’s “Smoke That Fire.” The topic gives me an excuse to play the nine-minute live version of “All Our Fire” by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes at the Maple Leaf Bar and I finish the theme with the Neville’s “Fire on the Bayou.” And somewhere before that, Davell Crawford does “Fire and Rain” with Nicholas Payton doing his interpretation of that song on trumpet.
There’s more music that follows. The player is above and you can listen from this page. Just don’t let smoke get in your eyes.
This week’s show has no overarching plan, just another two-hour showcase of New Orleans jazz, funk, R&B, brass, and old time swing by contemporary groups as well as more classic recordings. The first tune you’ll hear when you start the player below is “The Joint is Jumpin'” by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers.
The headline for this post is a reference to another rendition of the New Orleans standard “Lil’ Liza Jane” – this time by All That including a prologue by the band to drive home the point that the song is a standard for many New Orleans bands — even the pizza delivery guys knows that. (By the way, some background on Liza in a previous post.)
In the first full set you’ll hear George Porter Jr., the aforementioned All That, Hot 8 Brass Band, Kristin Diable and a rambunctious number by Egg Yolk Jubilee (“Kingfish”).
The second set takes a different direction with John Mooney, Papa Mali, Guitar Slim, Snooks Eaglin and Jean Knight. Later in the second hour, I have a set of old timey songs starting with contemporary band Frog and Henry doing a number made famous by King Oliver in 1923 called “Buddy’s Habit.” Oliver’s band of New Orleans musicians were living and performing in Chicago and they picked up the song from Charlie Straight’s Orchestra which had a tipsy tuba player who became a local legend when he tumbled off the stage backwards while playing his instrument. You’ll also hear the Boswell Sisters singing their number 1 hit “The Object of My Affection” along with the Big Dixie Swingers (“A Little Picture Playhouse”) and Danny Barker singing a novelty song called “Nagasaki.”
If you make it all the way to the end, Jon Batiste does his beautiful song “Don’t Stop.”
Here’s Part One of my survey of New Orleans (and nearby) releases for 2015 worthy of your attention. I’ve played this music on Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa and I’ll play them a lot more through the rest of this month. So many good releases, there will be a part two very soon. The first four albums below were featured heavily in my November 30 show and many of the albums following those four were featured in this show.
The New Orleans Jazz Vipers – An institution on Frenchmen Street that gained fame through the HBO series Treme, the Vipers have locked in their reputation with their fifth release, Going, Going Gone. The six-member band will take you back to the day when swing bands were laying the foundation for R&B.
Red Hot Brass Band – Fire-bearded Doyle Cooper keeps the spirit alive. Don’t let his youth fool you. Doyle grew up in the tradition and has the chops to prove it. His band’s inaugural release Hot Off the Presses hits the usual touchstones like Tiger Rag, West End Blues, Bourbon Street Parade and Go To the Mardi Gras. But there’s nothing stale about their execution.
Shotgun Jazz Band – I dare you to try to sit still while listening to Yearning. They bill themselves as playing traditional New Orleans jazz in the spirit of the Great Revivalists. It’s fresh, uncluttered and expertly delivered. It came out late enough last year that I’m including it in this 2015 review.
Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses – I totally missed this 2014 release until I bought The Lookback Transmission from Aurora during a break at the Maison last spring. Uber-talented Nealand demonstrates her ability to put a fresh, entertaining spin on traditional jazz and swing. Having sousaphone savant Matt Perrine backing her doesn’t hurt either. Everyone of the 16 tracks are a delight.
Peter Novelli – His third release, St. Amant Sessions, reminds me how engaging blues can be, particularly in the hands of a songwriter and performer who knows how to shake it up with zydeco, swamp, slide and funk. From Shreveport Stomp to I-10 Boogie to his anecdotal Drinkin’ and Driving, Novelli has solidified his space on the KAOS blues shelf.
Little Freddie King – His distinctive delta/country blues makes him easy to love. His persistence in returning to the city after Katrina to live, perform and record is another testament of why I love New Orleans. His latest Messin’ Around tha Livin’ Room (a reference to the Algiers studio he recorded in) delivers beyond expectation.
Papa Mali – Also recorded at the The Living Room, Music is Love mixes covers of Joni Mitchell, Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Lead Belly and the title track by David Crosby with a few originals by this former reggae rocker, turned funk, blues, swamp guru.
Josh Garrett – Having returned to Louisiana after a brief flirtation with Nashville, Garrett deploys just the right mix of delta blues, soul, swing and swamp in Honey For My Queen. Baton Rouge legend James Johnson who played with Slim Harpo joins in while fiddler Waylon Thibodeux adds one more reminder where this music is coming from.
The Deslondes – This young band defies New Orleans music stereotype while creating country-infused songs rooted in the city’s soul. The self-titled debut album presents an array of facets with all five band members contributing songs and taking turns on singing. Like all memorable CDs, this one grows on me the more I push “play.”
Lynn Drury – Another 2014 release that I missed last year but deserves mention. I fell in love with Lynn when I first caught the video of her CD title track “Come to My House” video. This collection is a powerful observation of love with wonderful, occasionally sultry vocals and excellent guitar support by Alex McMurray.
The Radiators – The band that wouldn’t die. Allegedly retired, the Radz still occasionally perform for those lucky enough to catch them. For the rest of us, there is the Wild and Free releases. Part II includes vintage performances from the Dream Palace, Tipitina’s and Knight Studios. Get your fishhead on.
Clayton Doley – Funky didgeridoo! What else needs to be said? A lot if we’re talking about Bayou Billabong. Doley’s an Aussie but he recorded part of this CD at the Music Shed in New Orleans with the backing of the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (as in Jon Cleary and . . .) and the Treme Funktet.
Jon Cleary –Speaking of Cleary, his releases are always a delight. Sadly, for GoGo Juice, he switched from Basin Street Records, which has always done a great job of sharing music with KAOS, to a new label which has failed in that chore. Still, the cuts I’ve heard on line show he continues to be a master of blending soul, funk and R&B.
Catch my show on Mondays or online. And subscribe to the blog to be sure to catch Part 2 of this 2015 retrospective.