How high can a sousaphone play?

Shamarr Allen’s New Orleans anthem “Party All Night” starts off today’s show and I follow it with some jazzy numbers that feature strong sousaphone and trombone performances. You can hear it all by clicking the sideways triangle below and you’ll still be able read on.

Matt Perrine sneaks another surprise run on the sousaphone hitting high notes that don’t even sound like a tuba in “Devil Take It’ to start the first full set. Ben Jaffe also represents himself well on the big horn in Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s take off “Bonjour Cousin.” The set finishes with “The Object of My Affection” by Frog and Henry. Both Frog and Henry and Shamarr Allen will be playing in venues along the I-5 corridor in August (calendar)

I spin a couple of classic funk songs from New Orleans: “Hip Drop” by the Explosions and “Dap Walk” by Ernie and the Top Notes. Trombone Shorty finishes that set and then I play another jazz set that features trombonist Charlie Halloran, Tuba Skinny and Dr. John.

Then its time to celebrate Little Freddie King’s 79th birthday with two numbers that highlight his guitar work. Marcia Ball lightens up that set with her song about the town gossip “Louella.” Lots more follows but by now, you’re probably into it enough to stay listening. I hope you’ll consider subscribing as well (top right hand side of page). Thanks for tuning in.

More NOLA Acts making the I-5 Circuit

More acts from Louisiana and particularly New Orleans are visiting the relatively cooler Northwest during the summer. This show showcases some of those groups so get it started and the read on.

As far as I can tell, Billy Iuso is not visiting the Northwest. He seems content rocking out clubs like Tipitina’s and Chickie Wah Wah in New Orleans. Yet, his “Trippin’ Over Dragons” opens the show. Deacon John sings an old-style swing number for you to open an R&B set before we get on to three that you should make a point to catch when they’re in the Northwest.

Bon Bon Vivant will be in the KAOS studio August 1 and performing in Olympia August 2.

Bon Bon Vivant will be in the KAOS studio during my show on August 1 and will perform at Octapas Cafe in Olympia the next evening. The band’s new song “Pinkerton” from their Live at the Circus should be sufficient temptation for you. Shamarr Allen follows with his unique take on the Gnarls Barkley number “Crazy.” Trumpeter-extraordinaire Shamarr will be in Seattle, Portland and Tacoma in mid-August. The set finishes with Rebirth Brass Band’s “Take ‘Em to the Moon.” Rebirth will be playing Seattle, Bellingham and Vancouver BC next week. (By the way more details are available on my calendar page.)

How about Marcia Ball? I play her number “Watermelon Time” to get your mouth watering for her two evenings of performances in Seattle in August. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes takes a rare turn on the piano to highlight his gigs and appearances at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival at the end of July.

If you’ve made it through the show so far then you’re ready for some zydeco with three groups that played the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland last week (Chubby Carrier, Lil Pookie and Feufollet). A second set kicks off with Dwayne Dopsie who will also be up in Vancouver B.C for the Vancouver Folk Fest.

Later in the show you’ll hear Sonny Landreth (playing Mt. Vernon in August) and Frog and Henry (playing all over the region in August). I provide an encore performance of Shamarr Allen and finish the show with a track off of the Bonerama does Led Zeppelin record.

Thanks for listening and please subscribe. Thank you.

Katrina 13 year anniversary – What the hell!

Thirteen years since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the lives of over a thousand New Orleans residents, scattering survivors throughout the country.  And yet, based on our abysmal response to the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we’ve learned little.  Get this year’s annual Katrina recognition dedicated to Puerto Rico started.

katrina3Shamarr Allen creates the intensity of a hurricane with the opening track of this show “Katrina and the Flood.”  It’s become almost a tradition to play that song as well as Marva Wright’s heart-wrenching “The Levee is Breaking Down” which comes off her post-Katrina album, After the Levees Broke.

This year’s show features the KAOS premiere of “You and Me” a song written to dramatize the story of Tim Bruneau, a New Orleans police officer who was working when the levees broke. Bruneau found the body of 23-year-old Marie Latino after the hurricane had passed but before the city had started to flood.  After several attempts to have the body picked up, he put her in the back seat of his car.  But after failing to find a  hospital to take the body, he was ordered to “undo” what he did.  He placed Latino’s body in a body bag and returned it to where he found, where it floated on flood waters until it was picked up a few days later.  The song is poignant and haunting.  An autopsy later revealed that she had been shot instead of killed by the storm as originally believed.

Sonny Landreth song “Blue Tarp Blues” references President George Bush’s famous looking out from Air Force One and Marcia Ball sings Randy Newman’s ode to the 1927 Louisiana flood. I finish the show with Dee-1 and Shamarr Allen singing about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico titled “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More.”

Honoring Henry Butler, Smiley Lewis and Freedom

Welcome to my July 5th, 2018 edition of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa.  There’s lot to love about this extra-long show so go ahead and get it started.

henry butler
Henry Butler performing in Port Townsend, WA in August 2017. He died July 2, 2018.

We lost Henry Butler on Monday, July 2 to colon cancer. He was born in New Orleans September 21, 1948 and grew up in the Calliope housing project. He lost his sight to glaucoma as an infant and learned how to play a variety of instruments while attending the Louisiana State School for the Blind. He was known for piano playing, smoothly handling jazz, blues, classical and improvisation and had a powerful voice. He was a teacher and entertainer. In this show, I play his “Down by the Riverside,” “Henry’s Boogie” and “Jamaica Farewell.”

Throughout the show, I touch on the theme of America and Freedom as interpreted by New Orleans musicians including songs by Shamarr Allen and Dee-1 (“Only in America”), Rebirth Brass Band (“Freedom”), and Delfeayo Marsalis (“Make America Great Again” with Wendell Pierce.)

I also celebrate Smiley Lewis’s birth anniversary (July 5, 1913) with “Shame, “Shame, Shame” and “Don’t Jive Me.”

The first song is by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with “Dead Dog in the Road.” New songs by Shawn Williams, Tin Men, and Cyril Neville.  And much more in this extra long edition of the show.

 

“Sunny Afternoon” Seemed to Fit the Day’s News

On a day when Amazon announced it was suspending its work on two of its Seattle office buildings in response to a possible city housing affordability tax, it seemed appropriate to play a cover of Ray Davies satirical “Sunny Afternoon.” It’s the second song in the show, right after Shamarr Allen’s opener, so get it started while I explain more about this show.

I love this version by Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers with the sousaphone bass line handled by her husband Matt Perrine.  Matt shows up later in the show with his own project, Matt Perrine and Sunflower City.  Yes, its a sunny day but the song, originally recorded by the Kinks, seems to capture Amazon’s petulant response to the city’s modest attempt to try to get the $700 billion company to take some responsibility for the housing shortages in Seattle.

Enough politics, let’s talk immigration instead.  Anders Osborne moved to New Orleans as youth from Uddevalla, Sweden.  Today, he turned 52 and I play his song “My Old Heart.” The Dirty Bourbon River Show’s “Ruffian Since Birth” provides a nice follow up to Osborne’s number

Diablo’s Horns offers a silly take on addiction (and seasonal allergies) in their song “The Sneeze” and The Crooked Vines heat things up with “Organ Holler.”  I’m almost done with my sequential march through Marcia Ball’s latest release Shine Bright and perhaps my favorite surprise in this show was finding Bon Bon Vivant’s latest release and playing “Dust.”

Another fun discovery is Mary Flower’s “Main Street Blues” which features Dr. Michael White (clarinet), Washboard Chaz and Matt Perrine (sousaphone).  Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe.  Cheers.

Latest Gumbo Show Inspired by Spring Festivals

I’ve been a bit giddy this week. The onset of our area’s first solid gesture of  spring coinciding with the start of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Olympia’s Arts Walk and Procession of the Species  this weekend inspired this show which aired April 26, 2018 on KAOS. The show features very little jazz but a lot of New Orleans which is fitting at a time when Olympia holds its biggest street scene of the year.

procession
Process of the Species is a unique Olympia cultural experience.

To get ready for that walking, standing and processing,  I start with some hip openers thanks to an opening number by The Meters  followed by Shamarr Allen’s trumpet boogie of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.”  Art Neville comes back on with one of his Specialty Records classic rock and roll songs.  Keith Stone keeps it rocking with the title track from his latest release The Prodigal Returns.

I mellow it out later in the set,  with the help of Kelcy Mae singing an Earth Day appropriate song “Mr. Leopold.”  Elvis Costello sings a great Allen Toussaint song, with the composer’s vocal and piano assistance.  To honor Olympia’s unique cultural creation — the Procession of the Species, I played the Brassaholics “They Sew” – a song about New Orleans unique cultural creation the Black Indians of Mardi Gras. This song was two-fer cause it also honored Brassaholic’s trumpeter Tannon “Fish” Williams who celebrated his 43rd birthday that day.

I didn’t hear about the death of Charles Neville till the next morning so I’ll save his tribute for next week’s show.  Please enjoy this one and consider subscribing so you can be alerted to when new shows are posted.

Your 2015 New Orleans Music Buying Guide – Part 2

So many great releases this year, I had to break it up into two parts. As you will see, there is no order or reason to who is Part 1 versus Part 2.

This is not a comprehensive list of New Orleans 2015 releases but rather music I played on my show this year, thanks to the generosity of the artists who shared their creations with me or my station. Not every artist can afford to distribute music to a West Coast small market station like KAOS. So if you did, thank you.

Tubaluba comes to Olympia
Seattle-based brass band Tubaluba released Champagne Sunday this year.

Tubaluba – I’m starting close to home because this Seattle-based brass band has every intention of closing the gap between the Northwest and New Orleans. Crescent City wannabe Josh Wilson leads the group with total dedication to capturing the spirit and tradition of New Orleans brass and R&B music. Their first release Champagne Sunday delivers. You can catch these guys locally. So do it!

Helen Gillet – This Belgian cellist creates haunting, beautiful melodies often to a hypnotic rhythm capable of transporting you far from wherever you are. If you’ve caught her one-person performances using loops, you’ll find that her latest release Bangkok Silver ably recreates that experience and more. I’ve only caught two tracks so far but I want more.

Shamarr Allen – This creative young trumpeter who writes infectiously upbeat songs with lyrics that open himself to his audience (including giving out his real phone number) isn’t planning on releasing True Orleans until spring 2016. Throughout this year though, he’s been sharing his musical ideas with fans through “mixtapesavailable for download. His past CDs are fun too. Check him out.

Paul Sanchez – Speaking of fearless songwriters, this founding member of Cowboy Mouth clearly loves challenges, like putting Dan Baum’s Nine Lives to music. With his 12th solo release, his vision goes global with The World is Round: Everything That Ends Begin Again. Filled with enjoyable tracks that bounce between pop, rock and folk, the CD provides a complete orbit of a man who truly lives and loves to write songs.

dashriprock
Bill Davis fronting Dash Rip Rock, performing at the French Quarter Festival in April 2015.

Dash Rip Rock – Over the last two decades, this three-piece band with a bent sense of humor and distinctive alt-country swamp punk sound has built a loyal regional following. Their latest release Wrongheaded leans deliciously toward Southern rock emphasizing stories over humor. There’s commitment in this release. They ain’t coming home until the sun comes up.

Jello Biafra and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All Stars – Dash Rip Rock’s Bill Davis got Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) down to his city on a dare and put together a kick ass band for a night that I suspect many will remember till their dying day. Thankfully, for the many of us who missed it, Walk on Jindal’s Splinters does a good job of capturing the experience.

bonerama
Billy Iuso, on guitar, performing with Bonerama’s Mark Mullins (left) and Craig Klein during this year’s Freret Street Festival.

Billy Iuso  – A journeyman guitarist that you may have heard but not heard of, Iuso continues building a strong repertoire of original songs with his latest release, Overstanding.  He first caught my attention with his live show at the Freret Street Festival this year where every song just got better the longer he jammed.

Sneaky Pete & the Fens – If you have overdosed on too many versions of “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans,” then Live in Pompeii  could be your anecdote. Writer Peter Orr turns to music to tell stories about his troubled girl, New Orleans — the Cajun Haiti “where half the state is toxic and the other half is in the sea.” Recorded in a grocery store that serves the Marigny neighborhood but sells a mezzanine level full of Mardi Gras paraphernalia, Orr shares what he loves and fears about his city.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers – Kermit does that delicate balancing act of playing to the tourists while also sustaining the love and loyalty of locals. He’s the genuine article. Grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, co-founded Rebirth Brass Band, saved the Mother-in-Law Lounge and reveres Satchmo. His latest serving, #imsoneworleans, contributes to his icon status.

Ted Hefko and the Thousandaires – I had a hard time deciding what music  shelf to place Distillations of the Blues when it arrived in the studio. Is it jazz, blues, folk or country?  Trained mostly in New Orleans but having spent a good chunk of his professional life in New York, Hefko has returned home creating music, with engaging lyrics, that is fortunately a lot easier to listen to than it is define.

Charlie Dennard – Another example of the incredible depth of talent in New Orleans, Dennard lays down 10  jazzy, groove-based tracks on 5 o’clock Charlie with his Hammond B-3 organ and the able contributions of the rest of his trio. Grab your favorite mellow mood maker, it’s happy hour time.

Galactic
Galactic – (From Left) Jeff Mercurio, Ben Ellman, Dan Vogel, Jeff Raines and Stanton Moore.

Galactic – This year’s release Into The Deep harkens back to their first decade when the band was fronted by  soul singer Theryl Declouet while illustrating how much this talented group has learned over their 20 years. A strong guest list of vocalists including Mavis Stables and Macy Gray carry the load this time. The band tours the Northwest February 26 and 27, 2016.

The Revivalists – With a sound designed to garner alternative rock air time, the Revivalists have built a national audience based on strong songwriting and energetic live performances. Galactic’s Ben Ellman returns as producer for Men Amongst Mountains which builds on the success they had with their previous City of Sound release. They hit the Northwest on March 9 and 10. 2016.

Smoky Greenwell – His New Orleans Blues Jam – Live at the Old U.S. Mint was released last year but didn’t find its way into the studio until this summer. The band righteously does straight ahead blues with a sweet number by accordionist, vocalist and park ranger Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes.

Thank you so much for reading this blog and listening to my show. If you like to keep in touch, please subscribe or send me an email.  I may not live in New Orleans but my ears spend a lot of time there.  Have a Happy New Year. Also check out last year’s review of 2014 releases.

Hurricane Katrina scattered New Orleans music across the U.S.

An upside to Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood was the infusion of New Orleans culture throughout our country.  With the city almost completely evacuated, its people, music, cooking, way of talk and style scattered across the U.S. like seeds from a dandelion blowball.

Texas received the largest number of evacuees. Austin, which like New Orleans is a regional music mecca, swelled from the addition of Cyril Neville, the Iguanas, the Radiators and other musicians — some who came to call themselves “Texiles” while playing music and waiting to return to their hometown. The resultant mix was described by Cyril Neville as having the “gumbo spill into the chili.”

Here’s more on how some of New Orleans finest musicians fared:

  • Fats Domino, the city’s greatest rocker, is a lifelong resident of the Lower Ninth

    Fats Domino was not only a major force in Rock n' Roll, he help inspire sk.
    Fats Domino and his family were rescued by Coast Guard from his lower Ninth Ward home.

    Ward. He stayed in his home through the hurricane and was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. But he lost all his gold records and memorabilia.

  • Irma Thomas – The Soul Queen of New Orleans weathered the storm and the aftermath in Austin Texas. She rebuilt her East New Orleans home and she won a grammy for her post Katrina recorded album.
  • Dave BartholomewThe home and studio of the man behind many of New Orleans R&B hits of the 1950’s suffered considerable flood damage but he and his family (His son Don B. is a successful hip-hop producer) have bounced back with now three generations of Bartholomew’s making music.
  • The Radiators – Once described as New Orleans’ longest running and most successful rock band are no longer an act officially–though you can occasionally catch them on special events and Jazzfest. Hurricane Katrina landed on guitarist Dave Malone’s birthday. He and his wife struggled to rebuild their home and ended up living outside of New Orleans.
  • Al Johnson – The man who made it possible to be  “Carnival Time” any time of the year, lost his  long-time house on Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward  He now lives in the Musicians Village  where he penned Lower Ninth Ward Blues
  • The Iguanas – The members of this latin-tinged roots rock band were on tour at the

    The Iguanas made a temporary home in Austin while waiting to return to New Orleans. Joe Cabral (left) and Rene' Coman performing at French Quarter Festival this year.
    The Iguanas made a temporary home in Austin while waiting to return to New Orleans. Joe Cabral (left) and Rene’ Coman performing at French Quarter Festival this year.

    time and separated to find evacuated family members. They regathered in Austin and became part of the flexible ensemble of New Orleans musicians known as Texiles. The band has had three CD releases since Katrina.

  • The Hot 8 Brass Band – This innovative group could be called the Adversity Brass Band.  Before Katrina, three of its band members had died — two from shootings.  After Katrina, a fourth member was shot to death while driving in his car with his family. Another member lost the use of his legs in an accident. The band scattered across the country after Katrina and could easily have disbanded permanently. But it regrouped, recorded a grammy-nominated album and still perform today.
  • Dr. Michael G. White – The University professor and clarinetist lost his home in Gentilly, including many valuable jazz documents. But he’s back in town and working as hard as ever.
  • Henry Butler – Fortunately the talented piano virtuoso was convinced to evacuate his Gentilly home, which was devastated by flood waters. Blind since birth, he can’t tell you what the damage looked like but he can describe the feel of his piano keys as they fell apart in his hands. Last year, he and Steve Bernstein released “Viper Drag” to rave reviews and he regularly performs. 
  • Kermit Ruffins – “What good is a million dollars if you’re not in New Orleans.” The widely recognized ambassador to New Orleans evacuated to Houston with a large extended family and pets. He returned to New Orleans after the storm and continued his routine up until last year. Ironically, his wife got a job in Houston and he now splits his time between New Orleans and Houston.
  • Donald Harrison Jr.- This lifelong New Orleans resident, Big Chief and heralded jazz saxophonist has a fear of hurricanes borne from his youthful experience escaping from Hurricane Betsy’s flood. But he stuck it out in the city cause his mother-in-law wouldn’t leave. They slept on the ballroom floor of the Hyatt Regency during the storm and aftermath, escaping to Baton Route four days later. 
  • John Boutte' nervously watched events unfold from Brazil, finally talking one of his sisters and mother to evacuate before Katrina hit.
    John Boutte’ nervously watched events unfold from Brazil, finally talking one of his sisters and mother to evacuate before Katrina hit.

    Shamar Allen – This young trumpet player’s home was right next to a levee that broke. He now owns a home in the Musician’s Village. He contributed some key songs to the musical Nine Lives that focuses on New Orleanians who survived Hurricane Betsy and Katrina.

  • John Boutte was in Brazil at the time and watched almost helplessly the hurricane reports from afar. Fortunately, he finally convinced one of his sisters and mother to evacuate but his other two sisters were stranded on an interstate highway bridge for five days.
  • Terence Blanchard – Much of this jazz trumpeter’s story was told in the Spike Lee movie “When the Levees Broke.” In the documentary, you can see him and his mother enter her flood-wrecked near Lake Ponchatrain. Blanchard wrote the score for the documentary and won a grammy for subsequent album he released.

Last week and this week, I’m honoring the survivors of Hurricane Katrina who dealt with intense horror, long hot days, and many months and in some cases years of uncertainty about their future. And yet, they returned to New Orleans, their home and rebuilt. Last week’s Katrina show here  and this week’s show.