One of the many cool aspects of my role as host of Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa is getting to meet musicians who I admire. Last week, it was Bon Bon Vivant. This week its Shamarr Allen, a talented songwriter who happens to be a damn good trumpeter. (Get it started will ya!)
Today’s show kicks off with Allen Toussaint’s project to bring together (for perhaps the last time) the R&B greats of Earl Palmer, Alvin “Red” Tyler, Ed Frank, and Lee Allen. Crescent City Gold was recorded in the 90’s. I play “Hang Tough” to be consistent with today’s goal of digging deeper in some of my favorite CDs while giving some neglected artists some air time.
To tease his upcoming interview, the first full set starts with Shamarr Allen’s “Can You Feel It.” I thought Corey Henry’s “Feeling Tremazin” folowed Shamarr’s song nicely.
The next set goes country with The Big Dixie Swingers, The Deslondes, and Kevin Sekhani (originally from Lafayette). I follow that with a jazz set of Percy Humphrey, Al Hirt and Frog and Henry who will be performing in the region through the middle of the month. (See calendar)
Almost an hour into the show, Shamarr Allen called as he was driving his way across North California to perform in Lake Tahoe. He’ll get into Oregon on Tuesday and play Seattle next Thursday, followed by gigs in Portland and Tacoma. This is his first tour of the Northwest and its long overdue.
While its hard to categorize Mr. Allen’s music, its easy to enjoy. His “Meet Me on Frenchmen Street” could easily put him in the treasured category of classic New Orleans musicians who manage to keep the New Orleans jazz tradition fresh.
But his “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More” shows the depth of his song writing as he, Dee-1, Benny Pete and Paul Sanchez express their disgust of the BP Gulf spill and the havoc that all spills cause. You’ll see him wear a shirt in that video that says “My trumpet (image of one) is my weapon.” But his lyrics are powerful too.
But its that sweet spot between tradition and innovation that Mr. Allen excels and a perfect example is the video recording of his song “Ruin My Day” which he filmed as part of the NPR tiny desk contest. A positive song about life’s vagaries recorded in the House of Dance and Feathers.
While the radio interview is short, you will get a glimpse into this artist’s history, his family (his uncle is founder and curator of House of Dance and Feathers) and his music. I finish the interview with a spin of his “House of Dance and Feathers” a song he wrote for the music “Nine Lives.”
Here’s just the interview with Mr. Allen:
The show carries on after Mr. Allen signs off including songs by Larry Garner, Dash Rip Rock, Henry Butler, Johnny Adams, Cha Wa and more. Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.