Normally at this time of year, I do a full show dedicated to Hurricane Katrina, but after doing six such shows it seemed time to adjust. Instead, this week’s show offers one set of music featuring Trombone Shorty, Shamarr Allen, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.
It’s not that I don’t think Hurricane Katrina has lost its significance but with an earthquake in Haiti, frenzied evacuations in Afghanistan and a persistent plague across the globe combined with wildfires and other increasingly dangerous events, it seemed like a good year to tone it down.
And focus on the start of school instead with the help of Davis Rogan’s very funny “Mr. Rogan” about his life as a music teacher during the day and New Orleans musician at night. Larry Williams follows that up with “Little School Girl” and Shamarr Allen returns, this time with his son Jarrel Allen and friend Dinerall Shavers (son of the the late drummer for Hot 8 Brass Band) to do “Ima holla back” about doing your homework before playing on your Nintendo. Check out their video below.
Later sets include New Birth Brass Band, the Original Pinettes and grammy-winning New Orleans Nightcrawlers. I also play a vinyl track from Keith Richards debut solo album from 1988 featuring Ivan Neville, Michael Doucet and Buckwheat Zydeco accordionist Stanley Dural. Another vinyl track offers the hard to find recording of “Drink Jax Beer” by Ramsey McLean & the Survivors (with Charmaine Neville singing).
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As COVID cases begin to rise again, bands that thought the coast was clear are starting to announce their tour plans, or in some cases, already getting out there and performing. This week’s show features those New Orleans acts with plans to tour the Northwest as well as new records released in recent months.
There’s other music in this two-hour show (featuring the KMRE edit version), including Helen Gillet, Kevin Sekhani, Josh Garrett, Debbie Davis and Josh Paxton, Egg Yolk Jubilee to cite a few.
The funky Meters jump on around the 35 minute mark to do a live version of “Fire on the Bayou” from the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Once again, COVID has cancelled this very important event to the New Orleans economy. The news sucks but the song is good.
Fourteen months after the KAOS studio closed to volunteers and most staff, I’m back at the control board slinging New Orleans music, honoring the life of Lloyd Price, exploring the new Jon Batiste record and digging deeper into the 2009 Midnite Disturbers’ performance at JazzFest. The recording of the show is available right now by clicking the arrow below. (But note that this is the version I edited for Bellingham so I say “KMRE” instead of “KAOS” on station IDs.)
For 60 weeks, I’ve prepared and recorded a Gumbo YaYa show in my upstairs spare bedroom — the one where my youngest son grew up in and which still has cats peering at me from the wallpaper. It’s a little creepy but so is going into a studio inside a building on a college campus that is almost like a ghost town. The first show was a little rough but I got it done and the music is good.
Lloyd Price died last week at the age of 88. While he was long past his big hits (“Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality,” “Stagger Lee,” “I’m Gonna Get Married”), the Rock n Roll Hall of Famer was an entrepreneur involved in music, publication, construction and food processing. He also was a writer with an autobiography and a collection of essays “Sumdumhonky” which I’m reading now.
Price zoomed onto the music scene with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” recorded in 1952 with Fats Domino banging out the song’s distinctive song opening triplets. The song became one of the biggest selling R&B records of 1952, crossing over to white audiences. He was drafted in 1954 and served in Korea so was taken out of commission at a time when Little Richard came screaming into the scene.
Upon his return to the music scene, he recorded a folk song Stagger Lee that went to the top of both the R&B and Pop charts. He followed that up with two other hits “Personality” and “I’m Gonna Get Married.”
Other highlights of the show include tracks from new records by Monk Boudreaux, Jon Batiste, and Secret Six Jazz Band. I also feature another track from the 2009 JazzFest performance by the Midnite Disturbers featuring some awesome trumpet work by Shamarr Allen and Trombone Shorty. Bumps Blackwell does a decent job of staging his new song (at the time) in a demo for Specialty Records. When Little Richard showed up to Cosimo Matassa’s studio he cut another hit with “Good Golly Miss Golly.” You’ll hear back to back tracks by Guitar Shorty and Guitar Slim – both songs recorded in New Orleans.
I throw in some Hot 8 Brass Band, Cowboy Mouth, Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and much more. But the true joy of the show, at least for me, was to be able to do the backsell of the songs right after they were played for everyone. Check it out!
Fifteen years ago, New Orleans was literally underwater. And while the city has bounced back, I’m not sure our country has learned very much from the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. This week’s show is my seventh annual Katrina recognition kicked off by the Free Agents Brass Band sounding both joyous and angry upon its return to New Orleans after Katrina in “We Made It Through That Water.” Start it now and then read on.
First, the good news. Based on initial reports, evacuations in anticipation of the recent Hurricane Laura, while complicated by the pandemic, seems to have saved lives. It was a different story 15 years ago when despite a mandatory evacuation perhaps as many as 200,000 were left behind and roughly 1,000 died in Orleans Parish alone. Yes, some chose to stay behind. But many others had no transportation or financial means to leave. Public buses that could have been used to aid in evacuation were left idle.
The bad news? The continued erosion of the state’s wetlands and delta lands means even greater damage to populated areas. On this show, you’ll hear James Karst, spokesman for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, describe the threat coastal erosion poses but also of the good work his nonprofit is doing to correct it. On his suggestion, you’ll hear Bonerama’s jamming song “Mr. Go” — a reference to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet channel that contributed to the flooding of New Orleans and erosion of Louisiana wetlands. The channel is now closed.
In Northwest United States, the most immediate effect of climate change appears to be wildfires. In the Southeast, its the ferocity of hurricanes. It’s time we pay attention to what’s happening. It would be nice to have a national plan for controlling carbon emissions but at the very least, we should be aggressively working to mitigate some of the harsher impacts of climate change.
Today’s show includes some of my regular Katrina songs such as Shamarr Allen’s “Katrina and the Flood” and Trombone Shorty’s “Hurricane Season.” But I’ve added some different songs to the mix to make for a show featuring blues, rock, jazz and, of course, lots of brass.
By the way, here’s how you can access my other Katrina recognition shows: