I know I’m not the only person whose attraction to New Orleans grew as a result of attending the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival. In this week’s show, you’ll hear how it hooked a young Wisconsin musician into making New Orleans his home.
Ted Hefko is an established New Orleans musician with a handful of records and many years experience of leading a band, but he was not even out of high school when he attended his first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His experience prompted him to return to Madison, Wisconsin, get his diploma, pack up his few belongings and move to New Orleans. You’ll hear him tell this story on today’s show.
But first, Dr. Michael White will entertain you with “Mpingo Blues” and you’ll be subjected to another set of live music. Remember last week’s show? Well, I didn’t get to all the songs I wanted to, such as The Radiators doing “7 Devils” from the 2006 JazzFest — the event that has resulted in nearly annual visits to my birthplace (and not for JazzFest). By the way, the Jazzfest line up for this year has just been announced. And you’ll find Ted Hefko and his band on the list. Also on the JazzFest line up (for the first time) is Bon Bon Vivant an they will be making its second appearance in the KAOS studio in two weeks!
In this week’s show You’ll also hear live performances by Sonny Landreth, Harry Connick, Jr. Sunpie Barnes and Smoky Greenwell, J & the Causeways, Boozoo Chavis and Kermit Ruffins.
At about the 25 minute mark, I start sharing clips from an interview I had with Hefko who plays guitar and saxophone, leads a band called “The Thousandaires” and writes songs. He tells the story of his moving to New Orleans and starting his professional music career, his tenure in New York and his return. His latest album is Down Below. You’ll hear him perform “The Next Train,” “Egyptland,” and “Into My Head.”
More music follows including Helen Gillet, John “Papa” Grow, the Big Dixie Swingers, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Lynn Drury, Andrew Duhon, Rosie Ledet and Kristin Diable to name a few.
Tuba Skinny with Maria Muldaur kicks off this year’s mixtape with Lil Armstrong’s “Let’s Get Happy Together.” So let’s listen and get happy together. You won’t even have to wear your mask if you’re using the player below.
So this week’s show is a Top 20 version of my earlier broadcast and post from this month summarizing new releases from New Orleans. I play my favorite songs from that collection. So you’ll hear Lynn Drury singing “Back on My Feet,” from her Dancin’ in the Kitchen release and Chris Acker’s “The Pig War Reenactment” from his Odd, Ordinary & Otherwise. Ted Hefko’s “Big Thing” from Down Below finishes the first set.
In case you don’t want to use the player above, I created a Spotify playlist from this show (look for Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa 2021 Mixtape). You’ll find information about these artists and their recordings in my earlier post. By the way, the show you hear from this website is the version that goes to Pacific Network. It’s slightly different from the versions heard in Olympia and Bellingham.
One-half of The Meters are featured next with “Give Me Back My Loving,” by Leo Nocentelli and “Crying For Home” by George Porter, Jr. Dwayne Dopsie’s “Set Me Free, “Tiffany Pollack’s “Mountain” and Kid Eggplant’s “Communista” fill out the rest of the set.
You’ll get another helping of Drury’s record (“St. Tammany”) before hearing Loose Cattle’s “Get Downtown” and Cha Wa’s “Uptown.” But you will also hear a track from my favorite album of the year –Jon Batiste’s We Are. In fact, you will eventually hear three tracks from him (the limit allowed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that governs radio airplay).
You’ll hear show greetings and show IDs from Pollack, Drury, Kid Eggplant, and Craig Klein who also shares the scene created when he and trumpeter Kevin Louis performed and sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in honor of their friend, the late Lucien Barbarin.
Also included in this mixtape are Dumpstaphunk, Jason Ricci and Joe Krown, Jonathan Bauer, Jamie Lynn Vessels, Craig Klein and Monk Boudreaux.
Thanks for listening and have a great and safe New Year.
As I write this and prepare for this week’s show, the forecast for New Orleans is a mostly sunny day with a high of 79 degrees. But close your eyes and start my show and we’ll conjure up this winter’s celebration with music by New Orleans musicians.
The 2021 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner Don Vappie kicks us off the show with a swinging “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Kenny Neal drives home that point with his “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Whether you celebrate Christmas or Solstice or some other winter holiday or nothing at all, most of the messages of the songs I play on this week’s show are universal. And capturing one of my more hipper ideals is Kermit Ruffins with his “Crazy Cool Christmas.” But don’t worry, the show gets un-hip pretty quickly with an airing of the “12 Yats of Christmas.” A little about New Orleans accents in one of my earliest posts.
As a kid in New Orleans, a White Christmas was only a dream. I recall one snow day as a child and it was pretty wimpy. The Radiators sing about their first snow while Allen Toussant delivers is classic “The Day It Snows in New Orleans.” Here’s a previous Christmas week post that goes a bit more into memories of snow in New Orleans.
Next set goes into the struggles of holidays when its may be missing something or someone. Ted Hefko introduces “It’s Cold in Here” with how his partner had to always be away during the Christmas season cause of work while Kelcy Mae sings about the struggles couples have when they have competing family interests to satisfy during the holiday — a song that become even more poignant when it turns into a celebration of legal same sex marriage. Marva Wright drives home the relevant point with her powerful “Stocking Full of Love.”
At this point in the show, just over halfway, Santa makes an appearance with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington’s “Jingle Bells,” Earl King’s “Santa, Don’t Let Me Down,” Frankie Ford’s “Santa Won the Lottery,” Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias with Bonerama give us “Shakana Santa Shake,” and two songs about Rudolph by Fats Domino and Debbie Davis and Matt Perriine.
If you made it through the show this far you will be rewarded by a great new Christmas single by Bon Bon Vivant “The Old Christmas Song” and some other treats — don’t want to ruin the surprise. And I always love to hear Smoky Greenwell’s rhythmic Frosty the Snowman. Check it out.
Y’all have a wonderful winter holiday whether its Christmas, Kwanzaa or just yelling at the radio . . .as long as you’re listening. Cheers.
My first trip back to New Orleans in over 22 months comes to life in this week’s show, featuring musicians I saw perform live during my short visit made shorter by an unplanned diversion to Bossier City, Louisiana. Start the show and then read on about the trip.
Our nonstop flight from Seattle to New Orleans was met with dense fog and a malfunction of the airport’s guidance system. With gas running low and no Rudolph to guide our sleigh in, we landed at Shreveport in the Northwest corner of Louisiana — about as far away from New Orleans as we could get and still stay in the state. Eventually, we ended up in a casino hotel on the other side of the river from the airport in Bossier City — a far cry from Frenchmen Street. “Gamblin’ Blues” by Champion Jack Dupree helps paint the picture on my show.
Eventually, we got to hang on Frenchmen Street on Thursday night. The famous music neighborhood seems a bit diminished after a worldwide pandemic and another hurricane. A couple of clubs are closed and others are operating on more limited hours. But the music is there to be heard and seen. In the show, you’ll hear music that follows our bar-hopping course.
We started at Three Muses with Tom McDermott playing his Jelly Roll Morton and rag time influenced piano behind a plastic glass. After dinner, we walked down to the bottom of the street to the Yard with Jason Neville Funky Soul Band. Jason is son of Aaron Neville and performs with his wife Lirette, daughter of New Orleans Jazz Legend “Sullivan Dabney,” and a solid band of funk professionals. The band does mostly covers with a signature style and unfortunately I have no recordings of their music. (The Neville’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” cover fills in) You’ll just to have to take my word for it that it was worth the stop. In fact, I think most of my group would have been happy staying there the whole evening. But, we pushed on.
We landed at Bamboulas where Marty Peters and Party Meters were holding court. Peters plays saxophone and clarinet and his hot jazz quintet explores a similar vein of music as the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. My favorite feature of this group is the singing by Peters and his trumpet player, Jeff Kreis. The two also offer up a bit of comic repartee to enliven the show — as they do in “Somebody Stole My Gal.”. But wait, there was more.
I’ve wanted to catch Shawn Williams live ever since hearing her Motel Livin’ record. And since she was just across the street at Favela Chic, I moved the group again. This was my first time in this relatively new music venue and I was a bit disappointed in the sound quality. I’m not sure if that was the venue’s fault or the fault of the brass band blazing on the corner just outside. You need to hear Shawn’s words and that just wasn’t possible. Still, it was good to see her perform live. On the show, I play her “Buried Alive.”
New Orleans is more than the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street and its imperative to get out into one of the hoods. The Greenway Supernova in Mid City on Friday night was a solid choice. A combination art event, fundraiser and concert in support of the Friends of Lafitte Greenway – a 2.6 mile greenbelt trail that runs from Louis Armstrong Park to Bayou St. John. Twelve luminary artworks dotted the park, anchored by a crafts fair, silent auction and two music stages.
My favorite light installation hung from a sprawling oak tree and involved some intentional spotlighting of “deconstructed disco balls” which cast spiral shadows and random sparklies. Later, singer and songwriter Abigal Cosio pointed out that people have been dancing to mirrored balls long before disco. In addition to being right on that one, she was also the reason we were there. She fronts the band Bon Bon Vivant who did an evening outdoor concert under the cheery lights.
As we got into the weekend, the clubs became more active. We caught John Saavedra’s G & the Swinging Gypsies digging deep into Django Reinhardt’s songbook at Bamboula’s on Saturday. I have a recording of this group when it featured Gisell Anguizola on vocals and tap. But it appears Gisell lives and performs in San Diego now.
The highlight of Saturday was Dragon Smoke at Tipitinas (well there also was an awesome meal at Herbsaint, a walk through the lit holiday decorations at Roosevelt Hotel and a street car ride all the way up town and back along St Charles and Carrollton). Dragon Smoke is a group formed in 2003 as part of New Orleans JazzFest tradition called Superjam which puts together people from bands who don’t normally play together. In this case, the Galactic rhythm section of drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio pair up with keyboardist Ivan Neville (Aaron’s oldest son and leader of Dumpstaphunk) and guitarist, singer/songwriter Eric Lindell. The band alternated jamming on songs led by Neville and Lindell. The communication between musicians was strong, creating improvisational riffs that stayed tight and strong the whole night.
J and the Causeways opened for Dragon Smoke (exactly on time by the way). Bandleader Jordan Anderson handles the keyboards, singing and songwriting with the help the help of a horn and rhythm section and tasteful rhythm and lead guitar by Evan Hall.
Our last night, Sunday, found out us back out at Mid City for a Christmas show at the Broadside but first we shopped at the pop-up Art Market in City Park where the Secret Six Band entertained us.
During the pandemic, The Broadside Theater opened an outdoor venue in its parking lot–which is where we caught “The Very Loose Cattle Christmas Show.” Loose Cattle is fronted by part-time New Orleans resident Michael Cerveris (You might know him as music manager “Mervin Frey” from the HBO show “Treme.”). The show was two hours of Christmas songs – reverent (O Holy Night) and irreverent (“Drunk This Christmas”). The show a featured a steady flow of guests such as Meschiya Lake, Antoine Diel, Mia Borders, Paul Sanchez, Arsene Delay, Lilli Lewis, and John Boutte. Stage musicians included two members of the grammy winning New Orleans Nightcrawlers (Craig Klein and Jason Mingledorff), The Iguanas bassist Rene Coman and Josh Paxton on piano. Cerveris generously taped and posted the entire show on YouTube– Merry Christmas.
Earl King addresses some of the reason’s why I do this show in the kick off song “No City Like New Orleans.” But hang on to your ear buds cause its my usual meandering ride through the city’s musical corners.
In recognition of the second cancelled New Orleans JazzFest, Kenny Neal starts the first full set of this week’s show with an original song that flows into a Jimmy Reed medley. Neal apprenticed with Slim Harpo, Buddy Guy and his own blues musician father Raful Neal. He’s been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and recently won the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year. I put his 13-minute track up front on this show so that if you’re short of time, you’ll at least catch this unique live performance at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Marva Wright and Bobby Rush round out that set.
The second set is a classic Gumbo YaYa mash up featuring Ted Hefko with a country-style number “My Life in Bars” followed by Bamboula 2000 and a Haiti sendoff by Cyril Neville. Then, I take a hard left turn by The Electric Arch that somehow goes really nicely when followed by Michael Doucet. Five distinctly different acts whose songs seem to flow well together. Either that or I inhaled too deeply on my way to the studio (. . .just kidding, its against KAOS rules).
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was primarily an East Texas-West Louisiana musician but he was living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and his music is so brilliant, I can’t help but gravitate to his vast library when planning a show. You’ll hear “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” where he demonstrates his talent on guitar and violin. The Zion Harmonizers follow that with “My Record Will Be There” along with John Fohl’s “Do or Die” and John Fogerty’s recast of “Proud Mary” with Jennifer Hudson sharing vocals and Rebirth Brass Band backing them both up. (Just an hour into the show and its worth the wait)
If you’re still listening by then, thank you and perhaps Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales will be a good reward, along with Colin Lake, Clifton Chenier, Rosie Ledet, Little Queenie and Louis Prima . . .to name a few. Thanks for tuning in. If you like or not like something. . . LET ME KNOW!
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.