Bilbo Birthday for Harold Dejan (Olympia Brass Band)

I celebrate the Bilbo Baggins birthday of Harold “Duke” Dejan, founder of the second generation of the Olympia Brass Band by starting this week’s show with “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” and “It Ain’t My Fault.”

Harold Dejan at top with the saxophone section of the Algier’s Naval Base Band during WW II. From the Louisiana State Museum collection.

Dejan, a saxophonist and bandleader, would be eleventy one years old on February 4. We lost him in 2002 after many decades of keeping the brass band tradition alive before the new generation of brass bands such Dirty Dozen, Rebirth, Soul Rebels, Hot 8 and this year’s grammy nominated New Orleans Nightcrawlers took up the mantle and greatly expanded the audience.

I flow into a short set of not-frequently-played Mardi Gras numbers – The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band with “Dancin’ at the Mardi Gras,” Cha Wa’s “All on a Mardi Gras Day,” New Orleans Suspects’ “Yo Flambeaux,” and Davis Rogan’s “Mardi Gras Chicken” — a new edition to the Mardi Gras library from last year.

This year, there will be no official Mardi Gras parades because of COVID-19 safeguards. However, the city is adapting by decorating homes like floats.

Speaking of new, the next set features a new release by The Crooked Vines from their Mostly Live record, a track from Bon Bon Vivant‘s recently released Dancing in the Darkness and Glen David Andrews “Where We Gonna Go.”

Well, no matter where you go, keep this show rolling cause with the help of Andrews and Galactic, it gets funky with “Day of the Dolphin” by Brides of Jesus (Billy Iuso) and Walter “Wolfman” Washington‘s “Glasshouse.”

Aurora Nealand project

Later highlights include Marla Dixon singing a heart-rendering rendition of “When Things Go Wrong” at the Dew Drop with her Shotgun Jazz Band and Aurora Nealand’s fascinating project The Monocle where she plays all the instruments and handles vocals “Another Man” from Kindhumankind.

I’ll lay into more Mardi Gras music next week. Thanks for tuning in.

Twelfth Night for a Different Mardi Gras Season

Happy Twelfth Night and the start of Mardi Gras Season. As I write this, the “Phunny Phorty Phellows” who typically celebrate the day with a crowded and loud streetcar ride are prepared for a special COVID-adjusted event. It’s going to be a different Mardi Gras season this year and this week’s show is bookended by songs that reflect how I feel.

Tim Laughlin’s “King of the Mardi Gras” opens the show. With no parades and parties to preside over, there will be no Krewe of Rex royalty this year. The show ends with The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band performing “The Saints” from their post-Katrina record I Wanna Go Back to New Orleans. It’s going to be a slow recovery as we wait for the population to get vaccinated. When it finally happens, many of us will be needing to go back to New Orleans.

I’ve assembled a diverse mix of music this show including the rocksteady New Orleans band 007 doing “Won’t You Come Home Now,” the JazzFest Superjam group Dragon Smoke with “Love and Compassion,” Lafayette HonkyTonker Kevin Sekhani singing from his latest Day Ain’t Done., and Leyla McCalla sharing “Changing Tide” from her Langston Hughes tribute, Vari-Colored Songs.

The Deslondes sing “Beautiful Friend”

There’s 25 other songs in the two-hour show ranging from jazz, blues, soul, alt-Zydeco, indie rock, alt-country, and songs that defy a genre assignment — other than . . . it’s New Orleans music.

If you have questions about the music or musicians, please let me know. My goal is to get you closer to the diverse and deep New Orleans music scene so that when things calm down, we can “go back to New Orleans.”

Cheers.

Today’s show finishes with a Second Line

This week’s show has no organizing principle (other than the show’s underlying commitment to New Orleans and Lafayette music). However late in the show, I do about 30 minutes of brass bands that will get you buck jumping or at least shaking some body part. Get it started by clicking the sideways triangle below and I’ll tell you more.

George Lewis with Preservation Hall kicks off the show with “The Sweet By and By.” But the next set is a mix of stuff including the Tin Men doing “Jesus Always Gets His Man.” Mem Shannon singing his song “Dirty Dishes” and Frog and Henry performing the classic “Song of a Wanderer.”

A didgeridoo opens the next set with “Bayou Billabong” followed by Little Queenie and Shamarr Allen. Sets that follow include Eric Lindell, Oliver Morgan, Dana Abbott and Aurora Nealand. A four-song set of music from Lafayette includes Sonny Landreth, Pine Leaf Boys, Tab Benoit and Roddie Romero.

Dancing in the cemetery as part of the Second Line

Somewhere around 80 minute mark, Rebirth kicks in with “Roll With It” followed by the Original Pin Stripe Brass Band, the Forgotten Souls Brass Band and an entertaining Taylor Swift cover by Shamarr Allen.

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