Gumbo YaYa 2021 Mixtape of New Music

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.

Jon Batiste has eight Grammy nominations resulting from his latest album which features Hot 8 Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, and St. Augustine Marching 100.

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.

Your 2021 New Orleans Music Buying Guide

Give the gift of music. Here’s the new music that has crossed my path in doing Sweeney’s Gumbo Ya Ya this year. I play these records on the show in the order that you see them below.

Jon Batiste: We Are – What can I add to a record that has racked up eight Grammy noms? Batiste is a genius who writes and sings from a core of truth that is embedded in New Orleans. Once you get past the “Freedom” video, check out and several ass-kicking videos featuring the title track, “Freedom” and “Tell the Truth,” “We Are,”and “I Need You.”

Tiffany Pollack & Co. : Bayou Liberty – Following up on the success of her blues album recorded with cousin Eric Johansen, Pollack recorded a dozen of her original songs with assistance of producer and blues musician John Nemeth. But its far from a blues album with songs that channel Lone Star Tall Boys, honky-tonks, early morning nightclubs and sticky-seated dives where you go mainly for the crawfish and beer. Here’s more on Tiffany and the show with her interview.

Kid Eggplant & the Groovy Melatauns: Peace, Love & Donuts – Kid Eggplant, aka Robert Snow, and his music defy categorization perhaps because he embraces almost all genre: R&B, Doo Wop, Blues, Rock, Soul and Pop. You can count on his songs to be laced with catchy, and, at times ,slightly weird lyrics. However, you describe it, this music is an authentic product of the New Orleans music and nightclub scene.

Willie Durrisseau: Creole House Dance – Louis Michot and Corey Ledet carry off a major service to preserving creole music by capturing 101-year Willie Durrisseau on tape. Here’s more on this amazing story.

Secret Six Jazz Band: Secret Six – A side project of the brilliant Smoking Time Jazz Club led by the band’s bass player John Joyce, the Secret Six carry on the popular tradition in New Orleans of keeping old timey songs alive with a fresh take and sharp musicianship.

Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco HellraisersSet me Free – A favorite at the summer Portland Blues Festival, Dopsie and his gang deliver a dozen mostly original Zydeco tracks with everything you would expect from his show – excellent vocals, cranking accordion and even frottoir (rubboard) solos. Great for showing off your footwork.

Jamie Lynn VesselsIf I’m Being Honest – Blues rocker who has made New Orleans her home, Vessels offers a sweet voice, passionate and emotional lyrics and Cranston Clements fueled guitar licks. All original songs.

Loose CattleHeaving Lifting – Michael Cerveris (“Annie’s” agent on the HBO series Treme) performs with a solid group of musicians, many from New Orleans, creating barnburner style Americana music that will get you dancing.

George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners Crying for Hope – The band collaborated remotely during the pandemic to re-record and mix the album’s 12 songs, culminating in Porter & the Runnin Pardners’ most compelling release to date.

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux: Blood Stains and Teardrops – Big Chief Monk Boudreaux is the oldest living Mardi Gras Indian Chief with an impressive library of recordings with the Wild Magnolias and others. But this solo effort allows Boudreaux to cover new ground with both his writing and singing with songs infused with reggae (six tracks were recorded in Jamaica) and blues.

Chris Acker: Odd, Ordinary & Otherwise – One-time Bellingham resident, Acker offers up a collection of songs written or finished during the pandemic shutdown. He’s been happily embedded in New Orleans for at least a half dozen years writing and singing songs in the spirit of John Prine with an entertaining ability to conjure life’s fascinating details.

Craig Klein: Talkative Horns – Musical Conversations on Lucien Barbarin – This grammy winning trombonist started this project with his friend but made the record a tribute to him after Lucien Barbarin’s untimely death from cancer. A fellow trombonist, Barbarin was fan of mutes and this record’s eight track features them throughout creating a conversation between Klein’s trombone and Kevin Louis’ trumpet. Here’s the show featuring Craig Klein interview on his new record.

Dumpstaphunk: Where Do We Go From Here – Dumpstaphunk, headed up by Ivan and Ian Neville, answers their record title’s own question when it comes to where funk goes from here. This is a funk rock album with touches of jam band and R&B. You’ll dance and the lyrics speak to today.

Tuba Skinny (Maria Muldaur): Let’s Get Happy Together – A smart selection of vintage songs by straight A student of old timey music and jug bands Maria Muldaur who last year did a record featuring LuLu Barker songs. This time her New Orleans connection is Tuba Skinny which is allowed to shine and complement Muldaur’s perfected suited vocals.

Jonathan Bauer: Sings & Plays – For his second record, Jonathan occasionally lowers his trumpet and steps up to sing classics like “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Exactly Like You” and “September in the Rain.” His website claims that early listeners have described the band’s new aesthetic as “New Orleans Chet Baker.”

Leo Nocentelli: Another Side – A new record that takes you back a half century when the Meters’ guitarist and co-founder took a short break to do something completely different. Recorded mostly in 1971 but just released this year, the songs have an intimate feel reflective of the folk rock of that time. An excellent showcase of Nocentelli’s guitar and vocals.

Lynn Drury: Dancin’ In the Kitchen – A veteran of the New Orleans Americana music scene, Drury’s latest record seems a cut above an already impressive list of recordings. With excellent studio support, Drury soulfully dishes out her life experiences — you will swing, you’ll smile, you’ll cry.

Cha Wa: My People – Brainchild of drummer Joe Gelini, Cha Wa follows in the footsteps of the Wild Magnolias in delivering the rhythm, traditions and ethic of Mardi Gras Indians outside of New Orleans. This third release now features Joseph Beaudreaux Jr. (Monk’s son) on lead vocals.

Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires: Down Below – Hefko, who has straddled jazz and blues, takes a serious dive into country — a genre he hinted at with his last release Gas Station Guru But the woodwind musician puts his unique stamp pulling out his baritone sax, clarinet and flute among other instruments and helped out on a couple songs by Kevin Louis and Craig Klein (See Talkative Horns above).

Jason Ricci and Joe Krown: City-Country – City – Ricci on harmonica and vocals, Joe Krown on Hammond B-3 and piano with Doug Belote on drums and you have a stripped down funky, blues, swinging sound. Truly a situation where the sum is greater. One of my favorites of the year.

Garage a Trois: Calm Down Cologne – Galactic drummer anchors this power trio of Skerik (sax) and Charlie Hunter (guitar) — there first recording together since 2011. These masters of improvisation pull it off right in the studio with some serious funk, jazz and just out there playing.

Nicholas PaytonSmoke Sessions – Partly a sentimental yet original revisit of Miles Davis’ Four and More record, Sessions includes Ron Carter on bass and a couple of guest appearances by George Coleman on tenor saxophone. And they shine. But the real surprise and star of this album is Payton, the trumpet player, performing on piano.

Camile BaudoinThis Old House – The Radiator’s guitarist makes it all seem so simple with this spin of New Orleans/Radiator songs. Here’s how he introduces his latest album on Bandcamp – “It’s a New Orleans jukebox feel, enabled by some of my favorite fellow musicians. Roll up the rug, drop in a quarter, and enjoy!”

Debbie Davis, Matt Perrine and Friends: Oh Crap, It’s Christmas! Volume 2 – This is a family affair with Davis and Perrine anchoring with vocals and bass and their two songs adding their voice to songs like “Run Run Rudolph” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” And then there’s the musical family that includes the bright piano playing of Josh Paxton, Alex McMurray on guitar and Andre Bohren on drums. A nice mix of traditional and new for the holidays.

Get out and buy some low-carbon footprint gifts of music. Happy holidays. By the way, I do this end of year summary show every year.

All Female Gumbo Ya Ya for 2021

Great singing and rocking rhythms as the women take center stage on this week’s Sweeney’s Gumbo YaYa. You can listen to the show right from this page using the player below

Arsene Delay starts the show with the title track from her record “Coming Home.” Thirty songs follow all featuring a woman singer, musician and/or bandleader, including new music by Lynn Drury and Tiffany Pollack and great classics by Marva Wright and Irma Thomas.

But before you get to them, you’ll hear “My Sin” by the all-female Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band and “My Darlin’ New Orleans” featuring a beat poet intro by Little Queenie.

Miss Sophie Lee sings “You Do Something To Me” on this week’s show which puts female musicians front and center.

Throughout the show you’ll hear Gumbo YaYa show shout outs by Marla Dixon who fronts the Shotgun Jazz Band, Debbie Davis, Vanessa Niemann of Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, Tiffany Pollack, Lynn Drury, Shawn Williams, Sierra Green, Lena Prima and Kelcy Mae.

Each year this show gets easier in terms of having a choice of female musicians and harder in having to make those tough choices. Here’s previous shows featuring exclusively female musical artists:

Tiffany Pollack, Okra, Cajun Singles and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Tiffany Pollack & Co. hits the post-pandemic music scene with momentum from a brand new record that opens up new avenues for this singer, songwriter, band leader and occasional mortician. One song kicks off this week’s show which she calls in on about an hour later for a live KAOS radio interview. (The episode below is the KMRE version of the same show and airs in Bellingham on Fridays).

Tiffany Pollack -Currently performing regularly on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.

Following up on the success of her blues album recorded with cousin Eric Johansen, New Orleans-based Pollack collected a dozen of her original songs, went to Memphis with her band and recorded Bayou Liberty with the assistance of producer and blues musician John Nemeth. But its far from a blues album. In the course of our conversation, we both agreed our favorite track is Mountain, a Western style number featuring pedal steel and sweet vocals. Others songs channel honky-tonks, early morning smoky (now smoke-free) nightclubs and sticky-seated dives where you go mainly for the crawfish and beer.

As a mother of three, she also shares how her kids do a good job of keeping her in her place, no matter how bright her music star shines. And yea, she talks briefly about how as a licensed funeral director she still gets called in to do services for that short-handed business.

From the 1956 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

A great find of fresh okra at the Olympia Farmer’s Market last weekend inspired a set of music featuring two versions of Mr. Okra — a song written by Sonia Tetlow and Craig Klein in honor of Arthur James Robins (Mr. Okra) who drove a colorful vegetable truck through the streets of New Orleans with sing-song amplified announcements of available produce. He died in 2018 (NPR story). To introduce that song, I play a brief clip from an earlier interview with Craig Klein about the process of writing that song with Tetlow. Later in the set, Monk Boudreaux sings a Jamaican-inflected “Mr. Okra Man” – in his own take of the street vendor. The set ends with the Tin Men’s “The Darling of the Okra Strut” which, best I can tell, really has nothing to do with the mucilaginous vegetable. (However, it did get me thinking about whether okra are interstellar aliens! Afterall we call them “pods.”)

This week’s show also includes another set of Cajun music, thanks to Olympia-area producer and musician Calvin Johnson’s secret stash of collectible 45 rpm records. This time, I throw in a live recorded song by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys from Bill Boelens Festivals Acadiens 1991-1997.

The show’s first full set rocks with Cowboy Mouth’s early hit “Jenny Says” and The Radiators urging us to “Never Let Your Fire Go Out.” Later Tommy Malone sings “All Dressed Up,” the Honeypots perform “Witness”, Los Hombres Calientes does a send up of “George Porter” and Davis Rogan’s gives us his original song “Fly Away.” Davis, by the way, will be performing in Olympia on August 26 in a house concert. Message me to learn more about it. Thanks for tuning in.

Tiffany Pollack & Co. at the “Legendary” HiHo Lounge pre-COVID.

The smile beneath the mask, the festivals that we’ll miss

Six weeks into our Shelter in Place and this week’s show looks at the smiles behind our masks, the festivals we are missing and the ways we are coping. You can start it now as I share with you more details.

This show includes four more messages from New Orleans musicians – Tiffany Pollack, Charlie Halloran, Louie Ludwig and Noah Young. But the show starts with Shotgun Jazz Band’s “Smile” in recognition of the pleasant expressions that our cloth masks cover.

This weekend would be the start of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Also this weekend, in Olympia, we would normally hold our Spring Arts Walk and Procession of the Species. I don’t wish to diminish the significant economic aspects of community celebrations, but for me, Arts Walk, the Procession and other such events serve as a mirror where we can collectively see ourselves. There’s no way to virtually replicate that but I can try.

The first full set features three songs from New Orleans Jazz Fest Past — Flow Tribe performing in 2012, gospel rocker Raymond Myles in 1994 and a very special performance by The Radiator at the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina — another catastrophe where recovery was made more difficult by a less than competent federal emergency response.

Tiffany Pollack signs on at the 23 minute mark to introduce herself (formally an embalmer!) She and her cousin Eric Johanson knocked it out of the park with last year’s Blues in My Blood record. You’ll hear a couple tracks from that one and her jazz single “Comes Love.” Check out her shows on her Facebook page and YouTube channel every Monday and Friday starting at 6 p.m. Left Coast time or 8 p.m. New Orleans time.

Like all of us, I’m getting tired of drinking at home. I miss that wonderful randomness of going to a bar or club, seeing what I see and hearing what I hear. It’s kind of back to that community mirror thing where I feel a sense of belonging. Doc Souchon starts the next set with a drinking song, followed by Dwayne Dopsie‘s “Harry’s Creole Bar.” Taylor Smith, from a previous radio interview, talks about his neighborhood bar Horace’s where he and his band the Roamin’ Jasmine recorded their last record from which you’ll hear “I Can’t Believe You’re in Love with Me.” I finish with a less than savory bar ballad by Little Freddie King, “Mixed Bucket of Blood.”

The very active (when not Sheltered in Place) trombonist and bandleader Charlie Halloran joins us next at the 55 minute mark where he shares with us what he has been up to under the COVID restrictions. He introduces his latest record from his calypso group (Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales) from which you’ll hear two tracks. I also spin one from Charlie Halloran and the Quality 6.

New release by Sierra Green

The next set features tracks from new releases by Cowboy Mouth, Sierra Green & the Soul Machine and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. Later, Noah Young joins the show to introduce his latest record by the band Slugger and you’ll hear “Take a Breath” featuring Ray Wimbly and Mykia Jovan. I also spin”Starkist” from Slugger’s previous release. The set is finished by a track from the new Jason Marsalis Live — just released by Basin Street Records.

Louie Ludwig first got my attention with his record I Got Nothin to Say. Later when most folks were still figuring out what had gone down during the 2016 election, he released the song and video “Troll Factory.” Now, Ludwig has turned his attentions more fully to film making and was working on a documentary about the New Orleans music recording history. However, as he explains in his comments on the show, the project has turned into a weekly video report focusing on the COVID-19 effects in New Orleans. His latest one is about the loss of the festival season.

There’s a bit more in the show but its nice to have some surprises. Please support these musicians and the others I’ve featured in previous shows. You can support me (emotionally) by subscribing to this free blog (go back to the top and look to the right).