I’ve been so enjoying watching the Ken Burn’s PBS documentary on Country Music that this week features nearly an hour of country music from Louisiana. Get on the hayride by starting the show (click sideways arrow below)
It seems you can learn a lot about love from country music (which was known on the Billboard charts as “hillbilly” at the same time that R&B music was categorized as “race” music.) Exhibit A is the opening song by Rocket Morgan. Known for his rockabilly, Rocket bares his heart with the forlorn song a “Too High a Price (to Pay for Love).”
It’s been fun watching Gal Holiday’s career as she steadfastly occupies the two-step country western dance crowd in New Orleans clubs. She kicks off the first set with her refined sound. Ken Swartz kicks up the pace a bit more with his country-inflected “Smile Away the Blues.” And the set finishes with the early 20th century retro sound of the Big Dixie Swingers.
The Burns documentary drives home the importance of the clear channel powerful radio stations that blasted country music throughout the country. Most major markets had some sort of country show with the most well known coming from WSM’s Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Hank Williams got his break in playing the Opry after being the star on the Louisiana Hayride broadcast out of Shreveport Louisiana.
Yvette Landry, who lives and performs in the Lafayette area, is an excellent example of how Swamp Pop, country, cajun and blues all come together. Her fine voice is on display with “Friday Night Special” – a song that drives home the point that country music is about the story. She is followed up nicely by The Deslondes performing “Heavenly Home.” Werly Fairburn, who grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry, finishes that set. Later, the talented Alex McMurray channels Waylon Jennings with “Texas Again.”
The back half of the show is a mix of music including two brass band numbers and Kermit Ruffins getting serious with “West Indies Jazz Dance.”
I know I’m buying into the whole commercial thing of doing songs about love on Valentine’s Day. So what! Once you start the show with the Tin Men’s cover of “I’m in Love Again,” you won’t care either.
I mean, you can’t go wrong with a song about love where the besotted one (in this case Fats Domino who originally sang the song) suggests to his new lover “Baby, don’t you let your dog bite me.”
Earl King takes it up a notch with his “Love is a Way of Life” from his Sexual Telepathy album. Teedy Boutte follows that up with a cover of “Piece of My Heart.” But really it was all a set up for me to play “Ten Commandments of Love.” Yea, if you’re still with me by then, you are a softy.
Eric Lindell provides a more contemporary original rhythm and blues tune called “You Look So Good in Love,” followed by The Iguanas edgy “Nervous.” Kelcy Mae rocks out the end of the set with “(Don’t Be Stupid with) My Love.”
Yvette Landry & the Jukes do the hit off her new album, “I Need Somebody Bad,” (“because I just lost somebody good.”) The Write Brothers follow that up with another lost love song “Losin’ You” and Snooks Eaglin takes on the classic “Careless Love” to finish that set of frustrated love songs.
The next set features some great jazz with Kid Thomas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Shotgun Jazz Band, finishing with Maria Muldaur’s version of the Blu Lu Barker number “Loan Me Your Husband.”
I take a short Mardi Gras music break – yes, its still Mardi Gras season — before finishing with one last love song set with Lynn Drury, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Big Al and the Heavyweights. If you hang in there for this set, you’ll get a treat of Lenny Kravitz singing “Whole Lotta Loving” with Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty backing him up .
I’m a little late in posting last Thursday’s show but I’m hoping its worth the wait, featuring music written by and in some cases performed by Earl Silas Johnson – aka Earl King.
Born in the Irish Channel district of New Orleans on February 7, 1934, Earl Silas Johnson is behind one of the more covered Mardi Gras standards, “Big Chief.” So in today’s show (which you should have playing by now – click the arrow above) I dive into Earl King’s music as well as other Mardi Gras numbers — including perhaps the most covered “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” song written by Professor Longhair.
This weekend, the 2019 Mardi Gras parade season ramped up with the quirky, Sci-Fi parade “Krewe of Chewbacchus.” The 900-member, self-described satirical space cult, walks, pedals, pushes but does not drive its contraptions down its parade route. Only three rules: No unicorns unless with rocket thrusters; no elves unless cyborgs; and no whinebots.
Earl King kicks the show off with one of my favorites: “No City Like New Orleans.” Later I play an early recording of his called “Til I Say Well Done” and an example of him funking it up with “Do the Grind.” Covers of King songs by The Roamin’ Jasmine and Dr. John round out my tribute to what would have been his 85th birthday if we hadn’t lost him in 2003. I finish the Earl King segment with The Radiator’s tribute song “King Earl.”
The fun continues though with new music by Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Lena Prima. Benny Turner, Big Al and the Heavyweights and Yvette Landry and the Jukes.
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Back in the 80’s, I think I played the grooves off my Tubes album with the song “What Do You Want From Life.” The last line regarding a “baby’s arm holding an apple” never failed to crack me up. In this show, I’m perhaps just a bit more of serious in my pursuit of an answer from the perspective of New Orleans music. Go ahead, get it started . . .you might need to.
What do you want from life? if its Slim Harpo, its money, not alibis. But for Scott Ramminger, its without a doubt a new body. (I can relate). Fats Domino is content if you’ll just let him walk you home. But John Mooney feels like hollerin’ instead. Dr. John would like to make sure New Orleans can mourn properly in a post-Katrina song.
Lots of musicians need love, don’t we all. Johnny Adams needs a lot of loving while Yvette Landry needs somebody bad (since she just lost somebody good). Carol Fran would be happy just to be “be’d with”. Chubby Carrier channels Bad Company with “Feel Like Making Love.”
Some needs are a bit hard to explain, like the Radiators “I Want to Go Where the Green Arrow Goes” while others are relatively clear (sort of) such as Marcia Ball’s need for “The Right Tool for the Job.”
Rebirth Brass Band makes it clear they feel like “Busting Loose” while Charmaine Neville is happy with a good song and Albanie Falletta seeks “Someone to Dance With.”
My hope is you’ll at least need to listen to a bit of the show and let me know what you think by subscribing or leaving a comment. Cheers.
This show dives into Lafayette music, with a strong assist from Yvette Landry’s new swamp pop album, Louisiana Lovin’. If you click the player below, you’ll start the show with Dr. John and Cyril Neville singing”Chickee’ Le Pas” – – whatever the heck that means.
Landry starts off the first full set of music with “Yea Yea Baby,” a wonderful duet with Roddie Romero who a few years back almost won himself a grammy for his Gulfstream release — which is where the second song “One Trick Pony” comes from. (Here’s more on Romero.) In the interest of balance, Michael Doucet does “Fonky Bayou” and Fernest Arceneaux performs “It’s Alright.”
Zachary Richard continues the Lafayette groove with a live performance from the Acadien music festival. Later, Landry does an encore from her new album, a cover of “Take it Easy, Greasy.” In all, its a great way to start the show but I do eventually take us back to New Orleans with some classic funk.
The Explosions do two of their three singles they recorded under the guidance of Eddie Bo as producer. It seemed to fit to spin Bo’s 1960 release “Every Dog Has Its Day” during that set.
I play cuts from new records by Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Big Al and the Heavyweights and the Radiators. You can see the full playlist here or just let the music flow over you. Thanks for tuning in and consider subscribing.