Today's tracks come from sessions produced by the great Wardell Quezergue in the mid-1960s featuring two undeservedly obscure artists, Guitar Ray and Sammy Ridgley. Though neither of these song about dancing is funk-related or has an identifiable New Orleans sound, their strong, move-motivating grooves are undeniable. It's hard to understand why the records didn't get these guys some recognition, at least in New Orleans. Blame it on the vagaries of the music business, and the small, under-funded labels with no clout that put them out.
My introduction to both tunes was on the Funky Delicacies/Tuff City 2002 double CD compilation of Quezergue productions, Sixty Smokin' Soul Senders, which was/is a good resource for hearing some very hard to find sides, despite the poor condition of some of the vinyl sources and inadequate mastering on the analog to digital transfers. Having heard them first was a great help when I chanced on auctions for the 45s, as I knew they were well worth pursuing.
Download: Dr. John & The Meters — Chalmette, LA (3/5/1973)
Bingo Parlour Profile #7: THE HAPPY TALK BAND When Luke Allen came by to drop off a copy of There, There, his second CD with his longtime project the Happy Talk Band, he popped open the jewel case to read off a curious annotation of the dedications in the liner notes: 'Suicide, suicide, O.D. — which is basically suicide — O.D., murder, murder, suicide." It's not that Allen is necessarily a morbid guy " Happy Talk's 2003 album, Total Death Benefit, a unique alternative folk-rock collection of bitter love songs and boozy, self-conscious ballads, cemented him as a keen chronicler of downtown New Orleans bohemia. He's spent a good bit of the four years since as a bartender, serving drinks to the people he writes about on There, There. The thing that stands out the most on the album is the collection of memorial songs. 'Pete, Kelly, Bucky, Yvette down the street " Allen counts off. 'There's a little bit of everybody on there." Although Allen seems to be a speedy eulogist, he says the process isn't directly contingent on bad news. 'Sometimes I get a line here or there, and I write the song in pieces. And then the latest tragedy comes around, and I realize I've been writing about it all along." There, There takes place in the storm's physical and emotional wreckage, but when it evokes the fallout of the disaster, it does so on the most personal of scales. And sometimes its presence is only theoretical, as with 'Sometimes Sailors," the story of a friend who shot himself a week before the levees failed. 'He had floating bodies in his head," Allen muses, wondering what difference, if any, it would have made if he'd waited and seen them made real. Happy Talk stage shows over the past few years have revealed a cautiously experimental band. Sometimes acoustic bass is replaced with electric and the songs are amped up to punk-rock levels. More often, with the addition of pedal steel, cello and, on the record, banjo played by producer Mark Bingham, Allen goes for a more understated complexity that buttresses his harsh voice (and sometimes harsher lyrics) nicely, revealing him as a shockingly good country stylist. 'I find I don't like blasting my voice over everyone all the time anymore," says Allen. 'I want to take my time and tell the story and make sure the story's heard."
New Orleans meets Vermont: Former Phish keyboardist joins N'awlins funk masters on tour
It happened one night in Vermont. One fateful evening, New Orleans met Vermont, the ancestors of longtime N'awlins band The Funky Meters blended with an ancestor of one of Vermont's finest, jam heavyweights Phish, and funk fused with progressive-rock to birth a memorable night of music. It was in November when Porter, Batiste, Stoltz (PBS) — the New Orleans power-funk trio comprised of George Porter Jr. on bass, Russell Batiste Jr. on drums and Brian Stoltz on guitar — joined with former Phish keyboardist Page McConnell at Burlington's Club Metronome. PBS is set to release its first live album, "MOODOO," capturing that night in Burlington, and featuring McConnell on several songs. This CD serves as the catalyst that has now cemented PBS — which embodies the distinct and varied New Orleans musical flavor — with the Green Mountain State.
Check out an album review HERE.
TwilightZone's feature on the Neville Brothers' "Fiyo On The Bayou"
The Neville Brothers, as a working unit, emerged as a result of 1976's magnificent Wild Tchoupitoulas project. On that album, the Brothers and their Meters cohorts backed a group of tribal chiefs (including their uncle "Big Chief Jolly") singing traditional Mardi Gras "war songs" and marches. The Nevilles' 1978 debut left behind their New Orleans foundation and suffered because of it. However, 1981's Fiyo represents the pinnacle of the Neville collective, a percolating mix of R&B, soul, funk, and Caribbean rhythms that celebrates their Crescent City heritage. The standards, of course, are entrusted to Aaron's heavenly pipes, but it's the New Orleans anthems that would come to define both the band and the city. - Marc Greilsamer
TwilightZone's feature on"LOUISIANA R&B" 1991 VA This CD is an eye opening collection of Jay Miller’s recordings in the R&B genre derived from various vinyl albums in the “legendary Jay Miller sessions” series. As ever, Miller combines his prodigious studio techniques and song-writing abilities to produce searing R&B that stands comparison with the best. Great Excello R&B!
The Wee Trio sustains local vibraphonist James Westfall's New York connection
Jazz vibraphonist James Westfall didn't much care for the food, weather, attitudes and expenses encountered during a two-year New York residency.
"I was getting fed up with New York," he recalled this week. "It's fine meeting jerks once or twice a day, but after a while it builds up and gets to you. I'd catch myself saying smart-ass one-liners to people, and that's really not my personality. Everyone was struggling. It was a rat race, a little too cutthroat for me."
He's now happily resettled in New Orleans, where he studied jazz and launched his professional career. But one important New York tie remains: The Wee Trio, which Westfall formed with bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Jared Schonig, neighbors in Brooklyn.
Galactic -w- Chali 2na & Boots Riley performing "Immigrant Song"
NOLA's Home Town Heroes: Inell Young
When you think of NOLA Funk and R&B drummers, you think of the Meters Ziggy Modeliste, when you think of female vocalists,Irma Thomas probably pops up, and for producers, its usually Allen Toussaint, but those folks have been covered (rightfully so) and received plenty of props far beyond the Crescent City.
Outside of the artists mentioned above, though, there is an entire world of locally produced records that are more than worthy. First up here is the Inell Young cut, The Next Ball Game.
Inell Young made only 3-45's, but each one was a winner. It's a shame she didn't make more, but, she was a troubled young lady. She died of a drug overdose shortly after her last recording session.
Her first 2 records were made under the guidance of local legend and funk maestro Eddie Bo, who made hundreds of records, some of which are deep funk classics. As you can hear, with drummer James Black on Ball Game, Eddie always brought the super heavy funk. To my mind James Black ranks with Ziggy somewhere near the top of the NOLA drummer pantheon and Eddie Bo, while perhaps not as sophisticated as Mr.Toussaint, easily out funks him. Alas, with Inell, we'll never know.
George Davis - Unsung hero of New Orleans Music Passes
George Davis was a guitarist, bassist, and reedman who did numerous sessions for Instant, Minit, and NOLA records in the 1960s. You can hear him playing on most of the June Gardner and Smokey Johnson tracks including the guitar solo in It Ain’t My Fault. That’s him also on Willie Tee’s Teasin’ You and playing bass on Earl King’s “Come On.” However, his biggest claim to fame (and it’s a big one) is that he co-wrote “Tell It Like It Is,” Aaron Neville’s smash classic hit. Davis also worked with Ernie K-Doe, Johnny Adams, Nancy Wilson, Jerry Butler, and others.
$200,000 National Competition to retain talent in New Orleans