Saturday, February 28, 2009

Snooks Eaglin Memorial Roundup

SomethingElseTribute: Snooks Eaglin

Snooks Eaglin, who had been battling prostate cancer, shot to prominence on the strength of 1959's "New Orleans Street Singer," a record that even today is a revelation. Mostly, because it sounds nothing like Eaglin, who was as modern and as inventive and as non-traditional as they came. Still, for all of the foot-stomping joys of his band recordings, "Street Singer" remains the surest testament to Eaglin's pure genius -- as a performer and as an arranger. Eaglin, born January 21, 1936, died on Feb. 18 -- just weeks before a scheduled return to the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. He wasn't, of course, your typical folk artist, much less a street performer, in the strictest sense of the word. Eaglin found material, even on "Street Singer," in less traditional places -- and clearly preferred the sounds he heard pouring out of dance clubs and passing car radioes in the Big Easy. They called his 1959 breakthrough "folk," but much of the material -- not least of which was "St. James Infirmary," by Hot Lips Page; and "Careless Love," done by both Kid Ory and Bessie Smith, among others -- was actually part of the mainstream black music of the day.

New Orleans guitarist Snooks Eaglin gets rousing jazz funeral send-off from Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and more

In a tan suit and his trademark sunglasses, the late Snooks Eaglin lay in a casket near the Howlin' Wolf stage Friday morning.

It was the Warehouse District nightclub's first funeral.

"We've had people laid out here before," noted Howlin' Wolf owner Howie Kaplan, "but they were still breathing."

Eaglin, 72, died Feb. 18 of cardiac arrest related to prostate cancer. For decades the "Human Jukebox" dazzled with a finger-bending style of guitar wizardry that won him such fans as Robert Plant and Bonnie Raitt. Irascible and unpretentious, his gigs at the Mid-City Lanes and elsewhere were a New Orleans music rite of passage.

Video: Snooks Eaglin remembered

Video: Snooks Eaglin remembered

B' Side's "Ford Eaglin - I'm Slippin' In (Imperial 5802)"

Snooks Eaglin

Today is a very sad one for me and many of you. Snooks Eaglin, the greatest
living New Orleans musician, died today.

Snooks was the consummate entertainer, and epitomized the spirit of New
Orleans music. His performances were as joyous as a second line on a spring
day: full of optimism, banter, and the best groove I ever heard in my life.
Like the best of our music, it was much more powerful live than recorded.

He has always been an inspiration to me; seeing him at the 1976 JazzFest
converted me back to playing blues, and was one of the major reasons I
returned to New Orleans.

Please raise a glass tonight to the man who brought joy to the life of many
of us, and was a great reason to live here.

I am including a short bio from the WWOZ website at the end of this email.

John Rankin

Jambase:Sat Eye Candy: R.I.P. Snooks Eaglin


Justifiably legendary bluesman Snooks Eaglin died of a heart attack in his native New Orleans this past Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at the age of 72. The blind street musician rose to fame in the 1950s, picking up admirers with his incendiary guitar work and a voice that earned him the title "Little Ray Charles." The nickname that really stuck though was "Human Jukebox" because of Eaglin's incredible memory and ability to digest and morph anything on the airwaves. Unlike a lot of blues musicians, Eaglin sidestepped his genre ghetto to embrace funk, soul, pop and rock, but always filtered through his dirt field and concrete slapping beginnings. He played with nearly everyone of note in New Orleans over the years, from Allen Toussaint in the '50s to George Porter Jr. in the '80s, but a Snooks session always felt like his shindig regardless of the larger lights around him.

Eaglin offers some quality parenting advice.

This is the kind of tune (and delivery) that made Snooks such a hit with the ladies, who could always be found swaying like a lively riverboat at his gigs. The man was a massive charmer!

We conclude with an informal session at the Rock n' Bowl and the unrushed simmer of "Life in the Middle."

Snooks’ Funeral

By Alex Rawls

I resisted writing about Snooks Eaglin’s funeral yesterday, wondering if it was tasteless to comment on it. But later in the day at the visitation for Antoinette K-Doe at the Mother-in-Law Lounge, people asked how it was, so I’ll use that request as my guide.

It was very nice. It was generally the right mix of church ritual and secular expressions, so there was a ritualized comfort dimension, but it was a service about Eaglin and it couldn’t have been mistaken for anyone else’s funeral. Irma Thomas’ gospel performance was powerful, though her brief remarks left me feeling like she was asked to sing more because of her love of gospel than her relationship with Eaglin.

There was a lot of good humor in the stories Quint Davis and John Blancher told about life with Snooks, and there was a little strange drama in the emergence of James Jackson, the drummer in Eaglin’s first band, the Flamingos. He seemed to need to be central to things, standing with Eaglin at his coffin when Flamingo bandmate Allen Toussaint started his recollections of Eaglin. But who knows? Maybe he was closer to Eaglin than any of us knew, or maybe this was his first chance to feel like a somebody in 50 years. At funerals, I prefer to attribute the most generous motives to people’s behavior.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Antoinette K-Doe dies on Mardi Gras Day

(from Times-Pic)

Antoinette K-Doe, the irrepressible widow of rhythm & blues singer Ernie K-Doe who transformed the Mother-in-Law Lounge into a living shrine and community center, died early Tuesday after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 66.

"It was her personal mission to keep his memory alive," said Ben Sandmel, who is writing a biography of Ernie K-Doe. "But she also did so much for the community. It's a huge loss for the whole musicians' community of New Orleans."

Born Antoinette Dorsey, Mrs. K-Doe was a cousin of rhythm & blues singer Lee Dorsey. She had known Ernie K-Doe for many years before they became a couple around 1990.

At the time, the singer's best days were far behind him. After a string of hits in the early 1960s, most notably "Mother-in-Law," his career, and life bottomed out. By sheer force of will, she helped him return to the stage and transform himself into an icon of eclectic New Orleans. The couple married in 1994.

"She had him on a short leash," Sandmel said. "She cleaned him up and opened the lounge to give him a place to play."

Ernie K-Doe died in 2001. But thanks to his wife, he maintained a schedule of public appearances via a life-size, fully costumed, look-alike mannequin. Mrs. K-Doe referred to the mannequin as "Ernie."

As the mother hen of the Mother-in-Law Lounge, she presided over one of the city's most diverse, funky-but-chic watering holes. With its vibrant, larger-than-life exterior murals and adjoining gardens, the Lounge stood out on an otherwise rough stretch of North Claiborne Avenue.

As the Ernie mannequin looked on from its corner throne, Mrs. K-Doe served a mix of neighborhood regulars and hipsters from across the city. The Lounge was a favorite haunt of such non-traditional musicians as Mr. Quintron, the Bywater avant-garde keyboardist, inventor and marching band impresario.

The Lounge badly flooded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's levee breaches. In advance of the floodwaters, Mrs. K-Doe dismantled the mannequin, stored the pieces in plastic bags, and stowed them in an upstairs closet. In the months after the storm, she revived the Lounge with the aid of an army of volunteers and financial support from contemporary R&B star Usher.


Mrs. K-Doe suffered a minor heart attack during Mardi Gras 2008, but recovered. On Thursday, she rode in the Muses parade with the Ernie mannequin. She served as the honorary queen of the Cameltoe Ladysteppers marching organization.

Today she had planned to don the traditional Baby Doll costume and parade through the streets of Treme before returning to the lounge for what is always a busy day. She helped revive the tradition of the Baby Dolls marching organization, and was happy to see others take up the mantle.

Michelle Longino, a founder of the Bayou Steppers Social Aid and Pleasure Club, received Mrs. K-Doe's blessing to costume as a Baby Doll and come out with Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Monk Boudreaux on Mardi Gras morning.

"She told us that we needed to be proper Baby Dolls, not nasty Baby Dolls," Longino said. "Today we're going to call ourselves the Antoinette K-Doe Baby Dolls in her honor."

Around 3 a.m. Mardi Gras morning, Mrs. K-Doe awoke in her apartment above the Mother-in-Law Lounge and complained of feeling hot, said Gary Hughes, the husband of her adopted daughter, Jackie Coleman. She went downstairs and apparently suffered a heart attack on a sofa in the lounge.

Hughes, who was staying in the apartment at the time, said paramedics arrived quickly but could not revive Mrs. K-Doe.

Today's festivities at the Mother-in-Law Lounge will be in her honor.

"Mardi Gras was her holiday," Hughes said. "She loved Mardi Gras. We're going to run the lounge as if she was here and do it up this one last time for her."

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Photo of Antoinette K-Doe and her Baby Dolls

Fat Tuesday!!!

H A P P Y M A R D I G R A S ! ! !

Crank up the WWOZ or HOTG's web stream loud.

Video: Zulu group celebrates 100 years

Photos by Dino Perrucci Photography

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & The Golden Eagles - Tipitina's, New Orleans 2/23/09

more from last night:

Skeleton - Tipitina's, New Orleans 2/23/09

Bonerama - Block Party, New Orleans 2/23/09

Cowboy Mouth - Block Party, New Orleans 2/23/09

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras 2009: NYC Survival Guide

LISTEN to WWOZ's Live Broadcast, a Radiators MOMs Ball show, or one of John Sinclair & Tom Morgan's awesome archived Mardi Gras radio shows HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE.

VIEW the Times-Pic Blogs & the WWOZ Blogs. Check out the excellent photo essays entitled "Living In New Orleans: Mardi Gras" and "Black Mardi Gras"

WATCH Parade Videos.

Mardi Gras Indian tribe

READ a book from the "Carnival Reading List"

FIND the closest Popeye's for some of the best Red Beans & Rice around.

EAT an authentic Nola meal in NYC (this list is out of date, but still helpful). Check out this Q&A with Chana Levi of Mara's Homemade & Midtown Lunch's "Fat Tuesday Edition"

PARTY like it's Fat Tuesday.

Hermes Parade

LEARN about the Mardi Gras Indians: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE, or read Home of the Groove's brand new "Here Come Da Indians!" post, complete with a few classic recordings for your listening pleasure. WWOZ's Street Talk on the Indians is HERE. Plus, here's a GLOSSARY of Injun terms and John Sinclair's Mardi Gras Indian DISCOGRAPHY.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Second Line Social's Mardi Gras feature on Brass Bands

As promised, and in celebration of Mardi Gras, here is my secret little treasure. I have been on the hunt for Brass Band 45s for several years now. Needless to say, there aren't very many. There is a far more extensive library on LP, but even then, it is hard to find the really good stuff. I was first exposed to this music in the mid-90's by a roommate who had the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's Voodoo LP (which by the way has a fantastic version of Bobby Wommack's "It's all over now" w/ Dr. John on the vocals). The initial pull for me was the instrumental brass sound of Dixieland jazz basically "funked" up. The modern Brass Band style has come to incorporate the groovier elements of soul, funk and blues musics, while staying rooted in the early jazz traditions. It is not uncommon nowadays to hear a Brass Band do a cover of a Gap Band song, followed by a gospel traditional, like "I'll fly away". It wasn't until the late 70s and throughout the 80's that Brass Bands adapted to modern music like this. As far as my research has taught me, there is really only 1 band who were the pioneers and trendsetters in this area. That band was Harold Dejan's Olympia Brass Band. To this day, there is no Brass Band who has been so influential to not only Brass Bands, but to New Orleans' jazzy, soulful history.

Dejan's Olympia Brass Band -
Mardi Gras In New Orleans

Dejan's Olympia Brass Band -
It Ain't My Fault

Dirty Dozen Brass Band -
Feet Can't Fail Me Now

Rebirth Brass Band -
Do Watcha Wanna

Hot 8 Brass Band -

Sexual Healing

Floyd Anckle & Majestic Brass Band -

Hey Pocky-A-Way

Chris Rose talks about Mardi Gras with Zulu's 'Mr. Big Stuff'

He is best known as a high-profile lawyer around town -- civil and criminal courts. Stephen Rue is also a budding filmmaker, having worked three years so far on a Hurricane Katrina documentary set for release in time to commemorate the fifth anniversary.

The 48-year-old Metairie native is the former King of the Knights of Jayson (2006) and he rode in Endymion for 13 years. But now he is in for the ride of his life: Rue is Mr. Big Stuff for the 100th anniversary Zulu parade on Fat Tuesday.

Facing down fate, forging a destiny: The Hot 8's Terrell 'Burger' Batiste

It is beyond question that in the New Orleans music community, The Hot 8 Brass Band has suffered more than its fair share of tragedy. In the 14 years that they've been together, they have lost four members by way of violent killings - one member was killed by the NOPD in broad daylight in full view of a crowd. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding devastated the city, swallowing up their worldly possessions and dispersing throughout the country the tight-knit community that anchors and inspires their creative expression.

On Mardi Gras, a new big chief will hit the streets in 7th Ward

The city's newest big chief stapled sky-blue, custom-dyed quills onto the right side of his crown from a package labeled "right." Then he moved to the other side, using a bag labeled "left," which held quills from a bird's left side.

For the center, he chose an even quill that bent neither right nor left. Then he gently broke its curve, so that it stood erect at the crown's top.

It takes years to learn how to get a crown just right. Especially a big chief's crown like this, which Jermaine Cooper Bossier plans to debut on Mardi Gras morning with his new Mardi Gras Indian tribe, the 7th Ward Creole Hunters.

Rob Wagner Trio, Snug Harbor, 2/14/09

Rob Wagner

Following a set from jazz great Ellis Marsalis (whose weekly Snug shows are a must for anyone visiting the Big Easy), saxophonist Rob Wagner joined by drummer Simon Lott and bassist Jesse Morrow took to the stage, began warming up, and, without much notice, set off on a far reaching journey.

Henry Butler - PiaNOLA Live

The eight-time WC Handy Piano Player of the Year, Henry Butler returns to the wax in a soaring tribute to his home city of New Orleans. In his first purely solo performance, this live set is a collection of eleven live recordings over recent years. Covering pop, R&B, soul, blues, and jazz; Butler searches for answers and questions about the Hurricane Katrina tragedy from every perspective. This is a resounding tribute to the musical spirit of the Crescent City and Butler is surely ranked amongst its legendary purveyors.

Probably a little hard to access for some because of both the length and the arching textures and rolls and flourishes that Butler takes liberty to demonstrate on such classics as "Basin St. Blues," Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law," Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," "Somethin' You Got," "You Are My Sunshine," "Tipitina," Billy Preston's "Will It Go 'Round In Circles," and "Ol' Man River." As you can see, this is mostly a covers record but their subject matter purely encompass Butler's vision of his home and also have enough spacing in them for Butler to demonstrate his virtuosity.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band Cuts New Album!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. A brand-new Preservation Hall Jazz Band CD is in the works. Here in New Orleans, we've had the pleasure of enjoying performances from the full touring lineup of our world-famous group for several weekends running while they put down the tracks for this exciting new album. Recorded right here in the performance space at Preservation Hall, this album is shaping up to be a beautiful representation of our amazing new lineup at their finest. We can't tell you what songs will appear on the finished product yet, but we can tell you who's playing them!

Long Live The [Morning 40] Federation!

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you hadn't heard, this past Friday marked the final show of downtown New Orleans beloved Morning 40 Federation. They were our friends. They were our family. AND THEY ALWAYS WILL BE!!! Ten long years of debauched entertainment later, they're going on indefinite hiatus. Have we seen the last of The Bywater's Best? Unlikely. But until we meet again...