Sunday, July 26, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe


"Life" (Allen Toussaint)
Dr. John and the Rampart Street Sympathy Orchestra, 1973


Back in 1973, Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) was on tour in support of his new album, In The Right Place, which was doing very well for him on the basis of the radio hit singles taken from it, "Right Place, Wrong Time" and "Such A Night". Allen Toussaint produced the LP, geared it a bit more for the pop market, but recruited the Meters as the core rhythm section. The results were an exceptional mix of funk and quirky pop. As a result, Mac did some touring that year with the Meters, using them as a backing band a few times, and on other dates rolling as a New Orleans revue with his own band, plus the Meters and Professor Longhair on the bill, as well. In the case of this show, a live radio broadcast from a recording studio, with a small audience, it was Mac and his band alone, billed as Dr. John and the Rampart Street Sympathy Orchestra. For more details about the show, including a full set list and band line-up, check my earlier posts on two other songs from the night, "Let The Good Times Roll" and "Qualified". As might be expected, the sound quality and mix are excellent.

HOTG MID-YEAR REVIEWS: Everything Old Is New Again


The Lost Southlake Sessions, The Radiators, Radz Records, 2009 - I waited so long to talk about Wild & Free, this one came in - so I've doubled up. Although the Radiators have made, recorded and sold music on their own terms for the greater part of their 30 year history, when these session were done, they actually had a record deal with an entertainment conglomerate, music videos*, national commercial radio airplay, and the possibility of breaking big. Between 1987 and 1989, the Rads recorded two of three albums for Sony/Epic, Law Of The Fish and Zig-Zaggin' Through Ghostland, mainly using the relatively new Southlake Studios in Metairie, LA. There, at various points during the late 1980s, they also cut a number of demo sessions - original material, mostly written by keyboardist Ed Volker - that went missing along the way amidst the comings and goings of a regularly touring band. As Ed told me recently via email through their Radz label, "A lot of tapes were lost one way or another from Southlake over the years. . . . This [the recently found material on the new CD] is all from a cassette we took pains to master; and it was an exploratory demo session, never meant for release, but the years have been kind to it, so we decided others might like to hear it, too." Excellent decision, fellas.

Unexpected Moments in New Orleans with Tom McDermott

I love unexpected moments in New Orleans. The best thing about these moments is that they happen so often. New Orleans is often called "the biggest small town on earth." You just never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to see or hear, and that's exactly what happened on a recent balmy July night.

New Orleans street performer 'Grandpa' Elliott Small winning new fans
Street singer and blues harmonica player "Grandpa" Elliott Small is a familiar sight to any New Orleanian who has strolled the Royal Street pedestrian mall. In his red T-shirt, blue overalls and bushy white beard, the blind musician has anchored the corner of Royal and Toulouse for more than a decade -- sometimes solo, sometimes with a friend on keyboard or guitar. In the Quarter, he's an institution.

Michael P. Smith exhibit in New Orleans

The Historic New Orleans Collection ( offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of New Orleans’ music, culture and folkways, with its current exhibit, “In the Spirit: The Photography of Michael P. Smith”. A New Orleans native and award-winning photographer, Smith (1937 – 2008) captured the essence of New Orleans with every photo. He documented Jazz funerals, Mardi Gras traditions, and many of the Crescent City’s music legends, including Allen Toussaint and Mahalia Jackson.
The exhibit, which kicked off in March and finishes in September, is the inaugural public presentation of the Michael P. Smith Archive from The Historic New Orleans Collection. A second part of the HNOC exhibit, presented at the Contemporary Arts Center 900 Camp St ( “Twenty-Five Jazz Fests”, recently wrapped up its run and featured Smith’s famous Jazz Fest photography.

Mother-In-Law Lounge Needs Your Help

Mother-In-Law Lounge, courtesy of

Betty Fox has moved to New Orleans from Memphis to take over the ownership and operation of the legendary Mother-In-Law Lounge along with her fiancé, Carlos. The nightclub was originally her mother's labor of love, dedicated to the "Emperor of the Universe" Ernie K-Doe, whose most enduring R&B hit was "Mother In Law".

Although the club wasn't publicly open in the months after Antoinette K-Doe's passing (Mardi Gras day, 2009), Betty worked hard to get everything in order so she could carry on her parents' legacy and keep the club's doors open.

Honey Island Swamp Band steps up with new "Wishing Well"

In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, Aaron Wilkinson and Chris Mule found themselves stranded in San Francisco with the rest of soul-blues guitarist Eric Lindell's band.

In need of additional work, they resolved to pool their respective songs and create a new band. At the Boom Boom Room, a home-away-from-home for Louisiana musicians, they encountered fellow New Orleanians Sam Price, a bassist, and Garland Paul, a drummer.

With that, the Honey Island Swamp Band was born.

Tuned in: Music aficionados see possibilities for city to build on jazz industry brand

Irvin Mayfield doesn’t see his role as cultural ambassador as just promoting New Orleans’ music, food, culture and architecture. His job, he believes, is to use those facets to strengthen the area’s economy.

Mayfield envisions New Orleans jazz as a thriving business as well as a brand the city can build. He believes the industry has not reached its capacity.

To do that, New Orleans needs to cast itself in a positive light to counter the negative attention it receives outside the city. Mayfield says jazz is the vehicle.

Yeah, You Right: Joe Krown

Joe Krown

This week's guest is pianist/Hammond B-3 organist Joe Krown. Chances are, if you've seen live music in New Orleans, you've seen Joe. Whether it's one of his trio gigs with Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, his Organ Combo, or his weekly solo piano shows at Le Bon Temps Roulé (with free oysters!), you know you're getting some of the funkiest keys in New Orleans.

Joe rose to fame in the band of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, where he held down the piano chair for over a dozen years until Brown's passing in 2005. He's shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Ike Turner, Jimmy McGriff, Melvin Sparks, Dr. John, and George Porter, Jr., and that's just scratching the surface. He's also been a headliner at every Jazz Fest for the past 12 years.

Here's what Joe had to say in between criss-crossing town on his perpetual gigging tour of the Crescent City.

Q: Crystal or Louisiana Hot Sauce?
A: Crystal.

Q: Zapp’s or Tater Tots?
A: Zapp's.

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