Sunday, September 28, 2008

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Home of the Groove's "Movers and Shakers With The Big "Q" Facto"

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:

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

Photographer, jazz archivist Michael P. Smith dies at 71

by John Pope, The Times-Picayune

Michael P. Smith, a photographer who spent three decades capturing vivid, vibrant images at jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indian ceremonies and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, died Friday at his New Orleans home of two diseases that destroyed his nervous system. He was 71.

A man of boundless energy who devoted himself to the culture he chronicled, Mr. Smith seemed to be everywhere at whatever event he was shooting. Fellow photographers joked that every good Jazzfest picture they took included the back of Mr. Smith's head.

Mr. Smith's subjects included Mahalia Jackson, Irma Thomas, James Booker, Harry Connick Jr., Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, as well as anonymous mourners, strutters and Indians whom Mr. Smith always managed to capture caught up in the moment.

"I don't think there's another photographer who has more sensitively documented very significant aspects of the second half of 20th century New Orleans culture," said Steven Maklansky, a former curator of photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Mr. Smith started concentrating on this kind of photography at a 1969 jazz funeral and kept at it, covering every Jazzfest through 2003. Though he showed up at subsequent festivals, silently cradling his camera, the degeneration of his nervous system had put an end to his career.

He built up a trove of more than 500,000 negatives, many of which remain unprocessed because he couldn't afford to have them developed, said Michael Sartisky, president and executive director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

"He did something that no other photographer had done: He captured the cultural landscape of the streets and did so with a vision of passion and beauty," said Jason Berry, who has written extensively about indigenous music.

This world provided a sharp contrast to the genteel environment in which he had grown up. A child of Metairie who was a star athlete, he was the son of a member of the Rex organization and the Boston Club, and he graduated from Metairie Park Country Day School and Tulane University.

Everything changed, he said in a 1995 interview, when he went to work as Tulane's jazz archive's staff photographer in the 1960s. He heard hours and hours of the music that had been created in New Orleans' bars and brothels, and he was hooked.

"He paid attention when many locals took that culture for granted or ignored it," said Bruce Raeburn, the archive's curator.

Around that time, Mr. Smith met Matthew Herron, a photographer with the Black Star agency living in New Orleans, and became his assistant.

With Paul Barbarin's funeral in 1969, Mr. Smith began his photographic exploration, abandoning the realm of his youth.

"I have friends in that privileged world, but haven't had much interest in the society I grew up in since discovering the folk community of New Orleans, a side of town I had never known that struck me as the real heart of the city," Mr. Smith said in the interview.

He summed up his philosophy in three words: "Follow the music."

He was a founder of Tipitina's, the Uptown music club that has become famous worldwide. Mr. Smith's pictures have been collected in five books, and in magazine articles.

To supplement his income, Mr. Smith regularly took commercial jobs, such as shooting pictures for annual reports.

Mr. Smith's work has been shown in galleries, embassies and museums and at jazz festivals, and it is part of the permanent collections of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Louisiana State Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

In March 2007, the Historic New Orleans Collection bought Mr. Smith's archives, which contain more than 2,000 rolls of black-and-white film, tens of thousands of color slides and about 200 audiotapes. Collection spokeswoman Mary Mees declined to disclose the price.

"Michael P. Smith has defined the visual appearance of contemporary homegrown New Orleans music for people around the world," said John Lawrence, the collection's director of museum programs.

Mr. Smith's work is important, Lawrence said, because "it serves to document not just the musicians and their music, but the environment, social structures and neighborhoods that both create and sustain the musical traditions."

Mr. Smith received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Mayor's Arts Award, the Clarence John Laughlin Lifetime Achievement Award from the local chapter of the American Society of Magazine Photographers and the Artist Recognition Award from the New Orleans Museum of Art's Delgado Society.

Survivors include a companion, Karen Louise Snyder; two daughters, Jan Lamberton Smith of Quail Springs, Calif., and Leslie Blackshear Smith of New Orleans; a brother, Joseph Byrd Hatchitt Smith of Port Angeles, Wash.; and two grandchildren.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Upcoming: Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes @ Sullivan Hall (Tonight!)


Saturday September 27th
Opener Starts @ 7:30pm | $10adv - $12dos

Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes

Formed in 2001, the legend of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes is a noble tale of friends, funk and fortitude. It is the coagulation of classically trained musicians breaking the confines of the genre in a most likely musical haven; New Orleans. Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes has been known to boldly impress their audiences with more than music, which sometimes involves the removal of clothes, bizarre costumes and the coercion of certain audience members to partake in odd antics. The band is a collection of carefully crafted alter egos, mystical musicians hesitant to share their personal selves but collectively ready to funk beyond the call of duty. Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes is a collective, an ensemble, a six person phone booth in which mild mannered classical guy Clark Kent goes in and Johnny The Wild Superman comes out. And come to think of it, that also involves costumes and the dumping of garments.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NolaFunk News Briefs (c/o Offbeat Magazine)


Cherise Harrison-Nelson reports that Big Chief Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias and Chief Joe Prieur of the Red, White and Blue are in the hospital at Touro Infirmary. Prieur suffered a heart attack last week, and Dollis has been in poor health for the last few years. He's scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday. Dollis can't have visitors at this time, but cards, prayers and well wishes are appreciated.


Earlier this week, Kermit Ruffins re-signed with Basin Street Records, agreeing to a three-album deal. The first will be out this spring. "Kermit Ruffins was our first artist signed in October 1997, the first to record in November 1997 and the first CD release in February 1998," Basin Street owner Mark Samuels says. "It also marks the first new contract for Basin Street since October of 2003."

. Basin Street president Mark Samuels, left, and Kermit Ruffins sign contracts keeping the trumpeter on the label for at least three more albums.

Read the full article HERE.


Dr. Ike of the Ponderosa Stomp is selling records from his personal collection on eBay to raise money for the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation. He's putting new records up daily, so keep checking the auctions.

Upcoming: Grayson Capps @ Banjo Jim's - Friday 9/26

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In Pictures: Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Blind Boys of Alabama @ BB King's

Photos by Dino Perrucci

Preservation Hall Jazz Band - BB King's, NYC 9/23/08

Clint Maedgen - BB King's, NYC 9/23/08

Blind Boys of Alabama & Preservation Hall Jazz Band - BB King's, NYC 9/23/08

Blind Boys of Alabama & Preservation Hall Jazz Band - BB King's, NYC 9/23/08

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Upcoming: Moodoo @ BB King's

9/26 MOODOO @ BB King's



+ Featuring

By Dino Perrucci Photography

PBS w/Page McConnell - BB King's, NYC 9/26/08

Russell Batiste - BB King's, NYC 9/26/08

PBS w/Page McConnell - BB King's, NYC 9/26/08

Page McConnell - BB King's, NYC 9/26/08

Monday, September 22, 2008

NolaFunk Lagniappe

The Radiators: Serving Up 30 Years of Tasty Tunes

The Radiators became a vital part of the revival of the New Orleans music scene that saw the development of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the birth of the city’s premier music club Tipitina’s. The band has played with many legends of the New Orleans music scene. They’ve performed with the likes of Professor Longhair, Jessie Hill and Ernie K-Doe, as well as being Earl King’s regular back-up band for many years.

The Radiators on Conan - Smokin' Hole

Always a favorite party band of college students throughout the eighties, The Rads toured at length all over the U.S., often playing 4 night stands at New York City’s famed The Lone Star Cafe… Signed by Epic Records in 1987, they released 3 studio albums, which received extensive radio play. Their live shows are noted for their soulful and enthused improvisations. Guest musicians such as Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Bob Weir, George Porter, Jr. and Maceo Parker have been known to have sit in on occasion. Volker and Malone split vocal and writing responsibilities, with the bulk of the tunes written by Volker.

The Meters

Musical Stew Daily's: The Meters — Tour Of The Americas (1975)

This show catches The Meters white hot as they are opening up for The Rolling Stones on their 1975 Tour Of The Americas. I don’t have the specific date or location on this show, so any help would be appreciated. Enjoy!

Home of the Groove's "Movers and Shakers With The Big "Q" Factor"

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.

Professor Longhair

Second Line Social blogs about New Orleans R&B...

Relix Band on the Verge: Big Sam's Funky Nation

otvsept083BIG BAND FUNK

Big Sam Williams has backed Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, appeared on VH1’s Soul Cities and jammed with everyone from Chris Robinson to actor Anthony Anderson. But hanging with celebrities hasn’t softened the trombonist’s big band, Big Sam’s Funky Nation. “I think Peace Love and Understanding is a little harder-edged,” Williams says of his most recent release. “Our first album was more jazz-oriented and the second album has more of a funk vibe. But with this album, we get down to some funky rock in line with the sound we have been playing live.” Williams, who cut his teeth in The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, originally envisioned the Funky Nation as a side project, but eventually made the difficult decision to pursue his band full-time. “Those guys in the Dozen are my role models, but Funky Nation could never do a gig like ACL if I was still on the road 300 days a year.” His gamble paid off: Not only has Big Sam’s Funky Nation scored spots at festivals like Bonnaroo and Voodoo, but they’ve made a splash on the Hollywood circuit. “Anthony Anderson didn’t want to get off the stage [laughter]. We finished at like two in the morning and he was still up there on the piano.”

Bingo! Parlour Profile #6: ZYDEPUNKS

Innovators, rebels, and survivors. Despite the turbulent times in Louisiana's recent history, the Zydepunks have grown from their New Orleans home to be a regional and international phenomenon. Yiddish riddles, Irish ballads, Cajun punk, and vocals in six languages are a small demonstration of why they astound new audiences. Wild folk dances fronted by accordion and fiddle and backed by relentless drums and bass are a testament to the high-energy folk-punk dance craze that is a Zydepunks show. The Zydepunks' new release FINISTERRE is the culmination of years of musical experience and the honing of their unique folk/punk sound. Massachusetts label Nine Mile Records (NMR) is releasing this highly anticipated album nationally ­on October 21, 2008. With FINISTERRE, the Zydepunks are releasing an album featuring original material that draws from their various folk influences and punk rock roots. Slavic rhythms, French melodies, songs in three languages (Spanish, English, French) and punk rock beats combine with often dark lyrics reflecting their experiences from the last few years, while tracks written by drummer Joseph Lilly break the folk boundaries and push the band into an entirely new sound.

Twilightzone's post on "SATURDAY NIGHT FISH FRY" - New Orleans Funk And Soul

"SATURDAY NIGHT FISH FRY" - New Orleans Funk And Soul VA

In brief:

On his new CD, Lafayette slide guitarist Sonny Landreth gets a little help from Clapton, Knopfler, Buffett and Gill

DJ Soul Sister's positive spin carries over from the Essence Festival to her birthday celebration

'Festival New Orleans' brings sounds of Louisiana to London