Sunday, September 27, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

A History of New Orleans Music in 100 Tracks

Part Two: The Modern Era (1956 to Today)

Billy's best bets for finding New Orleans music

To get us started, here’s five things I think you need to know about New Orleans music.

1. Don't judge a book by its cover. That means you should explore all of the genres of music our city has to offer. You also have to realize that New Orleans artists don’t just perform music, they entertain. You might be surprised at what you discover when you hear a band live as compared to a studio recording.

2. If you are heading out to the live music clubs, "axe" a local. They know where to go. A few suggestions of mine, Maple Leaf, Donna's, Tipitina's, Vaughn's on Thursday, and of course The Sandpiper Lounge.

3. Skip Bourbon Street if you are looking for a great music showcase. No offense to all the players that work down there, but the priorities of bar owners on that street are to sell alcohol first. The musical talent in most instances is an afterthought to the economic needs.

4. The early bird does NOT catch the worm in New Orleans. Unless you are going to a show at the House of Blues or the Arena, don't arrive at 9 p.m. and expect the band to start, or even be in the club yet. New Orleans gigs are traditionally late starting and much later in ending.

5. New Orleans music is a family affair. If you like Art and Aaron, you are probably gonna dig Ian and Ivan. If you like Ellis, you’re gonna dig Delfayo.

HT Interview: Mark Mullins of Bonerama

If you’re a Northeast-based fan of the gobsmackingly excellent Bonerama and its brass-based approach to funk, rock & R&B, October’s your month.


If you had told me 11 years ago when we were first onstage at Tipitina’s in the french quarter that we’d be doing this as Bonerama now, I would have thought you were crazy. I never would have imagined it as what it is now, as far as either the lineup goes or the support from the fans. It’s not only a good bunch of guys but we’re able to connect with the crowd the way we’d never experienced with other bands. It’s something a little bit different. It might seem strange with all the trombones but the bones are our voice.

In New Orleans, there’s music all the time - no shortage of influences or paths - so change has also been part of Bonerama since day one. I think it was our destiny not to be a band like the Radiators - I love playing with them and those guys are my heroes and they’ve had the same lineup for all that time, which is something that’s just unheard of. Us, it was never going to be that way. I’m really happy where it is now.

And the bands play on in New Orleans

Uncle Lionel swims to safety in Katrina's floodwaters

Born on February 1, 1931, Living Legend of Jazz "Uncle " Lionel Batiste has been dancing his way through the French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods of New Orleans for almost eight decades now. Always dapper and dressed to the nines, he shows up at other bands' gigs and innocently steals the show with his dancing, charming the ladies in the audience in the process.

Living Jazz Legend Uncle Lionel Batiste

When on stage with his Treme Brass Band, Uncle Lionel's smooth voice takes one by surprise as does his dancing - his strength and agility enable him to squat and hold poses that are impossible for others that are decades younger. Uncle Lionel's moves consist of one part "vogueing" ala 1990's Madonna , two parts tap dancing, with a heavy dose of improvisation.

From funky origins: Porter Batiste Stoltz delights in uprooting a time-honored New Orleans musical tradition.

There’s no escaping the foundation.

With all of its members born and bred in the Crescent City, the trio of Porter Batiste Stoltz will always be rooted in New Orleans’ rich funk tradition.

But since forming as an outgrowth of the Funky Meters some seven years ago, these celebrated former sidemen have been burning up stages with their sweaty, incendiary grooves and wildly eclectic rhythms, proving that there is more to their palette than their renowned pedigree.

David Torkanowsky - Steppin' Out (1988)

By KingCake

New Orleans – It’s said that “the music bubbles up from the cracks in the sidewalks”

In the creation stories of traditional people, anthropologists have a term that describes the center of the proverbial universe. The “axis mundi” is where all life sprang from; where the sacred and the profane meet; the point at which heaven touches earth. In the history of American music, the axis mundi must be the Crescent City….

This will be my first of many posts on the music of Louisiana and New Orleans because it’s too damn vast!! I mean c’mon!! Jazz, blues, cajun, zydeco, soul, hip-hop, mountain/ bluegrass, swamp rock, funk, jam, folk, singer-songwriter, and let’s not forget about brass bands and the Mardi Gras Indians! The culture and music of Louisiana deserves a blog of its own (and I’m sure there are many) but for now, I’m just going to try convey my utter awe of this musical mecca and talk about a few of my faves and then come back to it later.

Panorama Jazz Band

But while the Spotted Cat is gone, the Panorama Jazz Band lives on. They now have 14 years of experience and three CDs under their belt, and the latest album, Come Out Swingin', shows them sounding better than ever. The "rhythm section," which is perhaps an arbitrary distinction in a New Orleans band, consists of banjo, accordion, tuba, and drums, and they make the jazz tunes and odd klezmer rhythms sound equally natural. Schenck is partnered in the "front line" (again, a somewhat meaningless division), by trombone and, for the last couple of years, by the fiery alto sax of Aurora Nealand.

After Katrina, musically rich Treme is shrinking

In the Treme of the past, children's play often involved imitating their elders and making the magic of music. As the children grew older, they were given instruments and training by the adults in Treme. With the loss of so many of the grass roots music makers in New Orleans, one can only wonder how this loss will impact the music of New Orleans.

Juanita Brooks RIP

By funky16corners on soul


Brooks came from a musical family, and was still a teenager when she recorded with the mighty Bo. She went on to become a performer on the musical theater stage, in New Orleans and off Broadway. She also spent time as a backing vocalist, and performing live in New Orleans.

Listen to selected tracks HERE.

Read the Times-Pic obituary HERE and the Lousiana Weekly version HERE.

Dr John's Gumbo & In the Right Place

Well, ....they don't publish these albums quite this way anymore and I wanted me a little Funk to go with the fun. You certainly can and should go buy both of these albums in their current issues if by some chance you do not already own them. This pair-up disc came from MFSL folks 15 or more years ago - it came on a 24 carat gold plated disc and they used the original masters to make it. If the choice had been mine I would have paired 'In the Right Place' with 'Desitively Bonaroo' and published 'Dr. John's Gumbo' with 'Sun, Moon, and Herbs' but they went for the two best sellers. Gumbo was made with the old guard of New Orleans r & b; Lee Allen, Harold Batiste, Melvin Lastie, Alvin 'Shine' Robinson and more. No question this is a classic.

Spark Still Burns for Iguanas -- Katrina, Music-Biz Ills Haven't Slowed Veteran New Orleans Band

Since returning, Coman has watched as the city has tried to rebuild itself - slowly, but surely.

"Initially, right after it happened, I thought it'd be like 20 years before things were back to normal," he says. "And I'm still of that mind-set. It could go faster. But New Orleans moves at a different pace; it's much more glacial here than anywhere else."

For a city so closely identified with music, the New Orleans live scene has struggled, with the recovery problems compounded by a sagging national economy and slowed tourism. But Coman notes that the value people place on live music is different now as well.

'Instruments Have Come' to a brassy blowout at Tipitina's

nstruments A Comin' is one of the Tipitina's Foundation's four main initiatives, along with the Tipitina's Internship Program, which teaches professionalism, production and performance; a weekly Sunday afternoon student workshop at Tipitina's; and a statewide system of musician co-op offices, including a Lafayette co-op that opened in January.

"Bring 'Em to the Dome" New Orleans Saints Anthem | by Shamarr Allen & Dee-1

Sunpie Barnes' Katrina nightmare

Zydeco and Afro-Louisiana legend Sunpie Barnes

Sunpie can sing, compose, and play the piano accordion and harmonica with equal skill and grace. In his Arkansas delta hometown, his earliest memories are sitting in his father's lap while his father played music, according to Sunpie "it was magic". Most of his family were musicians as were many in his community. Charley Pride would teach Sunpie music in exchange for the then young man mowing the great country singer's lawn.

Freret Street to Become the New Frenchmen

Panorama Brass Band

Panorama Brass Band

I have been predicting it ever since the City Council authorized the zoning overlay permitting new alcoholic beverage outlets between Jefferson and Napoleon Avenues. Now it appears we are one step closer to redeveloping the area with new businesses catering to the night life. First it was Cure, an upscale cocktail establishment. Now the Box Office, located at 5037 Freret St. near the corner of Soniat St, is presenting live music.

Tony Dagradi - Dreams of Love 1987

This is one of the Astral Project before Astral Project records but at least on this one the name Astral Project is introduced in reference to the rest of the band. Got that? I think that this is also the first recording that includes Steve Masakowski, so in a sense this one too makes a case for being the first Astral Project album. The telepathic rapport that makes AP such a delight was clearly there from the start. The album still features Tony a bit more than the others but plenty of space is given to all. The folks at Rounder did a particularly good job recording Singleton and Vidacovich and keeping them forward in the mix thus giving you a more accurate picture of the band's live sound.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Dr. John: Iko Iko


Sugar Boy and the Cane Cutters recorded this song in the early 1950s, with Professor Longhair holding down the piano chair. But Dr. John staked his own claim to ownership of "Iko Iko" at the Van Nuys session for his 1972 release Dr. John's Gumbo, where he delivered a modern-day classic of New Orleans music. The good doctor brings out all of the contradictions submerged in this style of performance. "Iko Iko" is loose and tight at the same time, on the beat and off, hot and cool—and, most important of all, has "Party" written all over it with a capital P. But before you get out on the dance floor, check out the ingredients here—in particular the drum part, which demonstrates how an old-school march beat can morph into a tasty funk groove. You don't really need to know what "Iko Iko" means to enjoy it, but a grad student could spend a month deciphering the Creole patois and the song's various significations. The tune was originally recorded under the name "Jock-A-Mo"— which means jester. A "spy dog" is a lookout. Marraine is a godmother, etc. But even the composer claims he was just imitating phrases he had picked up from Mardi Gras Indians, and didn't really know what they meant. He thought it was some sort of victory chant. Works for me. Next time you come up on the winning side—in the office football pool, with pocket aces in a hand of Texas hold 'em, with a lottery ticket from the convenience store—try it out: Jockomo feena nay.

Yeah, You Right: Kirk Joseph
This week's guest is sousaphonist extraordinaire and Dirty Dozen Brass Band co-founder Kirk Joseph. The 7th Ward native helped establish the modern brass band sound in New Orleans and pushed the boundaries of playing big brass. His band, Backyard Groove, plays all over town at clubs like Le Bon Temps Roulé and d.b.a.

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

Q: Zapp’s or Tater Tots?
A: With a meal, Tater Tots. But for a snack, gimme Zapp's.

It took a lot of effort for trumpeters Jeremy Davenport and Kermit Ruffins to make 'Mr. New Orleans' sound so effortless

Jazz trumpeter and vocalist Jeremy Davenport recently released "We'll Dance 'Til Dawn," his first studio album in more than a decade, on Basin Street Records. Reviews have praised the album's seemingly effortless grace and polished sense of style.

But the behind-the-scenes story of its creation is not as tidy.

Video: Jeremy Davenport and Kermit Ruffins record a song

Dave Bartholomew: My Ding-a-Ling

Dave Bartholomew ranks among the most important individuals in the history of New Orleans music, but his name never became widely known among the general public, and most of his influence was exerted behind the scenes. He was a songwriter, talent scout, arranger and general man-about-town, whose greatest successes came via his partnership with Fats Domino, which resulted in some 40 hit songs. Yet Bartholomew also recorded his own material, as he demonstrates on this 1952 track. "My Ding-a-Ling" became a huge hit, but for another rock legend—Chuck Berry, in this instance, who brought it to the top of the charts in 1972. In fact, this was the only number one hit in Berry's career. Bartholomew might have grumbled that he deserved the big success, but he would only be foolin' himself. In 1972, many deejays refused to play Berry's version because of its thinly-disguised double meaning, and there are still lots of oldies stations that won't touch it even today. And Berry (unlike Bartholomew) added the explanation that he was simply singing about "silver bells upon a string"—a clarification that did little to stop the calls for censorship. So Bartholomew could hardly have had high expectations back in '52, when it was little short of a miracle that this tune was even recorded.

Grayson Capps and the Stumpknockers - 8.9.09 - Live at the World Cafe

NOMRF ReDefines 8/29 on the 4th Katrina Anniversary

It's almost impossible to think about the city of New Orleans without its trademark and historical music community. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Inc. has provided housing, furniture, transportation, instruments and anything else it can to assist those still struggling to rebuild their lives post Katrina. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Inc., a grass roots certified 501c(3) non-profit was founded in Internet cafes and FEMA rooms by musician Jeff Beninato and his wife Karen and is supported by volunteer graphic designers, publicists, video producers and friends of New Orleans music including Wilco, REM, Dr John and Ian Hunter.

Jango Song Of The Day-Robert Parker

The 1966 top ten hit Barefootin' was New Orleans R & B singer Robert Parker's only chart hit. So thechnically he's a one hit wonder but he's been a fixture in the New Orleans music scene since the late 40s and was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame in 2007. He was born Oct. 14, 1930 in New Orleans. He started out as a sax player for Professor Longhair and played on his 1949 hit Mardi Gras In New Orleans. He played sessions in the 50s with Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas and many others. He signed as a solo act with Ace Records in 1958. In 1959, he had some regional success with the instrumental All Night Long on Ron Records. But Parker's big break came when he signed with Wardell Quezerque's Nola label in 1965. Barefootin' was the first single and it reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. Parker recorded some more singles and an album but was unable to repeat the success of Barefootin'. All his recordings with Nola are on this comp. Parker was actually more popular in England and toured there in the late 60s. He recorded for Shelby Singleton's SSS International in 1969 but other than a rerecording of Barefootin' in 1984 for the Charly label, he hasn't recorded in years though he continues to perform regularly in New Orleans clubs. Robert Parker was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame in 2007 and here's his performance of Barefootin' at his induction ceremony.

Allen Toussaint rides new wave of inspiration

Live Music Dominates New Orleans Nightlife

Live NolaFunk NYC Download:

Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk from Celebrate Brooklyn @ Prospect
Park 7/30/09

Upcoming: the subdudes @ BB King's / Sept. 24


The Subdudes are back and are about to make their 429 Records debut with a their first new recording in five years, Flower Petals. From their charmed beginning as the Tipitina's bar band in 1987, the group has built upon the instant musical chemistry they encountered all those years back and remained a much loved musical entity despite a roller coaster ride of fortunes both good and bad.

Purchase 1/2 Price Tickets HERE

Big Sam webcast on WWOZ today.

About Big Sam's Funky Nation

(Eastern Time)
tune in to WWOZ 90.7 fm!
Big Sam's Funky Nation
will be ON AIR with George Ingmire
on the New Orleans Music Show.
You don't need to be in NOLA to hear it! Tune in online @

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

New Orleans is #1 music city

The world's largest association of professional travel journalists has voted New Orleans the best city in North America for live music.

The choice was made by some 1,200 members of the Society of American Travel Writers.

"These aren't music critics, these are travel writers. So they're talking about where music is part of the experience of travel, where music just is everywhere and it's everything that you experience and it's an important part of the travel experience in that travel destination," says Rich Grant, the group's publicity chairman.

"Music is such a part of travel. Travel should involve all five senses," he says.

Health clinic keeps New Orleans music alive

Eleven years ago, Bethany and her husband, Johann Bultman, decided the best way to keep the music alive was to keep the musicians healthy. "The reason we chose to target musicians in New Orleans is because they represent a pure American cultural form, jazz music," said Johann. "Nothing else in America has its roots and origins here in such a pure, world-renowned, world-sought-after format and we didn't want to see the music die on our watch."

And so was born the non-profit New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, which provides free or low-cost medical care to the many musical artists here who attract loyal fans from around the globe, but who, in most cases, earn such meager wages that they can't even afford basic health care, let alone expensive medical insurance.

NPR: Louis Armstrong, The 'Decca Sessions'

Listen to the Story

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new seven-disc set that chronicles the trumpeter's big band performances. Mosaic restored and remastered each of the 166 tracks from Decca Records' original recordings.

Baby Dodds New Orleans Drumming video 1960s

Watch the video HERE.

RIP Juanita Brooks

Juanita Brooks, one of the bolder and brassier voices to arise out of the New Orleans music scene, died Thursday morning. She is the sister of musicians Mark and Detroit Brooks.

New Orleans music fans putting money where their ears are

Now in her 30s, Ingrid Lucia has released five albums that have been financed via almost every angle of the music business -- from street-corner busking to the structured support of a record label.

Over the years, the perennial Jazz Fest favorite has built up an extensive fan base. And it was to those fans that Lucia turned when she needed to raise money to record her latest album: "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," which was released in May.

Ernie 'K-Doe' Kador: Emperor's clothes up for sale

Hundreds of glittery, gemstone-studded suits belonging to the late New Orleans rhythm and blues musician Ernie "K-Doe" Kador and his wife Antoinette are going up for sale.

Hundreds of suits in a rainbow of colors accented with braids and sequins will be sold starting Saturday.

The couple's daughter, Betty Fox, says the suits, Antoinette's gowns, and "Ernie K-Doe For Mayor" T-shirts are reasonably priced for fans of the colorful New Orleans personality.

Ernie K-Doe had proclaimed himself "The Emperor of the Universe" and wore outlandish capes and suits in the years before he died in 2001.

His wife Antoinette, who died Feb. 24 on Mardi Gras day, launched the famous Mother-in-Law Lounge in 1996. It was heavily damaged by hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Threadhead Records Holiday CD

Threadhead Records, the first fan-funded, volunteer-run record company to focus entirely on the music and culture of New Orleans, is in the process of putting together our very own Holiday CD. Due out in November, the CD will be produced by Paul Sanchez and will feature a number of our multi-talented artists including John Boutté, Shamarr Allen, Susan Cowsill & Russ Broussard, Matt Perrine & Debbie Davis, Craig Klein, Alex McMurray, Glen David Andrews, Mary Lasseigne, Margie Perez, Ingrid Lucia and Paul Sanchez performing both original and standard songs of the season.

Tom McDermott - Live in Paris 2006

By KingCake

Tom has quietly become one of the modern guys in New Orleans who carries on our tradition of producing some of the world's great piano monsters. He is also great friends with Harry Shearer (yeah THAT Harry Shearer) who wrote the back cover notes to this album. I'm feeling a bit inadequate as a writer compared to Harry so I'll quote his notes: "Listening to Tom McDermott play the piano makes me feel like a dog looking at a human--I see a black and white world, he sees colors. The black and white 88 become a swirl of chromatic, melodic and rhythmic shades, all of which seem like Tom's home town, so at ease is he with of the odd good things that came of the 2005 disaster in New Orleans is that he, along with some of my other favorite Crescent City musicians, got invited to Paris-- to escape The Thing for a few weeks and to connect with folks who appreciate and understand.....some select souls heard Tom as if in their living rooms--roaming the pianistic landscape of centuries and cities of composers and styles . On that evening, and on this disc, Tom is in fine form, the left hand jackhammer-propulsive, the right hand playful, the combined effect orchestral in its scale but always pianistic in it's do like the Parisians did: sit back, sip some wine, you're in great hands." Harry Shearer (excerpted from the liner notes)