Thursday, June 28, 2012

NPR: In New Orleans, A Buffet Of Great Music

Glen David Andrews, the New Orleans trombonist and singer and regular on HBO's Treme, surfs the crowd at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Enlarge Douglas Mason
  Glen David Andrews, the New Orleans trombonist and singer and regular on HBO's Treme, surfs the crowd at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Gluttony. Yeah, it's a sin. And I don't have the professional excuse for enthusiastic food consumption that I do for constant musical intake. But it doesn't take much for a social media addict like myself to convince herself that indulging in can be a public service. Since my Chowhound-devoted husband and I arrived in New Orleans two and a half weeks ago, I've been regaling (the hungry say torturing) my Facebook friends with pictorial documentation of our gustatory journeys as we move — like those fish who never close their mouths — through this irresistibly tasty city.

The Gluttony Series in my Mobile Uploads folder features my shaky iPhone snaps of the duck confit Po'Boy from Crabby Jack's; the oysters, broiled and on the half shell, at Borgne; Cochon Butcher's amazing house-cured meats; the famous Godzilla crab at Jacques-Imo's, a crème brulee to die for at Herbsaint; and my personal favorite, the squid and Pimenton sausage sandwich at Maurepas. (Okay, I'll stop! I'm making myself jealous now.) We've spent our daughter's college fund contributing to the local restaurant economy, but at least I can fool myself into thinking I've given friends a useful guide for their next trip down the Mississippi.

As I dug into the shrimp and cabbage salad at Pho Tau Bay yesterday, however, I realized that my cuisine quest was even threatening to overshadow the amazing musical immersion NOLA has also granted me. I'm a glutton for sound, too, and dancing, and the convivial crush of bodies in a crowded club. I need to share these indulgences too. So here's the Gluttony Series, Part Two: a selective playlist of some of the best sounds I sampled in the city where everything's worth a listen.
  Thanks to all the YouTube pioneers who recorded other version of what I saw and heard.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This Friday: Trombone Shorty @ Celebrate Brooklyn

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Trombone Shorty


CELEBRATE BROOKLYN! @ Prospect Park Bandshell
June 29, 2012
7:30 PM

Doors open at 6:30pm.


Troy “TROMBONE SHORTY” Andrews, "New Orleans' brightest new star in a generation," (SF Chronicle) and his untouchable band whip up "a near-deafening, funk-charged blast of percussion, brass, reeds and guitar distortion” (Washington Post) that unites the Crescent City’s past and future. Andrews hails from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans’ 6th Ward, and he got his nickname at four years old when his older brother James saw him marching in a street parade wielding a trombone twice as long as the kid was high. Andrews started early, learning how to play drums and what he remembers as “the world’s smallest trumpet” at the age of three. By the time he reached six, this prodigy was playing trumpet and trombone in a jazz band led by his older brother James, himself a trumpet player of local renown. His subsequent rise through the ranks of New Orleans players is now the tuff of legend, and his touring a recording history with Orleans Avenue is already distinguished. Since the release of their Grammy-nominated 2010 debut Backatown, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have performed on five continents. Last year’s For True, (Verve Forecast) which features a host of special guests, offers substantive proof of their growth, further refining the signature sound Andrews has dubbed Supafunkrock.

The soulful local favorite DAYNA KURTZ, who released two albums simultaneously this spring, gets things started, and THE BROOKLYN STEPPERS MARCHING BAND swings by for an explosive drum line interlude.

Upcoming: Voice of the Wetlands All Stars return to Highline Ballroom

This Weekend: George Porter Jr. @ Sullivan Hall & Mexicali Live

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Upcoming: Meschiya Lake & Dem Little Big Horns @ Damrosch Park (Lincoln Center

Meschiya Lake & Dem Little Big Horns
Meschiya Lake & Dem Little Big Horns      |   Holly Van Voast aka Lensjockey

Meschiya Lake & Dem Little Big Horns

New Orleans Swing Traditional Jazz

Friday, June 29, 2012
Dance Lesson at 6:30, Live Music at 7:30
Damrosch Park

Friday, June 15, 2012

NPR: The Untold Story Of Singer Bobby Charles

 Singer, songwriter and swamp-pop pioneer Bobby Charles poses for a portrait in 1972.

When he was around 13, Robert Charles Guidry began singing with a band around his hometown of Abbeville, La., deep in the Cajun swamps. The group played Cajun and country music and, after he passed through town and played a show, Fats Domino's music. It was a life-changing experience for the young man, and he found himself with a new ambition: to write a song for Fats.

One night as he left a gig, Charles said to his friends, "See ya later, alligator," and one of them yelled back, "In a while, crocodile." Charles stopped in his tracks. "What did you say?" he asked. The friend repeated it. At that moment, as would happen countless times in the future, the song "See You Later, Alligator" came to him, fully formed.

Fats didn't want the song, and told the young man he didn't want to sing about alligators. Somehow, though, the kid wound up singing the song over the phone to Leonard Chess, whose Chess Records in Chicago was the hottest blues label in town. Chess didn't hesitate: He sent the kid a ticket, and when Charles showed up at his office, Chess said something I can't say on the air. The sentence ended with the word "white" and a question mark, though.

Chess recorded him, though, and put the song out, changing Guidry's name to Bobby Charles; almost immediately, Bill Haley grabbed it for himself. Haley's record was one of the best sellers of 1956, and both Chess and Charles made some decent money from it. They tried follow-ups called "Watch It, Sprocket," which wasn't something people actually said, and "Take It Easy, Greasy," which was, but the record was a little too, well, greasy to be too popular. Charles recorded for Chess until 1958, but his records only sold locally. Along the way, though, he seems to have pioneered a genre called swamp pop.
He also got to realize a dream. One evening, Fats Domino played Abbeville, and Fats invited Charles to a show in New Orleans. The young singer said he had no way to get there. "Well," the fat man said, "you'd better start walking." And sure enough, a song popped into Charles' head: "Walking To New Orleans."

Bobby Charles signed with Imperial, Fats' label, but again, nothing hit. He admitted freely that he was part of the problem. He didn't enjoy touring, and he had a jealous wife who didn't like him leaving town. He continued writing and selling songs, and recorded for some local Louisiana labels. He and his wife parted company, and then, in 1971, he got busted for pot in Nashville. Rather than risk jail, he disappeared; he wound up in upstate New York, and saw the name Woodstock on a map. He'd never even heard of the famous festival, but the name appealed to him.

Arriving in town, he asked a real-estate agent about a place to rent and wound up in a house shared with two other musicians. They introduced him around, and Albert Grossman, who'd managed Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and many others, got interested. The next thing he knew, Charles was back in the studio with members of The Band, Dr. John and lots of other Woodstock musicians. The resulting album has some truly memorable moments.

It didn't sell, though. Charles focused on songwriting, but he wasn't comfortable in Woodstock, and in the end he went back to Abbeville, where he disappeared from public view for an entire decade. He had a good income from his songs, but a run of bad luck: His house burned down, and then his next house blew away in a hurricane. He kept writing songs, and he entertained visitors who came to Abbeville to meet him — people like Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Willie Nelson. His record label, Rice 'N' Gravy, put out several homemade albums, which mixed his old and new songs.
At 70, Bobby Charles was diagnosed with cancer, and he died in January 2010, unknown to most of the world he'd enriched with his songs.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band On World Cafe

This week, World Cafe invites you to discover the music of New Orleans with the series Sense of Place.

World Cafe, with host David Dye, presents a special performance of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, recorded in the birthplace of jazz. It's a special "tuba summit" in two parts, focusing on the tuba players from some New Orleans staples and their connection to the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Ben Jaffe is the current director of the PHJB, and from good New Orleans stock — in fact, his parents founded the Hall. The group itself is world-renowned, playing at Carnegie Hall and for British Royalty in its quest to bring New Orleans jazz to everyone.
Jaffe plays the sousaphone, upright bass and banjo. Phil Frazier, another tuba player, is at the heart of another famous New Orleans jazz group, which he founded while in high school 27 years ago. The Rebirth Brass Band is true to its name, bringing hope to a city that's been through a lot — it played for countless evacuees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Kirk Joseph is the third skilled tuba player in this group, and he helped found Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which has revived much of the brass-band culture in New Orleans today. Joseph is known for his modern tuba style, which incorporates elements of Dixieland jazz and funk.

In this interview, Dye talks with Jaffe about the fascinating history of PHJB and its decades-long history of high-profile touring. Next up, Joseph and Frazier discuss the tuba's evolution in New Orleans music and compare the instrument to the quarterback of a football team — there's only one, and it's a key position. The session is rounded out by a number of jazz pieces, recorded live.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

WWOZ: "On the Road with the Wolfman"

Walter Wolfman Washington. Photo Leon Morris.

                 Listen to Parts1 & 2: HERE

On today’s program, we jump into a car with the one and only Walter Wolfman Washington for an hour of not just music but also a road trip to a local clothing store. Tune in as we drive and talk about music, shoes, and his music mentors.  I also stop by Willie Mae’s Scotch House for a taste of food worthy of a James Beard Award.
Wolfman and I cruised across town and over the Mississippi to Soul Train Fashions on the West Bank of New Orleans on our quest for the perfect shoes. The NOATWL web audience gets a glimpse of that store, as well as a venture into the Soul Train Suit Warehouse back on the east side of the river in Gentilly. We wanted to give you feel for the experience so we invited a few members of Sports & Leisure to come along to try out the suits that we see on dapper gentlemen across the city.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rolling Stone: Born on the Bayou: Exploring Louisiana in 18 Songs

Born on the Bayou: Exploring Louisiana in 18 Songs

Listen to Rolling Stone's playlist of funk, soul, hip-hop and more from the musically rich 18th state

The Lousiana Purchase of 1803 brought nearly a million acres of new land to the United States of America, spreading as far afield as Montana. Working out to about three cents an acre, the purchase continues to pay outrageous dividends, not least in the form of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the state of Louisiana, which became the 18th state of the Union in 1812. The birthplace of jazz, the state has also given us Cajun and zydeco music and its own brands of blues, country, funk and hip hop, and the place can even make a strong case as the original home of rock & roll. Here are 18 songs that have helped define the rapturous music of the 18th state

"Wild Man," Galactic feat. Big Chief Bo Dollis
The past is never far removed in New Orleans. Case in point: this inspired pairing of new-breed funk fanatics Galactic with Big Chief Bo Dollis, who has been helping keep the Mardi Gras Indian tradition alive with the Wild Magnolias since the Sixties.

"Little Liza Jane," Huey "Piano" Smith & His Clowns
After recording for Little Richard, Lloyd Price and others, Huey "Piano" Smith became a bandleader himself, scoring hits including "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu." "Little Liza Jane"  is the Clowns' raucous version of one of the original standards of the New Orleans brass band tradition.

"Mr. Big Stuff," Jean Knight
Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007, New Orleans native Jean Knight is best known for her 1971 Stax single "Mr. Big Stuff," which spent five weeks atop the R&B chart and hit Number Two on the pop chart. Before the song hit, she was baking bread at Loyola University for a living. 

"Diggy Liggy Lo," Doug and Rusty Kershaw
The brothers' biggest hit, "Louisiana Man," was broadcast from the Apollo 12 moon mission. Their second-biggest, "Diggy Liggy Lo," was a direct product of the family's upbringing on a houseboat in Cajun country: the couple in the song "fell in love at the fais do-do."
"Tipitina," Professor Longhair
Yes, the howling, rhumba-rhythm piano-pounder known as ‘Fess wrote the song that gave one of New Orleans' most beloved nightclubs its name. Henry Roeland Byrd was a one-man synthesis of New Orleans music, from Congo Square to Harry Connick, Jr.

"Time Is on My Side," Irma Thomas
Soul queen Irma Thomas has had several notable hits in her career – "It's Raining," "Ruler of My Heart" – but her signature song was, oddly, originally a B-side. Her version of Jerry Ragovoy's "Time Is on My Side" came out less than a year before the Rolling Stones', and it's still Irma's song.

"Shake Your Hips," Slim Harpo
Another Louisiana classic covered by the Stones (as "Hip Shake"), the sly "Shake Your Hips" was written and first recorded by Baton Rouge native Slim Harpo, who maintained his own trucking business until his premature death in 1970. 

"Be My Guest," Fats Domino
The Fat Man was at least as instrumental in establishing rock & roll as Elvis was; with the tugging rhythm of "Be My Guest," he almost singlehandedly invented ska, as a generation of elder Jamaicans will attest.
"Buttercup," Lucinda Williams
Once named "America's Best Songwriter" by Time magazine, Lake Charles' Lucinda Williams is the daughter of the poet Miller Williams. The world-wise "Buttercup" kicked off her most recent album, 2011's Blessed.
"Look-Ka Py Py," Meters
Leo Nocentelli's chicken-scratch guitar on the Meters' classic soul instrumentals practically defined the sound of Southern funk. The band was a complete package of talent, with bassist George Porter Jr. and strummer Zigaboo Modeliste locked in syncopation while leader Art Neville held court on the keys.

"Bon Ton Roulet," Clifton Chenier
The "King of Zydeco," who died in 1987, played the accordion, but he was also credited with designing the frottoir, the percussive washboard worn over the shoulders. Crossing Cajun dance music with R&B, Chenier effectively invented zydeco itself, much as James Brown "invented" funk. "Bon Ton Roulet" is Chenier's 1967 version of the original song by Clarence Garlow, with whom he toured as the "Two Crazy Frenchmen."
"I Walk on Guilded Splinters," Dr. John
Though he moved to Los Angeles to become an in-demand session musician at age 23, Mac Rebennack is New Orleans Third Ward through and through. Before he hit the charts with 1973's "Right Place Wrong Time," before he reintroduced himself with this year's Locked Down (produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach), the Night Tripper epitomized his voodoo-priest vibe on his classic "I Walk on Guilded Splinters."  

"Yellow Moon," Neville Brothers
If the Marsalis family is the first family of New Orleans music, the Nevilles are a very close second. After solo hits like Aaron's "Tell It Like It Is" and group efforts including Art's work with the Meters, the family banded together, recording more than a dozen albums, including the definitive Yellow Moon in 1989 with longtime Crescent City producing fixture Daniel Lanois. 

"Suzie Q," Dale Hawkins
Without Dale Hawkins, the pride of Gold Mine, Louisiana, John Fogerty might never have imagined being "born on the bayou." A creator of the swamp-rock sound, Hawkins' "Susie Q" combined rockabilly, R&B and a little hoodoo for one of rock's most enduring classics.  

"Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," Lee Dorsey
"Everything I do is funky like Lee Dorsey," rapped the Beastie Boys. The late New Orleans soul singer had a Number Seven pop hit (Number One R&B) with 1961's "Ya Ya." Though this protégé of Allen Toussaint never again reached that height, he left behind a string a excellent nuggets, including "Yes We Can," "Working in the Coal Mine" and "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley." 

"Do Whatcha Wanna," Rebirth Brass Band
Now celebrating 30 years together, the aptly named Rebirth Brass Band helped reinvigorate the great New Orleans second line tradition by infusing it with funk. Their 1991 signature song "Do Whatcha Wanna" might as well be a rallying cry for their wonderfully eccentric hometown.    

"A Milli," Lil Wayne
Over the past couple of decades Louisiana has put its own unique stamp on hip hop, from Master P's fiercely independent No Limit label to the second line-style chants of bounce. Lil Wayne's rise to superstardom has been marked by innovative, wickedly risque raps like the one-of-a-kind "A Milli."

"Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," Louis Armstrong
Anyone who's visited and fallen in love with the place knows just what songwriters Eddie DeLange and Louis Alter were getting at when they wrote this perennial local favorite. First sung by Billie Holiday in the 1947 movie New Orleans, the song was a careerlong staple of her co-star, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, one of the greatest ambassadors the state of Louisiana has ever produced.

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