Archive for New Orleans

CD Review: “That’s It” by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by 30daysout

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By George Kovacik

My wife and I get 48 hours a year to be together all by ourselves and we usually spend that time around our anniversary in the great city of New Orleans. Our nightly trek usually starts at the legendary Pat O’Brien’s. We enter off of Bourbon St., walk through the crowd, get a blast of hot air from the big fire pit in the middle, and then make our way to the back and order a hurricane (a drink so powerful you only need one). We then stand around for a few minutes and people watch,  and when we are ready to leave, we walk out the back past the long line of people waiting to get into to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the infamous Preservation Hall.

Preservation Hall was founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe as a way to preserve New Orleans Jazz. The building in the French Quarter was once a tavern in the War of 1812 and to this day has never received a “facelift.” Even though it has no air conditioning or any other modern day luxury, it’s packed every night by people eager to bop along to music played by some of the finest musicians in the Crescent City.

In the band’s illustrious 50-year history, it has never recorded an album of all original material…until now. That’s It, produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket and director Ben Jaffe (son of the Hall’s founders) was recorded in the famed venue and is quite a delight.  Drummer Joe Lastie kicks the album into high gear on the album’s first track “That’s It,”  which also features stellar tuba work by Jaffe and a very creative trumpet solo by Mark Braud. “Dear Lord (Give Me Strength) is pure New Orleans dance music with a great gospel vocal. “Sugar Plum” almost sounds like it could have a rap over it like many of the songs on HBO’s Treme’ soundtrack.  “Rattlin’ Bones” has a Dr. John vibe, “I Think I Love You” and “Come With Me,” both sung by the legendary Charlie Gabriel, are as cool as the other side of the pillow, and the sultry “August Nights” is one of those ballads that would have been cool to here Frank Sinatra belt out with the band.

I will have to admit I am not a jazz connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I really love the stuff that comes out of that little old building at 726 St. Peters. This new album, which comes out on Tuesday, is a fun, spirited collection of originals that will have you dancing and wanting to lift up your shirt for some beads. Okay, maybe that last part is just wishful thinking.

“That’s It” (NPR First Stream of entire album)

The Making of “That’s It”

Fat Tuesday Video Du Jour: Dr. John, Earl King & The Meters

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , on February 12, 2013 by 30daysout

Did you catch Dr. John’s freaky getup during the Black Keys’ appearance at the Grammy Awards? Mac Rebbenack, in his guise as “Dr. John the Night Tripper” has always been one sorta strange cat – his records in the late 1960s were pretty bizarre and when you consider the period, that’s saying a lot.

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Dr. John at the Grammy Awards.

But Dr. John is probably the king of New Orleans piano players (Art Neville notwithstanding) right now. In this video Dr. John, the Meters and Earl King lay down a funky slab of Crescent City, in the form of “Big Chief,” the tune popularized by the former king of New Orleans piano players, Professor Longhair.

Fun fact: Earl King (the dude in the yellow doing the singing) actually wrote “Big Chief.” King is also the composer, of course, of New Orleans standards “Trick Bag” and “Come On,” which he recorded, as well as Lee Dorsey’s “Do-Re-Mi” and Willie Tee’s “Teasin’ You.” King died in 2003, and Professor Longhair died in 1980.

Happy Mardi Gras, ya’ll! Don’t forget: Check out our Mardi Gras playlist from last week.  And, you can tune in to real-time live webcams for a ringside seat to the madness and Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans.  NOLA webcams

Funky New Orleans: The Meters at Mardi Gras

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on January 31, 2013 by 30daysout

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of an item we ran a couple of years ago, reappearing here to help get everyone in that Mardi Gras mood. The links have been updated and the Meters have still not made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Radio used to be magic. When the stars aligned, and the right artist played the right venue and radio was there, it could be just beautiful. Here’s one of those moments: January 1977, at the Showboat Lounge in the Fat City entertainment district of Metairie, which is a suburb of New Orleans. January in New Orleans is carnival season, and WNOE radio in the Crescent City marked the occasion with an hour-long live show by the always incredible Meters.

The band – featuring Art Neville on keyboards and vocals, Zigaboo Modeliste on drums, George Porter Jr. on bass and Leo Nocentelli on guitar (Cyril Neville may or may not have been an official member of the band, and he wasn’t at this gig) – ripped through some of their Mardi Gras anthems and some seriously greasy second-line funk.

In 1977 the Meters were about as big as they were gonna get: they had put out four albums on Warner Bros., they had opened for the Rolling Stones on their big 1975-76 world tour, they played Paul McCartney’s Venus and Mars party on the Queen Mary in 1974 and later in 1977 they were going to appear on “Saturday Night Live.” But here they are, in a small joint doing shout-outs on local radio.  Only in New Orleans, and only in that era.  Unfortunately, later in 1977 the Meters would also break up.

This recording captures one of American music’s great bands, tight as high-tension wire but playing as loose and funky as humanly possible. The recording has amplifier hum as well as that weird FM noise and a really smooth DJ cuts in every once in a while to let you know who dat. There are also a couple of very minor skips and hiccups (toward the end of “Hey Pocky Way”), but nothing can take away from this great music.

As Art Neville says, “It’s Mardi Gras time all the time, as far as we’re concerned.” Cook up some red beans and rice or cue this up in the car … and wonder why these guys aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

MP3: The Meters live at the Showboat Lounge, WNOE-FM, January 1977 (70 minutes)

Song order: “Just Kissed My Baby”/ “Big Chief”/ “Jungle Man”/ “They All Ask’d For You”/ “Hey Pocky Way”/ “People Say”/ “Ain’t No Use”/ “Po Boy Jam” /”Feel Da Groove”

The Original Meters official website

Let’s Get The Meters Into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facebook page

Video Du Jour: Meschiya Lake and Her Little Big Horns

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on February 9, 2011 by 30daysout

The Carnival season has begun in New Orleans, it increases in intensity until it culminates with the big Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday event next month.  To get you in the mood, today we have Meschiya Lake and Her Little Big Horns from the Crescent City.

The multi-tattooed Meschiya may look über-modern but her sound is anything but: she has been highly instrumental in helping preserve the “classic” New Orleans jazz sound.  Check out this clip, filmed in 2009 on Royal Street in the French Quarter, complete with a timely screech of brakes.  Only in New Orleans.

Meschiya Lake official website

Fat Tuesday: All On A Mardi Gras Day

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by 30daysout

Today is Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday – Mardi Gras day.  Today’s the day for partying, especially if you are in New Orleans (although they’ve been partying pretty much continuously since the final seconds of Super Bowl 44 two Sundays ago).

We’ve posted a bunch of New Orleans/Mardi Gras music and it’s still available on our blog, look around and you should find it.  Or you can just go here and find it all.  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, one of the greatest New Orleans combos ever, has a new album with guest appearances by people like Steve Earle, Tom Waits, Richie Havens, Merle Haggard and many more.  You can stream it for free (today only), and buy it, at the Amoeba Records site.

If you are not in a place where there’s a Mardi Gras parade today, don’t despair: the New Orleans Times Picayune offers live, streaming webcams from Bourbon Street and other strategic locations.  Go here and look in the box that says “Mardi Gras resources.”

The only other thing you can do to make your Mardi Gras day authentic (besides wearing beads) is to cook yourself a nice Louisiana-style dinner.  Our good friends at Zatarain’s offer a number of recipes for Red Beans and Rice, which is a great New Orleans dish.  Although I don’t know why they present them as “Red Beans and Rice Party Dip” or “Red Beans and Rice Tacos” – maybe to make them more palatable to people up North.  If that’s the case then don’t forget the sour cream, New Yorkers!

Well.  Have a nice Mardi Gras day.  Be sure to get your ashes tomorrow, honor lent and be nice to your brothers and sisters.  Peace, and lassez les bon temps roulet.

YouTube: Preservation, An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall promo

Who Dat?™ Geaux Saints!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2010 by 30daysout

Oh yeah … all those years when nobody else cared about the Saints, it was “Who Dat? Nation” and “Who Dat?” dis and “Who Dat?” dat.  Now the NFL is claiming “Who Dat” is copyrighted, or it’s a trademark, or something.  Now that the New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl, the NFL is seizing”Who Dat?” – oh wait … “Who Dat?™” – in hopes of feeding its already bloated billion-dollar enterprise.

Who Dat?™ who’s greedy?  The NFL, dat’s Who Dat?™!

In other news, our great friend and awesome photographer Art Meripol sent an e-mail yesterday: he’s on assignment in New Orleans shooting jazz clubs from about now until the middle of next week.  The Super Bowl’s on Sunday, Mardi Gras hits its fever pitch next week (or Sunday if the Saints win), and our buddy’s in the middle of it all.  Nice work if you can get it.

Anyway, the covergence of these great events is convenient … so in the interest of public service, here’s a handful of New Orleans and Louisiana swamp rock songs for your Super Bowl/Mardi Gras party.  You can find many more by going to our “Walkin’ To New Orleans” series, plus we have a handful of Saints fight songs.  Of course, there are beaucoups more Saints fight songs at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  The Saints, the Colts and the Who are gonna tear it up this weekend … be there, square hair!  Geaux Saints!

MP3: “Party Town” by Bobby Charles

MP3: “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino (Live at Austin City Limits)

MP3: “The Crawl” by Guitar Junior

MP3: “Tell It Like It Is” by Eddie Bo

MP3: “Shake Your Tambourine” by the Neville Brothers (live)

MP3: “Hang ‘Em High” by the Meters

MP3: “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” by Ernie K-Doe

MP3: “I’m A Fool To Care” by Joe Barry

MP3: “Rockin’ At Cosimo’s” by Lee Allen

MP3: “My Toot Toot” by John Fogerty w/Rockin’ Sidney

MP3: “Down South In New Orleans” by the Band w/Bobby Charles & Dr. John (live)

MP3: “Mardi Gras In New Orleans” by Professor Longhair

MP3: “Don’t Mess With My Popeye’s” by Fats Domino and Doug Kershaw

R.I.P. Eddie Bo, New Orleans music legend

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by 30daysout

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A special memorial service is set for April 1 for  New Orleans music legend Eddie Bo, who died recently at the age of 79.  Eddie had some hits of his own, most notably “Check Mr. Popeye” in 1962.  Bo, whose real name was Edwin Joseph Bocage, wrote dozens of other songs including “I’m Wise,” which Little Richard cut as “Slippin’ And Slidin’.”

Eddie was not only a great singer and songwriter, he was a master on the piano and a fine showman.  My wife and I saw him at Tipitina’s (the French Quarter version) some years ago at a free “happy hour.”  We walked in off the street – the music was too irresistible – and sat down for two of the finest hours of music I’ve ever seen.  Keep it funky, Eddie.

MP3: “Check Mr. Popeye”

MP3: “Tell It Like It Is”

MP3: “I’m Wise”

MP3: “Hook And Sling”

MP3: “I Love To Rock N’ Roll”

MP3: “Check Your Bucket”

Billboard magazine article on Eddie Bo

Official Eddie Bo website 

Walkin’ To New Orleans: Jivin’ Gene

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 16, 2009 by 30daysout

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Mardi Gras is a little over a week away, and we thought we’d take a leisurely stroll eastward to the Crescent City.  But along the way, let’s visit with some of the great musicians we have been lucky enough to encounter in past years.  The fertile crescent that stretches atop the Gulf of Mexico from Austin to New Orleans is inhabited by some of the greatest musicians in the country.  You know about Austin and we’ll get to New Orleans in time, we promise.  But first …

We start in Port Arthur, Texas, hometown of Janis Joplin, the Big Bopper and the Winter brothers (Johnny and Edgar).  If you grew up there in the 1950s or the 1960s, rock and roll is in your blood – it was certainly on the radio back then, and it was definitely in the air.  I grew up on a quiet street in Groves, Texas (snuggled next to Port Arthur) and did all the usual things a kid did in the early 1960s.  But every once in a while the quiet was cracked by the ring of a rock and roll band rehearsing in a garage a few doors down.  After investigating, I learned that the garage belonged to our neighbor Gene Bourgeois, known as “Jivin’ Gene.”

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Got Them Ol’ Gustav Blues

Posted in News with tags , , on August 29, 2008 by 30daysout

Well, here we go again – a storm is threatening Louisiana (or Texas – who knows?).  This week is the anniversary of Katrina’s visit to New Orleans three years ago; let’s hope our Republican friends gathering up in Minnesota next week remember to pay attention to the little sprinkle someone along the Gulf Coast is bound to get.

Here are some reminders:

MP3: “Talkin’ Bout New Orleans” by The Meters

MP3: “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” by Allen Toussaint

MP3: “What’s Going On” by Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Chuck D

MP3: “Fortunate Son” by the New Orleans Social Club

MP3: “Hurricane” by Levon Helm

MP3: “God Forsaken Town” by Reckless Kelly

MP3: “Children Of The Storm” by Mudcrutch

MP3: “Louisiana 1927” by Randy Newman