Kinky Jazz

You may have noticed that I’m mad about New Orleans! So when Ray Davies chose to include the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in his recent Meltdown festival, I was off to the South Bank. My few video snippets don’t really do justice to what was a wonderful evening, in a very N’Awlins sorta way, with effortless virtuoso jazz, a ‘second line’ round the concert hall, and dancing on stage to the consternation of ‘security’. Ray sang on a couple of numbers, including his own composition ‘Complicated Life’. I’ve also included a great vid of the band doing this number filmed in the streets of the French Quarter.

New Orleans: the musical

As some of you may recall, I recently had a trip to New Orleans . As a lover of jazz, blues and cajun/zydeco, this has been on my wishlist for years, and I was not disappointed (thanks for the research, ejaydee). I can see why Ray Davies chose to live there (until getting shot, and health problems, drove him back into the arms of the NHS). My yen to visit was piqued by the TV series ‘Treme’ (from The Wire’s David Simon, on Sky this Spring – highly recommended). Given the eclectic tastes of most spillers, N’Awlins is a music lovers heaven. Music oozes out of every pore. Buskers, bars, clubs & parades mean you are almost always in earshot of some aural pleasure or other (tho’ like everywhere else, some buskers are clearly trainees). And it’s ‘all the day, and all of the night’, as Ray would say. If that wasn’t enough, the place itself is such a treat. This is a US city where walking never died out as a mode of transport, and when your feet are tired there’s the streetcars and – for tourists – the mule carriages and Mississippi steamboats. Katrina remains an ongoing and shocking scar on the American dream. The population has halved, whole districts have been pulled down as health hazards and left as wasteland. Black families who had lived there for decades have seen their land revert to the city, if they couldn’t prove title. Others have had to downsize as the insurance and Government aid wouldn’t pay to rebuild what they had. But on the surface the place has been resuscitated, the French Quarter and Garden District are as gorgeous as ever, the joint is jumpin’, and the food to die for, despite BP’s best efforts (don’t miss catfish; bread pudding). We had a whale of a time there, and can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve spliced together a few musical moments off my camera, to give a little taster. If you’ve not been, add it to your list.

We were there for haloween, which as you can imagine is a big thing in Voodoo city. And the Saints were playing the Steelers. And there was an amazing annual 3 day music festival in City Park, which sadly I didn’t make. The Irish community had a parade. And the sun shone. ‘Party atmosphere’ just doesn’t do it justice. And at the end of the trip, you can take some of it home, via a credit card binge at the top record store, Louisiana Music Factory…

New Orleans Special

A small representation of New Orleans and Louisiana music, mostly by artists from the area, inspired by Treme and a funeral I attended where the body was introduced by a New Orleans style band, featuring Crescent City legends such as Allen Toussaint, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and the Nevilles a few of the tracks here are N.O. songs by outsiders, sometimes N.O. songs by local folk. There’s a wider selection in the ‘box:

West End Blues – Louis Armstrong
Shag – New Orleans Feetwarmers
Climax Rag – Jelly Roll Morton’s New Orleans Jazzmen
Petite Fleur – Chris Barber
New Orleans (The Rising Sun Blues) – Leadbelly
Basin Street blues/When It’s Sleepy Time Down South Medley – Louis Prima

Big Chief – Professor Longhair
Ya Ya – Lee Dorsey
Free, Single And Disengaged – Huey “Piano” Smith & His Clowns
Goin’ Down – Allen Toussaint
Handa Wanda – Bo Dollis & The Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indian Band
Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall) – Mystikal
Hook ‘N’ Sling, Pt. 2 – Eddie Bo

Pop, Popcorn Children – Eldridge Holmes
Gossip – Cyril Neville
Chicken Strut – The Meters
Cold Bear – The Gaturs
Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John

Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band – Redbone
The Flood – Eilen Jewell
Louisiana 1927 – The Neville Brothers
La Vieille Chanson de Mardi Gras – Cedric Watson
Cryin’ In The Streets – Buckwheat Zydeco

Also, GHE was asking if anybody has any recommendations as to music venues /local performers to try and see when he visits the city in October.