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Settle in for an hour of music and conversation
What do you get when you combine modern jazz, the music of Woody Guthrie, Delta blues, and Antonín Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet? You get Luke Winslow-King. Born and raised in Michigan, a crime landed this neo-traditionalist in New Orleans. But, ever the optimist, Winslow-King decided to stay.
For most of his working life, David Simon has been telling an epic story of the American city — one corner at a time. In Treme, which has just completed its run on HBO, Simon explored New Orleans’ viability as an expression of its culture. After the 2005 levee failure, keeping New Orleans cuisine and music alive was complicated and — at times — illegal. But the characters persevere. According to Simon, every American city could benefit from the New Orleans example of valuing commmunity and society.
Meschiya Lake won a singing competition in a lounge in South Dakota at the age of nine after steeling herself with THREE Shirley Temples. Later, she would join the circus and eat glass. And her voice only got better. Now she calls New Orleans home and she continues to amaze audiences night after night, just like she did when she was nine.
Caleb Elliott is a singer-songwriter in Lafayette, Louisiana whose debut pop album is called, Where You Wanna Be. He’s new to pop music, but as a classical cellist Caleb Elliott has already played Carnegie Hall. Elliott’s got a rarefied fan base. Collaborators on his album include singer-songwriter Susan Cowsill and members of the reknowned bands Better Than Ezra, BeauSoleil, and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.
The legendary Bluesman has put his mark on American music in a profound way, with wisdom gleaned from a lifetime of being curious and keeping his ears open.
He has a sweet style when he plays the piano: every song’s a set-piece, a memory, a love. His repertoire stretches back to the 1870s and the ragtime of his hometown, to the rhythms of Brazil and their influences on the music of his adopted home of New Orleans.
The jazz trumpeter and composer had a charmed upbringing in the music business, working at a young age with the likes of Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey. In the years since he has worked hard and succeeded in finding a voice for his trumpet, contributing to the soundtracks of more than 50 motion pictures and producing a steady stream of his own recordings. In 2013 he added to his accomplishments: his first opera.
The clarinetist is a champion of traditional jazz but there’s no whiff of mothballs in the doctor’s music. No, what you get here is respect and the spirit of a city perfumed with a gumbo of people very much alive and thriving.
Born in Texas, but a child of Louisiana, this elegant lady at the keyboard gets them dancing with what she calls “the basic three” of the dance floor: blues, boogie, and boogaloo. Her songs tell the stories of small town life and loves, and the intricacies of human relationships.
Today you’ll find this funky Englishman in the Ninth Ward. He was raised in Kent on New Orleans Blues and Soul and R&B and much more. Cleary has made New Orleans his home for more than 20 years and has played with the best of them. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist and sideman, he’s even better fronting his own band. And he’s downright charming.
Maybe the best few hours you can ever spend with a man and a grand piano. In July of 2013, Toussaint was awarded the National Medal of Arts at a ceremony at the White House.
A banjo virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist equally comfortable in traditional jazz, classical, rhythm and blues and funk. “If you can’t smell it, it ain’t funky, ” Vappie says. True Dat!
The story of how the Pfister Sisters got together in 1979 reads like a Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney musical. A swank party in New Orleans with only one rule — the music never stops!.
The one-time child star has become a powerful singer-songwriter living in New Orleans. Cowsill’s singing family was the model for television’s Partridge Family. She still thinks fondly of David Cassidy. Cowsill was also a member of the widely acclaimed Continental Drifters. Jackson Browne appears on her latest solo album, Lighthouse.
The virtuoso slide guitarist has traveled more than a million miles to play music around the world and he’s got the airline certificate to prove it. Landreth has played with John Hiatt, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Winter and Eric Clapton. His strongest influences, however, hail from Southwest Louisiana. Cajun waltz, anyone?
He calls himself the “world’s greatest drummer” and it’s not hard to see why. Growing up in New Orleans, Powell soaked up the best drumming traditions of Treme and has been in demand ever since. The self-titled, “King of Treme,” has toured the world with Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr. and a whole bunch of Marsalises. But he’s never too humble to cook for the band. On a hot plate. In his hotel room. For a fee.
Shannon Powell’s Joyful Drums (2 hours)
The rest of the country may know him best for the theme to the HBO series Treme, but Boutte’s fans turn out each week in New Orleans to hear his remarkable voice. Boutte is one of the last of the red hot troubadours.
A public schoolteacher mom with a love for hippie tunes and a classical musician father have produced a trumpeter with an easy lounge sound. Before striking out on his own, Davenport was a sideman for Harry Connick, Jr. He’s now the main attraction at a performing space in New Orleans that bears the Davenport name.
The founder of OperaCréole is keeping alive the early classical traditions of New Orleans. Joseph is a mezzo soprano who counts Shirley Verret and Lena Horne among her strongest influences. And she’s no stranger to operatic side of James Brown. Yes, that James Brown.
Songwriter Jim McCormick has done what few others have: topped the country charts with two Number One hits in a single year. McCormick talks about his journey from poet to country songwriter.
Amid the sailors and the soldiers and the barflies and the psychotics, there’s something positively literary in McMurray’s songs. He’s one of the great modern-day story tellers. Think Raymond Carver with a guitar and maybe a parrot on his shoulder.
Lucky for us, his mother could never keep him away from Rock ‘n Roll. As a sideman, Deacon John Moore played on some of the best known songs of the 1960s. Now, he’s front and center. and just as frisky as ever.
As the bassist for The Radiators, Scanlan spent more than thirty years on the road between New Orleans and all lands touched by Radiator music.
Nowadays, Scanlan is touring and recording with a new band, The New Orleans Suspects, and he does it with old school style. That’s how the blues greats taught him to play on the Chitlin Circuit in California and in the bars and dance halls of New Orleans. Scanlan is one of the few musicians to have played with both piano wizard James Booker and Professor Longhair, the Founding Father of modern New Orleans music.
The Soul Queen of New Orleans spends two hours with us in a discussion ranging from her ‘sound’ to the business of show business. For a while, Thomas thought about studying to become a social worker. Then she realized she’d already spent 50 years as a social worker of sorts, comforting, consoling and encouraging audiences around the world.
Forget Kevin Bacon, let’s play three degrees of David Torkanowsky. He’s worked with just about everybody in the business. In fact, by this time next week, he might have actually reached everyone.
For an 11 year-old, there’s not much difference between the 1960s and the 1920s. And that’s why Marsalis became equally enchanted by Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. “I think if you are always a student of the music there is always something you can learn,” Marsalis says.”There is always something that you can push for. That’s something the real masters understood.”
Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones says she moved to New Orleans, in part, because she wanted to be around people. In Los Angeles, she was mostly around cars.
So far, so good. People from New Orleans — either real or imagined — are all over her latest effort, “The Other Side of Desire.” And one of Jones’ neighbors here even helped inspire a song on the album.
In 1962, veteran African-American musicians at Preservation Hall became mentors to little Tommy Sancton — a young white clarinet student and devotee of traditional jazz.
Onstage, they don’t look like a traditional rock ‘n roll band. Sure, the seven members of Sweet Crude are kinda young and kinda scrawny and their clothes suggest a GAP-meets-Garanimals flare.
But they carry no guitars. Five of them play percussion. And yes, there’s a glockenspiel in the mix.
At first, there wasn’t a name for the kind of music that Fats Domino played.
He called it rhythm and blues. But Domino’s songs stretched beyond that category.