Yet Another Fantastic Reason To Listen to WWOZ
The radio documentaries Michael Ward: True Funk Shenanigans and You Got To Know How To Pony: The Story of Chris Kenner produced by David Kunian and Bill Taylor, will be played twice each in April on WWOZ, 90.7 FM, Community Radio for the Crescent City. The dates and times are Thursday, April 12 at noon and 10 PM and Wednesday, April 18 at noon and 10 PM.
These two half hour long documentaries were produced for The Center for Gulf South History and Culture and Jackbeat Productions via a grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the Louisiana Division of the Arts. These programs were produced by writer and producer David Kunian and Tipitinas Foundation Executive Director Bill Taylor (Michael Ward). Kunian has completed many radio projects in New Orleans, including the Silver Reel winning Meet All Your Fine Friends: The Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans, the Silver Reel winning James Carroll Booker III: The Life, Music, and Mystique of the Bayou Maharajah, The Things I Used to Do: The Legend of Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, Come On, Baby, Let the Good Times Roll: The Stories and Music of Earl King, Guardian of the Groove: New Orleans Drummer and Composer James Black, and The Classic Mardi Gras Songs Project.
Born in Kenner, Louisiana, and brought up in New Orleans, Chris Kenner is one of the great unsung musicians in the history of the Crescent City. Kenner wrote the top hits “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “I Like It Like That” and the classic songs “Sick and Tired,” “Something You Got,” among others. His songs have been done by everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and the Dave Clark Five to the J. Geils Band and Wilson Pickett. He worked with such geniuses as Dave Bartholomew, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, and Earl Palmer. Kenner was not only famous for his songwriting skills, but he also was known for his laissez-faire, happy-go-lucky life style. Chris Kenner was a true New Orleans original. The program consists of Kenner's music and recollections and interviews about him from the people who knew him and worked with him including Allen Toussaint, Deacon John, James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, Cosimo Matassa, Robert Parker, Tad Joans, Bobby McLaughlin, Red Morgan, and others.
Percussionist Michael Ward grew up in New Orleans and played music here his entire life. He had several bands in his career, the most famous one of which was the Reward. He also played with Harry Connick Jr., John Mooney, Charmaine Neville and Wardell Quezerque Big Band. Michael Ward was one of those unsung, under-the-radar characters in New Orleans whose influence is felt, but not seen. In addition to his musical endeavors, Michael Ward was a true New Orleans character. The stories that are traded in bars and coffee shops about him are poignant and hilarious. His band Reward had members who included former Galactic frontman Theryl De Clouet, keyboardist Glenn Hartmann and guitarist Jonathan Frelich of the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, guitarist and songwriter Alex McMurray, bassist Cornell Williams of the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and guitarist June Yamagichi of Papa Gros Funk and the Wild Magnolias. These people are interviewed in the documentary with other New Orleans luminaries including Charmaine Neville, John Mooney and producers Mark Bingham and Tracey Freeman.
There will also be a premiere party for the documentaries at the Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak St., on Saturday, April 14 at 10 P.M. Both documentaries will be played, and there will be reunion of Michael Ward's band Reward with former members including vocalist Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet (Galactic, Reward, Hollygrove), guitarist June Yamagishi (Papa Gros Funk/Wild Magnolias), bassist Cornell Williams (Jon Cleary's Absolute Monster Gentlemen/Friendly Travelers) and drummer Jelly Bean (Marva Wright, Jon Cleary's Absolute Monster Gentlemen) and other special guests.
Thanks to David Kunian, a true New Orleans music expert, for letting me/us know about this. His projects are always well-done. So catch them if you can. Maybe see you at the party, too.