May 25, 2006

Touched By Toussaint

"I Am What I Am" (A. Toussaint)
Mylon Lefevre, from Over the Influence, Columbia, 1972

Unitl the early 1970’s, Allen Toussaint, along with his business partner in Sansu Enterprises, Marshall Sehorn, had only produced a few “outside” acts - that is, non-New Orleans artists - such as Maurice Williams, Betty Harris, Wilbert Harrison, and Lou Johnson. Of course, that was about to change. After Toussaint’s studio band, the Meters, gained national attention, and he came out with his first solo album, Toussaint, both he and the Meters signed with Warner Brothers. As a result, many WB artists started covering his material and singing his praises. Other labels took notice and sent artists to New Orleans for the Toussaint touch. Thus began a very active period for Toussaint, Sansu Productions and their Sea-Saint Studios, working on many projects for national (and international) acts into the early 1980’s.

In the case of
Mylon Lefevre, a Southern rock performer with strong gospel roots, Toussaint was enlisted by Atlantic Records to produce the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s Cotillion label debut, Mylon, in 1969. How Toussaint got such a call of out left field I do not know; but he went to Atlanta for the project, working with Lefevre and a group of backing musicians, some of whom later became known as the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The resulting album is interesting as an early example of both the Southern rock and Christian rock genres. Strange to find an HOTG legend associated with that; but, in those liberated, experimental times, rock, soul and funk were often freely mixed. Several of the tracks, mainly written by Lefevre and the backing musicians, have a funky feel to them that is surely due, at least in part, to the producer. A perfect example is the song, “Peace Begins Within”, which was well-covered by Baton Rouge soul man, Bobby Powell, soon thereafter.

Lefevre’s next LP, Over the Influence, came out on Columbia in 1972 and was also a Toussaint production recorded in Atlanta. On this LP, the core backing unit was Lefevre’s own band, Holy Smoke
*, augmented on various tracks by such notables as Toussaint himself, Dr, John on piano, Leslie West on slide guitar and Little Richard on vocal. I’ve chosen to feature the album’s sole Toussaint composition, “I Am What I Am”, a true rarity that has the writer/producer on backing vocals and keys. I don’t think anyone else ever recorded it; but I have heard Toussaint do it live. With the signature quirky syncopation of the arrangement, this is really the only song on Over The Influence that has the true Toussaint touch so many later artists would seek. Other than this, the rest of the tunes don’t do a lot for me; so, I’ll have to give the nod to Mylon as a better effort, overall.

I also have to give props to my friend, Charles, long-time host of ‘The Night Train’ on
WEVL Memphis, for turning me onto these Mylon Lefevre albums back in the 1990’s. Over the years, I’ve learned much from listening to Charles’ show (I encourage you to check it out online – Thursday nights) and from him sharing with me his truly encyclopedic knowledge of “boogie music”, as he often calls his multi-genre audio adventures. So, hey, Charles, I know you’re not much into the ‘net and might not see this; but “I Am What I Am” goes out to you, man.

*Holy Smoke on Over The Influence was
Auburn Burrell, guitars
J.P. Lauzon, guitars
Marty Simon, drums
Tom Robb, bass
Lester Langdale, keyboards

Hey, Where's Da Next Music Post?

It's rattling around in my brain. I'll try to spew it forth later today. This week I've been making friends with the painters, plumbers, an electrician, and other folks who've been helping get our newly purchased home prepared for our move-in on Monday - should be a memorable day! One of these days I think we need to pack, too. Crunch time is upon us.

As I promised, posting will be spotty for the next week or so. I'll do what I can, when I can. Until we're back to our rendition of normal around here, talk among yourselves, visit all those other worthy and fascinating mp3 blogs out there, hear some live music, hunt for records, go crazy. I'll be checking the comments - so feel free to chime in anytime.
The Management

May 19, 2006

Let's Play It A Little Dissonant

Danny White

"Let's Play, Pt. 1" (Huey Smith)
Danny White, unreleased Ace session, 195?

One of the other unissued tracks associated with Huey Smith that I re-discovered the other day is this one, “Let’s Play, Pt. 1”, featuring the vastly underrated vocalist, Danny White, on a very relaxed, swinging session, probably from the late 1950’s. Beside White’s fine singing, the most noticeable thing about this cut is the ridiculously out of tune piano – I mean, so out it’s in - sounds like a steel drum! Whoever’s playing it is not the most adept session ace, either; so it’s surely not Huey Smith. None of this fazes the cool, calm and collected Mr. Danny though. He sounds so good, the unison horns are so supportive, and the groove is such easygoing fun that the whole thing won me over the first time I heard it; and I used to spin it on my WEVL show in Memphis. Finding out about little lost gems such as this keeps me picking up CD compilations.

Danny White was never a member of the Clowns. I don’t know how he came to record this Huey Smith song during of some of the band’s Ace Records sessions. For whatever reasons, White’s performances on this and several other songs from related recording dates never saw the light of day until around the turn of the century, when Westside (UK) bravely compiled practically everything Smith and his band (plus many other artists) ever recorded for Ace. Neil Slaven, one of the compilers, found “Let’s Play, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2” among the archival masters and states in his brief notes to the
Havin’ Fun – More Of The Best CD that the song appeared to have been ready for issue. I think the reason why a 45 was not birthed probably has to do with the piano “problem”; but there could have been other reasons, as well. Besides “Let’s Play”, Slaven and his partner also found a rockin’ 1956 outing by White, “Too Late” (author unknown) and another undated recording of the singer doing Smith’s song, “Educated Fool”. White is in fine form on all of these tunes left moldering in the can.

As popular as Danny White was as a live performer, starting in 1955 with his band the Cavaliers, consistently packing venues such as the Golden Cadillac, the Safari, the Dream Room, and the Sho Bar on Bourbon Street, it is remarkable that he did not have a record out until 1961
*, when he did a one-off for Dot. In 1962, he signed with a local start-up, Frisco Records. His label debut (#104), produced by Wardell Quezergue (who used the alias, Larry Martin), was “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” b/w “The Little Bitty Things”. The former was written by Al Reed and the latter by Allen Toussaint. “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” became a significant seller in the region and was picked up by Arlen for national distribution. While it never made the charts, it was still a commercial winner. Two subsequent Frisco singles did not fare as well; but, in 1964, his rendition of Earl King’s ballad, “Loan Me A Handkerchief”, on Frisco 110, surpassed his first area hit and was leased by ABC-Paramount. The single sold very well, but still did not dent the national charts.

At the suggestion of DJ Harold Atkins, production of White’s next few sessions was moved to Memphis, under the direction of two fledgling songwriters, David Porter and Isaac Hayes, using fine young sidemen such as Teenie Hodges, Howard Grimes, and the horns of Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love, and recording at Royal Studios; but the resulting two 1964 Frisco singles, #110 (mis-numbered) and #114, died quietly.

Following up were White’s final Frisco sessions, issued though another leasing arrangment by ABC-Paramount on two singles. By that time, England’s growing domination of the American airwaves kept White's records off radio playlists. The change in listening tastes also caused his live gigs to dry up by the mid-1960's. After a handful of later singles tanked, the singer got into the other side of the business in 1969 and started managing the Meters, who had all played behind him previously at various points. That year, he also made his last record, a killer, for SSS International. Produced by Allen Toussaint and with White's funky clients likely backing him, “Natural Soul Brother” b/w “One Way Love Affair”, failed to connect with the public, until it was rediscovered many years later by funk fans and collectors. By the early 1970’s, Danny White had retired from the music business and relocated to the Washington, DC area, where he passed away in 1996. Even with the high price of some of his old singles and his appearance on a number of CD compilations, he's yet another HOTG artist deserving wider attention and appreciation.

*Soulful Kinda Music has a
Danny White discography; and you can find several of his sides for streaming at the Soul Club Jukebox.

May 16, 2006

Get You Some

"Chitt'lins" (Huey Smith)
Huey Smith and the Clowns, unreleased Ace session, c. 1962-1964

As often happens here at HOTG, I was looking for something else and ran across several unreleased sides associated with Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Clowns that I hadn’t heard since my radio days. So, I thought I’d feature a couple of ‘em this week. First up is a track from around 1962 with a great groove. I don’t know why it didn’t make it to record, as it’s a little cooker; but there is a tape problem around 1:30 that is probably on the master – as I have this song on two different comps, and it is evident on both. So, it could have been passed over for that reason. I think “Chitt’lins” lives up to the following observation about Smith’s music:

The entire repertoire of Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Clowns is a case study in New Orleans mixed timing. . . The loose group singing, the horn riffs, the piano licks and Hungry Williams’ hi-hat patterns: they each seem to have their own rhythmical articulation – which created that joyous party feel in every song. – Antoon Aukes, from Second Line 100 Years Of New Orleans Drumming

Yeah you right! That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. Thank you Mr. Aukes. While Huey Smith has recalled that Smokey Johnson played drums on “Chitt’lins”, a later recording for Ace, that’s OK, since Smokey was another hot, influential local beatman of the period, and the observation still generally holds true. One of New Orleans great pianists, producers/arrangers, and king of the novelty songwriters, Smith had a true gift for conveying the spirit of his city in his songs and recordings. Stories go that the group’s live shows were far wackier and wilder than any studio-sourced 45 could convey.

Charles ‘Hungry’ Williams was the drummer of record on most of Smith’s sessions with the Clowns on Ace, at least up until their departure from the label in 1959. As we’ve discussed before about Hungry, he had an innovative flair for merging Latin/Caribbean rhythms with New Orleans second line syncopation; and there are nice examples of that in the recordings of the Clowns. On “Chitt’lins” Smokey Johnson, too, demonstrates some funked up latino beats, although you may notice that his rhythms here have little or no high end action. Williams would have had more going on the cymbal bell and/or hit-hat. Also, on this tune, I think someone other than the drummer is playing the clave style cowbell. But, as a whole, the compounding of simple rhythm patterns by the voices and instruments with the more complex syncopations of Johnson’s trap set makes for an exuberant, movement-inciting groove. As with many later funk tunes, the lyrics here are nearly superfluous. Where they are placed in the song rhythmically and their repetitive hook are really more important than what they say.

I’ve got to admit, though, that this line, at least, is pretty damn evocative:
You got greasy lips. You got a gravy chin. Boy you been eatin’ those chitt’lins.

The Clowns had a revolving cast of band members and vocalists over the years. Not a strong singer, Smith rarely ever took the lead, especially after hiring his main vocalist, Bobby Marchan, in the late 1950’s, whose tenor is so recognizable on hits such as “High Blood Pressure” and "Don’t You Just Know It”. Regular supporting singers who took an occasional lead were Gerri Hall, John ‘Scarface’ Williams, and Junior Gordon. After Marchan left the group for a solo career around 1960, Curley Moore, Pearl Edwards and Jesse Thomas were featured singers during the few remaining years of the group’s existence. It’s Thomas and, probably, Edwards whose vocals are most prominent on “Chitt’lins”. Of the other players and singers on this session, I have no accounting.

From 1960 through 1961, Smith and the band were signed to Imperial records, releasing a number of decent sides produced by Dave Bartholomew that didn’t do much commercially. When Imperial dropped them, Smith rejoined Ace Records until the label became dormant around 1964; and it was likely in this period that “Chitt’lins” got cooked up. And, I don’t know about you, but I much prefer the musical dish.


May 12, 2006

Robert Parker After Dover Was Over [updated 11-17-2013]

"You See Me" (A. Toussaint) 
Robert Parker, Silver Fox 12, 1969

 New information I've acquired leads me to finally get around to re-writing this post.  I previous assumed, as had some others, that Parker recorded this single, issued by Shelby Shingleton's Nashville-based Silver Fox label, in New Orleans through Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn's Tou-Sea/Sansu Prodcutions and that it ended up on the label through a deal made via DJ and fellow record label owner, Bob Robin.  What threw me off was the fact that Toussaint wrote "You See Me" and the arrangement sounded like one of his. But things wend down differently. 

It turns out that Robin, as the record label so states, actually did produce this single himself along with another by Parker The sessions were done in Muscle Shoals rather than Nola, as I found out from Neil Pellegrin's highly informative notes to the Soul-tay-Shus/Tuff City CD compilation, The Best of International City, which features tracks produced by Robin, who owned the International City and River City labels in New Orleans.

The Parker sides did not appear first on either of Robin's labels, but were leased directly to Singleton, who issued "You See Me" / "You Shakin' things Up" on Silver Fox and "The Hiccup" / "Rockin' Pneumonia" on SSS International (#819).  As those CD notes further state, Robin had heard a version of "You See Me" that Toussaint recorded with Willie West supposedly on vocal [Note: Willie West just told me that he did not cut it. He's not familiar with the song at all. So, as I suspected, Robin meant to say Willie Harper, who did do an unreleased version, available on the Sundazed Get Low Down CD compilation]. When Sehorn delayed releasing the song, Robin somehow got a copy and took it to Muscle Shoals with Parker and had the in-house band (the Swampers?) reproduce the arrangement. That's why it has that extra Toussaint touch.

 Parker had not recorded for several years, since his previous label, Nola Records, went bust as part of the Dover Records distributorship collapse that pretty much closed down the recording scene in New Orleans for several years, wiping out numerous small local labels. Neither of his Singleton-released singles gained any traction, and the singer would not record again until the mid-1970s when he did sign with Sansu and recorded three funky singles issued by Island.

 When I hear this song, I always think of The Band, as Parker’s vocal sounds somewhat similar to Levon Helm; and the track has that roots rock/R&B feel the group, who were coming on strong in 1969, could do so well. It’s no surprise that the boys in The Band soon asked Toussaint to do the horn arrangemens for several of their recordings. Whether its Band feel was a conscious decision on Toussaint’s part, “You See Me’ is a great record from the era that deserved more than the obscurity to which it was quickly relegated. 

May 10, 2006

More Lee Bates - The Detective Work Continues

"Your Love Is Slippin Away" (Emanuel Morris, Jr.)
Lee Bates, Instant 3329, 1975

With the goings on at Soul Detective having to do with Lee Bates, I’ve put up another side of his, a surprisingly big production number, that I picked up a few weeks ago. I encourage y’all to visit SD, if you haven’t already, and see the ongoing research being done on this unsung New Orleans vocalist and other worthy subjects.

“Your Love Is Slippin Away” comes form Bates’ final Instant single (he had 10 with the label over a 5 year run) and was also released on the IX Chains imprint in 1975, perhaps because Instant was in a downward spiral by this time. Co-produced by label owner Joe Banashak and the song’s writer and arranger, Emanuel Morris, Jr., this song surprised me with the sophistication of its presentation. I know very little about Mr. Morris at this point – he wrote a few other songs and was a bass player, I believe – but he obviously could take charge in the studio and render up a powerful, complex arrangement. While the string section flirts with going over the top at a few points, those swirling flourishes don’t overwhelm the tune. The horn charts here are effective, too, either working in counterpoint or layered with the strings. On the intro and choruses, Morris makes the groove a slow striding funk, while the verses have a nice, straighter descending pattern. Taken as a whole, the impressively big sound of this record shows that the producer/arranger/writer could hold his own with the bigger fish in town, namely Toussaint and Quezergue. I wonder where Morris came from and what else he worked on. I’ve got my own detective investigation going, but, please feel free to chip in with any knowledge or insight you may have on him. I did see an obituary listing from the Times-Picayune showing that Morris passed away in 1994.

All that said, I guess, reveals that I am somewhat more impressed with the trappings of this song than I am with the performance of the star of the show, Lee Bates. Don’t get me wrong, though. Bates’ singing is quite soulful with a raw edge, as usual. You can certainly hear a bit of his Otis Redding influence near the end of the song, and he kind of has a Teddy Pendergrass thing going on here, too; but, the song doesn’t seem to give him much to work with lyrically or melodically.
Teddy Royal, who played guitar on the sessions for this single and wrote the other side, has told me that Bates was purposely going for the Pendergrass/Redding sound on this recording. So, he succeeded there, whereas the record itself was a commercial cipher.

Actually, I bought this 45 particularly because of Royal’s participation. As I have mentioned before, I am working on a piece on the guitarist/songwriter, including Q & A. I hope that our further discussions may shed some more light on both Lee Bates, Emanuel Morris, Jr., and other players on the sessions. I’ll be featuring the flip side, “(What Am I Gonna Do) What Am I Gonna Say”, in conjunction with that post at a later date. Stay tuned.

May 04, 2006

Where Rock Meets The Caribbean - Part 2

I’m on my way to New Orleans soon for the second weekend of Jazzfest. a celebration of the region’s music, food, and arts that is particularly important this year, as it leads us, second-lining to the assorted grooves, up to the brink of hurricane season 2006 – the Great Unknown. Appreciate what you’ve got while you’ve got it, carpe da damn diem, because, from now on with New Orleans and Jazzfest, you never know when it all might be gone forever – sorta like seeing the Meters perform; but that’s a story for a future post. Right now let’s hear some mo' music.

Hungry Williams, c 1957

"The Girl Across The Street" (Tommy Ridgley)
Tommy Ridgley, Herald 537, 1959

New Orleans wouldn’t be the Home of the Groove without being way deep, going way back, in exceptional drummers. As my friend, Dwight, once said, you can’t throw a rock in New Orleans without hitting a good drummer – of course, post-Katrina, you can throw rocks there and not hit anybody – for miles; but, you get my drift. Charles ‘Hungry’ Williams, who is doing the complex stick work on “The Girl Across The Street”, certainly fits the profile. When legendary first-call session drummer Earl Palmer pulled up stakes for the Left Coast around 1957, Williams easily took up where he left off. As Antoon Aukes points out in his essential book on New Orleans drumming, Second Line, “In the mid-1950’s, Williams was known for his experiments with adapting Latin percussion patterns to the drum set.” Not only that, he managed to do it while still rocking out and/or playing funky second line rhythms simultaneously. Aukes gives numerous examples. But today, we’ll focus on one he doesn’t mention.

A 1958 or 1959 session, “The Girl Across The Street” was on
Tommy Ridgley’s fifth single for Herald, a New York based label that picked him up in 1957 and issued a total of six records on him, all cut in New Orleans, and most having Hungry Williams on the drums. As with a previous Ridgley cut I posted, this one came to me via a cassette tape the singer, songwriter, and bandleader issued on his own in the late 1980’s, as I recall, compiling an assortment of his sides from the late 1950’s to the 1980’s. I hadn’t heard this song for quite a while and put it on by accident the other day, while looking for another cut on the same CD (one of my own archive CD’s of various transfers). Just into the song, I knew that Hungry was on drums; and, while they are not too clear, you can tell the man has a lot going on. He sounds like an entire percussion section – not an unusual thing for him. Note the pattern he plays on the bell of his cymbal, which Aukes describes as an Afro-Cuban casacara that Latin percussionists would play on a cowbell or on the sides of timbales. Below the cascara, Williams tears up on the snare, toms, and kick drum, creating a highly syncopated groove for the verses and ramping up to a driving second line kind of rock shuffle on the chorus. Amazing.

According to Ridgley’s recollections to John Broven quoted in Rhythm & Blues In New Orleans, other players on the Herald sessions include the immortal Lee Allen on tenor sax (who was signed to Ember, an affiliated label, at the time), Alvin ‘Red’ Tyler on baritone sax, Melvin Lastie on trumpet, and Chuck Badie on bass. The fantastic guitarist could very well be Justin Adams, one of the Crescent City’s finest, who was playing in Ridgley’s band, the Untouchables, at the time. The pianist is unknown.

As is often pointed out, and rightly so, New Orleans is the northernmost city of the Caribbean. With it’s Spanish/French heritage, and large early influx of population from Haiti,and other African roots, it has much more to do with what lies to its South than to its North. Yet, it has come to be a unique culture all of its own. And that certainly includes its ongoing musical legacy. I don’t want to hang too much weight on one two minute song, but what’s going on in “The Girl Across The Street” and similar highly percussive tracks, seems to me to be a microcosm of what the city's music is all about. Know what I mean?

[Note: For some reason, neither this song nor it's flip "I'll Be True" appears on the Collectables compilation, Tommy Ridgley: The Herald Recordings.]

Tommy & band at the Dew Drop Inn

May 02, 2006

Let Lionel Put A Slide In Your Glide

"Baby Let Me Do My Thing" (Walter Moorehead)
Lionel Robinson, Knight 7-779, 1972

I always enjoy finding a good record I’ve never heard before by an artist I know almost nothing about; and so it is with “Baby Let Me Do My Thing”, from one of four known Lionel Robinson singles* released on Knight Records, which are, perhaps, his only recordings (there is a listing for that name on Gotham in the 1950’s; but it’s probably not the same guy). The only other one I've heard is Robinson’s 1971 organ instrumental, “Steppin’ Out”, a good record with a bit o’ da funk to it. But I come up short of background on him. With my usual print and internet sources revealing little (so far), I decided just to go ahead and post this recent acquisition with what I do know and see if anybody else has anything to add. Maybe the Soul Detective krewe can take him on some time.

A 1972 production by label owner Traci Borges, this is a pretty well-recorded, nicely played and arranged dancer with a distinct 1960’s Stax feel. The guitarist even cops one of Steve Cropper’s “Soul Man” riffs. As Mr. Robinson’s name was attached to that earlier organ instrumental, I am going to take a wild leap and put him at the keyboard on this track, too. No New Orleans funk here; but, it’s still a decent, if derivative cut, written by Walter Moorehead, who was an associate of Isaac Bolden and did some production work with him for Jean Knight on Soulin’ in the 1980’s. If it had been given the Wardell Quezergue treatment at Malaco, I could hear King Floyd doing "Baby Let Me Do My Thing". The lyrics aren’t much; but Robinson’s quality delivery is spirited and makes them worth hearing. He also does a good job on the b-side, “Warning”, which is a lesser soul-pop number written by Borges. By the way, it looks like this b-side also appeared on another of Robinson’s Knight singles, which had “One Woman Man” on top. The only other name on the label for this side is Mike Scorsone, credited with A&R, who appears to have been a sax player from the New Orleans area. So, I’d guess he’s in the horn section and/or maybe had something to do with their arrangements. Other than Scorsone and Robinson, I don’t have any good guesses on the rest of the players.

As you true HOTG hounds know, Borges’ Kinght Recording Studios in Metairie, LA (just next door to the Big Easy) was used by Eddie Bo for several projects. He recorded his funk hit “Hook and Sling” for Scram there in 1969, two later rare singles released on Knight (with the Soul Finders), “Sweeter Than Mine” b/w “Afro Bush” (does anybody know about this one? – does it really exist?) and the two-parter, “The Rubber Band”, and probably several other projects on himself and others. I have previously covered singles by Jean Knight and Rose Davis that were recorded and produced at Knight. In the early 1980’s, the popular New Orleans New Wave band, The Cold, recorded single sides at Knight, as well. And I think Borges may still be operating the studio.

In 1970’s New Orleans, if a record or artist wasn’t affiliated with Toussaint and Sehorn’s Sansu Productions, working out of Sea-Saint Studios**, there wasn’t much hope of getting any notice. Very few of Borges’ productions had anything other than limited local distribution and airplay. The big Clematis Avenue boys had the market locked up tight. I’d like to hear those other sides by Lionel Robinson, who got good and lost in the 1970’s shuffle. Glad I found him. Now, let’s do our thing and keep on diggin’.

** [I caught myself on this one. Please note that Sea-Saint Studio, located on Clematis Avenue in New Orleans and owned by the Sansu partners, did not open until 1973.]

*Via The R&B Indies and other sources, here are Lionel Robinson's known singles:

Knight 3051 - "Steppin' Out" b/w ?
Knight 304 - "Candy" b/w "Something Is Wrong With My Baby"
Knight 7-777-A - "One Woman Man" b/w Knight 7-778-B - "Warning"
Knight 7-779-A - "Baby Let Me Do My Thing" b/w Knight 7-778-B - "Warning"

The Fests and The Move

Well it's festival season in Louisiana, y'all. For me, hearing great live music is a counter-balance to my semi-reclusive encounters with old 45's, LP's, and the innumerable CD's I may listen to any given day. My wife and I try to catch as much of the local festing as possible; but, this year it has been a challenge, as we have been involved with seeking, and now buying, a house, not to mention facing the looming reality in a few weeks of The Move (just across town this time - but, still...).

Like the good Louisiana residents we are, we managed to ignore the inevitable as much as possible and made it to one day of the French Quarter Festival a few weekends back, where I was most impressed with the blowin' and funkin' of the Lil Rascals Brass Band. Festival International here in Lafayette kicked off after that; and we went to the opening night, getting to see three awesome acts: the subdudes, Irma Thoams, and Allen Toussaint. My wife stayed here last Friday to work and catch more of that festival, especially the African musicians, while I went to New Orleans for the first day of Jazzfest 2006. Then, she joined me for the rest of the weekend. If ever there was a absolute statement about the renewal of that devastated city, Jazzfest this year has made it with large crowds, great performances, and, of course, good eats. Now into my third decade partaking of this annual celebration, I can't entirely express how simultaneously normal and special this one feels (and one more weekend to go!). But it is bizarre to walk and drive through flood-damaged neighborhoods just starting to rebuild, while you're on your way to help keep the party going - but that's the way it is now and will be for, hmmm, four or five years, at least. Pumping cash back into the economy helps revive the vital signs of the entire area; so, we came, we grooved, we spent, we revelated, and, we resuscitated.

I'll try to get around to a Jazzfest wrap-up with some mini-reviews and comments later, as time and tide permit. With all that's going on in my life right now, posting may become even more erratic than usual in weeks to come - so bear with me, please. I'll try to keep 'em coming as often as I possibly can. And, now back to our irregularly scheduled programming. . . .