This is a continuation of last weekend’s post on New Orleans music. This week I will cover my personal shopper’s picks in R&B, blues, and funk with two in each category, except three in blues. Next week, I will conclude with some traditional New Orleans musicians that define their own categories. My post tomorrow, July 4, will have my mother’s ideas on making a good Louisiana gumbo to go with the music.
Fats Domino was well known in New Orleans in the 1950s when I was growing up there. He also was quoted as saying the rock and roll was just a new marketing strategy for R&B and he never changed his style to be more main-stream. When I was eight, my father took me to a local record store to buy my first record for the new record player we had just purchased for my birthday. Until then we only had the classic music they bought along with the player. When I held up a 45 by Fats Domino, my father nodded approvingly. He commented to the record store owner, standing expectantly next to him, that it was good I picked a local guy. The owner agreed, pleased that the decision maker had approved my purchase. More recently, my personal shopper selected “The Fats Domino Jukebox,” a great collection of his best hits. Fats was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Josephine is a new R&B artist from New Orleans. Our critic picked her debut release: “This is Love.” As her site says, it “brings listeners on a wonderful journey through Josephine’s Soulful Rhythm & Blues.” The title cut is a very powerful song that should get more play nationally. You can directly order this CD and others by artists on Orleans Records at their site.
Born and raised in New Orleans, her musical roots are in Gospel and now she sings blues. Marva started performing professionally in 1987 and has seven released solo CDs. She was at the 2004 Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. Our critic picked “Heartbreakin’ Women” recorded in New Orleans in 1990 on Tipatina Records and now available through Mardi Gras Records. It is a very strong blues performance.
One site writes: “Mathilda Jones' career has yet to reach the apex New Orleans divas like Irma Thomas, Jean Knight and Marva Wright have, but it's clearly not because of a lack of talent. An engaging and energetic performer, out of the School of Deep Soul, until recently, Jones, 47, hasn't been able to stay still long enough for success to catch her. That should change with the release of Dues Paid in Full.” This CD, from Southland Records in New Orleans, was also our critic’s pick. I really like it, also.
Singer/pianist Marcia Ball has an intelligent and deeply emotional brand of southern boogie, blues, and ballads. Over the course of her three-decade career, Ball has earned a huge and intensely loyal following. Her exquisite piano playing and passionate, playful vocals fuse New Orleans and Gulf Coast R&B with some Austin sounds. Our critic picked “Presumed Innocence.” This year Marcia Ball scored double honors at the W. C. Handy Blues awards for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year and also for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for her latest Alligator CD, “So Many Rivers.”
Jon Cleary provides a variety of musical dialects: funk, ballads, and Big Easy-via-Cuba piano. Our critic picked his CD simply titled “Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen,” the name of his band. He was recently featured in Martin Scorcese's seven-part PBS Blues series "The Blues." His new CD “Pin Your Spin” is reviewed in the June issue of Rolling Stone. "Singer-pianist Jon Cleary is English by birth but Dixie by nature, with a low steamy croon and a pumping-ivory drive as funky as the city he has long called home: New Orleans." He just completed a European tour, opening solo for Bonnie Raitt.
Joe Krown moved to New Orleans in 1992. He has been nominated twice and won a Big Easy Award in the Blues category in April 2001. Krown has played keyboard with the Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown Band since 1992. From September 1996 to June 2001, he held the Traditional Piano Night slot at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans, which was once occupied by Professor Longhair and James Booker. In 1998, Krown started playing around New Orleans with his own band, the Joe Krown Organ Combo. They make regular appearances at the Maple Leaf, House of Blues, Tipitina's, Le Bon Temps Roule and the Funky Butt in New Orleans. Our critic picked “Funk Yard” – an instrumental CD that features Joe and his band.