At 72, the prince of R&B has reverted to childhood. Aaron Neville has a new album called My True Story, and it's a collection of the songs he sang growing up in the projects of New Orleans in the 1950s and '60s, back when doo-wop was king.
"I've been into every doo-wop there is," Neville says. "I think I went to the university of doo-wop-ology."
Listen to this week's episode of Music Inside Out with singer/songwriter Jim McCormick.
The poetics of pickup trucks and cutoffs are not lost on Jim McCormick. Nor are the subtleties of Trans Ams and the beverage choices of the young and hay-baling set. And that's how it should be for a poet-turned-Nashville songwriter.
There were a few unfamiliar steeds at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Saturday night — exotic animal trainer Joe Hedrick brought some ostriches and zebras to the track to fill out the race card for the second installment of the Struthio Stakes.
It was the first-ever zebra race in the South, and the biggest crowd at the track since Hurricane Katrina, according to track spokesman Jim Mulvihill.
The only thing more fun than talking to Shannon Powell is listening to him play. Powell is one of the most charismatic drummers to ever grace a stage. His secret? "I'm happy," Powell tells Music Inside Out. "I was a happy child. I'm a happy spirit."
Southern Louisiana in the early 1960s was a hotbed of musical creativity among youngsters who'd been raised listening to French-language country music and Fats Domino. They combined those — and other — influences to make what's now called "swamp pop." Joe Barry was a pioneer in this area who should have been much bigger.
Jim McCormick and Reid Wick join Peter Ricchuiti on Out to Lunch to discuss the changing face of the music business. McCormick, a New Orleans songwriter and music professor, had two chart-topping, number-one hit songs in 2012. Wick, a guitar player for the Bucktown All Stars, also moonlights as an executive with the Grammy organization's The Recording Academy.
Any piano player worth his fingers in New Orleans has been influenced by Professor Longhair. C. R. Gruver was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA and moved to the city six years ago. He now plays piano for a band called, The New Orleans Suspects.
At Gruver's house, above the antique upright piano, are portraits of the Professor and two of his most gifted disciples — James Booker and Mac Rebbenack, a.k.a. Dr. John. It's a modern-day triumvirate of piano talent. Here's a lesson Gruver gave reporter Gwen Thompkins on the related styles of the three players.