Now we continue our Summer Songs series. Gwen Thompkins, the host of Music Inside Out on WWNO in New Orleans, is introducing us to a handful of contemporary artists who've taken some old classics out for a new spin. This week, she tells us about an unlikely pairing with New Orleans favorite Michael White.
Big band music is about to make a comeback in New Orleans thanks to Elvin Monteleone, a native who decided it was time to come home and bring his unique vision back with him.
Big bands were big business through the 1950s, but fell out of favor due to changing tastes in music and the expense of maintaining a large roster of musicians. Monteleone, who fell in love with Glenn Miller's music while playing Alto Sax in high school at De La Salle, says he woke up one morning in Scottsdale, AZ and decided it was time he started a 20-piece big band.
And now we continue our summer song series. We're talking to Gwen Thompkins, host of the program "Music Inside Out," which is heard on member station WWNO in New Orleans. She's introducing us to a handful of contemporary artists who've offered a new take on some old classics. Allen Toussaint has been writing songs and shaping the New Orleans rhythm and blues and rock sound since he was a teenager. Now he's in his 70s and he's experimenting with jazz. And Gwen Thompkins is back with us. Hi, Gwen.
One of the original new-school New Orleans brass bands, a Dirty Dozen show guarantees a good time. This year actually marks three dozen years since the first incarnation of the group coalesced to resurrect a then-disappearing tradition — and infuse it with both bebop and funk. As with many a show since '77, there was dancing and handkerchief-waving aplenty, and several original members were present to anchor the proceedings.
Roger Hayward Lewis, baritone and soprano saxophone
New Orleans thinks of brass band music as its own, the unmistakable mix of live horns and percussion, and the traditional brass band songs. But a 20-piece brass band from Rhode Island swept through town recently, with Balkan, Klezmer and Bollywood beats thrown in the mix. These Providence musicians call New Orleans their sister city, and play a different kind of brass when they're here.
Few piano players are as tall, glam and terrific as Marcia Ball. Born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and schooled in the dance halls and roadhouses of the Gulf South, Ball can't help but make you boogie woogie. That is, unless you wanna two-step. Or boogaloo. She does that too.
"If you can make 'em dance, money becomes a space problem."
Ball's songs are postcards of small town life in this region and the dilemmas that drive people to the choices they make.