It’s impossible to attend all of the free music, festivals and cultural events in New Orleans, but I do what I can. This week, I got to D.J. at WWOZ, attend an Irma Thomas & the Professionals with Khris Royal & Dark Matter concert and watch a documentary on the Red Bull Street Kings battle-of-the-bands in 2010. Inspired by finally finding my pick for the new Saints touchdown theme song, Black and Gold, I called Jonny Ray of the New Orleans Movie Tours who has a regular time slot on WWOZ and asked if I could give the song it’s radio debut. I invited Phat Word, one of the masterminds behind Black and Gold and we spent the evening talking about everything from the definition of Jazz to behind-the-scenes stories of Django Unchained and Kill Bill.
WWOZ 90.7FM is a local non-profit community-supported station heard throughout the world via live streaming. Click “Listen Now” on their SITE to hear music of all types and eras celebrating our region and culture. Before I was an actor, author or blogger, I was a D.J. I worked at a nightclub in Georgetown D.C. for years to help pay for college and fell in love with the job of filling the dance floor night after night. For me, the ultimate dance floor is the Superdome and I think Black and Gold is the perfect song to get the crowd going.
In addition to our interviews about music, movies and more, I got to select a few songs like Look Up by BlackKoldMadina AKA Kimberly Rivers Roberts, the amazing woman responsible for Trouble the Water (the Academy Award nominated, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning documentary about surviving Katrina and its aftermath). I also chose Gravity A, the first band I ever interviewed and Los Angeles-based phenoms, Vintage Trouble, who played VooDoo Fest last year.
You can listen to the entire evening on this PODCAST. (Hour 1 debuts Black and Gold and more music from Phat Word and discusses everything from his philosophy to his business in the Superdome – the “Go Nuts” cinnamon peanuts cart. Hour 2 focuses more on behind-the-scenes movie stories including one from Richard Dreyfuss about American Graffiti and Quentin Tarantino’s casting of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. I sign off at the 2:17 mark but you can continue to hear great local music from Jonny Ray)
Next up was the Irma Thomas & the Professionals with Khris Royal & Dark Matter concert from Harvest the Music benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank. Another product of the amazing training offered at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts), Khris Royal has been playing sax since he was 7. He and his band Dark Matter play funky, jazzy dance-inspiring music that some feared might be too “young” for Miss Irma’s crowd. They needn’t have worried – good music can transcend all. Having been a DJ during the glory days of D.C. “Go-go” music like Chuck Brown, I was delighted when the band struck up a Go-go beat and got my “happy feet” moving.
Miss Irma Thomas is known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” – and that’s saying something. I’ve blogged about her many times and relish every opportunity to be treated to her sexy-romantic, interactive shows. She takes requests so we got to hear all of our favorites like It’s Raining, Hip Shakin’ Mama and You Can Have My Husband But Please) Don’t Mess With My Man, but my biggest thrill was when she sang Heart of Steel, a song she recorded with the amazing Galactic and never sings at her shows. The highlight of the show was when Miss Irma, who brings out the lover in everyone, helped a guy propose to his girlfriend of 7 years in front of our teary-eyed crowd. After, Miss Irma asked the crowd for a request and sang the heck out of At Last, the perfect song for a perfect moment.
But the week wasn’t over yet! Last night, I attended a free screening of Red Bull Street Kings, a lively music-filled documentary about the Red Bull-sponsored battle of the bands in 2010 featuring Free Agents, To Be Continued (TBC) Soul Rebels and the winning Stooges Brass Band. The movie features Glen David Andrews, the “Prince of Treme,” and the screening at the Prytania was hosted by Andrews as well. (Click HERE for my interview with Andrews)
It was hard to sit still while watching everyone dancing under the Claiborne overpass. Afterward, representatives from Red Bull and the Street Kings showdown answered questions about the upcoming 2013 Red Bull Street Kings battle between TBC, New Creations, New Breed and the all-female Original Pinettes Brass Band. TBC certainly has an advantage having weathered the challenge before, but I think it would be amazing if the only all-female brass band (has there ever been another?) could show the boys what a little hip can do for a song.
I can’t wait to be under the overpass on October 26th dancing with the tens of thousands expected to attend! As the panel said, 4 bands march in, 1 marches out. Click HERE to see a trailer of the documentary. Red Bull sponsors this and many other events in an attempt to spread their product and their passion for music. After a 2 year absence, I’m so glad they’ve returned to the city to help “give us wings.”