Thursday, February 7, 2008

Casual Listening Extra 2-8-08

Casual Listening


February 8, 2008

“We Like it Stanky” (concert January 28)

I am happy to report that the New Orleans music scene is alive and well and living in Uptown on Monday nights at the Maple Leaf Bar. Papa Grows Funk’s weekly residency brings out a fanatical crowd drawn to their infamous groove.

I arrive at 10:15 for the 9:00 show and still end up being an hour early. Never mind – the alley nearby is home for one night only to the world’s most distinctive soup kitchen. oNe of the local chefs is dishing out bowls of seafood gumbo, andouille & squash bisque and greens on cornbread. “I’m not making money at I job, so I figure I might as well come here and give it away. After all, it’s carnival time.” Eight days before Madi Gras is like eight days before Christmas – there’s an electricity gathering that seems to light up everyone around you.

A guy named Dave from Phoenix strikes up a conversations. He’s in town for the 30th anniversary of the radiators, another New Orleans institution. As for Papa Grows Funk, he says it’ll be the best show I see all week. [One week later, he’s absolutely right].

The band kicks in and locks into a greasy groove. The band is a kaleidoscope of funk, sprung from the same soil as The Meters, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, and Jelly Roll Morton. Rock-solid rhythm section, acrobatic sax and crying guitar propel the sound, but the heart of the band is the big man on the Hammond organ. So inspired, you feel at times that you must be in church.

Instantaneously, the room is rocking with 40 people in various states of dance. Dave comes up and punches me in the shoulder. “If you could sum it up in one word…?”

“Good!” I said.

“You can do better than that!”


“That’s more like it,” and he dances off into the crowd. By this time, the whole front row of people has let go of all self-consciousness and are engaged in flat-out goofy dancing. The more I listen, the more I dance, and I realize that it only looks goofy from the outside – it’s just what naturally comes out when you let yourself fall into the music.

“WE LIKE IT STAN-KYYYY” the man behind the organ growls. Stanky, slinky, goofy, funky – this is New Orleans.

Dave grabs me once more on my way out. “Don’t you ever fuckin’ forget this!”

The Blind Boys of Alabama – Down in New Orleans (gospel)

Released just in time for Mardi Gras, the classic gospel group takes a road trip, and comes up with some solid crossover material. Full-throated singing with brass and jazz backups makes for great gumbo.

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