The Night I Said No to Little Richard

Posted: May 9th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Personalities | 2 Comments »

Of the Founding Fathers of Rock & Roll, the quintet whose mugs would be on Mount Rushmore, two were frankly more incendiary than the rest.

It’s not that Elvis, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley weren’t rockin’ and rollin’ in a totally new fashion in the mid 50s.

It’s just that the music of the other two blasted from the tinny speaker of the 7 transistor portable radio I got for my Bar Mitzvah, the device I could put in my bike basket, and thereby take my life’s preferred soundtrack with me wherever I roamed.

One was Jerry Lee Lewis.

When you’re 12 years old and you hear “Great Balls of Fire,” you turn to your pal and scream, “Holy shit, did you hear what he just sang?”

To get a sense of how raucous Jerry Lee could be, youtube his ’64 concert at the Star Club in Hamburg.

(Aside: That Jerry Lee Lewis is the last of those Founding Fathers standing is one of the wonders of the universe.)

The other who pushed the boundaries of the new teen culture to other dimensions was Little Richard. RIP.

His songs propelled. They were insistent. They were outrageous. Read the rest of this entry »


More JazzFest Musical Memories

Posted: May 2nd, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | No Comments »

Realizing it’s truly an impossible task — sharing my “favorite” JazzFest musical moments that is — I’ve decided to take a different tack for this last take on JazzFest for this year.

Because, I love it all. Even the days when I can hear umpteen different performers and none really grab on and don’t let go.

As I always say, that’s why I keep coming back. From day to day. From year to year. Even now in 2020, when I can only experience the event via WWOZ’s JazzFesting in Place.

So, here’s some quick mentions of some regulars, and I’ll give it up for this time around.

 * * * * *

Have I mentioned how much I cherish Allen Toussaint?

Duh, like only a gazillion times.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with He Who Is My Favorite New Orleans Musical Icon, my favorite musical icon period.

When still alive, Toussaint, except maybe way back in the day, never had a regular band that gigged together all the time, that toured. He was, until Katrina for sure, mostly a writer, producer, arranger. But a sometimes performer.

So, at his annual JazzFest sets, his ensemble was always a put together outfit. The upper echelon of NO players, of course, Men and women who have played with him through the decades. But, not playing regularly, the groups were often not as tight as one might hope.

Plus, his singing voice, never anything truly special, diminished over time.

But ya know, it was always Allen Toussaint with his incredible presence that bridged the gap between dapper and dazzle, and his sweet persona, and his amazing songs and charts. Read the rest of this entry »


Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Trois

Posted: April 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music | No Comments »

There’s a chat room where JazzFest obsessives like myself hang out.

For the acolytes, the Jazz Fest Forum  is a year round thing.

The denizens are called Threadheads, and most seem to know each other from hookups during Fest. Or otherwise. Liuzza’s seems to be the official unofficial meeting place. They also have a party every year during Fest called the Patry. With boffo lineups.

I’m sort of an outlier, an auxiliary Threadhead if you will, having come to the dialog later than most of the regulars. On the way to the Fest a few years back, in the Charlotte airport, I did meet a couple that helped start the Forum. And there’s the NRBQ-loving regular I chatted up a couple years ago between acts at the Gentilly Stage.

It’s a year round deal, but, as you can imagine, conversations ratchet up with the lineup announcement in January, and the posting of the Cubes a month out.

One of the regular threads will deal with lesser known, obscure acts that somebody’s heard in concert with a hearty “You gotta hear this group.”

I check them all out on youtube before making my daily plans. Weeks in advance, I must admit. Plus, disciple that I am, I also check out the ones I don’t know that might not have been recommended.

Which brings to my favorite tip of recent years . . .

. . . Bombino. Read the rest of this entry »


Knowing What It Means To Miss New Orleans

Posted: April 19th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | 3 Comments »

Already consumed with the stark reality that my upcoming week was going to be considerably different than planned, I did not need a reminder.

There it was nonetheless when I sat down at my computer Sunday morning.

The Reminder: JazzFest tomorrow.

Sigh.

Not that my favorite thing to do in life, the gravitational pull of my year, started Monday. The festival wouldn’t have begun until 11:00 in the morning Thursday.

Just sayin’. Hearing some hot New Orleans outfit, like, say, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, or Flow Tribe, before noon on a workday, while savoring a frozen latte, is among life’s most endearing pleasures.

But Monday’s the day I start the trek down. At least since I’ve been driving instead of flying. No matter to explain, but I’ve got my reasons, and it works for me.

Stay overnight along the way in Mississippi. Get to the Crescent City around noon Tuesday. Check in and let the burg’s quintessential vibe wash over me. Take a jog through the Quarter. Dine with long time pals that night at, say, Clancy’s or GW Fins. Read the rest of this entry »


Sliders by the Light of Day

Posted: July 21st, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Dining, Food | 2 Comments »

For many, no actually for most, supping at White Castle with the sun high in the sky is an alien concept.

And that’s among those who would deign to darken the doors of the Porcelain Palace at all. For much of the populace, the eatery and its sublime offerings are an anathema to be scorned prior to investigation.

Silly them, Castles are actually tasty, not just fast. There’s something about how the bun and burger and cheese, all steamed, meld together that’s unique. And how just being in the place brings back memories of simpler, more carefree times.

Anyway, I found myself savoring a couple of cheese sliders and some rings mid afternoon, and realized there are some similarities to the normal middle of the night had a few too many and are on the way home but aren’t quite ready to hit the pillow yet experience shared by many. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’19, Day 4: If You Don’t Go, You Don’t Know

Posted: April 30th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

(My apologies for the late post. Had a Sunday night Crawfish Boil. And I chose not to drive and type at the same time while on my way home Monday.) 

I’m reminded of an evening years ago, at dinner with my krewe after a day at the Fest.

We pulled out our wrinkled Cubes and extolled the experience of the groups we shared and one upped each other on the ones we heard when we went our separate ways. It’s the nature of the beast, given how much music plays at the same time on so many stages. There’s more great stuff you miss, than you can possibly hear.

So, at this dinner the night I’m talking about, all of a sudden I start laughing while I peruse my scribbles for the day.

“What’s up,” my pals inquired?

“Oh, just that I totally blew off Ray Charles.” Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’19, Day 2: Sometimes Enough is Enough

Posted: April 27th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

There are now two days at JazzFest when I have been simply sated, had my fill even though there was tuneage left to be heard, when I was OK to bid adieu before the music stopped.

In 1988, I felt comfortable enough to return to the indulgent charms of New Orleans and rejoined the Fest for the first time since I’d cleaned up my profligate act six years earlier.

I couldn’t get enough, running from stage to stage, heading into the night for more on the Riverboat. By the time the Neville Brothers Band, then at the height of their power took the stage the last day, I was just about consumed . . .

. . . then I heard for the first time Aaron, with only brother Art accompanying him on the piano, singing the lustrous “Arianne.”

Swooping. Soaring. Soulful. Shiver inducing. The Ultimate Aaron.

There was room for nothing more. I was full with satisfaction.

I turned, walked to the car, where I waited for an hour or so for my pals who stayed until the day’s end.

There was a redux of sorts this Friday. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest 2019: The Day Before

Posted: April 24th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Music | No Comments »

There is a burning question for those of us obsessed with the anecdotia of rock & roll, especially that of New Orleans.

Why is that Allen Toussaint, a fellow on the Mount Rushmore of American music, a bespoke, dapper fellow, who was alway dressed impeccably in the finest if elegantly flamboyant, superbly tailored suits, a dandy; why is that the Mr. Toussaint, with never a thread out of place, always wore sandals with white socks.

If it weren’t for his musical eminency, such an apparel quirk would never have cut it.

To find out the answer to this nagging query about my favorite musician — that’s Toussaint and me at the top of the c d kaplan Culture Maven Facebook page — I went to the source.

Allen Toussaint’s haberdasher.

Ozzie Hunter is also immaculately attired, if considerably more conservatively, given that he’s been a salesman to the stars and New Orleans gentry (and turista) for decades at Rubenstein’s. Which family owned Crescent City store at the corner of St. Charles and Canal continues to clothe men for whom New Orleans is more than a thing, but a way of life.

“I catered to Allen’s tastes for over twenty years,” advises Hunter. Read the rest of this entry »


Confessions of a Compulsive Blender

Posted: February 8th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Food, Ruminations | 5 Comments »

The true depth of my affliction struck with a not so terrible swift sword just this morning.

As I have done for decades, I was stirring the contents of a large jar of Smuckers Natural Chunky Peanut Butter, which sits on the shelf in a state of separation. “Oil separation is natural,” it states right on the cap.

Before I go on, a bit of background. For breakfast every morning — every single morning, except for maybe a couple of really cold winter days, when a bowl of oatmeal calls my name — I eat a sliced apple, preferably Honeycrisp, smothered in peanut butter.

Natural peanut butter. No added oils. No added sugar. No added nothing. Except a pinch of salt. “Less than 1%,” according to the label.

For years, it was all Smuckers all the time.

Always chunky for the necessary hint o’ crunch.

Several years back, roaming the aisles of Whole Foods, I discovered their equivalent house brand. Simply called 365 Peanut Butter Crunchy. Dry Roasted Peanuts, Salt. Read the rest of this entry »


“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: A Reconsideration of S2

Posted: December 11th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, TV | No Comments »

The other day, an old college chum sent me a review of a film he figures I’d be interested in.

In the missive, he said something to the effect of, I guess you don’t like to read reviews in advance, so it won’t color your take on films.

To which I responded, au contraire, I read far too many reviews in advance, have favorite reviewers who are go to, and I’m sure that habit, for better or worse, does color my perspective.

I also have my own personal predilections which affect my take on a movie or TV series. Coen Brothers always get a break in advance.

Or a second season of a series I loved the first time around, like “Mozart in the Jungle.”

Or, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

At the bottom here, you can listen to my podcasted review of Season 2, rendered for my FPK reviewing duties after watching the first three of the ten episode second season of the beloved, award-winning Amazon Prime comedy.

After consuming, in short time, the rest of the Season 2, I need to posit a more refined and considered take that is positive, but not as much so.

At the time when the series is set, the 1950s, there was a common if sexist in retrospect saying, “A girl has the right to change her mind.”

Well, I’m changing mine. At least, somewhat. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest Day 3: Dirty Notes & a Gulp of Chocolate Milk

Posted: May 1st, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

My apologies for the lateness of these musings on the first weekend’s final day. Sleep deprivation and the exigencies of being beamed back from that other universe to real life are my excuses. Sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused.

Truth is not every day at JazzFest is magical. Sometimes just being there, with a few musical moments here and there through the day, has to suffice.

For me, Sunday was that type of day. Not that there wasn’t a lot of incredible music being offered, it’s just that I never fired. My sleep schedule was way off. I was never able to hook up with my peeps as our texts crossed. Etc, etc.

That said, the worst day at JazzFest is better than any day in real life, but for a few exceptions. Those days when your granddaughter runs up and hugs you. When the Cards beating the Cats in any sport. And, well, that’s about it. JF beats the rest.

 * * * * *

Aaaaaaaaaand, after essentially ignoring their annual set for decades, I caught Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes on the big stage to start the day.

Several years back, I caught their last song, which was smokin’, and made a mental note not to miss them again. Which, of course, I forgot until Sunday, when I was reminded of their supreme chops as they were soundchecking as I entered the Fest site. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest Day Deux: Sona, Hora, Aurora & Fats

Posted: April 29th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

Though I didn’t realize it then, my affinity to New Orleans music dates back to my first 45s, which I listened to on a $19.95 record player I bought with my own earned money at Ben Snyder’s Department Store, and my second LP my grandparents bought me at a shop in Detroit.

I had more of Fats Domino’s Imperial singles than any other of the Founding Fathers. And that LP was also Fats. (The first was Little Richard, also a gift from Grandpa Max & Grandma Tillie.)

I guess I realized, even in junior high, that Fats was from New Orleans, but it wasn’t until years later that I discovered we share the same birthday.

I was fortunate to hear him back when, and several times at Fest, including his last gig of consequence here, what, ten years ago or so, when he played the big stage, reunited with long time collaborator Dave Bartholomew for the first time in decades. Read the rest of this entry »