Lyndsey Beaulieu was born and raised in New Orleans but moved away to attend the University of Virginia. After college she lived in Los Angeles where she became part of the HBO family as an assistant at the HBO offices, then as a Writers' Assistant on ‘Big Love.’ She has been with ‘Treme’ since the pilot and currently works as the Writers' Office Coordinator.

 

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Friday
Jun102011

Eric Overmyer’s Music Crypt – Part III

By Eric Overmyer

Hoodoo queens are a whole subgenre of New Orleans music.  Dr. John does his version of "Marie Laveau" on the unjustly neglected 'N'awlin: Dis, Dat, or D'Udda' (which had the misfortune to come out in the summer of 2005).  I have an abiding fondness for Oscar "Papa" Celestin's version from the Fifties.  There are a number of different songs about another hoodoo queen, Mama Roux, including those by Dr. John, Henry Butler and Wanda Rouzan.  And then there's "Mojo Hanna," in versions by the Neville Brothers, and Aaron Neville on his own.  I like Aaron's version, but Art's lead vocals for the Brothers are superb, too.  "She's a gumbo cooker/And an alligator hooker/Make a dead man jump and shout/Talking about a woman named Hanna/Where she live?/Thirteenth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana/What she do?/Tell me she's a mojo worker."  Work it up, Hannah.  If you don't think the various Neville versions are genius, listen to Tami Lynn's early take on the same song.

Early Aaron Neville?  Nothing better than "Struttin' On Sunday."  Late Aaron Neville?  His version of the eccentric Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence's "I Bid You Goodnight" is transcendent.  Praise Jesus.  And from the same album, 'Warm Your Heart,' "Angola Bound" is in the classic tradition of great prison songs like "Shoo Fly," another New Orleans subgenre, alas.  "Too many mornings gonna wake up soon/Oh Lord and eat my breakfast by the light of the moon/If you see my mama tell her this for me/I got a mighty long time I never go free/Angola bound now, Angola bound/I got lucky last summer now/When I got my time/My boy got hundred, I got ninety-nine."  Dr. John can be heard on the chorus harmony.

Getting back to hoodoo, how about a couple of white boys spooked/thrilled by the whole idea?  Sonny Landreth's "Congo Square." from his great 'South of I-10' album.  That slide guitar is genuine gris-gris.  And the drums?   Like the song says, "Might be superstition but some kind of something going on down there/It's that old time tradition when they play the drums at night in Congo Square/You can hear 'em in the distance/And the old folks up the bayou say a prayer/That's when the voodoo people gather/And they play the drums at night in Congo Square."  Some kind of something going on down there, indeed.  Marie Laveau had devotees from all walks of life, black, white, rich, poor, slave, free.  That's New Orleans, that's Creole-ization.

Some more Creole-ization -- BeauSoleil's "Conja (New Orleans 1786)" from their 'Cajun Conja' album.  The great Cajun band has also delved deeply into the Creole and Zydeco traditions and acknowledged the ties and connections -- and this song celebrates the coming of voodoo to Louisiana. "From Santo Domingo, Guadeloupe and Martinique/Came the voodoo in 1786/There were people of color, seeking their freedom/Musical sorcerers, root doctors and griots/Reposing their powers on New Orleans."  The song goes on to reference the historical Dr. John, a rival of Marie Laveau.

Wednesday
May112011

Eric Overmyer’s Music Crypt – Part 1  

When I asked Eric Overmyer for a list of songs deserving of wider recognition, I expected a mere list. What I received was a dissertation. We’ll break the list into a few smaller posts. But, taken together, it brings to mind a radio program hosted by Billy Delle on WWOZ called, Records from the Crypt. Every now and then Billy will talk about how he has gone way back in to the annals of the crypt to retrieve some particularly special sonic gem. Most folks don’t have music crypts as deep as Billy’s and Eric’s. The quest for these obscure gems may send you searching online and through stores specializing in old vinyl. Consider Jim Russell’s Records in New Orleans for your rare record needs. 

--Lolis

My list of semi-obscure/not-quite forgotten New Orleans/South Louisiana albums/songs/performers/artists.  Off the top:

Let's start with the oldest.  Danny Barker and The Baby Dodds Trio recorded (possibly) the first versions of Mardi Gras Indian songs, and set what had been plain percussion and chant to instrumentation.  Danny was a seminal figure. He was born in the French Quarter, a member of the Barbarin family, founder of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band, which nurtured several generations of musicians, including Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Leroy Jones, Dr. Michael White, Joseph Torregano and many others, and gave birth to the Dirty Brass Band and thus the whole modern brass band movement. Barker's version of "Indian Red" was heard in Season 1.  My favorite tune from those sessions is "Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing," which will also certainly appear on my list of Favorite Carnival and Indian Songs.  The current incarnation of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band does a monster version of  "Tootie Ma," with Clint Maedgen and Charlie Gabriel honking dueling tenors -- a perfect example of how New Orleans music is transmitted and transmuted down the decades.

As long as we're talking Indian music, how about Champion Jack Dupree and his version of "Yella Pocahontas," which was heard over a car radio in Season 1's Mardi Gras episode.  Dupree was orphaned at an early age, his parents killed in a house fire -- which according to local lore was set by the Klan.  He was sent to the Colored Waif's Home (Louis Armstrong's alma mater), was a Spy Boy for the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indians, and left New Orleans for good in 1930 at the age of 20, for Chicago, and later Europe, becoming like many black musicians an ex-pat refugee from racism.  There are a number of versions of "Yella Pocahontas" -- my favorite is the Rounder Records version on ‘The Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday Showdown’ anthology, which features John Mooney on slide guitar, Walter Payton on bass, and Lil Crip and Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias on backing vocals.

And speaking of the Wild Magnolias, their ground-breaking records from the Seventies, ‘The Wild Magnolias’ and ‘They Call Us Wild,’ done with Willie Tee and his brother Earl Turbinton, which married nasty New Orleans funk and Mardi Gras Indian songs, sound as fresh as ever.  We tried to get "New Suit" from ‘They Call Us Wild’ into Season 1's Mardi Gras episode but it was recorded on a French label, Barclay, and we couldn't get the rights -- the French never responded.  Check it out -- it'll knock your feathers off.

--Eric Overmyer