Kermit Ruffins, “Sunny Side of the Street” (KDHX Studio, July 2013) - EASTER SUNDAY MUSIC (Big Easy edition)! There’s a popular historical narrative to the evolution of New Orleans music, how it mirrored and fueled the American century, while still retaining a local humanism and connection to the past much of the rest of our society loses with regularity. I’m sure the story is, for some, old hat at this point. But to a visitor, actually witnessing it first-hand, compacted into a 90-minute stretch of a random Thursday late-afternoon in the Crescent City, is jaw-dropping.

Here was a free-concert in a city park that billed together a current bounce artist (5th Ward Weebie), a local high-school marching band (Landry-Walker), and a modern New Orleans blower (trombonist/singer Glen David Andrews), like it was naturally part of the same extended idea (which it is) and often acknowledged as such (almost never). Weebie opened with a short-set that included his current hit “Let Me Find Out” (more about bounce in 2014 coming up), but the marching band that followed was beyond revelatory. It was a fourteen-strong drums and cymbals corps, directed by a t-shirt-clad drum-major standing to the side, barking rhythmic orders, essentially calling “next.” And the strings of rhythmic phrases the group spelled out were basically a shorthand history of NOLA drumming, from second-line and Satchmo’s man Baby Dodds, through to Earl Palmer and Mannie Fresh. Including one particularly spectacular breakbeat-loop aside that sounded, for all intents and purposes, like parts of Hawtin’s “Spastik”

As an experience it was hard to top; yet, beat it (or match that beat) we tried, wandering over to the beginning of Kermit Ruffins’ gig at the newly reopened Mother-In-Law Lounge. (Traveling with a 3yr-old, you take what you can get.) It’s a legendary spot on N. Clairborne beneath I-10, opened by the singer Ernie K Doe in the 1990s, and named after his massive 1961 hit. Even after Ernie shuffled off this mortal coil in 2001, his widow Antoinette continued to operate the two-room spot with the stripper pole next to the bar-tables and the street-side barbecue in front; it became an institution/destination you go to hear and see immortals in, while getting sauced (or whatever your preference) while trying not to piss-off the locals (who still packed the joint). Since Antoinette passed away, and following a protracted civic…ummm…negotiation, Kermit Ruffins, massively popular local trumpeter and beloved media-friendly citizen of the Crescent City, bought the place, and holds court (at least) weekly, on Thursdays at 6p (toddlers kinda welcome, as long as you keep ‘em away from the bar and the scary drunks). For $10, one of the best jazz trumpeters in the world fronted a quartet (same one as in the video above, I believe), playing covers of songs Louis Armstrong recorded, skatting in a voice warmly ravaged by weed, taking solos and selfies, and continuing a tradition, or, maybe more to the point, refusing to let an idea die. It was a lesson — an awe-inspiring lesson. 

So, yeah Easter Sunday, a day to make note of rebirth and of refusing a sometimes-great notion pass simply away. What better day to celebrate the sun coming back out.

Professor Longhair, Big Chief, originator (at New Orleans)

Professor Longhair, Big Chief, originator (at New Orleans)

song - dance - merriment (at New Orleans)

song - dance - merriment (at New Orleans)

Dimitri From Paris, “My Tribute to Frankie Knuckles" mix (April 2, 2014) - Sunday Music! There was lots to say this week about Frankie Knuckles’ passing, and I was among the many hacks who was asked to put down some thoughts, so I did. One of the things I kept wanting to come back to was the spiritual nature of his endeavors and that he was comfortable framing them as such: not just his perennial use of the church as a metaphor to describe the energy of the Warehouse, but the deep serene soulfulness of the music and remixes he made upon his return to New York. Todd at RBMA wrote about how Chicago was the right place and time for Knuckles in terms of his ability to contribute to the flow of DJ/dance culture. I wonder if the city’s “Capital of the Heartland” nature didn’t also help shape the sentiments of his music, the aspects of hope and salvation and gospel that became its permanent fixture. (And, because it was being done by Frankie, in turn forever became part of house’s DNA.) When I was younger and heard Knuckles play, these were the qualities of his sets that I liked the least — gimme more drum-machine minimalism and more Jack, I thought, and in a club, I still generally feel this way. Yet the other, more functionally human side of house music, the one its revivalists constantly treat as a cliche (and thus, very rarely get as right as the crackling beat), is the one I increasingly listen for, searching what the music is grounded in. These are the sounds that make up most of Dimitri’s Frankie tribute mix, alongside the expected classics. It’s Sunday house music with a feeling perched somewhere between an infinite sadness and not-quite joy — saudade, the Brazilians call it — and it is a notion that every great dance-floor congregation possesses. 

Sounds of Blackness, “The Pressure (Pt. 1) (Frankie Knuckles classic mix)” (Perspective 1991) - “…to help me fight the pressure of the world.” RIP Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014)

Jeff Mills starring as the teenage Wizard. Supposedly from Cheeks nightclub, Eight Mile Road, Detroit; definitely from around 1984. A wonderful time capsule. [h/t Gavin Russom]

Mike McGonigal aka DJ Yeti, 'Buked & Scorned Gospel Hour (XRAY FM/KXRY) - Sunday Music! Yeti Magazine publisher, McGonigal has spent the last few years also being involved in the release of some great gospel music excavations and reissues. Recently he’s started doing a weekly radio show on Portland’s KXRY, and posting it (temporarily) on his Soundcloud page pre-dated broadcast. The result is essential weekly listening at Chez Raspberry, one crystal-clear definition of “Sunday Music!”. Above is the March 30th show, featuring the following expertly chosen tributes to the spirit and the soulful life (special mention of Bruce Haack’s vocoderized/early electronic gospel paean): Daniel Johnston, “A Recorded Message” / Rev. Louis Overstreet, “I’m On My Way” / Brother & Sister W B Grate, “Power Is In The Heart Of Man. pt 1” / Rev. Chambers, “Me And The Devil” / The Jubilee Gospel Team, “You’ve Got To Meet Your God Somewhere” / Bill Porter & Howard Seratt, “Jesus Hold My Hand’ / Elder A. Johnson, “God Don’t Like It” / Daniel Johnston, “Lord Give Me Hope” / Famous L. Renfroe, “Believe” / B. Haack, “When Mothers of Salem” / House of God Harmonizers, “He’s Mine” / Six Voices of Zion of Columbia, SC, “God Said Call Me” / Lillian Holmes & Madam Wesley Mae Walker, “I Love The Name Jesus” / E.C. And Orna Ball, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” / Southern Revivalists Of N.O, “I’m Bound For Higher Ground” / The Radio Four, “What’Cha Gonna Do?” / Daniel Johnston, “Where the Soul of Man” / Brother & Sister W B Grate, “Power Is In The Heart Of Man, pt 2”

Kraftwerk + Neu! = Neuwerk! (Rockplast 1970) Florian and Ralf and Klaus, 50 minutes of motorik drone improv. Not quite the metallic power of the Schneider/Rother/Dinger “Kraftwerk Live 1971” bootleg of a few years ago, but weird and wonderful nevertheless, and dig the “Trans-Europe Express” opening motif straight outta Florian’s flute around 17 minutes. [h/t Henry Owings y Dan Selzer]

Funkadelic feat. Moodyman, “Sloppy Cosmic” (KDJ 2014) - A collaboration for the ages —part cover, part re-edit, part new parts over old stems — set to be dropping into a friendly neighborhood 12” retailer any day now. And when it does, instant single of the Month. (h/t RA’s Feed)

Frak, “Alice in Acidland” (Börft 1993). Deep Swedish ACIIEIIEIIEIIEIIED circa the first rave wars. New fresh reissued batch on the way. (Also: the internal soundtrack to a weekend of being stuck with a feverish toddler who does not want anything that will make her feel better.)