Atlanta Pop ’70, Fifty Years On Tuesday, Jun 30 2020 

This Independence Day marks the half century anniversary of the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival. 

The following memories of mine were written and published a decade ago on the occasion of the event’s 40th anniversary. They have been edited, and updated, though my memory of that time long ago far away is absolutely no better on its own than ten years ago.

Which is why I reached out to a few friends who were at the festival, and, I’ve included the memories of those who responded and have any somewhat cogent recollection at all. They are added in italics. c d k 

Captain Canada and The Mailman.

It’s fifty years gone this Fourth of July weekend since those nicknames were bestowed upon my pal Stephen and me at the Atlanta Pop Festival.

Many if not most of the memories of that magical interlude have long been lost in the daze of time. But this I can say for sure. We came upon those identities honestly.

As for the rest of that weekend outside Byron, Georgia, the tales told here are probably true, but perhaps not. Only the synapses of my and pals’ hippocampi know for sure. And they’ve long since lost most if not all connectitude to that time and place.

Stephen was The Mailman; I, Captain Canada.

The sordid details: We knew in advance there was going to be triple digit Fahrenheit at the festival. So the day before we left, we purchased pith helmets at Big Deal Lucille’s, our name for an army surplus store downtown. If such a chapeau provided protection for long lost Stanley Livingston in Africa, we presumed such would work for us.

I went with basic khaki.

Stephen opted for that light grayish blue with maroon straps that we’ve come to associate with the United States Postal Service.

So hot was it that the very first day down there, we, along with our traveling companions Don and Merrily, sought respite in the nearest body of water. Which lake or stream or pond — frankly I can’t recall — we found by following the gaggle of hippies on hoods of cars all headed, they said, as if guided by a stoned Trip Tik in that direction.

When Stephen jumped in the not so deep, pith helmet firmly in place, one bleary-eyed bather adroitly observed, “It’s the Mailman.”

Firmer monikers have been borne of lesser tales.

The origin of Captain Canada is somewhat more convoluted. The statute of limitations having lapsed, the story can be revealed. With haste and for the last time, so we can move on.

The day before we departed Louisville, our friend Becker needed help moving from one furn apt. to another. Among the items he intended to discard was a flag of Canada. Which artifact I commandeered, immediately tying about it about my neck like a cape.

That’s but the germination of the nickname.

One person I ran into, Captain Canada. Lo and behold, he knew how to party. H.K.

Which sobriquet flowered fully on the first night of music at the festival. (Caveat: The imagery that might manifest from the description of the following interlude is not for the faint of heart, grannie or youths under the age of majority.)

That weekend marked my first experimentation with psychedelics. When the mescaline kicked in, it started to rain a bit. At which point it seemed an eminently logical to my then “experienced” mind to fully disrobe. No matter that we were sitting in throng of several hundred thousand. It struck me as the natural thing to do.

Besides, I didn’t want my clothes to get wet. I had hand fashioned with a magic marker a “Who is Ron Dante?” t-shirt which I thought too clever and pithy to not be able to wear again once the showers had abated.

From such reasoning, wackier tales have been told.

The inclemency didn’t however prevent me from wearing my Canadian flag cape, which I did for the entire festival. Or, that pith helmet. From which point on, and for several years thereafter, I was known to a few as Captain Canada.

Enough of that.

 * * * * *

Admittedly I am finding it difficult to accurately describe how wonderful and fun that weekend was. The ascendent experience is proving to be beyond sensible description.

When I’ve attempted to do so through the decades, I have reverted to this.

The Atlanta Pop Festival is something outside the timeline of my life.

It is as if it was all a dream, so fantastic, so unreal, so joyous was the moment.

It was one of those once in a lifetime situations that I am proud to say I made it through and had the time of my life. H.K. 

The flip side: It was not the same for everyone.

I don’t remember it particularly fondly. I slept in a ditch. A.B.

But most loved it.

My major impression of it was that it was HOT and HUMID. Nudity was not only a cultural expression, but almost a matter of comfort. Everyone focused on the music, the experience, and yes, truth be told, recreational drugs. There was plenty of all. A.A.

The performers included the following whose music I do recall if only to a limited extent. Jimi Hendrix, who played with fireworks filling the sky behind him on the 4th of July. The Allman Brothers Band, including a jam with Johnny Winter. The Chambers Brothers. (For which set, I stood directly in front of the speakers, as a result of which stupidity, the hearing in my right ear has never fully recovered.) BB King. Grand Funk Railroad. Hampton Grease Band. Ten Years After.

Among the groups that I have no or only vague recollection hearing: Procol Harum. Poco. Terry Reid. Ravi Shankar. John Sebastian. Mountain. Spirit. Ginger Baker. Chakra. Cactus. Gypsy. Bloodrock. Captain Beefheart.

What fascinates me is how few who attended, myself included, speak of the musical moments.

I remember so little about the music, except the Allman Brothers and the Hampton Grease Band with frontman Bruce Hampton. I was so spent by the time Hendrix hit the stage, I retreated to my little campsite. Were there fireworks? A.B.

So, what do I remember? The Main Stage, a local band called the Allman Brothers. I remember being blown away listening to Duane Allman play guitar for hours off stage after the set. My second memory is being awakened in the middle of the night on July 4 by the sounds of Jimi Hendrix playing the opening licks of the Star Spangled Banner. I sort of remember some other great performances — BB King, Mountain, Bob Seger, Richie Havens comes to mind. A.A.

The unfortunate thing about the festival is I don’t remember a whole lot because I was tripping the whole time. But I do remember Hendrix playing the national anthem on the Fourth of July, woke up fireworks going off and said to myself, “Fuck, man.” H.K.

The tuneage was more a nucleus around which this grand, garish carnival evolved, an excuse for the gathering of southern tribes.

The sounds were a backdrop to the experience. A.B. 

 * * * * *

Considering the entire experience, I do have an acute feeling of personal evolution. After graduating from law school a couple of months before, I had taken the bar exam the weekend before the festival, didn’t think I’d had passed it since I frankly hadn’t studied much.

Thus I hadn’t a clue what was in store for the rest of my life.

It was your classic pivotal moment at the onslaught of adulthood.

So, hey, let’s go get stoned and rock.

I’d lived at home with my parents until my senior year in law school. My growth had thus been stunted. So my socialization abilities were still in their early stages.

Hey. let’s mingle en masse and talk jabberwocky.

So, without getting too awfully philosophical, I’ll just offer that this eminently eye-opening weekend fostered a sense of freedom and wonder and creative possibility which I hadn’t previously conceptualized.

 * * * * *

Mostly it was just a load of damn fun.

As for specifics, there are but a few I remember.

An interlude where I handed a merchant enough Uniform Commercial Code razzmatazz in the middle of the night that he cashed a personal check for some biker dude. Which black leathered hulk expressed his appreciation by telling me he had my back in case I needed something taken care of during the festival.

Not wanting one blistering afternoon to walk all the way to the water spigot a mile away, I, much to the chagrin of Don and Merrily, filled our thermos with $3 worth of Pepsi.

My gang arrived on Thursday, the day before the festival itself began. So, we avoided all the traffic delays, and found a camping spot away from the stage area, right at the edge of a grove of trees.

Camped next to us was a group, which included a gal who wore a wig the whole weekend in that  awful heat, because she didn’t like the color of her hair after dyeing it. How antithetical to the whole counter culture ethos, I thought at the time. Her buddy turned me onto Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac for the first time.

There was another somewhat bucolic spot where many settled on the other side of the stage.

“We camped in the pecan grove. Because the trees were lined in rows, it was kind of like being the suburbs.” K.S. 

While listening to some band, there was a couple having sex the next blanket over, with the girl shouting in ecstasy “Ooooooooh, the stars!” While her head was resting on my lap. Trust me, it felt as odd at the time as it sounds now.

Running into a couple of fellows from Louisville. One was the younger brother of Marc and Bruce, a couple of high school contemporaries of mine. The only thing I remembered about him was that he’d been a Putt Putt champion years before. He had hitchhiked with his GF over to the festival from Athens, where he was attending UGa. We shared some herb.

The other was a fellow a couple of years older than me, whom I’d known from back home. The last time I’d seen him was when he was a at Vanderbilt, and I was visiting as a HS senior. It was at a Joey Dee and the Starlighters dance at skating rink, and he, in his cups, was was attempting to regale a some sorority sisters. We shared some herb.

The pathway from our camping spot to the stage, lined with hundreds and hundreds of people selling drugs.

Lots and lots of topless and totally nude women. Alas, none of whom were inclined to fall prey to my not so considerable charms.

Wendy What Went Wrong*

* An acquaintance from home brought along a date he barely knew for the weekend. Her name was Wendy. If you’re too young to get the extrapolated nickname, ask your aunt who saw the Beach Boys in the early 60s.

Laughter. Early. Often.

Juicy peaches bigger than my fist for a nickel.

The Heat. And I’m talking temperature not cops, which were essentially nowhere to be seen.

The Chambers Brothers doing “People Get Ready.”

Hendrix playing the “Star Spangled Banner” at midnight — or thereabouts — on the Fourth.

The Allman Brothers Band, whom I’d never heard of before. Particularly, “Every Hungry Woman,” during which I was drawn closer to the stage — with Wendy What Went Wrong alongside — as if it were a siren call. They were to become My Band.

I also remember not hearing Duane Allman jam the Thursday night before the official start of the festival, on a second small stage across the road in the middle of the woods. Listened to a band or two that I didn’t know. They kept announcing that Sky Dog Allman was coming to jam. I’d never heard of him. I tried to wait to hear what the fuss was about, until I crapped out, and trundled back to our campsite.

The Hampton Grease Band.

Through my own personal haze, trundling back to our campsite on the final morning, while Richie Havens sang “Here Comes The Sun” at sunrise.

Frankly, sadly, that’s about it for the music.

One friend remembers an act other than Hendrix, the Allmans or Hampton Grease Band.

“Mountain.” K.S. 

 * * * * *

It’s not like I/ we weren’t paying attention to the songs. It’s just that the entire experience was so overwhelming, that there was so much sensory input, so many diffused interactions that the music was but one element. An important one, but just one of many nonetheless.

I guess it’s fair to ask, beyond the fact that it was a super time, if there were any cultural imperatives to be learned from Atlanta Pop?

Well, yes. One, there is power in numbers.

Law enforcement was basically non existent. Byron had a couple of part time cops, I believe. A number of state troopers were sent to the scene. Governor Lester Maddox wanted it shut down, but that wasn’t going to happen.

I’ve read that nobody was arrested, despite the drugs and nudity. There were just way more of us than them that weekend. Besides it was a ferociously peaceful gathering. (Apparently there was a brouhaha about opening the gates and freeing up the festival. It passed me by. We actually bought tickets in advance. $14 for the weekend.)

Pepsi doesn’t quench thirst like H2O.

Nobody had a clue who Ron Dante was? Nor much cared*

*FYI, he was the studio guy responsible for The Archies. That’s right, “Sugar, Sugar.”

Pith helmets are an effective way of protection from the sun.

Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman — both of whom died within fifteen months of the festival — were the best. I’m grateful that I heard them in person when they were still around. And that I remember at least some of their playing there.

Plus, I can now, forty years after the fact, lord it over today’s guitar fawning “youngsters.”

I also recall not having to deal with too much traffic on the way out.

We waited until Monday, and it didn’t take long to get to the Interstate. Not far from Byron, we stopped to eat at a KFC.

After that meal, I got in the back of Don’s family’s station wagon to close my eyes for a bit during the ride home.

Next thing I remember was being aroused in front of my apartment back in Louisville.

With a smile on my face.

— c d kaplan

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The Night I Said No to Little Richard Saturday, May 9 2020 

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.

And all those ladies he sang about — Long Tall Sally, Miss Ann, et al — they weren’t ladies at all.

Not only was Richard Penniman’s music from the other side of the tracks, you had to turn down a dark road and know exactly where you were going to get there. Then know the password to get in the door.

The cover of the first album I ever owned is that one at the lede. Bought for me by my hip grandparents, Max and Tillie Kaplan, at a music store in the then newfangled Northland Shopping Center in Detroit.

The last time I heard Little Richard in concert, it was sad really.

At JazzFest maybe 15 or 20 years ago. His first song ripped it up.

Then it turned to Vegas shtick, male dancers in thongs and all.

He was but a caricature of himself, which persona was cartoonish enough as it was.

Little Richard, like Jerry Lee really, had a constant inner struggle between the primal and spiritual. So, Richard Penniman would take periodic sabbaticals from rock and roll, and preach the gospel and life lessons according to Little Richard.

It was during one of those hiatuses in the late 60s or early 70s that I perpetrated one of the most egregious regrets of my life.

He gave a lecture at U of L.

And, for some unfathomable reason, based on some reasoning hard to comprehend in retrospect, I passed.

How stupid.

I mean, really, what was I thinking?

Apparently there were only a few people who showed up, and he was accessible, and I could have probably chatted him up for awhile.

That hole in my soul feels a bit emptier today, having learned of Little Richard’s passing.

He’d been in ill health for some time, and stopped performing years ago.

Anyhow, he was like no other, that Little Richard.

Here’s my favorite Little Richard tune, “The Girl Can’t Help It,” the eponymous title song of the lascivious ’56 movie, starring Jayne Mansfield.

— c d kaplan

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More JazzFest Musical Memories Saturday, May 2 2020 

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.

So I tracked down this snippet of one of his endearing performances from a few years back.

(His 2009 set, which WWOZ aired Saturday as part of JazzFesting in Place, was seriously hot. Toussaint and band were hot hot hot. Unfortunately I couldn’t track down any video of that gig. Sigh.)

 * * * * *

The Gospel Tent is, well, the ultimate testament to feeling the spirit.

I’ve been there on an Easter Sunday, when I swear it was levitating.

I remember walking in once in the middle of a set by the mass choir from a church in Dallas, and so powerful was their sound and energy, it literally slowed my pace. Like walking into a strong wind.

And I’ve been in there, when a group just wouldn’t fire, or the crowd wasn’t ready.

Just a few examples here to give you a sense.

The first video of the Electrifying Crown Seekers is choppy — you’ll see — but a great example of just how out of control the place and performers can get.

Then there are gospel singers most of us have never heard of that make you think, “Why aren’t these people famous?”

Like Cynthia Girtley.

Or, a choir that just gets it on.

 * * * * *

I’m a sucker for cover songs.

I’ve always been fascinated at every concert anywhere by what song of someone else the artist or band might perform.

If it’s an oldie, I’m rarely not smitten.

Like when rising blues star, a recent New Orleans emigrant, Samantha Fish opened her first appearance ever at the Fest in the Blues Tent with Barbara Lewis’s sultry, “Hello Stranger.”

This isn’t from JazzFest, but I have to share anyway.

 * * * * *

Another personal peculiarity I mention often about my many annual treks to Fest, it’s rarely about the Big Name Acts.

With some exceptions.

Like Springsteen with his Seeger Sessions Band, at their first gig, at the first JF just eight months after Katrina.

As I’ve often written before of his so damn good so damn appropriate opening tune, he had me at Oh.

 * * * * *

OK, one more and I’ll get outta here.

Had to give a tip of the hat to Dr. John, New Orleans through and through.

His best gig at JazzFest might be his set from ’06. Sadly I couldn’t find a video from that one. (Track it down if you can, the audio might be in the archives.)

So I’ll just bid you my adieu with this New Orleans classic from Mac Rebennack:

— c d kaplan

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Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Trois Thursday, Apr 30 2020 

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.

Real name: Goumar Almoctar. His lineage is that of a Tuareg tribesman. They’re nomadic, as I understand. Though my research is limited.

What I know is when I watched and listened to the first video, I put a big square around his time block on my Cubes. Which essentially means, “Don’t even think of meandering to another stage, and be there at the start.”

Whoever told us in that thread he was a must see was absolutely correct.

Bombino’s style is evocative and hypnotic. Think snake charmer music.

What I remember about his set, other than being transfixed and transformed, eyes closed, to another reality, is the guy who shouted as exiting the Blues Tent when the set was over, “Now that’s what JazzFest is all about.”

So I present this video of him at JazzFest, though I don’t remember if this was his first or second appearance. As you’ll note, the sound of the music is somewhat fuzzy, yet it’s a cool presentation.

Because it gives a real sense of what it’s like in the Blues Tent. Jammed. People locked into the music. People milling about looking for seats. People trying to dance in the aisles, and get up in front of the stage. The mix of hubbub and hot tuneage.

 * * * * *

You had to really experience the ultimate one hit wonder Ernie K-Doe in person to observe the true glory of his hubristic smile-inducing provenance.

The fellow was a character.

I recall hearing him in a small club, almost completely empty, in New Orleans in the early 70s before JazzFest became a thing. He prattled on about the old days, when he was the King of the Tulane frat house parties. And the magnificence and importance of “Mother In Law” of course.

To attempt to convey K-Doe’s engaging, cocky personality, I present a photo of his grave marker.

My favorite of the several times I heard K-Doe was at a Doo Drop Inn Revisted gig in a New Orleans hotel back in the 90s.

For a time, this was an annual evening show that was part of the festival, where they celebrated the iconic Crescent City rhythm and blues club.

There’d be a hot big band, conducted by Wardell Quezergue or Allen Toussaint or some New Orleans musical genius. Then they’d trot out the Dixie Cups and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson and Benny Spillman, and other hitmakers from the 50s and 60s.

The year I’m talking about, not sad to say the one in the video below, K-Doe was apparently in his cups a bit more than usual.

He did a couple of tunes. Ended with “Mother in Law,” during which he vamped, hoping to hold the stage as long as possible.

At some point, he admonished the crowd, “On your feet for Ernie K-Doe.”

Then, “Wave your handkerchief for Ernie K-Doe.”

Finally and emphatically, “On your knees for Ernie K-Doe.”

At which blissful oh so New Orleans moment, he was given the hook.

Here’s K-Doe at another year’s Doo Drop Inn Revisited. It gives a good sense of the fellow’s personality.

What I love about this set is that band leader Allen Toussaint is getting such a kick out of K-Doe, he can’t stop smiling.

K-Doe’s gravestone does get one thing so very right.

After him, there’s no other.

 * * * * *

I have no recollection of exactly how I came to the music of Daniel Lanois. Whether I knew he was a producer of a bunch of name acts like U2 and Dylan, or whether that came later?

But I got his own CD “Acadie” in the late 80s.

Loved its melancholy feel. Loved the unique sound of his guitar. His brooding songs struck a chord. Still do.

When I saw him on the schedule at JazzFest I rejoiced. One of my most anticipated performances there ever.

It was gray day, the clouds outlined in black, or so it seemed.

Perfect for Lanois.

There’s actually a CD of his JF performance from ’89, which I just discovered when doing some research for this. But the cost of same was a bit much.

Nor could I find a video of his gig there.

But . . . I did come upon this video of a searing performance of his signature tune, “The Maker.” You may know the song from Willie or Emmy Lou.

 * * * * *

Along with some other recordings, I gave a CD of Olu Dara’s album, “In The World: From Natchez to New York,” to some friends as a gift after I’d stayed at their home.

“How did you hear about this guy?,” I was asked.

Again, I hadn’t the slightest remembrance.

Again, I cherished the moment he’d be at JazzFest on the Congo Square stage. The Mississippi native made a second appearance a few years later.

During that first performance, my pal and I taunted a friend back home, whom we had been trying to get to come to Fest for years, and whom we knew loved Olu Dara. We phoned him during the set and let him listen for a moment or two, and abruptly hung up.

Olu Dara is Yoruba for “God is good.”

The jazz cornetist’s real name is Charles Jones III. Doesn’t have the same exotic ring, does it?

Through the years, he had a couple of zestily named ensembles. The Okra Orchestra. The Natchezsippi Dance Band.

Anyway, by the time he released that album and played Fest, his music had morphed into a truly intriguing mashup of jazz and blues and folk and African and reggae.


For reasons which should come obvious, this tune was all the rage for a good while after his performance at Fest.

The video is obviously from another gig.

More to come. Maybe. We’ll see if listening to classic sets over the next four days instigates more memories.

— c d kaplan

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Lift Up Louisville — We’ve Got Our Own Song Wednesday, Apr 29 2020 

Here’s a great project inspired by the Mayor and including performances from Louisville-area musicians.

“Lift Up Louisville” is a community sourced song written and performed by 20+ musicians with ties to Louisville, Kentucky.
Inspired by our mayor, Greg Fischer. Dedicated to the people of Louisville, Kentucky. Thank you to everyone on the front line around the world. The song is available at sonaBLAST!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 27, 2020) – Mayor Greg Fischer today presents “Lift Up Louisville,” a new city song that he commissioned as part of his Lift Up Lou movement, launched in early March to keep residents’ spirits up during the fight against COVID-19 and maintain a sense of connectedness, even at a time of necessary social distancing.

The song represents a collaborative effort by Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams, Jim James and Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket, singer/songwriter Will Oldham, cellist/composer Ben Sollee, Scott Carney of Wax Fang, percussionist Dani Markham, hip hop star Jecorey Arthur, gospel singer Jason Clayborn, singer Carly Johnson and several others from Louisville’s diverse and celebrated music scene. Sollee was the song’s main collaborator, and an accompanying music video was produced by Kertis Creative and directed by Stephen Kertis.

All proceeds from the song, which is being marketed nationally, will benefit the One Louisville COVID-19 Response Fund, Louisville’s central source to provide emergency resources to people and nonprofits throughout the community that have been hurt by the pandemic.

Abrams said Mayor Fischer reached out to him as the Lift Up Lou initiative was created, and reminded him that they’d been talking about a “Louisville song” for some time, to celebrate the city’s diverse and extensive musical talent. “Now is the time,” the Mayor said, and Abrams got to work.

Abrams said he initially had no specific idea how to pull off such a collaboration during a time of social distancing. But as he started making calls, “everyone said yes,” and the work began, with nearly 30 contributing music, lyrics and their various creative talents.

The Mayor describes “Lift Up Louisville” as “a love song to my home town.”

“The arts are the soul of Louisville,” Mayor Fischer said. “Our city is blessed with an amazing array of brilliant and compassionate artists who love their hometown. That love is the backbeat of ‘Lift Up Louisville,’ which tells the story of this moment in the life of our city, our country and our world. And the story of this moment includes the countless acts of kindness, inspiration and unity that we’ve seen in our city as people from every background and every neighborhood have found ways to lift each other up. I want to thank Teddy Abrams and his fellow musicians who found a way to collaborate from a distance and bring our city even closer together.”

Abrams added: “We hope that this song provides inspiration and pride for Louisvillians, and that it functions as a reminder that the city’s artists believe in service to their community in addition to performance at the highest levels. We’d love to see other cities take this model and build their own songs, creating a quilt of songs reflecting the various musical communities of towns around the world.”

And, the Mayor said, “The release of ‘Lift Up Louisville’ is only the beginning. We will be issuing challenges later this week to cities around the world to produce their own collaborations so we can assemble a beautiful musical montage of this moment in history to remember the way we embraced the arts to get us through the difficulties of this time.”

Available via local independent label sonaBLAST! Records, the song is an artistic reflection and utilization of the online collaborative realm the world has experienced this past month

“I love Louisville’s diverse and collaborative arts scene, said Sollee. “It is one of the many reasons I’ve made my home in Louisville, and I’m proud that we’ve come together to share our affection for our city, its people, and our collective sacrifice to care for each other.”

Kertis said his Louisville-based creative agency was “proud to direct and edit the music video filled with friends about a place we love.”

“We’ve historically been interested in music projects, especially the intersection between music and community,” said Kertis. “‘Lift Up Louisville’ hits the mark on both, and we’re really proud to work on this with so many of our talented musician friends from around the state.”

The song was also featured in a piece on PBS Newshour Weekend on Sunday. It described the story behind the creation; watch their profile here.

Mayor Fischer and Abrams provided a sneak listen to a snipped from “Lift Up Louisville” on Friday, and will share the full song during a Tele Town Hall this afternoon.

Records and all major streaming services: All proceeds from LIFT UP LOUISVILLE benefit the One Louisville COVID-19 Response Fund:… Teddy Abrams – Piano and music Jim James – Lyrics and vocals Scott Carney – Lyrics and guitar Will Oldham – Vocals Patrick Hallahan – Drums and percussion Danny Kiely – Bass Carly Johnson – Vocals Sam Bush – Mandolin and vocals Michael Cleveland – Fiddle Jason Clayborn – Vocals Sharron Sales – Vocals Dani Markham – Drums and percussion Daniel Martin Moore – Whistle Cheyenne Mize – Fiddle and vocals Jacob Duncan – String/wind arrangement Scott T. Smith – Vocals Rayul Beatbox – Beatbox Jecorey Arthur – Rap Brigid Kaelin – Accordion Gabriel Lefkowitz (LO) – Violin Julia Noone (LO) – Violin Kathy Karr (LO) – Flute Matthew Karr (LO) – Bassoon Andre Levine (LO) – Clarinet Mixed/Mastered by Kevin Ratterman Produced by Ben Sollee Art by Hound Dog Press

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My Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Deux Sunday, Apr 26 2020 

Oh my, the power of suggestion.

As I write this Saturday afternoon, I’m listening to old JazzFest classic sets at, which the station will be streaming again Sunday the 26th, and next Thursday through Sunday, noon to 8:00 EDT.

Today’s sumptuous slate opened with Bonerama, which as I write I am confirming to myself might be my favorite of the current New Orleans fusion maestros. (I’d like to more definitive, but, my ears are easily turned, faves change on a whim.)

You know Bonerama’s like funk and rock and some second line Longhairish rumba, all fronted by — Ready for it? — a trio of trombones. Which they play straight up or synthesized.

I mean, ya know, it’s New Orleans. Where else?

And, listening to them open today with “Big Chief,” reminded me of a favorite JF musical moment I’d forgotten.

At the first Fest after Katrina, a miracle really but so endearing and fun, Bonerama’s set featured a searing version of the Zeppelenized version of Memphis Minnie’s seriously appropriate at that moment, “When the Levee Breaks.”

I couldn’t find a youtube of that particular performance, but here’s the band doing it another time at a different gig:

OK, I assume you now realize that, unlike the first entry in this series, meant to help take my mind off the reality that I’m not actually at JazzFest in 2020, this will not be a podcast.

But it does include music. So, hey, it’s got that goin’ for it, which is nice.

 * * * * *

So, as I’ve mentioned a trillion times, my first JazzFest was in ’76. My first experience was not actually at the Fest during the day, but an evening show on the Riverboat President. Allen Toussaint. Professor Longhair. Gatemouth Brown.

Pretty overwhelming actually. Joyously so. To be brutally honest, mea culpa, I’m pretty sure I’d never heard of any of them at age 31, despite my addiction to rock & roll and all its permutations.

Chuckie had some catchin’ up to do. A task not the least bit onerous.

That was a Friday night. The following Sunday, Longhair closed the first weekend of Fest.

It remains to this day, thousands of concerts before and after, my favorite set of music E.V.E.R..

I could go on and on about the situation. I’ll just say I was swallowed whole by it.

Longhair could, as they say, tickle the ivories. In a manner as unique as any in the history of music.

Here’s a grainy video of Fess at another gig:

And, yes, in case you’re wondering, that’s the same Earl King-penned “Big Chief” tune Bonerama covered at the outset of their set today.

 * * * * *

For years, until some time in 90s, the whole daily Fest was contained within the infield of the Fairgrounds Race Track. All the stage, concessions, porta potties, crafts.

It was getting crowded.

But, before the Fest spread out all over the grounds, the Congo Square stage was jammed along the backstretch between the Jazz Tent and maybe Fais Do Do, if that stage was called that back then.

Anyway, Congo Square was bumper to bumper that afternoon. When I experienced the dancingest music I’d ever heard, an enthralling set of tuneage that made me seek out contemporary African music at every opportunity.

I shvitzed through my clothes so much did I dance. Blisters on my toes.

For Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens.

Urgent. Primal. Invigorating. Have I mentioned, I and everybody else at the stage could not not dance? The whole time?

A sample of their stuff. Again, not from JF.

 * * * * *

Two of my favorite musical memories actually came back to back on the same day in ’94.

My buddy Mark joined me down there after returning from a visit to India. He was so spiritually light, we put some weights around his ankles. At any rate . . .

. . . we were wandering around the grounds, as one is wont to do, and by chance and dumb luck came upon Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Touré.

From Mississippi to Mali.

From Timbuktu to Tunica.

A merger of the Delta blues and the rhythms of the Sidasso.

We were transfixed. We stopped meandering and let the sublime sounds soak in.

After that laid us low, with the skies turning ominous, we strolled over to the Gentilly Stage, where one time New Orleanian Randy Newman was weaving his sardonic magic.

My memory is that Newman was singing “I Love L A,” when the clouds opened and poured forth. With those kind of softball sized raindrops one can get drenched with in the Crescent City.

Newman stopped in the middle of the song, and broke into his iconic “Louisiana 1927.”

It was a transcendent JazzFest moment, which many performers in years hence when covering the song would reference.

Here’s a different live rendition, one which can’t quite capture how special that moment in the downpour was, but as good a way to end this portion of the proceedings.

I’ll be back with more in a day or two or three.

— c d kaplan

My JazzFest Musical Memories: Podcast, Part I Thursday, Apr 23 2020 

I have made it through the first day of what should have been JazzFest without JazzFest, my first time not being there since . . . 1991.

Thanks to WWOZ, New Orleans’ amazing public radio music channel, I spent the day listening to streaming of sets from past decades.

Like from 1973, Ella Fitzgerald dueting with Stevie Wonder on “You Are The Sunshine of My Life.”

Or Tab Benoit’s sweet cover of Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes The Place of You.”

So, I’m a bit calmer now than I was previously this week, while suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.

Anyway, here’s the first podcast of several (I hope) sharing my favorite JazzFest musical moments through the decades.


Knowing What It Means To Miss New Orleans Sunday, Apr 19 2020 

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.


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.

Spend Wednesday hanging out in the Vieux Carré, listening to in stores at Louisiana Music Factory, where I always hook up with similarly minded friends I’ve made through the years. Make a stop at Meyer the Hatter on St. Charles. Maybe drive up Magazine for more gratuitous shopping.

Annual night before Fest dinner with a varying group of good friends from home and hither and yon at Galatoire’s, or, more recently, Mosca’s on the Westbank for chicken a la grandé.

Thursday through Sunday: Festin’ in the day. Feastin’ in the evening.

That’s been what this coming week in April has been for me.

Every. Year. Since. 1991.

And several years before that, starting with my first Fest in ’76, when I went for a weekend, and ended up staying almost two weeks. Thank you, Marc, for the intro, thank you forgiving bosses, for your forgiving.

 * * * * *

A quick history, with my apologies to those who have been with me for awhile, who have heard the chronology too many times, such is my obsession.

I just need to get it out. I just need to vent.

First time, like I said, ’76. First JazzFest concert on Riverboat President. Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, Gatemouth Brown.

Fell in love with the whole deal.

Not sure why I didn’t make it back until ’80. Work obligations. Lack of funds. ??? Stupidity. Getting caught up for some reason with Derby Fever. I dunno.

By then, my life was unraveling a bit. Drugs. Alcohol. Got clean and sober in late ’82. And it took awhile before I felt comfortable returning.

New Orleans is . . . well . . . you know . . . New Orleans.

In ’88, that college chum who first introduced me to the whole thing demanded I return. Little Feat reunion was the hook.

After hearing Aaron Neville sing “Arianne,” I vowed never to miss JazzFest again.

Which I haven’t since ’91. Was there in ’89, and ’90, but was recovering from an accident in spring ’91, and c’est impossible.

(What helped me get through missing that year was a gift from a couple friends, who were working on a series of musician interviews for a Public Radio series. Sometime in the early spring of ’91, they interviewed Aaron Neville and had him tape a personal message for me. Which included a rendition of a song of hope he’d just written. I’ve still got the cassette, but, alas, no cassette player.)

I didn’t like missing it a bit.

I was back in ’92.

This year for obvious reasons I shall not be.

It hurts. It hurts so bad.

 * * * * *

As I write this, I’m somewhat calmer than earlier in the day.

I’m listening to WWOZ online, where the incredible New Orleans public music station is playing past sets from French Quarter Fest, another rave up down there, which always precedes JF by a week or two.

Ellis Marsalis from 2004. Panorama Jazz Band, including the amazing Aurora Nealand on alto sax from ’19. Astral Project with Johnny V on the traps from ’16.

The station will be running a Festing in Place musical cavalcade, during days and hours Fest was scheduled the next two Thursday through Sundays.

It shall have to suffice.

There won’t be any Crawfish Strudel.

There won’t be any of AJ’s sublime chocolate snoballs, to which I have a an addiction. There is no Chocolate Snoballs Anonymous of which I’m aware.

(I do have the memory of my moment there years ago with Allen Toussaint, my favorite musician of forever. That’s him and me in the attached photo.)

I won’t be at Marc and Jill’s next Sunday night for their annual crawfish boil.

But I shall abide.

JazzFest will be back.

The Good Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise, so shall I.

— c d kaplan



Public Radio Music Day Thursday, Apr 16 2020 

Today we’re celebrating the first-ever annual Public Radio Music Day together with 91.9 WFPK! Hosted by the noncomMUSIC Alliance, Public Radio Music Day is a nationwide celebration uniting public radio music stations, fans, artists and other members of the music industry to celebrate and spread the word about the special role noncommercial stations play in […]

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“A Black and White Night”: Film Review Podcast Friday, Mar 27 2020 

So, among the blessings in these strange and perilous times are the many musical events that can be watched on the interweb.

Just last night, I watched an entire concert of my favorite group, Tedeschi Trucks Band, from last fall at the Beacon Theater. They were smokin’ hot, and I actually was up and dancing during some of the tunes.

(Feel free to close your eyes at that the virtual visual, but it’s a moment to savor these days when we can be carefree.)

So, I thought of a concert film you might not know about.

“A Black and White Night” is a Roy Orbison made for TV gig, filmed in late ’87, and first shown the following January.

It is evocatively shot in, duh, high contrast black and white, adding to the panache.

His back up band is arguably as star studded a contingent as there’s ever been. I name names in the podcast below.

Orbison’s an icon from the first wave of rock & roll, but his voice was still in fine fettle decades later.

It’s available online, but you’re going to have to listen to the podcast to find out where. (See what I’m doing here, nodding like the woman in the H&R Block advert to my podcast link below.)

For more details, listen, you know, down below. It’s a great set of live music from one of the greats.

Audio MP3

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