While the most of the country is slumping deeper into the doldrums of winter, one of the best and biggest parties is going down in New Orleans. Ah yes, the Mardi Gras festivities are in full swing, which means round the clock parades, bead tossing, king cake, an overabundance of adult beverages, and loads of live music to be seen across the city.
For those of us relegated to watching live streams, browsing our drunken friends’ Facebook feeds, and doing everything we can to vicariously imbibe in the fun taking place in the Crescent City as the Mardi Gras madness unfolds, Rounder Records is here to offer up a little relief. These days the label is known for acts like Steve Martin, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Glide Magazine favorite JD McPherson, but over the course of its 45 year history Rounder has dedicated much of its resources to bringing the music of New Orleans to the rest of the world. Legendary acts like piano genius James Booker, the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas are among the many Louisiana acts given releases through Rounder. In fact, without Rounder Records it’s quite possible that many of the incredible acts that came out of the state over the years would still be secrets known only to the locals. In other words, we owe a whole lot to the good folks at Rounder.
Now the label is celebrating Mardi Gras by digging into their vast catalogue of New Orleans artists and releasing tracks online throughout the month of February. These include tracks from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Irma Thomas, George Porter Jr., Davell Crawford and lots more.
Described as “either the A&R person or producer for pretty much every one of these records”, Rounder’s Scott Billington has been with the label since the 70’s and these days works as vice president of A&R. He also lives in New Orleans. Speaking on the collection of releases, Billington says passionately, “There’s something here for every New Orleans music fan, and it’s exciting that this music is now available everywhere. Several of the great treasures of Rounder’s catalog are included in this release, especially the Johnny Adams album of Doc Pomus songs, The Real Me, which has come to be regarded as one of his best. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Mardi Gras In Montreal album captures the energy of the innovative and then-young band at its peak. The diversity of the music on these albums, from R&B to free jazz, shows the richness of the sound of America’s greatest music city.”
We are excited to share the very first release in this series right here on Glide to get you in the Mardi Gras spirit. Walter “Wolfman” Washington may not be as much of a household name in the rest of the country, but in New Orleans he is a living legend. Washington’s smooth as molasses vocals lend themselves to his blend of blues, funk, soul and R&B that is truly a gumbo of New Orleans musical styles. Few artists living today are capable of effortlessly incorporating so many ingredients of New Orleans music into their sound as the Wolfman. In 1988 he released his second album with Rounder Records, Out Of The Dark. Make yourself a daiquiri and give a listen to the title track off that album:
Rounder Records will be releasing songs all month long. Check out their WEBSITE for details and tunes.