Not everyone lives such a life of luxury that he can just play music all day long, but yesterday was a very special occasion: in thrall to Carnival season, Nicole was baking King Cakes and some very intriguing muffaletta stromboli (recipe to follow), and the Saints were on TV striving to make the conference finals, so I needed to provide the soundtrack. For that service I am always game.
Obviously, I strongly recommend everything we listened to. We actually began the day with ASV Living Era’s outstanding Lester Young and Fats Waller compilations (there is something, mysterious to me, about Waller and Sundays), but soon switched to Louisiana music. Here’s a partial list before I get to the special item:
Various Artists: Alligator Stomp, Volume 1
Allen Toussaint: American Tunes
Professor Longhair: Live in Chicago
Michael White (before he was a doctor): Shake It & Break It
Billie & De De Pierce / Jim Robinson’s New Orleans Band: Jazz at Preservation Hall (this great, out of print Atlantic series is well worth searching for)
Big Chief Juan Pardo & The Golden Comanche: Spirit Food
James Booker: The Lost Paramount Tapes
Various Artists: J’ai Ètè Au Bal, Volume 2 (I’m telling you, this documentary is essential viewing!)
There were more, but I want to get to a fantastic record from 2013 that I broke out that still releases thunder and lightning, and actually broke some musical ground in it’s tradition: Bo Dollis, Jr. and The Wild Magnolias’ A New Kind of Funk. The promo is worth watching for background and beats reading me:
A New Kind of Funk, in its way, is what it says it is. The mini-tradition of Mardi Gras Indian tribes recording albums goes back to Bo’s dad’s taking the Magnolias into the studio (with ace guitarist Snooks Eaglin) and recording a classic eponymously titled record for Polydor in 1974, and The Wild Tchoupitoulas, aided and abetted by the Nevilles, The Meters, and Allen Toussaint, following suit (and, to my ear, stomping some romp, ever so narrowly) in 1976. Most sane music aficionados believe it ends there, but those two records started something. Several dozen “tribal records” have been released since, at least–the folks at Lousiana Music Factory are probably the only ones who know for sure–and all I’ve heard are good. A recent highlight, for example, is 79rs Gang’s Fire on the Bayou. But young Mr. Dollis’ album takes “Injun music” into rock territory on the album without losing what’s essential: the funk. Guitar (slide and resonator, along with some power chording) leaps loudly, but without vulgarity, out of the mix on several tracks. Electric bass, and drumming that doesn’t seemed honed in parades, further juices the best songs; if someone had told me this before I bought the album, I wouldn’t have bought it, but it would have been my loss. These seeming sins against the order work, because they’re carefully balanced against the inspired traditional chanting and refrains that make the mini-genre fun (and educational) and interwoven with the eccentric rhythms and local sounds (like a country violin) of southern Louisiana. Another kind of innovation is that the younger Dollis has dared to write songs (the title tune, the rousing opener “We Come to Rumble“) that push up against the likes of “Tootie Ma,” “Liza Jane,” “Fire Water Big Chief Got Plenty,” and the eternal “Hell Out the Way.” The record isn’t perfect–a cover of Toussaint and Lee Dorsey’s “Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky” doesn’t get off the ground. But if you wanna take a chance on some music that will set your house on fiya during Mardi Gras season, think about tracking it down. It’s listed as being on One More Time Records, but maybe check CDBaby first.
The Saints lost on what I will call a non-tackle, but the delicious King Cake (alas, no baby for me), the music, and the muffaletta stromboli was most decent salve. Hey, courtesy of louisianacookin.com and Nicole, here’s the recipe if you wanna try it:
Makes about 24 servings
• 1 (15-ounce) package pizza dough
• 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
• ¼ pound thinly sliced soppressata
• ½ pound thinly sliced deli ham
• 1 cup olive salad*
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 6 slices provolone cheese, halved
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
2 On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14-inch square. Spread mustard onto dough, and cut in half.
3 Arrange overlapping slices of soppressata down center of 1 piece of dough, leaving a 2-inch border on both sides. Top with 3 slices ham, ¼ cup olive salad, ¼ cup mozzarella, and 3 provolone halves; repeat layers once. Cut strips of dough at ¾- to 1-inch intervals on both sides of filling. Fold top and bottom pieces of dough over filling, and braid strips of dough diagonally over filling, stretching strips, if necessary. Place on prepared pan. Brush dough with egg. Repeat with remaining dough, soppressata, ham, olive salad, and cheeses.
4 Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
*We used Boscoli Italian Olive Salad.