This week’s episode of New Orleans Calling takes us on a visit to Basin St Station, which sits on layers of history and memories, from being a hub of boat and train commerce to witnessing the meetings of many different cultures and neighborhoods, resulting in the creation of jazz, R&B, and rock and roll as we know it. It’s a site that resonates with musicians, and on the show we’re showcasing five different artists performing just for New Orleans Calling at Basin St Station: Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony, the Leroy Jones Quintet, the Mario Abney Septet, Doreen Ketchens, and Seva Venet and the Storyville String Band.
All the interviews and live tracks you hear in this show were recorded at Basin St Station. This historic building, now described as “the cultural crossroads of New Orleans,” is indeed a location with layers of history, and stands at the edge of what was once Storyville, and overlooks the famous St Louis No 1 cemetery, Basin Street, Congo Square, and the French Quarter. In the 1800s it was the site of the “turning basin,” the final destination of boats reaching the center of the city from Lake Pontchartrain via Bayou St John and the Carondelet Canal.
After the canal was filled in around the turn of the 20th century, the current building was constructed and served as the administrative offices of the Southern Railway. In the 21st century, the building has been renovated, and its facade now emulates the original Southern Railway Passenger Station, which once stood several blocks away at Canal and Basin Streets. The first floor is now a visitors center, filled with displays and exhibits about the city’s past and present. And from the ballroom on the fourth floor, musicians and audiences can look down upon some of the most historic neighborhoods in the United States.
All the following performances were recorded on video, during our sessions at Basin St Station this year for New Orleans Calling:
Here’s Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony singing “Swing Low,” featuring Topsy’s daughters Yolanda Windsay and JoLynda Phillips on vocals.
The Mario Abney Septet performing Mario’s original composition “Instant Grits,” which brought the audience at Basin St Station to its feet at the end of the evening.
And clarinetist Doreen Ketchens performing “This Train” with her husband Lawrence Henry Ketchens on sousaphone, their daughter Miss Dorian Ketchens-Dixon on drums, and Paul Kimnetz on guitar.
Historian and award-winning documentary filmmaker Kevin McCaffrey guides us through the history of this building and environs in the episode. His films include the mouthwatering “No One Ever Went Hungry” about Cajun food traditions and “We Live To Eat” about New Orleans food culture. You can find out more about Kevin and all his different activities at eprimemedia.com — and here’s the trailer for “We Live To Eat”:
THIS WEEK’S TRACK LISTING:
Mario Abney Septet – “Chapter One” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
AFO Executives -“The Man I Love” (bed)
Leroy Jones Quintet – “Basin Street Blues” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Leroy Jones Quintet – “Someday You’ll Be Sorry” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Seva Venet and the Storyville Stringband – “Sauvage Bleu” (Bed)
Seva Venet and the Storyville Stringband – “Is It Good To You” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Creole Syncopators – “Farewell to Storyville” (Bed)
pLink Floyd – “Creole Love Call” (Bed)
Doreen Ketchens – “This Train” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Harry Connick, Jr. – “Lazy River” (Bed)
Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony – “Let the Good Times Roll” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony – “Darktown Strutter’s Ball” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Dr. John – “Wade in the Water” (Bed)
Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony – “Swing Low” (Recorded live at Basin St Station)
Tom McDermott – “Willie Fugal’s Blues”
NEW ORLEANS CALLING is a production of WWOZ, listener-supported community radio in the Crescent City.
Host, writer, editor, interviewer, audio engineer, intrepid field recorder, and co-producer is George Ingmire.
Dave Ankers is the producer.
Melanie Merz is the supervising producer.
National distribution managed by Russell Shelton and Carmen Connor Post.
Web support by David Stafford.
Executive Producer is WWOZ’s General Manager David Freedman.
Live From Basin St. Station is made possible by a partnership between WWOZ and the historic Basin St. Station. Live recordings wereproduced by Damond Jacob. Special thanks to Michael, Bubby, and Jay Valentino, Laura Tennyson, and Khalid Hafiz.
Special thanks to:
Sally Young and Melanie Merz for their voice talents.
Everyone at Basin St Station.
WWOZ volunteers Catey Boyle and Doug Marshall.
Photo by Kathryn Jackson.