Portrait of a Drummer

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There are so many great drummers in New Orleans that it’s hard to stand out — but Johnny Vidacovich does. He’s one of the living greats in New Orleans today, with a unique voice, in many ways. In this episode, he invites us into his living room to talk about the musicality of his playing, being inspired by late Smokey Johnson, and inspiring students to find their own voice. Plus we hear a live performance by Johnny with Chris Severin and Tony Dagradi, recorded at Basin Street Station. And we also talk about Johnny’s favorite way to eat shrimp — and in a special new segment with a guest producer, we take a look at how that shrimp is getting to the table nowadays.

In February 2015, Johnny Vidacovich performed with Tony Dagradi on sax and Chris Severin on bass, in a special set recorded for New Orleans Calling at the historic Basin Street Station.

One of Johnny’s most famous projects is the jazz group Astral Project, featuring Johnny on drums, Steve Masakowski on guitar, James Singleton on bass, and Tony Dagradi on sax.

Smokey Johnson, a famous New Orleans drummer who played with Fats Domino for years, was one of Johnny’s earliest influences. He passed away in October 2015, and host George Ingmire, his friend and neighbor, make a tribute to him in this episode of New Orleans Calling.

Stanton Moore was one of Johnny’s students, and is now one of the most respected drummers in America. He is a founder of the band Galactic.

An exciting new feature in this episode is a special segment, “HOPEDALE: A Story of Louisiana Shrimpers,” produced by Nina Feldman for New Orleans Calling. Keep your ears open for more special segments in the near future!

Dave Bartholomew Big Band (feat. Smokey Johnson) – “Portrait of a Drummer” (bed)
Smokey Johnson – “It Ain’t My Fault” (bed)
Johnny Vidacovich, June Yamagishi, George Porter, Jr. – “We Came to Play”
Stanton Moore – “Tchefunkta” (bed)
Johnny Vidacovich – “The Zone”
Galactic – “Go Go” (bed)
Stanton Moore – “Stanton Hits the Bottle” (bed)
Garage a Trois – “Sprung Monkey” (bed)
Johnny Vidacovich, Chris Severin, Tony Dagradi – “Freedom Jazz Dance” (recorded live at Basin St Station for New Orleans Calling)
Johnny Vidacovich, Chris Severin, Tony Dagradi – “Well, You Needn’t” (recorded live at Basin St Station for New Orleans Calling)
Voice of the Wetlands (feat. Johnny Vidacovich) – “Bayou Breeze” (bed)
Astral Project “Once Was” – (bed)
NEW ORLEANS CALLING is a production of WWOZ, listener-supported community radio in the Crescent City.


George Ingmire is the host, writer, editor, interviewer, audio engineer, intrepid field recorder, and co-producer.
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.


Programming support for this episode of NEW ORLEANS CALLING, and the “Hopedale” segment in particular, comes from the Threadhead Cultural Foundation. This is our first collaboration with an independent producer for this program, and we’re very excited — thanks to the Threadhead Cultural Foundation. To learn more about them, and their mission of preserving, promoting and disseminating the cultural heritage of New Orleans. Find out more at the Threadhead Cultural Foundation website.

Live From Basin St Station segment is produced in partnership with Valentino Hospitality Enterprises.
Special thanks to Michael, Bubby, and Jay Valentino, Laura Tennyson, Kim and Kelly from Clandestine Nola, and WWOZ’s Dwayne Breashears.
Live recording of Johnny Vidacovich, Chris Severin, and Tony Dagradi produced by Damond Jacob.

Special thanks to:
Sally Young and Melanie Merz, for their voice talents.
WWOZ’s Charlie Steiner and Damond Jacob.
Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee www.rhrphoto.com.

Air time: 
Monday, January 9, 2017 - 1:45pm

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