The most popular time of the year in New Orleans is the extended Mardi Gras celebration with music festivities and parades galore, a final blowout before the period of Lent, the solemn observance of restraint and self-denial approximately six weeks before Easter.
This year, Mardi Gras, also known as “Fat Tuesday,” falls on March 4, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
For its eighth year of celebrating the music of the Crescent City, WTJU is programming a wide range of jazz, R&B, blues, zydeco and Cajun music for this year’s fundraising extravaganza, “From Emmet Street to the Foot of Canal Street.”
From Wednesday through Fat Tuesday, WTJU-FM – U.Va.’s noncommercial educational and public affairs radio station – will feature the sounds and recordings of America’s best-known musical city, New Orleans, from piano professors to Louisiana blues stylists.
In previous years, WTJU has celebrated the music of New Orleans on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August for its fundraising initiative.
Here are some of the more than 30 programs being featured throughout the week:
- A showcase of New Orleans piano professors such as Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and James Booker on Brian Keena’s “The Jazz Messenger” (Monday, 10 a.m.-noon);
- An exploration of street parades through the music of New Orleans’ brass bands like Rebirth and the Dirty Dozen on Jay Hertel’s “Anything Goes” (Monday, 8-11 p.m.);
- Special guest Jon Lohman, director of the Virginia Folklife Program and Festival, visiting “Left of Cool” to discuss his musical experiences in New Orleans with host Larry Minnick (Wednesday, 10 a.m.-noon);
- The music of New Orleans-born drummer Ed Blackwell, a great 1960s innovator of jazz who fused African with Crescent City rhythms, on Gary Funston’s “Living Time” (Wednesday, 8-11 p.m.)
- The gumbo of rock ’n’ roll and R&B in New Orleans featuring Huey Smith and Fats Domino on Professor Bebop’s “The ’50s, N’Awlins Way!” (Friday, 11 p.m.-1 a.m.)
- The best of zydeco, including Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis and Geno Delafose, on Ann Porotti’s “All That Jazz” (Thursday, 10 a.m.-noon);
- An examination of producer Cosimo Matassa’s influential recordings from J&M Studio, the recording center of New Orleans R&B from the 1940s into the ’60s, on Peter Welch’s “Nothing But the Blues” (Friday, 9-11 p.m.);
- Central Virginia’s own Cajun band, Jolie Fille, performing live in the WTJU studio on “Lambeth Live” (Friday, 8-9 p.m.);
- Yo Mama’s Brass Band from Richmond, performing live in the studio on Fat Tuesday on The Rum Cove’s “Loose Threads” (Tuesday, 8-9 p.m.)
- An interview with New Orleans writer, producer and musician Ben Sandmel, the author of the Ernie K-Doe biography. on Rum Cove’s “Soulful Situation” (Monday, 1 p.m.); and
- Special segments about New Orleans music, food and Mardi Gras traditions that will air throughout the week on WTJU’s news and public affairs show “Soundboard,” including several hosted by Nathan Moore, WTJU’s general manager.
The full schedule of WTJU’s “From Emmet Street to the Foot of Canal Street,” from Wednesday through Fat Tuesday, can be viewed here.