The Listening Post Asks: What Music Has Shaped Your Life?

Apr 29, 2016

Since it's Jazz Fest season, our Listening Post Questions of the Week are focusing on music and heritage in New Orleans. We asked: what music was playing in your home growing up? And...if you could pick one song to represent you, what would it be?

We set up our Listening Post recording device at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans and recorded peoples stories about their musical heritage, including an audio gem about the electric slide. We also tracked down a few professional musicians, since it's Jazz Fest, and asked them about the musical influences that guided them along the way.  Take a listen!

Langhorne Slim is from Pennsylvania, via New York and Nashville, but he’s been hanging out, practicing his guitar in the Holy Cross a lot lately, and he played a recent concert at the First Presbyterian Church Uptown.

Langorne Slim
Credit Brian Lowe

Slim’s Americana style music encompasses a lot of influences. His grandparents get some credit for that he says.

"My grandparents were in Atlantic City, they used to take us to the casino. We'd get to see all these amazing shows, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, Lionel Hampton before he died." 

As for what song represents him best. It's a psychadelic number by the Byrds, "Wasn't Born to Follow."

Per usual we sent out our Listening Post questions far and wide via the cell phones of New Orleans. And we got one of our liveliest and most prolific text message responses yet. 

We asked: If you could pick one song that represents you best, what would it be? Why? Here's how people responded. And we asked: What music do you remember hearing in your house growing up? Here's what people wrote. 

While it’s exciting to have big names like Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, and Lauren Hill in town, Jazz Fest is also an opportunity for some true local acts to get some love.

"They call me Guitar Lightning Lee, I’m from downtown New Orleans which means the Lower 9."

Guitar Lightning Lee
Credit Jesse Hardman

Guitar Lightning Lee says as a kid growing up in New Orleans there was music everywhere. He didn’t have to just sit at home and listen to the radio.

“We’d walk up Rampart trying to catch up with Little Richard.”

Lee says his first musical influence was his dad, who hailed from McComb, Mississippi. He had a guitar that he’d play on Saturdays when he was off work. “He played one song...It was an old Muddy Waters tune."

Lee started some bands around New Orleans, but eventually, at 17 years old, got restless, and jumped on a Greyhound Bus headed to Chicago. There he hooked up with Delta Blues legend Jimmy Reed who mentored him. With nearly six decades of music under his belt, Lee has a lot of songs to choose from. When it comes to answering which tune represents him best, he says it’s a more recent one he wrote, called "Missing Mama Dear."

"After all these years, missing mama dear, in the Lower 9th Ward, things was hard, but we made it through it all. That’s about the storm."

The last word in this week’s Listening Post segment belongs to Broadmoor resident Michele Royce. She won two tickets to Jazz Fest for texting in our favorite response to the questions of the week.

Royce grew up in Katy, Texas, and says her music guidance was KIKK-FM radio.

"Nothing but country. Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton."

Royce says she first experienced rock-n-roll was when she got in trouble at 16, and was sent to a reform camp. That’s when she first heard the song she says represents her best, "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen.

"I was 16 when I finally got a bottom, and that did something for my heart. It’s my anthem now. I am a fat bottomed girl, if we lose this, everything gets tilted off its axis."

Rock on Michele…

This is the Listening Post. Text the word Hello to our number, 504-303-4348, if you’d like to join our project.

Our microphone is your microphone New Orleans. We’ll see you next time.