Music Inside Out

Brian Kern

In funk music everything counts — every note, every beat, every silence, every breath. That’s why musicians who play funk are such masters of understatement. They don’t want to dilute the groove.

Music Inside Out

The Wonderful World of Ricky Riccardi

Perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring facts about Ricky Riccardi, who directs research collections at the Louis Armstrong House Museum Collection in Queens, is that he never argued with his parents. Not once. “Why would I fight with these people?” he reportedly told his wife, Margaret, on their first date.

Aurora Nealand, by Greg Miles
Greg Miles

Before the composer and multi-instrumentalist Aurora Nealand takes a job, she’ll ask, “Did you want The Monocle or did you want The Royal Roses?”

As a child, Jason Marsalis watched old television shows as much for the music as for anything the characters were doing onscreen. 

“I became a big fan of reruns of the tv show, The Monkees,” he tells Gwen. “My father thought it was just hilarious that I was into this. But when I look back on it, that was music from the 1960s.”

Over the years, guests of Music Inside Out have described any number of approaches to making a living in music. Some have had greater commercial success than others. They’ve hit the top of the record charts and toured the world. Of course, commercial appeal is only one measure of a musician’s contribution to the art form. Talent, musicality, creativity and imprint on culture cannot be discounted. And yet, artists need the approbation that only a steady income can bring.

Ann Savoy is a lot of things: a musician, scholar, ethnomusicologist, mother, and world traveler. One thing she’s not is boring.

Rickie Lee Jones says she moved to New Orleans, in part, because she wanted to be around people. In Los Angeles, she was mostly around cars.

So far, so good. People from New Orleans — either real or imagined — are all over her latest effort, “The Other Side of Desire.” And one of Jones’ neighbors here even helped inspire a song on the album. 

Andrea Canter

Ask him about his hat. The multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Payton wears an assortment of caps, fedoras, and other lids on stage. He first needed the head wear nearly 40 years ago, when he was way too young to play club dates in and around New Orleans, but played them anyway.

Robin Barnes
Robin Barnes

Robin Barnes was born and raised in the Lower 9th Ward, shuttling between her parents’ and grandparents’ houses and singing the songs they liked to hear. Armed with a tambourine at the age of six, she charmed her way into her father’s cover band. Since then, she’s grown into a commanding vocalist with a repertoire of gospel, soul and r&b classics, jazz, funk and pop songs, opera and her own compositions. Her 2016 EP Songbird Sessions reached the top five on the Billboard jazz chart. But jazz may be a confining genre for Barnes.

Tomi Lunsford and Gwen Thompkins at Tomi's home in Nashville
Jason Rhein

Like so many other musicians who have made a home in Nashville, singer Tomi Lunsford has spent her life immersed in country music. A native of Asheville, NC, she played in a family band from a young age.

Her father, Jim Lunsford, was a journeyman fiddler who played with superstars of classic country and bluegrass such as Roy Acuff, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Reno and Smiley, Bob Wills, and Marty Robbins. Her great-uncle, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, was a lawyer and famed collector of folk songs from the mountains of North Carolina.

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