“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 14: Michael Aaron Santos on “A Few Good Men,” Kathy Randels & Sean LaRocca sing, Damien Moses on “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and Alex Rawls on Jazz Fest

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Saturday’s show the “All the City’s a Stage Episode” to help celebrate so many impressive stage works opening and closing across the Crescent City, which included the openings of:

* “Jelly’s Last Jam” at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré. (Read the glowing review by Ted Mahne.)
* “A Few Good Men” at Delgado Community College. (Read my feature preview.)
* “Niagara Falls” at The Theatre at St. Claude
* “On an Average Day” at the Happyland Theater

… as well as the concluding performances of …

* “Billy Elliot” at Rivertown Theaters, including an added Sunday show
* “Disney’s The Lion King,” which I caught Thursday, at the Saenger Theatre
* “Gomela” which we discussed last week, at Ashé Powerhouse Theater
* “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church
* … and ArtSpot Productions’ “Sea of Common Catastrophe” at UNO

On “PopSmart NOLA,” we welcomed:

Michael Aaron Santos, who stars as Col. Jessup, speaker of the infamous “You can’t handle the truth” speech in “A Few Good Men,” which is being staged at Delgado Community College’s Timothy Baker Theater and runs through Feb. 11. For more information, visit www.nolaproject.com.

Kathy Randels and Sean LaRocca of ArtSpot Productions, and “Sea of Common Catastrophe“ — which Gambit’s Will Coviello described as “an abstract, figurative work about New Orleans and some of its inhabitants, who are drawn to the sea and affected by it.” While the show closed Saturday, we had Kathy and Sean discuss the production for a final push, and they favored us with a song from the show.

Damien Moses, cast member of “Jelly’s Last Jam,” the Tony Award-winning musical about the life of legendary New Orleans pianist, bandleader and composer Jelly Roll Morton. This is, amazingly, the New Orleans premiere of this work, which, among other things, delivered star Gregory Hines his lone Tony Award. Damien A. Moses is a New Orleans native. His portrayal of Hedley in “Seven Guitars”, directed by Tommye Myricke, afforded him the privilege to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. as an Irene Ryan recipient. His most notable performance as Mister in “The Color Purple The Musical” at Anthony Bean Community Theater, earned him a Big Easy Award nomination. The show runs at Le Petit Theatre through Feb. 12. For more information visit http://www.lepetittheatre.com/.

Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk paid us a return visit to to help break down the recently announced lineups for the French Quarter Festival and of course the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. My Spilt Milk covers the music and culture in New Orleans. Alex has written for almost every New Orleans-based publication (including our years together at Gambit-then-Weekly), as well as Rolling Stone, Spin and USA Today — AND he guest-edited The Oxford American’s Louisiana music issue. He’s also done some really fascinating work examining the booking choices at Jazz Fest, is here to discuss their recently announced lineup as well as that of the French Quarter Festival, which precedes Jazz Fest this spring.

That’s “PopSmart NOLA” for this week. I want to again thank our guests — Michael Aaron Santos from “A Few Good Men,” Kathy Randels from ArtSpot Productions and “Sea of Common Catastrophe,” Damien Moses from “Jelly’s Last Jam” and Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, which include a focus on the upcoming James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” which hits New Orleans, and this show will include some really exciting guests. Stay tuned on that.

Want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

Debbie Davis, Alex Rawls bring their holiday cheer to “PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM) on Saturday (Dec. 17)

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Baby, it’s not even close to cold outside, but there’s still plenty of Christmas cheer in the air as “PopSmart NOLA” — an intelligent discussion of New Orleans culture — presents a Super-Sized Holiday Episode on WHIV (102.3 FM) on Saturday (3 p.m. to 4 p.m.).

Joining us in the studio will be special guest co-host and DJ Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk, and special guest vocalist Debbie Davis!

If there is a Father Christmas when it comes to holiday music in New Orleans, it’s Alex Rawls, whose obsession with and coverage of the seasonal genre includes a 2004 cover story for Gambit Weekly (my first clue into his twisted psyche). More recently he penned a holiday-music piece for NOLA.com | The Times Picayune. Back home at My Spilt Milk, Rawls noted that Big Freedia has released a Christmas EP, “A Very Big Freedia Christmazz,” and a track on the “Office Christmas Party” soundtrack. Earlier in the week, he ran news of her releases along with news of this Friday’s release of “Merry Christmas Mr. Fields” by Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos. He also reviewed the EP as well as Christmas albums by She & Him, Kissing Party, R. Kelly and David Bazan, among others.

For the angel atop the tree, Rawls assembled his own special free Christmas music mixtape for you to download. “We guarantee it’s 99 percent sentiment-free and snark-free,” Rawls told readers, “as indie rock and electronic artists commit to their own songs and covers with the same passion and intelligence they bring to their music the other 11 months of the year.” Rawls will discuss his obsessions and play from his stash.

Our special guest vocalist, Debbie Davis, has become a New Orleans music treasure. Whether performing with her husband, the great sousaphonist Matt Perrine, the Mesmerizers or the Pfister Sisters, Davis has been one of the most consistently wonderful voices of New Orleans. Her 2014 Mesmerizers album, “Linger ’til Dawn,” was a critical smash. And of course her holiday release with Matt, “Oh Crap, It’s Christmas!,” is a seasonal favorite. She’ll join Rawls and me to discuss her work and favor us with some of her work.

You can listen on the radio or follow along online at http://whivfm.org. Join us, and help us keep the intelligent discussion going!