In the summer of 2009, before the football season had even begun, trumpeter, vocalist, composer and mighty New Orleans Saints fan Kermit Ruffins sat down and wrote “A Saints Christmas.” It included the memorable and soon often-repeated lyrics, “All I want for Christmas is the Saints in the Super Bowl.” During that era, Ruffins managed Sidney’s Saloon, and patrons in the small, St. Bernard Avenue corner bar would jump up and dance every time it was played—and that was often.
“A Saints Christmas” was released as a single on September 22, 2009, at the very beginning of the much-beloved and previously beleaguered Saints’ record-shattering and mind-blowing 13-win and 3-loss season. The Saints were in full swing by mid-November 2009 when it was released on Ruffins’ Basin Street Records album, Have a Crazy Cool Christmas! Talk about timely and Christmas wishes coming true—the Saints, as we here all know, won Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010. Who Dat?
Are wishes fulfilled? Regardless of one’s faith, the holiday season often holds a certain kind of hope for the future and the possibility of a different outlook or achievement in the New Year. So we asked various New Orleans musicians about their wish lists for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or simply 2017. As might be expected, some are funny, some are philosophical while others lean to the practical or simply pie-in-the sky.
Deacon John Moore (Guitarist, vocalist and bandleader):
“All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth,” says the always-humorous Deacon John, quoting the lyric of a tune of the same name recorded in 1947 by Spike Jones & His City Slickers. Becoming more philosophical, Deacon adds, “What I want for Christmas is for everybody to learn to live together and love one another right here, right now—to put it in one word, tolerance.”
“I want to outlive the competition,” Deacon John declares, of his goal for 2017 returning to his more outlandish, laughing mode.
Tarriona “Tank” Ball (Leader/vocalist of Tank and the Bangas):
“I would like to have a million dollars—that would be cool—and to master my ukulele. With the million dollars I would buy up a lot of property that’s going around in New Orleans for my friends and for my mom. My mom doesn’t want to work anymore. She wants to go to Africa and I would send her there.”
“In 2017, I’d like something big. I wouldn’t even be able put my hand on it, it would be so big. It would be something that would just dramatically change my life for the better. Something happens every year that surprises me—something really huge happens. On a personal note, it would be really cool to have more discipline. After discipline comes, everything else that you want comes after that.”
“I’m wild but it is all planned—every dance move, the hair styles, the clothes. So there is definitely some discipline there. I’d like more discipline in my personal life meaning my eating habits, making sure that I write every day and vocally and physically exercising every day. It is things like that prepare your mind for what’s to come for you if you want it.”
James Andrews (Trumpeter, vocalist, bandleader):
“I want all my friends and family to enjoy themselves and have a good time,” says Andrews very sincerely. His outlook for 2017 is similar: “Mostly, I just want to thank God for another year and my friends and family.”
Daria Dzurik (Leader of Daria & the Hip Drops, steel pan player, vocalist, composer):
“I have a couple of things, not all of them are totally realistic,” offers the lively Dzurik. “I always need new steel drum mallets so that’s on my list. An affordable housing market would be good, or a house, either one. I really like Gogo [Borgerding], a local jewelry designer, and I would like a Gogo cuff—a wrist cuff. I would also like another trip to Trinidad for Carnival and to be there for the whole Carnival season this year.”
“For 2017, I would like to release new music and videos online. I’ve never done a West Coast tour so it’s on my list for next year and I would also like to play in Nashville. This is a little bit of a higher goal, but I would really love to be on the Jimmy Fallon late-night show.”
Al “Carnival Time” Johnson (Vocalist, composer, pianist):
“I would like everybody to be happy and joyful at Christmas,” says Johnson, who is himself a happy and joyful man. “I’m hoping everybody enjoys ‘Don’t Go, Santa!’ [his single with vocalist Margie Perez] and I hope that it becomes a holiday classic this season and every season just like ‘Carnival Time’ during Mardi Gras.”
“In 2017, I’m looking forward to doing another cruise. It’s going out of New Orleans and I’m working it with Vince Vance.”
Glenn Hall III (Trumpeter with Lil’ Glenn & Backatown and the Rebirth Brass Band):
“So what does little Glenn want for Christmas?” Hall asks with a laugh. “To be honest, I would actually love to see all the young musicians in the city do a big project or small projects together. That’s my biggest wish for Christmas that every young artist is able to pull something off or at least meet each other and work on some stuff. I think one important thing about that is that sometimes there is so much stuff happening in the city, I don’t think everyone exactly knows who’s who and who’s doing what.”
“Personally, within the past couple of months, I’ve been working really hard on my original material so in 2017, I’m definitely looking forward to finishing my first album.”
“Also in the year 2017, I wish for positive vibes within the people around the world, the city and country.
Phil Frazier (Tuba player and co-leader of the Rebirth Brass Band):
“I want everybody to be musically happy,” says Frazier of his holiday wish. “There are all kinds of music—just follow your heart. That will make you happy.”
For his goals for 2017, he at first states the obvious, as he laughingly says, “Well, I’d like to try to get a lot of money. Everybody wants money. In 2017, I’m also running for Governor of Zulu [Social Aid and Pleasure Club],” says Frazier, who hopes to win the election and hold the position for the 2018 Carnival season. “So I start [campaigning] in 2017 and the elections are in May 2017. I’ve been a member of Zulu for three years.”
Eric Benny Bloom (Trumpeter and leader of Sonic Bloom):
“For Christmas all I want is a new, top-of-the line turntable. I just got [trumpeter] Wallace Davenport and his gospel singers’ record featuring George French from like 1984 and I haven’t been able to listen to it. I saw the record and it had George [French’s photo] on the back, really, really young and he does things like ‘Gloryland.’ I said, ‘Man, I’ve got to get this.’ My early holiday Christmas gift would be to nail this year’s Eric Benny Bloom’s Really, Really Tacky Holiday Show, where I sing [songs made famous by] Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. It’s on December 22 at Chickie Wah Wah.”
“In 2017, I’d like to record my debut jazz album and spend more time with my parents.”
Stephanie Jordan (Vocalist):
“My first thing would be that everyone in the world who is hungry be fed; everybody who is homeless be housed; everybody who is lonely find a friend. For my community I would like a stop to the senseless gun violence. Also, instead of the city writing parking tickets, I wish we could have an anti-litter, clean-up campaign. Specifically, I would like to see all the trash cleaned up along I-10. If I had one selfish wish, just like Janis Joplin, ‘Lord, please buy me a Mercedes-Benz.’ Janis and I have that in common.”
“In 2017, I’d like a world tour with my big band. Also, I’d like to see peace in Syria.”
Joe Dyson (Drummer):
“My request for the holidays is for everyone to have some kind of relief in the community by sharing each other’s presence and listening to some great music. Every year in my church, I help put on a benefit concert called ‘Christmas in Treme,’ [December 16, 2016] and we have some of the best and brightest stars of the city come down and share their talents and gifts with the community. Specifically, I think it would be a great time to embrace each other and share their love for each other.”
“My gift for the holiday is being home with my family and friends,” says Dyson who is often out on tour.
“In 2017, I would like to increase my presence in the community. Usually I try to sneak in and out and speak to some of the youth and also help assist the elders that have assisted me through the years. So I’d like to make sure the youth have a voice and a platform in order to express themselves.”