Grammy nominated New Orleans-based musician, composer and producer Carlo Ditta uses the music he makes to tell the story of his own life as well as shining a light on the rich history of indigenous R&B that shaped his musical identity. With years of performing in the studio as well as in clubs and festivals around the country he’s become a seasoned performer, a musical force to be reckoned with in his own right or sharing bills with and backing his old friend, the internationally-acclaimed poet and ideological provocateur John Sinclair (erstwhile Svengali of the legendary MC5). As his own story and New Orleans’ are inextricably bound up with a never-ending stream of calamity, absurdity and gritty sensuality, his craftsmanship is tempered with a love of the raw and unpredictable avante-primitivism, not unlike kindred spirit, the late Jim Dickinson. His latest album is What I’m Talkin’ About.
Ditta first made his mark in the music world when he took soul singer Mighty Sam McClain into the studio to record Carlo’s original composition “Pray.” This was the beginning of what would become a long and exceptionally fruitful career as a producer and composer. Carlo would go on to pursue these twin callings in Nashville, California and New York City, working with artists like Dorothy Goodman, Willy DeVille and Motown composer Nick Zesses among many others. His hometown, however, kept calling him back, and Ditta eventually returned to New Orleans to record overlooked Louisiana performers for his own award-winning Orleans Records imprint.
Carlo produced the classic Danny Barker album Ham & Eggs and then got a Grammy nomination with Guitar Slim Jr.’s The Story of My Life. Willy DeVille’s Victory Mixture won a Gold Record in France, and he produced albums by Marva Wright and Lenny McDaniels for Virgin Records before scoring with a series of Orleans Records on overlooked artists like Roland Stone, The Original Pin Stripe Brass Band, Ironing Board Sam, Coco Robicheaux, Little Freddie King, and “The President of Soul,” Rockie Charles.
When the record industry began to tank, Carlo thought hard and went back to playing his guitar, singing and writing new songs, telling the story of his life through his own compositions and the New Orleans R&B repertoire that shaped his musical outlook. Now he’s a seasoned stage performer regularly featured at nightclubs and festivals and often in concert with his old friends, the internationally-acclaimed poet, John Sinclair.