posted by Gwen Thompkins on 1 August 2013
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, my friend Sarah Oliver and I flew down from NPR in Washington, DC to report on what was left of New Orleans.
I had a particular knowledge of the city because it’s my hometown. And after many years in Washington, my home ties were intact. My house was here, my dentist, my favorite restaurant, my favorite, well, everything. Except THEN, of course, because nothing was here.
Among the people we interviewed were my neighbors, Elmo and Gilda Dix. For as long as I could remember they lived in the big orange house in Pontchartrain Park on the corner of Press Drive and Mithra Street. Mr. Dix is an electrician and he and his friends built most of the house themselves. For the price of a bowl of gumbo, fried chicken, potato salad and whatever else Miss Gilda would make, the workmen laid tile and bricks and hung sheet rock and screens.
“My house didn’t cost a lot of money,” Mr. Dix said. “It was built on favors.”
“When we think of him, he is without a hat, standing in the wind and the weather. He was impatient of topcoats and hats, preferring to be exposed, and he was young enough and tough enough to confront and to enjoy the cold and the wind of these times, whether the winds of nature or the winds of political circumstance and national danger. He died of exposure, but in a way that he would have settled for — in the line of duty, and with his friends and enemies all around, supporting him and shooting at him. It can be said of him, as of few men in a like position, that he did not fear the weather, and did not trim his sails, but instead challenged the wind itself, to improve its direction and to cause it to blow more softly and more kindly over the world and its people.”
published in the 30 November 1963 issue of The New Yorker magazine.
In November of 1961, cellist Pablo Casals played at the White House at the invitation of President and Mrs. Kennedy. His encore that night was his composition “El Cant del Ocells” (The Song of the Birds.)
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s guitar and fiddle
posted by Seán Collins on 10 Sept 2013
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown never heard a song he couldn’t sing or an instrument he wouldn’t play.
Blues, rock, jazz, country, folk, cajun, R&B — there wasn’t much music that didn’t move him to pick up an instrument and play. And those instruments were just as varied: guitar, drums, mandolin, viola, harmonica, and fiddle. He is regarded as perhaps the finest blues fiddler of the past century.
The Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist died on 10 September 2005, in Orange, Texas, where he went following Hurricane Katrina.
Here’s his recording of “Going Back to Louisiana.”
Gatemouth Brown/Going Back to Louisiana
Posted by Gwen Thompkins on 4 August 2013
Dear Music Lovers: This is by no means a complete list of Armstrong’s best, most historic, or favorite moments. Here are six musical rosettes to enjoy with a slice of birthday cake.
Don’t You Think I Love You?
King Oliver & His Orchestra
Without Joe “King” Oliver … perish the thought. Louis Armstrong said he would never have left New Orleans for anyone but Oliver and thank goodness Oliver called. What makes King Oliver stand out is not just his musicianship, but the fact that he would talk to young musicians and show them what he knew about playing the cornet. In his autobiography, Armstrong says this was a rare quality among the best of the best players in New Orleans. Most established musicians kept their secrets to themselves. But Oliver, Armstrong said, would stop on the street and blow his horn to teach youngsters what they should be doing. As music lovers, we are still benefitting from Oliver’s remarkable generosity. We are also benefitting from Oliver’s remarkable foolishiness. He once turned down a gig at the Cotton Club in New York that ultimately went to a young’un call Duke Ellington.
It was my ambition to play as he did. I still think if it had not been for Joe Oliver jazz would not be what it is today. He was a creator in his own right. (Louis Armstrong)