Saturday, July 18, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (continued) Sassyfras, Blues, Jazzology, meeting new people in New Orleans (2015)

July 2nd, 2015
As a child I can not remember to many "July 4th" weekends that were so memorable that they stuck in my head BUT this past one with my son David was one I hope stays with me forever. His friendship, God, Music and Fun will last forever in my memory.  Arrived in New Orleans the morning of July 2nd. David would get off work later in the afternoon, meant I'd go hang out at the NOBTS music library. After the music library, I napped at Providence House across the street from NOBTS (New Orleans Theological Seminary).  I stayed in the Henry building room 9401 VERY NICE. Not gonna find it hard to rest in this bed. Anyway the first day was filled with going to NOMA (riding past it and getting our bearings for the next day). New Orleans Museum of Art is off the charts awesome. I understand moved from downtown to it's new location it is so worth going to see. There at the grounds of the NOMA is a parthenon of sorts and two gazebos.  The gazebos are huge, and the cool thing about having David go to college there is he KNOWS the area and what to see.   There is a place there called Cafe Ole (Morning Call) that I understand is older that Cafe' Du Monde, both have great coffee and beignets but the relaxed atmosphere at Cafe Ole with the Greek background is very very nice.    

JULY 3rd, 2015 (Friday)
Up early to shower, eat breakfast and head to the French Quarter to meet Jamie Wight (musician and band leader, plays at Preservation Hall, also was with the Dukes of Dixieland) with Jazzology and conduct my interview for Gamble Music and WSGQ Internet Radio.  George Buck a preservationist of old blues and early jazz will have his own write up soon, as he is one of the pieces of the puzzle that fits into the woven tapestry for the transition of the early African sounds at Congo Square, to the early classical sounds of music then to the blues and jazz. The transition continues....Jamie and I met for about a hour. His generosity and kindness made what I was there for seem very easy and no less like I was at Disney for Music Lovers.  He and Lars Edegran (Edegran b.1944 is a Dixieland musician and bandleader.  He was born in Stockholm, Sweden) are two curators of Jazzology, you can find them at  They like myself have several things going on with and for them.  The building located at 1206 Decatur Street in the French Market (504-525-5000) has it's own restaurant with stage for live music, run by Nina Buck (George's wife) it also is house for a recording studio and a book and music store. When I say music store, I mean early recordings of blues and jazz that date back to the early 1940's when George Buck started his own business collecting and recording albums. Sound familiar ? I am so proud to have met Jamie but I know how wonderful it would have been to have met George Buck, he and I would have been able to talk about a lot of things especially "the preservation of music".

George Herman Buck, Jr. (December 22, 1928 – December 11, 2013) was an American entrepreneur who devoted much of his life to recording jazz by producing albums and acquiring the rights to those produced by companies established by others. Buck had acquired record company labels and radio broadcast companies that held historic transcription discs. He also was a major record collector. Until his death at age 84, he ran his businesses and philanthropy. He began his radio career as a partner in radio station WJNO in West Palm Beach.


Born December 22, 1928, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Buck rose to prominence as the leading figure in the preservation and advancement of authentic traditional jazz. He started out selling newspapers during World War II and converting the profits into war bonds. He took this money and recorded his first session with his favorite musicians, Wild Bill Davison and Tony Parenti on Jazzology Records. Soon after, he began recording New Orleans style jazz on GHB Records. He began yearly pilgrimages to New Orleans in 1961, cementing his relationship with the city by immersing himself in the culture and recording the important artists that lived here. George developed a passion for radio after hosting a radio show in college, which he dubbed, Jazzology. This early involvement in radio led him to buy many small, under performing radio stations beginning with WCOS in Columbia, South Carolina, and turn them around with new formats and improved management. All of his profits from this went to support his growing list of record labels. He started and bought many labels in order to make sure this music would survive and thrive. The nine labels he issued a wide range of jazz music on are Jazzology, GHB, CircleSouthlandAmerican MusicBlack SwanAudiophileProgressive, and Solo Art.
The largest collection of jazz music in the world is under this umbrella. According to his son, Buck's passion, love, and enthusiasm for jazz never diminished. He and his wife, Nina moved the operation to New Orleans in 1987 and in 1989 expanded yet again by opening the Palm Court Jazz CafĂ©, which became an important part of New Orleans jazz culture under the management of his wife. The GHB Jazz Foundation houses the record business and is located on the second floor of the same building in the French Quarter. With the transfer of all of his recordings to the foundation he assured that the music would continue to survive and his legacy will continue to influence the city and the world.

Buck companies

Companies founded by Buck
Companies acquired by Buck
Philanthropy founded by Buck
  • The George H. Buck, Jr., Jazz Foundation, Inc. (founded 1987), a Louisiana non-profit entity.

Jamie and I had a blast talking about the blues; I do not know that much about the blues but I am learning all the time about it's rich history and there is no better place to learn it's history that right here in New Orleans.  David went downstairs as we interviewed and listened to WHAT ELSE, a live band playing dixieland jazz on Decatur Street, what more fitting than that to have playing in the background of a radio/video interview. WOW MAGIC !!!!
Then on the NOMA at NOLA.  New Orleans Museum of Art after a wonderful lunch at MONA's. I had the Sharma, it was one of the best lunches ever. I was with my friend David and New Orleans.

 July 3rd continued 
Once in a lifetime you can hear greats of music at one location, given that fortunately the artists are all still alive and not passed on.  I had heard from some friends about a place that you have to stand in line for what seems a long time, there is no beverages in this place and there is no bathroom nor seating for general admission. Preservation Hall is such a place. This is where my bashing stops and the true essence of the story takes place.   Located at 726 Saint Peter Street in downtown NOLA, (504) 522-2841, down the street from Pat O'Briens, lies this hall of history in the making. Tickets 20$ a piece and no bathrooms ? What kind of place is this ? and then the lights dimmed. David and I were not uncomfortable because David got us two seats (quick thinking on his part),  AND then the unthinkable happened, 7 men came to this cramped stage with the old blues piano I'd seen from prior pictures located on the right. AND THEN THEY PLAYED. It was over before I knew it, the best New Orleans sounding Blues and Jazz ever to have graced my ears.  Daniel "Weenie" Farrow played the best sounding tenor sax I'd ever heard. I almost cried with unbelief of how sweet this sound sounded.  Here is a brief bio borrowed from the Preservation Hall website about Daniel (Danny Farrow) 

One of the more beautiful experiences of last week’s tour with PHJB and My Morning Jacket- In Charlie Gabriel’s absence, Preservation Hall’s treasured tenor sax player Daniel “Weenie” Farrow stepped in and joined the tour for a couple of dates. During a post-show hangout at an old mill turned bar in St. Augustine, MMJ frontman Jim James asked about Weenie, as they had met and played together during the Preservation Album sessions. After kind words exchanged about Mr. Farrow, we mentioned that Weenie often plays an unforgettable solo of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” at the Hall. No matter how many times you hear him play it you have to stop everything to listen. 

So the next day after soundcheck before the show in Charleston, Weenie and Jim re-introduce themselves, and Mr. Farrow plays a couple of choruses of the song. Jim smiles and asks him if he would be interested in playing it again before their encore at the end of the show. Mr. Farrow kindly agrees, and says “I’m gonna put it on ‘em tonight”. 

After an incredible opening set by PHJB and a stellar performance by MMJ all the stage lights go out and the crowd is roaring for an encore. The stage manager leads Weenie up the ramp and onto the stage with a flashlight. The crowd is still cheering, not knowing what is going to happen next. A spotlight opens up and focuses and the fog machines kick in and Weenie begins playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. As soon as he gets through the first chorus much of crowd moves to relative silence. By the second chorus, you could hear people singing along. By the final flourish, you heard the applause and screams of two-thousand plus people cheering for Mr. Farrow and that HAWWWWW you can only hear at a rock concert. Weenie took a bow and stepped offstage. I say to Mr. Farrow “Weenie! You’re a rockstar!”. Weenie replies with a smile and asks if it sounded okay. All I could do is give him a hug.

About a half-hour later, Weenie walked to the tour bus carrying his sax and was approached by a couple of young female MMJ fans. They asked for a picture with him. After the photo, he steps on to the bus and stashes away his horn and says “I can’t wait to tell Steve(Pistorious, piano player at the Hall) I was a rockstar.”
If you’ve ever met Daniel “Weenie” Farrow, you’ll know you won’t ever meet a kinder, sweeter, and enlightened individual. You can feel his joy for life whenever he plays his horn or whenever you shake his hand and ask him how everythings going. He always says “it’s good when the music makes people happy. And that makes you feel good too.” Well you put it on’ em that night Weenie. Just like you do every week at the Hall.

No seats, no bathrooms, no beverages, standing in line for a LONG TIME ? ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT !!!!!

JULY 4th 2015 (Saturday)

David took me to MORNING CALL at Cafe Ole in NO City Park early enough for coffee, as we approached, I heard it. It was melodic and beautiful but could not make out if it was recorded music or live. There I met one of the most wonderful ladies to ever grace any stage of blues or jazz. Enter one Valerie Sassyfras, a fancy dressed woman, I thought certainly was a comic but when I saw her play, comedy turned to serious and again unbelief.  She was playing the keyboard and accordion at the same time with a cymbal on her shoe for keeping time.  When I heard her play the mandolin and play other instruments at the same time, professionalism came to mind. Street entertainer ? Not hardly she is a one woman show with style and awesome ability. I tipped her jar and bought a cd, promised her shout out on GMP & A blog but it was me that was honored to have her on here not me on hers. Her ability to play the key board and accordion at the same time while singing beautifully New Orleans Woman, was stunning to say the least. Even several days ago, I can't believe what I saw.  She has her own web site      
Please visit her page and watch her videos you will be floored to see what she can do. The "WHERE Y'AT" magazine for March 2015, said it best "Valerie Sassyfras" embodies the perfect blend of musical ability and eccentricity.  She is classically trained on piano BUT plays the other mentioned instruments including the "washboard", which live, that may have been my first.  I have the article and can make anyone a copy at your request. Valerie can be contacted at her website and I don't think she'd be upset if I made mention that she has a face book page as well. I loved your show Valerie and I am so very proud you are my friend. See you when I head back to NOMA at NOLA.  

July 4th continued
David and I decided to catch the street car and travel. From one end of NOLA to the other it was past fun. Once we arrived in the French Quarter (where we were yesterday) and I had the interview with Jamie Wight; we at where else at the French Market where I saw my friend Sugar Bear and his band (where we'd heard him last October 2014) and had my favorite lunch muffaletta. OH ME it was so good. Toasted lightly bread with meat and cheese and olive sauce. WOAH ! David and I had made arrangements to ride the street car back to the park, go to the dorm crash and then head to the fireworks and the "battle of the barges".   I'd never heard of "Battle of the Barges" but it sounded like a great fireworks show.
July 4th continued
David and I headed back to the street car and headed down town, we arrived early because the Essence Music Festival was at the Convention Center and Superdome and I didn't want to miss a great spot. Once we arrived on the river walk David suggested we take the ferry and go across the river to Algiers. We did. They were already starting to shoot fireworks and the view from across the river to the other side looking at NOLA was insane. I'd only seen it from one angle and now to see it from the other side was awesome. We stayed and took the ferry back over to the city side, where we found great seats to watch one of the best fireworks that I've ever seen, including but not limited to the one I used to think was really great in Thomasville, Ga. This one ? well lets just say the city of New Orleans pulled out all stops to make everyone there realize that New Orleans is back on the map and fighting as hard as she can to get you to come back to see and visit her. I will.  The BATTLE OF THE BARGES is this. In syncopation, what one barge sends up on the left at one end of the river the other one does on the right simultaneously, and it was very impressive and no doubt something you'd want in your memory the rest of your life.  Once we were finished I had my own tasted of Mardi Gras as there were about a million people leaving all at the same time. Stopping street cars from moving meant I was going to have to "foot it", but it was a great show and worth it. I sure was glad to see the street car coming after the mile and a half hike. No one rocked me to sleep, I fell right off into slumber land.    

Up showered and got ready for more excitement to an already perfect weekend. How could it be better ? I met David at his church Edgewater Baptist Church:

Edgewater Baptist Church

Edgewater exists to glorify God by Delighting in Jesus, Developing into His image, and Declaring Him as Lord and Savior to New Orleans and all nations.
5900 Paris Ave, New Orleans, LA 70122
(504) 288-1461

A great worship experience with God, my son and music. His friends made me welcome but more over they love him and I am overwhelmed that they do. Lunch afterwards of the best bread pudding ever and pork loin that was better than any restaurant in New Orleans.  My weekend would not have been complete without going to a place David wanted to go all weekend to get "gelato" I didn't know what that was but OHHHHHH me, when I was introduced it was stunning. Brocato's ice cream shop (see below is past awesome) for a diabetic, I'll admit it was challenging to stop at one small bowl but oh me it was past good. 

July 5th continued
I'm thinking that my trip thus far was a dream it went over so well so far, I was missing David already and I'd not left yet. I'd missed New Orleans and her music and food already and I'd not left yet.  I however was going to make the best of the last night for a while; David took me to Dat Dog on Frenchman close to Frenchmen and Royal. The Louisianan smoked sausage dog was delicious and better than the gator dog that I'd had at another Dat Dog last year. It might have been the music, for you see walking down Frenchmen to get to the restaurant there was literately music every second door. I want to go into every bar, and if I could have stood the smoke I would have. Palmetto Bug was playing at the DBA and they caught my ear as I passed, stopped heard the end of their set and headed back to the truck to head home. 
I woke up packed and got ready to head back to Alabama, reluctant to leave David and New Orleans as I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE.  The 5 hour trip is worth it, especially if you see "WELCOME TO NEW ORLEANS" out of your front glass.   

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