Saturday, January 25, 2020

New Orleans trip 1995

For my latest trip down Memory Lane I'm turning to the diary entries for my trip to the New Orleans Jazzfest in 1995. It may be 25 years ago, but it remains fresh in my memory for a whole host of reasons. Lots of good photos from that trip.
Clarence Carter at Grant Street Dance Hall, Lafayette
Thursday, April 25. Off to the States and a brilliant start. Flew into Houston with John (Howard) and Jonathan (Coke-Smyth) and then flew to Lafayette where we picked up a car and checked into the Acadian Motel - a very seedy place.The International Festival was going on and after a meal in Don's Seafood place we went on to the Grant Street Dance Hall to see Clarence Carter (pictured above). It's a great venue and he's a fantastic performer, the evening made ever better when we chatted to some friendly Spanish speaking women (Maria, Conchita and Betty). Clarence was brilliant, but I'm totally knackered already.
Friday. Didn't sleep well. After a poor breakfast we drove over to New Orleans and and checked in to the Rose Inn. Caught up with John Jolliffe, his brother Rod and Dave Thomas at their hotel and then headed to the Jazzfest. A lovely sunny day. Kicked off with Rockin' Sidney, who was good, then a bit of Clarence 'Frogman' Henry. I lined up to get Dr John's book, 'Under A Hoodoo Moon' signed and also bought a book about Sam Cooke.Took in a bit of Tab Benoit, a local bluesman, and then caught Pete Seeger on stage with Peter, Paul and Mary - quite a foursome - finishing off with Dr John. Met up at the Brewhouse in the evening and a had a soul food meal at the Praline Connection. By this time it was getting late and we were tired so we had a fairly early night (1am). 
Dr John signs his book
Peter Paul and Mary with Pete Seeger
Saturday. Up early, breakfast at the Quality Inn. Got some cheap 45s and LPs at the Jefferson Flea Market. A good day at the Fest and hot again. Beau Jocque - very popular with the locals. Then to the front of the RayBan Stage to see Little Milton, who was pretty good, and then Wilson Pickett, who was brilliant and a real highlight. Finished with some Black Stalin and Gladys Knight so an excellent day all round. Had a fairly expensive but excellent meal at Gaulteurs restaurant in the Garden District and then went on to the Lion's Den. Irma (Thomas) was in great form as usual, but I'm suffering from an eye infection and I'm rapidly losing my voice. 
Little Milton
Wilson Pickett
Sunday. Woke up with hardly any voice but got a spray which improved things. Had a swim and phoned home and then on to Day Three of Jazzfest. Briefly saw Rosie Ledet, a sexy zydeco singer, then greatly enjoyed Clarence Carter again. Saw an out of tune Jimmy Clanton with Frankie Ford, a bit of Allen Toussaint, the ancient Hackberry Ramblers, Chuck Berry (who was rather poor), an interview with Clarence Carter and some excellent blues from Lavelle White. Finished off with some MOR Ray Charles and then Magic Slim. Rather a fruitless evening: we went to the Brewhouse and then tried to find a gig advertised as being The Chiffons and failed to find it. Ended up eating in the French Quarter and John H and Jonathan fell out. To Lafayette tomorrow.
Jimmy Clanton
The Hackberry Ramblers
Chuck Berry - is anyone there?
Lavelle White
Monday,May 1. Drove to Lafayette with John Howard and John Jolliffe to meet Betty for lunch. She turned out to be Peruvian, and rather gorgeous. The guys headed back to New Orleans and I checked into the Executive House Hotel and after a few rather boring hours I went for a drink and a burger.
Tuesday. Walked to the Acadian shopping mall, dodging the traffic as pedestrians are not catered for. Decided to hire a car and check into somewhere cheaper. Went to Betty's El Pabellon restaurant for lunch and then drove to Church Point where I had a long and interesting chat with Lee Lavergne, owner of Lanor Records. Got some 45s by the likes of Elton Anderson and Phil Phillips while I was there. In the evening went to Poets, a very lively place where a band called Domino were playing. Danced a lot with Betty and drank too much and she almost had us off the road as she drove back afterwards to her place.
Wednesday. Returned the hire car and got the Greyhound bus to New Orleans feeling hung over. Brightened up later, having a Mexican meal and then went to Tipitina's to see Doug Sahm's Last Texas Blues Band - basically the Texas Tornados but with Roy Head guesting as Freddy Fender wasn't there. Roy was excellent, as was the whole band.
Doug Sahm's Last Texas Blues Band with Roy Head at Tipitina's
Thursday. Didn't sleep well again - bad cough. To the French Quarter looking fruitlessly for apartments for a family visit later in the year and Vampire Lestat T shirts. A rather weak day at the Fest, ruined by a heavy thunderstorm. Saw some of Katie Webster and an uneven set by Alex Chilton and later saw some of James Taylor during a break in the rain. In the evening tried to find Mosca's restaurant on the West Bank but failed because of a power cut, ending up in a crappy and dear place on Carrollton. Then to Muddy Waters to see Bob Margolin and Michael Hill.
Outside Muddy Waters: L-R Dave Thomas, Rod Jolliffe, John Jolliffe, Jonathan Coke-Smyth, Nick Cobban, John Howard
Friday. A better night's sleep. To the Quarter for cash and then a mostly unsuccessful hunt for records. At the Jazzfest it was hot. Saw, among others, Steve Riley, Eddie Bo, Bobby Marchan, Joe Clay, Eddie Lejeune and, the highlight of the day, Al Green. Met up at the Brewhouse in the evening. Jonathan went off by himself. Landed up touring the dives in Metairie with John  Howard, John Jolliffe and Rod.
Saturday. Decided not to go to the Fest. Went with Jonathan and fixed up an apartment on Dumaine Street for when I come back in August and then got some more records from flea markets. John H later joined us (he was hungover) and we went to the River Walk, looked at the Flamingo Casino and caught a free performance by the Chi-Lites. Also shopped for T shirts in the French Market. Had a seafood meal by the Lake and then went to see Marcia Ball at Jimmy's. Phoned home - it's very hot there and there's been an attempted murder in my road in Barnet: sounds like New Orleans.
The Chi-Lites - free show on the River Front.
Sunday. Last day in New Orleans. Breakfest at the Anita Grill and then to the Jazzfest to see the excellent Tommy Ridgley, some gospel with Jo 'Cool' Davis and the Southern Bells, Jean Knight, a bit of B B King, finishing off with Irma Thomas. Drove straight up to Lafayette with John H and Jonathan, calling off at Mulate's in Breaux Bridge on the way. Ate Chinese next to the motel and then hunted for a bar, eventually finding a fairly basic one with a gruff singer.
Tommy Ridgley

Monday. Went to the Acadian Mall and then to El Pabellon for lunch - Betty and Conchita there. The heavens opened as I left for the airport and I drove through flooded streets. When we got there we found out that our flight to Houston had been cancelled. The airline then said they had two seats on a flight so, as there were three of us, John, Jonathan and I drew straws - and Jonathan lost. He wasn't happy but as John and I were sitting on the plane waiting for it to take off feeling rather sheepish he suddenly appeared as a seat had come free.
The two Johns - Howard and Jolliffe

Me and Betty

Jonathan, John and I at El Pabellon in Lafayette with Conchita and Betty

Irma Thomas at Jazzfest

Monday, January 20, 2020

Farewell to the 'Barefootin' man

Yet another New Orleans original has passed away. This time it's the 'Barefootin'' man, Robert Parker, who has died aged 89. Robert's 1966 hit, produced by Wardell Quezerque on the NOLA label, gave Robert brief worldwide fame, but he had been active in the New Orleans music scene as a sax player for many years before that, playing with Professor Longhair on 'Mardi Gras in New Orleans' in 1949. Solo records included the instrumental 'All Night Long' in 1958, but it was his Nola records that really took off. Excellent follow ups in the 'Barefootin'' mode included 'Let's Go Baby 'Where The Action Is' and 'The Scratch', all produced by Quezerque. Robert was a fairly regular performer at Jazzfest, where I saw him several times (most recently in 2013 when he appeared with Frankie Ford, Clarence 'Frogman' Henry and Al 'Carnival Time' Johnson), and also starred at the Ponderosa Stomp (see photo of him in 2011).
Another musician to have died is Americana singer/songwriter David Olney, aged 71, who passed away while performing on stage in Miami. It seems he was half way through his third song when he stopped, apologised and look down. It took some time for the audience to realise that he was dead.
Hylda Sims, who played with the City Ramblers Skiffle Group in the 1950s, has also died at the age of 87. As well as recording folk music Hylda was a poet and hosted the Poetry Cafe in London for many years. She appeared in a Tales From The Woods show and was interviewed recently for the TFTW magazine.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Edd Byrnes, Bobby Comstock and others RIP

The New Year has started much like the old one finished, with several music-related deaths already.
'Ginchiest' of these is that of actor Edd Byrnes, aged 87, who found fame as the comb carrying Kookie in '77 Sunset Strip'. With his cool jive talk and hipster lingo he became a teen idol and, although not much of a singer, he had a hit with Connie Stevens on 'Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb' and had a couple of EPs released in the UK based on a US album. His acting career was impacted by being type cast as Kookie, but he appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies over a long period. He appeared as the Dick Clark style DJ in 'Grease', was the role model for the Fonz and was ranked number five in a TV Guide list of the greatest TV teen idols in 2005.
Another death announced this week is that of Bobby Comstock, aged 78, whose recording of Let's Stomp' was something of a late rock and roll classic. After forming a band called The Counts, he had success with a cover of the Patti Page hit 'Tennessee Waltz' in 1959 and the follow up, 'Jambalaya', was also a minor US hit. 'Let's Stomp' followed in 1962, a song which was popular with UK bands of the time and was later covered by The Strangeloves. Later he had success with 'Your Boyfriend's Back', an answer song to the Angels hit, and recorded several singles for the Bell Label after briefly being a member of a band called Zebra.
Bo Winberg (80) was lead guitarist with one of the most influential
instrumental guitar groups of the early sixties, The Spotnicks. The first Swedish band to have international success, they released several singles on the Oriole label in the UK, including 'Hava Nagila' and 'Orange Blossom Special' plus several EPs and LPs recorded on tour in London, Spain and Berlin. Bo was highly regarded as a guitarist and went on to lead versions of the Spotnicks well after the craze for guitar groups had faded.
Another to have died, at the age of 75, is Marty Grebb who was a member of US rock band The Buckinghams, who hit with 'Kind Of a Drag' in 1965 (prior to him joining). Later he became a producer and also toured with the Bonnie Raitt band for 25 years.
Also Detroit soul singer Lorraine Chandler who had a regional hit with 'What Can I Do' in 1966. She wrote several songs with Jack Ashford and in the mid 1980s had several unissued tracks released in the UK by Ady Croasdell.