[Dixielandjazz] Storyville - Duke Dejan Obit

briantowers briantowers@msn.com
Mon, 12 Aug 2002 18:22:15 -0400

 Of course Harold Dejan could have walked around in Storyville in 1917 at
the age of 8 and listened to King Oliver.  I am sure he did so.  Nobody
suggested that he could not have, from what I have read so far.  Oliver led
the band in Lala's cabaret (not a brothel!) in Storyville in 1916.  During
the two prior years, 1914 & 1915, Oliver played in Kid Ory's band at the
same venue.
But can you honestly imagine the child Harold Dejan playing in the Mahogany
Hall brothel on Basin Street at the tender age of 7 or 8, as inferred by the
obituaries in the New York Times and the Picayune?
I have a very tough time with that concept!   If he did indeed play in
Mahogany Hall, I suggest it may have been years after it had ceased to
become a legalised brothel in 1917.
I seem to remember someone opening a bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans
called Mahogany Hall - in the 1980's or 1990's.  Perhaps this is where Dejan
played and where the confusion arose.

Quoting Al Rose again, writing in 1974:
" The glamorization of Storyville by the communications media in recent
decades has led many a musician to try to identify with what was actually,
after all, a not especially admirable phenonemon of American culture"

According to Brian Wood (The Song For Me)  Dejan's first band was the
"Moonlight Serenaders" around 1918.  This band was led by his brother Leo.
It must have been a toddler's band, as Leo was two years younger!

By the way , the Storyville Ordinance, legalising prostitution within a
certain area, did not technically come into effect until New Year's Day
1898, according to Al Rose, the New Orleans historian.

Brian Towers
> Re: the comment that Duke Dejan was too young to have walked around
> Storyville:
> Storyville opened in 1897 and was closed by pressure from the US Navy in
> 1917. Duke Dejan, born in 1909, could well have been there as the NY
> Times and the New Orleans Times - Picayune wrote in their obits. He
> would have been 7 or 8 years old which, given the tenor of the times,
> makes it quite possible for him to have been there listening to Louis,
> King Oliver et al. Just as Louis listened to Buddy Bolden when he was a
> youngster, and sold buckets of coal to the hookers in Storyville Cribs.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
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