[Dixielandjazz] Where was the jazz? Reply and agreement!

Vaxtrpts at aol.com Vaxtrpts at aol.com
Mon Sep 26 20:35:36 PDT 2005

In a message dated 9/26/2005 5:36:04 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
Cebuisle2 at aol.com

I am  amazed at all the posts during the last weeks about jazz and musicians  
in New Orleans. Steve's post about the return of the jazz scene leads me  to 
ask,  "Where was the jazz scene about 25 years ago? My spouse and  I traveled 
there  with the sole intention of hearing hot jazz. I  think we hit the 
Door and  Preservation Hall. All the other  clubs on the main drag in the 
Quarter had screaming guitars  and pounding drums. The waiter came over 
we  were even seated  at the "Door" to take a drink order, and kept coming 
even   though we hadn't half finished out first drink-
The host at our motel  warned us not to leave the well lit main street  
(Bourbon?) as it  wasn't safe for tourists. I recall driving down canal 
Street at   
midnight with the windows rolled up and the AC on full, it was so hot.  All  
considered, I was not impressed with the music scene in the Big  Easy. What I 
 have read and heard since has not changed my opinion. 
I  read an article in U.S. News and Report recently in which a long time   
resident of the city who formerly ran a recording studio there said the  jazz 
funerals had degenerated into drunken parties.and that a city  parade permit 
now required. And then there was the  brick-in-the-mouth suffered by Al  
which almost ended his  playing career., and some of the social clubs  
to parade any  more due to racial troubles. 
Guys, has there been a renaissance in N.O.  these last few decades? Seems  
most of  the musicians mentioned  recently were playing somewhere else when  
big water came. Did I  miss something on that ill fated trip 25 years ago?  
Where was the  jazz  hiding?                                                  

Sorry to copy this whole post, but I thought it was VERY relevant.
Ted, I couldn't agree with you more!  When we lived in New Orleans  over 25 
years ago, there were more clubs with jazz, but the club owners had just  cut 
back on the number of musicians in the bands because the union had voted an  
increase in pay scale for the musicians.  It was ALL about the bottom line  with 
the club owners.  They didn't care one bit about the music. (Nothing  new 
here, huh?)  Back then the clubs were: Crazy Shirley's, Blue Angel,  Preservation 
Hall, Famous Door, Maison Bourbon, Pete Fountain's, Al Hirt's, and  Dukes 
Place (Monteleone Hotel).  There were some other clubs that mainly  catered to 
more modern jazz also.
The clubs on Bourbon Street started disappearing or changing to Rock.   As 
the years progressed, Crazy Shirley's was gone, then the Blue Angel, and  the 
Famous Door stopped having jazz.  Pete moved to the Hilton and Al lost  his 
place.  It got harder and harder for the musicians to make a  living.  I guess 
things got even worse after the World's Fair flop.
I can't talk much about the last ten years or so, as I have only been back  a 
few times.  I wasn't much impressed with any "resurgence" of jazz, at  least 
on Bourbon Street.  I did hear some wonderful musicians playing  there, 
though.  I know the French Quarter Festival (which doesn't pay very  well for the 
musicians) and the Jazz and Heritage Festival have been doing  well.
We also knew that you didn't walk very far off Bourbon Street, even back  
then.  It was just too dangerous.  The looting and gang stuff of  recent events 
is just "more of the same" from back then.
The Al Hirt Brick thing is a big over exaggeration that I won't go into at  
this point.
Mike Vax

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