[Dixielandjazz] Getting into OKOM

Ron L'Herault lherault at bu.edu
Wed Nov 4 06:12:44 PST 2009

I started collecting antique phonographs and reveling in the records when I
was 13.  My parents had the normal 50s records along with things like Sutton
Plays Fats and the Dorsey and Miller tribute records.   I loved them.  I
always wanted to play piano.  We didn't have one and my parents felt that
the house was too small for one.  I took some accordion lessons on a
borrowed 12 bass accordion.  When it was time to move up to a 120 bass
accordion, my parents baulked.   The private high school I went to was brand
new and it was not until I was a sophomore that we had enough students to
start a band.  The nun in charge asked me what I wanted to play and I said,
"Banjo".  She suggested trombone since, it was a marching band, she knew I
had a decent ear from hearing me sing in chorus, and she needed trombone
No one I knew liked Dixieland/trad jazz.  I had to beg to get the band to
play the one strain from High Society that was in our little band book.  I
played along with the few Dixieland records I could find.   One lucky find
was the LP of the Bunk Johnson Superior Jazz Band.  I found that in the book
store at Brown U. while touring the campus because it was one of the schools
to which I would apply.   

College (Providence College, not Brown) was a similar desert.  It was four
more years of playing along with records This was the mid/late 1960s and
rock was IT.  Fortunately, I discovered Ray Smith on WKOX FM.  He mentioned
real jazz bands that were actually playing in the western suburbs of Boston,
an area to which I was comfortable driving.   I met people like Bill Batten,
Scott Philbrick, Jim Mazzy and Ray himself.  I was invited to a jam session
or two.   Then I got to hear the New Black Eagles and along with finding the
most wonderful band in the world, got to meet some of the greatest fans in
the world.  One of them, Jack Phelan, wanted to start a band and he invited
me to join, bless his heart.   I played with the "Scollay Square Stompers"
for close to 10 years and then with the Dixie All Stars for more than 13
years before the leader of that band moved to Florida and left me with his
blessing to continue using the band name.  I'm looking for a Clarinet
player, by the way, in the Providence, Boston area.

Ron L

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