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The Ghost of Roosevelt December 7, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in music, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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“I don’t think he takes requests,” my friend Eric said.

Jon Cleary had in fact spent the past two hours hunched over the piano at d.b.a with the intensity of a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall, announcimg songs to the microphone. From deep inside his trance the spirits of Professor Longhair and James Booker escaped into the room like the thermocline cloud of forbidden cigarettes, hovering at about ear level, microscopically turbulent at the pitch and roll of each arpeggio and left clef chord.

As I walked up with a bill in my hand he turned briefly toward the audience to announce last somg. I waved the ten and asked, “would consider a request? Some Roosevelt Sykes?”

“Some Roosevelt Sykes,” he echoed back in a flat, uncommitted voice.

I dropped the bill in the bucket and walked back to my friends. Before I could turn around to face the stage, he called the song. “Some boogie-woogie,” he said. “The Honeydripper.” Eric began to reminisce about the Maple Leaf back when, Roosevelt and Booker and the Professor, but only Patrice was really listening.

Forty years on down the road April 24, 2009

Posted by Mark Folse in blues, Jazz Fest, je me souviens, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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This is the 40th anniversary of Jazz Fest, which started as a small festival in what is now Congo Sqaure at Armstrong Park. If you look closely at your cubes, you will notice stars next to the artists who were present at the first event. Many will be there, but many more will not.

I started to make a list of people I have seen over the years who will not be there, but it got too depressing. Time to pull out my Roosevelt Sykes LPs and try to get the turntable hooked up to the PC when I should be working. Better yet, I think I need to drag out the cassette I still have somewhere from the days I used to smuggle a deck into Jazz Fest and digitize one of those shows.

While I get busy with that here is is a bit of the Honeydripper himself playing “Gulfport Boogie”.

This year I will pull out the straw hat he autographed for me long ago one night at the Maple Leaf and wear it to the book signing. If you don’t make a point of stopping by the memorial spot in the center of the Fairgrounds every year, make the effort this year and just stop for a while and whistle a few bars to let them all know they are remembered.

Je me souviens. Remember.

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