Saturday, December 19, 2009
HARRY ROELAND BYRD b DECEMBER 19 1918
"Black or white, local or out-of-town, they all had Longhair's music in common. Just that mambo-rhumba boogie thing." ALLEN TOUSSAINT
the shit-ass willard & i were in new orleans in december of 1979. it was a memorable trip for several reasons but none more memorable than seeing professor longhair at tipitina's. it was his penultimate performance but there was no way of knowing that, especially since he rocked the joint that night. it was the first time i'd been to the local legend tipitina's & it wasn't like any venue i'd ever seen music in before. it had only been open for two years at the time but it seemed like some ancient cave that provided succor for a deeply primitive people. it was, quite simply, a juke-joint & fess' music fit the place perfectly. he played late into the night & everyone just kept dancing & singing along. it was quite a scene.
of course, now, we can stand there & look back at fats waller & forward to see fats domino & huey smith & further, to toussaint & booker & mac rebennack. that rhumba boogie groove is at the heart of so much music, be it rock & roll or rhythm & blues. mr. byrd's place in music history is pretty much assured but it's always a good thing to spend a few minutes reflecting on the many figures in our past who built & created the musical structures of the present. it's even better if that reflection is based on an actual real life experience.
i've been to "tips" many times since that night in mid december 1979 & i've seen some great shows there but none that pulsed so vibrantly w/living & being in the world.