Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I happily celebrated my sixth anniversary of running this blog....followed by a lengthy, unexplained silence. Ugh, I hate doing that, trust me. And don't worry, the disappearing act wasn't from celebrating too much. No, it's been a crazy few weeks as almost all of my existing free time (very little to begin with) has been filled with getting ready for the Satchmo Summerfest, the annual all-Pops weekend that is occurring in New Orleans from August 1-4.
This will be my sixth trip to the Summerfest and it will, by far, be my busiest one. If you happen to be in New Orleans, here's where to find me (just about everything is at the Old U.S. Mint):
11:30 a.m. - I'll be interviewing my hero, Dan Morgenstern, about his years writing about jazz and specifically, writing about Pops.
4:30 p.m. - A video presentation featuring Louis in duets with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Kaye, Jack Teagarden, Pearl Bailey, Johnny Cash and many others....Louis Armstrong and His Friends!
3:30 p.m. - I'll be previewing the upcoming Mosaic Records Armstrong set I'm co-producing, aided by David Ostwald and the one and only George Avakian!
4:30 p.m. - My second video presentation will be a screening of the 1962 German television special, "The Satchmo Story," featuring Louis and the All Stars digging into some material they didn't play too often at the time.
3:30 p.m. - More on this in a second...
4:30 p.m. - My finale is a presentation titled "Louis Armstrong and New Orleans" and it will feature more video of Pops being interviewed and performing songs associated with his hometown.
And then for something completely different: I'll be performing with the Satchmo Summerfest All Stars!
A little background: most of the Satchmo Summerfests I've attended have featured many of the same presenters. Not only are they all historians, but many of us are musicians, of varying degrees of fame and notoriety (I'm playing "The Cookie Cab" in Toms River after the Summerfest for $50 and a cookie...that shows you where I stand). Anyway, the powers that be have put together a supergroup that will feature Yoshio Toyama, trumpet and vocals, David Sager, trombone, David Ostwald, tuba and leader, Bruce Raeburn, drums, Dan Morgenstern, vocals, myself on piano and special Summerfest headliner Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and vocals.
Yes, it's going to be insane backing up that front line of Toyama, Sager and Gordon....talk about the big leagues! But I've been waiting my whole life for an opportunity like this and I can't wait to dive in.
If you're interested in following the exploits of the All Stars, we're having a quasi-open rehearsal at Preservation Hall at 2 p.m. on Friday. Then our debut is outside on the main stage at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. And finally, if you're not sick of us yet, we'll be inside doing a seminar at 3:30 on Sunday, where we'll each talk about our musical background and play some more music. Should be a gassuh!
This year's Summerfest is shaping up to be the biggest one yet, filled with more music and seminars and activities than ever before. You can find out all about it here. And of course, if you want blow-by-blow updates of my experiences (eating and musical), you can always find me on Facebook.
And here's one more great thing to share. Back in April, I gave a copy of my book to clarinet great Evan Christopher. While talking on the phone with him a few months ago, he said that every trumpet player in New Orleans should read it. I thought that was a beautiful sentiment, but wasn't expecting Evan to ask, "How can we make that happen?"
I didn't know, so I wrote my old publicist at Pantheon, Josie Kals, and ran it by her. She loved the idea so much, she said Pantheon would donate 30 books to the cause! I signed them all last night and shipped them to New Orleans this morning. When Evan gets back to New Orleans soon, he'll begin distributing them around town. I've seen his list and it's impressive: Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty, Connie Jones, Chris Clifton, Wendell Brunious, Mark Braud, Duke Heitger, Leroy Jones, Kevin Louis....and on and on. Basically, if you're in New Orleans and you own a trumpet, you're probably going to get a copy of my book, courtesy of Evan and Pantheon. Major thanks to them! You can read all about it on Evan's fabulous NolaVie blog.
S'all for now. New Orleans here I come and when I get back and the dust settles, regular blogging shall commence again. Til then!