Monday, July 13, 2015

Eight Year Anniversary!

8 years ago today, I wrote the shortest blog I'd ever write. Here it is. In full.

"Hello! My name is Ricky Riccardi and you can learn more about me in the (you guessed it) "About Me" section of this blog. I just wanted to take a second and discuss what this blog is all about. There are tons of Armstrong videos on YouTube and in my Itunes, I have 2,408 Armstrong songs arranged in chronological order. I plan on hitting "shuffle" on my Itunes and whatever Armstrong track comes up first, I will discuss it. I'll provide the musicians, the writers, the soloists, I'll give some analysis of the recording and I'll even tell you where you can buy it or listen to it. On some days, I'll post a YouTube video and do the same. You're more than welcome to comment and offer your own opinions or disagreements to whatever I write. There's really no order to anything, just a (hopefully) daily celebration of Armstrong's music! Enjoy!"

Aw, it's almost cute. "Daily" postings? That didn't last long; I'm lucky to get two out per month these days. (However, I at least make sure the two are long enough to require at least a week to wade through!) Still, I love writing this thing. Why? Because this blog made me who I am today.

As many of you might know, I graduated from Rutgers with a Master's in Jazz History in May of 2005 and immediately started painting houses for my father's company. I didn't stop until October 2009. I hired an agent in early 2006 to help me sell my idea of a book on Louis Armstrong's later years. We were met with an onslaught of reactions.

So in July 2007, I took matters into my own hands, figuring I couldn't get a job or a book deal because nobody knew who the hell I was, and started the blog. For months, I didn't hear a peep, but eventually a small trickle--led by Hakan Forsberg, the late Gosta Hagglof and Terry Teachout--turned into a waterfall. In 2008, I was contacted by a man named Jon Pult, representing the Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans. He had read my blog and thought I'd be a good man to replace Jack Bradley in showing rare Armstrong footage down there.

First day of first Satchmo Summerfest, 2008.

Off I went, my loyal wife Margaret by my side. On night one, I was too nervous to talk to the cognoscenti: Gary Giddins, George Avakian, Dan Morgenstern, David Ostwald, Michael Cogswell, etc. But my final presentation was met with a standing ovation from a standing-room-only crowd and at last, I had a reputation. One month later, my agent sold my book idea. And one year later, I was hired as Project Archivist of the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

I don't need to give a blow-by-blow of what happened next but I think it's fun to discuss what I am doing this very day: boarding an airplane to go back to New Orleans to help oversee the installation of a brand new exhibit I curated with my assistant, Brynn White, and the staff of the Louisiana State Museum, Satchmo: His Life in New Orleans, which will run at the Old U.S. Mint until 2017. In just about two weeks, I'll be returning to New Orleans for my eighth straight Satchmo Summerfest. In about a month-and-a-half, I will put on my professorial hat and teach "Music of Louis Armstrong" to Queens College jazz and music majors. And starting on July 1, I was promoted from Archivist to Director of Research Collections of the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

2014 photograph of Armstrong releases I've helped with since starting this blog.

This coming October will represent the 20th anniversary of the time my mother took me to the Ocean County Library in Toms River, NJ and I checked out the cassette compilation, 16 Most Requested Songs, that changed my life. So yes, all of my Armstrong-related dreams have come true but I also feel like I'm just getting started and have a billion ideas to keep Pops percolating in the public eye.

But it would have been nothing without the blog and the gracious comments, support and feedback I have gotten through it over the years, not to mention the friends it has given me. So to celebrate, here's links to some of the most popular entries I've ever posted, as well as some of my favorites. Thanks for reading!

Someday You'll Be Sorry
Jazzin' Babies Blues
Live at the University of North Carolina May 8, 1954
I Get Ideas (Adios Muchachos)
I Ain't Gonna GIve Nobody None of My Jelly Roll
When Your Lover Has Gone
Your Cheatin' Heart
Snake Rag
Alone at Last
Symphonic Raps/Savoyager's Stomp
The Creator Has a Master Plan
Flat Foot Floogie
Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong
The Skeleton in the Closet
The Historic Fleischmann's Yeast Broadcasts
Tenderly/You'll Never Walk Alone - Updated
Skokiian (South African Song)
Royal Garden Blues
Indian Cradle Song
Long, Long Ago
50 Years of the Fourth Timex Show (and the Duet with Dizzy Gillespie)
The Tiger Rag to End All Tiger Rags - January 1959
I Get a Kick Out of You
Little Joe
In Loving Memory of Gotsa Hagglof
Mahogany Hall Stomp - Part 1
Live at the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival - Revisited
Chloe (Song of the Swamp)
Big Butter and Egg Man - Revisited
As Time Goes By
80 Years of Ain't Misbehavin' - The 1920s Versions
Shoe Shine Boy
Gut Bucket Blues
When You're Smiling - The Early Versions
When You're Smiling - The Later Versions
Indiana Revisited
St. James Infirmary - November 14, 1967 - This'll Blow Your Mind
Louis Armstrong: A Discussion on High Notes
You Go to My Head
80 Years of Louis Armstrong's November 1931 Chicago Sessions
In Loving Memory of Jos Willems
Louie, Louie: Louis Armstrong Meets Louis Jordan
60 Years of New Orleans Function
Almost Persuaded - Revisited
60 Years of "Stchmo at Pasadena"
Velma's Blues
Cornet Chop Suey
Heebie Jeebies
75 Years of Louis Armstrong's Unbelievable May 18, 1936 Decca Session
85 Years of Louis Armstrong's Session with Erskine Tate
Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1947-1951
Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1952-1955
Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1955-1959
Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1959-1963
Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1964-1971
In Praise (and Defense) of Louis and the Angels
In Loving Memory of Joe Muranyi
85 Years of the Hot Seven: Potato Head Blues
Satchmo at Symphony Hall 65th Annivesary: The Complete Performances
So You Wanna Buy the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens?
85 Years of "Hotter Than That"
The Story of a Photo: Copenhagen 1967
The Story of Louis Armstrong's Final Tape
Louis Armstrong's Final Tapes
Laughin' Louis: 80 Years of Louis's April 1933 Victor Sessions
75 Years of 'When the Saints Go Marching In"
85 Years of "West End Blues"
60 Years of Louis Armstrong and the Commanders
80 Years of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Harlem Band
85 Years of Basin Street Blues
The Definition of DEEP: Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen, September 29, 1957
Happy 80th Birthday to Jack Bradley
Barrett Deems Centennial Celebration
50 Years Ago Today: Hello, Dolly! at #1
Billy Kyle Centennial Celebration
65 Years of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday's Only Session
Ambassador Satch Meets Tricky Dick? Not So Fast...
85 Years of Rockin' Chair
2014: The Year of the Mosaic
More on Louis Armstrong and the Colored Waif's Home: 1910-1913
90 Years of Clarence Williams' Blue Five: Cake Walkin' Babies from Home and Pickin' on Your Baby
Bessie Smith Meets Louis Armstrong: 90 Years Later
60 Years of Louis Armstrong "At the Crescendo"
Bobby Hacket and Louis Armstrong: The Cream and the Coffee
Louis Armstrong on Desert Island Discs
Swinging a Joke
50 Years of The Slivovice Interview
55 Years of "Louie and the Dukes of Dixieland"
Louis Armstrong, Joe Glaser and "Satchmo at the Waldorf"
Happy Birthday, Pops! (The Case for July 4, 1901....)

Yours truly in 2015, holding one of Louis's trumpets. Photo by Yoni Brook.


terryteachout said...

You are the best example I know of how blogging can turn a passionate enthusiast into a top-tier scholar and a universally recognized authority. It's a great transformation, one of which you should be as proud as can be. Congratulations from your once and future fan.

LOUIS said...

Happy anniversary, Ricky! I do not write much, but I always read each and every post on your blog with great interest and pleasure.

RICHIE said...

You continue to bring us new information and different ways to look at Louis' history. The gracious style in which you deliver the story rings of Pops himself and I know he is smiling. Thank you for being Ricky with that scholar's knowledge, incredible sense of humor and insatiable appetite! Thanks very, very much.

baz said...

And many more, Gate!