Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Nine Year Anniversary!

Nine years ago today, I finished a grueling day of painting houses, went home and wrote the first entry of this blog. It was one of the best decisions I ever made as the blog opened the door to the Satchmo Summerfest, my book deal, my job at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Mosaic Records box, lectures, friends and above all the ability to make a living through Louis Armstrong.

Alas, the cost of living the dream (and having a terrific wife and three kids at home) is I barely eek out one new blog a month these days. In some regards, that makes me sad as I love writing those crazy entries. But all I have to do is look around and I realize that I'm still spreading my love of Louis everywhere, just not always through the vessel of Blogger.

For instance, take Facebook. I feel that the whole planet is on Facebook, but if you're not, you can still view my very public page at Earlier this year, I had the idea that after so many years of including rare Armstrong footage in my public presentations, I should put some of that stuff online. Thus began weekly Facebook uploads of videos from my personal collection. I've now began to upload audio interviews and lots of rare photos I find all over the internet. So if you're not following me on Facebook, that's really become my preferred venue for all things Louis.

In person, I've never been busier in my job as Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum but that's only one thing that I do. Here's some upcoming appearances I'm excited about.

*On Saturday, July 16, I'll be at Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, giving two short presentations on Louis and New Orleans inside Queens Theatre at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. (right before Kermit Ruffins hits at 4 p.m.!).

*On August 4, I'll be making my ninth annual appearance at Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans! I'll be presenting ultra rare footage of Louis on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Dick Cavett Show, in addition to taking part in a panel on Louis's relationship with drummer Big Sid Catlett with Scott Wenzel of Mosaic Records and my good friend, drummer Rich Noorigian. If you're way down yonder, say hi!

*And most excitingly, beginning on September 22, I'll be teaching a six-week course on Louis for Jazz at Lincoln Center's Swing University, preaching every Thursday night at 6 p.m. Details on signing up can be found here.

And that's not all! I'm currently involved in co-producing two separate Armstrong boxed sets for Universal, I might helping other labels issue some previously unheard Louis, I might just have another book in me and more, more, more.

And none of it would have happened without the blog.

Last year, for my Eight Year Anniversary, I wrote a more reflective piece with a long list of my favorite blog entries. I still recommend the list as I haven't added much to it since then (more on the Hot Fives and Louis's 1930-31 California recordings to come!). But even as I write this, I must cut it short and head to the opening reception for the wonderful new George and Anahid Avakian exhibit at the New York Public Library, Music for Moderns: The Partnership of George Avakian and Anahid Ajemian.

I was lucky to get a sneak peak of the exhibit last week and it was a knockout. Even better, George was there! (Sadly, Anahid, a truly wonderful woman, passed away just last month.)

If you can't make it to the exhibit (which is up through September), you can go here to see a sampling of images, including this stunning one of Louis and George from the Satch Plays Fats session in 1955.

And finally, it's appropriate to celebrate George this evening because it was on this date that Louis and the All Stars recorded a solid chunk of this, the greatest album of all time:

So before I go, let me sum up the craziness that is my life:

July 13, 1954 - Louis Armstrong records "St. Louis Blues" for George Avakian. This record changed my life in 1995 when I heard it on a compilation produced by George Avakian (a story I detailed here).
July 13, 2007 - I start this blog that changes the course of my life.
July 13, 2016 - I'm ending this blog and attending a reception for George Avakian, with George present.

If you need me, I'll be pinching myself because I don't want this dream to end anytime soon......


Cristiano said...

Congratulations and thank you very much for your invaluable work, Ricky. :)

Dan said...

I don't know what you have up your sleeves, Rick--Heaven knows you've done enough for TWO careers already--but I remain hopeful that somewhere there exists more rehearsal footage and scrambled takes, since already we have found that there are precious gems even amidst the dross. And more than that: learning how certain solos evolved or became varied even in a single day of recording is tantamount to studying the Beethoven sketch books. I think we're pretty close to a time when America's musicologists WILL take the Armstrong rehearsals and false starts with the seriousness they deserve.