NICKEL A DANCE is a free series of Sunday afternoon jazz concerts each spring and fall, that is a hit with children, families, seniors, and the general dancing public that don’t tend to go to night clubs. It attracts a diverse group of fans that meet on Frenchmen Street to celebrate jazz as America’s original dance music while listening to the best of today’s classic jazz bands.
Sundays in March 2013
4:00pm to 7:00pm
Last Show of the Spring 2013 Series!
Lionel Ferbos and the Palm Court Jazz Band Easter
At 101, trumpeter Lionel Ferbos is the oldest working jazz musician in New Orleans (born July 17, 1911). A native New Orleanian whose career has remained almost exclusively in the city, he leads his band weekly at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, a French Quarter club. During his long career, Ferbos has worked with some of the giants of early traditional jazz, including Captain John Handy and Mamie Smith, and more recently with widely recognized contemporary revivals of the old style music like the original stage band of the off-Broadway hit “One Mo’ Time.” He has played at all of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals.
Lionel Ferbos was born July 17, 1911, in the city’s Creole 7th Ward. He said he
had asthma and his parents wouldn’t let him take up a wind instrument, but when
he was 15 he saw Phil Spitalny's all-girl orchestra at the Orpheum and argued
that he ought to be able to do anything a girl could do. So he got an old
cornet at a pawn shop on Rampart Street and began lessons with Professor Paul
Chaligny, an exacting Creole task-master who would not let him blow the horn
until he knew how to read music and had mastered the rudiments of theory. After
a year with Chaligny, Ferbos moved on to study with noted musicians Albert
Snaer and Eugene Ware.
Ferbos' first professional music jobs were in the early ‘30s with society jazz bands like the Starlight Serenaders and the Moonlight Serenaders, performing at well-known New Orleans venues like the Pythian Roof Garden, Pelican Club, San Jacinto Hall, Autocrat Club, Southern Yacht Club and the New Orleans Country Club. In 1932 he joined Captain Handy’s Louisiana Shakers and played the Astoria and toured the Gulf Coast. He later backed blues singer Mamie Smith while playing with the Fats Pichon Band. During the Depression, he worked as a laborer in New Orleans City Park for the Works Progress Administration, then played first trumpet in the WPA jazz band, of which he is the last surviving member..
Because of his ability to read sheet music, Ferbos found himself in demand. Although he wasn’t a “hot player,” as he describes it, he said he never had to scramble for work because people came to him with musical offers. When Danny Barker founded the now-famous Fairview Baptist band to train a young generation of New Orleans musicians, Ferbos was asked to write out all their charts.
Until he reached retirement age, Ferbos kept his day job, so his musical work was mostly in and around New Orleans. During his career he held a job at Haspel’s Clothing Factory in the early ‘30s. It was here that he met a seamstress, Marguerite Gilyot, who became his wife. She died in January 2009 after 75 years of marriage. In the 1940s, Ferbos went to work in his father’s sheet-metal business and became a master metal worker. His artistry as a tinsmith was featured in the acclaimed exhibition on Creole building arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art. In the ‘70s, he dropped out of the hit musical “One Mo’ Time” when it moved to New York, rather than leave town. However, he made eight tours of Europe with the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, formed to revive the old music unearthed in the jazz archives at Tulane University. He was the trumpeter with the Ragtime Orchestra on the soundtrack of the movie Pretty Baby.
Despite his long career, Lionel Ferbos made few early recordings. After he joined the Ragtime and the Palm Court bands, he was recorded on several CDs on the GHB label. He is also featured on other recent recordings with New Orleans headliners on specialty labels.
Shannon Powell's Traditional All-Stars
Shannon Powell dazzles audiences with his natural showmanship and fever for the jazz flame. The New Orleans native grew up in the jazz threshold neighborhood of Treme, which percolates with the sounds of Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, second line parades, Jazz funerals and church revivals. By the age of fourteen Powell was already a professional musician, playing gigs such as Jazz Fest as a member of the legendary Danny Barker’s Jazzhounds. Powell’s influences sprung from listening to his childhood neighbour, drummer James Black as well as pianist Ellis Marsalis and the players at Preservation Hall. "Everything I learned was being around the great musicians of New Orleans. Danny Barker was first and then I fell into the hands of David Lastie who is Herlin Riley's uncle. They kind of raised me as a young musician and I started calling them my family" states Powell. If drumming is the essential beat of New Orleans, then Shannon Powell is a leader of the pack at the fusion of jazz, funk, and R&B.
Frank Oxley & the Joint Chiefs of Jazz
Frank Oxley has followed in the drumming lineage of his father, Preservation Hall’s Dave Oxley, since the early sixties. Oxley picked up his first drumsticks by age ten and successfully started his first jazz group, the “Royal Knights”, in his formative years. By junior high, Oxley was honing his technique under the direction of Donald Richardson at Andrew J. Bell Jr. High. By high school, Oxley went on to form the “Invaders” which lead him on his first tour across the Southern states backing blues singer ZZ Hill. Following a three year stint in the U.S. Army, Frank returned to New Orleans and began playing with Louis Cottrell, Albert “Papa” French and King Floyd. In 1976 Frank joined Thomas Jefferson’s Jazz Band at the Maison Bourbon club and stayed for twenty-one years. Oxley has since been playing gigs for Preservation Hall, Palm Court Jazz Café, and working with many notable band leaders such as Wendell Brunious, Louis Nelson, Danny Barker, Pud Brown and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers brass band. He has toured Europe a number of times. Information on behalf of Tom Stagg.
Ernie Elly and the Ponchatoula Strawberries
The first time Ernie Elly saw the St. Augustine Marching Band he was five years old and he’s been hooked on drumming ever since. By age fifteen he was learning to play drums on the back of a chair under the direction of legendary music teacher Yvonne Busch. After giging at every hole in the wall bar in New Orleans, Ernie joined the Ray Charles Orchestra in 1969. His later collaborations include work with Wallace Davenport, George French’s Storyville Jazz Band, the Dukes of Dixieland, Ellis Marsalis, Germaine Bazzle, Louis Cottrell’s Heritage Jazz Band and many more. Ernie was a member of the Palm Court Jazz Band in past years and currently enjoys traveling with the Preservation Hall Band. Ernie can play all kinds of music and prefers not to be classed as jazz or R&B, but instead likes the word “flexible” to describe his style.
Davell Crawford & the Creole Jazz Men
Davell Crawford is an all-around musical sensation as a pianist and as a singer. Raised in the church, Davell is the grandson of the rhythm & blues star James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, who wrote the New Orleans hit song “Jockomo”, later known as “Iko Iko”. Davell has been playing piano since he was seven and although he didn't know his grandfather was a musician, the elder Crawford gave him a keyboard when he was 11. He first toured Europe in his early teens. Like so many New Orleans musicians, Crawford brings a synthesis of styles to his playing, i.e. funk, gospel, and R&B to his piano playing, songwriting and singing. Bill Taylor from Blues Access proclaims that “Plain and simple, Davell Crawford is one of the most talented musicians alive.” On this occasion, Davell will showcase his traditional jazz chops with an all-star band featuring Leon “Kid” Chocolate.
508 Frenchmen Street
Supported By: New Orleans Jazz Celebration Maison New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival & Foundation Louisiana Division of the Arts with support in part by a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans. The grant is administered through the Arts Council of New Orleans. Barbara Katz & Frank Valls. Chris & Janie Botsford, French Quarter Realty, Louisiana Music Factory, Palm Court Jazz Café, Sam Poche Sells Inc, and a group of anonymous Jazz Fans.
Questions? call 947-6155
Check out these shots from Nickel-a-Dance Spring and Fall 2010 at Maison!
New Orleans Classic Jazz Soiree
Free and Family Friendly since 1994