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.

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November 5th Don Vappie Creole Jazz Sextet

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Don Vappie is descended from a long line of New Orleans musicians that goes back to the nineteenth century. Once a featured performer in the Preservation Hall Band, Vappie now leads and tours with 'The Creole Jazz Serenaders' (CJS). After Hurricane Katrina, he co-founded with his wife Millie "Bring it on Home", an organized effort to help displaced New Orleans musicians find work and return to their hometown. His family's musical heritage was recently explored in "American Creole: New Orleans Reunion", a PBS documentary. As a result, he was honored with a LA Creole Society Award for his promotion of the Creole culture of New Orleans in music and film. Vappie, known for his original banjo style, also plays mandolin, guitar, string bass and is a vocalist as well. He has also transcribed many early jazz recordings of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and others. He was also chosen by the Historic New Orleans Collection to serve as Musical Director for the premier of their newly discovered Jelly Roll Morton compositions. Over the past ten years, Don has appeared as a regular guest with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

The last Nickel A Dance was a hit! Here Are Some Photos From The Evening

Courtesy Of Felicia Khan:


October 29th

Louis Ford & The New Orleans Flairs


Louis Ford descends from a line of musicians originating in New Orleans’ Storyville days. Louis is an accomplished clarinetist and saxophonist, dedicated to the preservation of traditional jazz. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louis studied under Professor Kidd Jordan at Southern University in Music Performance, which inspired him to create a unique sound all his own. He graduated from Loyola University with a degree in Music Education.

As a significant member of the traditional jazz community, Louis performs regularly with Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and in other historical jazz venues. Louis Ford and all the members of his band teach young musicians in schools and privately, to keep New Orleans' cultural tradition alive.

October 22nd

Gerald French & The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band


From the birthplace of jazz and the city of family music traditions, Gerald French is from one of the pioneering families of New Orleans Traditional Jazz. For the past 15 years, he has been the drummer for Ms. Charmaine Neville, the Darlin of New Orleans, as well as, the drummer for the Dixie Cups for the past two years and counting. Known as "The Giant" for his own original style of drumming, Mr. French has traveled and performed with several musicians such as:  Leroy Jones, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Dr. Michael White, Lillan Boutte, Jermy Davenport, Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias, Preservation Hall Jazz Band just to name a few.  He is currently working with The Joe Ashlar Organ Trio, Fritzel’s Jazz Band, his own original bands Abstract and Déjà vu.

 In December 2011 Gerald was passed the torch of band leader of the oldest jazz band The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. The Original Tuxedo Orchestra, named for the Tuxedo Dance Hall in the Storyville district, was founded in 1910 by cornetist Oscar “Papa” Celestin. Celestin, who led the group and eventually rechristened it the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, led the band for 44 years. After his death in 1954, trombonist Eddie Pierson stepped in for four years. Banjoist Albert “Papa” French, Bob’s father and Gerald’s grandfather, then logged two decades as leader. After 107 years of performances, Mr. Gerald French leads the historic group. 


October 15th

Roderick Paulin & The Traditional All Stars

Internationally-renowned saxophonist Roderick Paulin is an accomplished composer, arranger, producer, and educator. Roderick has collaborated with artists such as Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Aaron Neville, Allen Toussaint, Delfeayo Marsalis, Maceo Parker, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, making him a highly sought after artist of impeccable musical standards for the last 25 years. Roderick, a New Orleans native, began studying the saxophone at eight-years old and while only in the 6th grade, he began performing with his father, legendary jazz musician Ernest “Doc” Paulin. Roderick and his five older brothers were the core of his father’s band, The Doc Paulin brass band, performing brass band music across the globe. Roderick readily acknowledges his father instilling the importance of preparation, musicianship, timeliness, flexibility, and fortitude to be successful in the entertainment industry and in everyday life. Those attributes are the center of Roderick’s character not only as a musician but also as a person, and it shines clear on his sophomore recording of classic jazz standards SLOW, BUT STEADY. The Slow, But Steady recording is celebrated tonight with an all-star band featuring jazz & gospel singer Jolyda Phillips.

Here are some photos from the evening

courtesy of Diane Danthony:

October 1st Herlin Riley and the Flat Foot Five


New Orleans is a drummer’s town. But in this town full of first class drummers, Herlin Riley is “the” drummer. The Baron of the Boom Boom. The Pulse that keeps the life flowing through any body of work. Born into a musical family steeped in gospel, blues and jazz,  Wynton Marsalis asked him to join him in New York in 1988 where he stayed for almost two decades while still maintaining a home in New Orleans. He still is a regularly featured musician with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra but now is back in his home town when he’s not on tour with Ahmad Jamal, Dr. John, or Harry Connick, Jr. He lights up a stage with just his presence and always fires up the first class jazz artists who love to play with him. 

The First Nickel A Dance was a great success! Here are some photos from the evening

courtesy of Felicia Khan:

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March 5-Wendell Brunious & The New Orleans All Stars

Born into a Louisiana Creole Family, Wendell Brunious began playing trumpet at age 11 following in a lineage of family jazz musicians. Wendell´s father, John Brunious, played trumpet and piano, and arranged for Billy Eckstein and Cab Calloway. Wendell´s uncle, Willie Santiago, was one of the first guitar players recorded, and at one time worked with the legendary Buddy Bolden.

 Trumpeter Wendell Brunious studied at Julliard before playing with Paul Barbarin and Danny Baker. In the 1960’s, Brunious sang in Chief John and the Mahogany Hall Stompers, a group in which his father was also a member. In 1976, Brunious substituted for his father in Albert "Papa" French's band for Mardi Gras, and by 1979 was playing regularly at Preservation Hall with Kid Thomas Valentine.  He has remained a regular performer at Preservation Hall into the 2000s and performs with the likes of Dr. Michael White, Chris Barber, Don Vappie and the Pfister Sisters.


March 12-Kerry Lewis and the Light Brigade

Bassist Kerry Lewis musical palette covers everything from blues, country, rock and jazz. Kerry Lewis began his career touring with Banu Gibson and her New Orleans Hot Jazz Band.The thrilling Leroy Jones Quintet also kept Kerry very busy jamming to up-tempo jazz tunes into the late nineties. And in this decade, Dr. Michael White has utilized Kerry’s laid back style in his Traditional Liberty Jazz Band.  He also co-founded the musical group, Abstract with fellow members Gerald French Joel Hamilton, Paul Longstrength and Marc Adams.


March 19-Steve Pistorius & the Southern


Steve Pistorius has the distinction of being the only living New Orleanian who specializes in early Jazz piano. Whether playing solo or leading a band, he creates joyful and swinging renditions of oft-neglected rags, waltzes, marches, pop tunes, blues and stomps. Steve’s love of the music turned into a lifetime profession in 1973.  Steve’s career highlights include performing in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre, One Mo’ Time and the Pope’s Square in Belo Horizontes, Brazil. Steve has toured with his own band and with notable bandleaders such as Duke Heitger, John Gill, Michael White, Orange Kellin, Banu Gibson, Mark Braud, Wendell Brunious, Hal Smith, Chris Tyle and Leon Redbone. In addition to the aforementioned bandleaders, he’s recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Claude Luter, Bob Havens, and Bob Wilbur. Currently, Steve plays several days a week on the Steamer Natchez with Duke Heitger’s Steamboat Stompers and performs frequently at the Preservation Hall & Snug Harbor.


March 26-Frank Oxley and 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, Oxleywas 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. 


OCTOBER 2nd-Thais Clark & the Jazzsters

                           Thais Clark with cast mates of One Mo' Time Sharon Nabonne and Lillian Boutte

                           Thais Clark with cast mates of One Mo' Time Sharon Nabonne and Lillian Boutte

Born and raised in the musically fertile neighborhood of New Orleans Seventh Ward, Thais Clark is a high-energy performer with a deep-rooted passion for the bawdy number popularized by blues legends Ma Rainy and Bessie Smith. This dynamic singer-dancer can present each song like no one else, having more than thirty years’ experience performing before audiences at home and around the world. She’s performed in the New Orleans themed musical revue. “One Mo’ Time,” the long-running Off-Broadway tribute to the early days of black vaudeville. Ms. Clark played the character of Ma Reed on the New York, London and European stages including a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II and a separate performance for Prince Phillip. Since then, she has traveled much of the world with Wynton Marsalis and Dr. Michael White. She has also performed with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra at the Mahalia Jackson Theater.

 Trumpeter Wendell Brunious with Lillian Boutte, Sharon Nabonne and Banjo/Guitarist Don Vappie

Boutte and Nabonne with Bethany Bultman of the Musicians Clinic 

OCTOBER 9th-Tim Laughlin Jazz Band

A native of New Orleans, Tim Laughlin fell in love with the sound of the clarinet before he ever held one after hearing a childhood friend and he began playing it when he was nine years old.  Influenced by the swing jazz styling of Pete Fountain, Tim Laughlin spent several years with the Dukes of Dixieland and led recording sessions for Good Time Jazz and Jazzology. In 2009, Laughlin along with his good friend Pete Fountain opened the legendary Blue Room at the newly renovated Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, quickly selling out both nights. These days, one can catch Tim performing at some of his favorite clubs in New Orleans like The Palm Court, Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar, Snug Harbor and The Steamboat Natchez.

Dancing Darlins' at Tim Laughlin Jazz Band 

OCTOBER 16th-Palm Court All Stars withTopsy Chapman

 Photos of Gregg Stafford courtsey of Felica Kahn 

The Palm Court Jazz Cafe in the French Quarter is known for hosting some of the legends of New Orleans traditional Jazz.  The Palm Court All Stars is led by veteran jazz pianist Lars Edegran who has become a fixture on the classic jazz scene since he moved to New Orleans in 1966. He has played with Doc Cheatham, Bob Wilber, John Robichaux and co-founded the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra 30 years ago.

Topsy Chapman is one of New Orleans' finest singers, adept at gospel, blues, and rhythm and blues and jazz. Topsy was chosen as the original cast member and vocal arranger of the off Broadway hit One Mo Time. The show gained critical acclaim from New York to Europe.  Most recently, Topsy appeared in the award- winning Steve McQueen film, Twelve Years a Slave. She is a musical treasure who dedicates itself to gorgeous harmonies and unique signature arrangements of jazz, blues, gospel and soul classics. 

OCTOBER 23rd- The Jazz Vipers

For over fifteen years The New Orleans Jazz Vipers have been an institution of Swing music on Frenchmen Street, the jazz mecca of New Orleans.

 The Jazz Vipers have been regarded by many as pioneers of the “Frenchmen Street Swing Renaissance.” With infectious rhythm, spirited horns, and a diverse line-up of vocals, they are all that is classic jazz and all that is New Orleans. Among other weekly shows, They were the first band to play the legendary Spotted Cat club and have performed their weekly gig at there for the last 16 years. They have been featured on the HBO show Treme playing their original tune "I Hope You're Coming Back to New Orleans."

The New Orleans Jazz Vipers have morphed and evolved considerably over the years. In its time the band has amassed an impressive roster of former and current members. World-class musicians such as Robert Snow, Tom Saunders, Linnzi Zaorski, Charlie Fardella, Bruce Brackman, Matt Rhody, Neti Vaan, Steve Yokum, Matt Perrine, St. Louis Slim, Dave Boswell and Wendell Brunious have all played in the band.

          Trombonist Craig Klein put it best when describing the Jazz Viper experience, “You have to be there to feel the vibe. It’s like a dream. Young people dancing, smiling, having a good time- and it’s the music that gets them high. That’s why the fans are there. That’s why we, the musicians, are there. It’s our drug. The interaction of music, musicians, and the people loving it is magical.”

OCTOBER 3OTH- Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers

New Orleans-based trumpeter, bandleader, singer and songwriter Kermit Ruffins loves swinging Jazz. The 44-year-old New Orleans native lives it, plays it and sings about it and nowhere is it more evident than when he discusses the swinging, good-time jazz that lured him in as a teenager and continues to whet his appetite even three decades and 10 solo recordings later. "From the time I wake up in the morning, I’m itching for my next show to happen. It can’t get here fast enough for me. I think that’s the basic ingredient of New Orleans music.” Until he puts his trumpet to his mouth, he said, he has no idea what he'll play on any given night. But through years of performing in New Orleans and other places, he's learned to be a careful reader of his audience. The ever-inventive musician projects a warmth from the stage.

Kermit began playing trumpet as a young teenager, but didn't discover the possibilities of jazz and blues until he first heard Louis Armstrong when he was 19. With several of his fellow students from high school, Ruffins started the now legendary Rebirth Brass Band. In 1992, he founded the Barbecue Swingers, a traditional jazz quintet that mixes music with another of his true loves, food. And now, hundreds of shows and barbecues later, prolonging the status of jazz in New Orleans is among Ruffins pet projects.

And Kermit is also in the movies, like the recently released “Jungle Book.” He sings a duet and plays trumpet with Bill Murray on “The Bare Necessities” and he accompanies Christopher Walken on trumpet on “I Wan’na Be Like You” in the new Disney classic.