Danny Barker Fest is
set for January; Prelude
is Friday night, 10/3

It seems like a no-brainer—a festival honoring the legacy of the great banjoist/ guitarist/ vocalist/ teacher/ writer/ songwriter. Though plans have been in the works for a while, a date has finally been set—January 16-17, 2015. Friday night at the U.S. Mint will be a prelude. The event features a discussion and performance. There is also a kickstarter set up for donations.

For decades during the early part of the 20th century, Barker was a sideman living in New York, performing with countless jazz greats. The list is epic. Click the link to have your mind blown.

Though he labored in relative obscurity through those years, when he returned to his hometown of New Orleans in the 1960s, his star began to shine as brightly as his agile mind. He performed around town—incredible concerts showcasing his nimble fretwork on banjo and guitar, irascible vocals, and ace storytelling.

Those shows, particularly in the 1980s when I was fortunate enough to see dozens, often featured younger musicians including drummer Jerry Anderson. Anderson went on to play for many years with Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and is now regarded as the greatest trad jazz drummer of his generation by Ruffins and others in the know.

Barker also accompanied his wife of many decades, “Blue” Lu Barker, an extraordinary vocalist in her day singing risqué songs like “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” many of which were from Barker’s pen.

While his performances are legendary, it was his behind-the-scenes work introducing young musicians to the brass band traditions and culture, which has left its greatest mark. The details of his efforts can be found in many places including in my book.

On Friday night, a panel discussion featuring musicians he influenced and community leaders along with moderator Fred Kasten of WWNO will kick off the evening at 7 PM.

The performance follows with a band of musicians who matriculated through the famous kids’ band Barker formed. Expect to hear banjoist Detroit Brooks, trumpeter Gregg Stafford, bassist Mitchell Player, guitarist Harry Sterling, and trombonist Lucien Barbarin. Of course, it wouldn’t be right and proper without Jerry Anderson on drums.


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