Weekend Shots: The Louisiana Music Factory Celebrates 20 Years!

Carnival may be over for another year (Fat Tuesday is February 12 next year), but St. Patrick’s Day, the French Quarter Festival and Jazz Fest are right around the corner. This week’s edition of Weekend Shots! is dedicated to those fine folks at the Decatur Street institution.

Before, I fill you in on who’s playing for the big anniversary in-store on Saturday, here’s an except from my upcoming book “Up Front and Center: New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century” about the beginnings of the store.

“One of the most important businesses related to music in New Orleans, the Louisiana Music Factory, opened in early 1992 on N. Peters Street in the French Quarter. The record store, started by the entrepreneur Barry Smith and Jerry Brock, one of the founders of WWOZ and a local music expert, quickly became an alternative to the chain mentality of Tower Records located three blocks away.

“The Factory, as everyone calls it, caters to the New Orleans musician, and it became the go-to spot for young bands with music to sell as well as veterans with deep catalogs. By the end of the year, Abita beer was sponsoring in-store performances at the store. In the early years, these performances pulled from the Tremé community and traditional jazz, but by the time the program reached maturity, the store was hosting touring acts during Jazz Fest, and a veritable who’s who of New Orleans musicians have now graced the tiny stage.

“One of the first in-store performances at the Factory was by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. He was a seasoned veteran at fourteen who had been leading bands since he was six.”

Saturday marks twenty years, and man have they flown past. Kermit Ruffins and BBQ Swingers kick off the festivities at noon followed by John Boutte at 1 PM, Little Freddie King at 2 PM, the Stooges Brass Band at 3 PM, Cyril Neville at 4 PM and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band closes the party out at 5 PM.

Here’s more from my book.

“By 1996, the Louisiana Music Factory was developing into a force on the local scene. They had no trouble competing with Tower Records based on their superior customer service and deep knowledge of local musicians and the music community. In August, the owners of the record store announced they were moving the business from N. Peters Street to Decatur Street across a narrow alley in the French Quarter. The new location was situated directly across the street from the House of Blues and offered more space for the growing company. It also opened the door towards considerably more regular in-store performances because the new spot had a permanent stage.

On September 14, the grand reopening of the Louisiana Music Factory featured a great lineup that defined the open, eclectic nature of the store. Anders Osborne and Theresa Andersson performed first as an acoustic duo. Then Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers performed with Marie Wantanabe on piano and Richard Payne on upright bass. They opened with “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue,” the classic from Louis Armstrong’s canon that has become one of Ruffins’ signature tunes.

The legendary bandleader and composer, Dave Bartholomew of Fats Domino fame, was in the house since he was up next on the schedule. He was in a feisty mood, and he jumped up on the stage with Ruffins’ band to add a verse during “I Still Get Jealous.” Then Bartholomew played his own set featuring stalwarts of Domino’s band, Fred Kemp, Ed Frank, Erving Charles, and Charles Moore, doing piano-less versions of many of the songs he co-wrote with Domino. The Louisiana Music Factory had entered a new era, and over the course of the next decade they began presenting in-store performances almost every Saturday afternoon. Saturdays at the Factory are now an integral part of the fabric of the New Orleans musical community where you can always count on seeing incredible sets by veterans and newcomers alike.”

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