In this episode of Confetti Park, we hear a childhood music memory from New Orleans-based saxophonist John Doheny. John has a long career as a professional jazz musician, band leader, writer, and educator.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, he first started playing clarinet as a child and was part of youth orchestras from an early age.
John switched to saxophone as a teenager, and says he developed his chops playing six nights a week as a college student in Vancouver. He spent his twenties and thirties playing and recording with a slate of well-known pop and rhythm and blues artists such as the Coasters, the Platters, Bobby Curtola, Buddy Knox, the Temptations, Solomon Burke, Michael Buble, and Doug and the Slugs.
In 2003, John moved to New Orleans and enrolled in the graduate school at Tulane University. In addition to earning an MA in Musicology (with a concentration in Early New Orleans Jazz), he served as Professor of Practice in the music department and directed the student jazz band. He also served as band leader of the Professors of Pleasure, and has released several straight-ahead jazz recordings.
In this memory, John recalls how his mother made him practice every day, and how it led to a favorite jam.
"My mother said you have to practice for 30 minutes after school or no cartoons. And so I would be sitting there practicing with the Klose book, and then the cartoons would come on, and then because I already had the horn in my hand, I taught myself how to play the Bugs Bunny theme song. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was teaching myself how to play what I hear, which is kind of what you want to do."
In this episode of Confetti Park, we hear a childhood music memory from Bruce Sunpie Barnes, the talented and multifaceted blues harmonica player and zydeco accordionist from Louisiana.
In addition to leading the zydeco band the Louisiana Sunspots, Bruce has had a long career as a ranger and naturalist at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana. (He also had a career in the world of NFL football, playing with the Kansas City Chiefs!) And he's the photographer and author of Talk That Music Talk. Read more about his biography at All Music.
Bruce’s music has always been a part of his life, and even as a naturalist, he found music an effective way to communicate about the culture and importance of the Louisiana environment. Bruce was one of the key producers on two-album compilation, the National Park Service: Songs of the Lower Mississippi Delta.
Here Bruce shares a special memory of his father, who was one of his most important influences.
"My earliest memory of anything to do with music was sitting on my father’s knee and listening to him play harmonica. He would work all day, and when he’d come home in the evening, I always wanted to hear him play his harmonica. And he’d play a song called “Coon 'n the Hound” and make these barks like a dog…. and I was completely fascinated by it.
I would sit on his knee and he would play for all my brothers and sisters (a lot of them), but I would just sit and I would try to figure out where all that sound was coming from.
It was like magic. It was the first thing I ever associated with being magic.
I would always think about that when I would go to bed, 'I can’t wait till I get old enough so I can make some magic.'"
In this episode of Confetti Park, children's author Tommie Townsley of Lake Charles, Louisiana narrates the story of Adolpheaux, the Adventurous Dolphin.
In this Cajun animal tale, a small dolphin bravely sets out to discover what human beings are all about. His curiosity leads to an amazing alliance between himself and a sister and brother who will never forget him. This lovely tale teaches children to obey their mothers in order to stay safe in a world fraught with danger. This lively watery adventure is set in The Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. Tommie Townsley was born in Sulphur, Louisiana and now lives in Lake Charles. She is Cajun and has written numerous children's books about Cajun life, many of them about animals.
This narration of Amos the Artistic Alligator is shared here with permission from Tommie Townsley. The book, illustrated by Anne Dentler, is available for purchase on Amazon and at http://kidscajuntales.com/
Tommie is the chairperson of the Southwest Louisiana Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Guild and publisher of Ally-Gator BookBites Publishing House in Lake Charles. Learn about Tommie Townsley and check out her books at http://kidscajuntales.com/
Ms. Chocolate, also known as Gwen Williams, is a storyteller and a singer who grew up in Louisiana. Many of her stories and songs to share with children today are the true memories and gathered songs from her own childhood in rural parts of central Louisiana. Church, family, school, and life in the country are recurrent themes.
In this episode Ms. Chocolate shares about the music she sang as a little girl:
“The music I remember as a child were called spirituals. Now you don’t have too much of that today… but I do a monologue of Harriet Tubman and spirituals of the Underground Railroad. So I teach children how slaves used music to communicate…….. ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot,’ ‘He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands,’ ‘This Little Light of Mine’—these are spirituals. Really simple songs that have a really big meaning,” says Ms. Chocolate.
Ms. Chocolate lives in Picayune, Mississippi today. She left New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She tells stories all around the Gulf area. http://chocolatestoryteller.blogspot.com/