King Fish Beer Parlor Decatur Street

King Fish Beer Parlor Decatur Street

The King Fish Beer Parlor anchored the 1100 block of Decatur Street

king fish beer parlor

King Fish Beer Parlor

William Russell photo of the King Fish Beer Parlor, 1101 Decatur Street. The photo, courtesy the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, is undated. Most of Russell’s photos date to the 1950s. The building stands at the corner of Ursuline and Decatur Streets. So, the corner housed a number of businesses over the years. From the 1900s to the 1950s, the owners leased 1101 Decatur as dance clubs, night clubs, and jazz clubs. These clubs created an expansion into the Ursuline Row Houses that continue down the 1100 block. It’s currently mixed-use residential/commercial.

1880s construction

1101 Decatur Street is described by the Historic New Orleans Collection as:

This address consists of three, nice late Victorian Eclectic style brick commercial buildings designed by Thomas Sully for the Ursulines Nuns. The building at the corner has three stories and the other two buildings facing Ursulines each have two stories. These structures replaced the original Ursulines Row Houses that were destroyed by fire.

So, the 1884 building operated as a manufacturing/warehouse facility. The owners leased the ground floor as retail space. Cigar maker Jules Sarrazin moved his business there. By 1900, the ground floor became a night club, the Pig Pen. That club later moved to Bourbon Street. The King Fish Beer Parlor took its place at 1101 Decatur.

Walking Tour

The New Orleans Jazz Commission created a walking tour that includes the King Fish. The tour (PDF here) starts at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at 400 Esplanade. The museum occupies the Old US Mint. Additionally, there are still numismatic exhibits. Here’s the tour’s description for stop #6, 1101 Decatur:

This Italianate style building by architect Thomas Sully was built in 1884. The King Fish, probably known briefly as the Pig Pen, was another of the more longlived clubs. Operated by Vincent Serio, Jr. and Arthur Schott, aka the King Fish, the musicians featured included George Lewis, Billie Pierce, Dee Dee Pierce, Burke Stevenson, and Smilin’ Joe (Pleasant Joseph).

So, 1101 Decatur pushed me down rabbit hole! While its history as a jazz club attracted me, the full story requires attention. More to come on this fascinating corner.

Louis Gallaud at Preservation Hall

Louis Gallaud at Preservation Hall

Louis Gallaud played in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the mid-1960s.

louis gallaud

Louis Gallaud

Photo of Louis Gallaud at the piano at Preservation Hall.The Hogan Jazz Archive caption reads, “Band members Louis Gallaud, p; Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau, b; Harrison Verrett, bj; during a performance at Preservation Hall in early July.” The year isn’t mentioned. Slow Drag joined the band in the mid-1960s and passed in 1969, so that narrows it down a bit more.

Gallaud was born on February 27, 1897. He played gigs in Storyville prior to the district’s closing. So, he was working with A. J. Piron, in his late teens. After the district closed, Gallaud continued playing jazz, in Punch Miller’s band. Gallaud played piano on a number of recordings of Miller’s band. He left Miller in the 1920s. Gallaud formed his own band, which regularly played out in Milneburg. These were the waning days of the “Smokey Mary,” the Pontchartrain Railroad. While the railroad no longer served as a cargo-mover, it still brought folks out to Lake Pontchartrain. A number of bands played out in Milneburg, at restaurants and clubs. Additionally, many musicians went out to the fishing neighborhood to busk during the day. They would then hop on the train back to town to play clubs and ballparks in the evening.

1940s

Gallaud continued to play Traditional Jazz into the 1940s. He played with a number of musicians and bands. One of his regular gigs was at Luthjen’s Dance Hall, on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Marais Street, just off St. Claude Avenue. Note that this is the original Luthjen’s, opened by Clementine Luthjen, which burned down in the 1960s. Clementine’s nephew, Jerome Luthjen, re-opened the club at Marigny and Chartres Streets. That incarnation of the club closed in 1981.

Preservation Hall

Louis Gallaud continued playing into the 1950s. Like many of the older Creole Jazz musicians, he joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the 1960s. Louis also hosted musicians at his home in the Treme for impromptu sessions. Louis passed away on November 24, 1985.

Masonic Funeral Procession

Photo of a Masonic funeral procession from the late 1940s/early 1950s.

masonic funeral procession

Masonic Funeral Procession

Officers of Axiom Lodge #216, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliation (PHA), lead a funeral procession. Undated photo Axiom Lodge dates to 1951, so photo is likely 1950s. Perhaps someone with more automobile knowledge can pinpoint the truck on the left side. Axiom Lodge is incorporated in Faubourg Treme. So, it’s possible this procession walks through that neighborhood.

The officer front and center is likely a Warden of the Lodge. He carries the Volume of Sacred Law (VSL). This is likely a bible. Behind the Warden walks the Worshipful Master. He wears a hat, indicating his office. The Master walks under an arch of two pikes, carried by Tylers. A Tyler of a Masonic lodge serves as the guardian of the lodge room. He stands outside as the lodge gathers, challenging those who desire entrance. In this procession two Masons function as guardians of the Master.

Prince Hall Affiliation

Prince Hall was a man, a free Black Bostonian. He was born ~1735. Hall became an abolitionist and an influencer in the Black community of Boston. He encouraged Black men to reject British rule and support the revolution. Hall believed that white men would recognize the contributions of Blacks in the formation of the new nation.

Hall recognized that the two most important institutions in Colonial society were the military and freemasonry. Ironically, Hall was initiated into a lodge attached to the British Army. Lodge 441, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, initiated Hall and fourteen other Black men into freemasonry.

Hall in turn founded African Lodge 1. So, the membership named him Grand Master. After Hall’s death in 1807, African-affiliated lodges sought to join the Grand Lodges of their respective states. The white lodges rejected them. So, the African lodges formed an Independent Grand Lodge. “Prince Hall Affiliated” lodges grew in number. Additionally, more white grand lodges recognized the African Grand Lodge.

While most growth of Prince Hall freemasonry occurred in Union states, the movement eventually moved into rebel states. PHA lodges grew in Jim Crow states, since the structure was already segregated.

 

Hot 5 Kid Ory

Hot 5 Kid Ory

Hot 5 Kid Ory gets less attention than the band leader, Louis Armstrong.

hot 5 kid ory

Hot 5 Kid Ory

It’s no surprise that articles about the Hot 5 focus around Pops, but Hot 5 Kid Ory influenced the Chicago jazz scene in the 1920s. This publicity photo for the band presents (l-r) Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Lil Armstrong, and Johnny St. Cyr.

You can learn the full story of the Kid’s Chicago years in Johnny Mac’s book, Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz, and out at the 1811 Kid Ory House in Laplace, LA.

Chicago Jazz

David Guion, in his 2015 article, Kid Ory, Trombonist, Businessman, sums up his time in Chicago:

In 1924, both King Oliver and Louis Armstrong asked him to join them in Chicago, promising good money from recording sessions. Over the next five years, he participated in landmark recordings with Armstrong’s Hot Five, Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, the New Orleans Wanderers (basically the Hot Five with George Mitchell on cornet instead of Armstrong’s trumpet.)

In some ways, the Kid was a victim of his own success, as Sicilian interests looked to leverage Jim Crow laws to control Creole musicians. Like King Oliver and Pops, the Kid got fed up with the New Orleans scene. Instead of heading up to Chicago, Ory went West, to Los Angeles. Still, King Oliver and Pops kept in contact, encouraging him to come to Chicago. He did just that in 1924. The five years Ory spent in Chicago were magical for Traditional Jazz.

So, yes, any band led by Pops naturally focuses on his magic. Hot 5 Kid Ory deserves props as well. Guion points out Ory’s skill as a band leader and businessman. Any band that includes a musician who understands management benefits. Ory’s networking ability enabled him to score all those recording gigs.

Go out to the museum and learn more about early jazz!

Sharkey’s Trumpet

Sharkey’s Trumpet

Sharkey’s Trumpet was a gold-plated award from the NOJC.

sharkey's trumpet

Sharkey’s Trumpet

Mrs. Myra Menville presents an award trumpet to Sharkey Bonano in 1955. Bonano, who was born in Milneburg, played with a number of legends of New Orleans Jazz, including Freedie Newman and Chink Martin. He auditioned for The Wolverines when Bix Beiderbecke left the band in the 1930s, but was turned down. He eventually did play with The Wolverines, in New York. Bonano also joined the Jean Goldkette Orchestra, playing alongide Beiderbecke.

After World War II, Bonano returned to New Orleans. He played clubs on Bourbon Street, particularly the Famous Door.

The award trumpet

The New Orleans music industry regularly recognized the first generation jazz players. The caption for this award photo:

A gold plated $400 Trumpet “from a group of admirers in New Orleans” was presented to Sharkey Bonano Friday night as Sharkey and His Kings of Dixieland appeared at the third and climaxing jazz program of the Summer “Pops” concert in Beauregard Square. Shown are Mrs. John G. Menville, secretary, New Orleans Jazz Club, who made the presentation, and the jazzman. The award was “for his contribution to the revival of New Orleans music in New Orleans.”

The 1950s revival of “Dixieland” Jazz marked an important shift in the local music scene. Jazz historians, afficianados, and younger players realized that the first-generation musicians weren’t getting any younger. They took steps to preserve the music. We now usually refer to “Dixieland” as “Traditional” Jazz.

Beauregard Square

This presentation took place at a “Pops” concert series in 1955, held at Beauregard Square. While this name was well-known in the early 1900s, Modern New Orleanians may be more familiar with this area from its original name, Congo Square. After the Southern Rebellion, white New Orleanians brought the Lost Cause of the Confederacy to the forefront. Many locations were re-named to recognize figures from the rebellion. P. G. T. Beauregard was one of those.

So, during the French-Spanish Colonial period, Catholics usually granted the enslaved half a day to a day off on Sundays, ostensibly for worship. The enslaved would gather for drumming and dancing in an open area just north of the city limits, in what is now Faubourg Treme. This is how Place Congo got its name. Later, as the original parade ground, the Place d’Armes, evolved into Jackson Square, Place Congo became the city’s parade ground. Additionally, the city returned the original name to the Square in the 1970s.

Richards and Gillette in Milneburg #JazzTuesday

Richards and Gillette in Milneburg #JazzTuesday

Richards and Gillette were a married couple and jazz act.

richards and gillette

Richards and Gillette

Bob Gillette and his wife, Shirley Richards, posing on the railroad tracks in Milneburg in 1952. Gillette played the banjo. He played with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, then Bix Beiderbecke & the Wolverines. He was the first banjoist for The Wolverines.

After playing for years with Bix, he toured with his wife, as a song-and-dance act.

New Orleans Rhythm Kings

The NORK began with white Chicago jazz musicians encouraging New Orleans musicians to come up and gig. By 1922, NORK attracted Jelly Roll Morton and the cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. The band recorded with Gennett Records. As the band grew in popularity, they picked up Gillette.

Beiderbecke left the NORK to form The Wolverines, and Gillette went with him. Bix left The Wolverines in the mid-1930s. Soon after, Gillette switched to the act with his wife.

Milneburg

Richards and Gillette toured extensively, playing hotels. They played The Monteleone Hotel in 1952. He contacted the New Orleans Jazz Club while in town. They invited him to a meeting, and he ended up sitting in with Johnny Wiggs and his band.

I can’t find the backstory on this particular photo. By 1951, the Milneburg that Gillette played with the Sicilians was long gone. The train tracks here are the New Orleans Terminal Company (later Southern Railway, now Norfolk-Southern Railroad) “Back Belt.” These tracks lead out to the “five mile bridge” across Lake Pontchartrain. It looks like this is out along the lake, near the fishing camps off Hayne Boulevard.

Sharkey Bonano

While researching Gillette, I came across a 1961 article in the Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Discussing replacing Bix in The Wolverines.

But he does recall the difficulty in replacing Beiderbecke. And with due embarrassment that they brushed off an eager young trumpeter in derby and yellow shoes after a brief audition and sent him home to New Orleans. His name was Sharkey Banano (sic).

Funny how things work out.