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.


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.

Twelve Months New Orleans April

Twelve Months New Orleans April

Twelve Months New Orleans April, continuing the series by Enrique Alferez

twelve months new orleans april

Twelve Months New Orleans April

This image is the Fourth in a series of images by Enrique Alferez, published by Michael Higgins as “The Twelve Months of New Orleans.” Higgins published the illustrations in 1940. The image features dancers celebrating April’s spring festivals.

Enrique Alferez

Alferez was born in Northern Mexico on May 4, 1901. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1927 to 1929. He came to New Orleans in 1929. Alferez made New Orleans his home. He took advantage of various Works Progress Administration grants in the late 1930s. Alferez created a number of sculptures in the metro area, particularly in New Orleans City Park. He also designed the large fountain in front of Shushan Airport (now New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Alferez drew and painted, as well as sculpting. He included many New Orleans landmarks in the “Twelve Months” booklet.

Twelve Months

Twelve Months New Orleans January

The title/cover page of the booklet says:

Twelve Months
New Orleans

A set of 12 Romantic
Lithographic Prints
Displaying 60 local subjects
drawn direct on the plate
with pen, brush, and crayon
Enrique Alferez

Printed and published by Michael Higgins
at 303 North Peters St

April’s Lithograph

Mardi Gras is over and March is all about Spring and Lent.

The Corners

Top Left: Baseball Opens. Baseball, featuring the New Orleans Pelicans. The border for the illustration includes baseballs and bats.

Top Right: N.O. Horse Show. Plantations and farms around New Orleans bred and raced horses for centuries. That culture continued into the 1940s. The New Orleans Horse Show featured the finest of local horses.

Bottom Left: “Flower Shows.” After Lent, every blooming flower offered an excuse for a show or festival. Competition between growers of specific varietals was intense.

Bottom Right: “Lovers in the Park” – Sitting out under a clear sky and full moon! Even before Daylight Saving Time, couples enjoyed Audubon and City Parks in the evening.

Music and Dance

Easter Sunday broke the solemnity of Lent and Holy Week. Springtime bloomed, warmed, and excited New Orleanians. That meant hot jazz! Alferez recognized our desire to snap our fingers and dance. He presents a couple dancing to a jazz trio of drums, trumpet and trombone. Alferez captions the image:


See you for the fifth image in May.


Jazz Funeral for Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau

Jazz Funeral for Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau

Jazz Funeral for Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau

jazz funeral

Early Jazz

Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau was born in New Orleans, in 1888. He was related to many early Jazz musicians. While Pavageau began his career as a dancer, Alcide also played guitar with a number of early Jazz musicians. He learned double bass in 1927, constructing his own 3-string instrument, at the age of 39. At the age of 55, he joined George Lewis’ band, touring with him through the 1950s. Alcide also played with Bunk Johnson, in New York, in 1945. He spent time in the 1960s, playing with the Eureka Brass Band and at Preservation Hall.

Jazz Funeral

Alcide passed at his home at 932 S. Ann Street, on January 20, 1969. The jazz community carried him home with a traditional jazz funeral on Wednesday, January 22nd. Alcide arrived at Morning Star Baptist Church at 910 Burgundy Street, for an 11am service. They brought him to St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 after the service. The Times-Picayune’s Marcelle B. Wright wrote of the day:

Clappng hands, tapping toes, brightly festooned parasols and a slow drag music — a traditional jazz funeral. Such was the scene when Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau took his last journey through the French Quarter. He was accompanied by hundreds of jazz fans who were bidding farewell to the veteran jazz musician.

Then came the las’ slo’ drag to old St. Louis Cemetery zNo. 2. Many of his fellow musicians, Chicken Henry, Harold Dejan, Fats Houston, Minor Anderson, Darreil Johnson, Kid Shiek Colar and Percy Humphrey joined in playing those old haunting spirituals: “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” And carrying through with tradition, the brass bands, with their second liners carrying multicolored umbrellas, led the crowd from the cemetery with the most popular, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“Marcelle B. Wright” later dropped her married name. You may know her and her work under her maiden name, Marcelle Bienvenu.

“Slow Drag”

Pavageau got his nickname from his mastery of the “slow drag” dance step. Since double bass wasn’t a practical instrument to play in parades, Alcide took up the job of Grand Marshal. He led many a parade and jazz funeral with his famous slow drag step.

Kid Ory Band LaPlace #JazzTuesday

Kid Ory Band LaPlace #JazzTuesday

Kid Ory Band LaPlace from around 1910.

Kid Ory Band LaPlace

Kid Ory Band Laplace

Photo from around 1910 of Edward “Kid” Ory and his band. They’re in a field in LaPlace, Louisiana, where Ory grew up. The band members include (l-r) Ed Robinson (drums), Ory, Lewis Matthews (cornet), Emile Bigard (violin). Stonewall Matthews (guitar). The bassist is only identified as “Foster.”

Ory’s band travled into New Orleans on Saturday mornings. They “tailgated,” riding in wagons, promoting their gigs. Additionally, the band busked for tips around the fishing camps in Milneburg. Ory later moved to New Orleans. He lived with his sister. King Bolden tried to recruit the Kid to play in his band, but his sister insisted he finish school first.

1811/Kid Ory House

Kid Ory lived on the land formerly occupied by Woodland Plantation in LaPlace. The main house re-opens today as the 1811/Kid Ory House. From the press release for today’s event:


1811 Kid Ory Historic House Announces Grand Opening
River Parishes Newest Museum to Officially Open to the Public

LAPLACE, LA January 26, 2021. After a year of planning and installing exhibits, the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House opens on Tuesday, February 2, 2021; this will mark the first time the house has opened to the public. Formerly known as the Woodland Plantation, or Montegut House, the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House dates back over two centuries to the Spanish colonial era.

Two permanent exhibits tell the stories of the 1811 German Coast uprising of enslaved people and the life of jazz pioneer Kid Ory, born on the plantation in 1886. Exhibit Room I features Stomping Grounds: Mules at Work in Southeast Louisiana, also explores the role of draft animals and sugar production in the area after the Civil War. Exhibit Room II features photographs of regional culture. Patrons can find a selection of Kid Ory’s music on vinyl, CD, and 78rpm recordings as well as books, handmade string instruments, vintage phonographs, cards, photographs, and art.


The executive team consists of museum founder, Kid Ory biographer, former Times-Picayune photojournalist John McCusker, non-profit founder and history practitioner Charlotte Jones, and scholar-in-residence Daniel Senentez, Jr.

45-minute tours of the 4,000 sq. ft. historic home begins at 11 am. Admission into the museum is $15. While the ribbon-cutting ceremony is outside, masks and social distancing are strongly encouraged. Masks are required inside the building, and tour size is limited to four.

Who: 1811 Kid Ory Historic House
What: Grand Opening
Where: 1128 LA-HWY 628, LaPlace, LA 70068
When: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 – 10 am

The Photo

Kid Ory Band LaPlace is part of the Louisiana State Museum/New Orleans Jazz Museum Collection.





WWL Radio Dawnbusters Dupre and Vidacovich

WWL Radio Dawnbusters Dupre and Vidacovich

WWL Radio Dawnbusters program ran for twenty years in New Orleans.

wwl radio dawnbusters

WWL Radio Dawnbusters

The “Dawnbusters” radio program debuted on WWL in 1937. It was that era’s version televsion’s “Today” show, or “Good Morning America.” Since many people commuting to work in the 1930s did so via public transit, Dawnbusters wasn’t “drive-time” radio as we know it now. In the photo, Margie O’Dair chats with Henry Dupre, as bandleader Pinky Vidacovich watches. Do you remember “Dawnbusters?”


The first commercial radio station in New Orleans began as a student effort at Loyola University in New Orleans. WWL broadcast from the Loyola campus with a ten-watt transmitter in 1922. The station grew in size and programming through the 1920s. By 1935, WWL joined the CBS Radio Network. The station left the uptown for a larger studio in the Fairmont Hotel (now the Roosevelt). While the station first signed on at 833KHZ, WWL moved to 870KHZ in 1941. It remains at 870 to this day.

Station operations at the Fairmont Hotel offered WWL options unavailable at Loyola. Additionally, WWL broadcast big-band and other concerts from the hotel’s popular nightclub, the Blue Room. WWL received “clear-channel” status, meaning no other radio station in the country operated on 870KHZ.

The show

Henry Dupre hosted WWL Radio Dawnbusters for the entire run of the show. A graduate of Jesuit New Orleans, he moved to New York to pursue an acting career. Henry returned to New Orleans in 1932. WWL hired Dupre that year. By 1937, he took charge of the morning show.

Dawnbusters presented both news and entertainment to the morning listeners. The show featured a full orchestra, conducted by Irving “Pinky” Vidacovich. In addition to his role as bandleader, Vidacovich performed skits as various characters. The show welcomed guest appearances by musicians as Al Hirt and Frankie Ford over the years.

After Dawnbusters

WWL Radio Dawnbusters ended its run in 1957. Dupre moved over to WWL-TV at that time. He hosted a morning cartoon show for children. Dupre hosted “Popeye and Pals” as “Uncle Henry,” from 1957 until his retirement in 1964. The program continued until 1991.