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.


New Orleans Oratorio Society 1922

New Orleans Oratorio Society 1922

The New Orleans Oratorio Society posed for a portrait in 1922.

new orleans oratorio society

New Orleans Oratorio Society

Photographer H. J. Harvey posed the New Orleans Oratorio Society and Symphony Orchestra for a group portrait on 21-January-1922. The concert hall is unidentified. In 1922, the Musical Blue Book of America lists Ernest E. Schuyten as the conductor of the Society:

Schuyten, Ernest E., Violinist. President, New Orleans Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art. Conductor, New Orleans Symphony Association, also New Orleans Oratorio Society; Teacher of Violin. Composer.

While other organizations and individuals list addresses, Schuyten does not.

What’s an Oratorio?

An Oratorio is “a large-scale musical work for orchestra and voices, typically a narrative on a religious theme, performed without the use of costumes, scenery, or action. Well-known examples include Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, and Haydn’s The Creation.” So, it’s unclear if the New Orleans Oratorio Society is a part of the New Orleans Symphony Association, or if it was separate in the 1920s.

Earlier references

On 10-May-1870, the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper advertised a performance by Señor Juan E. Salcedo, “The Celebrated Cornet-a-Piston Player.” The performance was “also assisted by the New Orleans Oratorio Society and a Grand Orchestra.” Tickets were one dollar, and available at Grunewald’s, Blackmar’s, LaHache’s and Werlein’s. One would assume interested parties were told the location of the performance at the music stores where tickets were sold. Señor Salcedo offered this performance on 17-May-1870.

So, in this 1870 ad, it appears that the Society existed separately from the orchestras of the period. It’s unclear whether this 1870 incarnation of the Society is the same as in 1921.

1920s fashion

The photo offers insight into fashions in the 1920s. Notice the bobbed hairstyles for the women. Both musicians and singers wear dressy clothes, but not evening wear. The conductor, who is likely Mr. Schuyten, is in white tie and tails.

NOLA Book Club

We had our first NOLA Book Club gathering and discussion last night! Join us on Twitter, @NOLAbook, or on Facebook, for info on future gatherings.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was scheduled for yesterday, 21-January, but I messed up the scheduling. So, today, you get a twofer. 🙂

Bill Russell led the New Orleans Jazz Revival #jazztuesday

Bill Russell led the New Orleans Jazz Revival of the 1940s.

Bill Russel, musician, composer, historian

William Russell, shown here standing on Rue Burgundy, was a composer, musician, and jazz historian. He was born in Canton, MO, in 1905. Russell developed a reputation for his percussion composition skills. While his “Fugue for eight percussion instruments” played Carnegie Hall in 1933, Russell is best known in New Orleans for his work preserving and nurturing early jazz.

American Music Records

Russell founded a record label, American Music Records, in 1944. The label reissued a number of tunes from early jazz musicians such as Bunk JohnsonGeorge LewisBaby Dodds, and Wooden Joe Nicholas. Additionally, the label produced new recordings from a number of early jazz players, as well as musicians who kept the New Orleans tradition going in the 1940s. Russell also penned three essays for the highly regarded history, Jazzmen. Russell’s most detailed research focused on Manuel “Fess” Manetta, Bunk Johnson, and Jelly Roll Morton.

Russell in New Orleans

Bill Russell moved to New Orleans in 1956. He lived in the Quarter. Russell opened a record shop, and did violin repairs. He became a member of the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra. Two years later, he co-founded the Hogan Jazz Archive, one of the special collections archives at the Howard-Tilton Library at Tulane University. He became the first curator of that archive.

Because Russell was of an age with many of the early jazz musicians, he became friends with Pops, Mahalia, George Lewis, and Baby Dodds.

The photo

This photo, courtesy of the Hogan Jazz Archive Photography Collection, shows Russell leaning on a lamppost on Burgundy Street. While the photo is undated, the street furniture puts it in the late 1950s.

Bill Russell passed away in 1992, at the age of 87. His contributions to New Orleans Jazz remain significant today.



Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans concert program

Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans concert program

Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans concert program 1952

Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans

Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans

Program for the annual recital of the Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans. The recital was held on January 16, 1952. The Society holds an annual recital featuring instrumental, voice, and dance performances. Students audition for the recital.

Since 1948

The Society is still around, From their Mission Statement

The The Junior Philharmonic Society of New Orleans was incorporated as a non-profit, cultural organization in the State of Louisiana in 1948 by Katherine Nolan Kammer. Our mission is to give talented young student instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers an opportunity to perform in a recital held in a professional setting, and to teach music appreciation to children attending the programs. Performers are chosen by audition, and all performances are free and open to the public.

The number of students performing each year varies. In 1952, there were four students at the recital. This is a bit different from “honor band” and “youth orchestra” performances, in that there isn’t one large ensemble.

Werlein’s for Music

One of the sponsors of the The Junior Philharmonic Society New Orleans in 1952 was Werlein’s, the well-known music store on Canal Street. Werlein’s was where the jazz trombonist Edward “Kid” Ory purchased his first trombone. The store, located at 605 Canal Street, closed its Canal Street location years ago. The building now houses the Palace Cafe restaurant, owned by Dickie Brennan. After closing on Canal, Werlein’s moved to Veterans Blvd., in Metairie. In 1952, Werlein’s had stores in Baton Rouge and Shreveport, as well as the downtown flagship location.

1952 Performers

There were four performers at the 1952 recital:

  • Jo Ann Wang performed selections by C.P.E. Bach, Holst, and Chopin, on piano
  • Yvonne Laan performed selections by Beethoven, Sibelius, and Debussy, on piano
  • Emily O’Bannon performed two selections from the ballet, “Faust”
  • Al Jackie Guillory performed selections by Bach and Copeland.

The piano soloists used, of course, a Steinway piano.

2021 Recital

Given the pandemic, The Society offers a virtual recital. So, these students won’t get to perform in Dixon Hall, on the Tulane University main campus. It’s a lovely performance hall. The school makes it available for elementary, middle school, and high school performances. It’s a great recruiting tool.