Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I hear music . . .

There is something about New Orleans that gets in your blood.  You either feel it or you don't, but if you do, it seems impossible to shake.  Oh, how I digress.  I have travelled a great deal in my life and tend to enjoy every place I land in, but there is a special spot in my heart for New Orleans.

As any serious researcher knows, the only way to have access to some collections is to become a "volunteer archivist".  It is just a sad fact that many items donated to collections (libraries, museums, etc.) cannot be accessed until they are catalogued and given accession numbers.  The sad fact is the backlog might be 10, 20, 50 years before the public has access, so you volunteer, hoping and praying that you might assist with materials that benefit your research, while speeding up the process for the public.

I have given many hours to jazz collections in New Orleans (primarily the Wm. Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive when Curtis Jerde curated, later with Bruce Raeburn and LSM Jazz Collection when Don Marquis was curator).  It was an extremely rewarding experience and I met some very interesting people along the way.

Today I salute two of those very special folks with Happy Birthday! and fond memories.  They are both from "families of musicians" that treasured music and passed the torch to future generations.  They were generous with their time and talent. They lived long lives, playing music to the very end of their days.  Danny Barker (January 13, 1909 -13 March 1994) and Percy Humphrey (January 13, 1905 - July 22, 1995).  It was a honor and pleasure to have known you, gentlemen, may your legacy be maintained. 

That is enough today for New Orleans; however, let's stay with the music theme. Here is a birthday salute for my current state, Connecticut.  Happy Birthday! to "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas" - Sophie Tucker (January 13, 1884 - February 9, 1966).  Her family settled in Hartford, Connecticut when she was a baby and it was in Hartford that she began her singing career at the family restaurant.  If the mood strikes, you can leave flowers and a note for Sophie Tucker.

Final note for the day, if you are interested in being a "volunteer archivist" in the New England area NEA might be the group for you.  If you are considering being an archivist or just want more info check out The Society of American Archivists.

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