This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.
Contact: tomsancton@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CARNEGIE HALL AT LAST!

Guy walks into a midtown Manhattan bar and asks the bartender, "Say, can you tell me how I can get to Carnegie Hall?" The bartender answers: "Practice, man, practice!"

Seriously, one of my life's ambitions will be achieved on Saturday, January 7, when I appear as a guest performer with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at their big 50th anniversary concert at Carnegie. The sold-out show is a fund raiser for the Preservation Hall Foundation and will feature a number of guest artists (including yours truly) in addition to the PHJB. Del McCoury's bluegrass group and the indie rock band My Morning Jacket will be on the bill, among others. Looking forward to this!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

VANITY FAIR ARTICLE ON PRESERVATION HALL 50TH

[Here is the text of my "spotlight" piece as it appeared in the January 2012 print edition of Vanity Fair. This is only a teaser! The full 4600-word piece is on the VF website and iPad apps with music, photos, bells and whistles. Check the link at the end of this post.]


It is arguably the best-known address in New Orleans: 726 St. Peter Street, even better known as Preservation Hall. Since its opening day, June 10, 1961, more than two million people have walked through its gate, including presidents, prime ministers, movie stars, and rock idols. Every night, tourists and locals form long lines to pony up the $12 entrance fee and sit on rough wooden benches and threadbare cushions in a musty, un-air-conditioned, 31-by-20-foot room. The attraction? Three sets of traditional New Orleans jazz played by five to seven musicians in black suits, white shirts, and black ties. The place and the routine are exactly as they were in the 60s, but some things have changed: the all-black bands are now racially mixed; the average age of the players is considerably younger; the crowds are much bigger. The most amazing thing is that this music—rooted in blues, ragtime, and march- es from the turn of the 20th century—is still being played at all. Before the hall was launched, in a former art gallery, the aging ranks of the city’s black jazz musicians seemed headed for extinction. Under the skillful man- agement of Pennsylvania transplants Allan and Sandra Jaffe, Preservation Hall soon gave these old jazzmen and their music a new lease on life and ultimately turned the nickel-and-dime-kitty hall—where the band played for tips dropped into a wicker basket—into a thriving business. But as the end nears for this golden-anniversary year—marked by major exhibitions at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the old U.S. Mint museum, a spate of publications, and a series of high-profile concerts around the country—the current keepers of the flame face daunting questions: With all of the original musicians dead and gone, an aging audience base, and a popular culture invested more in hip-hop than in old-time jazz, what are you preserving? And how long can you keep it up? Ben Jaffe, 40, son of the founders, has an optimistic answer: “This anniversary is about the next 50 years.”


For the full-blown version, follow this link:


http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/01/preservation-hall-201201

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PIRATED "LONG DISTANCE BLUES" ON YOUTUBE

Among the rules at Preservation Hall are no video or sound recording of the band, and no flash photos. Drummer Shannon Powell does his best to enforce this by shouting loudly at patrons each time he sees a red light on a cell phone or camera. To no avail. Musicians are mercilessly pirated each night, and much of this low-quality fare winds up on YouTube. There doesn't seem to be much help for it, and it's not exactly like someone is going to make commercial CDs or DVDs from their cellphone recordings. So probably the best thing for us is to grin and bear it. And some folks might actually enjoy seeing these souvenirs of our performances, like this version of "Long Distance Blues" by my New Orleans Legacy Band, recorded on Novemer 26 and posted on YouTube less than 24 hours later: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLNboSEZUQI

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TOMMY SANCTON SCHEDULE THROUGH MARCH 2012

Wednesday, February 15: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street 7:30 - 10:30 pm. With Lars Edegran All Stars Featuring Topsy Champan, vocals.

Wednesday, February 21— MARDI GRAS: Norwegian Seamen's Church, Prytania Street, noon to 2 pm with Lars Edegran and Seva Venet.

Sunday, February 26: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran's All Stars.

Wednesday, February 29: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street 7:30 - 10:30 pm. With Lars Edegran All Stars Featuring Topsy Champan, vocals.

Sunday, March 4: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band.

Sunday, March 11: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran All Stars.

Wednesday, March 14: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street 7:30 - 10:30 pm. With Lars Edegran All Stars Featuring Topsy Champan, vocals.

Thursday, March 16: In concert with Classic Jazz Trio. Details to be announced.

Sunday, March 18: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band.

Wednesday, March 21: "Song For My Fathers" stage show with Preservation Hall Jazz Band, at the Old U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade, 8 p.m. Kickoff event of Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.

Sunday, March 25: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran All Stars

Wednesday, March 28: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street 7:30 - 10:30 pm. With Lars Edegran All Stars Featuring Topsy Champan, vocals.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

THE CLASSIC JAZZ TRIO DOES THE OGDEN

The Classic Jazz Trio played at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Thursday, November 17, as part of the museum's "After Hours" music series. John Rankin (guitar), Tom Fischer (clarinet and tenor sax) and myself (clarinet) played selections from our "Classic Jazz Trio" CD and talked about our group andour music with WWOZ d.j. Sally Young. The turnout was good and the setting, the majestic entrance hall of the Ogden, was inspiring if a bit echoey (not sure that's a word). An extra treat was the excellent gumbo served by Linda Green, a.k.a. "the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady" of Jazzfest fame.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CLASSIC JAZZ TRIO AT THE COLUMNS

Had a great time at the Columns last night with John Rankin and Tom Fischer as we regrouped our Classic Jazz Trio and reprised most of the tunes on our recent CD "Classic Jazz Trio." With Fischer on clarinet and tenor sax, myself on clarinet, and Rankin on acoustic guitar and vocals, the trio seeks to create a close-knit chamber music feel along with the swing and spice of New Orleans jazz. The turnout was impressive and everybody there seemed to have good time—especially the three of us. For those of you who missed it, the Classic Jazz Trio will appear at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Thursday, November 17, from 6 - 8 pm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

MONTANA HIGH


Took my New Orleans Legacy Band to Great Falls, Montana on Saturday, September 10, for a sellout show in the historic Ozark Club. The crowd was wonderfully receptive to our traditional jazz sound, even thoughMontana is a long way from the French Quarter. The show included some readings from my memoir, Song for My Fathers, and a hard-driving musical program featuring tunes like "Original Dixieland One-Step," "Panama," "Weary Blues," "Somebody Stole My Gal," "West End Blues," and "That's a Plenty," among others, many of which are featured on our recent CD, City of a Million Dreams. (Featured in the band photo, from left to right: Richard Moten, bass; Clive Wilson, trumpet; yours truly, clarinet; Lars Edegran, piano; Jason Marsalis, drums; Ronell Johnson, trombone and vocal. Photo courtesy of Paul Snyder.)
After the gig, we all went out for Buffalo burgers (no kidding) and checked out a funky old nightclub, the Sip n' Dip Lounge, which features a variety of fresh fruit cocktails and a fish tank behind the bar in which two live mermaids swim underwater and wave at the patrons while blowing bubbles and performing various aquatic maneuvers. Add the seriously retro music of Piano Patty on the keyboards and you get a nightclub experience that you're not likely to encounter anywhere else on the globe.

The next day, which happened to be 9/11, we did some Montana
sightseeing with my old Harvard classmate Phil Aaberg as our guide. Phil, a world class concert pianist, played several numbers with us at the Ozark Club and, on Sunday, took us to see a Buffalo Jump (cliffs that Indians–sorry "first persons"—used to drive Buffalo off of in order to skin them and collect their meat) and a breathtaking view of the Missouri River near the site of a Lewis and Clark portage. Sunday afternoon, just before heading out to
the airport, Phil and I found time to rehearse a few numbers for the performance we have been asked to give at our 40th (sic!) class reunion in Cambridge, MA later this month. The band left Great Falls with heavy hearts and hopes to return. It was a great weekend for us and, hopefully, for the folks who turned out to hear our music.


Monday, August 22, 2011

DSK: OFF THE HOOK BUT STILL IN THE DOGHOUSE?

As I predicted some time back, Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr., on Monday dropped all charges against former IMF director and ex-French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn, accused of raping a housekeeper at the New York Sofitel last May.
The alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, was judged an unreliable witness by Vance because she was found to have lied on numerous points ranging from her refugee status to the mysterious sums of money in her bank account to the precise circumstances surrounding the May 14 encounter in Strauss-Kahn's room.
But if Strauss-Kahn is out from under the legal cloud that has hovered over him for the past three months, he has hardly gotten off scott free: his career and reputation are ruined, his presidential hopes dashed, and let's just see what becomes of his marriage to multimillionaire former TV journalist Anne Sinclair once he gets back to France.
Sinclair footed the bills for his lawyers, luxury lodgings and $600 pasta dinners at fancy restaurants while he was obliged to remain in the U.S., but now that he is free she no longer has to pose for the cameras holding his hand and putting up a good front as a loyal and supportive wife. One can just imagine the kind of pillow talk they have had since the news first broke.
As has become evident during the course of this lamentable episode, Strauss-Kahn is a serial sex predator who has been groping and harrassing women for decades. As long as his appalling behavior remained behind closed doors, Sinclair apparently turned a blind eye to it. But now she might well start singing the old Fats Waller tune: "How Can you Face Me?"

Friday, August 19, 2011

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD!

One of my all-time favorite restaurants in Paris has always been Chez Polidor, located in the Latin Quarter near the Luxemberg Gardens. I have been going there since my student days in the 1970s and have been returning ever since. The place was founded in 1828 and looks like it still has its original d├ęcor of pitted mirrors, framed prints, antique posters, high ceilings with elaborate moldings. On one wall, there are little drawers for the regulars to keep their personal napkins in. It has red and white checkerd tablecloths, long communal tables and a menu written on a big chalkboard. This is not a nouvelle cuisine or world food place; it features traditonal Parisian bistro fare—snails, beef bourguignon, onion soup, rabbit stew—at reasonable prices.
My wife always begged me not to tell any of my "foreign" friends about the place because it was a little-known treasure frequented almost exclusively by locals. Well I pretty much kept my word on that, but unfortunately Woody Allen did not. He (rightly) considered this place central casting's idea of an old-fashioned Parisian bistro and filmed a scene from his recent "Midnight in Paris" at Polidor. (This is the scene where the time-traveling American hero meets Ernest Hemingway over a bottle of red wine.) Since then, the place has gotten into all the guides, features a photo of Woody in the front window, and has been overrun by tourists. I tried to go there last night and was astounded to see a line outside consisting of whole American families in shorts and sandals, with kids no less, couples pushing baby carriages, Japanese tour groups with guidebooks in hand. I stuck my head in and heard no French being spoken. Call me a snob, elitist, misanthrope, whatever, but I won't be going back there. Thanks a lot, Woody! Oh well, I'm headed home soon anyway after a wonderful summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HAPPY 100th LIONEL!

New Orleans trumpeter Lionel Ferbos celebrated his 100th birthday at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe last Sunday (July 17, 2011). An incredible landmark by any measure, and another proof that jazz keeps you young. Congratulations, Lionel, and thanks for all the great music you have given us over nine decades!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

STRAUSS-KAHN EXONERATED?

My Vanity Fair blog post last month on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case examined the hypothesis that his accuser, a Guinean-born maid at the Sofitel in New York, may have been lying about the nature of their encounter.
My post also raised the question of whether the charges might be the result of a set-up arranged by DSK's political enemies. The post got a lot of attention, culling 724 "likes" and 38 comments. Most of the comments were favorable, but a few were scathing, accusing the author of being an anti-feminist, a racist and, worse of all, pro-French ("You have to live in France to believe such a thing is possible.")
I hate to say I told you so, but today's New York Times reports that the case is falling apart because the supposed victim has lied repeatedly to investivators, maintains relations with a network of criminals and drug dealers, and has mysteriously received deposits of $100,000 into her bank account. None of which proves a political plot, but all of which stinks. With even the prosecutor now concluding that his witness is not credible, the case is likely to be dropped in the next few days.

Friday, June 24, 2011

SUMMERING IN PARIS—GIGLIST SUSPENDED

No New Orleans gigs till August: we're in Paris for the summer. Planning to eat some great food, read the papers on my chaise longue [sic], stroll through the city, write a novel, practice the clarinet, and see a lot of films. That may be what I miss most about living in New Orleans: the absence of a decent movie house (except the Prytania) and the limited choice of good films. Here there are real cinemas all over the place and about 400 films on offer at any given time. The one we saw the other night was a winner: Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," a thoroughly entertaining fantasy about an incurable francophile romantic wandering through time in this magical city. Now that's a story I can identify with.
Stay tuned for more musings from Paris.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TOMMY SANCTON GIGLIST THROUGH NOVEMBER, 2011

Wednesday, October 5: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street. With Lars Edegran All Stars featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman.

Sunday, October 9: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran band.

Wednesday, October 12: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street. With Lars Edegran All Stars featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman.

Sunday, October 16: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band

Wednesday, October 19: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street. With Lars Edegran All Stars featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman.

Sunday, October 23: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran's New Orleans All Stars.

Wednesday, October 26: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street. With Lars Edegran All Stars featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman.

Sunday, October 30: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band.

Saturday, November 5: Norwegian Seamen's Church, Prytania Street, 2 - 6 pm. With Lars Edegran trio.

Sunday, November 6: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran's New Orleans All Stars.

Saturday, November 12: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street 7 - 10 pm With Lars Edegran All Stars.

Sunday, November 13: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band.

Wednesday, November 16: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street. With Lars Edegran All Stars featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman.

Sunday, November 20: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Lars Edegran's New Orleans All Stars.

Sunday, November 27: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, 8 - 11 pm. With Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band.

Wednesday, November 30: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur Street. With Lars Edegran All Stars featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman