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Sunday, March 4, 2012


From the March 2012 edition of New Orleans Magazine:

Memories of Music

Playwright Tennessee Williams wrote in The Glass Menagerie, “In memory everything seems to happen to music.” This year at the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, local musician, writer and educator Tom Sancton will kick off the celebration on March 21 at The Old U.S. Mint with “Song for My Fathers,” a multimedia autobiographical performance that celebrates the city’s music and pays a heartfelt tribute to those who taught it to him. Based on his memoir, “Song For My Fathers” weaves live music from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Sancton’s personal experiences, offering glimpses into an era that remains a powerful influence on our culture.

What is this performance about? “Song for My Fathers” is the story of a young white middle-class kid’s encounter with a group of elderly black jazz musicians at the tail end of the segregation era in the 1960s. The boy learns to play their music and gets a privileged lesson on life, culture and humanity from his willing mentors. That is the central theme of both the book and the stage show version.

Who’s involved? Ben Jaffe [of Preservation Hall] is the overall producer. Staging and direction were handled by Ron Rona of Preservation Hall; he was also the one who put together the terrific audio-visual package. I am present as the narrator. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is on stage and provides live music, and we have a young man, Zach Young, who plays me as a teenager.

How does it tie in with the festival? It ties in with the festival in several ways. First, it’s theater – not an actual play, but certainly a theatrical presentation. Secondly, it’s based on a literary work, my coming-of-age memoir. Thirdly, it celebrates New Orleans culture and musical history. I have been involved in the festival in various capacities for the past few years and like to consider myself part of the Tennessee Williams Festival “family.”

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival takes place March 21-25, featuring plays, staged readings, lectures, panel discussions, parties and more, at various locations throughout downtown. Information,

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