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.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Photo of burnt-out club, La. Weelky 5/4/1940
Trumpeter Punch Miller was a great teacher and a great raconteur. One amazing story he told me involved the Walter Barnes orchestra. Punch had played with them in Chicago, but quit the band in 1940 just before they went south for a gig in Natzhez, were they all burned up in a dance hall fire. I recently ran across an article in the Louisiana Weekly that described the disaster in these grisly terms: "More than 200 baked humans have been taken out of this land of the dead, the Rhythm Club, where they suffocated and died when someone flung a lighted cigarette into the Spanish moss-covered ceiling...all of the instruments used by the Walter Barnes band were destroyed except the piano." (My profile of Punch Miller, including his account of the fire, appears in SONG FOR MY FATHERS, chapter 11.)

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