THE HAPPY PALS started going to French Quarter Festival in New Orleans annually soon after Quarterfest started in 1984. We’d drive non-stop from Toronto to Leonard and Bud Brackett’s place in Carolina. After a day at the local VFW we’d set off in Bud’s van, an open bottle of George Dickel on the dash and a pistol beside it. We’d have long and fierce arguments on that most important question: Hank Williams or Jimmie Rodgers? Leonard was for the Singing Brakeman all the way and, well, he did have a gun. But strangely we always visited Hank and Audrey’s tomb, and never stopped in Meridian.
Sessions at Bonaparte’s Retreat, Fritzel’s, Palm Court, MRB and Joe’s Jungle joined the Happy Pals with the likes of Sammy Rimington, Gregg Stafford, Doggie Berg, Jacques Gauthé, Orange Kellin, Charlie DeVore, John Richardson, Norrie Cox, Barry Martyn, Andrew Hall, Thomas L’Etienne, Lars Edegran, the list goes on. The sessions went on too, until daybreak at least!
And they still do.
NOLA was recorded live at the French Quarter Festival April 12, 2014. This is our entire show, from beginning to end, in the order we played it. There are no re-takes or overdubs, or even mixing for that matter. The only edits done were to trim away the gaps between songs. Recording was done straight out of the air, using a Zoom H6 stereo recorder about 6 feet above the audience.
It’s pretty much like being there. You can hear the crowd when they collectively gasp near the beginning of the clarinet solo in Climax Rag: Toby Hughes’ chair suddenly collapsed, dumping him backwards onto the stage. You can hear the chair crunching too. And singing, clapping, dancing, laughing. I think my favourite background sound is the police siren coming closer and closer as Chloé Watkinson starts singing Weed Smoker’s Dream. But I’m glad they never arrived.
On the cover, the Magnolia Brass Band parades on Bourbon Street to open the French Quarter Festival:
Sarah Johnson photos; John Williams clarinet; Pete Clancy trombone; Briana Anderton grand marshal; Charlie DeVore (mostly hidden) cornet; Toby Hughes alto sax; Patrick Tevlin (partly hidden) trumpet; Bill Evans trombone; Chloé Watkinson grand marshal; Andrea Werhun grand marshal; Justin Ruppel (hidden) snare drum; Chuck Clarke (hidden) bass drum.
released July 17, 2014
The Happy Pals New Orleans Party Orchestra:
Patrick Tevlin trumpet
Chuck Clarke drums
Toby Hughes alto sax
John Williams clarinet
Charlie Trainor piano
Bernie Attridge string bass
Chloé Watkinson vocal
Photos - Front Cover: Matt Deavenport.
Back: Sarah Johnson. Booklet: Mike Tompkins, unknown. CD: Patrick Tevlin. Thanks to paraders Chloé Watkinson, Briana Anderton, Andrea Werhun, Sarah Johnson, Charlie DeVore, Peter Clancy, Bill Evans and Justin Ruppel.
Thanks to John and Marla for the berl.
Most of all, thanks to the people of New Orleans for the greatest music ever.
Produced by Patrick Tevlin at New Orleans North, Toronto
I am usually not a fan of live albums because of the less than optimal acoustics and crowd noise. But for Shotgun Jazz Band I will make an exception. Having seen them several times on Frenchmen St. I can attest that this CD captures the authentic atmosphere of their live performance. They are a high energy band and Marla is the consummate live performer. Her showmanship makes Shotgun stand out from other Frenchmen St. bands. And the rhythm section of John and Twerk drive the band. James Sterling