BY LINDA VIEIRA, Sun Lakes Life | Friday, February 19, 2016
One of the most exciting and spirited performances presented by the Friendship Club happened last week when the “Dukes of Dixieland” graced the stage of the MCH ballroom with a fabulous jazz program called “Celebrating Satchmo”. On stage against a lovely backdrop that represented the famous New Orleans French Quarter, Kevin Clark on trumpet was the leader of the group, which included Ryan Burrage on clarinet, Alan Broome on bass, Joe Kennedy on piano, David Mahoney on drums, and David Phy on the slide trombone.
Each man wore a suit with a brightly colored or patterned shirt and tie, and Clark kept time with the music in his black and white shoes. As a matter of fact, not one of these unbelievably talented men stood still during the entire performance. With feet tapping, bodies bouncing, heads bobbing, fingers snapping, eyes scrunched up and closed, and cheeks puffed out, they played their instruments with unmatched style and passion that thrilled the crowd. Each man had a solo on almost every song, and their fingers flew across their instruments as their entire bodies kept time with the music.
Mahoney performed an amazing drum solo that brought the audience to its feet. He played every surface of every drum in his set, plus the microphone stands, and even the floor, as, on his hands and knees, he drummed his way over to Broome on the bass. He even drummed the strings and the bridge of Broome’s big bass fiddle before backing up and returning to his set of drums without ever losing the beat.
Accompanying himself on the piano, Kennedy sang a few songs, and Broome did the same on the bass, impersonating Louis Armstrong on songs including “Life is a Cabaret,” “Mack the Knife,” and “What a Wonderful World.” His impersonation was spot on, and several of the songs he sang, backed up by the entire group, have been picked up by PBS for a future showing.
Although they rarely invite guests to join them on stage, they warmly welcomed Stan Freese and his amazing sousaphone (tuba). Freese had just recently retired from Disneyland, and his huge instrument wrapped around him like a snake. He had it painted like a boa constrictor, fangs and all, “because it sucks the wind out of me,” he said.
The beauty of jazz, especially New Orleans style, is the different combinations of freely played notes that fill out a melody or theme following an established beat, like a theme and variations in classical music. The Dukes often play in jazz funerals in New Orleans, and they shared several of the tunes they play regularly. The audience enthusiastically joined in singing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and the finale was the beautiful “Hello, Dolly” that was such a big hit for Louis Armstrong.
The Dukes of Dixieland regularly appear on dinner cruises on the Steamboat Natchez along the Mississippi River, playing what they call “Riverboat Dixieland Jazz.”
They certainly showed the Sun Lakes crowd that they are masters of their art.
The Friendship Club proudly presents “The Dukes of Dixieland, Celebrating Satchmo” on Feb. 14. Formed in 1974 by producer John Shoup, the Dukes opened their jazz club atop the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter, calling it “Dukes’ Place” with the blessing of its previous owner, Louis Prima. Playing four sets a night, often lasting until dawn, Dukes’ Place also became the home base for many jazz sessions produced by Shoup for PBS, including the early Marsalis family, Stephane Grappelli, Les McCann and Toots Thielemans.
The Dukes started accepting 30 dates a year with orchestras, festivals and Performing Arts Centers in the USA and overseas, never straying long, before returning home first to Dukes’ Place until 1986; then to a new home on Bourbon Street called Mahogany Hall.
In 1978, the Dukes recorded the first Direct-to-Disk album, and then, in 1984, were the first jazz band to record on CD. In 1980, they recorded a television special at the old Civic Theater in New Orleans, with the New Orleans Pops Orchestra and later performed in a TV special with Woody Herman, “Wood Choppers Ball.”
In 1986, they invited jazz master Danny Barker to perform with them at Mahogany Hall to record a television special “Salute to Jelly Roll Morton.” In 2001, their gospel CD “Gloryland” was nominated for a Grammy. Also that year, they recorded a CD titled “Country Meets Dixie” with The Oak Ridge Boys in Nashville, Tenn.
In 1992, they moved their home base to the Steamboat Natchez, where they have remained ever since. They still perform only 30 concerts a year with eight different themes: “Mardi Gras,” “Blues on the Bayou,” “Symphonic Jazz,” “Voodoo Revue,” “Celebrating Satchmo,” “New Orleans Jazz Legends,” and “Back to Bourbon Street.” In-between, they continue to work the dinner cruise on the Natchez for 45 weeks a year, seven nights a week.
They also find time to record 26 albums, produce three PBS television shows “New Orleans Pops”; “Salute to Jelly Roll Morton” and “Celebrating Satchmo,” and stream one show a week on the internet.
Unlike their Dixieland name, the Dukes play New Orleans music, from Dr. John and Fats Domino to Huey Smith and Louis Prima, not to mention many of their own original tunes. With a repertoire of roughly 400 songs, they are the pre-eminent New Orleans band as well as New Orleans Ambassadors.
They have performed with symphony orchestras, including the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, National, New York Pops (in Carnegie Hall), and 29 other orchestras around the world. In 2005, they traveled aboard the Natchez up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to Cincinnati, Ohio, raising money for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Relief Fund, while many of the band members’ homes were still destroyed. In 2011, they performed with the Boston Pops.
Don’t miss the lively New Orleans jazz presentation by “The Dukes of Dixieland,” celebrating the music of Satchmo — Louis Armstrong, on Feb. 14. Tickets for this remarkable show are $20 for members, $25 for non-resident guests. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. Make checks out to Friendship Club, and drop them off at 5168 Rio Bravo Drive.
As usual, the SLCC restaurant will be open with a special menu from 4 to 7 p.m. the evening of the show. For cancellations and information, call Pat at 845-3789 or Judy at 797-0265.
Save the date for the Friendship Club’s next show on March 13: A special tribute to Jackie Wilson called “The Legacy,” performed by his son Bobby Wilson. Bobby is a great artist in his own right, playing R&B, Motown, and legendary soul music.
The Dukes of Dixieland are 'Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival' [REVIEW]
It was a glorious day made even more glorious by the shockingly medicinal music of Louisiana's own Dukes Of Dixieland as they plied their craft in front of us Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival(self-released). When the set was over, we mopped our brow, drank, laughed, flirted and hobnobbed with each other to compare notes of the uplifting -- and almost religious -- experience we had just been through together. Believe me, it was positively cleansing. I know I'll never forget it. Now it's on CD, and everyone can feel the vibe. Soon, I was pushing my way backstage to properly gush.
Twenty years of performing on the Steamboat Natchez as it slowly makes its way up and down the mighty Mississippi River on its fabled dinner cruise seven nights a week, 45 weeks a year, will certainly hone your craft for you. On this set, they pull out all the stops and play material by Louie Prima, Allen Toussaint ("Java"), Dr. John ("Sing Sing Sing"), Tom Waits ("I Wish I Was In New Orleans"), Jerry Lee Lewis ("Great Balls Of Fire") and three from Duke Ellington (including his 1927 "East St. Louis Toodle-oo," popularized anew in 1974 by Steely Dan).
Trumpeter/bandleader Kevin Clark told me, "I think all of New Orleans music has a certain feel, a grittiness to it. It's 'dirt under your fingernails music.'" Forty-one years ago, it was one of Pete Fountain's men, cornet player Connie Jones, who branched out and formed this swinging aggregation. They had their own nightclub in the French Quarter before rolling on the river since 1992. Clark led the band from 1992 to 2001 and again from 2010 to today. "The band has always had great players," Clark continued, "but what I bring to the table is the conviction that people want to be entertained. They don't want a history lesson. We're a show band that plays New Orleans music. Everything's tight and there's no down time to explain what we're doing."
Brother, if you have to be explained to, you ain't hearing it!
NEWARK - As soon as students walked into the Liberty Middle School gym and heard the Dukes of Dixieland playing, many of them began clapping their hands and bobbing their heads to the beat.
The New Orleans jazz band was in Newark to perform with the Newark Granville Symphony Orchestra at its Saturday evening concert at the Midland Theatre.
But before the concert, the band's members visited Liberty Middle School on Friday to perform a concert for the whole school. After playing a few tunes and showing the students how the different instruments in a jazz band work together, the six musicians spent some time with Newark middle school band students.
"Most of them have never gotten the chance to meet a professional artist who plays their instrument," said Diana Wightman, band director at Liberty."This is a great opportunity for them to ask questions."
Many of the Dukes have been playing their instruments since they were children and were inspired by other musicians. So it's important to each of them to visit schools and return the favor, said band leader Kevin Clark.
He and his fellow musicians encouraged students to keep practicing their instruments and listen to different kinds of music on YouTube.
"We want them to get a more in depth appreciation for all music, but predominantly New Orleans music," he said.
Many of the songs students play in orchestra class have roots in European countries, but New Orleans style jazz is a purely American art form, said Susan Larson, executive director for the Newark Granville Symphony.
The Dukes have been playing with symphony orchestras across the country since 1975, and Larson said she was thrilled that they were willing to come to Newark.
They will join the orchestra on stage to perform "What a Wonderful World," "When the Saints go Marching In," and a medley of popular New Orleans songs. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and Ohio State University Director of Bands Russell Mikkelson will direct the performance.
"It's another opportunity to perform with symphony artists and bring the genre to a whole new audience," Larson said.
Larson knew that Liberty had a jazz band and thought the chance to bring the Dukes of Dixieland to the school was a perfect opportunity.
She watched as the group helped teach the students about improvisation and layering sounds together.
"It's happy, fun music, and when you hear performers of any genre playing at the top of the spectrum, that can be really inspirational," Larson said. "This could inspire them to practice and study more."
DUKES of Dixieland Announce New Album: Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Available September 18
One of New Orleans' flagship groups is captured live at the city's flagship event on The DUKES of Dixieland's rollicking new release, Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Due out September 18, the album spotlights the versatility and range of the iconic band with a set of classic Crescent City R&B and Latin-tinged jazz, all performed with crack timing and boisterous spirit.
The repertoire may come as a surprise to those who haven't caught one of the band's renowned nightly performances on the Steamboat Natchez, their home base on the Mississippi River for more than twenty years. Best known for the traditional jazz sound implied by their name, the DUKES of Dixieland casts a wide net to present the stunning diversity and celebratory soul of New Orleans music.
On Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, that "know it when you hear it" style is represented by hometown heroes like Louis Prima, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and Huey "Piano" Smith; as well as spiritual compatriots including Tom Waits and Jerry Lee Lewis. There are also several Duke Ellington pieces - which might seem to be an unlikely fit until you hear the ensemble's down-home, Latin Jazz reinventions of the legendary composer's work.
The band's R&B-focused set was recorded in front of a riotous crowd of thousands in the Jazz & Heritage Festival's Economy Hall Tent, named for the former home of an early twentieth century mutual aid and benefit society. Performing for the always-enthusiastic Jazz Fest crowd brings something special to the band's well-honed sound, according to trumpet player and bandleader Kevin Clark. "Playing for that crowd, you know that when they're applauding and into it, you're doing it right. We always get a good response out there, and when that many people scream and yell, it's inspiring and amps the band up even more. It captures that over-the-top New Orleans vibe."
Before they ever reached those Jazz Fest ears, however, these songs were audience-tested in front of local and international audiences. The DUKES play the dinner cruise on the Steamboat Natchez seven nights a week, 45 weeks a year - and on their "time off" play 30 dates a year with orchestras and at festivals and performing arts centers in the U.S. and abroad. "All the tunes that we do on the new album are songs that the guests that we play for every day enjoy listening to," Clark says. "You can see them light up when we play those particular songs; they're fan favorites. Maybe that's because they don't expect us to make a departure from traditional jazz, though everything we do keeps one foot planted in New Orleans music."
That term is surprisingly hard to define, even for a longtime resident like Clark. "I think all of New Orleans music has a certain feel, a grittiness, to it," he says. "It's 'dirt under your fingernails' music."
Made up of well-studied musicians with hundreds of songs in their repertoire and countless performances under their belt, the DUKES make it a point to balance their virtuosity with that grit, never losing sight of the elements that make the Big Easy special. "Every night I hear, 'This is what we came to New Orleans for,'" Clark says.
"There's something about every song that we do that makes it different than any other band. It's the difference between grabbing a po'boy and eating a fine meal at Commander's Palace."
The modern DUKES of Dixieland trace their history back 41 years, when trumpeter and cornetist Connie Jones left Pete Fountain's band to reform the band. They opened their own nightclub later that year in the French Quarter and have been a New Orleans institution ever since, taking up residency on the Steamboat Natchez in 1992. Clark, who had previously served a thirteen-year tenure in the band before leaving in 2002, returned to take the helm in 2010. He brought integral experience from playing at Disney World and booking shows for Toronto venues with him.
"The band has always had great players," Clark says, "but what I bring to the table is the conviction that people want to be entertained; they don't want a history lesson. We're like a show band that plays New Orleans music: everything's tight and there's no down time to explain what we're doing."
That attitude is well-represented on Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which flows organically from opener "Mama Inez," through a trio of Duke Ellington compositions, to a mash-up of Louis Prima's iconic "Sing, Sing Sing," with his song from Disney's The Jungle Book, "I Wanna Be Like You." The set continues with Alan Broome's gravelly vocal on Tom Waits' "I Wish I Was in New Orleans," evoking both the songwriter and the city's musical godfather, Louis Armstrong.
Pianist/singer Joe Kennedy takes a killer turn on a medley of Jerry Lee Lewis tunes and returns to the spotlight for a run-through of New Orleans R&B favorites, including Dr. John's "Such a Night;" "Down Home Girl," originally recorded by New Orleans singer Alvin Robinson; Huey "Piano" Smith's oft-recorded "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu;" and Bobby Goldsboro's "Voodoo Woman." Allen Toussaint's familiar "Java" offers a taste of a more classic New Orleans sound.
"There's a lot of different music under the umbrella of New Orleans music," Clark sums up. "What we're trying to do is be that band. You want to hear Jelly Roll Morton? We'll play Jelly Roll Morton like you want it to be done. Want to hear Fats Domino? Louis Prima? The Meters? The Neville Brothers? I think the essence is versatility, presenting lots of different options for people with depth while remaining accessible and fun."
DUKES of Dixieland · Live at the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Release Date:September 18, 2015
The Athens Area Council for the Arts will close out its 2014-15 Big Time/Small Town Performance Season with the Dukes of Dixieland on Friday, March 13. The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Athens City Middle School auditorium, 200 Keith Lane in Athens, Tenn. With 40 years of tradition behind them, the current musicians weave strands of pop, gospel and country into their authentic New Orleans sound, bringing traditional jazz and Dixieland music into the 21st century. Tickets are $18 for adults ($20 at the door, pending availability) and $10 for students. They are available at The Arts Center, 320 N. White St.; by phone at 423-745-8781 or online at www.athensartscouncil.org.
More than 20 acts are scheduled to perform at this year’s Pensacola Jazz Fest, including the world famous Dukes of Dixieland, making it the biggest Pensacola JazzFestin history. The 32nd Annual Pensacola JazzFest is a two-day musical celebration, hosted by the Jazz Society of Pensacola, on April 11 and 12 from 10 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. in Seville Square. This free community event offers a great line-up of live jazz music performances, arts and crafts exhibits, local food vendors and lots of fun for the whole family.
The nationally renowned Dukes of Dixieland will headline throughout the weekend, joined by a noteworthy roster of the best talent from around the region, including multi-talented pianist/keyboardist Gino Rosaria and his band, Fred Domulot playing with the Guffman Trio, Pensacola treasure Cynthia Domulot and bassist extraordinaire Tom Latenser. Holly Shelton will bring her wit, charm and sensational voice to the gazebo accompanied by Steve Gilmore, John Link, Brent Purcell and Chuck Schwartz. Enjoy big band music by Joe Occhipinti and his band. Local favorites Roman Street and performances by the winners of the 2015 Jazz Society of Pensacola Student Jazz Competition will get toes tapping.
A children’s area features activities and games throughout the weekend and a “Jazz Jam for Kids” with complementary harmonicas and kazoos to introduce them to the joy of making music. An arts and crafts showcase will feature fine art, handmade items, clothing, jewelry and more. Savor delicious fare from a variety of quality vendors, along with adult refreshments at the beer and wine tent. Current and past JazzFest posters, merchandise, and CDs by performing artists will be available for purchase.
The 2015 Pensacola JazzFest promises a fun-filled weekend of lively jazz music, food, art and culture that you won’t want to miss. For more information and to see a line-up of events and music, visit JazzPensacola.com
Trombone player Harry Watters will perform three free concerts with the Kingdom of the Sun Band.
The late, great Ocala saxophone player Paul Luciano introduced Les Muncaster to trombonist Harry Watters several years ago in The Villages. And when the likes of Luciano says “You've got to meet” someone, then it is imperative to meet that someone.
Since then, the national touring trombonist, recording artist and former member of the Dukes of Dixieland has become a familiar face with Muncaster's Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band. In fact, Watters is set for his fourth series of shows with the Ocala band this weekend at Marion Technical Institute.
“He is a phenomenal musician,” Muncaster said.
On Friday night in a program called Jazz It Up with Harry, Watters will perform as part of a jazz septet composed of KOS members. Expect dixieland and some American standards from the 1940s and '50s, Muncaster said. “Take the A Train” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” for example, are among the songs in the Friday set.
Watters tags in with the full band Saturday and Sunday for shows dubbed T is for Trombone. These concerts will include “Flight of the Bumblebee” — quite the spectacle on trombone, Muncaster noted — “A Family Drive Across America,” “A Musical Journey Through New Orleans,” “The Official West Point March” and Dvorak's finale from “The New World Symphony.”
Watters also does a “really pretty version” of “Embraceable You,” Muncaster said.
Once a graduate assistant to famed jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis (also father to Wynton and Branford) while attending the University of New Orleans, Watters went on to perform alongside other jazz greats, from Doc Severinsen and Al Hirt to Pete Fountain and Lou Rawls. He has appeared as a soloist with the Syracuse Symphony, the Baton Rouge Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Tulsa Pops, the West Virginia Symphony, the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band, the Janacek Philharmonic, the Moldovan Festival Orchestra and the U.S. Army Orchestra.
The KOS free concerts start at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. MTI is at 1614 E. Fort King St.
Other local concerts of note this week:
Bigger Picture Records recording artist and hit country singer Craig Campbell is set for Cowboys Saloon on Saturday night. His hits include “Family Man,” “Fish,” “When I Get It,” “Keep Them Kisses Comin' ” and “Outta My Head.” Pre-sale tickets are $10. Ages 18-20 are welcome, but there is an additional $10 security fee, according to the venue.
Cowboys Saloon is on the south end of the Pine Plaza, 718 S. Pine Ave., Ocala.
The family gospel group The McKameys return to Marion County for a 7 p.m. concert today at College Road Baptist Church, 5010 SW College Road, Ocala. Tickets are $10.
County Christian band Zack Shelton and 64 to Grayson will perform at 7 tonight at First Baptist Church of Lake Rousseau, 7854 W. Dunnellon Road, Dunnellon, The band also is set to perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Christ Church of Marion County, 768 Southwest 80th St., Ocala. Love offerings accepted.
New Odyssey, a group showcasing three men with 30 instruments, will perform at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Orange Blossom Opry, 13939 SE County Road 42, Weirsdale. Tickets are $23-$27.
Tradition met history this weekend at Richmond's Carpenter Theater where the nearly 90 year old Richmond landmark resonated with the music of the nearly 40+ year old New Orleans group, the DUKES of Dixieland, a band started in 1974 and evolved through the years to a full sextet of gifted musicians who brought their Louisiana sound all the way to Virginia. Not to be outdone, Richmond brought a little of their own sound to the performance namely the Richmond Symphonic Orchestra, which played behind the DUKES convivial set. With Mardi Gras rapidly approaching, no performance could evoke as much excitement for the celebration as the DUKES did last Saturday night.
Audience members of every generation hollered and clapped along to upbeat classics like Honky Tonk Train Blues, Java and Indian Red, all given a new dimension with the Richmond Symphony backing them up. The two groups brought some in the audience to tears with a stirring performance of New Orleans native Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World. The DUKES were actually the second act of the whole performance, the first being a collaboration between the Orchestra and Richmond's own No BS Brass Band, an 11 piece group that returned to the stage with the DUKES at the very end for a roof raising rendition of the quintessential New Orleans classic When the Saints Go Marching In. A band that carries so much history created a little more last Saturday with a performance that will stick out in the minds of Virginians for years to come
Richmond was buzzing with people eager to get off of its wind chilled streets when we arrived early last Saturday afternoon to cover the Richmond Symphonic Orchestra’s performance with the No BS Brass Band and the Dukes of Dixieland the following night. Photographer Milo Farineau and I followed suit as we hurried into the warmth of Perley’s Delicatessen, a recently reopened Richmond tradition. We waited, happy to be warm and poured over a menu of matzah ball soup, reubens, beef hot dogs, and kuegel, tapping our feet to the old jazz playing through the speakers. After a short time spent speaking with the staff about the legacy of the bustling diner, we were joined by trombonist Reggie Pace and drummer Lance Koehler, co-founders of the No BS Brass Band, an 11 piece native Richmond ensemble.
While they may share a heritage with bands like New Orleans natives The Dukes of Dixieland, their sound is rooted in the River City. I asked them to elaborate on Richmond’s musical tradition, and Lance gave me his take on the local music scene. “ To me, the Richmond sound is raw, driving, no frills, very straight, blunt and to the point. It’s social, dancey, and it comes from rock and roll, punk rock energy. A lot of Richmond’s great exports are punk rock bands like, Gwar, White Cross, Lamb of God, and Avail. Then on the other side we’ve got D’Angelo, I mean Voodoo is the rawest, greatest R&B record...that’s how I describe the Richmond sound.” If Richmond’s sound was half as good as Perley’s pastrami burger, then I knew we were in for a treat later.
The Carpenter Theatre, at nearly 90 years old, was dazzling. The gilded molding and beautifully painted ceiling made me feel like I was inside a giant German Glockenspiel, with accents of the old world displayed across the walls. After taking my seat, I looked out across the crowd and noticed an interesting dichotomy. Some people were dressed in their Sunday best, arms locked, programs in hand, while others represented younger Richmond revelers. The Orchestra took the stage first, and just after they commenced their resonant introduction, the sound of a lone trombone could be heard from the very back of the theater. Reggie Pace marched down the aisle as No BS piled onstage from the wings. If I had only one complaint about the whole show, it was that I had to stay seated. Every track was funky, sending wave after wave of hard hitting, tight, brash music. That was to be expected from No BS, but there was an interesting new dimension; with every song becoming almost cinematic with the full Orchestra accompaniment.
After their final song, RVA All Day (a shoutout to their home city) the two bands left the stage for a brief intermission, before the orchestra came back to play behind The Dukes of Dixieland. The Dukes, in their current incarnation, have 40 years of Mardis Gras music under their belts, and for the latter half of the night, they brought their Bourbon Street sound to Richmond. The climax of the show bridged the worlds of these three bands, as No BS returned to the stage for a rousing performance ofThe Saints Go Marching In.
- See more at: http://www.cosmicvibeslive.com/index.php/blog-1/richmond-sypmhony-orchestra-and-no-bs-brass-band/#sthash.SAWHotIr.dpuf
New Orleans News
Local trumpeter Lionel Ferbos, 102: Jazz keeps him going Link
By STACEY PLAISANCE / Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Music, jazz music, is what keeps Lionel Ferbos going at 102.
The Creole jazz singer and trumpeter celebrated his 102nd birthday July 17 by blowing the high notes for friends and family at the French Quarter club where he's had a standing gig for decades. He also sang at a recent birthday bash at the National World War II Museum, breaking into "When You're Smiling" as swing dancers shimmied.
Impeccable in a button-up shirt and tie, he posed for pictures all smiles. He cracked jokes about his age. And he relished the attention as he was serenaded both times with upbeat renditions of "Happy Birthday."
"I thought I'd be dead at about 60," he said, laughing.
No jazz funeral for Lionel Ferbos just yet. Yet even he finds the longevity surprising.
"Isn't that something?" he said. "But you know I never dreamed of that. I figured if I could go to about 50 I'd be doing good."
Not bad for a guy born on July 17, 1911, several months before the Titanic sank and a few years away from World War I.
Ferbos bought his first cornet at a French Quarter pawn shop at age 15. Now he's believed to be the oldest actively working musician in New Orleans -- the Mississippi River port city where aging jazz musicians thrive.
His body isn't without signs of age. He's been in and out of the hospital in recent years and had a pacemaker implanted last year. He sometimes uses a wheelchair to get around. Despite a century of wear and tear, he's still determined to sing and blow.
"He has such a memorable singing voice, and it's always a treasure whether he's playing his trumpet or singing," said Al Kennedy, a longtime friend and fan. "He is somebody that younger musicians should know about, from the way that he shows up, the way he is dressed, the way he cares for his horn, the way he plays his horn."
Asthmatic as a child, he might never have played a wind instrument at all if it had been up to his parents.
"My mother wanted me to play the banjo," he said, adding that when he saw an all-girl band playing horns, "I said if they can play, I can play."
Ferbos began lessons with Professor Paul Chaligny, who wouldn't let him blow his horn until he knew how to read music. His early professional jobs were in the early `30s with society jazz bands like the Starlight Serenaders and the Moonlight Serenaders. He also performed with Captain Handy's Louisiana Shakers. He's still adored by fans for his big band and ragtime jazz style. His band packs the Palm Court Jazz Cafe on Saturday nights, with locals and tourists alike.
In his early career, his ability to read music put him in demand for gigs that took him to parks, schools, churches, dance halls and even prisons. He has performed at every New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival since its 1970 inception. And for more than two decades, he's had his gig at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe where he was toasted on his birthday.
"You could throw anything in front of him, and he knows it," Kennedy said. "And because of his professionalism, that's why so many bands wanted him and were happy when they signed him up."
He was making little more than a dollar a night when he played with Handy and Pichon in the 1930s. Yet Ferbos went on to perform with some of the biggest names in traditional jazz, among them Captain John Handy, Walter Pichon and blues singer Mamie Smith. He also performed with saxophonist Harold Dejan and trumpeters Herbert Leary, Gene Ware and Sidney Desvignes.
"He comes from that era where jazz started," said Ron Schexnayder, Ferbos' grandson. "Even though a lot of his friends are all gone, he's met all these big guys; so it's wonderful to have him still alive and still on stage and still performing."
Ferbos is believed to be the last living member of the New Orleans WPA band, a group formed in the Great Depression by laborers in the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ferbos said he was digging out one of the lagoons at New Orleans' City Park for the WPA when he was asked to join the band.
Manual labor wasn't something foreign to him.
Like many musicians of that era, Ferbos had a day trade. He worked for decades as a tinsmith, first in his father's French Quarter workshop, then eventually taking over the family business and building his own workshop. The business made everything from gutters and roofing material to air conditioning ducts for homes and businesses.
"Everywhere you drive with him around the city, he's pointing to a place where he had at one time worked," Kennedy said. "He did a lot of work putting tin up in bars."
Ferbos retired from the craft while in his 70s. His artistry in metal making was featured in the acclaimed exhibition on Creole building arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Despite his long music career, Ferbos made few early recordings. He played at clubs on South Rampart Street, the city strip that in the 1920s and `30s was the epicenter of a bustling black entertainment district. After he joined the Ragtime and the Palm Court bands, he was recorded on several CDs on the GHB label. He is also featured on other recent recordings with New Orleans musicians.
"I just admire his dedication to his music," said Krystle Ferbos, the musician's granddaughter, who attended both birthday celebrations. "The discipline that he's exhibited with his craft is something that I aspire to do with the things that I enjoy in life."
Ferbos was part of the original stage band of the off-Broadway hit "One Mo' Time," though he dropped out of show in the `70s when it moved to New York. He rarely performed outside his hometown New Orleans, which is where he met his wife, Creole seamstress Margarite Gilyot.
The couple married in 1934 and remained inseparable for 75 years. Friends and family say they were rarely seen apart before his wife's death in 2009.
"When you talk to Lionel you realize how quick a life goes," Kennedy said. "For him, those 75 years vanished in the blink of an eye. It's a lesson to all of us out there to really treasure what life you have at the moment because it's so fleeting."
Ferbos won the "2003 Big Easy Lifetime Achievement Award" and has frequently been called on to tell about his experiences in the Depression, as well as in music and with metal making, on panels and in history classes.
He plays weekly at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, where he leads the Palm Court Jazz Band on Saturday nights. At home, he practices often.
"He believes in being prepared," Kennedy said. "He will go through his song list to make sure that if he can be bandleader one more time, he's going to be ready."