Dear Reader, peace to you and yours, today. This is my last post for this series, Afro-American Music:101. Firstly, I will again state that it has been my great honor and, (most times) my great pleasure to have carried on in this task of: editing, analyzing, and bringing to the internet... the mind of Daniel Moses Barker.
This blog began, January 13th, 2009 (the 100th anniversary of this great Jazz man's birth
.) I will add, this work owes much to a blog series (really, my first) which had its beginnings during my generation's most significant statement as to what America can be
Before this, my very first blog posts were at the invitation of a great friend, Linda Cronin Gross – who writes about New York City politics and community organizing on the Huffington Post
. Linda also gained the distinction for successfully dealing with me day-to-day, for the three months following August 29th, 2005; she provided me shelter before I returned to my home here on Music Street. She and I shared a two-part series, NYC/NOLA – which represents (more metaphorically) one-year's time of my, “post-Katrina
” Jazz life.
I was not a regular writer or journalist before I took to the blogosphere; I had done some radio production for WWOZ FM New Orleans since relocating from New York more than eleven years ago
. I take pride in, Afro-American Music:101. It has been an achievement if for nothing else; I now value and enjoy words and language much more, and look forward to future study and writing in, and about, the Jazz life.
The fundamental question which I sought to answer: What does 100 years of a man's life and legacy mean? That is, a Jazz man's life in this unique case, singer/guitarist/banjoist, composer/arranger/bandleader, storyteller/writer/historian, and teacher, Danny Barker. However, in this passed year's time this journey has allowed me to examine the full potential of my own Jazz life and legacy as; it just might hold some larger significance by the time that September 30th, 2063 rolls around. (Maybe.)
I've said it before, and it still is news: Katrina took me directly to the doorstep of my very own Mid-life Crisis/Enlightenment
. Today, as everyday since Monday, August 29th, 2005 – I contemplate the future of my home, the city where I feel that I most belong in this world. I am so glad to have Mr. Barker's advice to help me all the way. “You have to learn to be crafty...”
“It took me a long time to find out that!” Mr. Barker was in his mid-60's when he gave this to the Xavier students; and I am just now getting hip to that!
Beyond the job of survival, we all try to make a better world to live in. Some of us have this desire quite potently. It is apparent to me that while Daniel Moses Barker traveled thru his life as a “survivor,” he also moved thru his days and nights as a warrior; one among many thousands gone who, before their final fight sought to deal a significant blow to White supremacy in America. Danny did this with the greatest love of nation: that the people of this country would continue to survive and, come one day, live out its creed of true freedom.
In his last days in late winter of 1994, Danny Barker's body was for the first time in his life made frail by sickness; but not tiredness as it held on while his vast mind gently closed its volumes. He had smiled and laughed at the great honor to rule as King of Krewe de Vieux of that year and gave his final performance at their ball; abruptly ending with the other theatrical face... he couldn't finish the tune he called and had to be carried off-stage.
Vocalist, John Boutte once told me that Danny required of him to drive a last ride around the neighborhoods of New Orleans for a completeness. Sylvia Barker, answered my inquiry of Danny's final hours with this: “He slept mostly, on the couch which was his favorite.” Danny drifted in and out; Sylvia recalls, “He said that he kept seeing a woman in a red dress.” (I'll assume that as he described, “woman” he probably saw one of... African descent.)
I prefer to think that it was not Old Danny's last temptation but rather, A Jazzy Angel... coming down to Sere Street to take a good man up the Glory Road.
With that stated, I will leave this post with a proclamation from Sylvia, “The Daughter” - and my very own Jazzy Earth Angel. [The Comments section also will soon summarize what I believe to be the salient aspects described in Mr. Barker's lessons.] A skilled storyteller in her own right, she emphatically carries on Danny's artistic heritage in this recording made in 2008 for the 1st Annual Danny Barker Festival. Sylvia proudly calls for Sainthood.
Saint Danny... go marching in.
Praisin' all the way!
Peace & Pops,
Maison Musique, New Orleans
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