“Roll with the punches!”
Danny Barker had a bold, and oftentimes, daring perspective on seemingly anything and everything under the sun.
He unflinchingly viewed the foibles of human life with a wry sense of humor and a deep self-knowing; both of which were hallmarks of his singular style.
He summed up his life's ethos as the quintessential Jazz journeyman, offering the words which with I open this day's very special post. Danny Barker proclaimed Jazz as, “a lifestyle” and “an attitude” that one maintains, “everyday, each and every day, day after day... after day... after day.”
Welcome back Dear Reader; and may I submit: I must be getting better at this by now... n'est pas? Rolling yet through the process of claiming, and disposing, the last possesions of Danny & 'Blu' Lu Barker – and “the Daughter,” Sylvia Barker-Jones – from the house which stands at, 1277 Sere Street, New Orleans; I document a unique circumstance.
He saved everything! These words reveal an inner-working of the man. He read voraciously: magazines, newspapers, history books, biographies and, a occaisional novel. Old Danny checked the Obituary section of the Times-Picayune. He seemed to enjoy clipping out the notices wherein a “street name” was provided in addition to the deceased's legal name. He was well aware that someone just might have been much better known to their fellow New Orleanians as: 'Pookie' or, 'Tats' or... “Sweets.”
Today, and yesterday, I was honored to welcome students from: Colorado State University and, St. Edwards College of Austin, Texas to the future home of the Danny Barker Learning Center. These young people prevailed over the dirtiest of New Orleans recovery tasks: the cleaning and gutting of a five year old “Katrina house” – as I have been in the routine of referring to it as such.
These men & women – who are... old enough to be my children, also gave to me such an experience of pride in the knowing that we are a great nation of people and friends. I'd very much like to express my uttmost gratitude to them all, and their Coordinator from Common Ground Relief, Myke Reitman.
Very special thanks to 'Lil' Sydney' – Sydney Torres III, and his staff for providing three dumpsters worth of respectful disposal, gratis. I say: Peace to the Garbage Man; New Orleans could never do its thing with you!
I am also very happy to report that there were some significant finds amoung the debris: The banner from the children's brass band that Mr. Barker shepherded all the way to Congo Square (just as he left it,) rolled up, high in his closet. Also the portrait of his grandmother's brother, virtuoso Clarinetist, Louis Artidore – surprisingly intact.
[What's more, The Muskrat Rambles! Here's to Zach for bringing it to its knees, and setting it free and far from the attic that it had made its home.]
We all die. Some of us are fortunate to see descendants spring from us. Danny Barker never met yours truly. Yet I confess, there are times when I ask myself: Did a man like this actually exist? Then there are times, often, when I hear his voice where no audio is around. In the past several days of: coordinating, and advocating, and begging... and being reminded to, “Seek first!” – I have felt as though Old Danny has been using my own “seven holes in your cra-ni-um!” to experience what is most important about this project.
It is with great honor and humble gratitude that I point my all to, Daniel Moses Barker; and gladly declare the 15th day of March to be now known as: St. Danny's Day. I offer this prayer to him, for the people of the new New Orleans, for the low-lands of Louisiana and the creatures that dwell there, and for the waters that give us life.
To Saint Danny Barker – The Helper – Patron of Artists & Entertainers:
O Most Honorable Saint Danny Barker
Beneficent and Timely Helper
Rightous and Observant Provider
Wise & Slick Old Ancient Keeper
Passionate Fighter for Freedom
Help us truthfully in our time of need
As we will go thru our lives, in our way
In the name of Jazzy Goodness & Peace
Tho we are faced with trials, tribulations, traps
May we be provided with All Swinging Strength
Guide us Mercifully & Humorously in the ways
Of the Courageous Jazz Man, and Jazz Woman
Remind us Emphatically to Pay Close Attention
To use in Coordination the given Seven Holes:
The two ears, two eyes, the nose... and mouth
Then We Will Go Marching Onward
Protecting & Healing Our Own Soul
Upholding What Is Needed For The Message
And Defending Our Culture, Our Land
In Your Name, Daniel Moses Barker
Eh La Bas!
Peace & Pops,
Maison Musique, New Orleans
My Catalogue of CD's Available Thru A Locally Owned & Operated Retailer Worthy of Your Support:
MOMENTS OF SOUND: ESQUIZITO 1996-2006 is now available in Digital Download thru:
Amazon, iTunes, Emusic, Shockhound, Lala and, Rhapsody - which like iTunes, you would search for: esquizito.
STAY TUNED: The Slideshow!