The Claude Blanchard Orchestra in Texas in the Jazz Archivist

The new Jazz Archivist from Tulane University’s Hogan Jazz Archive is out!

It includes an update on the Claude Blanchard research project. Over the past two year I’ve taken a break from serious archival research to focus on creative projects, but I’ve done some research-related travel and interviews on the side. I’ve gathered some very special historical documents from Claude Blanchard’s descendants, including a scrapbook. This article (“Claude Blanchard’s Orchestra and Affiliates in Texas: An Update on the Ongoing Research”) discusses some of the research in 2014.

Thanks to Lynn Abbott for encouraging me to finish this article, even though the research isn’t finished. (I’ve come to realize the research is never finished.) But maybe someone out there will find something useful!

You can read the article below. Look at past issues of the Jazz Archivist here.

Jazz Archivist Vol. 27 2014

Blanchard’s orchestra with female accordion artist Mae Stoekel.

Blanchard’s orchestra with accordionist Mae Stoekel.

Benjie White talks about jazz guitarist Snoozer Quinn

LISTEN: Benjie White talks about the “guitar whiz” Snoozer Quinn:

New Orleans Owls (jazz band) at Chess, Checkers and Whist Club, formerly Cosmopolitan Hotel. Musicians left to right: Mackie, R.; Rau, E.; Mackie, D.; Smith, M.; White, B.; Golpi, R.; Crumb, E. The band and spectators at right are costumed; possibly for costume party or Carnival. This photo and information is from Wikipedia (public domain).

New Orleans Owls (jazz band) at Chess, Checkers and Whist Club, formerly Cosmopolitan Hotel. From left to right: Dick Mackie, Monk Smith, Red Mackie, Benjie White, Rene Gelpi, Earl Crumb, Eblen Rau (standing behind Gelpi). The band and spectators at right are costumed; possibly for costume party or Carnival. This photo and information is from Wikipedia (public domain) and from A Trumpet Around the Corner: The Story of New Orleans Jazz, by Samuel Barclay Charters.

On March 16, 1961, the New Orleans jazz man Benjie (Benji?) White was interviewed by Dick Allen and Paul Crawford at his home in New Orleans (103 Maryland Drive). At one point, White discussed the jazz guitarist Snoozer Quinn, whom he called “a whiz.” I have included an audio excerpt here for your enjoyment. The original interview is held in the oral history collection of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University.

White was a saxophonist and clarinet player (and he also could play violin) and one of the founding members of the New Orleans Owls.

Here is an entry about the New Orleans Owls on Red Hot Jazz. The Owls are one of the few New Orleans jazz bands recorded in New Orleans in the 1920s.

According to White, the other original members of The Owls were Red Mackie (bass and piano), Dick Mackie (cornet), Monk Smith (tenor sax and guitar), Rene Gelpi (banjo) and Eblen Rau (violin). Other early associates: Eugene “Jinx” Diboll, Fred Ogden, Guy Lyman, Earl Crumb.

Said White: “It’s a funny thing…. When we started playing, there were very few white bands in existence. Most all of them, good jazz bands, were really colored jazz bands. It was a little peculiar feeling for us to break into this jazz feel here, under those conditions… It was, because…except for the fact that most of us had had a year of college or so and were pretty well known in New Orleans….take most of those boys who were with us were from excellent families, … [we] didn’t consider it a livelihood, we considered it a lark. But the thing got control and became a livelihood with us, for quite a number of years.”

LISTEN: New Orleans Owls

Many thanks to the Hogan Jazz Archive for allowing me to post clips from their oral history collection. Bruce Raeburn, Lynn Abbott, and Nicole Shibata have all been wonderful in their assistance on my Snoozer projects.

More info: Wilfred “Benjie” White was born August 30, 1901 in New Orleans. Lived on First Street, Valmont, Pine, 1467 Calhoun Street,  Attended LaSalle, Williston in Easthampton, two years at Tulane University in the College of Commerce and Business Administration.

There is Evil in Ye Children

A gem of the Jimmie Davis recording session of 1931 is “There Is Evil in Ye Children” — special because the song was composed by Snoozer Quinn. It’s a real Bible-thumper… the lyrics reveal the concern of a parson who wants to save young people from eternal damnation.

imagesThere is evil in ye children, gather round
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round
You go out and drink that gin, you’re so easy to give in,
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round

Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round (gather round)
There is evil in ye children, gather round
I know all of your emotions you must quit those foolish notions
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round

Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round
There is evil in ye children, gather round
You go out with good intentions, what you do won’t do to mention
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round

Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round
There is evil in ye children, gather round
You go out ’bout half past nine, nothing good is on your mind
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round (gather round)

There is evil in ye children, gather round
There is evil in ye children, gather round
When you want your sins all drowned, come and see old Parson Brown
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round (old Parson)

There is evil in ye children, gather round
There is evil in ye children, gather round
When you feel love’s temptation come to me and get salvation
Lord there’s evil in ye children, gather round

The form and melody is based on the traditional folk tune “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” which itself is derived from a Negro spiritual called “When the Chariot Comes.” This is a rare example on the Davis recordings where Quinn displays his unusual two-guitar sound. You can hear it in the breaks: Quinn pays a melodic lead enveloped by a driving rhythm part. The sound is comparable to Big Bill Broonzy’s. Quinn exhibits a great country blues sensibility – a relaxed sense of meter, improvisatory melodic style, and bluesy embellishments – as well as fine lyrical abilities and a sense of humor.

Eddie “Snoozer” Quinn was born on October 18, 1907

On this day, October 18, 1907, little Edward McIntosh Quinn was born in Pike County, near McComb, Mississippi. Born to Louis Benjamin Quin and Philonea (Fitzgerald) Quin (the spelling would change a few years later), Eddie was a middle child in a family with five boys. There was Richard “Dick” (born 1892), William “Willie” (1898), Robert “Hillary” (1901), Edward “Eddie” (1907), and Alton “Foots” (1913). In addition, a paternal niece named Fannie Quinn lived with the family for some time; she was Hillary’s age (1901).

Little Eddie was blessed with musical genius, and his talent would reveal itself as soon as he was old enough to toddle up to the family piano.

Worth mentioning about the baby is his slight birth defect, as it would affect him for the rest of his life: 

 “Snoozer was born—when he was born, they had to use forceps, and his head was lopsided like that from forceps; his head came almost to a point; he was a funny looking guy.” (Monk Hazel, New Orleans drummer.)

The Quinn family moved to Bogalusa, Louisiana around 1911, when Quinn was about three years old.   Bogalusa was a natural move – it was home of the Great Southern Lumber Company which in 1905 had established a train line called the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad to transport lumber products. And father Louis’ occupation, according to the 1910 federal census, was “car repairer” for the railroad house.

Interestingly, Philonea was one of four sisters, all of whom moved their families to Bogalusa around the same time, to settle within two blocks of one another. Clearly, Bogalusa was a viable destination for the region in the 1910s when America was transitioning from a rural farm economy to an industrial one.