Rewind: Danny Barker


DANNY BARKER,  New Orleans banjoist, guitarist, singer, songwriter and ukelele player, was born on this day in 1909.

Barker, who died in 1994, was the standard bearer of New Orleans traditional music — down to the its dress-code: White shirt, black slacks, shined shoes — always. Among the musicians with whom he shared stages, stands or tour-bus rides — Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway Ella Fitzgerald, Sydney Bechet and Lena Horne.

Barker left New Orleans for the New York music scene in the 30s (That moody, rollicking Milt Hinton photo above features Barker in the foreground on the left with Jerome Darr; at the bar — Barney Bigard and in the background: Willie “The Lion” Smith). But in 1965, he returned home to work at the New Orleans Jazz museum — his presence and playing, keeping what was left of the tradition alive and influencing the next generation of New Orleans jazz musicians.

Radio station WWOZ has a short (5-minute) audio piece up (made in 2009 on the occasion centennial of his birth) in honor of the great Danny Barker. You can click here to get to their page. It’s worth the pause for the colorful anecdotes alone.

and because I never tire of this…

“Night people are different from day people…”


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