Thanks for the Memories

I WAS BEYOND honored to write this story for Preservation magazine about the deep history of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans. The Chases played host to so many families and their functions over the decades and is still going strong. One of the biggest joys I have had in recent years is to to be able to take friends there for a special meal and tell my grandfather’s stories over a plate of red beans.

Many thanks to the Chase family for bringing this important history forward.

From the piece:

Leah Lange had let it be known that she didn’t much like to truck with musicians. Nonetheless, in 1945, she was swept away by Edgar Lawrence “Dooky” Chase Jr., a New Orleans jazz trumpeter, and had to shift ground on this score. The two met at a nightclub where Chase’s orchestra lit up the room. He’d somehow sailed past her defenses. Still in that whirlwind early the next year, they married.

Chase’s family owned a popular little spot in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood that served as a community hearth in one of the nation’s oldest African American communities. Established in 1939 and named after Edgar’s father, Edgar “Dooky” Sr., the business began as a street-corner stand selling po’boy sandwiches and lottery tickets. In 1941 the Chases moved across the street to the restaurant’s present location at Orleans Avenue and North Miro Street. Headquarters for key strategizing during the Civil Rights Movement, immortalized in song, this corner brick building with its two attached double shotgun houses has been a Tremé touchstone for five generations of New Orleanians.”

You can read the full piece here.

I Love the Way It Sounds …

IT WAS was a privilege to write this piece for Oxford American for their storied “Music Issue.” This year’s theme was “up south” and all of the writers were asked to contemplate the trail of southern music as it moved out of the American South and influenced and shaped how we play, listen, celebrate and grieve. I wrote about my New Orleans family and how they carried not just music, but food, language and ritual along with them. I grew up 2,000 miles away from New Orleans, but my relatives kept it alive inside themselves. The music is in my bones and heart. I was honored to be able to continue to tell my family’s story. There’s even a playlist to accompany the text.

You can read the piece here..