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Louisiana Music Factory – More than a record store

23rd February 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Sometimes a store is more than just a place to shop. The corner grocery, for instance, becomes a spot to catch up on news, complain about or admire the weather, beef about politics, or share a joke with the folks behind the counter or neighbors and friends.

The Louisiana Music Factory, which on Saturday, February 28, 2015 celebrates its first anniversary at its new locale at 421 Frenchmen Street, is that kind of business. It rises above being a store to simply buy CDs, vinyl albums and T-shirts by being a vital part of the New Orleans music community. It also shares the first floor of the building and thus the anniversary with WWOZ’s Swamp Shop retail outlet.

“There is definitely a different flow to the business day,” says Music Factory owner Barry Smith about moving from 210 Decatur Street. Then located just across the street from the House of Blues and near downtown hotels, the store attracted what Smith describes as “casual tourists.” Locals and those coming to Frenchmen Street to hit the live music clubs are now the record shop’s primary customers. Parking in the neighborhood is also easier for New Orleans residents than in the French Quarter. That is a plus especially during the Factory’s popular, Saturday afternoon in-store performances.

The line-up for the anniversary party is particularly strong with vocalist John Boutte kicking the afternoon off at 1 p.m. followed by the Lost Bayou Ramblers at 2 p.m. Next up at 3 p.m. is the always sharply attired bluesman, guitarist/vocalist Little Freddie King whose image happens to adorn this year’s French Quarter Festival poster. The Shotgun Brass Band takes the stage, which is much larger than the one at the previous locale, at 4 pm with vocalist Eric Lindell closing the day out at 5 pm. There will be food and beverages donated by sponsors and a cake with presumably one candle ablaze at its center.

WWOZ-90.7FM will be broadcasting the performances live from the Music Factory. The community radio station, which has a direct line into the store, has only done a few live broadcasts from the store. “We’d like to do a lot more,” says WWOZ’s general manager David Freeman. “They always have outstanding stuff there.”

“It’s (the WWOZ Swamp Shop) been enormously successful for us,” Freeman continues. “This was a natural extension. It’s increasing our sales and it’s a wonderful outreach for those who haven’t heard WWOZ. Some of them become members and get on our mailing list. It’s a wonderful way to engage visitors and to keep them linked to the city and they come back year in and year out and support the culture. When they stay connected with WWOZ they buy and support the music. The tourists who support us economically also support us because they love us for who we are.”

“It’s an ideal fit with the music clubs,” Smith says of Frenchmen Street’s active live music scene. Because the location attracts folks later in the day, Smith changed the store’s opening and closing hours. “We do business in a little different time frame,” he notes.

This is the third move for the Louisiana Music Factory that started business in 1992 on North Peters Street.

Smith, an extremely genial proprietor, laughs when he says that some people miss the funkiness of the other location. “I don’t miss it. I like everything being on one floor, the big glass windows, the hardwood floors and the big stage where the music plays to the whole room. I was definitely really happy with the outpouring of support.”

Celebration of Early Brass Bands

The Young Tuxedo Brass Band led by trumpeter/vocalist Gregg Stafford will perform at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music on February 24, 2015. The show, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is presented as a part of the Center’s Tuesday evening series that celebrates New Orleans musical tradition and its lineage that continues today.

The Young Tuxedo was established in 1938 and takes its name from the Tuxedo Brass Band that was popular in the period beginning in approximately 1910 and led by the famous trumpeter/cornetist Oscar “Papa” Celestin.

Stafford, a true “keeper of the flame” of this city’s traditional brass and jazz styles, took over leadership of the Young Tuxedo in 1984 following the death of saxophonist Herman Sherman. The trumpeter’s brass band creds are impressive and include time spent with E. Gibson, Doc Paulin, Eureka, Reliance, Olympia, Fairview Baptist Church, Royal and Hurricane brass bands. Stafford also heads his own “sit-down” classic jazz group as well the Jazz Hounds, the leadership of which he took over after the death of banjoist/guitarist Danny Barker.

The Young Tuxedo Brass Band will include Stafford and several long-time members of the ensemble including clarinetists Michael White and Joseph Torregano plus stellar players such as trombonist Wendell Eugene, drummers Lawrence Batiste and Raymond Weber, bassist Kerry Lewis, pianist Daniel Farrow and Paul Barbarin.

“We’ll play the repertoire of traditional New Orleans brass band music,” declares Stafford.

Doors to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, 1901 Bartholomew Street, open at 6 p.m. Admission is $3 and free for senior citizens.

This article originally published in the February 23, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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