Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kid Bastien

Started watching Treme HBO series about a New Orleans Neighbourhood.

Brings back memories of when I managed Kid Bastien. Which was an experience in itself. I tried to make the band full time and famous and it took me a year to realize Kid was happy with part time an infamous.I was manager of Kid Bastien's Camellia Band for about a year. I thought my job was to promote the band , get them gigs make them successful etc.I couldn't have been more wrong. I made a deal with owner of Yonge Station for his second floor bar., I made a dream contract with big money for everybody and Artistic control and design control everything you could think of. Everybody in the band was ecstatic, it was they all wanted. Cliff turned it down, he had his life sorted out the way he wanted. He like making signs and gold leaf etc and playing a few times a week and wasn't going to change.  This brought an end to the Camellia  band and the start of Happy Pals. I sold my motorcycle and went down south sailing for a year or so.

I started off going to New Orleans with the band for the 1972 Jazz Festival. We hung out at Johny White's Bar and drank Dixie beer which we called Treefrog. I got to meet Jazz greats like Louis Nelson and band leader Kid Thomas. The week before we got there Kid' Thomas's Bass Player died on stage. Kid said we turned to hear the bass solo and he was dead. Kid Bastien knew everybody and we played gigs at Heritage Hall. Hotel rooms were at a premium and I had 2 buddies traveling with me Gord Jones and Krash Radcliff. We ended up with an Attic room in an old slave quarters with one bed and we slept in shifts. Which wasn't a real problem since New Orleans swung 24 hours a day. I got to meet Dejean's Olympia Band which was much like the band in Treme. We partied and played with them and later that year they all came to Toronto where we got them a good paying gig and partied and played some more. Kid played 2 times at the Jazz Festival and I must sadly admit I never made it to either performance. new Orleans was like that.

With Kid Thomas at Heritage Hall New Orleans
photo by Krash

Fats Domino was playing the El Macambo. I was sitting in Grossman's when out of the blue Cliff Bastien asked I I wanted to go up the street and see Fats so I agreed we went up and caught the first set. Fats did his shtick lots of hits to playwith and had the place jumping. For the last number of the set he thumps really hard and pushes the piano across the stage with his stomach as he plays. When the set was over Cliff led me up to the dressing room and rapped on the door. Fats opened the door with a big smile and a hug for Cliff and invited us in. After the introduction we sat down and cliff gave Fats the lowdown on a bunch of people in New Orleans. Fats smiled at me and said 'Damn he knows more about my family than I do." I learned that Cliff had lived in New Orleans for a while and Fats'uncle had taught Cliff how to play the banjo and Cliff was friends with quite a few of Fats relatives. Fats dedicated a song to his friend'Kid Bastien' in the second set. It was a night to remember.
 . (Click the title to see video)

False but funny as cliff struggled to learn the cornet Donny Walsh meanly said That Kid Bastien was the only horn player he knew that only played with one lip. mean but funny

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