I was honored to accompany Ironing Board Sam as his road manager for the 45th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this past weekend. Tim and I had been working so hard “beading up” Sam, decorating his portable keyboard, and I couldn’t wait to see the crowd’s reaction.
Last fall we found out that Ironing Board Sam was invited back to the 2014 New Orleans Jazz Festival; they made a special request for him to come with a big show. Early in Jazzfest’s history Sam played the blues underwater in a huge aquarium, performed while lifted up on a 50-foot cherry picker, floated above Jackson Square in a hot air balloon playing down to his fans, and set his drums on fire. All of his suggestions this year just could not work out with the festival such as skydiving into the festival, walking a tight rope on stage while singing, being sawed in half in a box and still playing the piano, or building a huge juke box for him to perform in. Jazzfest was just a few weeks away when Sam stopped by the office with one last idea. He wanted to bring back his invention of the portable keyboard. Today this is very common but in the early 1960s no one had seen one. He also added that he wanted to us to “bead him up” for New Orleans.
MaryAnne is our spring intern, and she has helped us immensely with PR and artist services! Week before last she headed to Juke Joint with Aaron and several artists, and we asked her to write about her experience.
I’ve had a couple of days to regain my thoughts (and sleep) from our recent trip to Mississippi. Aaron and I took two of our artists, Ironing Board Sam and David Bryant, to play at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS. We had to detour through Atlanta to pick up David, so the trip was about 16 hours each way. But luckily we had Sam and David to keep us entertained. This was their first time meeting but you’d never know it. They swapped stories and played off each other so well; it was an instant bond. I feel the need to mention our stop for dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in David’s hometown. It was noteworthy because of two things I encountered for the first time: 1) Jamaican-style oxtail and 2) reggae-style Celine Dion. Both were surprisingly pleasant.
We arrived at David Bryant’s house just before sunset and he was sitting on his porch waiting for us. “Yes, mm hmm,” he said, and waved a greeting. We were picking up David on the way to the Juke Joint festival, along with Ironing Board Sam and our intern MaryAnne.
David’s little dog danced around me as we helped him bring his things to the car; then we got together for a photo in the beautifully raked garden. David insisted that we go inside to see just a few pictures of his grandfather. He wanted to show Ironing Board Sam who he was. Once inside David pulled some buttons from his pocket. Two sets tied together with string. This really got the conversation going.
Aaron, Intern MaryAnne, Ironing Board Sam and David Bryant are on their way to the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS! They’ll be playing off and on all day tomorrow. We thought we’d share some pics of their road trip!Ironing Board Sam, MaryAnne and David Bryant – the second day on the road in Talladega, AL!
My name is David Guillaume; I am a junior at the Berklee College of Music. I was recently invited to take part in what would become the single most rewarding vacation of my life. The premise was simple enough: head down to North Carolina, soak up some good music and eat some good barbeque. Don’t get me wrong, my colleagues and I got an abundance of both, but it was the unsung gestures of hospitality and warmth that I will carry with me always.