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Danny Barker and the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band "The Fairview Baptist Church isvery crude and very small," observed one contributor to the Louisiana Writers Project's Gumbo Ya-Ya. "There isa stoveto one side;the long wooden benches are painted a dull grey. On the pulpit were more wooden benches, a piano and apreacher."12 Whenthis description was written, the church stood in an area calledPailetLane; therewere no sewerage mains or street lighting, cows grazed among the uncut weeds, and work had only just started on the St. Bernard housing project. But by the time Danny Barker returned to New Orleans in 1965, the area immediately east of CityPark had been considerably redeveloped, and the Fairview Baptist Church, by then a handsome and substantial building, stoodat the end of a neat row of suburban houseson St. Denis Street. PailetLane seems to havedisappearedfrom the New Orleansstreet directory. Danny Barker, like so many other musicians, had left New Orleans and moved north to earn a living. He fashioned a long and illustrious career playing with, among others, CabGalloway, Lucky Millinder, andJelly Roll Morton. On return to the Crescent City,he moved back to the area near the Fairview Church. In 1972, Fairview pastor Rev. Andrew Darby approached Danny to form a youth brass band affiliated with the church; the stated aim was to keep the youngsters off the streets.The idea of having youth bands attached to churches was not new in New Orleans: in 1921, saxophonist Emanuel Paul got his start, along with Sam Dutrey, in a band attached to the Broadway Baptist Church in Carrollton. But whereas the Broadway church band folded after only a few weeks, the Fairview band was to prove almost too successful for its own good.As Danny was quoted as saying in the 19805, Danny Barker Photo by MarcelJolj '5 When you give a kid a musical instrument, he does something with his personality . He becomes a figure, and he's not so apt to get into trouble. Later on, the kids got into grass and narcotics, but in those days, families would encourage you to play music. There was something about playing music that gave you something special. Youare not a waster or a bum. Now you can be a musician and still be those things, but generally you were a little something special when you were a musician.13 He started the Fairview Baptist Church Band with the Reverend Darby and soon attracted thirty or so teenagers who already played in their high school bands. The band enjoyed considerable local successand spawned the even more popular Hurricane BrassBand, carried on into the late seventies as the Younger Fairview Band and then, for political reasons, as the Charles Barbarin Sr.Memorial Band. In 1983, Danny Barker did it again with the Roots ofJazz Brass Band, a venture that grew out of the Tambourine and Fan youth center on Hunter's Field. During that time, the number of musicians who passed through these bands was quite astonishing. There was LeroyJones, Gregg Stafford, Anthony Lacen, JoeTorregano , Revert Andrews, Lucien and Charles Barbarin, Daryl Adams, Gregory Davis, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Michael White,Eddie BoParish, Nicholas Payton, Efrem Towns, Gerry Anderson, William Smith, Kirk and CharlesJoseph, Kevin Harris, James Andrews, and many more. Small wonder thatJoe Torregano said of Danny Barker, "That group savedjazz for a generation in New Orleans," and Walter Payton added, "Danny Barker was like the Christopher Columbus of brass band music. He planted some good seeds." Veteran bandleader Harold Dejan was even more fulsome: "Now, Danny Barker needs some credit for the Fairview Band. He started that little band with the children. All the boys that played with him; the fellows of the Fairview Band should honor Danny Barker. They should give him a plaque or a trophy or something, becauseall those boys he really stuckwith."14 Danny Barker's name crops up in many of the interviews in this bookassomeone who would encourage anyone who, in his estimation, was helping the cause of New Orleans music. It's this kind of activity rather than his earlier distinguished career as a musician that ensured his iconic status in the city today. Unlike many of the musicians of his generation, he was staunchly supportive of the newer sounds created by the younger brass bands. Emile Martyn remembers just how supportive He explained to me: l6 KEEPING THE BEAT ON THE STREET Fairview Baptist Church Photo by Barry Martyn I remember being with Danny...


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