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Ruddley Thibodeaux, Trumpet BORN: Algiers, Louisiana, 1948 Founder and leader of the Algiers Brass Band Interviewed by Kevin Herridge inJuly zooz My name is Ruddley Thibodeaux, leader of the Algiers Brass Band and one of the original members.I'm from 4.4.9 LeBoeuf Street, corner of LeBoeuf and Eliza. I just made fifty-four years old, and I've been in Algiers all my life. Now, "when we started the Algiers Brass Band was about July of '8/. We kinda all got together back in the days when I was coming up, when everything was segregated. Behrman School, right there, was a white-only high school, and L. B. Landry was the only black high school on this side of the river. So that meant that almost all the black people that come up over here went to L. B. Landry school, which also happened to befrom junior high to senior high, soyougot a chanceto know everyone. So that's how most of the members got acquainted. A lot of us were in the high school band but not necessarily at the same time. Mr. Othello Batiste—who was a gospel singer—was actually one of the founders of the band, and Frank Hooper, who was the trumpet player, got together and organized the band. They thought it would be nice to have a brassband basedright here in Algiers, whereasAlgiers was no stranger to second lines and brass bands. They had second lines here, but they hadn't had a brass band since Red Allen's father, who was last heard of with a brass band around 194.7 or '4,6, somewhere round there. As a matter of fact, Red Allen's housein the 4.00 block of Newton Street is still in the family name. The reason I know that is becauseof my day job. See, being a musician in New Orleans,a lot of timeyou need a dayjob. I work for the city, and I work in housing. So therefore I have occasion to look up different records. I spend a lot of time in the Notar149 ial Archives, not necessarily researching history butjust to see who owns what so we can get out andget them toget itfixed up. But nonetheless,that's Henry Allen'sfamily house still over there. Thej werethe lastpeople to have a brassband before westarted overhere. So I guess how it kinda started was when Mr. Batiste, who I was speaking of, and Frank Hooper got together,picking thepeople they wanted toget for the band. Sosince Frank had been in the high schoolband in Landry, he knew that some of the guys that had been in the band were stillplaying musicprofessionally. But I wasn't toomuch into this kinda music. As a matter of fact, I didn 't think toomuch of it—you know, I'm gonna telljou all the truth. But when he called up,I said I knew all theguys and we'll give it a shot,jou know. So weget together inJuly of '87 andpicked a name, and somebody said it's gotta be Algiers Brass Band, as we're allfrom Algiers. Sothej did that, and we started practicing, and I got to be one of the leaders of the band. I wasn't too much into being a leader. I wasjust into music, but I wanted to offer my assistance to help the band musically, and so I was like a coleader, and we moved onfrom there. So we started practicing, and as we started practicing as a group, weprobably knew about two songs: "Bourbon Street Parade" and "When the Saints GoMarching In." That's all we knew when westarted. I imagine that otherpeople knew songs,but as a group that's all we knew. So we built on that and built up our repertoire, and things started to move rather fast. Like, we started inJuly—probably about in August. Let me go back,just briefly. I guess around the latter part of July, first part of August, we had like a debut. Elaine Kern, who had the Mardi Gras World over on the West Bank and who's interested in anything and everything from Algiers, becamelike one of our mentors , one of our sponsors, and he offered up the denfor apress conference to announce the formation of the new band. So we came out andplayed and everything. Anyway, we did that, and we wereplaying here and there. Sometime around the latterpart of August (I think Elaine...


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