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Lajoie "Butch" Gomez, Saxophones BORN: New Orleans, April u, 194.6 Played with the Storyville Stompers and the Treme Brass Band; founder and current leader of the Regal Brass Band Interviewed at his home in Eden Isles, Louisiana, November 2002 My mother was a stage mother; my sisters used to dance. The family was verygood friends with a number of the white Italianjazz musicians. Tony Almerico, Russ Pafalia , Val Barbera, several of the olderguys. On Sunday mornings, there was a radio showfrom the Old Parisian Room on Royal Street. Tony Almerico's bandflayed, and thefamily wouldgo over there. Sometimes I would sing with the band. I was about six years oldat the time. So I grew up in the music sceneand startedflaying in grammar school, on clarinet. When I got tojunior high school, I started my own rock and roll band,f laying tenor. The band was called the Starlights. Mac Rebennack, better known asDr.John,flayed in that band with us. His family wasfrom acrossthe river,from Westwego, and then they moved to the Third Ward. I don't know where he lived himself—you were lucky if he showed uf. I started flaying with a band called the Storyville Stompers. There was a whole bunch offeoflefrom my school; someof them couldflay and someof them couldn't. The band started doing well, so the more seriouspeople broke off and formed the Storyville Stompers; that was in the late sixties. Someof thoseguys are still there. I wanted toflay with someof the olderpeople, soI quit the Stompersand started the Regal Brass Band. Iput my dream band together. There was Alanjaffe on bass horn, Kid Sheik on trumpet, Clem Tervalon on trombone, BennyJones on bass drum, Gregg Stafford on trumpet, Boogie Breaux on snare, Chris Burke on clarinet, and Bill Shaeffer on tuba. I guess the Stampersjust didn't have thefeel; it wasn't the true music that I wanted tof lay. I went out and boughta copy ofThe Family Album and started looking feofle uf and contacting them. Then,from the brassband, I started doing a lot of sit-down jobs. I did a lot of work with Danny Barker, and when he couldn't make it, "Father" AlLewis. We rehearsed the Regal Band—we would sit round in a barroom in the Sixth Ward, drink a lot of beer, andflay. The Regal didn't work much on the street; I first started gettingjobs out of town. The older guys couldn't really travel much. Ourfirst realjob was in Milan, Italy. It was afestival the day after Mardi Gras. BennyJones and I got together—we were running the same band with twonames. It was 164. the Regal when I booked thejobs and the Treme when Benny booked them. His work was more local barrooms and social andpleasure clubs. I was trying to book festivals and concerts. For a long time, about twoyears, it was the same band. Then itgot kind of ridiculous, so we decided toput all our eggs in one basket and go with the Treme name. JoeJones, the singer who recorded "You Talk TooMuch," lived in Los Angeles, and he was a distant cousin of Benny's. He had burned a lot of bridges behind him with New Orleans musicians. He bought a catalog of music, through afluke, for a thousand dollars , went out toL.A.; it hadpeople like the Dixie Cups, Tommy Ridglej/, people like that. JoeJones startedpromoting the music and notpaying the artists. He wasn't welcome in New Orleansfor quite a while, so when the brass band thing startedpicking up, he wanted in on it; that was his way of trying toget back in. He created someproblems betweenBennyJones and me. I think he told Benny that I stole eighty thousand dollarsfrom the band. Wedidn't make anywhere near that—I wish we had. I was the white devil, and I shouldn't be taking black musicians out of New Orleansand creating all theseproblems. JoeJones stayed in Los Angeles—he had leased the Dixie Cups' version of "Iko Iko" for use in the movie Rain Manfor quite a lot-of money, but the Dixie Cups got nothing. That was his way of working. Benny's a really nice man, and I think hejust didn't know how to handle theproblems .JoeJones started calling everyone I did business with, telling them I was a crook, that he was representing the band, and that I couldn 't take them anywhere. SoI left and took Kenneth Terry, KerwinJames, and Keith...


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