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Oscar Washington, Snare Drum BORN: New Orleans, October n, 1957 Played with the Doc Paulin Brass Band and for many years with the Pinstripe Brass Band; founder and leader of the New Wave Brass Band Interviewed at the GHB Foundation, French Market Place, October 1002 There's always been drummers in our family: my grandfather, OscarSenior, was a drummer, and my father, OscarJunior. Mostly theji freelanced. My uncle was agospel drummer. That's where it started for me, when I waslittle. All the respect and accolades he got, that's what inspired me to start playing. He would let meget up andplay in church. I wasn't anygood, but my effort was there. Before I took up drums, I had wanted to be a trumpet player. Why that was—my mother's girlfriend was also her hairdresser. I happened togo over with my mother to her house. Her name was Miss Rosalie. While my mother was having her hair done, theji sent me to see "Pops," who lived in the same building. I went back there—I was kind of scared. The whole of his room was covered with photos of different bands and people he had played with. I wasfascinated. I thought, "I'm in a different world right now." He asked, "Son, doyou like music?" He grabbed his horn, played afew scales, and a little tune. And he started to show me how to blow a trumpet. I couldn't get a sound out of it. We talked a bit more; then my mother cameto collectme. Ifound out later it wasPunch Miller. That wouldbe in the late sixties. Percy Humphrey was myfamily's insurance man. When he cameround, I asked him about music. He asked me what instrument I wanted toplay, and I told him the drums. Next time he calledhe brought me apair of sticks. I had thosesticks forjears, but eventually theygot broken. In elementary school,I got involved in learning the basics and reading music. Then junior high schooland high schoolmarching bands, andfinally Iplayed marching music '73 Aaron, Ricky, and Roddy Paulin Photo by Peter Nissen with the Southern University band in Baton Rouge when I went to college. Iflayed snare drum or bassdrum orfull drum set—I wanted to be versatile. Whenever there was agig and they needed a drummer, I was the manfor the job. Igot involved inflaying drum set,for someyears, in my family church, Faith inGod Temfle. Some of the greatest rhythm fatterns come out of the church. Most drummers can attest to that—if you're a drummer andyou have any kind of background in gospel music,you really have someseasoning. Asfar as the brass band scene is concerned,I started after Southern University; we formed a little brassband. A couple of theguys were already experienced brassband musicians ; they wereDocPaulin's sons.Rickyflayed clarinet, and Dwayneflayed trombone. Their father, Doc Paulin, was really the initiator for most of the guys in my agegroup. You came under his tutelage—the Doc Paulin band was like thefeeder school. A lot of people camefrom him.I owehim a lot of credit for getting myfeet wet in the brass band world. He had three bands working—he was that big. Thefirst band was the majority of the topplayers. Then in the second band,you had somegoodplayers that were trying toget in thefirst band, and thenyou had the third band—that was the hopefuls' I had to start back there, in the third band. But I wasn't there long.I was about twentythreeyears old.I hadpromised myself I'd become some kind ofprofessional musician. We 174 KEEPING THE BEAT ON THE STREET didn 't read music. If Doc 'wanted to doa songyou didn't know,you would have toget with one of the sons—they would showyou whatyou had to do.I started out on the bass drum with Doc. Then, when I moved up to thefirst band with Doc's sons, Iplayed snare drum. After a short tenure with Doc Paulin, Ijoined with some other musicians toform our own brass band, which was the Pinstripe. Wegot off to a hot start. We hit the street so hard and built the name sogoodfor ourselves, we were the hottest band on the street at one time. There was only us, the Treme Brass Band, the Dirty Dozen, and the Majestic. Most of the older bands werefading out. We cameat that time when westill had a little strength—we wereyoung, consuming everything. There wasn't that much...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780807155820
Related ISBN
9780807133330
MARC Record
OCLC
849949632
Pages
216
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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