Monday, December 20, 2010

News - Pete Fountain's Final Performance - Report

Pete Fountain's Final Performance
Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis on Dec. 8, 2010
Reported by John Titsworth

It was a chilly evening in Bay St. Louis, MS on December 8th for a performance at The Hollywood Casino that had been advertised as Pete Fountain’s final show at the casino. The band had been playing one 8:00 show the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month for the past 9 months set up on top of a bar centrally located on the main floor of the casino. The view from the bandstand was that of a sea of slot machines and gambling tables between which chairs were squeezed in order to see Pete play.

The local Biloxi television station, WLOX, sent a camera man and anchorwoman to interview Pete and capture snippets of the show for broadcast later that evening. By 6:30 people were appearing claiming what few good spots existed with favorable views of the stage. By show time a tight knit group had assembled who were personal friends and family as well as many well wishers and loyal fans of Pete over the past 60 years. With little fanfare the show opened with Benny Harrell’s (Pete’s personal manager for the over 35 years) introduction. Pete emerged from behind a curtain to the opening bars of "Clarinet Marmalade" delighting the audience with his first solo of the show. Next up "Up the Lazy River" during which Pete’s solo was partially captured by the WLOX cameraman standing just inches away obstructing the view, but no one seemed to mind.

Virtually everyone in the band soloed; a band consisting of Tim Laughlin (clarinet), Tom Maggiore (tenor sax), Connie Jones (cornet), Mike Genevay (trombone), Allyn Young (guitar), John Royen (piano), Oliver "Sticks" Felix (bass), Bryan Barberot (drums).

The lighting scheme throughout the whole show was peculiar. The band was either lit entirely in red, or entirely in blue, and in one instance entirely in green, switching colors during a tune or in-between tunes often times without any discernible reason. The band then launched into another Fountain chestnut, "Basin Street Blues", explored by Tim Laughlin’s soulful clarinet introduction.

During a brief up tempo piano interlude, to the crowd’s amusement, Pete strutted his stuff second line style. "St. Louis Blues" arranged with rhythm changes kept the fingers popping. Guitarist and vocalist Allyn Young then poked good-natured fun at Tom Maggiore on a blues-drenched selection based on "Tin Roof Blues" with lyrics depicting Tom’s weight fluctuation and his relationship with his woman.

The crowd gasped with joy when Pete render a number best identified with his career, "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"; warmth and love poured forth from Pete’s horn. But the show did not end there. Pete brought up 2 musicians to sit-in on the final 3 numbers, a friend of many years fellow clarinetist, Bert Boe, and pianist David Boeddinghaus. Allyn Young was called upon once again to lend his vocalizes, this time to a rollicking rendition of "My Little Margie"; the pulse so infectious that Elaine Jones (Connie Jones’ wife) and Danielle Harrell Scheib (Pete’s granddaughter) bent, twisted, and hopped their dancing moves in the aisle to the groove.

Another up-tempo standard followed, "Struttin' With Some Barbecue". All good things must come to an end but not before Pete kicked off "When the Saints Go Marching In". The 3 clarinets of Tim, Bert, and Pete established the head feeding into a duet between Tim and drummer Bryan Barberot leading into Bryan’s stomping drum solo. With a head nod Bryan signaled the band back as the 10 musicians romped to a fiery climax. Before departing the stage for the last time a representative from the Casino presented Pete with a bouquet of flowers to the closing musical exit ditty by the band. Eager to meet everyone after the show, Pete accompanied by his family greeted and posed for pictures with anyone who wanted to be with Pete on this memorable closing evening.

What’s in store for Pete? Ever the optimist, Mike Genevay, trombonist with Pete since 1978, proclaimed while exiting the stage door that "don’t be surprised if we show up some place in the near future". Stay tuned.

John Titsworth, New Orleans LA is a frequent contributor to this blog, we thank him for all his hard work and contributions.

Marquee Outside At Entrance To Casino

Band Set Up Top Of Bar Before Final Set

Audience Clustered Amongst Slot Machines Before Show

Soaked in Red

Connie Jones

Oliver Sticks Felix

Tom Maggiore

Mike Genevay

Allyn Young

John Royen

Soaked in Blue

WLOX Cameraman Obstructing View

Struttin His Stuff On Basin Street Blues

Concluding St. Louis Blues

Just a Closer Walk With Thee

David Boeddinghaus

Bert Boe

Tim Laughlin, Bert Boe, Pete

Elaine and Danielle dancing to My Little Margie

Tim & Bryan duet on the Saints

Bryan Signaling To Band On Saints

Bouquet Of Flowers Before Pete's Final Exit

Bryan Tearing Down Kit For Last Time

Greeting Well Wisher After Show

Greeting More Well Wishers After Show

Posing For Pictures After Show

Grandson Gregory, Beverly Fountain, And Pete After Show

We all would like to wish Pete the best, thanks for the great music all these years.

We will miss you, you deserve your retirement!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News - Pete Fountain's Final Performance - News Report WLOX

Pete Fountain's Final Performance
News Report WLOX

Legendary jazz musician Pete Fountain played his last performance at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis on Dec. 8, 2010. He's been playing at the casino regularly since 2003

Saturday, December 11, 2010

News - Pete's Final Performance at Bay St Louis Casino

Legendary Jazz legend and his longtime band held their FINAL PERFORMANCE on Dec 8, 2010 at the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

After many years playing there, he recently was only performing on day a month, even then cancelling frequently due to health reasons. We all wish Pete well, and hope he enjoys his retirement. If anyone has additional news, please post a comment.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vacation Photo in French Quarter - Memorabilia

Statue of Pete Fountain

Statue of Pete Fountain in Edison Park / Legends Park,
Bourbon Street, French Quarter, New Orleans with
yours truly on a recent visit to New Orleans Memorial Day!

More Pete's 80th Birthday Photos - News

More Pete's 80th Birthday Photos
Courtesy of John McCusker / The Times-Picayune

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pete Fountain's 80th Birthday Bash - News

Pete Fountain's 80th Birthday Bash
Reported by John Titsworth

Unlike the predicted downpour and thunderstorms, Saturday July 3rd turned out to a beautiful sunny, albeit hot and humid, summer day in New Orleans. Befitting for a man who was about to throw a big bash open to the public for his 80th birthday at a popular entertainment venue geared generally to a younger audience, Mid-City Rock ‘n Bowl.

Slated to begin at 3:00 and end at 6:00, the party began instead when the doors opened at 2:00. Within just a few minutes the Rock ‘n Bowl became standing room only. A long line of well wishers assembled to sign the sizable guess book, a line that never diminished for the next 4 hours.

The Fountain family spent all morning tastefully decorating the place themselves that included a 12-foot long cake in the shape of a clarinet baked at the Swiss Bakery located on St. Charles Ave., a stop for the Half-Fast Walking Club during Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday. Tickets were sold for a raffle of certain prized items that included a lamp made out of a clarinet.

For the drawing Pete himself drew the winning tickets out of a bucket held by his granddaughter, Danielle, accompanied by Pete’s manager for the past 35 years, Benny Harrell.

A birthday party would not be complete without a birthday cake and candle blowing ceremony. Pete blew out all the candles on his first attempt on a cake held by his son Jeffrey.

Surrounded by his family on stage that included Beverly, Pete’s wife of 60 years, the music was about to begin.

Pete's daughter Darah wishing her dad all the best with a birthday kiss.

Now to the music. The concert was broken up into 3 sets.

For the first set the band sans Pete opened up with "Fidgety Feet" followed by traditional jazz standards including "Together".

After the break when the raffle and birthday cake festivities took place, Pete joined the band. The anticipation of the second set riveted the crowd.

Pete’s live appearances in New Orleans have become a rarity. Television cameras from the local TV stations were on hand to capture the event. The band opened with and burned up "Clarinet Marmalade".

Pete fired up the next tune on "Up the Lazy River" that included solos from members of the band: Connie Jones (cor), Tim Laughlin (cl), Mike Genevay (tb), Otis Bazoon (ts), Allyn Young (g), David Boeddinghaus (p), Kerry Lewis (b), and Bryan Barberot (dr).

The band members doing their solos

Tim soulfully caressed the nuances on the following tune "Basin Street Blues" as Pete second-lined hand-in-hand on stage with New Orleans jazz entrepreneur since the 1940s.

Helen Arlt
still kicking in the 21st Century.

Next guitarist and vocalist Allyn Young offered humorous earthy lyrics to which Mike Genevay playfully mimicked on a blues-drenched tune based on "Tin Roof Blues".

Unannounced guest clarinetist, Greg Harrison, hailing from the Washington, DC area, joined in emoting bluesy warmth.

But Pete had one more trick up his sleeve. Granddaughter and professional dancer, Danielle Harrell Scheib, bounced up on stage and spiritedly tapped complementary rhythms to "St Louis Blues"; scores of digital cameras flashed as the TV cameras rolled.

Conclusion, no Pete Fountain concert would be complete without Pete’s soulful interpretation of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee", which is exactly what Pete rendered after which he bid everyone goodbye. He gave the packed house more than what they had come for - a soon to be not forgotten magical 80th birthday celebration that only Pete could possibly deliver. And deliver he did.

John Titsworth, a New Orleans resident, is a frequent contributor to this blog. His contributions are appreciated, we thank you!