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"A Place for Fess' 

Tipitina's has been a place for generations of musicians and music lovers to let the good times roll. On its 30th anniversary, musicians, fans and the people behind the scenes share personal memories of the landmark club.

Thirty years ago, a group of 14 friends and music fans pooled their money and labor to start a new music club in Uptown New Orleans. At the time, the old bar on Tchoupitoulas Street was a logical solution to an immediate problem: There were no simpatico places for them to party or to host rediscovered artists like Professor Longhair in style.

As the decades passed, Tipitina's became one of the most renowned and beloved venues in the country, on par with other legendary clubs like Antone's in Austin or San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium. In the early days, Tip's was an incubator and a home base for bands like the Radiators, the Meters and Dr. John, and in time it became the destination tour spot for national bands making their way through New Orleans. In the '80s and '90s, countless New Orleanians enjoyed their first live music experiences before the imposing mural of Fess that hangs over the stage.

Against all odds, Tipitina's has survived and even thrived as an independent music venue. Over the past three decades, most clubs " including some with similar stature " fell victim to an increasingly corporate-controlled music business. A prime example: New York's seminal CBGB, which closed last year. Tip's was not immune to economic pressures; the club closed for a year and a half in the mid-'80s. After changing hands twice, it had to cope with the challenge of asserting itself in the local market after the formidable House of Blues opened in the mid-'90s. At the end of 2005, Tipitina's faced its biggest challenge yet.

Hurricane Katrina decimated the local and regional musical community that was Tipitina's bread and butter. Rather than let the storm sink it, however, the club hit a new stride after the disaster by expanding the reach of the Tipitina's Foundation (which now officially owns the club), hosting benefit concerts for local aid organizations, and even focusing more aggressively on sustaining local New Orleans musicians and music fans " the people who had made the club necessary, and possible, in the first place.

Three decades after a revelry-minded gang of friends got together to open the club, Tipitina's has prospered beyond their wildest expectations. The club has hosted multiple live recordings, mentored hundreds of young musicians through internship programs and weekend workshops, partnered with national musician-aid groups to provide help for local artists affected by Katrina, and bought more than $1 million in musical instruments for New Orleans public school music students.

Gambit Weekly celebrates Tip's 30 years on Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas by letting its founders, fans, performers and employees share their memories of the club, from the 1970s into the 21st century.

TURNING THE CORNER

Tipitina's wasn't born so much as adopted like a stepchild taken in by a family of devoted music fans. The group went from throwing ad hoc pass-the-hat house parties to trying their hand at running a club, armed with little more than a desire to give local music a home. In January 1977, they took over the gritty, low-ceilinged, no-frills space on the corner of Napleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street, then known as 501 Club. The early days were hand-to-mouth as the group learned the ropes of running a club, but both emerging bands and R&B legends who came out of retirement made Tip's the center of the city's live-music scene.

There really wasn't any music scene then. There were no clubs. I think they had the Maple Leaf, and Jed's on Oak Street, that was the only other one. In those days, the 501 Club on Napoleon was like this longshoreman's bar. It was just the front part. And Gary, the guy who ran it, would let us have dances in the back for free, and he'd make money off the liquor because he normally had just a day trade. With both my kids, I paid for the midwife by having dances there. Quint Davis and Hank Drevich would throw dances too, and we'd make up names for the organizations that were throwing them. " Bunny Matthews, cartoonist, creator of Vic and Nat'ly

I was doing shows at the 501 Club. It was a weird country-and-western bar. We had chickens in there for some reason. I remember one show where a chicken was up on stage while Professor Longhair was playing.

I had Roosevelt Sykes, Fess, the Zion Harmonizers, Snooks Eaglin, Tuts Washington and Chris Kenner play. I didn't know what I was doing. I wasn't making any money. I was doing the Jazz Fest-type artists. Then the Fo'teen people came in. I have an infinite number of memories from those days. " Quint Davis, Jazz & Heritage Festival founder, producer and president

Allison Miner, who was Allison Kaslow then, used to date Quint Davis, who was Ed Voelker's roommate. And Quint played tambourine in Eddie's band. They resurrected Professor Longhair. He was working at a record store, and he was always more into being a gambler than a musician. He liked to smoke weed and play cards. James Booker was far superior. So Allison called Hank [Drevich] and I and said, 'Professor Longhair's going to play at Jed's and Jessie Hill's going to be there and we all have to go." Michael Murphy, the Cosmic Cowboy " who had a hit with 'Geronimo's Cadillac" " was playing Jed's the following night, and he'd rented a big PA and a grand piano. But he wasn't going to let Fess use the grand piano or the PA.

[Fess] was set up in front of the stage with his little electric piano and an amp and it sounded like s**t. So Hank and I go there and Allison's in tears because of how Professor Longhair's being treated, and there are about five other people there. She said, 'We have to start our own club so that Byrd has a place to play." Hank went over to the 501 Club and found the owner of the building. And we found a bunch of friends, a lot of Tulane kids, and we all put up $1,000 or so. And we went in and started tearing down walls. " Bunny Matthews

Everyone back then was dabbling in all sorts of gizmical and numerological systems. We hung with Earl King who was into that kind of numerology. Also people were getting aware of astrology and Carlos Castaneda. Fourteen or Fo'teen became our cosmic number. When we decided that it was our number, it was everywhere. It kept popping up. And the alligator was our talisman. We called ourselves the Mystic Krewe of Fo'teenth Night Alligators, or something like that. We used to put on the Alligator Ball every Mardi Gras, and we did some of those at the 501 Club before it was Tipitina's. " Steve Armbruster, Tipitina's founder

Professor Longhair had all these apocryphal stories about where the name 'Tipitina" came from. One was that his neighborhood pot dealer was Tipitina. She had no feet, just two stumps. And she would hobble out to the car to bring the weed out, tipping over. Her name was Tina, so she was Tippy Tina. " Bunny Matthews

Fess told me that 'Tipitina" was the name of an African volcano that he found in a book. I don't know if that's difinitive, but it's what he told me. " Quint Davis

I started working at Tip's before it opened. I was painting and helping to try to get it ready for opening night on Jan. 14, 1977. I was still in high school. Then I graduated in May of 1977 and waited for the phone to ring. One night someone at Tip's called and said that the sound engineer was leaving for Canada the next day and could I be the new sound engineer. I went in and he showed me where the mics plugged in and the next weekend I was mixing Professor Longhair. " Sonny Schneidau, Tipitina's soundman and booking agent, 1977-1994

Ooo, it was fun. Every single night there was something fantastic going on. I would go on my nights off. Monday was Veggie Spaghetti day with Spencer Bohren and Tuesday was piano night " so it was Chief Jolly and Tuts Washington. Jolly was a complete gentleman until he got behind the keyboards and he would sing some of the raciest songs. " Michelle Nugent, door person, bartender, 1979-1984

When I was a young musician, I would go up in there playing gigs with Astral Project and Ramsey McLean about 30 years ago. I would play with different people up in there and in the '70s with Professor Longhair and James Booker. It was an evolution of people, faces and bands. It was basically one of the happening music clubs. It always had an open mind as far as the music. There was no one thing, one category, one genre. There were a lot of people who got their break there or tried their new stuff. It wasn't a jazz club, it wasn't a rock club. It was a music club. " Johnny Vidacovich, drummer

By the time '77 came around, I had taken a job with Fess steady, and pretty much the last two years of his life I was his drummer. We traveled all over, up to Canada, New England, New York, all over. We had three sax players, guitar, bass, drums and Fess. On sax we had Tony Dagradi, Andy Kaslow (he married Allison Miner, who managed Fess), and Jim Moore played baritone saxophone. Ronald Johnston played guitar. I played drums. Julius Farmer and then David Watson were on bass (both are dead now), and Alfred 'Uganda" Roberts played congas. In the beginning, there was turmoil with the other drummers. When the drummer he had split, I did the sub work, and then I said, 'I'll do it, I'll make this a priority." If anything it was fun and relaxed. I was the new kid on the block, so to me every gig I'd pick up on something else. " Johnny Vidacovich

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band started back in 1977, and back then we were performing a lot of our gigs at another Uptown spot, this little black club called the Glass House at the corner of Second Street and South Saratoga. It seated only about 20-30 people but we'd have 200 people show up.

When Tipitina's started up they asked us if we'd be interested in doing something on Thursday nights, maybe as early as 1979. Now, at the time, Uptown sometimes wasn't such a safe place to be at night back then, but they had security and everything. We'd draw about 200 people for those gig, which was about as many people as we'd draw at the Glass House but this time there was room for people in the club.

They'd also put us in front of other bands, like the Neville Brothers, Dr. John and Fats Domino. I think we were the only brass band playing Tipitina's back then, because most of the brass bands were playing traditional music, and they would play the parades, the political functions, the picnics and barbecues. Plus, back then, disco was king, but we demonstrated that we could play music that people wanted to dance to. " Gregory Davis, Dirty Dozen Brass Band

When I saw the people together, black and white, I realized it was a special place. One night Rufus Thomas was playing. We didn't have the money to pay him and he wouldn't come out and play. Stephen Stills had come to hear Rufus. Stills asked how much it would take to get Rufus down here, took out his wallet and took out 11 $100 bills and said, 'Let Rufus Thomas play for the people." Then Rufus came out and played. " Joe 'Cool" Davis, doorman 1980-2006.

My first night at Tip's was a couple of days after I arrived in New Orleans (in 1980). Albert King was doing two consecutive nights, and I went to both. Coming from England, where gigs started at 9 o'clock, I made sure to get there early and arrived at around 7 and stood right in front of the stage guarding my spot, in basically an empty bar, for about five hours until he came on at midnight. " Jon Cleary, pianist

The thing I'll never forget is probably the saddest. It was on a Saturday night, and we had just finished playing. I'd been with [Fess] about two years. We all went up to the dressing room, and me and David Watson were drinking, and we wanted to go back downstairs and get another round of beers. Now Fess, he always drank CocA Cola. He used to call me 'Juwaski," I never knew why. So I said, 'Fess, me and David are going down to get some beers, you wanna Coke?" And Fess said, 'Hey Juwaski, could you get me a rum and Coke?" And I thought, he never had a rum and Coke. But I said, 'Sure," so I brought him a rum and Coke. It seemed strange to me right there. So we're up in the dressing room. And the piano he was playing was an old funky upright, and it made his fingernails bleed. And he looked at his hands, and just said, 'Man, when will I ever get to stop playing bad pianos?" And he drank his rum and Coke and we all went home. And less than a week later, his last record came out, and I got the call that he died. It was his last record and one of his best; the sound was clean, the production was high quality. And he was gone. " Johnny Vidacovich

I've got a hundred fond memories, and these are some that spring to mind: being in the band on a Johnny Adams show and locking in on a real tight shuffle with Erving Charles, the bass player from Fats' band. Doing my first ever gig with Earl King and seeing the big grin on his face when I played all the original piano solos note for note. Seeing the Chris Barber Jazz Band from England, a band that my Mum used to go and see as a teenager in London in the '50s, with Dr John on piano " my first time seeing Mac live. Hearing Aaron Neville singing 'Tell it Like It Is" for the first time. The night I saw Huey Smith and the Clowns with George Porter and Zigaboo Modeliste as the rhythm section. The list goes on " Jon Cleary

The most memorable performance I ever had there was the night I played with Etta James. She's been my soul and inspiration for so long, cause I'm from her generation. We had only just met at rehearsal, but when she sang, 'Something's Wrong With My Baby," I sat on her lap and sang the male part to her! People just went crazy. It was impromptu. But we looked like sister and brother up there. " Deacon John Moore, guitarist

I realized Tipitina's was special during any Nevilles, Radiators or Meters show, but when it really hit me was the back-to-back George Clinton and P-Funk shows that were five-hours long. I think it was 1994 or 1995. Other places you have to end at 2 a.m. But at Tips it started at midnight and people staggered home at 5 a.m. I remember thinking, 'You can't do this any place else." " Michael Kohn, barback/bartender 1992-1994/1996-1998

We were playing at one of the anniversary celebrations, maybe the 10-year anniversary, I seem to recall. We were on stage playing, and a lot of the young ladies used to show up to dance. There was this one young lady with two or three other girls, and she got up on stage and danced with me. She turned her back away from me and she was shaking her dress like the can-can girls used to do. When she turned around from me she flipped her dress up over her back, and she was buck naked. And the crowd got a whiff of that, and it made for a good show that night! " Gregory Davis, Dirty Dozen

One time, I was doing a gig with the Neville Brothers. We had sub boxes and three-way cabinets for speakers. Back then, they did two sets. Around break time the three-ways on top went out. It's middle of the night, set break, and we've got no tops. It's the midnight so there's no places to get fuses. So I got some wooden matches and go back in the kitchen to get some aluminum foil. I broke these matches off at the same length as the fuses, wrapped them in aluminum foil, put the fuse cap back on, and put it back in. So long as it doesn't blow up, it's rock 'n' roll. We finished the gig on matches and aluminum foil. " Tyrone Powell, sound engineer, 1984-present

One favorite thing was when the Radiators used to play in the summer. We would gather on the sidewalk and everyone would squeeze out their t-shirts to see who had the biggest sweat puddle. " Michelle Nugent, Tipitina's bartender

Of course there is the Stevie Wonder story. It was Mardi Gras 1997. It was Orpheus Monday. I had to be there for the Orpheus party. It was a huge cluster f*** and everybody wanted a cocktail and then it cleared out because the parade started. I was between the bust of Fess and the door, and I turned and bumped into this guy and said, 'Sorry, I didn't see you." And the people who were with him just started laughing. It was Stevie Wonder. The people who were laughing were Harry Connick Jr. and Quincy Jones. And I believe Quincy Jones said, 'That's alright baby, he didn't see you either." That was my first Mardi Gras. " Lori Cavagnaro, bartender

Getting Robert Plant onstage with Li'l Band O'Gold for five songs — it was fantastic, and not at all what I expected. It was a crazy time, being really busy with the Fats CD and Jazz Fest. I had been all back and forth with his personal assistant [about being on the Fats tribute CD.] And when he said, did we know any English musicians for him to work with on it, I said, 'No, no, no, you have to play with Louisiana musicians."

Next thing you know, Robert's flying in at midnight, and we have to go pick him up at the airport. I called up my friend who played lead guitar in my high school band to say, 'I'm going to pick up Robert Plant at the airport."

All he asked for was a driver and a suite at the Windsor Court where he could see the river. Then he called to ask if we could have a bottle of Absolut and a bottle of red wine waiting for him, and he'd pay for it when he got in. I said, 'I think we can cover that." And it turned out he was a big Warren Storm fan, and had all those 45's from when he was a kid.

When he was coming in to record, we didn't want to say, 'Hey, will you play at Tip's?" because you don't want him to think there's an ulterior motive. But we booked the Li'l Band O'Gold show and figured if everything is cool and the vibe is right, then the stage is literally set. " Adam Shipley, music director, 1998-2007

Back in the old Tips, this one night they gave Jesse Hill his big birthday extravaganza. Ernie K-Doe was at his table with his girlfriend, and his other girlfriend pulled-up outside in a cab, told the driver, 'Wait here for me," and she went in the side door, pulled out a gun and just shot K-Doe. I think it was in the leg. I don't think she was trying to kill him. Then she jumped back in the cab and drove away. And guess what? Her name was Jesse James! Then in all the discombobulation, Jesse Hill ran away with all the money (from the gig)! To this day people claim they didn't get their fair share. They caught Jesse James later though. But I think K-Doe dropped the charges. " Deacon John Moore

There was a Crash Worship show where they had the barrels of fire and they would throw Bisquick on the fire and the fire would flame up. We were certain the posters were going to catch on fire. Then they went outside to do the grape thing where they do the pagan ritual and sacrifice a half-naked woman. They went outside and we locked the doors and wouldn't let any of those freaks back in. We let them come in as groups of 10 to get their stuff. " Michael Kohn, bartender

I remember one gig we did with the Neville Brothers as The Uptown All-stars. We were the backing band for the brothers, but we would also open up the show, and while we're playing I see some sparks and I hear this ping! I see sparks come off the Leslie speaker. What happened was, somebody had got in an altercation upstairs in the dressing room " I'm not gonna say any names cause people know him, so let's just some guy messing with some woman, and his girlfriend didn't like it " and she pulled out a gun and shot the floor. The bullet came down at us through the ceiling. It ricocheted off the Leslie and hit (saxophonist) Joe Tillman in the chest. Luckily it just brushed off his leather jacket. " Ivan Neville, pianist

Although I've never been kicked out of Tipitina's, I do remember Stanley John " a guy who used to work for the Meters, he was the doorman at Tipitina's. There's a picture at Tip's of him holding a motor up, a car motor. I've seen Stanley pick some people up and throw 'em straight out the door. " Ivan Neville

When String Cheese Incident played in 2000, it sold out in record time. So the road manager demanded that we put the speakers out on the sidewalk. I don't know why we agreed. In retrospect that's not the best idea at 5 a.m. By the time they stopped playing it was about 8:00 in the morning. Then the drummer, the percussionist and one other guy went out to the neutral ground. There were people driving to work past 150 freaks dancing. I turned around and four or five people had taken their clothes off and were naked hippie dancing. " Adam Shipley

THE NEXT GENERATION

Over time, Tipitina's went through several renovations and significant changes. It closed for a year following the 1984 World's Fair. The arrival of the House of Blues in town changed the city's booking dynamics, and other clubs both opened and closed. In 1996 Roland von Kurnatowski became Tip's new owner. Through all the changes, Tip's never lost sight of its founding mission of supporting and offering New Orleans music, augmented by touring rock bands, alternative and hip-hop, African and Reggae bands. And new local bands joined the New Orleans canon.

Tipitina's was my very first job in New Orleans when I arrived in 1990. I came out to New Orleans because I was in Santa Cruz during the (1989) earthquake, and I still had my FEMA money. I went to Tip's within the first few days after I arrived, on a Sunday for a Cajun fais do do with Bruce Daigrepont, and I remember everyone doing that traditional-style Cajun dancing, the free red beans, and people rubbing Fess' head, and I felt like I was walking into something purely cultural.

I got a job (there) about a month later. I started out as the fry cook. I was a professional cheese-fry maker. I actually did it for over three years, and I ended up working as doorman, and ended as the lighting guy. My first gig there was with the Klezmers on Employee Band Night, sometime around 1992 or '93, with a bunch of people who worked at Tip's who were in bands. " Ben Ellman, Galactic

I worked at the House of Blues in Orlando, and couldn't handle the corporate world. I had booked New Orleans bands in Orlando, but I didn't know if I wanted to work in the music business. But it was Tip's. And neither I nor Roland [who bought the club in 1996] trusted people in the music business, so we gave it a go. The phone conversation was, "would I book Tip's,' but when I got there it was different. It was exciting, and a little intimidating. He handed me the keys. I said, 'Where's the staff?" And he said, 'It's you."

Lee Frank wanted to move back to New Orleans, so I paid him $5 an hour out of my own pocket because I didn't want Roland to know I needed help. " Adam Shipley

Roland bought the Fontainebleau hotel, and he was originally going to rent it as artists' studios. But those were too expensive, so he turned it into rehearsal spaces. He always talked about it being a music incubator, and the club was an outlet for bands. We started Homegrown Nights " it was any band could play there, and you didn't have to audition, and you got a free video or DVD of your performance. And any band that got 100 people or more in got [a real show.] World Leader Pretend did their first show there, which is a cool prime example. These Loyola cats did 270 people at the door, which was kind of unheard of. When Galactic started out, it was one of their biggest goals to sell out Tip's. Another one was Troy Andrews " I first saw him there ten years ago playing with James. He would have been 11, and he was just going around playing every single instrument, drums, tuba, trombone. He was a student mentor with the internship program and from an early age, you could tell he had it. To see him go from this 11-year-old to seeing him sell it out with his own band was logical, but pretty amazing. " Adam Shipley

A LEGACY

Over the years, Tipitina's reputation grew and it became a New Orleans landmark for local and touring bands alike.

Honestly there're very few places anymore that make me feel like they're musically or historically relevant. The thing about Tipitina's " I hate to sound like a hippie " there's a magical thing about it, and it probably all stems from how it was put together in the first place. The people who set it up were music lovers who were disgusted that Professor Longhair was sweeping floors. They were maniacs about New Orleans music for starters, and dancing to music to purify their souls. They were religious about it in a nutty kind of way. But the sincerity for all the efforts to get this place up and running were undeniable. It turned into a hippie dancehall.

The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco has been there since before the big plague, and you feel the magic when you walk in the door. The way the music flows and the way the place looks in the movie The Last Waltz. That faded glory, that old burlesque vibe? That's what I love. There's also the Fillmore, but it's not the Fillmore anymore. I know we were the last ones to play in the ballroom of the old Aladdin in Las Vegas before it got the wrecking ball. There's also the places like the Lone Star in New York City that don't exist anymore. My point is, a lot of these places that were famous music venues don't exist anymore or are not the original place.

Tipitina's has and always will feel like Tipitina's. As hokey as it sounds, the spirit of Fess lives in there. Hopefully that will never change. " Dave Malone, The Radiators

[Musicians talk about Tipitina's] all the time. It's considered by people that know and care a musical mecca. No doubt. I've talked to guys in Little Feat about that, Warren Haynes about that, Gregg Allman about that. Everybody. Some of the young bands might not know that, but the old guys do. I know that for certain more than a few have told me it feels like a place where you wanna make good music. It's a musical church, no doubt, and everybody feels it. " Dave Malone

Independently owned music clubs are important for their uniqueness. You walk into them and love them warts and all. They may not be perfect, but they have a vibe that you just can't replicate. .... Just recently we played Tip's with Chali 2na, and it was his first time there. At the sound check he was looking around and saying, 'So this is the place where all the magic happens, huh?" And when he got on stage later that night, he told the crowd how honored he was to be there on that stage. The crowd erupted into a frenzy. " Stanton Moore, Galactic

THE FOUNDATION

The creation of the Tipitina's Foundation forged a unique connection between the club and the city's music community. Some programs like Instruments A Comin' helped support the city's youth and musical development. After Hurricane Katrina, the foundation found more ways to support musicians. Now the club is owned by the foundation, giving it a unique place in the city's music community.

The way I got involved was, I had just done a radio show on WWOZ, and I got off at midnight. I went to the Sav-A Center catty-corner from Tip's, and I bumped into Adam Shipley in the aisle. It was right after the first Instruments A Comin', which I had emceed. He said that they wanted to do something more hands-on, with kids, and needed someone with an education background that was into music, and did I know anyone who'd be interested, and I said, 'Yeah, me."

That fall, we started the internship program and the co-op office. That was five and a half years ago, and this was just our eighth annual Instruments A Comin'. The first one had been Injuns A Comin', and it raised money for the Mardi Gras Indian Council. But then Adam Shipley's idea was " he had read an article about the lack of funding [for music programs in New Orleans public schools], so the next year we did Instruments A Comin'. One of the cool things I remember was I really wanted to use our status as a club in a way that'd kick-start the foundation. And one of the things we had going for us was artist relations. We wanted to start the [Sunday afternoon] workshops, and we did a legends of drumming workshop. We were able to sign up Zigaboo, Smokey Johnson and Earl Palmer, and they did a workshop, and we inducted them all into the walk of fame. The place was packed, and it was one of those amazing moments. " Bill Taylor, Executive Director, Tipitina's Foundation

My best moments at Tipitina's truthfully have been when kids that come through our foundation internship program take the stage with the musical legends of the city. Last year at Instruments A Comin', when the storm was still fresh, we had all the interns on stage with Ivan Neville, Leo Nocentelli, Donald Harrison, plus Robert Mercurio of Galactic " I think they were teaching the kids to play 'Hey Pocky Way." When you see that, the passing of the torch, passing the New Orleans culture to the next generation " those, for me, are the moments." " Bill Taylor

After the hurricane, I was in Maryland and I never dreamed I would be back home. Thank God for Tipitina's. They were some of the people who got me back here " they were instrumental. They helped me with my expenses, with the house, furniture, the washer, the dryer. They helped me get my car straight, because I needed the car to get to work. And even when I was in Maryland, I came back to do my Christmas show. " Marva Wright, blues singer

It was kind of crazy, but we knew we'd [reopen after the storm.] I got back, and it was me and Stacy Fortenberry, and [the owners] said, here you go, whenever it makes sense, open it back up. I called my old manager and scraped together some bartenders. I remember taking the plywood off the building and leaving some on, and spray-painting on there: 'Rebirth, Halloween." And that was our advertising, and it sold out. I wish I had a camera trained on the door that night. People were kissing, and hugging and dancing around the bust of Fess. " Adam Shipley, music director

We were the last band to play (before Katrina). We played that show right before the evacuation (Aug. 26, 2005), and we played one more night in Tuscaloosa, Ala., then we got on planes and we flew to Spain. We had a hellish day of traveling and it's some crazy hour, and I turn on the TV and there's New Orleans, where we had just been. It seemed like the last place we'd been asleep, practically, and there it is, devastated by the hurricane. Very surreal.

So when we got to finally come back and play at Tipitina's (Nov. 3, 2006), that in itself was a celebration. I wanted to kiss the dirty floor, except I probably didn't. [Laughs] It was a benefit for the foundation, and that's a great thing, something I want to continue to try and be involved in and help, to do whatever I can for. I think any musician has a great debt to New Orleans, whether they've even played there or not.

" Patterson Hood, Drive by Truckers

It goes without saying that whenever a small independent club goes up against a big corporation, it's tough to compete. One thing I think we did a good job of doing is redefining the mission of the organization, and refocused on the local acts. If you compare our two schedules [Tipitina's and the House of Blues], they look nothing alike. A lot of bands are now specifically wanting to play Tip's, versus elsewhere. Like Wilco for two nights in March. They specifically came to us because they wanted to support the foundation. " Bill Taylor

The foundation was a whole other dimension with Roland, Adam Shipley and Bill Taylor. Now the club is part of the foundation. Now it's part of the greater community. It's completely gone to another level " it's a whole activist, community thing. They've put instruments in kids' hands. It epitomizes the synergy of Tipitina's being a music community center when you go to Instruments A Comin'. You have the high school bands playing their new instruments outside and every band in town inside. You see the whole picture. " —Quint Davis

click to enlarge The Neville Brothers (pictured here in 1979) helped - establish Tipitinas as a landmark club. - SIDNEY SMITH
  • Sidney Smith
  • The Neville Brothers (pictured here in 1979) helped establish Tipitinas as a landmark club.
click to enlarge Professor Longhair, aka Henry Roeland Byrd, became the - patron saint of Tipitinas, which was named for one of his - songs.
  • Professor Longhair, aka Henry Roeland Byrd, became the patron saint of Tipitinas, which was named for one of his songs.
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