Editor, Webmaster:  Phil Cartwright       Editor@earlyjas.org
Personalities -- by Phil Cartwright
On the Road Again --
with Norrie Cox and the
New Orleans Stompers
                                                The Memphis Blues
                                                         Phil Cartwright
William Christopher Handy was born in 1873 in Florence, Alabama.  After a somewhat conventional in
various venues.  In 1909, one of his bands arrived in Memphis, Tennessee and established a presence on
the already famous Beale Street.  Somehow, W. C. Handy became acquainted with a local Memphis
mayoral candidate, a Mr. E. H. Crump.  Handy’s very first composition was a campaign song for the
aspiring mayor.  It was called “Mr. Crump” but was later re-titled “Memphis Blues”.  Of course, Handy
is known for other works such as the “Yellow Dog Blues” and the “St. Louis Blues”.
Against this backdrop of history, Carol and I recently spent a couple of days in Memphis and thoroughly
enjoyed it.  It was my second trip to Memphis. About 25 years ago I visited and actually bought a banjo
in a Beale Street pawn shop - an old but nice Weymann tenor.
This trip, we stayed in the famous Peabody Hotel and, of course, had to watch the famous parade of
ducks to the fountain in the lobby. We can recommend some outstanding restaurants:  Majestic Grille,
Chez Phillipe, and Stella, all within a block or two of Beale Street.  We also recommend taking the
Riverfront Loop on the street car; it costs about a dollar and you get a 30 minute tour of the main parts
of town and the river’s edge.
Being a guitar and banjo player, I insisted we visit the Gibson factory, a block or so from Beale Street.  It
is a real factory making guitars and you get to see all the various stages of construction.  Of interest to us
in the Cleveland area, the Gibson factory has recently been named a satellite of Cleveland’s Rock and
Roll Museum.
Neither Carol nor I have ever been a fan of Elvis Presley, nor have we owned even a single record of
his.  Nevertheless, at the urging of our kids, we visited Graceland.  And we are glad we did.  The
mansion is smaller than we thought it might be but: Over the top is much too tame.  There were
hundreds of floral arrangements sent in by adoring fans.  Like him or not he is world famous and sold
over 400 million albums!
Now, about the music.  First, Beale Street is like Bourbon Street was 30+ years ago.  It is clean, civil, and
no strip joints.  Like Bourbon St., Beale St. is closed to auto traffic in the evening so it is easy to stroll by
the many blues joints (and souvenir shops).  We enjoyed several places that we would recommend:  King’
s Palace, Blues City, and B. B. King’s.  What struck me the most are the parallels between traditional jazz
and the music we heard on Beale Street.  First, and foremost, it is improvised.  No printed music in
sight, lots of jazz choruses by all the various instruments: guitars (of course), trumpets, saxes, trombones,
pianos.  Second, it is approachable.  Easy to listen to (bring ear plugs) and understandable. Third, lots of
showmanship on the stage.
Dr. Feelgood was a lot of fun as was the B. B. King house band.  Our favorite, though, was a band called
the Masqueraders (I even bought their CD!).  They were not a youth band by any means. Think the Mills
Brothers meet B. B. King  Four vocalists, some playing instruments, were a mixture of the late thirties
and early forties.  Lyrics you could understand, good harmonies and great rhythm.  Check them out on
your next trip to Memphis!!
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
EARLYJAS
Norrie Cox has been carrying the torch for
traditional New Orleans jazz for three or four
decades.  In addition to performing in numerous
jazz bands, Norrie has spent many years
encouraging and leading elementary and high
school students into the fascinating world of New
Orleans jazz.
Also, he has led his own New Orleans band, the
New Orleans Stompers, for the past 25 years or so.  
Perhaps you remember that his band played the
Earlyjas Festival in 2000.  I have been fortunate to
play several jazz clubs and tours with Norrie’s band
beginning in 2000.
Norrie Cox   Charlie DeVore    Jim Klippert
The leader of the band is Norrie, of course, on clarinet.  He lives in Milwaukee. Regulars are three musicians
from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who were part of the house band for Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home
Companion:  Charley Devore, cornet, Bill Evans, string bass; and Doggie Berg, drums.  They also were core
members of the Hall Brothers Jazz Band at the Emporium of Jazz in Mendota, MN. Charlie and Doggie have
the distinction of integrating a Black band in New Orleans around 1960.  They were promptly arrested and
spent the night in jail!
The Stompers banjo player was Mike Carrell.  He became ill in 2000, and eventually died of cancer.
Trombone player in the band is Jim Klippert from the San Francisco Bay area.  Yes, you may recognize  Jim as
the son of clarinet player Moe Klippert, founder of the Rubber City Retreads and the Hymns of Dixieland.  
In mid-October, the Stompers played at the Juvae Jazz Club in Decatur, Illinois, and at the Great River Jazz
Club in Hannibal, Missouri.  
Unfortunately, Doggie Berg had back surgery and was unable to make the trip.  Filling in for him was a
young drummer, Chuck Devore, Charley’s son.  He did a great job and was only half the age of the rest of
us.  
Filling in for Charley was Kim Cusack, the great reed player who has been with the Salty Dogs for a hundred
years or so.  Kim was suffering from a broken foot but that did not impair his playing.  His usual groupies
were with him: Joyce, Kim’s sister, and his wife, Eileen, Kim’s supporter and videographer for the past 30+
years.
I am delighted to report that traditional jazz is alive and well in the Central Illinois and Eastern Missouri
areas.  These clubs are vibrant and bring in many great traditional jazz bands.  I met several of their key
people and I hope that we can work with them and other jazz clubs in the Midwest to support bands and our
love for traditional jazz.
Whenever a band goes on tour, even a short one, there is always something, non-musical, that competes with
the memories of some great music.  In this case, we got our signals crossed.  Sunday morning we left Decatur
to head for Hannibal, MO.  Unfortunately, Jim Klippert was left behind with no way to get to Hannibal!  
After a series of frantic phone calls (and not everyone had a cell phone), Kim Cusack saved the day and
returned to pick up Jim and deliver him to Hannibal in time for the job!
                                                                                Submitted by Phil Cartwright
Red Nichols
and his Five Pennies
arrived in New York City, a magnet for the
greatest talent in the world.  Only 19 years
old and from a place called Utah. He came
with  a battered cornet under his arm and  a
great jazz talent in his heart.  
At the age of three his father started him on
the violin and  trumpet.  E.W. Nichols was a
college instructor and believed his son had
some unique skills which needed to be
quickly developed. He soon had the kid
practicing the piano along with the other
instruments. Music soon became an
important part of his life and he began
practicing hour after hour.   
radio and phonograph. Nichols began to play all over the city and then more regular jobs developed at  the
resorts in New Jersey. He began working with legendary jazzmen such as Bix Beiderbecke, Miff Mole,
Eddie Lang, and Joe Venuti. His solid musical training combined with great natural ability provided him
with a bell-like sound on the cornet. Red had found his niche in New York City.    During the 1920's and
1930's  Red Nichols became one of the most recorded jazz artists. He and Bix became close friends and
worked frequently on musical ideas.  In later years many fans felt that you could hear the Bix influence in
Red's styling.   
Red signed on with Brunswick Records in 1926 as Red Nichols and the Five Pennies. His arrangements
were considered tricky but were based upon the New Orleans style. Many of the band members went on
to greatness among them were Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Vic Berton, Benny Goodman, Miff Mole and
Glenn Miller.
While comfortable with recording work, the situation in the 1930's forced him to go on the road .  He
traveled for several years with a big band doing the ballroom circuit.  In 1940 he broke up the band  and
moved to the West Coast.  Red worked in clubs in Hollywood and in San Francisco. That is when his
daughter, Dorothy, became ill with polio.  He gave up his horn and jazz and went to work in a shipyard
for the duration of the war.  The medical bills piled up and he went back into the music business.  In 1951
NBC saluted him with a hour long program.  Then Ralph Edwards dramatized his forced retirement from
music and his courageous fight for his daughter's health on the This Is Your Life program.    
Red began recording ,touring, and then the group had a triumphant stay at New York's Roundtable where
they broke all house records. Paramount then released the film ‘The Five Pennies’ based on Red's life and
starring Danny Kaye and Barbara Geddes.  Red had made a great comeback.   
As the years have passed and jazz critics have passed
on their wisdom, Red Nichols has been criticized for
being influenced by Bix. Red's reply to that was "Bix
was great. There isn't a musician alive who isn't
influenced by someone. Louis Armstrong was
influenced by Joe Oliver. So what"?     
Trumpeter Roy Eldridge once said " … at one time in
the East, trumpets either played like Red Nichols or  
Bix.  I liked the nice, clean sound Nichols was getting
on the trumpet in those days".  Red  Nichols has left
his mark on the field of jazz.  Yes sir, there is nothing
like the  NICE CLEAN SOUND OF GOOD JAZZ.
Source: International
Musician, July 1959.

Submitted by Mike
Kovach