Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lionel P. Batiste, Sr.

I snapped this shot of Lionel struttin down Frenchman street on a Sunday afternoon.
One could not help to notice the fashion statement this legendary New Orleans figure makes.

Lionel plays Bass drum and sings with the Treme Brass Band, named after The Treme neighborhood which borders the French Quarter. I believe the Treme is the actual home of Jazz, and it was these musicians that simply worked in the whorehouses of Storyville, which is why some claim it, to be the birthplace of Jazz.

Regardless, the area I'm speaking of is a short walking from each other and it's home of many generations of New Orleans's finest jazz musicians.

Just inside the Club i was standing in front of when i snapped this, was the Legendary Savoy Ballroom dancer Norma Miller, who immediately screamed out my name when she saw me talking to Lionel. I walked in to see what she wanted, and she asked me "who was that?" , I explained to her who he was, and she remarked "So he is just struttin down the ave.?" , I which i replied "Yup"...she smiled, nodding in approval and said, "Just like Harlem in the old days...".

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dawn Hampton

Another legendary dancer/performer/musician I've been fortunate to meet and become friends over the years is Dawn Hampton. I really never know what to expect, she is one of the smartest people i know, that can steal the show from anybody,anytime she chooses.

Dawn was born in 1928, in Middletown, Ohio. Her father, Clark Deacon Hampton, Sr., had a family band and vaudeville act that was part of a traveling carnival. She grew up listening to the music of the family band, Deacon Hampton's Pickaninnys, sitting on an orange box behind her mother Laura's piano.

It wasn't long before the infant Hampton was making a contribution. She began performing at the tender age of three, and two years later sang "He Takes Me to Paradise".

Dawn is one of twelve children. Slide Hampton, the well-known jazz trombonist, is the youngest. Two of Dawn's older sisters, Aletra and Virtue, live in Indianapolis and are still performing and there are many more musical Hamptons scattered around the country.

After the war, the family band reunited for several years. There were fourteen pieces and nine Hamptons; Dawn played alto and tenor sax. They traveled under the leadership of her brother, Duke, and played throughout the Midwest and South. Finally, in 1950, the band achieved its dream of performing at Carnegie Hall (along with another well-known, although unrelated Hampton - Lionel).

Once the Big Apple got a taste of the Hampton Family, they were featured at the Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom. The Hamptons became the house band at the then-famous Sunset Terrace in Indianapolis, and then moved on to the Cincinnati Cotton Club. Sometime in the mid-1950s, several brothers left to study music and Dawn and her sisters Aletra, Virtue, and Carmelita continued to perform as The Hampton Sisters.

Every year I spend about a month with Dawn in Herrang Sweden, aside from running into her and working other weekend events together. She is very spiritual, and while she teaches massive workshops she declines to be called a teacher, rather she is the "awakener", which could not be more true if you've attended anything she has ever done.
It's no doubt the one dance class you walk away from thinking....whoaa, that was awesome....

Photo's by Peter Loggins