Airs Wednesday, February 6 at 8 p.m. This one hour special takes listeners to the hidden world of New Orleans corner joints—bars far from the French Quarter, in neighborhoods like Central City, Treme, and Pigeontown. These clubs, patronized almost entirely by locals, nurture a resilient blues and rhythm-and-blues scene that is often overshadowed by the Crescent City’s legacy as a jazz town. They are an essential part of New Orleans’ cultural history, but they are struggling—because of the recession, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and potentially the BP oil spill.
This hour-long music-rich documentary features four talented musicians: Tommy Singleton, a vocalist who until recently drove an oyster truck for a living; John T. Lewis, a former appliance repairman who now plays R&B guitar full-time; Ernie Vincent, a bandleader and guitarist who learned to play at the neighborhood fish fries of his childhood; and Deacon John Moore, a bandleader and guitarist who played on hundreds of R&B recordings in the 1950s and ’60s. Also interviewed are bar owners Betty Fox (Mother-in-Law Lounge) and Guitar Joe Daniels (Guitar Joe’s House of Blues), along with other veterans of the city’s music scene. The program takes readers back into history. They’ll visit bars like the Dew Drop Inn, with its female impersonators and all-night jam sessions, the Green Room, with its smells of spilled liquor and spittoons; and the Sportsman’s Lounge, where an under aged Deacon John witnessed police raids and back-room gambling.