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HOW THE BIG EASY PLAYS THE TUNE OF MY HEART DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY
Louis Armstrong, famous American trumpeter, composer, and vocalist and one of the most influential figures in jazz, once said, “There are only two kinds of music; the good and the bad. I play the good kind.” In honor of the celebration of Great Satchmo’s birthday this month, I want to take a nice long road trip down memory lane. My first stop is The Big Easy. The Rolling Stones so much that I can’t remember a time I’d sit in the car without hearing those classic rock tunes filling the air. But, even though the voices of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger played on loop in my head, it wasn’t until I moved to New Orleans that I started to feel music on a much deeper level. “IT’S A CITY THAT GETS INTO YOUR SOUL, AND IT ALL STARTS WITH MUSIC.” Music has always played an interesting role in my life. My mom loved the Beatles and During the nine years I was working on medical school and my residency, I lived in New Orleans, and I developed a great appreciation for jazz music. History claims that jazz music put New Orleans on the map with its soulful beats that allegedly grew out of drumming and Voodoo rituals in New Orleans’ Congo Square before the Civil War. Others believe jazz wasn’t born until 1895, the
year Buddy Bolden started his first band. Still others say it happened in 1917, when Nick LaRocca and his original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first jazz record. While no one can accurately pinpoint when jazz officially started, it was alive and flourishing the years I resided in its birthplace. My wife and I were constantly on the lookout for new restaurants, bars, and venues featuring musicians and bands. While the cool and sleepy type of jazz is great, we always sought out the high-energy tunes with lots of brass instruments — the type we could kick up our heels to. In fact, during some of our earlier years there, we took ballroom dancing lessons with a great setup. We would learn the new steps, twists, and turns from 6–7:30 p.m. in the classroom and then head upstairs to test out our new moves at a Rock & Bowl bowling alley that always featured jazz and swing bands. Every time we are able to make a trip back to The Big Easy, my wife and I try to find a lively spot for brunch and jazz indulgences. It’s always an emotional experience for both of us because listening to that rhythmic ragtime and blues always makes us miss living in New Orleans; it’s a city that gets into your soul, and it all starts with music. Fortunately, the next place we lived was Nashville, which also has a huge music scene. Even now, my house is filled with tunes fairly often. My wife has always had music in her blood. Her mom taught piano lessons, so she grew up to be a great player herself. She is also an excellent singer. Luckily for my sons, they inherited her musical
gene. My youngest son has great rhythm, my middle son is into DJing and mixing different genres together, and my oldest son plays the flute and saxophone and sings in the choir. The only person in the family who doesn’t have any music genius (besides me) is my daughter who unfortunately took after her dear ol’ dad, especially when it comes to singing. But she and I will belt our favorite songs as loud as we can in the car where no one can hear us! I’m blessed to have spent so much time in a city built upon the beauty of talented people getting together to make music. I’m lucky to live in a new place with a great group of people where my passion for music can continue to grow.
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