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Bathtub Gin
Bathtub Gin
Traditional Dixieland Jazz By Bathtub Gin

August 10, 2007
by Tom Walsh

Bathtub Gin will perform traditional Dixieland Jazz at the next Charlotte Folk Society Gathering. The concert will begin at 7:30 PM on Friday, August 10, in the Bryant Recital Hall of the Sloan-Morgan Building on the Central CPCC Campus at 1220 Elizabeth Avenue in Charlotte . CFS Gatherings are family-friendly and free, although donations are greatly appreciated. Enjoy a short refreshment break after the concert and stay on for a jam session or song circle. Free parking is available in the Central Piedmont Community College Staff/Theater Deck off Fourth Street , between Charlottetown Avenue (formerly Independence Boulevard) and Kings Drive.

For several years, Bathtub Gin has played Dixieland sessions on the third Sunday of every month at the Fraternal Order of Police Hall on Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte , starting at 6 PM. The public is welcome, admission is free, there's food and drink available at reasonable prices, and the music is lively. You can't beat that!

Bathtub Gin is comprised of more than a dozen different musicians; whoever shows up plays at these monthly sessions. A selection of them will perform for the Folk Society on August 10. Budd Blume (tuba) is from Madison , Wisconsin . He played in Chicago for twenty-seven years, and has lived in Charlotte for twenty-seven years. In Chicago , he played with the George Shearing Quintet, Louis Jordan, and the CBS Radio Orchestra under Caesar Petrillo. In Charlotte , Budd has played with the Gootman Sauerkraut Band and Die Rheinlanders good old German oompah.

Wallace Clayton (drums) is a native of Spartanburg , South Caro-lina who came to Charlotte at age sixteen. About that time his dad, an accomplished musician, taught him to play drums. Wallace has played locally with Red Bailey and Chuck Hendrix, and as a member of the Wendell Cunningham Band.

Skip Morgan (trumpet) comes from Elmira , New York . He has played trumpet since about age fifteen, and Dixieland has always been his love. He came to Charlotte in 1980, and is now semi-retired.

Mark Richards (trombone) moved to Charlotte in 2000 after serving several years as Music Director at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulfur Springs , West Virginia . He has played in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and also with Lou Rawls.

Jim Ruth (sax) comes from Winnipeg , Manitoba . Jim turned pro at age fifteen, and has played with just about everyone of note who performed in the area, touring with Liberace and also with Henry Mancini. Since coming to Charlotte in 2002, Jim plays in a number of bands, including the Many Goodman Band.

CFS Members know Tom Walsh (piano) as an old-time fiddler. But he also has played piano as a member of the Many Goodmen Swing Band since 1994. A native of Chicago, Tom came to Charlotte in 1970. He added Dixieland music to his interests when he retired a several years ago.

Bill Wert (banjo) grew up in Cuyahoga Falls , Ohio and has lived in Charlotte since 1992. He started playing the banjo when he was about fifty years old, when he inherited one from his father. Bill would like to make the banjo his full-time job, but as his father-in-law always reminded him, the least spoken sentence in the English language is, "The banjo player drives a Porsche."

Whenever you hear The Saints Go Marching In, you can't help but picture a band marching in a New Orleans funeral procession. That's just a part of the musical tradition associated with what we call "Dixieland Music." It began in the brothels of New Orleans at the beginning of the twentieth century, played by black musicians. When Alderman Story closed the brothels in the red light district around 1917 (giving rise to the naming of the area "Storyville"), these musicians moved up the Mississippi , some going as far as Chicago. King Oliver formed a band in Chicago , and hired, among others, a kid named Louis Armstrong. White players took to the music called "jass," the music sweet as jasmine. The Original Dixieland Jass Band soon became the foremost white band in Chicago . The story goes that folks were prone to erase the first letter of "jass" when it was posted on chalkboards outside of the clubs, so the "esses" were replaced by "zees."

Louis Armstrong moved to New York to play in Fletcher Henderson's band, and then quickly returned to Chicago to form his own group. In the late '20s, recordings of Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven were immensely popular. By the 1930s, there were Dixieland jazz clubs in many cities, most notably Chicago and New York. Dixieland groups faded in the late thirties, however, as the era of the Big Bands took over.

Eventually, jazz evolved into more elaborate formats, such as bebop, but Dixieland music retains the elements it had so many years ago. Essentially, the trumpet is the main lead instrument, with other players supporting it. The "Chicago Style" is a development in which the other instruments take turns playing solos.

In the 1950s, Alan Jaffe started the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in order to showcase the talents of the many older black musicians still in New Orleans. The success of the several touring versions of this band, still going strong, is a testimony to the widespread appeal of the music.