So last Saturday night was another one of those “how did I get here” evenings. Earlier in the week good friend and film maker Bill Bowman called(followed by Ernie) to let me know that there was going to be a special surprise 80th bday party for New Orleans Guitar Legend Irvin Bannister, a small get together to be attended by Ernie Vincent(whose idea the get together was) and Walter “Wolfman” Washington along with wife Barbara and Irvin's bassist Millard Green. Bill and his wife Adrienne, who I had the pleasure of meeting a couple years ago when they were filming Ernie at the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest, have a humble abode over in the Garden District that in the past has been set up for live performances so I knew this would be a really special evening, in addition to a nice gathering with friends. You see, New Orleans if filled with lesser known, for various reasons, musicians who literally sewed the fabric of what the sound of New Orleans R n'B was then and is today. Irvin Bannister is one of those figures. George Ingmire, who does some of the best radio interviews of such musical legends,(George, who can be heard weekly on WWOZ Wednesdays from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. CST, where he programs the "New Orleans Music Show", had also interviewed Ernie a couple years back at my gallery in the Bywater, )was also in attendance to document this special occasion. After we ate dinner from an amazing spread set up by the wonderful hostess Adrienne, we moved into the living room-band area where we were treated to live performances by Ernie and Walter with Irvin's long time bassist Millard.....we got to see some things I that were quite rare, like Ernie playing Walter's guitar, Walter playing bass with Ernie singing on guitar, and Millard singing a song, which he jokingly stated that Irvin would never let him do....all the while Irvin, who chose not to play that evening, just sat there taking it all in......a priceless evening indeed......I have talked with Ernie over the years many times about Irvin, who he has always spoken about with great reverence and passion. Irvin was one of those guy's who taught a lot of the musicians you hear today how to achieve their “sound” on the guitar. Some things I learned about Irvin that night never known, by Ernie either, is he started off playing the trumpet in the military, where he was also a chef....he fronted a 15 piece band in Texas before fronting another band in New Orleans with Danny White, who inspired the likes of Allen Toussaint......you get the picture. Ernie always credited Irvin with helping him create his “sound”, “He taught me how to formulate music, how to play E Flat Major 7 Chords, how to play minor scale solos against major chords....” and forgive me if the musical jargon is off, but you get the idea....this was back in the early 60's......You see Irvin had the advantage of having learned how to read music in the military, which he passed on to many here who couldn't, at least yet........During George's interview with Walter that night, Walter used different language about how he was influenced by Irvin....he continually referred to Irvin's musical “philosophy” which strongly influenced his career.........and Georges last question when he interviewed Irvin, “So what advice would you give to up and coming musicians today?”, to which Irvin responded without hesitation, “Learn your music!” to which we all erupted in laughter.....simple and concise advice indeed.........Be on the lookout for this interview when it airs....I'll post when I know something. What a special evening and honor to be in that room with three giant's of New Orleans musical history, and more importantly good friends, couldn't have dreamed this one up.....Enjoy the pics! Jerry ;-)
More pics and a musical slideshow can be seen at http://www.nativeorleanian.org/irvin_bannister_80th_birthday


I'll post a couple short vids as soon as I can get them together....
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