Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Derby Down.

Pre-Katrina, there was a joint on the corner of Louisiana and Freret called the Brown Derby (in local patois, da Doibie) that for many years had been a kind of local community center and information exchange. It was situated in a cluster of local businesses, including the Soul Brothers record store, a social aid and pleasure club whose name escapes me at the moment, and directly across the street from the C.J. Peete housing projects. Over the years it went through a number of transmogrifications, sometimes more bar than restaurant, sometimes more corner grocery than bar. But it was always there.

When the levees broke, Central City was among the hardest hit neighborhoods, and the Derby took 4 feet of water. Miraculously the guy who owned it had good insurance which actually paid out in a timely manner (truly the exception, not the rule, in this town in these times) and between that and a shit-load of sweat equity, he was back up and serving breakfast to relief workers a month after the flood. The grub was great (if artery clogging) and his prices were right out of 1965, with huge breakfasts for $3.98. The place was always jammed, a great score if you could handle the cigarette smoke.

Then the house behind it caught fire and burned the whole corner to the ground.

After months of driving by the charred ruins everyday on my way to work, they've finally bulldozed them.

I suppose it's progress of a sort.

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