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, August 27, 2007

Tootie's Last Suit.

Free ShowingSunday Aug. 26 7 pm Tremé Community Center 900 N. Villere. Parade to the film, led by the Black Men of Labor & theTremé Brass Band,Starts at 5 pm at the Montana home,1633 N. Villere (near St. Bernard)Celebrate and honor Chief of Chiefs Tootie Montana at the New Orleans premiere of “TOOTIE’S LAST SUIT,”an award-winning film about Mardi Gras Indian Culture.Members of Mardi Gras Indian Tribes will perform after the film • food will be served

Dig that last bit, "food will be served." I love this town.

Darlene and I attended this premiere last night. The film itself is absolutely wonderful.
(Go to http://www.tootieslastsuit.com/ for reviews, overviews, still photos, producer and director bios, and a thumbnail sketch of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition and Tootie's place in it). No doubt it will eventually show up on public television, and when it does I strongly urge you to catch it. But I wish you all could have attended the premiere. The event was special both because of the presence of Tootie's extended family (his widow and her daughters arrived by horsedrawn carriage) and the fact that it was held at the Treme Community Center and was preceded by a second line parade that began at Tootie's house, just seven blocks away.

Allison "Tootie" Montana (1922-2004), longtime chief of the Yellow Pocohontas, is perhaps singlehandedly responsible for evolving the Indian tradition from it's roots as a 'raggedy,' gang-style culture often wrought with episodes of violence to the aesthetic competition that it is today. It's because of Tootie that you no longer see rival Indian 'gangs' fighting and shooting in the streets on Carnival Day. It's because of Tootie that's it's now all about who is 'prettiest,' who can sew the best suit, and who can give himself most completely to the process of channeling the spirits of the Indian warriors and African forebearers who are still vividly present in this amazing place.

I've been a freak for the Indian Thing for almost thirty years. It moves me on a level that I can't explain, that's beyond words. But as Treme Community Center Director Jerome Smith instructed us before the film, we must not let our appreciation of the 'finished product' (community figures like Montana) distract us from our obligation to protect and nurture those young black men and women, so at risk in this racist society, who will inherit and carry this tradition forward.

Before the start of the film, an 'Indian band' (snare drum, tamborines, and chanters) circled the hall, infusing the air with the Spirit and creating an Indian Space. They were followed by the Baby Boys Brazz Band, none of whom appeared to be older than 12, playing "Whoopin Blues." If you know that tune, you'll know there are points in it where the audience cuts in with a shout. Nobody in New Orleans has to be told to do this; they are always right on time, shaking the rafters in this place.

Comments on "Tootie's Last Suit."


post a comment