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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Louis Armstrong: Basin Street Blues

Satchmo playing one of the great New Orleans style blues songs. If I read the credits right this was filmed in Stuttgart Germany. One of the reasons African Americans loved playing in Europe was they were treated the same as whites. In America, even as late as the late 50s when this film was shot, most black performers had to stay in black hotels in America. Louie had broken the color barrier for himself by that time, but this wasn't true for most African American performers. I once talked to a reporter for the old Tribune, which was printed in Des Moines. He recalled interviewing Little Richard in an old boarding house on Center Street since he couldnt stay in the white hotel while performing in Des Moines. It didnt matter that Little Richard had a ton of hits records, and was famous world wide. He had to stay in the black neighborhood. So when these artists went to Europe and found out you could stay where you wanted, eat where you wanted, and not have to worry about going into a white only restroom, then they stayed. Even Louie stayed in Europe off and on during his career. So one can see why these great jazz and blues performers stayed in Europe once they got there.

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