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Burgundy Street Blues

George Lewis' Band

 

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George Lewis
(July 13th 1900 - December 31st 1968)

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Captured during a 1950s TV appearance George Lewis clarinet, performs accompanied by Joe Robichaux piano, Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau bass, and Joe Watkins drums.

Playing the clarinet professionally in New Orleans since he was seventeen George Lewis became a well known reedman who worked as a laborer and rarely traveled outside of the city until later in his career.

After spending two decades in regional obscurity, Lewis was chosen by trumpeter Bunk Johnson to serve as the clarinetist on his 1942 recordings.

In 1944 after having his chest almost completely crushed in an accident working on the docks George began a long recovery confined to bed at his home in the French Quarter.

It was there that he composed and first recorded his signature piece given the name "Burgundy Street Blues" by musical historian Bill Russell who recorded it for his American Music label in 1944.

Performing and touring with Bunk Johnson's newly popular band through 1946 George Lewis assumed control of the group when Johnson retired.

For a time during the later '40s they were a favorite attraction back in NOLA on Bourbon Street before relocating to San Francisco, California and taking residency at the Hangover Club in 1952.



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