Danny Barker had a legendary musical career playing alongside luminaries from Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway to Wynton Marsalis. He recorded memorable tunes, including "Don't You Feel My Leg" with wife Blue Lu Barker, and late in his life penned tunes such as "Palm Court Strut," an homage to the Palm Court Jazz Cafe that's a standard among local traditional jazz groups. Barker also was instrumental in the revival of brass band music, having trained a generation of young musicians in his Fairview Baptist Church band. Barker died in 1994.
Now in its fourth year, the Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival (Jan. 9-14) celebrates his life, music and influence with concerts, a second line parade, panel discussions, film screenings, music clinics and more. The Festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music with a concert featuring pianist Ellis Marsalis playing solo, Dr. Michael White and a quartet including drummer Herlin Riley, guitarist Detroit Brooks, bassist Mitchell Player and trumpeter Will Smith. There's also a short presentation by Gwen Thompkins, host of public radio's Music Inside Out. Thompkins wrote the introduction to the 2016 revised edition of Barker's autobiography, A Life in Jazz. Thompson also leads a talk about the book at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Louisiana Music Factory.
There's a symposium featuring interviews with musicians and community leaders at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint. There will be excerpts from interviews with Barker as well as interviews with Riley, Marsalis, trumpeter Gregg Stafford and others. A concert with Kid Merv and All That Jazz follows.
Barker's birthday is celebrated at two shows Thursday at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro featuring Stafford, trombonist Freddie Lonzo, vocalist Topsy Chapman, clarinetist Bruce Brackman and others. There's a traditional jazz jam featuring Kermit Ruffins, Donald Harrison, Leroy Jones, Roger Lewis, Wendell Brunious and others at 9 p.m. Friday at Kermit's Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge. At noon Saturday, the Hot 8 Brass Band leads a second line parade from the Old U.S. Mint to Bullet's Sports Bar. For a full list of events and school music clinics, visit www.dannybarkerfestival.com.