The Satchmo Summer Fest
Have you ever wondered where the name “Satchmo” came from? Well, here’s your answer. When Louis Armstrong was a boy he sang on the street corners of New Orleans to earn money. Many youngsters earned spare change this way. In those days, no one had phonographs and radios had yet to be invented, so folks enjoyed the music.
Armstrong’s wide mouth and big grin inspired two nicknames: Dippermouth and Satchelmouth. Dippermouth stayed with him through his early years in music but Satchelmouth (shortened to SATCHMO by other musicians) stayed with him for a lifetime.
THE EARLY YEARS
He was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a section so poor it was nicknamed “The Battlefield.” Storyville was the well-known “red light” district but Battlefield had plenty of crime and chaos, too.
When he was in the fifth grade he had to quit school to support his family by delivering coal for Morris Karnofsky, a Jewish businessman. He would work for him off and on for many years. Between the morning and evening shifts, Karnofsky would invite him to eat with his family. In later years, Armstrong wore a Jewish star around his neck in memory of his good friend.
AT THE AGE OF ELEVEN
Poor Satchmo was a young black kid who got into trouble so he was sent to “The Colored Waifs Home for Boys” (a dreadful name if there ever was one). But the 18 months he spent in this reform school turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. He was introduced to music: first the tambourine, then the bugle, followed by the cornet and, finally his great love – the trumpet.
When he was 18 years old he quit his coal delivery job and went full-time into being a freelance musician. He couldn’t afford a telephone so if someone wanted to hire him they called a neighborhood grocery store and left a message. He played on Mississippi riverboats until he was twenty. Then he had a job offer that was too good to turn down. He was on his way and hit his stride in the 1920s as an inventive trumpet and cornet player. His gravelly voice also made him an influential “scat” singer (using sounds and syllables instead of lyrics). His career ended in the 1960s as a famed, popular and influential musician who left his imprint on the world of jazz.
SATCHMO SUMMER FEST
This event began as a tribute to one of New Orleans’ most famous native sons: the late Louis Armstrong – to celebrate his 100th birthday. Thousands of people turned out for the first one in 2001.
WHERE IT TAKES PLACE
This festival takes place at the Old U.S. Mint Building at 498 Barracks Street, which is on the edge of the French Quarter between the French Market and Esplanade Avenue. Or, said differently, it is ONLY EIGHT MINUTES from the Rathbone Mansions at 1244 Esplanade Avenue.
DATES AND COST
The Satchmo Summer Fest is from Friday, August 2nd to Monday, August 5th and has a very reasonable Daily Admission of $5.00. This event is held on three stages at the U.S. Mint.
LISTEN, LOOK AND EAT
Come and experience live music that features traditional and contemporary jazz and brass bands. Or, take advantage of the seminars and discussions that feature a host of speakers. And don’t forget the food! No New Orleans party would be complete without our amazing Louisiana fare. You’ll find beer, wine, soft drinks as well as Softshell Crab Poboys, Crawfish Pie, Jamaican Chicken and Turkey Burgers. Trust me, you will definitely find something delicious to eat!