Kid Ory, Chickens and Jason London Hawkins

Jasons%20Far%202.jpg   Jason%20Storyville%20Streetscape%20Web.jpg

Since I began hanging out at La Crepe Nanou years ago, I got to know Jason Hawkins pretty well while he was tending bar there. He’s a painter and we both love architecture. Jason has a degree in preservation and does a lot of paintings of architecture, many of his subjects are buildings that were demolished long ago. Prior to Katrina I was working with the PRC doing research on the homes where jazz musicians lived throughout the city but after the storm this project has been placed on the back-burner for a while.

I have a number of Jason’s pieces and he usually does one for me for my birthday. This year he gave me a streetscape of Storyville along Basin St. Left to right, the buildings in this painting start with Hilma Burt’s, Dina and Norma’s “French House”, the one-story Little Annex of Lizette Smith, Josie Arlington’s, the tiny place of Martha Clark and finally, the huge Mahogany Hall. In case your interested in reading more about Storyville, try a book called, Storyville, New Orleans, 0-8173-4403-9.

Jason lives in a house on Jackson Ave. which the PRC restored a few years ago that was once the residence of Kid Ory. Edward “Kid” Ory (1888) was a trombonist, saxophonist, composer & bandleader. Kid Ory led the Woodlawn band in LaPlace, and his own band in New Orleans. He recorded with his Sunshine Band in 1922 & in Chicago with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, Joseph “King” Oliver, and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. His hit composition, Muskrat Ramble, has gone through many reincarnations. Kid Ory was at the forefront of the Jazz Revival in the 40’s and 50’s and continued performing into the 1970’s.

Jason stayed through the storm and is painting and bartending as a fill-in at the restaurant. Recently, he’s keeping some chickens in his back yard in Central City, they are really beautiful. For a moment, he considered selling the Ory house and maybe moving but he changed his mind. Jason’s work is the constantly rotating art that adorns the walls of La Crepe Nanou.

4 Comments so far

  1. Drury (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

    Thanks for the post Laureen. There’s a special place in my heart for folks who love, restore, document, paint or illustrate architectural treasures….And I can’t quite explain why. When I see them my heart tugs and I wish that I could have lived there, been a craftsperson during their creation or witnessed their social hey day first hand…even if it was just helping to paint a cool old house red, being a member of the party that accomplished it. I just bet that red house had years of good stories….

    And to anyone else reading this: yes, I know the unromantic history of Storyville. Never the less, the old buildings of questionable repute look a lot more inviting than the sterile stacked cubes that pass for modern high density housing these days.


  2. Laureen (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

    Architecture lends historical context to our fast-paced, modern lives. All that surrrounds us changes. Add the musical or artistic history to the present, which I absorb from the craftmanship of architecture itself, against our mundane daily duties and it serves as the daily passive inspiration within which we work in this larger context of modernity and the fleeting historical resources and talents.

    I hope this helps you put your finger on it. It took me about 20 years. I know Jason would agree, we owe it to the architecture, the physical talents of people, the historical fabric of New Orleans. Struggle is inherent in this framewok due to our geography, it can serve as inspiration for us in rebuilding today.


  3. Wayne Curtis (unregistered) on December 30th, 2006 @ 9:32 pm

    Hi Laureen,

    Nice post, yet again! (I hope you were sufficiently revitalized in North Carolina!) A large part of the reason my wife and I moved here from New England was the architecture and the historical context it provides — where else can you find that? (Well, New England, but it’s so damn cold.)

    Thanks for the tip about the Crepe Nanou art and artist — we’ll make sure we wander over to check it out and (we hope) meet Jason. The internets come through yet again with good info!

  4. mike (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 8:23 am

    wikipedia has a little write up on storyville for anyone interested…

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