Rebirth Brass Band got the crowd on their feet before Trombone Shorty’s show at the House of Blues Friday night. Cleveland got a special treat when members of the Andrews family (James and Glen) made a surprise guest appearance with Troy. Saturday’s conference at Case Western Reserve University featured music writers Rick Coleman, Jason Berry, Jeff Hannusch, John Broven, Daniel Wolff, & Ponderosa Stomp's Ira “Dr. Ike” Padnos hosting discussions and interviews. Guests Dave Bartholomew, Lloyd Price, Billy Diamond, Eddie Ray, Herb Hardesty, Ernest McLean, and Bob French shared memories about Fats and Dave. Tribute was paid over and over again throughout the day to Cosimo Matassa, sitting in the audience, ending with a standing ovation for the mastermind behind J&M Studio. Saturday night, Rebirth opened Playhouse Square’s Palace Theater concert, second lining from the lobby to the stage to start the show. James Andrews blew a beautiful trumpet solo and sang Satchmo style. Dr. John and the Lower 911, the house band, kept a smooth and steady pace while Lloyd Price, Irma Thomas, Robert Parker, The Dixie Cups, Theresa Anderson, and even honoree Dave Bartholomew came on to perform. Toots and the Maytals, on an East Coast tour, played a set that included “Let the Four Winds Blow”, the song they recorded on Fats Domino’s tribute album, Going Home. After Dave Bartholomew received his American Masters Award, and Chevis Brimmer, Fats Domino’s grandson accepted the award for Fats, the grand finale got everyone back on stage playing “When The Saints Go Marching In”. Waving white handkerchiefs, the whole audience second lined with Rebirth back to the lobby New Orleans style.
Sunday, going back to the Hall of Fame Museum for one last visit, I appreciated more than ever how Fats and Dave are a part of the reason why that building is there. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wrote a love song to New Orleans that will live in their archives forever. Last week’s tribute honored two musicians, Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, and in doing so, it also honored the city of New Orleans. The conglomeration of musicians and musical experts, brought to Cleveland to celebrate the music that shaped what we now know as Rock and Roll, allowed us to tell our story. Many thanks for assembling the right cast of characters to do it. And thanks to the Hall of Fame for getting it right.