New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Oral History Collection: An Interview with Dr. Helen Regis

EPISODE 15  (12:17)

WARNING: Very Loud Voice at 10:32!!!

 Claudia Dumestres and her sister in earlu 1970s selling Pralines at Jazzz Fest

Claudia Dumestre (right), who was interviewed for the Jazz Fest Oral History Project, and her sister, photographed in the 1970s, selling pralines at the festival.  Photo courtesy of Claudia Dumestre.

In 2011, Claudia Dumestres stands with interviewer, Amelia Ley, a student in Regis'  class.  Photo courtesy Helen Regis.

In 2011, Claudia Dumestre stands with interviewer, Amelia Ley, a student in Regis’ class. Photo by Alexandra Giancarlo, courtesy Helen Regis.  Note the baskets in both photos.

This podcast episode features an interview with Dr. Helen Regis who sits down with director, Jennifer Abraham Cramer, to talk about her current oral history project on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, just before it kicked off on April 26.  Also in the episode, former praline vendor and current fest-goer, Claudia Dumestre, recalls the beginnings of Jazz Fest in Congo Square, where she saw such acts as Duke Ellington, Woody Allen, Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns, Albert King, and Dizzy Gillespie.  John Lehon, a Jazz Fest children’s story-teller, also shares with listeners a story about the Teeny Weeny Woman and her teeny weeny surprise.

Dr. Regis is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor in the LSU Department of Geography and Anthropology and has authored several books in her field.  In this episode, she talks about how she and the students who enrolled in her “Life Histories” Service Learning * course got involved with interviewing long-time Jazz Fest workers and attendees. Those interviewed include festival staff like producer, Christine Bradford, who curates the Contemporary Crafts section; vendors like Claudia Dumestre (pictured above and below) and Vance Vaucresson;  Louis Broussard, Ray Daniels and Frank Steward who construct the physical space at the festival;  an artist named  William Darrow who makes all the backdrops; story-teller, John Lehon, and fest-goers like R. Dusk Lipton.

Regis is partnering with both the Williams Center the the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Archive to establish and preserve the collection, and interviews will be accessible to patrons through both institutions. Williams Center staff have helped to train Regis’ students in oral history best practices, and their interviews, once processed, will be available online through the Center’s digital collection on the LOUISiana Digital Library.  Rachel Lyons, archivist for the Foundation, works with Regis to help connect the students to interviewees and has made it possible for the students to participate in Jazz Fest activities.

Regis is also working on this project with Dr. Shana Walton, an assistant professor of English and a research anthropologist at Nicholls State University.  They’ve conducted several additional interviews and participate in Jazz Fest exhibitions that engage fest-goers and workers to document their festival experiences like “Map Your Jazz Fest.”  Regis has also written articles and book chapters on the city and culture of New Orleans and has an article coming out in the summer issue of African Arts, titled, “Producing Africa at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.”

On Wednesday, May 1, 2013, there was an appreciation reception held at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter to honor the men and women interviewed for the project.

*Service-learning classes like Regis’ are supported through the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, or CCELL. For more information about CCELL, visit www.lsu.edu/ccell

 

Left to Right: Shana Walton, Helen Regis, William Darrow, and Claudia Dumestris at the May 1 reception to honor project participants.

Left to right: Shana Walton, Helen Regis, William Darrow, and Claudia Dumestre at the May 1 reception to honor project participants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel Lyons, far right, stands with Dusk Lipton and other interviewees looking at photos from the project.

Rachel Lyons (right), Dusk Lipton (left), and other interviewees look at photos from the project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This episode was produced by Jennifer Abraham Cramer. Special thanks to Germain Bienvenu and Gina Costello.

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IMAGES

Claudia Dumestre and her sister selling pralines at Jazz Fest.  Photo courtesy of Claudia Dumestres.

Claudia Dumestre stands with interviewer Amelia Ley.  Photo by Alexandra Giancarlo, courtesy Helen Regis.

Shana Walton, Helen Regis, William Darrow, and Claudia Dumestris at reception to honor participants.

Rachel Lyons, Dusk Lipton, and other interviewees look at photos from the project.

 

MUSIC

King, Freddie, interview by Tatiana Clay and Eric Julien, audio recording, 2008, 4700.1921.  Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

 

This podcast is copyrighted by LSU Libraries Special Collections.

For a full transcript of the podcast, please contact Jennifer Abraham at jabrah1@lsu.edu.

 

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