John Kennedy Toole’s mum plays piano and sings

And talks New Orleans in excerpts from Confederacy of Dunces

Rota fortunae at the Christmas market in the German town of Hückeswagen.

Rota fortunae at the Christmas market in the German town of Hückeswagen. Image: Frank Vincentz.

Nowadays Irwin Chusid would have Thelma Toole on a multi-million naivetract:

Her 3:25 is obviously the source of Duke Ellington’s hook for Take the A-Train:

Can you spot the references in her New Orleans song?

Her lilt and cadence echo Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe’s commentaries in the Library of Congress recordings:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a southern American Anglophone use a diphthong in “Orleans”, but I don’t get around much anymore.

I once took a delegation from one of the Mardi Gras crews to inspect various European processional customs. However, it was all a bit stuffed-suit corporate – Thelma was the kind of person I was dying to meet. Very belated thanks to Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker for capturing her in time – she died shortly after this 1983 recording.

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Posted on 2015

Barrel organ (323):

Duke Ellington (3): Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and bandleader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death in a career spanning over fifty years. Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward, and gained a national profile through his orchestra's appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem.

Entertainment (340):

Jazz (2):

Jelly Roll Morton (3): Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer who started his career in New Orleans, Louisiana. Widely recognized as a pivotal figure in early jazz, Morton is perhaps most notable as jazz's first arranger, proving that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential spirit and characteristics when notated.

John Kennedy Toole (2): John Kennedy Toole was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, whose posthumously published novel A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Mechanical organ (324):

Music (349):

Street organ (323):

Street performance (270):


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