Named for the historic street of sin the Times-Picayune described as one of the “haunts of poverty” in 1873, The New Orleans Jazz Museum’s record label, Gallatin Street Records, focuses on preserving and continuing to produce the richness of New Orleans music and culture.
Gallatin Street Records got its start in 2014, evolving out of a partnership with the University of New Orleans and the New Orleans Mint. The record label provides a way to publish the New Orleans Jazz Museum’s vintage recordings as well as recordings made of performances at the museum’s venue, The Old U.S Mint.
“We had been digitizing jam sessions from our jazz reel-to-reel collection as well as recording a wide variety of contemporary New Orleans musicians in our performance venue,” Greg Lambousy, New Orleans Jazz Museum Director, said. “It was only natural that we develop a record label to get the recordings out to the public and what more appropriate name than Gallatin, especially since Mint superintendents complained about [Gallatin Street] for generations!”
He continues with a nuanced historical context, saying “Now known as French Market Place, Gallatin Street was once the headquarters of vice in New Orleans” before quoting a visitor’s 1873 quote in the newspaper:
“Gallatin street is wet and slippery, it is dimly lighted, for rows of tall houses with battered, broken shutters, and windows unlighted, look down on the stones below. Gallatin street has a puddle here and there on the sidewalk, but these cannot be seen, as the moon has not come yet over the edge of the tall, seemingly untenanted houses by which the street passes. But the houses with the wet bricks and the dark broken windows are inhabited by hundreds of human beings. This is one of the haunts of poverty. Squalor and misery are sleeping above in chambers so dark and damp as the cold pavestones below.”
Named for Albert Gallatin, the secretary of the treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the two-block street stopped at the back of the US Mint. Its location next to the Mississippi River made it a spot for sailors to find housing, drink, and entertainment. The port of New Orleans during this time was never empty, keeping a constant flow of men and women through Gallatin Street’s infamous boarding houses, brothels, and saloons. From antebellum times until the latter part of the 1870s, Gallatin Street served as the meeting place for those who participated in New Orleans’ underworld. In the late 1890s, most brothels and barrooms moved to Storyville. The street was then redeveloped and officially renamed French Market Place in 1935.
On November 3, 2017, Bon Bon Vivant will record a live performance at the Old U.S. Mint in partnership with Gallatin Street Records. The band will perform selections from their album Paint & Pageantry, covers of songs such as “Shout Sister Shout” and “St. James Infirmary Blues” as well as new material.
In addition to the live recording, Gallatin Street Records will have a release party for the mastered Bon Bon Vivant recordings. They are currently reviewing the museum’s collection of vintage recordings for the label’s next release.
The Bon Bon Vivant recording will run from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here for $10.50. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint. Attendees will also have the opportunity to receive a complimentary CD copy of the recordings after its release in March 2018.