With a career spanning more than seven decades, banjo virtuoso Danny Barker mentored generations of New Orleans musicians and is the namesake for the fourth annual Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival. Taking place January 9 through 14, the 2018 installment aims to celebrate Barker’s life’s work with performances, educational clinics, panel discussions, interviews and more in an impressive collection of venues across the city. This year, live music will be provided by revered Haitian guitarist and educator Claude Carré and Senegalese kora master Morikeba Kouyate.
January 9’s kick-off concert will set the tone, as Ellis Marsalis performs solo on piano. Other artists rounding out the evening include the all-star quartet of drummer Herlin Riley, bassist Mitchell Player, guitarist/banjoist Detroit Brooks and trumpeter Will Smith. Their performances will be joined by a screening of video segments featuring Barker and Blue Lu Barker created by filmmaker Matt Martinez. Music journalist Gwen Thompkins will deliver a short presentation about Barker’s revised 2016 autobiography, A Life in Jazz, all of which will be rounded out by a very special appearance by the Ellis Marsalis Kids. The kick-off concert takes place at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music (1901 Bartholomew St.).
Other notable inclusions are the Danny Barker Birthday Bash on January 11 at Snug Harbor, featuring Gregg Stafford, Freddie Lonzo, Detroit Brooks, Mari Watanabe, Kerry Lewis, Jerry Anderson and Topsy Chapman.
Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge will host the Danny Barker Traditional Jam, starring James Andrews, Glenn David Andrews, Gregg Stafford, Donald Harrison, Freddy Lonzo, Wendell Brunious and more.
On January 13, the official Second Line for Danny kicks off from the New Orleans Jazz Museum and ends at Bullet’s Sports Bar, led by the Hot 8 Brass Band and Sons of Jazz Brass Band.
It all culminates with the Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival Grand Finale on January 14. At the New Orleans Jazz Museum, indoor and outdoor stages will house performances, screenings and more, including sets from John Boutté, the UNO Jazz Ensemble with Steve Masakowski, Charmaine Neville, Kermit Ruffins, Leroy Jones Quartet and others.
By week’s end, attendees will be treated to a series of remarkable events including a panel discussion with Gregg Stafford, Fred Johnson, Herlin Riley, Ellis Marsalis and others about Barker’s profound contributions on January 10 at the New Orleans Jazz Museum and a performance from the Harry Sterling Quartet accompanied by storytelling about Danny and Blue Lu Barker from Jon Pult, Jan Ramsey, Chris Sylvain and more on January 11 at Rhodes Family Services.
Full event schedule and tickets are at dannybarkerfestival.com.