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KUOW Presents

Meet All Your Fine Friends: The Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans

02/20/2003

Host Chuck Siler takes a sentimental journey to a southern hot spot. Join Siler on a fascinating journey to New Orleans' Dew Drop Inn.

Located on LaSalle Street in Uptown New Orleans, the Dew Drop was once a combination music club, hotel, barber shop, and soul food joint, owned and frequented by African Americans. Frank Pania owned and operated the club from the 1940s until the early 1970s, perhaps the years of its greatest fame (and infamy!).

Local musicians and entertainers performed and socialized at the Dew Drop, sharing the stage and bar stools with nationally-known musicians on tour. Vaudeville acts, comedians, singers, even a floor show with women and transvestites opened for the brightest stars, from Lloyd Price and Aaron Neville to Ray Charles and Duke Ellington.

With so many talented and creative artists patronizing the place, stories of the Dew Drop are as numerous as they are fascinating. Even songs were inspired by incidents notorious and otherwise that took place there.The antics that went on inside were a critical counterweight to the segregation, police corruption, and oppressive politics of touring that went on outside.

Host Chuck Siler talks with Ray Charles, Dr. John, Earl Palmer, Charles Neville, Allen Toussaint, Earl King, Deacon John, Irma Thomas, and many others. The program features music from the golden age of New Orleans rhythm and blues, including songs by Esquerita, Lee Allen, Earl King, Guitar Slim, Smiley Lewis, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and Big Joe Turner.

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