Interview and other footage: Jim Russell
Jim Russell’s interview is continued from HJA093_6. Russell describes his connection with the Dew Drop Inn, after he came to New Orleans from New York in 1955 as a radio DJ manager who was connected to Alan Freed. He relays the first time he met Dew Drop Inn owner Frank Painia, who was surprised that Freed was not “a Negro.” Russell describes setting up a talent showcase for local musicians, which led to the club becoming a top draw for live music as opposed to vaudeville acts. He discusses segregation laws in the South, booking white artists like Joe Barry to sing at the Dew Drop Inn, and both of them being arrested for being inside the club, which served a Black clientele. He describes helping Painia improve attendance at the club which, prior to Russell booking live music, featured entertainment that consisted of vaudeville acts and striptease shows. He compares the nearby Hayes’ Chicken Shack, which Russell describes as “one of the top Creole nightclubs in the city, one of the high class nightclubs,” to the Dew Drop Inn. He discusses how the club was known for “heavy R&B” because “that’s what brought in the people,” and why other genres such as blues did not draw heavy crowds. He also explains the development of R&B as a music genre in the 1950s, and why he felt The Beatles craze diminished R&B’s mainstream popularity in the U.S. He discusses the club’s diminished popularity in the late 1960s, due to integration laws. He expresses doubt in Kenneth Jackson’s efforts to restore and reopen the Dew Drop Inn, circa early 2000s, due to the surrounding neighborhood.