Interview: Deacon John (Part 1)
“Deacon John” Moore’s interview begins with him tuning and playing a slide guitar, while questioning the veracity of statements by fellow interviewee Jim Russell. Moore recalls his history as a Dew Drop Inn performer. He describes the Dew Drop as being “the only place Black people could go where they could enjoy a floor show with . . . an exotic dancer, a comedian, a magician, a singer, or some hot band . . . marionettes . . . a ventriloquist . . . female impersonators.” He describes the show of entertainer Decoy, who used to lay on a bed of hot coals, among other tricks. He recalls how Blacks were not welcome on Bourbon Street unless they were service industry workers or musicians. He relays the story of Robert Mitchum, a Hollywood actor who was white, visiting the Dew Drop Inn and getting arrested since he was in a Black club in a segregated city. He describes other entertainers and “characters who hung around the Dew Drop.” He mentions that Allen Toussaint discovered him at the Dew Drop, which allowed him to do session recording work with various local music stars. He discusses his sole recording session as a bandleader for Rip Records. Moore shares a story of being arrested for mingling with white people at a “beatnik party” during the pre-integration 1960s, and being represented by lawyer A. P. Tureaud. He describes the Dew Drop is not only being a place to play, but “a place to hang out” as “a social scene for the musicians.” He describes a handmade newspaper and gossip column that musician Earl King created to describe “the various going-ons around the Dew Drop.” He discusses the area and businesses that surrounded the Dew Drop Inn. He speaks about Patsy Vidalia at length, and demonstrates how Patsy would perform and M.C. He explains how Frank Painia would help touring Black musicians who may have gotten stranded. He mentions that the popularity of Polaroid cameras in the early 1960s, which led to entrepreneurs taking photos of people at the Dew Drop Inn and selling their instant photos to them to take home. He is also filmed playing the guitar and singing.