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Louis Charbonnet III Interview
Charbonnet III, Louis
Cramer, Cheryl Q.W.
Topics Include: Jazz funeral business and traditions in Treme, Jazz funerals, second line funerals, Treme neighborhood culture, Charbonnet's upbringing. Side 2 is blank.
Louis Charbonnet III describes his life growing up in Treme. He went to Joseph S. Craig school where he learned the trumpet. He played in the band there as well as in junior high. He played first French horn in the symphony at St. Augustus school. He still has his horn in the attic which he says he looks at nostalgically every once in a while. Charbonnet describes the boundaries of Treme as going from the lakeside of Rampart St. to the Riverside of N. Claiborne, and the Uptown Esplanade Avenue to Downtown Orleans Avenue. Treme was originally there to service the building of the French Quarter. Workers would leave Treme in the morning to go build homes in the French Quarter. There were meat markets and corner groceries in Treme but they no longer exist after the building of the interstate system and Armstrong Park. In this collection Louis Charbonnet III describes his life while growing up in Tremé. It was at Joseph S. Craig School where Charbonnet learned to play the trumpet. He later joined the school band and continued to be in the band through junior high. He also played the French horn while in the symphony at St. Augustine High School. He still has his French horn in his attic and recalls looking at with nostalgia every so often. Charbonnet describes the implied boundaries of Tremé as going from the lakeside of Rampart St. to the riverside of N. Claiborne, and the Uptown Esplanade Avenue to Downtown Orleans Avenue. He explains that Tremé was originally there in order to service the building of the French Quarter. The workers would leave Tremé in the morning to build homes in the French Quarter. There were meat markets and corner groceries in Tremé, but they ceased to exist after the building of the interstate system and Louis Armstrong Park. The construction of these two new formations also destroyed the old music halls and meeting places that were often used to create the music that was so central to the Tremé culture. Charbonnet says that they did away with the ethnic feel of Tremé as well. He describes the beginning of his family's funeral home business as an idea after seeing the carriage rides that were offered for various reasons in the city. His family owned a carriage and transformed it into a business as well as buying a hearse that was made in 1812 at an auction. Charbonnet describes the large difference between a Jazz funeral and a second line funeral. The Jazz funerals are more traditional. They begin with the slow funeral sounds, and there is a dignified mourning process. People go into the cemetery in a sorrowful manner and leave joyous. He describes this celebration as being a very African tradition. The second line funerals in contrast are much more upbeat for the entirety of the funeral. They begin with fast music and are more commercial. It is more like a performance and an outlet to release negative energy. They don't pay as many respects to the dead, however. They did still have benevolence-- they would provide food for the funerals and ample amounts of musicians and mourners. Charbonnet also mentions that there were people who moved to the front of Tremé (closer to Rampart St.), renovated homes, and wanted to bring in French Quarter culture. Old music halls were places for groups like the Tulane Club and Jolly Branch to meet with each other, but the buildings are now covered in a new façade. Artists then spread out towards the 7th ward, but their roots will always be in Tremé.
Mourning customsFuneral serviceCultureChildhood and youthNeighborhoods
Amistad Research Center; Tulane University Digital Library
Box 1, Item 1, Side 1, Treme Oral History Project collection, 1993-1994, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. Copyright laws.