The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

April 12, 2013

Sweet Poppa Lou Donaldson returns to Badin Saturday


Friday, April 12, 2013 — One of Badin’s favorite sons and a legend from the famous Blue Note recording label returns for a show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Badin Elementary School.

The program featuring jazz legend Lou Donaldson is in honor of the town’s centennial celebration. Donaldson will be grand marshal for the parade through town at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Donaldson, 86, continues to perform throughout the world.  He last performed at a public Stanly County event in February 2007 as part of the Albemarle Sesquicentennial Celebration.

In a 2007 interview with The Stanly News & Press, he remembered his childhood, growing up in the 1920s and 1930s in Badin. His mother was a music teacher at West Badin.

“It was a regular working man’s town,” he said.

Donaldson began playing the clarinet when he was in high school and continued when he entered college at North Carolina A & T, where he would major in music.

His college education did not last long, for he was soon drafted into the Navy. However, he continued his musical endeavors, playing the clarinet and alto saxophone. This experience led Donaldson to switch from the clarinet to solely the sax.

A trip to Bourbon Street in New Orleans made an impact on an 18-year-old Donaldson.

“The old musicians influence you because you see those guys 70 and 80 years old still playing,” he said.

“They talked about how good it was to be a musician so I figured I’d try that.”

Donaldson made the move to New York City in 1950 to pursue his music career.

“I played with anyone you could name. Back in those days, I played with everybody. You just played little short gigs with everybody. You just played when you got a job.”

“Hot Lips” Page, Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Smith and Miles Davis were some of his contemporaries.

Donaldson said he stayed away from the lifestyles and foreign substances that often followed his fellow musicians.

“I made sure I didn’t do what they were doing,” he said.

“You had to watch yourself because those guys were kind of outrageous, and you didn’t want to get caught with them anywhere because if they picked them up, they’d pick you up.”

Although he has recorded more than 100 albums on LP or CD, his favorite remains the 1958 Blue Note LP “Blues Walk.”

“On ‘Blues Walk’ I started using a conga drum. Before that, no jazz musician had used that. It was a novelty and it was a big hit. They liked that sound.”

Tickets are still available for anyone wanting to experience Donaldson’s sound. Tickets are $20 each.

To submit story ideas, contact B.J. Drye at bj@stanly or (704) 982-2121 ext. 25.