'The Legend of the Dew Drop Inn' documentary interviews newly digitized for online access
Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC) is pleased to announce that The Legend of the Dew Drop Inn documentary interviews by Julia Dorn, a collection at the Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, is open to researchers. Additionally, the video collection has been digitized and is available to view via the Tulane University Digital Library.
The collection contains footage directed by filmmaker Julia Dorn in 2004 and early 2005 for her independently produced documentary, The Legend of The Dew Drop Inn. The unfinished film was intended to have a running time of 55 minutes, and incorporate oral history interviews and other footage detailing the historical, social, and cultural impact of the famed Dew Drop Inn complex, which included one of the foremost Black-owned entertainment venues of pre-integration New Orleans during the 1940s through the 1960s. In addition to the music club, the Dew Drop Inn boasted an accompanying hotel, restaurant, and barber shop. It catered to African American customers and entertainers during segregation, and would become renowned for early performances of legendary rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll musicians, such as iconic New Orleans artists like Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Allen Toussaint.
Footage in the collection features musicians Dave Bartholomew, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Mike Carruba, Deacon John, Reggie Hall, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Walter Payton, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, and Walter "Wolfman" Washington. Also interviewed are Laura Jackson, daughter of Dew Drop Inn founder Frank Painia; and Kenneth Jackson, son of Laura Jackson and grandson of Pania. Additional interview subjects are James O'Neil, cousin of Drew Drop Inn's M.C., female impersonator Patsy Vidalia; Jim Russell, who booked acts at the club; Tee Eva, who lived in the Magnolia Housing Project across from the Dew Drop Inn; original Dew Drop Inn patrons Herman LaRoche, Joe Schneider, and Edward (last name unidentified), who operated Edwards Shoe Service on Magazine Street in New Orleans at the time of filming; trumpeter Lionel Johnson, who lived above the former Dew Drop Inn location at the time of filming; jazz historian Bruce Boyd Raeburn; and Edward Wood, proprietor of Wood's Barber Shop on LaSalle Street.
“While much has been documented about the Dew Drop Inn over the years, these recordings represent first-hand accounts from participants who may not have been interviewed by others or are no longer alive,” says Melissa A. Weber, curator of the Hogan Archive, a unit of TUSC. “We are excited to be able to finally share these stories, as filmmaker Julia Dorn intended, and to assist in the research of this important topic.”
For more information, contact Melissa A. Weber at email@example.com or 504-247-1807. To learn more about Tulane University Special Collections, visit the TUSC website at library.tulane.edu/tusc, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Published May 16, 2023
Photo caption: Exterior of the Dew Drop Inn, 2836 LaSalle Street in New Orleans, 1953; photographer: Ralston Crawford, Ralston Crawford collection of jazz photography, Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, Tulane University Special Collections.