SXSW Panel: The Bartholomew Family – Three Generations of New Orleans Hitmaking

You may not know the name, but you sure as hell know the music

You may not recognize the name Dave Bartholomew, but you surely know his music. The song “Blueberry Hill,” which he produced for Fats Domino in 1956, continues to sell today. And sell, and sell, and sell. “Fifty million copies and counting,” his son Don B pointed out.

Photo by Gary Miller

The elder Bartholomew, now 92, was scheduled to appear on the panel, but was unable to travel from New Orleans according to his other son Ron, who took his place. Led by noted music writer John Swenson, it was a compelling hour nonetheless.

Pointing out not just the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s influence on American music, but how all three generations continue to impact the New Orleans music scene, Swenson gave the floor over to Don B and Ron, who spoke of how their father was more than just an influence on them.

“Yes, he was a great artist,” acknowledged Ron, “but multiply that by 100 as a great dad.”

His grandsons, Blake and Don Jr., are vital in NOLA’s contemporary hip-hop and R&B scene and there was the occasional, good-natured familial dig across generations on the type of music they enjoy and enjoy making.

Swenson noted excitedly that after Hurricane Katrina, Don B found some cassette tapes of previously unreleased music by the patriarch of the family and is readying them for release later this year.

All in all, an important history lesson and an intriguing glimpse into a dynastic musical family.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Angel Olsen Entrances Mohawk
Angel Olsen Entrances Mohawk
Her other shoe drops tonight at the Red River favorite

Abby Johnston, Feb. 7, 2017

Out of the Gutter
Out of the Gutter
The Bulemics grow up

Tim Stegall, April 1, 2016

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Bartholomew Family, SXSW Music 2014, Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Don B

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle