Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White

Sheet music

Phases & Stages

Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White

by Tom Sancton

Other Press, 305 pp, $24.95

What kind of father encourages his white, preteen son to befriend elderly black men in barely desegregated New Orleans? With Preservation Hall serving as a backdrop for prolonged cross-cultural interaction, Tom Sancton recounts frequent trips to the French Quarter, where he learned to play clarinet under the tutelage of aging jazz masters George Lewis and Creole George Guesnon. Rather than conforming to the sheltered rut of an early-Sixties mass media blitz, the young Sancton embraced his father's interest in civil rights and a practically bygone Dixieland style to the point that he eventually become an integral member of the Olympia Brass Band. By eating meals with "the men's" and marching in funeral processions with them, gaining insight to their prideful heritage, a teenage Sancton grew up quickly with the realization that all was not right in his own home. What kind of father neglects the mother of his children? What kind of father sabotages his own successful career in journalism? And in the end, what kind of father counters his self-inflicted blundering course with an ambitious, enriching gift to his son that makes any semblance of doubt a guilt-ridden endeavor? As much a personal journey as a restoration of New Orleans music history, Song for My Fathers drenches itself in the sweat of a life spent riding the fence between patriarchal extremes.

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  

More Music Reviews
Faster Than Sound: SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
Virtual festival forecasts incoming local debuts and tentative fall touring.

Rachel Rascoe, March 26, 2021

Faster Than Sound: Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Nostalgic livestream and rising Austin talent fundraise for the Austin Parks Foundation.

Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 16, 2020

More by Robert Gabriel
KJ Hines
KJ Hines
Prince of the City

April 27, 2007

Play the Role
Play the Role
Bavu Blakes is not afraid

April 27, 2007

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

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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