The New Orleans Jazz Club

Riverboats and Jazz

In 1958 the New Orleans Jazz Club held its tenth anniversary celebration aboard the S. S. President. The event was telecast on Dave Garroway’s “Wide, Wide World” on NBC. During the celebration jazz clarinetist Raymond Burke and his wife Katherine joined William Russell, the newly-appointed Curator of the Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University, to inspect the calliope on the President’s upper deck. Calliopes have been an important part of riverboat music since the earliest days, frequently used to signal the arrival or departure of the boats. Fate Marable used to play the calliope on several Streckfus steamers and wore special gloves to prevent burning his fingers on the keys, which sometimes got overheated. Today, Captain Clark “Doc” Hawley of the Natchez continues the tradition of the calliope and can be heard periodically throughout the French Quarter, earning him the nickname “pied piper of the French Quarter.”