Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Red Mackie And The 6 & 7/8s String Band

Klanken uit Tom Anderson's Café (Nederlands) Echoes of The Past ( English) Red Mackie en de 6 and 7/8s String Band (Nederlands) Red Mackie and the 6 and 7/8s String Band (English)

The Complete 6 and 7/8s String Band of New Orleans Discography ( Joergen Larsen)

The 6 & 7/8s String Band of New Orleans
Joergen Larsen

Earlier Hans Koert introduced the readers of the keepswingingblog to the great Six and Seven Eights String Band of New Orleans in a
blogentry that also mentioned the then available 17 recordings of the group on the Folkways label. In a previous article, Echoes of The Past, I reviewed the two cd-set from American Music (AMCD 125/126) that was released 2007 and contains all available tracks featuring the 6 & 7/8s String Band with additional material included and notes by Samuel Charters. You can read the article by clicking here.
Recently Hans Koert had a correspondence with Rick Mackie, the nephew of bassist Frank "Red" Mackie who provides further details to the story of the 6 & 7/8s stringband. Rick tells the following regarding his uncle Red: "He lived with my family for the last 11 great years of his great life, and we spent many hours listening to and discussing music. He was a legend in New Orleans, quite famous for his "ear" which was renowned as the best, period. It was true. He had perfect pitch to begin, and conceptualized harmonic substitution in an incredibly complex and innovative way. He heard music in all of its dimensions, linearly, vertically and in the extra dimension which is only in the ear of an artist." - Further Rick states the connection between the 6 & 7/8s and the Invicibles: "Someone mentioned the Invincibles. The members of the Six and Seven Eighths were basically the Invincibles. My father, Dick Mackie, who found his first cornet (really!) discarded in some trash streetside, was invited at the age of 16 years to "sit in " with the Invincibles one evening at the Quatier Club on St Peter Street at Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans. My father was a terrific cornetist, and was an instant sensation that night. Thereafter, the Invincibles were no longer a string band. They did evolve into the New Orleans Owls, my father on cornet and Uncle Red on tuba (sousaphone, actually). The Six and Seven Eighths continued as New Orleans' premier string band, and they frequently revived the group over the decades until the recordings were made in the 'Forties and 'Fifties. (...) By the way, none of these men were professional musicians, my uncle having eschewed that path early-on because he didn't want to be told what to play, as he explained it to me. Actually they were all well-to-do and well heeled professional men, who, when young, had the leisure to indulge in the great music they made together."
Rick Mackie also tells about a special event featuring members of the 6 & 7/8s, quote: "A very interesting episode about the Six and Seven Eighths is that in the mid- to late ‘50’s, they were featured on a very popular American television program, “This Is Your Life.” It was a national network broadcast, and the format featured interesting or famous people, one per show, who were supposed to be surprised at the guests from their past who had been located and made appearances to reminisce about the old times together. Edmond Souchon was the “celebrity” who was featured, and, of course the string band was brought into the picture. This was in the days before videotape, and I doubt if there is even an old kinescope recording surviving, but it was very exciting to us in New Orleans to see our beloved Six and Seven Eighths on TV! I’m sure they performed Up the Lazy River, that was Dr. Souchon’s signature vocal. He was a very basic guitarist as you have heard. Bill Kleppinger was the real jazz spark in the group, being influenced by the great white clarinetist Larry Shields. It must have been very exciting when the whole group was playing hot music in the 20’s, but even as a quartet, they had something special."

It would indeed be interesting to learn, if a recording of the mentioned TV program exisists, perhaps readers of this blog can provide further info. Contact us at

The 6 & 7/8s String Band of New Orleans "Echoes of Tom anderson's - the New Orleans String Jazz Traditions. (AMCD 125/126)

Joergen Larsen

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