Feel So Good: Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans 1940 to 1970 Tour

As the postwar economy began to boom in New Orleans, Cosimo Matassa opened a little room in the back of J&M Music Shop on Rampart Street as a recording studio. Though segregation was the law of the land, inside Matassa cultivated an integrated, comfortable environment for the city’s best artists to record. Performances by the likes of Fats Domino, Roy Brown, and Lloyd Price, backed by some of the best studio musicians in pop history, birthed what would become known the world over as “the New Orleans Sound.” Meanwhile, required chitlin’ circuit stops like the Dew Drop Inn made the city a destination for out-of-town performers like Ray Charles, making New Orleans an epicenter of rhythm and blues.

After J&M Studios closed, Cosimo Matassa opened new facilities and the hits kept on coming out of New Orleans. Ernie K-Doe, Huey “Piano” Smith, Lee Dorsey, Shirley and Lee, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, and Frankie Ford among others blasted out of jukeboxes and radios across the country. The city cultivated a deep talent pool in schools and performance halls all over town. Local entrepreneurs, black and white, embarked on new ventures in the music business. The music was stellar; the businesses had mixed results. Social upheaval and changes in popular music in the 1960s narrowed the market for R&B records and shifted the clientele of some local music venues.

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