Sweet Lou Donaldson: Mystery Solved


Click to enlarge

A few weeks ago I had a fuzzy memory about Jazz legend “Sweet” Lou Donaldson, in honor of his selection as a NEA Jazz Master.

I saw Donaldson in a performance, yet couldn’t remember the date or much of anything about it really. It was a mystery. However, as I was sifting through some papers, I found the program, complete with autographs.

Sometimes, it’s good to keep stuff. Just sayin’.

Donaldson played with Dr. Lonnie Smith on Hammond B-3 Organ, Peter Bernstein on guitar, and Fukushi Tianaka on drums. On the program, there are autographs from Donaldson, Smith and, one more, who, for the life of me, I can’t make out. It doesn’t look like a “Bernstein” or “Tianaka.”

Maybe I was just randomly handing the program around …

The concert was on November 12, 1994.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The event itself, hosted by the Badin-Harristown Optimist Club in Stanly County, N.C., may have been something more than just honoring the hometown jazz legend.

The program includes letters to the Optimist Club from the International President of the Optimist Club (Jean Mercier), the executive director of the Optimist Club (Richard E. Arnold), and the president-elect of Optimist International (J.C. Boone). Each of the letters mentions the concert, but mainly talks about the work the local Optimist Club had been doing in the community.

For example, Allen’s letter reads, in part:

It has been brought to our attention that your club is sponsoring a very special event. An occasion to praise a home town boy who makes good is always a distinctive one. I’m sure Lou Donaldson will provide an excellent evening of entertainment which will be enjoyed by 200 children who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to participate without the assistance of the Optimist Club of Badin-Harristown.

But this event is just another in a long list of your club’s 14 years of community service …

And the next two paragraphs highlight that service. All of the other letters in the program follow the same format. So, maybe there is still a bit of fuzzy memory left to clear up …

But, alas, I guess a little self-congratulations is OK … as long as great music follows. And it did.

Oh, by the way, the name of the reporter from the newspaper who helped put it all together? Mr. Ben Jolly (who now works as a spokesman for Stanly Regional Medical Center and hosts a show on YouTube).

So, Ben, if you’re out there, I hope you realize you put on a pretty cool night, and it has not been forgotten.

Did anyone else attend this show or have any Lou Donaldson memories to share?


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