Social constructions of ‘authenticity’ and the sounds of the Kid Thomas Valentine Band

The case of ‘Basin Street Blues’—an approach from sociological musicology and cultural studies


  • Richard Ekins University of Ulster



Kid Thomas Valentine, New Orleans jazz revivalism, Popular Musicology, The Grain of the Voice


The Kid Thomas Band (1926–1987) may lay legitimate claim to be the most significant of all the old-style New Orleans jazz bands, in terms of ‘authenticity’, longevity and contemporary significance. This article seeks to illuminate social constructions of authenticity in New Orleans revivalist jazz through an analysis of major aspects of the musical detail of selected recordings of ‘Basin Street Blues’ by the Kid Thomas Band. It compares and contrasts the Kid Thomas Band New Orleans ‘dance hall’ sound of 1957 with the ‘concert hall’ sound of 1971, with particular reference to social constructions of authenticity embedded within second-wave New Orleans jazz revivalism of the 1960s and 1970s, as supplemented by the current views of selected New Orleans revivalist jazz enthusiasts, musicians, writers, promoters and record producers with over half a century’s participation within worldwide New Orleans revivalist jazz social worlds.

Author Biography

Richard Ekins, University of Ulster

Richard Ekins is a jazz record producer for 504/La Croix Records and Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Cultural Studies at Ulster University, UK. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and Institute of Psychoanalysis, London. His current research is focused on authenticity in early jazz and New Orleans jazz revivalism, and on the life and work of Dorothy Richardson.


Anderson, Leon (2006) ‘Analytic Autoethnography’. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 35: 373–95.

Atkinson, Paul, and Martyn Hammersley (1994) ‘Ethnography and Participant Observation’. In Handbook of Qualitative Research, ed. N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 248–61. California: Sage Publications.

Barker, Hugh, and Yuval Taylor (2007) Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music. London: Faber & Faber.

Barthes, Roland (1977) ‘The Grain of the Voice’. In Roland Barthes, Image Music Text, essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, 179–89. London: Fontana.

Bell, Graeme (1988) Graeme Bell: Australian Jazzman—His Autobiography. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Child and Associates.

Bethell, Tom (2008) ‘Recording at San Jacinto Hall in the 1960s’. New Orleans Music 14/1: 6–11.

Blesh, Rudi (1943) This is Jazz: A Series of Lectures Given at The San Francisco Museum of Art. San Francisco: Rudi Blesh.

——(1949) Shining Trumpets: A History of Jazz. London: Cassell & Company.

Borenstein, Larry (1968) ‘Introduction’. Preservation Hall Portraits. Paintings by Noel Rockmore. Text by Larry Borenstein and Bill Russell, 1–6. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Bryce, Owen (2001) The George Webb Dixielanders: My Part: The First Ten Years of the British Jazz Revival, 2nd edn. Blisworth: Owen Bryce.

Carr, Ian, Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestley (1987) ‘Revivalism’. In Jazz: The Essential Companion, 416. London: Grafton Books.

Carter, William (1991) Preservation Hall: Music from the Heart. New York: W. W. Norton.

Charters, Samuel B. (1958) Jazz New Orleans, 1885–1957: An Index to the Negro Musicians of New Orleans. Jazz Monographs No. 2. Belleville, NJ: Walter C. Allen.

——(1963) Jazz New Orleans, 1885–1963: An Index to the Negro Musicians of New Orleans. New York: Oak Publications. [Revised edn of 1958 publication.]

Dash, Terry (1971) ‘The Kid Thomas Band in Europe’. Footnote 3/2: 16–19.

DeVeaux, Scott (1991) ‘Constructing the Jazz Tradition: Jazz Historiography’. Black American Literature Forum 25/3: 525–60.

DeVore, Charlie (1974) ‘The True New Orleans Sound of Kid Thomas Valentine’. The Mississippi Rag 1/4: 1–3.

Dodds, Warren ‘Baby’ (1953) ‘Baby Talk: Playing for the Benefit of the Band’. Bill Russell interview, transcribed by Chip Stern ( From Baby Dodds No 3. ‘Playing for the Benefit of the Band’. American Music, 10” LP, Baby Dodds #3.

Dunkel, Mario (2010) ‘Writing Jazz History: The Emergence of a New Genre’. Current Objectives of American Postgraduate American Studies (2010): 11. (accessed 27 January 2016).

Dunsby, Jonathan (2009) ‘Roland Barthes and the Grain of Panzera’s Voice’. Journal of the Royal Musical Association 134: 113–32.

Ekins, Richard (2006) ‘Kid Thomas Valentine 1961 and 1968’. Booklet accompanying 504/La Croix CD92. The Lord Richard New Orleans Sessions, Vol. 2.

——(2008) ‘Pitch Monitoring, Pitch Correction and the Case of the Louis James Orchestra, 1967’. New Orleans Music 14/3: 6–14.

——(2009) ‘Bob Wallis on Authenticity and the New Orleans Jazz Revival in Britain’. Just Jazz 138: 22–27.

——(2010) ‘Traditional Jazz and the Mainstreaming of Authenticity: The Case of British Traddy Pop (1959–1963)—A Grounded Theory Approach’. Popular Music History 5/2: 125–50.

——(2011) ‘Authenticity as Authenticating: The Case of New Orleans Jazz Revivalism: An Approach from Grounded Theory and Social World Analysis’. Dissertation submitted as part of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the University of Liverpool, UK.

——(2012) ‘Authenticity as Authenticating: The Case of New Orleans Jazz Revivalism: An Approach from Grounded Theory and Social World Analysis’. Popular Music History 7/1: 24–52.

——(2013a) ‘Authenticity as Authenticating in New Orleans Jazz Revivalism: Adapting Authenticity and the Case of Dan Pawson and his Artesian Hall Stompers (1960–2003)’. Paper presented to the ‘Rethinking Jazz Cultures’ conference. Media City UK 2013. 11-14 April, University of Salford.

——(2013b) ‘The Social Construction of a Music Mecca: “Goin’ Home”, New Orleans and International New Orleans Jazz Revivalism’. Popular Music History 8/1: 29–45.

——(2015) ‘Becoming a Follower of the Merseysippi Jazz Band: An Approach from Ethnography, Autoethnography and Social World Analysis—a Study in Resocialisation’. Jazz Research Journal 9/1: 7–36.

——(2016) ‘In Praise of Leonard Brackett (1925–2007): Center Records and the Return to the Music of the New Orleans Dance Halls’. Just Jazz 214: 16–20.

Ekins, Richard, and Wendy Saunderson (2014) ‘Does Pitch Rectification Matter in New Orleans Jazz? The Case of the Kid Thomas Band at Kohlman’s Tavern, 1968’. Just Jazz 190: 8–12.

Ellis, C., and A. Bochner (2000) ‘Autoethnography, Personal Narrative, Reflexivity: Researcher as Subject’. In Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd edn, ed. Norman K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 733–68. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Freud, Sigmund (1930 [1929]) ‘Civilization and its Discontents’. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 21: 57–145. London: Hogarth.

Frith, Simon (1987) ‘Towards an Aesthetic of Popular Music’. In Music and Society, ed. R. Leppart and S. McLary, 133–49. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

——(1988) ‘Playing with Real Feeling—Jazz and Suburbia’. In Simon Frith, Music for Pleasure, 45–63. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gabbard, Krin (1993) ‘The Jazz Canon and its Consequences’. In Annual Review of Jazz Studies 5, Institute of Jazz Studies, ed. Edward Berger, David Cayer, Dan Morgenstein and Lewis Porter, 65–98. Rutgers, Metuchen, NJ: The State University of New Jersey and The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Gardner, Robert, Owen (2005) ‘Tradition and Authenticity in Popular Music’. Symbolic Interaction 28/1: 135–44.

Gennan, John (2006) Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Glaser, Barney F. (1978) Theoretical Sensitivity: Advances in the Methodology of Grounded Theory. Mills Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Glaser, Barney F. (ed.) (1996) with W. Douglas Caplan. Gerund Grounded Theory: The Basic Social Process Dissertation. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Glaser, Barney, and Anselm L. Strauss (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago: Aldine.

Goggin, Jim, and Pete Clute (1994) The Great Jazz Revival: A Pictorial Celebration of Traditional Jazz. Oxford: Bayou Press.

Goodey, Brian R. (1968) ‘New Orleans to London: Twenty Years of the New Orleans Jazz Revival in Britain’. Journal of Popular Culture 2/2: 173–94.

Hadlock, Richard (2000) ‘The New Orleans Revival’. In The Oxford Companion to Jazz, ed. Bill Kirchner, 305–15. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hardie, Daniel (2002) Exploring Early Jazz: The Origins and Evolution of the New Orleans Style. San Jose: Writers Club Press.

——(2007) The Birth of Jazz: Reviving the Music of the Bolden Era. New York: iUniverse, Inc.

——(2013) Jazz Historiography: The Story of Jazz History Writing. Bloomington: iUniverse, Inc.

Harvey, Brian (2011) ‘Review of Billie and DeDe Pierce with Louis Nelson, Cie Frasier and Chester Zardis’. The Lord Richard New Orleans Sessions Volume 4, 504/La Croix CD94. Brian Harvey Hot Jazz Channel. (accessed 27 January 2016; as of 12 April 2016, no longer live).

Hazeldine, Mike (1993) (compiled and ed.) Bill Russell’s American Music. New Orleans: Jazzology Press.

Hersch, Charles (2008) ‘Reconstructing the Jazz Tradition’. Jazz Research Journal 2/1: 7–28.

Hesmondhaigh, Desmond, and Keith Negus (eds) (2002) Popular Music Studies. London: Hodder Arnold.

Katz, Mark (2010) Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music, revised edn. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kodat, Catherine Gunther (2003) ‘Conversing with Ourselves: Canon, Freedom, Jazz’. American Quarterly 55/1: 1–28.

Lomax, Alan (1990) Jazz Parades: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,,126 (accessed 27 January 2016).

Long, Alecia P. (2007) ‘Poverty is the New Prostitution: Race, Poverty, and Public Housing in Post-Katrina New Orleans’. Journal of American History 94: 795–803.

Marquis, Don (1993) In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz. Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press.

Martin, Jacques (1982) ‘Kid Thomas in Paris: Interview (through Interpreter) of Kid Thomas Valentine’. French Antenne 2 TV show ‘Incroyable Mais Vrai’.

Melly, George (1984) ‘Ken Colyer and the First Traditional Jazz Band’. (accessed 27 January 2016). From ‘Whatever Happened to Bill Brunskill?’, Thames TV.

Mills, Grayson (1960a) ‘New Orleans Music: Root, Bone and Marrow, Flower: A Report on Icon Records’ Objectives and Realities’. Jazz Report 1/4: 11.

——(1960b) ‘The Pith O’ Sense: An Enquiry into the Nature and Ideals of Contemporary Jazz’. Jazz Monthly 6/1: 27–28.

——(1962a) Kid Howard’s Olympia Band, The HEART and BOWELS of N.O. Jazz featuring Albert Burbank. Volume VII, Root, Bone and Marrow Flower. Icon, LP8.

——(1962b) ‘Sleeve notes’ for George Lewis, Endless the Trek, Endless the Search, Volume VIII, Root, Bone and Marrow Flower. Icon, LP9.

Moore, Allan (2007) ‘Authenticity as Authentication’. In Critical Essays in Popular Musicology, ed. Allan F. Moore, 131–45. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Moore, Hilary (2007) ‘Ken Colyer and the Trad Jazz Movement: Class, Authenticity and the Nostalgic Imagination’. In Hilary Moore, Inside British Jazz: Crossing Borders of Race, Nation and Class, 37–65. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Parncutt, Richard (2007) ‘Systematic Musicology and the History and Future of Western Musical Scholarship’. Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies 1: 1–32.

Potter, Russell A. (1999) ‘Race’. In Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture, ed. Bruce Horner and Thomas Swiss, 71–84. Oxford: Blackwell.

Raeburn, Bruce Boyd (2009) New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Ramsey, Frederic, Jr, and Charles Edward Smith (eds) (1939) Jazzmen: The Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men Who Created It. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company.

Rasula, J. (1995) ‘The Media of Memory: The Seductive Menace of Records in Jazz History’. In Jazz Among the Discourses, ed. Krin Gabbard, 134–64. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press.

Rijn, Guido van (1993) ‘James “Stump” Johnson 1929–1964’. Booklet accompanying Document DOCD-5250.

Rockmore, Noel (1968) ‘Rockmore on the Preservation Hall Portraits: A Conversation with Bill Russell’. In Preservation Hall Portraits. Paintings by Noel Rockmore. Text by Larry Borenstein and Bill Russell, unpaginated. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Russell, Bill (1994) New Orleans Style, compiled and edited by Barry Martyn and Mike Hazeldine. New Orleans: Jazzology Press.

Schafer, William J. (ed.) (1998) ‘New Orleans Memories Part 1: Interviews with Charlie DeVore’. The Mississippi Rag XXV1, no. 22: 1, 2, 4–6.

Shipton, Alyn (2012) ‘The New Orleans Revival in Britain and France’. In Eurojazzland: Jazz and European Sources, Dynamics, and Contexts, ed. Luca Cerchiari, Laurent Cugny and Franz Kerschbaumer, 253–74. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Smith, Ray, and Mike Pointon (2016) Bill Russell and the New Orleans Jazz Revival. Sheffield: Equinox.

Smits, Guus, and Gerard Bielderman (2010) A Discography of Kid Thomas Valentine. Zwolle, The Netherlands: Gerard Bielderman.

Spradley, James P. (1979) The Ethnographic Interview. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stagg, Tom, and Charlie Crump (1973) New Orleans—The Revival: A Tape and Discography of Negro Traditional Jazz Recorded in New Orleans or by New Orleans Bands, 1937–1972. Dublin: Bashall Eaves.

Strauss, Anselm L. (1977) Mirrors and Masks. London: Martin Robertson.

Turner, Frederick (1994) Remembering Song: Encounters with New Orleans Jazzmen, expanded edn. New York: Da Capo Press.

Vannini, Phillip (2008) ‘The Authenticity of Self: Conceptualization, Personal Experience, and Practice’. Sociology Compass 2/5: 1621–37.

Vesey, Catherine, and Frederic Dimanche (2003) ‘From Storyville to Bourbon Street: Vice, Nostalgia and Tourism’. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 1/1: 54–70.

Walser, Robert (1991) ‘The Body in Music: Epistemology and Musical Semiotics’. College Music Symposium 31: 117–26.



How to Cite

Ekins, R. (2016). Social constructions of ‘authenticity’ and the sounds of the Kid Thomas Valentine Band: The case of ‘Basin Street Blues’—an approach from sociological musicology and cultural studies. Jazz Research Journal, 9(2), 107–144.