The Louis Armstrong House Museum celebrates its 10-year anniversary on Tuesday October 15th, 2013. It has welcomed 100,000 visitors since opening its doors to the public as a historic house in 2003.
The Anniversary Bash begins on October 15th at 6:00 pm with a really hot program. It includes a special performance by The Hot Sardines and Creole creations based on Louis’s own recipes prepared by The Cooking Channel’s Tamara Reynolds and her company, Van Alst Kitchen; and, if that wasn’t hot enough, the museum will unveil Louis Armstrong’s Life Mask, which has recently been restored and will be on display for the first time in the Museum’s history.
About Louis Armstrong’s Life Mask:
Louis Armstrong’s Life Mask is a plaster mask with a painted bronze-patina finish. Previously thought to have been a sculpture of Louis Armstrong, closer examination with conservators has revealed this new information. The museum is still exploring the story behind the life mask, searching for more information about the artist and when it was actually cast. Photos from the 1960’s show the life mask installed in Louis’s home in Corona.
David Reese, the museum’s curator, explains, “Life and Death Masks constitute a distinct sub-set of sculpture. They have been crafted for many centuries, utilizing a variety of processes and materials (such as wax or plaster), but all are modeled from the real surfaces of individual faces, either before or just after death. These masks are often commissioned to immortalize famous people. Life or Death masks of Tutankhamen, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig Von Beethoven and John Keats are among the most prominent examples of this genre. They include deep wrinkles, crooked noses, double chins, or other imperfect features that a sculptor might not usually include in shaping the bust of an individual. The life mask of Louis Armstrong, made in the 1950’s, captures broad scars on his lips, heavy bags under his eyes, and deep creases on his forehead. Viewing this plaster portrait is almost like seeing Louis’s real face, and it reveals his character as no other image can.”
In addition to the unveiling of Louis Armstrong’s Life Mask, The Hot Sardines will really kick up the museum’s party. Take a blustery brass lineup, layer it over a rhythm section led by a stride-piano virtuoso in the Fats Waller vein, and tie the whole thing together with a one-of-the-boys frontwoman with a voice from another era, and you have the Hot Sardines. In a short time, The Hot Sardines have gone from their first gig – at a coffee shop on the last Q train stop in Queens – to selling out Joe’s Pub five times in as many months, headlining at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing, and opening for the Bad Plus, Lulu Gainsbourg and French gypsy-jazz artist Zaz. Through it all they’ve become regulars at the Shanghai Mermaid speakeasy and turned The Standard, where they play regularly, into their own “saloon in the sky” (The Wall Street Journal) – complete with tap dancing on the bar – honing a live persona that’s been called “unforgettably wild” and “consistently electrifying” (Popmatters). The Sardine sound – wartime Paris via New Orleans is steeped in hot jazz, salty stride piano, and the kind of music Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt and Waller used to make.
Layer in famed foodie Tamara Reynolds and Louis’s house is the place to be in NYC on October 15th. Tamara Reynolds trained to be a musician but fell in love with the kitchen. She is a self taught cook who has run the underground supper club, “The Sunday Night Dinner in Astoria.” for the last 10 years, is the chef/owner of traveling feast Van Alst Kitchen, and can be seen giving her always colorful opinions on The Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats. She can also be seen giving some cooking instruction on http://moms.mylifetime.com/. She never met a party she didn’t want to attend, especially one that features some New Orleans Jazz and gumbo.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum’s Anniversary Bash will be held in the Armstrong’s garden at 34-56 107th Street, Queens, New York. Tickets are $30, $45 and $100, include beer and wine, and must be purchased in advance. $45 tickets include a limited-edition commemorative print of Louis Armstrong and $100 tickets include the print plus one-year museum membership.
Tickets can be purchased online at LouisArmstrongHouse.org. For more information go to LouisArmstrongHouse.org or call Louis Armstrong House Museum at 718.478.8274.