Known for his work with Fats Domino both as a trumpeter and tune-smith, Dave Bartholomew forged an enduring and very productive relationship with the down-home New Orleans pianist.
First came “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, which Bartholomew had written for Lloyd Price at Specialty, but which featured Fats Domino on piano. The two were quickly put together in the studio and penned New Orleans standards such as “Ain’t that a Shame”, “Blueberry Hill”, and “The Fat Man” for Imperial. It was this ultra-productive hit factory that shot Fats Domino to fame and provided Imperial records with a steady stream of hits.
Bartholomew also had a career of his own, which stretched back to the late 40’s and early 50’s, when he worked as a bandleader and also did time as New Orleans A&R man for Imperial records. During this early period he also recorded with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra for King Records. He released fabulously insightful and witty tunes of his own on both labels.
“The Monkey”, for Imperial is a diatribe against the hopelessly violent nature of man, written from the perspective of a monkey. With it’s single, simple guitar riff and insistent drums, it sounds almost like golden era ‘conscious’ hip-hop and is absolutely unmissable.
“My Ding-A-Ling”, written for King in 1952, became a popular but second rate hit for Chuck Berry some 10 years later. In Bartholomew’s hands, the song is an ode to the penis and a man and his woman’s adoration thereof. The skitting, ska-like rhythm is punctuated with brass rolls as the punch lines unfold.
“Shrimp & Gumbo”, a mambo-styled party stomper, again released on Imperial, has fabulous syncopated percussion, as only the natives of the jewel of Louisiana know how to beat out. With a hop, skip and a jump, Mr. Bartholomew was able to adapt his distinctive style to the rhythms of the time, whether they be latin, blues or boogie orientated, but he always stuck to his roots in the percussive, Creole, melting pot of the Crescent City.
More than 10 years later, came Fats Domino’s chance to return the favour. A solo career beckoned for Bartholomew and Fats ‘presented’ Dave Bartholomew and His Great Big Band to the public. It pays testament to his enduring talent that Dave Bartholomew was still releasing fabulous albums such as “New Orleans House Party” with standout tunes such as “Sultan’s Dream” and “For Dancer’s Only” nearly 15 years after he began his career.
The songs of Dave Bartholomew swiftly become dear to the heart of anyone who hears them. Seek him out. You might even catch him live if you are very, very, lucky!