Ronnie Kole a pianist and entertainer that made NOLA his home

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NEW ORLEANS— Central to the New Orleans music story of the second half of the 20th Century are the hands of Ronnie Kole.

He hails from Chicago and years ago Ronnie was getting tired of touring with his band and got a fateful call from another New Orleans music giant, Al Hirt.

Kole says, “Al got a hold of me in Norfolk before I even left there and says ‘I want you to come down and open up my new club on Bourbon St. and be my house band’ and I said ‘Oh my God’!”

Good news for us, he never left!  Ronnie eventually teamed with the folks from Moran’s Restaurant and opened his own place on Bourbon St., called Kole’s Corner.  Back then the street was full of great local music and gave Ronnie a real chance to show his versatility.

In the late 60’s, Ronnie was a part of the team that handled a few festivals in our city, but saw a need to produce a bigger showcase of our music.

“We realized that this was too big…too successful, and we needed a major guy who did festivals,” said Kole.

So the decision was made to bring in George Wein of the famed Newport Jazz Festival was made and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ronnie Kole is playing a tribute to Al Hirt and Pete Fountain this Saturday at 4:15p.m. at the Economy Hall Tent.

Giants of the Fest is brought to you with help from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Archive and sponsored by Rouses Markets.


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