NEW ORLEANS— The big voice of Big Al Carson has been entertaining folks in our city for decades. Carson cut his musical teeth like many of our musicians, learning to play in the public school system, and then it was on to play professionally.
Carson said, “Right out of high school I started with the Doc Paulin (band) way back in the day playing tuba and walking the streets of the city, ya know. I’ve been truly blessed because in the time I started a lot of the old guys were still around.”
That tradition of passing down the music from generation to generation is not lost on Carson, and it helped him to develop professionally. The lessons were about more than just what notes to play.
“They were more strict on us then. You had to have your shoes shined, you had to have your black and white regalia. If it’s a funeral you have one hat, if its parade you had to have another hat- ties the same way…all that’s kinda out the window now,” said Carson.
Carson’s conversion from blowing a horn to singing happened at a jazz band rehearsal while he was a student at Xavier.
“She started playing some Roberta Flack and I started harmonizing with her on the Roberta Flack and they said keep that in so ever since then I was able to grab a couple of songs for the jazz concert,” said Carson.
Carson still plays the occasional tuba but our music scene is much richer with him on the mic. In fact, in addition to playing all of our festivals, he just celebrated 25 years of entertaining on Bourbon St.
Big Al Carson loves to entertain that audience,”Some of those songs tough people in different ways It’s instant gratification of knowing a song that somebody wants to look back on and say ‘oh, I remember that, you know?”