Jazz Fest Minutes: Banjoman Don Vappie

Apr 26, 2013

Don Vappie.
Credit vappielle.com

Don Vappie grew up in New Orleans with a yen for music he just couldn’t explain.

“My earliest memory, it must have been second grade, I always wanted to be a musician,” Vappie says. “I have no idea why, but that’s what I wanted to do.”

Unless it was those records.

“I had a Decca record player, you know, the little box you could carry around? And my grandmother gave me a 78. It was ‘A Tisket, A Tasket.’ And on the flip side it was Chick Webb doing ‘Liza (Let the Clouds Roll Away)’ — which was my favorite back then. I thought that was just fantastic.”

Vappie enjoyed his mother’s support early on in his quest for music. And, ultimately, that of his father.

“After my father died, I think he died in the late ‘80s, my mother expressed to me that he never thought... He never agreed with what I was doing, initially. And she would speak up for me and say, ‘Well, you know, this is something that’s in him. You’ve got to let him do it.’ So she sort of took up for me. But, you know, before he died, well before he died, I was playing on the Natchez riverboat and actually making a living playing music, and he expressed to me that he understood and he approved completely. And was very proud.”

Don Vappie and the Creole Jazz Serenaders play Jazz Fest Sunday, April 28.