Lionel Ferbos and the Louisiana Shakers

Currently Lionel plays every Saturday night at the Palm Court at 1204 Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. His band the Louisiana Shakers also plays at the Nickle-a-Dance series and plays various spot jobs around New Orleans. Lionel Ferbos was born in New Orleans in 1911 to a Creole family of sheet metal workers. Although there were no musicians in his family, Lionel enjoyed the popular music of his day and wanted to learn to play the trumpet. His mother discouraged him because he suffered from asthma and had trouble breathing. She told him that there was no way he could blow a trumpet and that he should try the banjo instead. A couple of years later, Lionel heard the Phil Spatoni All Girl Orchestra perform at the Orpheum Theater. He was impressed with the classical style of the 20-piece orchestra and with the fact that girls were playing trumpets. He thought that if a girl could blow a trumpet, so could he. Encouraged by this experience, he bought a used cornet in a pawn shop and took lessons with Paul Chaligny, a well-known and respected wind instrument teacher who wrote his methods. According to Lionel, Chaligny was very particular about teaching and would not let a student blow the horn until he knew how to read music and had mastered the rudiments of music theory. This experience would serve Lionel well throughout his musical career. After a year with Chaligny, Lionel sturdied with Albert Snaer and then later with Gene Ware. Both were trumpet players in society orchestras on Streckfus Line Steamers, Snaer with Fate Marable and Ware with Sidney Desvigne. After his studies with Chalingy, Snaer, and Ware, Lionel started playing with small bands that played for private parties in New Orleans. As His trumpet skills improved and his reputation grew, various band leaders offered him jobs even though at the time he did not consider himself a jazz musician. Lionel even declined an offer from the popular New Orleans jazz musician John Handy, because he thought he couldn’t play “all that wild jazz.” Handy finally convinced Lionel to join his band, The Louisiana Shakers, and told him not to worry about improvising.