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Subject: Big Al" Carson, New Orleans bluesman and Bourbon Street singer

Dead at 66
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Date Posted: Monday, April 27, 12:10:45pm

Big Al" Carson, New Orleans bluesman and Bourbon Street singer, dies at 66

BY BRYN STOLE | Staff writer Published Apr 26, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Updated Apr 26, 2020 at 8:15 pm


New Orleans blues singer "Big" Al Carson, a longtime Bourbon Street fixture who belted out songs on the city's most famous drag for decades, died Sunday afternoon at the age of 66.

Carson died about two weeks after suffering a heart attack, according to his his wife and other relatives who confirmed his passing.

A staple of the New Orleans music scene, Carson performed with a slew of the city's best-known bands and was fixture at festivals. Carson was also something of a Bourbon Street institution with his standing gig at the Funky Pirate Bar with his band, the Blues Masters, where he played for a quarter-century and met his wife.

"He was still playing there until the virus shut everything down," said his sister, Cynthia Zeno. "Ive never heard anybody say a cross word about him, anything negative."

Known for his booming voice and prodigious waistline, Carson started off singing gospel and toted a tuba in various brass bands for years before stepping out as a blues singer with a decidedly lubricious streak.

Zeno recalled Carson performing with church groups as a child and playing in the band at Booker T. Washington High School before attending Xavier University and launching a decades-long career in music that saw him play all over town.

"He's always had some kind of horn in his hands," Zeno said.

Among the brass groups Carson played with include Ernest "Doc" Paulin's band, the Tuxedo Jazz Band, the Olympia Brass Band, the Eureka Brass Band and Spirit of New Orleans, among others. He also backed trombonist Steve Yocum at the Maison Bourbon before embarking on his singing career, according to a 2010 Times-Picayune profile.

"Ive never even thought of relocating because New Orleans is not my home. New Orleans is me," Carson told OffBeat magazine in 2007. "I always kid myself, I say to my wife I bes Creole. You know what Im saying. That whole gumbo. It all comes out in the music."

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