In 2010, Music Maker located Ironing Board Sam living in terrible poverty, having given up on his career. My first call was to Quint Davis, one of the founders of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He was excited to hear that Sam was still alive. He immediately sent a donation to help artists like Sam and promised to bring him back to the festival. I met with Quint last summer at the Newport Folk Festival; he told me how he met Sam many years ago when Sam was still performing on his “Button Board,” and presented him at Jazz Fest during the event’s early years.
Quint told me that the world will know that Ironing Board is back in action after the festival this year. He and his staff made good on this promise by heavily publicizing Sam’s performance, on their website and with a large banner, featuring Sam, hung at the back of Gentilly Stage, one of the largest stages of the festival.
When Sam took the stage at that Sunday he had the biggest crowd in the Blues tent of the weekend. So many music lovers came to see his show that the Fire Marshall closed the tent and did not let anyone else in.
Quint Davis and his early partner Allison Miner created this world renowned festival by presenting obscure and unknown artists. Their work was very inspiring to me when I studied their festival at UNC Chapel Hill. I was so proud to have a small part in bringing Sam back to his adopted home of NOLA.
– Tim Duffy