A Day In New Orleans

Helen Kahlke, Steve Goodson, tenor saxophone

Helen with Steve Goodson Photo by Paul Coats

My day in New Orleans began with Paul picking me up at my hotel and taking me to Steve Goodson’s shop. If you’re a sax player, walking into Steve’s shop is like walking into a toy store (if you’re 5 years old). His inventory of horns and accessories is nothing if not overwhelming. I sometimes forgot why I was there, and got so busy looking and playing his horns, that I could easily have left with a whole truckload of vintage saxes and accessories. Luckily, I only had 2 plane tickets, so I was limited to what I could put in my luggage! Steve was a very gracious and generous host—always making sure that my coffee cup was full, and that I was having a good time.

Paul began by showing me how to put a bass sax together safely, and how to handle it without hurting either the sax or myself in the process.

I had never played a bass before, and had very little experience with horns that did not possess a high F key or a bis Bb.

Helen Kahlke, purple baritone saxophone, Martin bari sax

Admiring Steve’s Purple Martin Baritone. Photo by Paul Coats

After figuring out where to put my fingers, I just started playing. Next thing I knew, I was doing major and minor arpeggios.

Paul figured I was a natural bass player because I adjusted to the peculiarities of the horn in no time.

Once I got used to playing the horn in its stand, Steve asked me whether the thumb rest was in the right place. It wasn’t, so he was kind enough to move it to the right about 3/4s of an inch for me.

After I had the quirks of the bass more or less figured out, (at least as good I was going to be able to in a day) Paul began packing the horn in its case for its long trek to its new home. At that point I really got distracted by Steve’s inventory.

I think I managed to restrain myself fairly well—I didn’t buy more than I could put in my carry-on luggage.

My purchases were limited to mouthpieces, key clamps, ligatures, and a Masterpiece neck for my Selmer Mark VI tenor.

At the end of a very long day, Paul was kind enough to drive me back to my hotel.