Nonmusicians are not often the subject of tribute concerts. But on Saturday afternoon, Tipitina’s will host a free show in memory of Jimmy Glickman, owner of the Uptown instrument store the New Orleans Music Exchange.
“I can’t think of any other person who has had something like this,” said Adam Shipley, an organizer of Saturday’s memorial event. “It’s unusual. That shows how much he meant to the music community.”
After Glickman died Jan. 14 of a heart attack at age 52, musicians flooded social media with tales of his kindness, generosity, good humor and knack for making any and all feel welcome and important.
For more than 20 years, he catered to both students and stars. His store at Magazine Street and Louisiana Avenue may have appeared chaotic and cluttered, but he was intimately acquainted with both his merchandise and his customers.
His shop sold and repaired instruments and also installed and serviced sound systems in clubs and scores of churches. He helped nonprofit organizations secure instruments for schools at deeply discounted prices.
When Meters bassist George Porter Jr. was a teenager, the Werlein’s store on Canal Street was the go-to shop for many musicians. Over the past two decades, Porter said, the New Orleans Music Exchange became the music community’s de facto clubhouse, in large part because of Glickman.
“He always had something positive or funny to say,” Porter recalled. “He was very open, an all-around good person. He was beautiful people.”
Napoleon Avenue will be closed alongside Tipitina’s between Tchoupitoulas and Annunciation streets during Saturday’s memorial concert, which will kick off at 1:45 p.m. with Da Wright Brass Band. At 2:15 p.m., Porter, fellow bassist Tony Hall, keyboardist Ivan Neville and drummer Alvin Ford will play a 30-minute set, followed by Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters.
At 3:30 p.m., the party will move outside for a brief second-line parade in the neighborhood led by the Hot 8, Young Pinstripe and Soul brass bands. Back at the club, the Landry-Walker High School Marching Band will perform outside.
Following the reading of an official proclamation from the city honoring Glickman, the festivities will move back inside for remembrances and performances by Mem Shannon & the Membership and the guitar duo of John Mooney and Marc Stone.
The event will conclude at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Touro Synagogue hosted a memorial service for Glickman on Jan. 17; he was buried in Chicago, his hometown. But local musicians and other friends wanted to stage a celebratory event for him here. “We wanted to do something of a joyful nature, an upbeat send-off for him,” Shipley said.
He got an immediate “yes” from the musicians he asked to play, he said: “There was no hesitation whatsoever.”
In the program for Saturday’s memorial, Glickman is described as “a true mensch.”
“He made everybody feel welcome and never turned anybody away,” Shipley said. “If they didn’t have the money, he’d size them up and say, ‘When you have the dough, come back and pay me.’ Kids, old-school cats — he instantly made them feel like part of the music community.”
Shipley was the talent buyer at Tipitina’s when the club launched its Instruments A Comin’ fundraiser to buy musical instruments for marching bands. Glickman stepped up to purchase the instruments. “He said, ‘Whatever you raise, I’ll double the money by getting everything wholesale from the manufacturers,’ ” Shipley said.
The first Instruments A Comin’ event raised $20,000. Thanks to Glickman, the organizers ended up distributing $40,000 worth of instruments to school bands. Glickman also was a longtime supporter of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.
Glickman owned the building that housed the Music Exchange as well as the business itself. The store remains open as his family considers its future. They hope to keep it going, Shipley said.
But replacing Glickman won’t be easy.
“He was the embodiment and the spirit of that store,” Shipley said. “It was him and his graciousness. He was a stream of connectivity between the instruments, the scene and musicians. He was a big personality.”