The New Orleans Owls, Part One

Jeff Barnhart: Hal, this month we’re listening to and discussing the music of a really hot, and polished, band from New Orleans. The New Orleans Owls recorded 23 sides between 1925 and 1927 for Columbia (five were rejected and never released); they were the first band to record by the electrical system operating from a mobile recording van. Such technology enabled engineers to capture sounds from locales far and wide, saving the expense of carting bands that were often uninterested in leaving their local gigs to the label’s studio to make a few sides. The Owls were operating from 1922-29; their primary residency was at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, although they would replace Abbie Brunies’ Halfway House Orch. (covered in the November, 2022 issue of TST) at the establishment with the same name in the late 1920s. Only a small number of bands recorded in New Orleans during those years, so these sides are precious:
You've read three articles this month! That makes you one of a rare breed, the true jazz fan!

The Syncopated Times is a monthly publication covering traditional jazz, ragtime and swing. We have the best historic content anywhere, and are the only American publication covering artists and bands currently playing Hot Jazz, Vintage Swing, or Ragtime. Our writers are legends themselves, paid to bring you the best coverage possible. Advertising will never be enough to keep these stories coming, we need your SUBSCRIPTION. Get unlimited access for $30 a year or $50 for two.

Not ready to pay for jazz yet? Register a Free Account for two weeks of unlimited access without nags or pop ups.

Already Registered? Log In

If you shouldn't be seeing this because you already logged in try refreshing the page.

Hal Smith is an Arkansas-based drummer and writer. He leads the New Orleans Night Owls and the
Mortonia Seven and works with a variety of jazz and swing bands. Visit him online at

Jeff Barnhart is an internationally renowned pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, recording artist, ASCAP composer, educator and entertainer. Visit him online at Email: [email protected]

Or look at our Subscription Options.