Born: August 20, 1908 Primary Instrument: Clarinet
Joe Mares born New Orleans 1908 was a Dixieland clarinet player, brother of Paul Mares (1900-1949), an American early dixieland jazz cornet & trumpet player, and leader of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.
Their father, Joseph E. Mares, played cornet with the military band at the New Orleans lakefront and ran a fur and hide business. Like many New Orleans cornetists of his generation, Joe Mares Sr.'s main influence was King Joe Oliver.
In late 1924 Paul Mares, the brother returned to New Orleans, deciding to play music on the side while taking over the running of his family fur & hide business. He ran the business well and with his prosperity purchased 3 homes for himself and his relatives (assuming Joe) in New Orleans' new suburb of Metairie, Louisiana. Mares's Metairie home was the site of a legendary jam-session in 1929 where Bix Beiderbecke and the other jazz playing members of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra jammed with the local New Orleans jazz musicians.
Two great interlocking names in New Orleans Jazz are Mares and Brunies. There is always something important happening when members of these two great Jazz families get together. When George Brunies first went to Chicago to join the Rhythm Kings, he borrowed the fare from Mr. Joseph Mares. (Mr. Mares, Senior, that is - not the Southland impresario.) With the great Dixieland trumpet star, Paul Mares, George produced the great early classics of Jazz.
Little Joe Mares didn't grow up fast enough, and Paul and fabulous Rappolo passed on too soon for Joe to realize his early ambition of getting this greatest of all front lines together on waxings of his own. He didn't let this opportunity slip by, though, to capture the Brunies sound in that unique Southland manner that seems to serve up each new hot platter in incomparable home style. So this new Mares- Brunies merger, (Joe recorded the late Abbie Brunies very successfully, you'll recall ...) was destined for success the instant George walked into the studio - but what came out exceeded all expectations!
Joe Mares established a successful record company Southland, and broadcast on the radio as a DJ during the 1950's, playing the jazz recordings he made. He rediscovered Lizzy Miles who had recorded with Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong in 1924 with the hit reocrding I'm Confessin'.
Mares loved traditional style New Orleans jazz and was impressed with the many fine musicians still playing in the city, only a few of whom had been recorded. Mares first arranged recording sessions that he sold to other labels in the 1940s, then decided to start his own label.
Mares's regular job was running the family fur and hide business in the French Quarter. He invited musicians to regular jam sessions in a back room of the business. Unusually for the Southern United States in the era of Jim Crow laws when racial segregation was the law, many Mares's jam sessions were racially integrated, as were a good number of his recordings.
Musicians who recorded on Southland included Sharkey Bonano, Lizzie Miles, Johnny Wiggs, Paul Barbarin, and many others. George Lewis recorded the Saint Louis Street Blues in honor of Mares's location.