A guitarist and band leader, Blanchard was a permanent feature of the New Orleans music scene from the 40s to the 60s. By 1947 he was in charge of the resident band at the Down Beat Club on Rampart Street, with Roy Brown as one of the vocalists. Blanchard’s most well-known band was the Gondoliers. An early version had a two-guitar line-up with Ernest McLean, while in the 60s, the group included Dimes Dupont (alto saxophone), Alonzo Stewart (drums), Frank Fields (bass) and Lawrence Cotton (piano). The band was renowned for its stylistic versatility. Although he frequently played on sessions, Blanchard seldom recorded under his own name. There were singles for Peacock in 1949 and instrumentals for Specialty in the late 50s, including ‘Mr Bumps’, a tribute to the label’s head of A&R, Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell, on which Blanchard duetted with guitarist Roy Montrell. In 1959 he recorded ‘Knocked Out’ for Johnny Vincent’s Ric label, of which he was briefly musical director. His final records were somewhat uncharacteristic raucous blues tracks, such as ‘Tight Like That’. Made for Joe Banashak’s Minit label in the late 60s, they remained unissued until after Blanchard’s death in September 1972.
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