Pete Fountain sure knows how to make an entrance. When Casino Magic Bay St. Louis wanted to hold a news conference about its new partnership with Fountain, the legendary musician showed up in typical New Orleans fashion. His clarinet belted out jazz as he second lined through the casino lobby.
Ironically, just last week, Fountain ended a 43 year musical run in New Orleans. But as he pointed out during the news conference, he didn't retire.
"Musicians never retire," he said. "They just fall off the bar stool or something like that."
On April 29, Fountain resurfaces at Casino Magic Bay St. Louis, about a mile from his vacation home. According to the jazz man, "We're going from the saloon business to the casino business."
The musician and the casino expect to make beautiful music together.
"We realized he wanted to still play," Casino Magic general manager John Jagunich said. "And we realized we really wanted him here in Bay St. Louis."
Pete Fountain and his clarinet perform Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Casino Magic.
Right now, the plan is to have Pete Fountain perform on the stage just in front of the casino area. Eventually, Casino Magic will build a theater somewhere on its property specifically for Fountain and his jazz.
His decision to leave New Orleans had a lot of Bay St. Louis people jumping for joy. The area has always considered Fountain an adopted son. At the news conference, Bay St. Louis mayor Eddie Favre read a proclamation saluting Fountain and his clarinet.
"Now therefore be it proclaimed that we do hereby declare that Mr. Pete Fountain be named Bay St. Louis's first star citizen," the mayor read. "And be it further proclaimed that the instrument that he has made famous, the clarinet, be named the official city instrument."
During the news conference, Fountain said his eventual plan is to make Bay St. Louis his permanent home.