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Kid Sheik Colar

New Orleans trumpeter Kid Sheik Colar toured extensively with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the 1980s.

Kid Sheik Colar

Courtesy of Tulane University, William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz

Eureka Brass Band at the Elks parade. Crawford, Ralston (Photographer)

George “Kid Sheik” Colar, also referred to as “Kid Cola,” was a traditional jazz and brass band trumpeter from New Orleans. Known for his fine taste in clothing, Colar earned his “sheik” nickname due to his affinity for wearing suits as a teenager. From humble beginnings as a stand-in for sick or touring players in Chris Kelly’s band, Kid Sheik went on to become a highly respected, internationally recognized jazz player. In 1968 he appeared in the Frank DeCola film The Cradle Is Rocking, a documentary about New Orleans jazz. In 1990 Colar was the subject of the official New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival poster, a highly respected honor.

Colar was born on September 15, 1908, in New Orleans. At the age of twelve, he began teaching himself piano, followed by drums and cornet. After taking lessons with “Wooden” Joe Nicholas on trumpet, Colar’s first professional gig came in 1923, when he began to stand in with childhood friend Chris Kelly’s band. Around this time he also played trumpet with Kid Rena’s brass band, filling in when needed in a similar capacity. Colar was soon performing for local dances, parties, and other gatherings, playing second cornet for the likes of Buddy Petit and Chris Kelly.

In 1943 Colar he began training at a US Army Air Corps music school, where he supplemented his experiential knowledge and innate talent with extensive formal training. After his military discharge, Colar returned to New Orleans in 1945 and formed a band of his own. He was also a stand-in for the Eureka Brass Band. A gig with the respected musician/arranger George Lewis and his band came in 1949 at the New Orleans venue Manny’s Tavern, and he replaced Eddie Richardson in the Eureka Brass Band, becoming a permanent member of the group in 1952.

Beginning in the 1960s, Kid Sheik performed widely with his own groups, including the Swingsters and the Storyville Ramblers, whose members included Captain John Handy and Cié Frazier. Kid Sheik would go on a memorable tour of England with British-born jazz drummer Barry Martyn in 1963. He would go on many more tours in the coming years, including one of Europe in 1966 with Captain John Handy, where they recorded many of their signature tunes, including “Telephone to Glory.” Also listed among his recordings are two sessions with the Eureka Brass Band and one with his Storyville Ramblers, released by the Icon record label.

Throughout the 1980s, Colar would continue to tour actively, primarily with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In 1982 Kid Sheik married Sadie Goodson, a gifted pianist and childhood sweetheart who was the sister of fellow Preservation Hall musician Billie Pierce. When the couple wed, both were octogenarians. Later, with Goodson, Cola would record the 1986 album My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time.

Colar died in Detroit, Michigan, on November 7, 1996.