Known as the “Creole Beethoven,” Wardell Quezergue’s arrangements became a hallmark of New Orleans music in the 1960’s. Quezergue’s work, famously done with a tuning fork instead of a piano, was marked by attention to rhythm and percussion, influenced by Mardi Gras Indian and parade beats. Quezergue worked earlier with Dave Bartholomew’s band as an arranger, and with his own groups the Sultans and the Dukes of Rhythm. He produced three number-one national hits, Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love” and King Floyd’s “Groove Me,” for which he never received royalties. Quezergue collaborated with artists like Earl King, Willie Tee and Robert Parker, and created the Mardi Gras Indian rhythms on Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief.” In 1964, Quezergue, along with Clinton Scott, started his own label Nola Records. More info.
New Orleans musician/producer/arranger/ songwriter better known as Dr. John.
Before he was known as the winking hoodoo piano man Dr. John, Mac Rebennack was a teenaged hipster and Jesuit High School student, hanging out at Cosimo Matassa’s studio playing crazed rock n’roll guitar – like the classic, sinister “Storm Warning,” released by Matassa’s own Rex label - at all-night parties. As a teen guitarist, Mac hung with a shifting gang of delinquent adolescent rockers like Earl Stanley, Leonard James and Paul Staehle, playing under various band names on New Orleans classics like horror host Morgus’ theme song and Ronnie Barron’s “Bad Neighborhood.” Mac also worked as an A&R man, producer and arranger for the Ric, Ron and Ace labels. More info.
The Dixie Cups:
hit makers who recorded classics, “Chapel of Love” and “Iko Iko.”
Originally made up of the two Hawkins sisters and their cousin, the Dixie Cups were discovered at a talent show in New Orleans by the infamous local producer Joe Jones. The trio’s first hit was the iconic Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich-penned piece of Brill Building confectionary “Chapel of Love,” on Red Bird Records, which knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts in 1964. Their other signature song, “Iko Iko,” which drew from Mardi Gras Indian chants, was produced and arranged by the legendary Wardell Quezergue and recorded with found-object percussion; in the studio, the girls and Quezergue tapped ashtrays, drinking glasses and other items to create the unique sound.
recorded his hit record, “Barefootin’” with Querzegue.
Sax man and singer Robert Parker was a part of the explosion of R&B talent that emerged from New Orleans shortly after the Second World War, which included legends like Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. It was performers like Parker that seduced national labels like Deluxe and Imperial to descend on New Orleans in the late 40’s to record the burgeoning wellspring of musical genius. Parker played behind New Orleans greats including Professor Longhair, Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Earl King and dozens of others, and recorded for local labels like Ace and Ron. In 1966, he released “Barefootin’,” produced by Wardell Quezergue, which hit number two on the R&B charts. More info.
New Orleans-based singer of “Mr. Big Stuff.”
New Orleans soul singer Jean Knight’s only hit was a big one – the sassy, funky put-down “Mr. Big Stuff,” arranged and produced by Wardell Quezergue. Though the Stax label passed on it at first listen, they luckily reconsidered and released it in 1971, and it went on to spend five weeks in the number-one spot on the R&B charts. In the early 80’s, Knight scored two more minor hits, “You Got The Papers (I Got The Man)” and the zydeco-flavored Rockin’ Sidney cover “My Toot Toot,” produced by Isaac Bolden, but failed to replicate her earlier success. More info.
Malaco Records’ soul/blues balladeer.
Soulful vocalist Dorothy Moore started out in the mid-60’s as a member of the Poppies, a female vocal group started at her Jackson, Mississippi high school. Moore went on to become one of the last shining stars recording deep soul into the late 70’s, when disco and funk were slowly taking over the R&B charts. Her church-trained voice made its mark with soul ballads like “Misty Blue” and a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away” for the Malaco label, which both broke into the R&B top ten in 1976.
soul singer and legendary background singer for the Rolling Stones, Mac Rebennack and countless others.
Teenaged vocalist Tammy Lynn made her music-business debut as a member of Harold Battiste’s visionary A.F.O. (“All For One”) label collective, one of the earliest African-American-owned record labels in the U.S., which also comprised its own publishing company, At Last. Lynn, a versatile singer with a powerhouse voice, made her first recordings for A.F.O. in 1963, which included the fire-and-brimstone voodoo rocker “Mojo Hannah.” After A.F.O. disbanded, Lynn went on to be a much-in-demand backing vocalist, appearing on landmark recordings such as Dr. John’s “Gris Gris” and the Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street.” More info.
Lost soul king of New Orleans.
Tony Owens, New Orleans’ lost soul king, is a true underground hero who lived in the shadows of the big names during soul music's golden age. Despite the fact that he wasn't a prolific recording artist, having less than a dozen 45s issued in a period of twenty-four years, Owens was a big attraction in his native city of New Orleans and built up a small but loyal following overseas, particularly in Europe and Japan. Owens is highly respected by soul connoisseurs who rightly consider him to be one of the great unknowns. Tony’s rich, expressive voice is full of passion and emotion – elements that make particularly his first single, 1966’s “I Got Soul,” and his one top-forty hit, 1970’s “Confessin’ a Feelin’,” shining examples of pure, mellow soul gold. More info.
New Orleans master drummer and member of funk originators the Meters.
The man who reinvented the New Orleans beat, as part of the seminal New Orleans funk outfit the Meters, Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste channeled decades of unimpeachable New Orleans rhythms – as invented by predecessors like Smokey Johnson and James Black – and definitively planted his own flag in the sound. Hailed as possibly the most innovative drummer of the contemporary funk era, Modeliste’s innovations have influenced three decades of funk, as well as been heavily sampled by hip-hop artists. Modeliste has performed with artists from Keith Richards to Robert Palmer, and currently works solo and with the Meter Men, three-quarters of the original Meters. More info.
Michael Hurtt is a music journalist and founding member of the cult favorite New Orleans-based garage-rock outfit the Royal Pendletons. He also performs with the traditional country and rockabilly string band the Haunted Hearts, who frequently serve as the backing group for official Louisiana State Troubadour Jay Chevalier. (Hurtt is an original Mystic Knight of the Mau Mau whose efforts have unearthed many rockabilly and country legends for the Ponderosa Stomp stage.) More info.
Plus Wardell Quezergue's Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, an all-star ten-piece band led by Quezergue himself in a rare New York appearance.
Tammy Lynn appears with trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard and founder of Ponderosa Stomp Ira “Dr. Ike” Padnos in the panel discussion Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? on July 15 in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Wall Street Journal jazz writer Larry Blumenfeld moderates. Click here for details.
Sunday, July 19, 2009 8:00 PM
Alice Tully Hall, Starr Theater
on 65th St between Broadway & Amsterdam
Purchase tickets to all three Ponderosa Stomp @ Lincoln Center events (July 16, 17, and 19) for $50!! To receive the discount, simply place all three events into your shopping cart.
Click to purchase tickets.
Some of the best musicians New Orleans has to offer, including trumpeter and film composer Terence Blanchard (Cadillac Records, When the Levees Broke), gather to tell the city's untold stories, and to discuss the fight to preserve art and culture in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Singer Tammy Lynn and Ira "Dr. Ike" Padnos, founder of Ponderosa Stomp, an annual festival dedicated to promoting American roots music, join the conversation with Larry Blumenfeld, who writes about jazz for The Wall Street Journal. A live performance by the Terence Blanchard Quartet concludes the evening.
Tammy Lynn appears in A Tribute to Wardell Quezergue at Lincoln Center Festival, July 19. Click here for details.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 7:30 PM
Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse
Lincoln Center’s Rose Building
165 West 65th Street, 10th Floor