2017 Ponderosa Stomp
Music History Conference
October 5th & 6th 2017 Ace Hotel New Orleans
The Ponderosa Stomp Music History Conference will take place October 5th-6th at Ace Hotel New Orleans at 600 Carondelet St. in New Orleans.
The conference will feature musicians, historians and musicologists tackling all kinds of music history topics.
Admission to the Conference is $25 per day, per person.* This small fee gets you the whole day’s line-up of panels, discussion, and admission to the record show.
*No advanced purchase for conference, admission is $25 at the door, cash only.
Thursday October 5th
10:00 – 10:45 amBourbon Street Parade: A Look at Bourbon Street Clubs in the 60sFeaturing “Wacko” Wade, George Porter, Jr. and Moderator David Kunian
Bourbon Street’s musical past is easy to lose in the glare of neon lights and fluorescent drinks. A close look reveals that the tourist attraction was a vital source of work and a training ground for the Crescent City’s rhythm and blues artists. From his drum kit behind Freddie Fender and others, “Wacko” Wade Wright saw the strip transform from District Attorney Jim Garrison’s vice raids through the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. The incomparable bassist George Porter, Jr. played in the house band at the Ivanhoe six nights a week in the early years of desegregation on Bourbon. When Allen Toussaint heard the group he brought them into the studio and introduced the world to The Meters, who went on to become one of New Orleans’ most celebrated acts. David Kunian, Curator of Music at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, leads the conversation.
11:00 – 11:45 amThe Gospel Truth of Rosemont RecordsFeaturing Al Taylor (Owner and engineer of Rosemont Records), James Williams (Guitarist and Leader of The Electrifying Crown Seekers), Andrew Jackson (Leader of The Famous Rocks of Harmony) and Moderator Brice White
This panel will examine the history and importance of Rosemont Records, which released gospel and rhythm & blues records in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as one of the first New Orleans hip hop records. Rosemont owner and engineer Al Taylor will be joined by James Williams, guitarist and leader of The Electrifying Crown Seekers, and Andrew Jackson, leader of The Famous Rocks of Harmony. Panel will be moderated by music historian, record producer, writer, and DJ, Brice White.
12:45 – 1:45 pmSouth Rampart Street Stroll: The Music and Geography of South Rampart StreetFeaturing Bruce Raeburn, Deacon John Moore, Richard Campanella and Moderator Jordan Hirsch
The office towers and parking lots on South Rampart Street in New Orleans today obscure its remarkable history. Once brimming with honky tonks, dance halls, and shops, this strip was vital both to the birth of jazz and the development of New Orleans R&B -- the neighborhood was home to Louis Armstrong and, later, Professor Longhair. The story of “back o’ town” New Orleans, from Black Storyville to Chitlin Circuit dances to barroom gigs by the likes of Roy Brown, traces the emergence of the “New Orleans sound” in R&B. The sound would fill the nation’s radio waves and jukeboxes after World War II, even while much of the neighborhood was bulldozed. Deacon John Moore, bandleader of nearly fifty years and President of the New Orleans Musicians’ Union, will share Rampart Street lore and discuss with Richard Campanella, author and geographer at the Tulane School of Architecture and Dr. Bruce Raeburn, author and Director of Special Collections and Curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University. Writer and advocate Jordan Hirsch moderates.
To explore this subject further, go to the “South Rampart Street Stroll” tour on ACloserWalkNola.com, the interactive map of New Orleans music history. You can follow it on a desktop or on a mobile device as you walk through the area.
2:00 – 2:45 pmI’ve Got Reasons: The Return of Mary Jane HooperFeaturing Mary Jane Hooper and Moderator Neil Pellegrin
Mary Jane Hooper, née Sena Fletcher, is a favorite of record collectors. Called the “Queen of New Orleans Funk” by some, she performed and recorded with such greats as Allen Toussaint, Eddie Bo, Lee Dorsey, Wardell Quezergue, Willie Tee and the great James Black as her drummer. Although most of her recordings were done at Cosimo Matassa’s studio, she also recorded at other facilities like Studio in the Country and Sea-Saint Recording studio. She recorded under the Scram, Power, Power-Pac, and World Pacific labels and was part of the famed Triple Souls background singers made up of herself, Inez Cheatham and Mercedes Morris, who did background for such artists as Johnny Adams, Lee Dorsey and others. Wanting to expand her musical wings, she toured with a well-known rock and roll band called the “Q” in the 1970’s. After leaving the music business, she became a well-known and respected newscaster on WTIX-AM radio, Vice President of a local advertising agency and a Senior Marketing Consultant for a nationwide telecommunications company. She will be interviewed by WWOZ disc jockey and vinyl aficionado Neil Pellegrin.
3:00 – 3:45It Came from PhillyFeaturing Archie Bell and Winfield Parker, with Moderator Jason Hanley
Though Archie Bell was born in Texas and Winfield Parker is from Maryland, both artists are celebrated exponents of the Philadelphia sound. While touring in support of “Tighten Up,” a number one hit on both the pop and R&B charts, Archie & the Drells met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Philadelphia's leading songwriting and production team. Their partnership would produce classics such as "I Can't Stop Dancing" and "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown," which was later re-invented by the New York Dolls. Winfield Parker was the flagship artists for Baltimore’s Ru-Jac label before hooking up with Jimmy Bishop of Philadelphia’s soul station WDAS. From there, he collaborated with Barbara Mason and charted with “S.O.S. (Stop Her On Site).” In his over 50-year career he has worked alongside such greats as Little Richard, Otis Redding, and Ike and Tina Turner. Moderating the discussion will be Dr. Jason Hanley, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Vice President of Education and Visitor Engagement.
4:00 – 4:45Willie Knows How: An Oral History with Willie WestFeaturing Moderator John Broven
Willie West has been making music for over 50 years. After putting together his first band, the Sharks, as a teenager in Raceland, Louisiana, Willie recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s studio, worked with such greats as Wardell Quezergue and Allen Toussaint, and released records on a number of labels, including Rustone, Frisco, Deesu, Josie and Warner Bros. And all of this was before he was lead vocalist for The Meters when they performed on Saturday Night Live. Willie will be interviewed by the venerable John Broven, author of South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous and Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans.
5:00 – 5:45 pmThe RAM Records StoryFeaturing Margaret Lewis, Alton Warwick, Roy “Boogie Boy” Perkins, V.J. Boulet and Moderator Michael Hurtt
Presented by Warwick Productions, Inc.
This panel shines a spotlight on the Shreveport label RAM Records. Alton Warwick, the co-owner of RAM who built the label’s studio, will be joined by Margaret Lewis, a RAM recording artist, producer, and award-winning songwriter; Swamp-pop pioneer Ernie Suarez, otherwise known as Roy “Boogie Boy” Perkins; and V.J. Boulet of Bobby & The Riff Raffs. Musician and musicologist Michael Hurtt, who is currently at work on a book about Detroit’s Fortune Records, will moderate.
6:00 – 6:45 pmTales of A Louisiana Man: An Oral History with Doug KershawFeaturing Doug Kershaw and Moderators Deke Dickerson and Dave Stuckey
In Memory of Doug Ashford
Doug Kershaw, the singer, songwriter and master fiddler known as the Ragin’ Cajun, has had an extraordinary career. He was a regular on the Louisiana Hayride and a member of the Grand Ole Opry before recording hits “Diggy Liggy Lo” and “Louisiana Man” – the latter being the first song broadcast back to Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12 astronauts. His appearances on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and The Johnny Cash Show brought Cajun music to a national audience. He will be interviewed by musicians Dave Stuckey and Deke Dickerson.
Friday October 6th
10:00 – 10:45The Man Behind the Montel & Michelle Labels: An Oral History with Sam MontalbanoFeaturing Moderator John Broven
Sam Montalbano, known in the music business as Sam Montel, has done it all. He ran Deep South Studio in Baton Rouge and worked with artists such as The Boogie Kings, Sugar Boy Crawford, and Slim Harpo. He owned the Montel and Michelle record labels, putting out regional and national hits such as Dale & Grace’s No. 1 “I’m Leaving It Up To You.” As a concert promoter, he brought national and international acts to Baton Rouge, including Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, and The Who. Montalbano will discuss his record labels and the South Louisiana music industry with John Broven, author of South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous and Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans.
10:55 – 11:50 amLast Train from Kicksville: A Tribute to Billy Miller of Norton RecordsFeaturing Miriam Linna, Todd Abramson, James Marshall, Deke Dickerson and Moderator Michael Hurtt
This panel will honor the late Billy Miller, described by David Fricke as “a collector and scholar of the raw, fundamental and unapologetic in rockabilly, R&B and garage punk who shared his knowledge and passions with the exuberant, addicting force of a true fan.” Miller, with Miriam Linna, founded Norton Records, which has been releasing important and often forgotten music for over 25 years, and was a heavy influence on the Ponderosa Stomp. Linna was the first drummer for the Cramps and later played with Miller in a band called the A-Bones. She is joined on the panel by James Marshall, a former New York Times critic and former owner of Lakeside Lounge in New York and Circle Bar in New Orleans; Todd Abramson, WFMU DJ and the former talent booker at Maxwell’s, the famed Hoboken, New Jersey nightclub; and Deke Dickerson, a musician, writer, and music historian. Musician and musicologist Michael Hurtt will moderate.
12:35 – 1:20 pmEvie Sands Oral HistoryFeaturing Moderator Sheryl Farber
Evie Sands made some of the finest blue-eyed soul singles of the '60s. A cult figure of vintage pop, Sands was born in Brooklyn but came of age in Los Angeles, recording “Take Me For a Little While” and “Angel of the Morning” before they became hits. She retired from performing in 1979 to concentrate on writing and producing, but waged a triumphant comeback in the late '90s and has been at it ever since. Sands will be interviewed by the Grammy-nominated producer, writer and editor Sheryl Farber.
1:30 – 2:15 pmMake it Sound Like a Train: An Oral History with Charles ConnorFeaturing Moderator David Kunian
As the drummer in Little Richard’s band the Upsetters, Charles "Keep A Knockin’" Connor is credited with introducing the hugely influential "Choo Choo Train" style – successive eighth notes with a loud back beat – into the rock ‘n’ roll lexicon. He went on to drum behind legends such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and James Brown, who credited Connor with being “the first to put the funk in the rhythm.” Fittingly, his drumsticks are on display at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Connor, a New Orleans native, was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010. He will be interviewed by David Kunian, the Curator of Music at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.
2:25 – 3:10 pmForever Young: An Oral History with Reggie YoungFeaturing Moderator red kelly
You may not know his name, but you know his music: Reggie Young has appeared on over 100 chart hits, in multiple genres, in a career spanning more than 60 years. A guitar great, he appeared on the Louisiana Hayride before moving to Memphis and recording with Hi Records’ Willie Mitchell. In 1964, when the Beatles tapped Bill Black as an opener on their U.S. tour, Young, who was Black’s guitarist, left the studio for the road. He went on to became a top session man in Memphis and then Nashville, playing on hits for Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, and Dusty Springfield, among many others. Music archaeologist and blogger red kelly will talk to Young about his extraordinary and influential life in music.
3:20 – 4:05 pmWalking the Dog: Growing Up with the “World’s Oldest Teenager” Rufus ThomasFeaturing Carla and Vaneese Thomas and Moderator Andria Lisle
Carla and Vaneese Thomas, stars in their own right, will discuss growing up with their father, Memphis R&B and funk pioneer Rufus Thomas, “the World’s Oldest Teenager.” The elder Thomas had hits with “Walking the Dog” and “Bear Cat,” both recorded with Sam Phillips, as well as hits on Stax Records such as “The Funky Chicken.” Carla Thomas, whose first duet partner was her late father, has been hailed as the Queen of Memphis Soul since 1961, when her sweet, yearning ballad “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)” became a pop and R&B smash. One of the first essential signings at Stax, she served up a string of hits throughout the ‘60s including “Let Me Be Good To You” and “B-A-B-Y.” Vaneese Thomas cut two sizable R&B hits of her own in 1987, “Let’s Talk It Over” and “(I Wanna Get) Close To You).” Her 2016 album “The Long Journey Home” was widely acclaimed. Writer, curator, and musicologist Andria Lisle moderates.
4:15 – 5:00 pmI Wanna Holler: An Oral History with Gary U.S. BondsFeaturing Moderator Todd Abramson
Gary Anderson, better known as Gary U.S. Bonds, will look back at his storied and pioneering career. In 1960 he recorded his first single “New Orleans,” which became a national hit. He followed up with the even bigger hit “Quarter To Three,” which inspired Dion and the Belmonts’ “Runaround Sue.” After years of touring with artists like B.B. King and recording additional albums, Gary left his record label but continued to perform. A chance meeting in New Jersey led him back into the studio in 1981 to record the successful “Dedication” album with Bruce Springsteen & Steven Van Zandt. The record included the hit "This Little Girl," a song Springsteen wrote for Bonds, which brought him back into the spotlight. Bonds will be interviewed by WFMU DJ Todd Abramson, the former talent booker at Maxwell’s, the famed Hoboken, New Jersey nightclub.
The Ponderosa Stomp 2017 Music History Conference would not be possible without support from:
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Ace Hotel New Orleans, Peter Riley & Associates, Mike Humphrey/Keller Williams Realty, Design Science, WWOZ, Norton Records, Numero Group, Inkwell Press, Gulf South Travel Services, Warwick Productions, Inc.