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New Orleans Times Picayune: Scaled-down Ponderosa Stomp still packs punch

Musical legends fill rock fans' dream bill
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
By Keith Spera
Music writer

When Bobby Charles wrote the 1950s hit "See You Later, Alligator," he apparently meant much later.

The reclusive singer and songwriter from Abbeville, who also penned the Fats Domino favorite "Walking to New Orleans" and "(I Don't Know Why I Love You) But I Do," hasn't formally performed in public in more than 20 years. His last significant appearance was during The Band's farewell "Last Waltz" concert in 1976.
And now fans will have to wait a little longer for his self-imposed exile to end.

Charles was scheduled to perform tonight at both the Louisiana Music Factory and the "Ponderosa Stomp" at the Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl. But his longtime business manager said Tuesday that Charles is unlikely to make either appearance.

"He's citing health reasons," manager Jim Bateman said.

Now in its third year, the "Stomp" concert series specializes in presenting lost legends of rhythm and blues, swamp pop, blues and early rock 'n' roll, acts that rarely find themselves in the spotlight anymore.

Charles fits that bill. Born Robert Charles Guidry in Abbeville, he experienced a brief bout of teen stardom in the mid-1950s. Other artists enjoyed much greater success with his compositions. Bill Haley and the Comets released a popular version of "See You Later, Alligator." Domino's cover of Charles' "Walking to New Orleans" is considered a classic. Both Joe Cocker and Clarence "Frogman" Henry recorded Charles' "The Jealous Kind." Songwriting royalties have allowed him to make a living without performing.

Even without Charles, tonight's "Ponderosa Stomp" offers a bonanza for roots music fans. A southwest Louisiana showcase features Warren Storm, C.C. Adcock, Tommy McLain, Johnnie Allan, Gene Terry and Roy "Boogie Boy" Perkins.

Other "Stomp" acts tonight include Guitar Gable, Classie Ballou, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Oliver "Who Shot the La-La" Morgan, Barbara Lynn, Lazy Lester, Lil' Buck Sinegal, Little Freddie King, Carol Fran, Irving Bannister and a final funk jam with keyboardist Willie "Tee" Turbinton and founding Meters drummer Zigaboo Modeliste.

The "Ponderosa Stomp" is produced by the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau, a local coalition of roots music fans. Artists generally perform their best-known songs in quick succession.

The 2004 "Ponderosa Stomp" kicked off Tuesday with live music upstairs and downstairs at the Mid-City Lanes from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. The ambitious schedule is scaled back from 2003, when the Stomp stretched until 6 a.m. over three nights.
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