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Ponderosa Stomp 2007 Review -Tuscaloosa NewsThe Ponderosa Stomp
Contributed by Tommy Stevenson - Posted: May 3, 2007 5:53:19 AM
NEW ORLEANS | When it was announced that the sixth annual Ponderosa Stomp, sponsored by the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau, would be at the House of Blues this year, instead of the funky Mid-City Rock and Bowl, I was somewhat skeptical.
After all, locals don't call it the "House of Rules" for nothing, so oppressive is the New York/Los Angeles security vibe -- I managed to break two rules, for standing on a bench and taking pictures, in only five minutes one time. But it is nonetheless the premier music venue in New Orleans.
But The House of Blues just didn't seem a good fit for the Stomp, which brings together dozens of obscure, old and rarely-seen performers each year for a review that begins at five in the afternoon and has on previous occasions ended near dawn. The Stomp is the brainchild and love offering of Dr. Ira Padnos, a Chicago transplant whose regular gig is as a professor in the department of anesthesia of LSU's school of medicine, but who during Jazz Fest, dons a fez and with his fellow Mystic Knights brings some great music to town between Fest weekends.
The first four Stomps were at the bowling alley (where you can actually bowl, dance and listen to music simultaneously), the last one had to be transplanted to Memphis because of the residual Katrina damage that wiped out the downstairs music room at the Rock and Bowl, and now this one was set for the House of Blues, which I thought would ruin the atmosphere of the Stomp, where the musicians mix and mingle with the crowd and just about every local player who doesn't have a show that night.
But I was delightfully surprised last night at the relaxed atmosphere at the HOB, which apparently turned all the details over to the Mau-Mauers. As usual, they presented a mind-boggling array of talent on three stages, which in addition to the main room included the adjoining HOB Parish and a stage set up in a courtyard.
For rockers, the highlight of the evening was a rare appearance by Roky Erickson & The explosives. Erickson was the front man for the seminal Texas psychedelic band The Thirteenth Floor Elevator, but had his career take an unfortunate detour when he unwisely used an insanity plea when charged with possession of marijuana in the late 1960s. That landed him in an insane asylum for several years, where he was subjected to a regimen of thorazine and shock treatments. Come to think of it, Erikson's presence was also probably the inspiration for this year's Stomp theme, "1 Night of Insane Rock N Roll."
Erikson, accompanied by what appeared (by their advanced years) to be some original band members, tore through a set of ear-splitting, Pink Floyd-ish rock that ended with a song entitled "I Walked With Zombies Last Night." And I have no doubt he did.
For my tastes, however, the highlights were seeing Vernon native Dan Penn for the first time, hearing Dave Hawkins sing his immortal "Suzie Q," the big band set by Wardell Quezerque and His New Orleans Rhythm and Blues Review, featuring Dave Bartholomew and Robert "Barefooting" Parker, and the performance by aging falsetto jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott.
Penn was a mainstay on the Muscle Shoals and Memphis soul scene and wrote such classics as "Do Right Woman" for Aretha Franklin, "Take Time to Know Her" for Percy Sledge and "Dark End of the Street" for James Carr. Playing an acoustic guitar and accompanied only by Bobby Emmons on electric keyboards, Penn ended his set with an incredible version of the much covered "Dark End" and that may have been the best moment of the night for me.
Which is not to say that it wasn't a real treat to hear Bartholomew, the arranger and writer of many of Fats Domino's hits, do a medley of his "The Monkey Speaks His Mind," a meditation on how those primates treat each other much better than their human cousins, and "Who Stole My Beer While I Was in the Rear?" He also wrote (no matter what Chuck Berry will tell you) "My Ding-a-Ling," but I suppose it was just as well he didn't reprise that particular "party song."
Other memorable moments and performances included Augie Meyers, an original member of The Sir Douglas Quintet, singing "She's About'a Mover;" Little Freddie King, Eddie Kirkland and Kenny Brown and Bobby Rush doing some down-home blues; and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson singing -- what else -- his New Orleans party classic.
One final note about the HOB: its motif consists hundreds of pieces of "outsider art," including numerous works by Fayette's own Jimmie Lee Sudduth, a couple of examples of which I included among the photographs here.
And if the House of Rules wants to host the Ponderosa Stomp again next year, it is perfectly fine with me.
Full story with photos here: