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Stomp Brooklyn Preview: Time Out New YorkThe Ponderosa Stomp Bog jam
The Ponderosa Stomp, a ragin’ Cajun New Orleans institution, boogies into town for a two-day fete. Are you ready for some swamp pop?
By Joey Arak
Most lovebirds on their way to the altar look upon their wedding as a joyous event marking the beginning of a new chapter with their spiritual twin, but New Orleans anesthesiologist Ira Padnos thought that sounded really, really boring. So instead, the blues- and soul-loving record collector decided to turn his wedding reception into what every music geek wishes he could pull off: a marathon concert featuring his favorite artists.
“I didn’t like weddings, so I wanted to make mine fun,” says Padnos, 42, who became obsessed with old New Orleans recordings when he moved to that city for medical school. “I got everyone I could track down to play, including R.L. Burnside and Earl King. We had 16 performers going from 5pm to 5am.”
In addition to proving that Padnos has the most understanding wife of all time, the wedding became the prototype for the Ponderosa Stomp—an annual concert named for an old Lazy Lester tune—that just wrapped up its sixth go-round in New Orleans, following a one-year, Katrina-forced exile in Memphis. The Stomp makes its way to the Northeast for the first time ever with a free afternoon show at Greenpoint’s McCarren Park Pool on Sunday 15, and a warm-up gig at Maxwell’s in Hoboken the night before.
Wanting to spotlight “the unsung sidemen who may have been famous for just one song,” Padnos took the nickname Dr. Ike and formed a nonprofit group called the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau (another tribute, this time to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) to organize and run the Stomp, a nonstop eargasm of down-South blues, R&B, soul, rockabilly and the awesomely named swamp pop, best described as a gumbo of country, R&B and Cajun influences. The tunes are belted out by the artists who first put them to wax, some of whom are now in their eighties and haven’t performed in eons.
“Sometimes it takes detective work to find these people, but usually you can get on the Internet, punch in a name, and sort of guess where they are and find out how to get in touch,” says Dr. Ike. “A lot of people are blown away that we know their records and are really happy to get out there again, but some had bitter experiences and don’t want to go back.”
Coming off the most successful Ponderosa Stomp yet—nearly 1,500 crammed into the New Orleans House of Blues in May for three stages of live music, including a set from the ever-elusive psychedelic legend Roky Erickson—Dr. Ike and his New York supporters are pumped to show off what we Yankees have been missing.
“The [idea of doing] New York shows was something I mentioned to Dr. Ike a while back, but it was very informal,” says Maxwell’s co-owner and booker Todd Abramson, who’s made the pilgrimage to more than one Stomp and helped organize this version. “Last year I did a show at the Pool with Archie Bell and the Mighty Hannibal, and we had over 4,500 people show up! That proved to me there was a clear market for something like this here.”
Each East Coast show will be a stripped-down Stomp affair, with just one stage of sweaty music and dance moves to make your grandmama blush, but the lineup rocks.
Swamp-pop legend Tommy McLain, whose wistful rendition of the Patsy Cline classic “Sweet Dreams” will make you wish you had a senior prom to slow-dance at, will be backed by Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley from Yo La Tengo, adding a dash of indie cred that should make the hipsters who usually attend McCarren Park Pool shows comfortable.
“Ira and Georgia are Stomp regulars, and we’ve tried to have them as artists, but it never worked out,” says Dr. Ike. “I thought Tommy might be a good match for them, and after they listened to his material, they thought it would work too.”
There’s also “the white James Brown” Roy Head—a Texan whose son, Sundance, was a heavily goateed Season 6 American Idol contestant—rockabilly guitar hero Ray Sharpe, vocalist Tammy Lynn and an all-star backing band of Memphis musicians, including composer Scott Bomar, who scored Black Snake Moan and Hustle & Flow. After performing, some artists have gone on to new record deals and touring opportunities.
Says Dr. Ike, “These guys can still do a great show, and they get back out there playing in front of an audience that treats them like musicians and not a nostalgia act. Lineups like these just don’t happen!”
The Stomp throws down Sat 14 at Maxwell’s and Sun 15 at McCarren Park Pool.