Friday, May 01, 2009

What we missed

Here's a report on this year's Ponderosa Stomp for all those, like me, who couldn't be there.
Wanda Jackson sang for Bonnie Raitt at the Ponderosa Stomp
by Keith Spera, Music writer, The Times-Picayune
Thursday April 30, 2009, 12:10 PM
The Ponderosa Stomp consumed the whole of the House of Blues on Wednesday for the second of two nights of music overload between Jazz Fest weekends. Like its predecessors, the eighth Stomp lived up to its promise of celebrating the -- mostly -- unsung heroes of American music.
The 77-year-old Little Willie Littlefield, one of the last survivors of the West Coast's boogie-woogie blues era, flew in from Amsterdam for the Stomp. Alone at an electric keyboard in the HOB's Parish, he sang in the breathy style of Charles Brown and showcased the sort of piano triplets Fats Domino later borrowed.

Bobby Patterson, in a checked sport coat and matching hat, barked James Brown-style soul over a horn-laden band and chiming guitars; his 1969 single "TCB or TYA" -- short for "take care of business or turn yourself around" -- was a highlight.
The likes of Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke and the Box Tops have covered acoustic guitarist and Southern soul songwriter Dan Penn's work. Memphis session keyboardist Bobby Emmons' songs have found a voice with Norah Jones and George Strait, among others. On stage together, Penn and Emmons unspooled song after song from their catalogs, demonstrating the quiet dignity of the compositions.
Most everyone squeezed into the big room for Wanda Jackson, the pioneering rockabilly and rock 'n roll singer. Inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame this spring as an "early influence," the 71-year-old Jackson rocked a red fringed top, black slacks and sparkling earrings.
Between gracious song introductions and big smiles, she navigated "Jambalaya," "Riot in Cell Block No. 9" and her early hit "I Gotta Know," which shifted from a country waltz in the chorus to an uptempo, rock 'n roll vamp in verse. In honor of her 1970s conversion to Christianity, she testified with "I Saw the Light."
Her voice is still rich and nuanced. Nouveau rockabilly guitar hero Deke Dickerson, armed with his custom double-neck guitar, and his Eccofonics trio -- bare-bones drums, upright bass -- hewed closely to the original arrangements and feel.
James Burton ranks among the most influential and widely recorded guitarists of the 1960s and '70s -- he backed everyone from Ricky Nelson to Johnny Cash to John Denver to Elvis Presley in the last few years of Presley's life. Burton showcased several times at the Stomp on Wednesday, including a sit-in with Jackson. They share an Elvis connection: Jackson toured with, and briefly dated, the King. On "Good Rockin' Tonight," she strummed a pink acoustic guitar as Burton picked an electric decorated with flames. They also revisited Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
Bonnie Raitt, in town early for her Friday set at Jazz Fest, took it all in from the House of Blues balcony; her own musical lineage includes Jackson. "She says she likes my little rock 'n roll songs," Jackson said, "and that makes me very happy." Jackson declared she would sing one of Raitt's favorites. She kicked off "Let's Have a Party," stopped, glanced at the balcony to confirm with Raitt that this was the right song, then continued.
Still later on the main stage, Roy Loney and Cyril Jordan of pioneering '60s garage rock band the Flamin' Groovies reunited for the first time since 1971. They banged out raw, fast anthems backed by the A-Bones, which featured Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan on keyboards. Kaplan is another Stomp regular, though mostly in the audience.
When I left around 1:30 a.m., Burton was outside the HOB posing for pictures and signing autographs, and Question Mark & the Mysterians -- a Ponderosa Stomp favorite -- were still 90 minutes away from taking the stage. Once again, the Stomp outlasted my stamina.

* Interesting feature on Island Records' 50th anniversary in today's Independent. Don't forget the BBC4 programme on Bobby 'Blue' Bland at 9pm tomorrow.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home