Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ponderosa Stomp day one

The 10th annual New Orleans Ponderosa Stomp moved this year to a new venue, the Howlin' Wolf, and this proved to be an improvement on the House of Blues. As ever, Dr Ike put on a show featuring numerous obscure or near-forgotten musicians and if anything, there were even more than usual, although fewer semi-household names than in the past.
First on was Bobby Allen, a Louisiana native who made a record called Soul Chicken back in the sixties. He was dressed in a smart brown suit for the occasion and went smartly through a couple of funky songs - Check Mr Popeye and Funky Broadway/Land of 1000 Dances. He was followed by a zydeco singer called Clayton Sampy - a new name to me - who was described as a latter day Clifton Chenier. I thought he was no more than adequate. The running order changed, meaning that Carol Fran came next and that as a result I missed most of her set as I was grabbing a sandwich, just catching the end of Money. I'm told she was pretty good. Classie Ballou was next on - a competent bluesman who performed Hey Pardner and Lee Dorsey's Confusion.

One of the advertised highlights of the evening was an Excello tribute featuring Lazy Lester, Warren Storm and James Johnson, a guitarist who played with Slim Harpo. There were good performances of a couple of Harpo numbers - Baby scratch my back and Rainin' in my heart - and Warren Storm was great on Lonely lonely nights and Wings of an Angel, but three songs by James Johnson and no solos by Lazy Lester proved a bit disappointing.

The real highlight of the night was a tribute to legendary New Orleans producer Cosimo Matassa, who was in the audience, featuring the great Allen Toussaint (or the Wild Tousan as he was originally billed back in the fifties). He was brilliant on a series of self penned numbers, several of them recorded by Lee Dorsey, and then brought on stage Robert Parker, who drove forcefully through Where the action is and Barefootin'. Also on the tribute was Clarence Frogman Henry, who despite needing a wheelchair some of the time still has a great voice and got the crowd going with But I do and Ain't got no home. At this point Dave Bartholomew was scheduled to appear, but he was unwell, so Toussaint continued for a further 45 minutes, clearly enjoying himself thoroughly and ranging through Southern nights, A Certain girl, Fortune teller, Workin' in a coalmine and Tipitina. Fantastic stuff.

The second half of the show became rather bitty, with various performers coming on to do anything from one to three numbers. Ernie Vincent did one funky guitar number and then left the stage. Jean Knight was fine on her hits Do me, My toot toot and Mr Big Stuff, and Little Leo (Lloyd Price's younger brother) looked immaculate as he sang three bluesy numbers including Handwriting on the wall, but not, surprisingly, Send me some loving (his was the first version). C P Love was particularly good on the soulful I found all these things and Second line train, and Al Johnson brought some carnival fun along with Shake rattle and roll and his big hit Carnival Time, supported by two lady dancers in carnival type costumes. Earl Stanley, of whom I know nothing but who was apparently lead guitarist with New Orleans band Roger and the Gypsies, was joined by Michael Hurtt on maraccas for Pass the Hatchet and by Eddie Powers (I think) for A Gypsy woman told me. Then it was the turn of a white singer called G G Shinn - a man with a big voice but who was described by a friend as being like a Louisiana Liberace. You can draw your own conclusions.He was followed by a couple of additions to the bill in the form of soul man Tony Owens, who did a number called I got Souland David Battiste,formerly of local band the Gladiators, who got the crowd going with his energetic Funky Soul. Most of the above were backed by Lil' Buck and Topcats who were superb throughout.

The final session (for me at least) featured backing by Michael Hurtt and his band, and kicked off with Frankie Ford, who looked extremely frail and old and who did his best on Roberta, Cheatin' woman and Sea cruise. Jay Chevalier came next and was effective on Come back to Louisiana and the Ballad of Earl K Long, and the final act of what was a long night was the excellent swamp pop of Jivin' Gene, who included his two best known songs - Going out with the tide and Breaking up is hard to do - in his set.

Altogether this was an enjoyable evening with loads of variety, if a lack of better known acts. And to think we will go through it all again - with different acts I might add - tonight. The Stomp lives on!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home