Ponderosa Stomp

I was going to write about the Foo Fighters contract this week, but that is just another story about a screwed up situation. Next week for that! Sunday morning and I am sitting on a plane flying back home from New Orleans, home of the greatest food in America, and, this weekend, the Ponderosa Stomp, one of the greatest two day events in music that I have ever been to. It is the brainchild of an ex Chicago guy- a doctor and music lover named Ira who for ten years has put on a concert of music he loves to raise money for his charity- to help musicians who play music he loves. Two days of roots music and lots of people with smiles on their faces

Day one started with a bunch of Swamp Boogie people like Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Classie Ballou and CP Love, among others. The centerpiece of the night was a set by the king of New Orleans- Allen Toussaint, one of the greatest songwriters, producers and piano players New Orleans has ever produced. His hour long set included many of his hits, some great piano playing, and a few guest stars. First Robert Parker joined the band, singing a few songs, including his hit song, “Barefootin.” Then the band was joined by Clarence “Frogman” Henry. Clarence has had some health problems lately, but he pushed aside his walker to do a spirited set, including his hit “I Ain’t Got No Home.”

Day 2 began at 11AM (after ending at 3AM the night before) when I walked over to the hotel across from the venue to photograph a collection of soul legends rehearsing in a conference room. Having grown up listening to Stax music, it waqs a thrill to be sitting in the middle of the horn section of a great soul band, listening to some amazing singers working out their songs. The band was the Bo-Keys, a mostly young Memphis band, which included Howard Grimes, who has backed Al Green, among others, and Skip Pitts, the original guitar player for the Bar-Kays, and the only member of the Bar-Kays that didn’t get on the fateful final plane ride with Otis Redding in the 1960’s. The singers were Eddie Floyd, Sir Mack Rice, Otis Clay and William Bell, who among them have had more hits than most of the so-called superstars of today. Their combined 90 minute set that night was a lesson in musicianship and showmanship that proved that age is just a number. I will take them over the Foo Fighters any day!!! A sleepless night was a small price to pay for some amazing music.

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