The Ponderosa Stomp Foundation (PSF) is a 501(c) (3), not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to celebrating the legacy, revitalizing the careers and preserving the history of American music and musicians.
The Ponderosa Stomp Foundation works to acknowledge, pay tribute to, and teach the cultural significance of the unsung heroes and heroines of rock-n-roll, rhythm & blues and other forms of American roots music – while they are still alive. We provide both a voice and a stage to overlooked sidemen, session musicians and other influential pioneers whose contributions have shaped American culture for over 50 years.
Early music forms, such as blues, soul, rockabilly, swamp pop, funk and New Orleans R&B, are the building blocks of rock and roll, hip hop and other contemporary music styles. Many of us sing along to songs made popular by musicians as varied as Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, the Rolling Stones, the Ramones, and the Velvet Underground. But sometimes the most unforgettable parts of a song come from the behind the scenes architects, not the face on the album cover.
Yet many of these musicians aren’t recognized for their contributions to contemporary popular culture.
With many of these unsung heroes aging, it is essential to honor and capture their pioneering cultural contributions for generations to come. And, it is with this sense of urgency and profound respect for the individuals and their music that the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation continues its work to:
- Celebrate the legacy of the unsung heroes of American music whose influence and contributions have shaped American culture for over 50 years;
- Help revitalize the musical careers of these American music icons while they’re still alive;
- Preserve the individual’s story behind American music history and educate young and old audiences, fans, and students about their work.
The Ponderosa Stomp Foundation achieves its mission through the presentation of unique and varied programming, ranging from music education initiatives in public schools and museums to an oral history project to the signature annual concert event, The Ponderosa Stomp. The results are long-term, with many Stomp performers going on to record new music and book gigs at local, national and international events.
History of The Ponderosa Stomp Foundation
Originally named MK Charities, Inc, the PSF was started by rock n’ roll aficionados and members of the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau, who considered it their mission to rediscover America’s overlooked musical pioneers of the blues, soul, rockabilly, swamp pop, funk and New Orleans R&B who wrote, produced, arranged and played on songs that are embedded in our consciousness, though the artists’ names may not be.
Since its inception in 2001, we have put on countless shows employing musical legends giving a forgotten generation of musicians a platform to perform – and reeducate – the public about their pioneering cultural contributions.
The Mystic Knights of the Mau Maus
The Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau founded the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation in 2001. Today, these Knights are our strongest supporters, advocates and advisors who continue their work to support American music and musicians. We are excited to ‘introduce’ you to many of the Mystic Knights who now sit on the Foundation’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board.
Ira Padnos, President and Co-Founder
Born in Chicago, Ira “Dr. Ike” Padnos acquired a taste for record collecting and the blues at a young age. As a student at Tulane University, he fell in love with the culture and music of New Orleans. After graduating with a BA in history, Padnos graduated from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine with a MD degree. In search of legendary musicians Earl King, Snooks Eaglin, and the Mardi Gras Indians, Padnos moved back to New Orleans in 1995, where, for the last eleven years, he’s worked as an assistant professor in the department of anesthesia of Louisiana State University’s
School of Medicine. Throughout the years, Padnos’ record collecting habit grew, until he began throwing annual backyard parties starring his musical heroes. For his wedding in 2000, he perused his vinyl collection to create a list of all the musicians he’d ever wanted to hear perform – and the ensuing twelve-hour celebration served as the prototype for the Ponderosa Stomp. Hounded by friends and family for a repeat performance, he co-founded the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau with fellow enthusiast Michael Hurtt, presenting monthly concerts at the Circle Bar. Ultimately, Padnos conceived the Ponderosa Stomp as an annual festival that would celebrate the truly unsung heroes of rock n’ roll. Additionally, he has produced the critically acclaimed Indians of the Nation CD, which documents the Mardi Gras Indians’ musical traditions, and has written about music for MOJO and other publications.
Steve Armbruster, Director & Legal Counsel
A lawyer with the firm of Schneurmann and Jones, and a longtime supporter of New Orleans’ music and cuisine, Armbruster was the original founder of the legendary Tipitina’s nightclub, named after one of Professor Longhair’s songs, and we are proud to have him as a Mau Mau now.
Peter Riley, Treasurer
A certified public accountant and managing partner in Peter Riley and Associates, an accounting firm based in Newbury, Massachusetts, Riley’s annual journey to the Ponderosa Stomp and his expertise in non-profits led him to sign on as the treasurer of MK Charities, Inc. and spearhead a fundraising campaign.
Brad Brewster, Director
Founder and creative director of Bent Media, an interactive advertising agency based out of New Orleans with a roster of clients including Tabasco, Oreck and Kraft Foods, Brewster underwent spiritual enlightenment during the first Ponderosa Stomp. He instantly signed on to help, taking control of the Mau-Mau’s website and coordinating the non-profit’s business plan.
ADVISORY BOARD FOR THE PONDEROSA STOMP FOUNDATION
• Scott Bomar – This Memphis-based bassist and producer helps provide the perennial backline for many performers at the Ponderosa Stomp. Co-founder of such groups as Impala and the Bo-Keys and the circa-1990s Dixie Fried music festival, Bomar also composed the score for the Academy Award-winning film Hustle & Flow and served as music supervisor on the upcoming Paramount feature Black Snake Moan.
• John Broven – An English-born music journalist who wrote the contextual bibles on Louisiana music, Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans and South To Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayou, in which he coined the phrase “swamp pop” to define Southwest Louisiana rock’n’roll. A consultant to the U.K.-based Ace Records label, Broven was also one of the founders of Juke Blues magazine.
• Bethany Bultman – This New Orleans-based ethno-music historian and writer, co-founded – and currently serves as program director for – the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, a non-profit designated to help uninsured musicians with their medical needs. Since Hurricane Katrina, the clinic has taken on the added responsibility of helping area musicians get back on their feet by providing housing, gigs, instruments, and whatever else is needed, often partnering with the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau for benefits and service opportunities.
• Mark Chaney, M.D. – A serious record collector, Dr. Chaney heads the cardiac anesthesia division for the University of Chicago Medical School’s Department of Anesthesia.
• David Feller – This Chicago-based certified public accountant works as a comptroller for the Globetrotters Engineering Corporation and moonlights as a member of the sound crew at the Ponderosa Stomp.
• Robert Gordon – The Memphis-based author of It Came From Memphis and Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters, Gordon, a historian and filmmaker who wrote and co-produced the Road to Memphis installment of Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series The Blues, also curated the It Came From Memphis concert series at the Barbican Arts Centre in London, England, helped assemble the all-star Memphis band for Cat Power’s latest album, The Greatest, and presented educational tours at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music during the 2006 Ponderosa Stomp.
• Peter Guralnick – Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Guranick is widely recognized as the nation’s preeminent writer and authority on American roots music. Author of Sweet Soul Music, Feel Like Going Home, Lost Highway, and Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, he also wrote the highly acclaimed two-part biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train To Memphis and Careless Love, and presented educational tours at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music during the 2006 Ponderosa Stomp.
• Jordan Hirsh – Former Executive Director of Sweet Home New Orleans & Renew Our Music Fund, Inc., a New Orleans non-profit that provided support to the city’s musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, and Social Aid & Pleasure Club members and staff writer on HBO’s “Treme.” Jordan also helped to start and produce the Wardell Quezergue R&B Revue with the Foundation.
• Warren Jones – A dedicated music fan and veteran participant in the Jackson, Mississippi juke joint scene, Jones, a graduate of Tulane University and the Wharton School of Business, serves as managing director of finance-technical operations for U.S. Airways, Inc.
• Lazy Lester – The last of the great swamp blues players, this Baton Rouge-born musician cut classics like “I’m A Lover, Not A Fighter,” “Sugar Coated Love,” and “I Hear You Knockin’” for Louisiana’s own Excello Records. A back-up player for such artists as Slim Harpo, Classie Ballou, and Nathan Abshire, Lester also penned the song “Ponderosa Stomp,” and serves as patron saint of – and perennial performer at – the Ponderosa Stomp music festival.
• Andria Lisle – A Memphis-based music journalist who writes for music-based magazines MOJO, Paste, Harp, and Wax Poetics, and pens a regular “Local Beat” column for the Memphis Flyer alt-newsweekly. Co-founder of the Dixie Fried music festival and Sugar Ditch Records, Lisle has been involved with the Ponderosa Stomp since its infancy.
• Tammy Lynn – After getting her start singing in church, Lynn was mentored by New Orleans’ own AFO All Stars (which included esteemed musicians Harold Battiste, Chuck Badie, John Boudreaux, and Red Tyler), and cut her first records for the AFO label, including the definitive version of “Mojo Hannah.” After relocating to New York, she opened shows for John Coltrane at Birdland; later, in L.A., she provided background vocals for debut albums by Dr. John and King Floyd, and also sang on the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street sessions.
• Don Marshall – Executive director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, which presents the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Marshall’s past accomplishments include director of the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, executive director of the Le Petit Theatre of New Orleans, founder of the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, and chairman and co-founder of the New Orleans Film and Video Festival.
• Julie McClellan – A graduate of Tulane University with a MSW degree in social work, as well as a graduate of Loyola University’s law program, McClellan is currently practicing as an attorney in New Orleans.
• Billy Miller – Co-founder of New York-based independent music label Norton Records, which, since 1986, has released albums by creators of rock’n’roll mayhem like Hasil Adkins, Rudy Ray Moore, the Pretty Things, Bobby Fuller, the Mighty Hannibal, Link Ray, Esquerita, Andre Williams, and myriad others, and thusly serves as spiritual precursor to and imitable influence on the Ponderosa Stomp. Miller also plays in the band the A-Bones and produces occasional concerts with his wife and label co-founder Miriam Linna.
Shmuela Padnos, Art Director – A figurative painter whose work has been exhibited in international galleries, Padnos has been artist-in-residence for the Betz Al El School of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel, and was also funded by the National Endowment for the Arts to be artist-in-residence for an educational program for the art council of Stuart, Florida. Although a true Mardi Gras baby, conceived during Carnival Time, Padnos did not move to New Orleans until 1995. She is a musician who plays saxophone and violin.
• David “Lefty” Parker, Techincal Coordinator – Having worked as a record store owner, sound engineer, talent buyer, musician, producer, and bar manager, Parker has worn just about every hat in the music business over the last 20 years. He is a veteran of such bands as Fireball Rocket, the Interlopers, and MC Tracheotomy. He provides the Knights his expertise, from helping devise stage plots to running the sound board at Foundation shows.
• Terry Stewart – Armed with an MBA and a law degree from Cornell University, Stewart has been an executive vice president with the Connecticut Bank and Trust, served as general manager of strategic planning and business development for the Continental Group, Inc., vice president of business development for Combustion Engineering, Inc., and president, CEO, and ultimately vice chairman of the Marvel Group. Combining his love of music with his legal and business acumen, he currently serves as president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A staunch supporter of the Mystic Knights’ oral history initiative, Stewart has been instrumental in helping arrange for such legends as Robert Jr. Lockwood and Little Jimmy Scott to appear at the Ponderosa Stomp.
• Ben Vaughn – This Philadelphia-born, Los Angeles-based rocker is veteran of bands such as the Sickidz and the Ben Vaughn Combo, and, under the aegis of Elektra’s American Explorers series, has produced albums on cult legends like Charlie Feathers and Arthur Alexander. A frequent collaborator with iconic musicians as disparate as Kim Fowley, Rodney Crowell, and Alex Chilton, Vaughn composed the theme song for TV sitcom Third Rock From the Sun and served as musical director on That ‘70s Show.
• Michael Hurtt – A co-founder of the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau, Hurtt is a musician with the New Orleans garage kings the Royal Pendletons and the frontman for country band the Haunted Hearts. An excellent journalist known for his passion for detail, Hurtt’s writing regularly appears in such magazines as MOJO, Spin, Living Blues, and Offbeat