In the Basement Magazine Review

This year the annual Ponderosa Stomp moved to a new venue and a new date, after previously being held during the first and second weekends of the New Orleans lazz Festival at the staft of May. The venue, although not as big as the House 0f Blues, where the last few events have been held, managed to cope well.

The first night began with the Stomp’s house band for the first paft of the night, Lil’ Buck & the Top Cats, who did a great version of his funky ‘Monkey In A Sack’- by coincidence, a copy of this record sold for f1,500 recently on eBay. The funk continued with Bobby Allen, who had led a group called the Exceptions but, on this night was well serviced by Lil’ Buck’s band. ‘Soul Chickeni a rather sublime funky soulful piece that Bobby had written with his own band, was his highlight. Clayton Sampy, a zydeco accordionist and slnger, did a couple songs which led us nicely into Carol Fran’s set. The highlights were ‘Emmitt Lee’and, of course, ‘Crying In The Chapel’, the song that Elvis Presley covered just as Carol’s was taking off sale-wise. (ln fact, Elvis gave Carol $20,000, after she played the same date as him, as coinpensation due to his version killing Carol’s.) Blues guitarist, Classie Ballou followed, with a competent set which included AIlen Toussaint’s ‘Confusion’. Legendary bluesman, Lazy Lester and Excello guitarist, James Johnson joined forces with drummer, Warren Storm to perform a couple of Slim Harpo songs,’Raining In My Head’and’Baby Scratch My Backi Warren also took the lead on a terrific version of ‘Those Lonely Lonely Nights’.

The next part of the show was billed as a tribute to the great Cosimo Matassa, who also attended the show. The tribute was led by Allen Toussaint and his band – crisp versions of ‘Yes We Can’, ‘Get Out Of My Life Woman’and’Working In A Coalmine’led us to Robert Parker, who offered up splendid takes on ‘Barefootin” and ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’, as Robert fronted with Toussaint and his band played sublimely behind him. Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry was up next. He needed a walking frame to come on stage but, despite this, his voice is still in fine form. Ain’t Got No Home’was great and he sang both the bass and falsetto pads superbly, Clarence also did ‘But I Do’, which had everybody singing along. Dave Bartholomew was scheduled to be the next performer but, unfortunately, was unable to make it, so Allen Toussaint stepped in for another set, which included excellent versions of’Fortune Teller’ and’A Certain Girli Full mark to Allen!

Lil’Buck’s Band came back, as Jean Knight gave us a mighty version of ‘lYr. Big Stuff’ – and even ‘My Toot Toot’sounded okay! Little Leo was next and he did some blues songs. Leo is Lloyd Price’s brother and his main claim to fame is that he co-wrote’Send lYe Some Lovin” – recorded by various people, most notably Sam Cooke – although surprisingly he did not perform this song. Leo was followed by C.P Love, who delivered some good stuff as befits this soulful singer.’l Found All These Things’ was superbly sung. This was a song, later covered by Johnnie Taylor, that C.P cut at Malaco in the early seventies and came out on Chimneyville. He continued with a good version of’Second Line Home’. Al Johnson came on next, with his New Orleans’ party classic, ‘Carnival Time’, followed by Eddie Powers, a blue-eyed songsterf with guitarist, Earl Stanley, who wrote the number Eddie performed: ‘Gypsy Woman Told Mei This song, when released in the sixties, knocked the Beatles offthe #1 spot in New 0rleans. He ceftainly did a good job on this, equalled by Tony Owens, who delivered’l Got Soul’. OWens was followed by a funky David Batiste, who was formerly in the Gladiators and did his great stab of funk,’Funky Soull There were more artists who followed but, as they fell into a rock ‘n roll bag, I will leave the Friday report at that point.

Saturday was a bit of a mixed bag, so I wiil just mention the soul content. Miss Lavelle White was first up and, backed by the great Deke Dickerson & the Eccofonics, she did a shoft set of her early Duke recordings, which included the excellent’Stolen Love’ and’Stop These Teardrops’. Clifford Cuny was to follow and he delivered a very workman-like set of ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, ‘Soul Ranger’ and, of course, the great’She Shot A Hole In My Souli Big Jay McNeely, at 84 years old, gave us an impressive set which stated with him in the audience, making his way to the stage playing his heaft out on his sax. ‘There Is Something 0n Your Mind’, his classic hit from 1959 and’Insect Ball’were both goodies. Big Jay ended his set the way he started, by going back into the crowd, honking and playing his heart out on the sax once more. Great stuff! The next artist of note was Billy Boy Arnold, the bluesman who has a soulful touch, Billy did his classic,’I Wish You Wouldi which has been covered by so many bands and also his’I Ain’t Got You’, also good, After a few other bands, the time had come for the main event, A Tribute to Stax and Memphis Soul.

The Bo-Keys took to the stage. With Howard Grimes on drums, Archie ‘Hubby’Turner on keyboards, Ben Cauley on trumpet and Skip Pitts on guitar, they started with ‘lack And Gingeri off their latest album, ‘Got To Get Back’. Sir Mack Rice was the first to front the band, with’l’m Coming Home’,’Baby Please Don’t Go’ and, inevitably, ‘Mustang Sally’, Eddie Floyd followed, looking sharp and extremely well-groomed, as he tore into’Raise Your Handi ‘634-5789’and then into his soul-rock classic,’Big Bird’. Eddie’s flnale was ‘You’re So Finei by which time he was joined on stage by Sir Mack Rice to have a mini Falcons’reunion.

A short interlude was concluded with the Bo-Keys performing’Shaft’, which Skip Pitts must have played so many times, having worked for many years with Isaac Hayes. Otis Clay followed with’Trying To Live My Life Without You’and then a surprise inclusion of ‘She’s About A Mover’, a song he recorded back in 1968 for Cotillion and scoring a medium-sized r&b hit in the process. This was great stuff and Otis was really enjoying himself as he Iaunched into’l Can’t Help lYyself’. He finished his excellent set with’Got To Get Back To My Baby’. The mighty William Bell followed and began with his 1977 Mercury hit,’Easy Comin’Out (Hard Goin’ln)i William was in top form, as he carried on with ‘I Forgot To Be Your Lover’. Looking great in a brown outfit and white shades, he continued with’Born Under A Bad Sign’- amazing stufl as he continued with a great version of’You Don’t Miss Your Water’. ‘Trying To Love Two’ was equally as good and he concluded his fine fine set with a medley of songs, bringing the night to a close for me. (Although there were a couple of more acts to follow, as it was gone 3 a.m., I decided to call it a night/day!) I would like to repeat a quote I read… ‘This was a night when Memphis Soul ruled in the land of carnival queens’. 0h so true! All in all, a magnificent time was had by everyone who attended the 10th annual Ponderosa Stomp.

Dave Thomas