By Brian Wise.
Ponderosa Stomp – Day 3 – Saturday, October 3, 2015
With the conference out of the way the only thing left for Saturday was the record fair and then the music in the evening. It used to be an interesting phenomenon that record collectors seemed to be mainly middle-aged men (I am sure there has been a psychological study of this) but there seemed to be an increasing number of women here, rummaging through the hundreds of boxes of LPs and 45s.
I spent a very interesting hour chatting to Keith Glass about his business (stay tuned for upcoming feature). For those who may not know, Keith is somewhat a legend of the Melbourne music scene and moved to Mobile AL, some years ago where he set up a record store (having established his legend at home with Archie & Jughead’s, the first import store). With the burgeoning popularity of vinyl Keith is now opening two new locations here, while his daughter has opened a store near Melbourne). I resisted the temptation to splurge on some original Allen Toussaint 45s (when he was Toussan) but even a quick glance through the records helped me understand why some local Melbourne DJs spend vast sums of money on vinyl.
Those who had fully recovered from the previous evening could enjoy some of the tourist attractions of New Orleans during the day or take in lunch at one of the many eateries; however, it appeared that most people who had been to the Stomp emerged some time well after noon. These folks could enjoy the afternoon’s combined broadcast between New Orleans’ own WWOZ and Jersey City’s WFMU which took place in the lobby of the AC Marriott, home to the conference and record fair. Many of the musicians featured at The Stomp dropped in for a chat and a few local legendary DJs made appearances as well.
The evening’s music kicked off at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl at exactly 6.30pm with Raymond George backed by Lil’ Buck (Sinegal) & The Top Cats, who would back the next five acts as well: Jimmy Jules, Lynn August, James Alexander, Tony Owens and the great Warren Storm, who was the highlight of the first part of the night. It’s a pity that Storm is no longer with Lil’ Band O’ Gold but Lil’ Buck’s outfit was more than an adequate replacement for the five songs that he did, sounding as strong as ever on classic such as ‘Prisoner’s Song, ‘Mama Mama Mama (Look What Your Little Boy’s Done) and ‘Lonely Lonely Nights.’
Amazingly, the event was running ahead of schedule (has this ever happened before?) and a few more songs from Storm would have been worthwhile but it was not to be.
Texan performer Mack Banks, at 81 years of age (a youngster here compared with some) was the evening’s first revelation – one of those artists that put on such an impressive show that you want to find out more about their music. Apparently, Banks had an appointment with Sam Phillips at Sun but Phillips had to break the date and Banks had to return home. History might have been different had Sam not been double-booked. Banks performed a brace of songs that included ‘Be Boppin’ Daddy’ (one of his regaional hits), ‘They Raided The Joint,’ ‘Your’e So Dumb,’ and ‘Drinkin’ Wine Spod-dee-o-dee/Johnny B Goode’ and really rocked it up on some good old fashioned rockabilly. (Banks was followed by Mike Waggoner who kept it in the same vein).
The following day Lenny Kaye was raving about Banks and managed to get hold of some of his records. This is the thing about The Stomp, you don;t need to feel intimidated that you do not know many of the artists – after all, Lenny Kaye is here making discoveries right alongside you!
Augie Meyers was one of several acts I was most looking forward to and he certainly did not disappoint, joined by Speedy Sparks on bass and later Jack Barber the original bass player for the Sir Douglas Quintet. Meyers played a mix of early songs, such as ‘Dirty Dirty Feeling,’ songs that he recorded with Doug Sahm – most notably ‘Mendocino’ and ‘She’s About A Mover’ – and solo stuff such as the classic ‘Hey Baby, Ke Pa So?’ (on which he played accordion) and ‘If You Got The Dinero.’ Meyers’ touch on the Vox Continental is both unmistakable and vastly enjoyable. You can understand why Dylan loves his playing so much. As for the lyrics, did Shakespeare ever write anything more meaningful? I think not.
It took me back to 1995 (or maybe it was 1991) when I saw The Texas Tornados at Tipitina’s and they played until past three in the morning, leaving me convinced that this was the best band I had ever seen. (It may still be true!). It was also when they introduced Roy Head as a special guest and he sang ‘Treat Her Right’ – three times! That pumping organ line on ‘She’s About A Mover’ is just about part of musical DNA and elicits a response every time I hear it.
The West Side Soul Revue took up an hour with singers Rudy Tee Gonzales, Little Henry Lee, Rudy Palacios, Manuel Bones Aragon and Jack Barber. In the same way that the Swamp Pop Revue had done the previous evening this gave the audience to enjoy a cross section of a genre and in this case one that was even less recognised.
Barbara Lynn is a left-handed guitarist with a soulful voice and is so good you wonder why she has not been lionised as much as the fantastic Irma Thomas, who was to follow here this evening. Lynn had a couple of hits in the 60s – ‘You’ll Lose A Good Thing’ and ‘Oh Baby, We Got A Good Thing Going’ – and she performed them here with verve. But she did so much more and left quite a few people gob-smacked. Lynn played ‘Sweet Sixteen’ in tribute to BB King and turned that song right around – singing it from a woman’s point of view. She also did the Elvis hit ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and James Brown’s ‘Please Please Please,’ as well as a great version of ‘Further On Down The Road,’ showing that she is also a terrific blues player. I am amazed that no-one has got Lynn too Australia for a festival becauseLynn is a treasure just waiting to be discovered.
By this time after six hours, I was happy to leave the Stomp to the refrain of the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas. There was more to come – Roy Head, Royce Porter and Billy Boy Arnold – but this time I wasn’t going to make it through until 3.00am.
The Stomp now happens every two years, apparently because the organisation is so demanding and all involved are volunteers. This is understandable. It must be a massive task getting all these artists together, especially when many of them have not played for years (or decades). This year’s event seemed to me to be the best organised so far of the six I have attended: the conference sessions were packed, the record fair was good (but could use some more space) and the music was pretty amazing most of the time. The Rock ‘n’ Bowl is just about the perfect venue for the Stomp, though an extra stage somewhere, as in the old days, would have been nice. The bowling was curtailed in deference to the music – a good move and the sound was generally excellent.
The Mystics Knights of the Mau Mau might just have hit on the right formula for the future. I look forward to coming back in 2017.