Lincoln Center Festival 09 will present A Tribute to Wardell Quezergue, legendary New Orleans songwriter/arranger, on July 19 in Alice Tully Hall. For more than 45 years, Quezergue (pronounced Kuu-zair) has made musical history as the man behind a string of timeless, popular hits including Mr. Big Stuff, Mona Lisa, Iko Iko and Chapel of Love. BBC Music magazine called Quezergue, “One of the unsung heroes of his era.” New Orleans’ celebrated Ponderosa Stomp music festival paid tribute to Quezergue last year, and now many of the musical artists who performed then, reunite, and are joined by others to salute the man who made his artistic mark shaping southern soul music from a melding of sounds of Jackson, Mississippi, Memphis and New Orleans.
The July 19 line-up includes: New Orleans giant, producer and session man, Mac Rebennack (Dr. John); R&B icons The Dixie Cups and Robert Parker; soul greats Jean Knight, Dorothy Moore, Tammy Lynn and Tony Owens; legendary New Orleans drummer Zigaboo Modeliste; and garage-music pioneer Michael Hurtt; with an all-star ten piece band led by the 78-year-old Wardell Quezergue himself in a rare New York appearance. Founded in 2001, the Stomp has grown into an important event on the music calendar with a national profile. The New York Times, reviewing this concert last April, called Ponderosa Stomp, “A party on its way to becoming an institution.”
Wardell Quezergue emerged as a bandleader in the mid 1950s with his royal Dukes of Rhythm and Wardell and the Sultans. He had honed his skills while serving in the U.S. army, stationed in Japan, where he was responsible for arranging and directing the army orchestra. Much of his career, from the late 50’s on was spent arranging and composing material for other artists and record labels, starting with Imperial, Watch, Rip and Frisco. Known among New Orleans musicians, as the “Creole Beethoven,” he gradually became the arranger of choice for a wide range of artists, across many musical genres. His arrangements and productions of songs like Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief,” Robert Parker’s “Barefootin,’” Willie Tee’s “Teasin’ You” and the Dixie Cups’ “Iko Iko” helped to define not only New Orleans music, but its culture, as well. Over the years artists who’ve benefitted from his expertise include Fats Domino, Stevie Wonder, The Pointer Sisters, Paul Simon, Aaron Neville, and Mac Rebennack (Dr. John) to name a few.
In 1964, Quezergue was a co-founder of Nola Records. An early hit on the label was Robert Parker’s “Barefootin”; the label went on to amass a huge catalog of soul and R&B recordings until it folded in 1968. “We created songs from scratch,” Quezergue later recalled of his ‘60s apex. “The songs were really what would dictate the sound.”
Working out of Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1970s, he brought its distinct sound into the mix and to the top of the charts. After the success of his own studio productions, “Groove Me” and “Mr. Big Stuff,” big labels came calling and an avalanche of Quezergue productions surfaced on labels like Chimneyville, Atlantic and Cotillion, including powerful cuts by Irma Thomas, Tami Lynn, Johnny Adams and the Unemployed (a funk group headed up by Quezergue’s sons!). Wardell soon reached back to New Orleans to form his own new imprints, Pelican and Movin,’ issuing such funky masterpieces as Curtis Johnson’s “Sho ‘Nuff The Real Thing” and Chuck Simmons’ “Lay It On Me.”
From the late 1970s on, Quezergue worked on a variety of projects and was in great demand as an arranger for local New Orleans’ bands. He did orchestrations for Ronnie Kole, arrangements for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins Big Band, and was the music director for the 1984 World’s Fair Orchestra. He arranged and produced Dr. John’s 1992 Grammy Award-wining recording, Goin’ Back to New Orleans. Created over a six-year period, Quezergue’s monumental Creole Mass, a large-scale work for symphony orchestra and chorus, spiritual chorale, children’s choir, second line brass band, and soloists was completed and recorded in 2000. Although illness has caused him to be almost completely blind, Quezergue continues an active career as an arranger (his son transcribes the arrangements). All of the songs that will be performed on the July 19 concert are new arrangements he has done over the last three years.
"Men whooped and hollered, rasped and preached. Women sassed, strutted, hurled accusations and wailed away tears. Guitars twanged and cackled, horns laughed, and drums pounded backbeats and chattered with funk... On Tuesday night the Stomp mingled high-octane rockabilly, elegantly dynamic Southern soul, intricate New Orleans R&B and some kindred untamed music...” The New York Times.
Ponderosa Stomp is an American roots music festival that showcases the world’s most authentic, vibrant rockabilly, R&B, jazz, blues, soul, funk, and swamp pop. The annual festival, which takes place each April, has become a high spot on the music calendar for fans and critics alike. The 8th annual Ponderosa Stomp will take place in New Orleans on April 28-29, 2009. The Stomp is produced by the nonprofit Ponderosa Stomp Foundation whose mission is to celebrate the legacy, revitalize the careers, and preserve the history of the unsung architects of American music. Founded in New Orleans in 2001, to date the foundation has presented more than 70 shows and employed more than 500 musicians. Other activities of the foundation include the Ponderosa Stomp Music Conference in partnership with the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and the Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo; with the museum, the foundation is curating an exhibit, The Secret History of Rock ‘n Roll. Visit www.ponderosastomp.com and www.ponderosastompfoundation.org for more information.
Festival 09’s Tribute to Wardell Quezergue will be the closing night of a three-concert Lincoln Center mini-series this summer that will give New York audiences a real taste of Ponderosa Stomp-style music making. Midsummer Night Swing—Lincoln Center’s annual outdoor dance party—will present a soul/R&B evening on July 16 and a rockabilly evening on July 17. (Those artists will be announced with the rest of the Swing season on April 22; go to LincolnCenter.org/Stomp for a complete listing of events). A related symposium will take place on July 18. An all-access package to all three music events in the series (July 16, 17, and 19) is available for $50.
Ponderosa Stomp @ Lincoln Center is a collaboration of Lincoln Center Festival and Midsummer Night Swing in association with Ponderosa Stomp Foundation.
Funk Me Hard was recorded live in 1980 at the Sanger Theater in New Orleans. The recording of this show was done by a small group of filmmakers who intended to release a video of The Meters live in concert. The bill consisted of four acts—The Meters, The Neville Brothers, George Porter Jr. & The Runnin’ Pardners, and, finally, Zigaboo’s band, Gaboon’s Gang. During this time, Zigaboo was just departing from the Meters and beginning to forge his own path. This musical evolution is ever present in his performance with Gaboon’s Gang.
While the original idea was to release the concert on video, to this day, the film remains at large. Luckily Zigaboo had the foresight to secure the audio master of his performance and thus he brings you Funk Me Hard - Live.
"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president. Not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."
- Caroline Kennedy, The New York Times
"A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense."
- Barack Obama, America's Next Great President
"Ziggy Modeliste is one of the greatest drummers in the history of pop music."
- Sasha Frere- Jones, The New Yorker
Ziggy Modeliste releases "O-B-A-M-A, Obama"
"This song is for the Soul of the USA and to support Barack Obama in his quest to make positive change for America."
– Z. Modeliste
"Change doesn't come from Washington.
Change comes to Washington." – B. Obama
"It's time for a change"– Z. Modeliste
Oakland, CA: The God Father of Groove Salutes America's next great president. "O-B-A-M-A Obama" (Obama Groove) released to support Barack Obama. Attending the Democratic National Convention, a legend in American music was moved by the intelligence, composure and the promise of real change by the party's dynamic nominee, Barack Obama. Compelled to do much more than to provide 1 vote to the Obama campaign, Ziggy "King of the funky drums" Modeliste, did what he does best, which is music. Upon returning home the legendary Meters drummer and masterpiece rhythm creator (timeless hits; "Cissy Strut", 'People Say", etc) completed a composition that supports Obama's insistence for change and offers its own mantra with Zig's patented groove, "O-B-A-M-A, Obama". "Obama Groove" was produced to contribute much more to the Obama/ Biden campaign.
With every purchase of the single, "O-B-A-M-A Obama", you will help in our pledge to do all we can through our music. Half of all Ziggy's proceeds will be donated to the Obama campaign. "O-B-A-M-A Obama" was created to provide financial assistance, raise awareness and to motivate Americans to register and vote for real change for America on November 4th. It certainly is "time for a change" so, GET OUT AND VOTE! It's your duty and privilege."O-B-A-M-A, Obama" available on MP3 at CD Baby for $1. Half of all my proceeds will go directly to the Obama/Biden campaign.
JZM Records & JOMOD Music Publishing
PO Box 22198, Oakland, CA 94623 -