Gary U.S. Bonds: Down The Mississippi, Down In New Orleans
What can you say about the beatific bombast that is Gary U.S. Bonds? The all time conquering barbarian of Beach Music, along with his sax-honking sergeant-at-arms Daddy G, stormed the Eastern shores beginning in 1961 with such dance hall war cries as “Quarter To Three,” “Twist, Twist Señora,” “Dear Lady Twist” and “School Is Out” — not to mention the shamanistic unreleased masterpiece “I Wanna Holler (But The Town’s Too Small.” And he’s bound to coup the room with Los Straitjackets laying down the sonic blast behind him.
From Houston, Texas, He Can Sing and He Can Dance, He’s Archie Bell
There’s Gonna Be A Showdown! Known for doing the “Tighten Up,” Houston’s Archie Bell will leave you slack-jawed with some of the sweetest soul sides ever to come out of Bayou City. Do whatever you gotta do to see this must-see show and remember Archie’s command that you can “dance just as good as you want.”
Mystical Harp Blues Master
The Blues: you dare not utter the word without mentioning the name Billy Boy Arnold within the confines of the same breath. Transcendent and mystical, Arnold is a snake charmer for the hips, a re-animater of the soul and a lyricist unparalleled, whose hypnotic harp drones and shamanistic rhythms will teleport you to the truth of this much-misunderstood musical art form. Like his former band mate Bo Diddley, Billy Boy helped draft the blueprints of the British Invasion with the stop-time “I Wish You Would,” which the Yardbirds promptly covered. But there’s no substitute for the original.
The Boogie Woogie Country Girl, Linda Gail Lewis
Linda Gail Lewis got her start singing magical duets with her old brother Jerry Lee, including the honky-tonk anthem “We Live In Two Different Worlds,” but her melancholic mayhem couldn’t be contained as a mere harmony singer, and she broke out on her own in 1969 with the Smash Records LP The Two Sides Of Linda Gail Lewis. From piano pounding rock ’n’ roll tempest to country soul chanteuse, Linda Gail Lewis is a stylist whose musical moods encompass all of the intertwining and bittersweet sounds of the South.
Willie Knows How
From the far-flung coastal towns along Bayou Lafourche to the musical boiling point of New Orleans, Willie West is an unsung hero of South Louisiana rhythm and blues if there ever was one. His earliest sides on the Rustone label, such as the smoking dance floor favorite “Willie Knows How” and the eternal swamp pop hit “It’s No Use To Try,” are just the beginning of a career that found him recording with Allen Toussaint, singing in Deacon John’s legendary Electric Soul Train and cutting the wistful funk classic “Fair Child” with the Meters, for whom he was also a vocalist.
Warren Storm: King Of The Dance Halls
The Soul of the Gulf Coast and the Hardest Working Man In Swamp Pop, Warren Storm is truly “Cajun Cool,” as he sung during one of his many career high points with Jo-El Sonnier. Along with fellow drummer Jockey Etienne, Warren was the back beat of J.D. Miller’s legendary integrated studio band in Crowley, playing drums on records by Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Rocket Morgan and his own 1958 hit “Prisoner’s Song.” His vocalizing continued throughout the sixties in the swamp rock ’n’ roll band the Shondells, formed with fellow South Louisiana star Rod Bernard, and he remains, to paraphrase another one of his hits, the “King Of The Dance Halls.”
Frankie Miller: True Blue Papa
“Well, I was born in a cave/ I was raised in a den/ My chief occupation’s taking women from the men/ I’m a true blue papa/ Gonna have a ball tonight…” When these lyrics came booming out of jukeboxes across Texas on the flip side of Frankie Miller’s hit “Black Land Farmer,” you knew you were hearing the penultimate in hillbilly music. Recording for the renowned Starday label, in “True Blue” Miller scored the imprint one of its biggest hits, and even more importantly, burned the honky-tonk ouvre into the minds of millions worldwide. The song wasn’t one of the best, it was the best.
Concentrated Texas TNT: Roy Head
The horns! The drums! The Screams! Stomping out of the Golden Triangle with one foot in Texas and one foot in Louisiana, the boss prophet of blue eyed soul hath but a single commandment: Treat Her Right! But beyond the explosive show stoppers, Roy’s quadruple threat musical DNA of country, soul, R&B and rock ’n’ roll was recently showcased through his son Sundance’s stunning performance on television phenomenon The Voice. Roy’s entire career is worth a deep dive, beginning with the Gulf Coast Grease of his early TNT sides, compiled masterfully by Norton Records on Live It Up!
That Driving Beat: Don Bryant and the Bo-Keys
Rising through the R&B ranks as the singer in Willie Mitchell’s band, Memphis’s multi-faceted Don Bryant has long been a favorite to soul insiders, and his coveted classics “Doing The Mustang” and “That Driving Beat” have filled dance floors and thrilled listeners for decades. A noted Hi Records songwriter, Bryant penned “Can’t Stand The Rain” for his wife Ann Peebles; John Lennon claimed it as his favorite record. Bryant’s brand new album with Memphis soul brothers and Stomp favorites the Bo-Keys is blowing minds coast-to-coast and worldwide.
Doug Kershaw: The Return Of The Original Louisiana Man
After a career that made him a fiddle-sawing country superstar, the swampland’s prodigal son returns to re-ignite the bayou fire which first took flame with Rusty and Doug’s Cajun rock ’n’ roll classics “Hey Mae,” “Love Me To Pieces,” “Hey, Sheriff” and “Louisiana Man.” It took a mind-melting meet-up with his illegitimate stepchildren Dave Stuckey and Deke Dickerson to convince Doug to revisit these trailblazing Hickory Records sides but there’s no stoppin’ ‘em now: stepping on the swamp gas, fiddle to the floor, like a streak of southern lightning and a bolt of bayou heat, these Cajuns will indeed rage!
Last of the Texas T-Bone Guitar Slingers: Roy Gaines
Direct from the T-Bone Walker school of Lone Star Guitar, Roy Gaines’ first exposure to show business came via his brother, Grady Gaines, noted sax player in Little Richard’s backing band the Upsetters. Roy started out doing sessions for Houston’s Duke/ Peacock Records before hitting the trail to Los Angeles where he became turban-wearing R&B star Chuck Willis’s band leader. Gaines cut his own wild rockers, “Skippy Is A Sissy” and “What Will Lucy Do” before backing artists as varied as Ray Charles and Billie Holiday and later even joining the Jazz Crusaders.
The Crying Man: Gee Gee Shinn
One half of the Boogie Kings’ powerhouse vocal duo the King Brothers (along with Jerry “Count Jackson” LaCroix), blue-eyed soul singer Gee Gee Shinn formed his first band, the Flat Tops, in Franklin, Louisiana in 1956. He joined the Boogie Kings in 1963, and — despite talented alumni such as Tommy McLain and Clint West — immediately became the true voice of this legendary and long-running Gulf Coast institution. The piece de resistance was the album Sam Montel Presents…the Boogie Kings, featuring Gee Gee at the helm of the band’s killer version of “Harlem Shuffle,” the heart breaking favorite “The Crying Man” and the bluesy “Devil Of A Girl,” penned by South Louisiana rocker Vince Anthony. The latter was coupled with the Kings’ Shinn-led treatment of Little Willie John’s “Fever” for a single, and became a huge influence on New Orleans garage band the Royal Pendletons three decades after it was first released. Aside from the Boogie Kings, Gee Gee did a stint with his own band the Rollercoasters on Huey Meaux’s Shane label that resulted in one single as well as a legendary album for Putt Putt Golf Courses in the early seventies on which he did all arrangements and played his first instrument, the trumpet. Nearly ageless, Shinn still possesses the sharp vocal verve and effortless intensity that he did when he was slaying the juiced-up teenage crowd (including a young Janis Joplin) at the Big Oaks Club in Vinton, Louisiana back in the early sixties.
Johnny Knight: The Epitome of Hollywood Rock ’n’ Roll Cool From Outer Space
Like a blazing comet that scorches the earth every fifty years, Johnny Knight is as enigmatic as he is just plain rare. Appearing out of the shadows of time, he came, he went, and for a brief moment, he is here again. First appearing in 1959 with his blasting ode to the six string, “Rock ’n’ Roll Guitar,” he then vanished only to reappear as the mysterious frat rock phantom the Gamma Goochee Himself during the next decade. Simply not bound by the time/ space continuum of most mere mortals, it would be wise to catch Knight this time around or wait until 2057.
Midnight Run: James Hand
A late bloomer with an early pedigree, James Hands’ roots were in the right place from the moment he stepped onstage at age twelve in 1964. His dyed-in-the wool brand of hard-edged Lone Star honky-tonk music — and poetic songs such as “Midnight Run” and “Don’t Depend On Me” — has built a devoted and cult-like fan base of artists and critics alike that includes fellow Texan Willie Nelson.
Darrell McCall: The Nashville Rebel
Darrell McCall arrived in Nashville from Ohio in 1958 along with his childhood pal Johnny Paycheck, then still known as Donny Young. Like Paycheck, McCall lent his flawless country vocal harmonies (and bass playing) to Lone Star State sons Ray Price and George Jones as well as Louisiana luminary Faron Young. After a brief foray into rock ’n’ roll with the Benny Joy-penned “Call The Zoo,” Darrell commenced a tour-de-force of honky-tonk brilliance that included standouts such as “This Old Heart,” “Excuse Me (I Think I Have A Heartache)” and “Fallen Angel,” singing the theme song for the countrified cinematic masterpiece Hud in 1963 and appearing in the low budget milestone, Nashville Rebel, alongside Waylon Jennings in 1965.
T.K. Hulin: The Bayou State Tearjerker
If most every great swamp pop song is about a man crying — and indeed they usually are —T.K. Hulin’s eternally epic South Louisiana smash I’m Not A Fool Anymore is a tear-shedding anthem. Backed by the mesmerizing simplicity of his band the Lonely Knights, Hulin delivers his lyrics in the key of heartbreak, just as he does on follow-up tearjerkers (As You Pass Me By) Graduation Night and That’s Why The End Must Begin. Hullin can also rock with the best of ‘em, as he proved with his first record “Little Bittie Boy” and his ‘80s coonass jukebox hit “Alligator Bayou.”
Barbara Lynn: Gulf Coast Guitar Queen The Soul of the Golden Triangle
Discovered by swamp pop king Joe Barry and recorded by his manager Huey “The Crazy Cajun” Meaux, only Barbara Lynn’s left hand can conjure up the mystical swamp mist that fills the room with sounds as sweet as southern starlight on a sultry southern night. With a wise-beyond-her-years songwriting style and Barry’s bayou-ruling band the Vikings behind her, Lynn laid down “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” at Cosimo Matassa’s French Quarter studio in New Orleans in 1962. She followed it with a musical avalanche of stirring sides that included the unforgettable groover “(Oh Baby!) We Got A Good Thing Goin,’” which was soon covered by the Rolling Stones and the intense minor-key dance floor killer “I’m A Good Woman.”
The Master of Reverberation, the Creature With The Atom Brain, the original Thirteenth Floor Elevator: Roky Erickson
From the moment fifteen-year old Austin, Texas rock ’n’ roll misfit Roky Erickson channelled Little Richard and James Brown though his telepathic teenage brain to come up with the primitive acid punk two-sider “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “We Sell Soul” in 1965, something seismic shifted in the world of music. Released in tiny quantity with his band the Spades on Zero Records, this was truly a disc of epic proportions, from the wild careen of the harmonica, to the clanging reverb of the guitar chords, to the desperation of the vocals, to the transcendence of the screams. Forming the Thirteenth Floor Elevators with electric jug player Tommy Hall, the psychedelic shit-kickers soon arrived in Dallas to record their debut LP. Studio engineer (and former Louisiana Hayride sound man) Bob Sullivan was impressed: “Hell, I’d pay to see anyone play an electric jug!” Other instant devotees were Billy Gibbons and a flabbergasted Jerry Garcia. “Wow, you guys really do play on acid!” he exclaimed upon witnessing the Texas wild men in San Francisco. Their albums The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Easter Everywhere are still blowing minds to this day, cutting across genres from punk to psychedelic to heavy metal. Having himself legally declared an alien, Roky hooked up with fellow Texas wild man Doug Sahm for the timeless 1975 single “Two Headed Dog”/ “Starry Eyes,” which pointed the way toward a singular output that included the unforgettable autobiographical cult classics “I Walked With The Zombie,” “Don’t Slander Me” and “If You Have Ghosts,” to name only a few! And the future lies unwritten…
Evie Sands: The Original Angel Of The Morning
“She’s got silver bells in her voice and you’d think she’s got electricity in her fingers the way she plays that guitar left-handed and upside down.” So said Johnny Cash of Brooklyn-born chanteuse Evie Sands, a singer whose oeuvre truly deserves reappraisal. Evie’s recording career started off on a promising note with producer/ songwriter Chip Taylor, and she was soon on the road with the Shangri-Las. A test pressing of her first single, “Take Me For A Little While,” was stolen, resulting in a cover version by Jackie Ross hitting the street before Evie’s original and garnering the lion’s share of airplay. Her next single, “I Can’t Let Go” was lost amongst the chaos and the Hollies’ cover version rose to the top of the charts. Finally, the Chip Taylor-penned “Angel Of The Morning,” had the misfortune of coming out just as Cameo-Parkway Records was going bankrupt and though the song was a radio hit, the records just weren’t available. Finally, in 1969, the stars aligned and Evie hit with Taylor’s “Any Way You Want Me.” A true unsung hero, Evie’s impressive discography goes well past the near-hits and near-misses, and contemporary Dusty Springfield has called Sands her favorite singer.
Winfield Parker: Mr. Clean
Originally a sax player in the Imperial Thrillers, Baltimore’s Winfield Parker was too good of a singer to sit at the back ground, but not before the group was handpicked by Otis Redding to go on the road with him. Moving to the front lines, Parker cut the rural R&B magnum opus “Rockin’ In The Barnyard,” following it up with a slew of singles on Ru-Jac and other labels, including the deep soul masterpiece “A Fallen Star” and the grinding dance floor salute to America’s favorite bald-headed back door cleaning man, “Mr. Clean.” Rising to the top of Parker’s formative recorded works is his biggest hit, a standout version of Edwin Starr’s “S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight)” with Philly soul star Dee Dee Sharp singing background, but his deep and rewarding discography deserves full immersion.
The Mummies PIONEERS OF BUDGET ROCK are the founders of BUDGET ROCK! Their lo-fi stylings have resonated with thousands of fans worldwide, including the likes of Billy Childish and Jack White. For this year's Ponderosa Stomp they will be making their first ever appearance in the American South! The gauze covered wonders will be performing such "hits" as "(Your Ass) Is Next In Line", "(You Must Fight To Live) On The Planet Of The Apes" and "Stronger Than Dirt". They are brutal and savage and that is what their friends say about them!-Todd Abramson
The Stompin' Riff Raffs JAPANESE MASKED INSANITY might be the wildest band we've ever seen! Come see A Man and Three Chicks wreak complete havoc! Their interpretations of Stomp approved wonders like Floyd Dakil, Ron Haydock and 2017 Stomp performer Johnny Knight are a sight to behold. Their originals are on par with the great rockers they cover. Hailing from Japan, The Stompin' Riff Raffs style and profile like no other!