The Official Newsletter of The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame August, 2009
In this edition:
- National Publicity for Mother-in-Law Lounge Induction Party
- What’s Next? Who’s Next?
- Former La. Music Commission Exec Lowers the Boom
- EBR Parish Library Online Now Features LMHOF Link and Video
- Cajun Folklorist and PR Executive Join Executive Advisory Board
- NOW is the Time…
Allen Toussaint, Benny Spellman & Ernie K-Doe Induction Party a Nationwide Smash Hit
It seems that everyone and his (or her) mother-in-law loves Louisiana music. The scene at the Mother-In-Law Lounge was a controlled media frenzy with a score or more of videographers and dozens of expensive cameras competing for clear shots of history being made – Allen Toussaint, Benny Spellman and Ernie K-Doe joining the ranks of Inductees to the Louisiana Hall of Fame.
Whether media, family, musician, friend or fan, every person in attendance had a great time despite the heat and close quarters. Toussaint, who wrote the hit songs recorded by Spellman and K-Doe, was visibly moved and commented that receiving recognition from LMHOF was special to him, and that having the event at the Mother-in-Law Lounge was very appropriate. He was heard saying “That was New Orleans!” as he left the stage.
The party – which was conceived months ago but put on hold after the sudden death of K-Doe‟s widow Antoinette on Mardi Gras day – featured emotional video presentations, official inductions and remarks, capped by a rollicking music set that recounted career highlights.
Tears flowed when a video was shown of Benny Spellman accepting his plaque on the big screens. LMHOF Executive Director Mike Shepherd and Inductee/Advisory Board Member Deacon John traveled to Pensacola to make the personal presentation in his care home (Benny suffered a stroke years ago and cannot travel or perform now) and his recorded comments and impromptu singalong with Deacon on guitar struck a major note for everyone about the importance of the LMHOF project.
The event caused a virtual earthquake of media attention with print and online stories that reached every corner of the U.S., Canada and even England and beyond. We sent out notice of the event to over 400 media contacts, but we want to especially thank Stacy Plaisance at the New Orleans bureau of the Associated Press for her advance story which really helped set off the media stampede. Stories have been picked up and posted online at Yahoo, Google, AOL, AT&T and myriad other general and music news services, and in scores of online newspapers including USA Today, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Miami Herald and on and on.
One of our favorite review pieces was posted on Nola.com by Keith Spera – please enjoy his article and the reader comments. Additionally, the LMHOF Web page saw nearly 2,000 visitors in the 24 hour period following the AP story posting, and page visits have since doubled in pace compared to activity prior to Aug. 2. And we can‟t overlook the numerous TV and radio stories that have aired around the state as just as significant, perhaps more so from the standpoint of how local media sometimes “views its own” with a jaded eye.
The performers provided a rare blend of New Orleans and Baton Rouge musicians. The New Orleans contingent included (besides Toussaint) Deacon John (who played guitar on Spellman‟s, K-Doe‟s and other Toussaint recordings) Ronald Jones (son of Joe “You Talk Too Much” Jones who played on many of the original recordings), Judy Spellman, who sang in place of her father, and Inductee Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, who was presented with a belated birthday present – a drawing of Johnson done for LMHOF by noted artist Ralph Chabaud.
New Orleans native/Baton Rouge resident Lenny Capello, who had the Cosimo Matassa – produced regional hit record “Cotton Candy” on RIC Records five decades ago, surprised a lot of people with the strength of his vocals. Capello himself was surprised to have three fans show up with copies of his 45 seeking an autograph. Sitting behind the drums was Baton Rouge‟s “Joe Boy” Miceli, longtime drummer for John Fred‟s Playboy Band.
WATCH VIDEOS SHOWN AT THE INDUCTION PARTY ON YOUTUBE:
- Benny Spellman‟ acceptance video and touching duet of his hits with Deacon John.
- Induction Video of the late great “Emperor of the World” Ernie K-Doe
You can find inductee bios linked on the left column our home page and the videos linked above plus more highlights of the induction event are in the Galleries Musique section at the LMHOF web site. (Note: Some of the other photos and memorabilia materials provided to us for these latest individual inductees have not yet been scanned, formatted and uploaded into the Virtual Museum.
We hope to be caught up within the next week and apologize for the delay.) We could go on and on with stories and positive fallout from this special gathering. Suffice to say that it was indeed “special” and could represent a turning point for raising the visibility of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
“The fact that this induction has reverberated so far is only a small indication of what we can accomplish for education, tourism and especially for reviving our homegrown music industry through our efforts- and by working with other legitimate nonprofit organizations and partnering with the business and public sectors,” Shepherd comments. “Louisiana contributed more to American and international music than any other state in the 20th century. We still lead with the creative side, but have let the business side slip away. It‟ time to recapture our natural position as an economic force in the music world.”
What’s Next? Who’s Next?
We can‟ make up for 30 years of lost time all at once, but we are steadily expanding and growing our list of inductees, and in the next wave LMHOF will add new wrinkles by inducting not just artists but music institutions and a noted businessman who helped advance an industry.
August 22: SHREVEPORT
Mike Shepherd will be onstage at the James Burton International Guitar Festival with four induction plaques, including first and foremost The Louisiana Hayride (1948 – 1960), a radio and television network show originated at the famed Municipal Auditorium that rivaled the Grand Ole Opry and helped launch and/or sustain the careers of dozens of country and rockabilly music stars from Hank Williams to Elvis Presley. The phenomenal contributions of the Hayride to 20th Century American music cannot be overstated and our first presentation in Shreveport could not overlook this body of work as an entity to be inducted. Also to be inducted will be:
Festival namesake James Burton, youngest house band member of the Louisiana Hayride and guitarist with Ricky Nelson and Elvis for many years, among other credits; Legendary Shreveport music businessman
Stan Lewis, producer, songwriter and record retailer for six decades, and Posthumous induction of Johnny Horton (“Battle of New Orleans” “North to Alaska”)
September 12: BATON ROUGE
Breaking News – You Heard It in This Newsletter FIRST: A very special halftime show will be presented by The LSU Tiger Marching Band at the home game vs. Vanderbilt, featuring popular music by LMHOF inductees Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Robert “Barefootin’ Parker, Jean “Mr. Big Stuff” Knight and Bill “Rocky” Conti.
Conti, who attended LSU and did music arrangements for the “Golden Band From Tigerland,” was inducted at an event on campus last year and it dawned on us that no other college marching band:
- had a fight song written by its Governor (Huey Long)
- had an internationally noted jazz orchestra leader (Castro Carazo) as a band director
- won the only national college marching band show competition ever held (1970) and has also
- won the coveted “Sudler Trophy” awarded annually by its peers
- won the 2008 “ESPN Battle of the Bands” Indiana Jones movie music video contest and $25,000 (by a landslide vote!)
- can claim so much indigenous music heritage as its own inspiration. Consider that “Tiger Rag”
- originated as a Dixieland jazz song, and that millions of people instantly recognize who is playing the first four notes of that song in the famous “Pregame” whenever it is played.
Because of its iconic relationship to both LSU and to the music of Louisiana, and how it has helped prepare so many musicians to enter into music business and education, The LSU Tiger Marching Band will be formally inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame on this date. On hand to make that presentation with Mike Shepherd will be Del Moon, Tiger Band alumnus and the founder of the first LMHOF project who now serves on the current Executive Advisory Board.
Coming This Fall:
Expect to see several more inductions, including a special concert induction of Louisiana’s LeRoux, a live radio induction of some Swamp Pop legends, and hopefully our first wave of Acadiana inductions in Cajun genres. Some very special plans are being laid in New Orleans, both for programs and with possible announcements concerning a property development. There will be some special “one of a kind” music releases coming down the line soon too. Stay tuned!
Former Louisiana Music Commission Staffer Vents in Blog
In the line with Shepherd‟ comments above, we would like to share with you a recent blog posted by Steve Picou, a former ranking staff member of the Louisiana Music Commission that is charged with promoting the development of our state‟ music industry.
In light of repeated rejection of our offers of free assistance with official events and ceremonies, and tabling of suggestions and motions made by appointed commission members to provide recognition and support to LMHOF, we can‟ help but find Picou‟ report and the follow-up comments relevant and revealing.
Reviewing their official Web page yields several dead links and the omission of several helpful organizational links, including ours. Meanwhile, one link seems to direct artists to a contact number out of state with a for-profit company. What is wrong with this picture?
We shed light to Picou‟ report and the situation because we believe there is so much more the state can do. We don‟ know how much public money is being devoted to an official entity that cannot show any appreciable progress or evidence of real assistance to the music industry, and certainly not in comparison to the success the state has had with fostering a robust film industry. We are simply asking the same questions that are being mouthed by many others in the ranks of musicians, entrepreneurs and even fans (read the comments below Picou‟ blog for examples) and sharing these questions and observations with you.
Cajun Folklorist and PR Pro Join LMHOF Executive Advisory Board
In our last newsletter we introduced nine prominent individuals who have lent their names and their expert counsel to the LMHOF effort. We are grateful for their ongoing help and assistance. We are proud to add even more diversity with the addition of two respected and passionate Louisiana music lovers:
Barry Jean Ancelet – Ancelet is a world-recognized Cajun folklorist and expert in the history of Cajun music. He is the Willis Granger and Tom Debaillon BORSF Professor of Francophone Studies at University of Louisiana-Lafayette and has earned numerous state, national and international honors for his work. Most recently he was named 2009 “Humanist of the Year” by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
LeAnne Weill – The Weill Agency is the oldest established advertising and public relations firm in Louisiana, founded in 1958 by noted PR practitioner, author and award-winning playwright Gus Weill. Since 1986 LeAnne Weill has been running the agency and has continued its legacy of excellence with numerous national advertising awards and producing proven results for her clients.
EBR Parish Library Online Now Features LMHOF Link and Videos
We are pleased to now be a partner with the East Baton Rouge Parish Library and to be recognized as an educational resource. The library is featuring a video from the LMHOF archives on a rotating basis on its “Louisiana Artists and Musicians” Page under Arts and Culture (CLICK HERE to view) and LMHOF is listed at the top of Music Organizations under its Arts Organizations tab. (CLICK HERE to view)
Education is one of the underpinning missions of our organizational plan. Once we have revenue from our own activities, grants and donations we will engage in programs that will ensure all children growing up in Louisiana have an understanding of the special stature of their state in international and popular music history. Providing accurate, informative and entertaining material for musicologists, media and fans around the world of the various genres that comprise our rich musical tapestry is another aspect of our mission.
NOW is the Time…
…for you to make a statement that the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame is an important and long-needed missing piece to solving the puzzle of how to restore the state‟ music industry and cultural prominence.
Many assume that this is simply a museum building project that might also put on a few concerts and attract a few tourists. Some cynically expect that such an entity would not meet its monetary needs from exhibit and event admissions, which has indeed been an issue for some entities.
We respectfully disagree in this case.
Of all of the states or even regions in the world that should logically have a hall of fame for the length and breadth of its indigenous and popular music, Louisiana is clearly in a class by itself.
“These musicians are a national treasure,” wrote one reader in the comments section under the NOLA.com article we linked about our recent induction party. “LA should fund and build a music Hall of Fame as a major tourist attraction. I live in Hawaii but would travel and attend the annual ceremonies.” Book „m, Dano. If you build it, they will come.
However, The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame was never conceived to be just a historical exhibit and recognition project, either now or in the first nonprofit venture started in 1980. The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame is envisioned to be a catalyst for economic development well beyond the scope of a simple tourist attraction. Its mission also reaches into education and cultural preservation. Louisiana needs to raise awareness of its own greatness at home to foster a supportive culture for its talent.
That talent needs to be provided the technical assistance and business training to achieve real success. The music community needs to watchdog itself and prevent wholesale exploitation and recognize the producers, managers and agents who demonstrate ethical business practices that profit them and produce sustainable careers. LMHOF can be a voice and a change agent to assist in all of these areas. Without exaggeration, we believe billions of dollars and keeping our best and brightest talents based here potentially hang in the balance.
Because of the lack of infrastructure to properly promote and preserve our history, the media and some entertainment business interests in major production hubs like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Nashville have not always been as accurate-and in some cases forthcoming- in giving due credit to our state‟ artists and influences. Our education goals also include helping tell “the real story” to the masses and thereby bring a lot of famed Louisiana hit music back “onto the playlist” and also pave the way for the next generation.
It’s a given that we can ask the state to underwrite the bulk of our project, although that is exactly what has been done by other states with halls of fame already in existence.
Our business plan demonstrates an ability to draw upon a variety of resources and to self-generate the majority of our own funding needs. But we have to get “over the hump” to get there. We also need to show we have a growing base of people who show their support and will help us “prime the pump” to continue to conduct our events and inductions and to expand our unique Virtual Museum the share with the world. NOW is the time…
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