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Fair Grounds, all day
Final day of weekend one
Bayou Beer Garden, 9AM
The most important meal of the year
Prytania Theatre, 10AM
1933 sci-fi horror classic
Saenger Theatre, 3PM
YouTube superstar comes to town
Marigny Opera House, 5PM
Feat. guitarist and composer David Sigler
Eiffel Society, 7PM
Lord of the Rings burlesque
Maple Leaf Bar, 7PM
Feat. Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, plus a crawfish boil
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA-based Balkan band
Zeitgeist Arts Center, 9PM
Helen Gillet presents Belgian avant garde films
Louis Armstrong Park, 1PM
A protest for freedom, jobs, justice, and sanctuary for all
Peoples Health Jazz Market, 6:30PM
CNN presents event, with post-screening conversation with anchor Brooke Baldwin
House of Blues, 7PM
Carver Club, 8PM
Treme club shifts its weekly show to the historic Carver Theatre
Cafe Istanbul, 9:15PM
Evening of poetry with Chuck Perkins, plus live music
Blue Nile, 11PM
Famed brass all-stars play Frenchmen
Ernest N. Morial Cenvention Center
Kick off day of tech conference
Marigny Recording Studio, 3PM
First annual showcase of the label's artists
Greater New Orleans Foundation, 4:30PM
Music from Irma Thomas, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Rebirth Brass Band
343 Baronne St., 6:30PM
Chardonnay vs. Pinot Noir
House of Blues, 7PM
Grammy-nominated French heavy metal
Little Gem Saloon, 7:30PM
Stick around for Honey Island Swamp Band at 11PM
Smoothie King Center, 8PM
50th anniversary tour
Feat. Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers
Octavia Books, 4:30PM
From "How to Be A Supervillain"
Hosted by Pistil & Stamen Flower Farm and Studio
Music at the Mint, 7PM
Feat. Tim Laughlin
The Sanctuary, 8PM
CD release show
Snug Harbor, 8PM
Feat. Marcia Ball, Joe Krown, and Tom McDermott
In support of newest album 'Whiteout Conditions'
Saenger Theatre, 8:30PM
Blue Nile, 9PM
Feat. Ivan Neville
Gasa Gasa, 9PM
Feat. Chrome Pony and Post Animal in support
Blue Nile, 11:55PM
Next generation NOLA brass
Pres Hall, 12AM
With Jon Cleary, Benny Bloom, & Friends
Fair Grounds, all day
Weekend two kicks off
Tubby & Coo's, 4PM
Star Wars party
Jazz in the Park
Russell Batiste and friends
Crescent Park, 5:45PM
Get sweaty and centered
Ashé Cac, 6PM
Live music, DJs, and dance
The Music Box Village, 6:30PM
Punk rock percussion
Rosalie Apothecary, 7PM
Class for women's health
House of Blues, 7:30PM
Benefit concert for his namesake foundation
The Historic Carver Theater, 8PM
Feat. Ian Neville, Nikki Glaspie, SSHH feat. Zak Starkey of The Who
The Howlin Wolf, 9PM
Republic NOLA, 9PM
Feat. George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste
Music at the Mint, 9PM
Live music to benefit the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp
The Emperor's New Prose
Ben Sandmel's Much-Anticipated Biography of Ernie K-Doe Unleashed on the R&B Legend's Loyal Subjects
FRENCH QUARTER -- The evening began with a simple question: "Do you want to see the statue?"
It was 5 o'clock at the New Orleans Historic Collection and propped up in a chair next to the speaking podium was a life-sized model, grinning widely with his head cocked jauntily to the side.
This was my introduction to Ernie K-Doe, the esteemed local R&B musician and subject of the Collection's most recent publication, Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans. Written by Ben Sandmel, the biography contains ten years’ worth of research, interviews and photographs and is the second book in the Collection’s Louisiana Musicians Biography Series.
While the event was billed as a dialogue and reception in celebration of the book’s release, the evening instead felt like a commemoration of K-Doe himself – which is probably just how he would have wanted it.
The K-Doe statue has become just one of the many eccentricities surrounding the memory of this New Orleans-born R&B singer and self-proclaimed "Emperor of the Universe". Yet despite the fact that he is most often remembered in popular culture for his grandiose personality and unconventional behavior, the event was equally an acknowledgement of his contributions to popular music and R&B, as well as to the New Orleans music community.
“Oftentimes when K-Doe is remembered, it’s for his eccentric personality. However, he really was an incredibly talented musician and just this powerful force that people, especially people from New Orleans, really identify with and want to celebrate.” explained Karen Celestan, the event moderator and co-author of Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man, the first book in the Biography Series.
“He is such an important figure in New Orleans culture as a personality as well as a person, and I think the nature of this event and the overwhelming reception people have had to the book just proves how central he still is to this community,” she said of the man who provided the smooth vocals to hits like "Mother-in-Law" and "Here Come the Girls."
The evening consisted of an open Q&A-style dialogue between Celestan and author Sandmel, covering a range of topics including K-Doe’s personal and professional life, his relationship with local musicians and the community, and the process of writing the book itself.
Present to discuss some of the more technical aspects of the musicianship was K-Doe's longtime producer Allen Toussaint, of whom he once quipped, “There wouldn’t be no Ernie K-Doe if there wasn’t no Allen Toussaint.”
Toussaint was also the author of the Emperor’s most popular song “Mother-In-Law”, the first song by a New Orleans artist to reach #1 on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts.
As he elaborated after the event, “People here in New Orleans take care of their own, and tonight is really an example of that. K-Doe loved the music business; he loved the music business more than anyone I ever met. This reception tonight, and all the people who came out here to celebrate him - it just seems right.”
The shear variety of supporters was evident as people mingled in the courtyard following the discussion, sipping wine and discussing their favorite K-Doe memories. Many involved the eponymous Mother-In-Law Lounge, the combination bar/nightclub/ music venue on North Claiborne which was opened by K-Doe’s wife Antoinette in 1995 so that the Emperor would always have a place to perform.
It was during one such visit to the Lounge that Sandmel began formulating the idea for the biography.
“One night we were sitting at Mother-In-Law and he turned to me and said, 'You’ve gotta write a book on me.'” Sandmel said. “I’m sure he would have had some critiques, I’m sure Antoinette would have had a few critiques…. If he was here tonight, he probably would want to know why it took 10 years for this to happen.”
Described by Treme co-creator Eric Overmyer as ‘one of the five essential books on New Orleans culture’, the biography which has emerged has been well worth the wait.
“I would like people to take away from the book that Ernie K-Doe was a major, top-tier musical talent, well respected by his peers," Sandmel said. "Sometimes the flamboyance and eccentricity of his later years makes people forget that he was always a serious, dedicated and skilled musician.”
From the writing and photography to the design of the book itself, Sandmel has compiled a fitting tribute to this New Orleans legend – one that does justice to his purpose by honoring all aspects of K-Doe’s outsized existence.
Renard Boissiere, Linzi Falk, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz