Saturday, April 25, 2009

Early Edition: Previewing the Ponderosa Stomp

Posted By on Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 6:43 PM

(Every Friday afternoon [we're late today 'cause of Jazz Fest] Gambit will be posting a story from the upcoming week’s print edition as a Web extra “early edition” for our Internet readers. This week: Noah Bonaparte Pais takes a look at the upcoming Ponderosa Stomp music festival, which will nicely fill those long days between the first and second weeks of Jazz Fest.)


By Noah Bonaparte Pais

Ira "Dr. Ike" Padnos curates his Ponderosa Stomp music festival the way most people cue up their stereos. For the 2009 edition, he dug up '60s psychobilly trailblazer and David Bowie treasure the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, aka 61-year-old Californian Norman Carl Odam. What prompted the excavation? "I've been wanting to hear (his 1968 single) 'Paralyzed' again," Padnos says casually, as if calling in a request to a radio station DJ.

??Welcome to the good doctor's musical dollhouse, where latent rock 'n' roll cravings often lead to career revivals. Now in its eighth year (and fourth venue), the Ponderosa has evolved into more than just the anesthesiologist-by-day's moonlighting plaything; it's a time warp, a cultural preserve and a seemingly nonstop, 36-hour concert all rolled into one. Soul singer Howard Tate, rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson and a reunion of the Flamin' Groovies' Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney headline this year's twin bill, which has been known to bleed together into one long jukebox-sprung-to-life bender.

??"Nowadays, it's not going until 6 in the morning; it's kind of ending at 3:30, 4 (a.m.)," Padnos says. "More people are actually making it. We probably had 500, 600 people pogoing to Question Mark (and the Mysterians) at the end of his set last year."

??The Mid-City Rock 'N' Bowl might have ceded to the House of Blues out of necessity, but the spirit of those raucous, early years lives on. Even its creator expresses surprise at the exponential growth rate of the festival, which was launched in 2002 as a curio for record collectors with "10 to 15" hand-plucked obscurities per night. It now garners dozens of rare performers and glowing reviews in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone....

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