In Memoriam

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"New Orleans sound" legend Cosimo Matassa has died

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Cosimo Matassa, left, with Dave Bartholomew in 2010. - GARY LOVERDE
  • GARY LOVERDE
  • Cosimo Matassa, left, with Dave Bartholomew in 2010.

Cosimo Matassa
— the New Orleans recording maestro and studio owner who shaped early R&B and rock 'n' roll and the "New Orleans sound" — has died at age 88, WWL-TV reports. Matassa's J&M Recording Studio, founded in 1949, recorded legendary artists Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe and dozens others. He received the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Award of Musical Excellence in 2012.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bounce artist Nicky Da B has died

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Nicky Da B at The Music Box in 2012. - LAUREN SILBERMAN
  • LAUREN SILBERMAN
  • Nicky Da B at The Music Box in 2012.

New Orleans next-generation bounce artist and rapper Nickesse Toney, aka Nicky Da B, has died following an illness. He was 24.

Nicky Da B's exuberant style help elevate bounce music to an international level, and he served as the face and sound of mega-producer Diplo's newfound fascination and influence under bounce music. Nicky's 2011 release, Please Don't Forget Da B, is a masterclass in bounce music's ability to blend rapid-fire wordplay and addictive, innovative hip-hop. His eccentric style blended hyper-color runways, vogue performance and offbeat sounds and hooks. His appearance on Diplo's hit "Express Yourself" primed the world for bounce music as Big Freedia went national.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

New Orleans saxophonist Tim Green has died

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Tim_Green.jpg
New Orleans saxophonist Tim Green — an omnipresent player and WWOZ-FM champion — has died. 

The Connecticut native moved to New Orleans in the late '70s and has shared and lit up the stage with countless musicians, from Walter "Wolfman" Washington to Anders Osborne to the West African and jazz ensemble Africa Brass and avant-garde artists like James Singleton and Helen Gillet, among dozens others. His credits onstage and in the studio span several decades. He also served as the station manager for WWOZ in 1988.

"I'm an improviser, not a composer," Green told Sam Winston in a 2007 Gambit interview. "I've never felt limited in my creativity from the side of the stage, and I'm still finding interesting things in the music every time I play."

Onstage, his powerful playing never took time away from those he shared it with, whether as a sideman for a rock band or slipping in and out of the shared momentum of an improvised jazz ensemble — and offstage, where he wrote thank you cards to his fellow players. He told Gambit, "I just feel fortunate to play with them and to be allowed so much creativity."

Jonathan Freilich filed a comprehensive 2011 interview with Green, covering his early years as a student to his later years as a master collaborator.

Local musicians and fans have shared their memories of Green on social media. Gillet wrote, "My teacher, my friend, a true musical GIANT and I enjoyed every minute of music we made together. He gave so much every time he was on stage; his melodic innovations live on in the hearts and souls of so many people."

Bonerama's Mark Mullins wrote, "Tim taught without teaching. He made you try to be a better person just by being around him and he played with a style unlike any other saxophonist I have ever heard. Perhaps most of all, he brought his open, creative, jazz influenced style into a world of music you might not expect from a player like him, that of songwriter based rock music. I loved that about Tim. He was such a gem and his wide musical influences contributed so greatly to these other styles of music."

On his blog, musician Jeff Albert recalled Green complimenting him after his first Naked Orchestra performance:

I don’t remember his exact words, I just remember that the guy who made the most music in this group of (close to 20) great musicians went out of his way to say something encouraging to me. He made me think that maybe I could make some music that mattered. Those few words from him really did change my life.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lionel Ferbos dies at 103

Posted By on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Lionel Ferbos performs at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. - AL KENNEDY
  • AL KENNEDY
  • Lionel Ferbos performs at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Lionel Ferbos, a trumpeter and New Orleans' oldest performing musician, died this morning, according to a report by WWL.

Ferbos just marked his 103 birthday July 17. Ferbos was a traditional jazz stalwart, performing regularly for decades at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe.

Ferbos began playing music in the 1920s. He suffered from asthma and his parents discouraged him from playing at first. After Ferbos saw an all-female orchestra perform, he decided he could play as well. In the 1930s he started playing professionally. Ferbos maintained day jobs, and for a period focused on his family's sheet metal business. In his later years, he performed regularly at the Palm Court and festivals.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

John Maginnis: a fond farewell

Posted By on Sun, May 25, 2014 at 4:48 PM

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All who follow Louisiana politics lost a great friend today (Sunday, May 25) with the passing of John Maginnis, the veteran political columnist and publisher of LaPolitics Weekly, at the age of 66.

In recent months John battled a blood disorder, said friend and business partner Jeremy Alford, also a Baton Rouge-based political columnist and editor of LaPolitics. Several years ago, John suffered a mild heart attack. Despite those medical conditions, Alford said, John’s passing caught everyone by surprise. “You always think there’s more time,” he said.

To me, John was the Tim Russert of Louisiana — his comments were always the most authoritative and the most respected among journalists and politicians alike. For four decades, he had no equal when it came to dissecting, analyzing and explaining Louisiana politics. His columns and speeches combined equal measures of humor, insight and accuracy. If John printed it or said it, you could count it as gospel, yet he never boasted or put on airs.

He consistently approached his subject and those who played the game with respect, humility and objectivity. Alford noted in a LaPolitics statement announcing John’s death that whenever someone complimented John’s work, he would respond, “I owe it all to the material.” To that, Alford said, “Those who knew him best, however, knew better.”

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Longtime Louisiana political writer John Maginnis dies

Posted By on Sun, May 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM

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John Maginnis, whose syndicated column about all things Louisiana political appeared in newspapers around the state, died this morning at his home in New Orleans, according to a report on his website LaPolitics. Maginnis was 66.

Maginnis also was the author of several books on Louisiana politics, including The Last Hayride, the story of former Gov. Edwin Edwards' wild 1983 gubernatorial campaign. In recent years, he had partnered with Baton Rouge journalist (and Gambit columnist) Jeremy Alford on the LaPolitics website and the subscriber-only LaPolitics Weekly report.

Clancy DuBos will have more on the life of John Maginnis later today on Blog of New Orleans..


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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Farewell: Dr. E. Ralph Lupin

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Dr. Ralph Lupin was a tireless volunteer and philanthropist, as well as a true fun-loving New Orleanian.
  • Dr. Ralph Lupin was a tireless volunteer and philanthropist, as well as a true fun-loving New Orleanian.

Dr. Ellis Ralph Lupin, a prominent New Orleans physician, philanthropist, attorney, civic leader and public servant, died Friday morning after a valiant battle with cancer. He was 83.

A native and lifelong resident of New Orleans, Ralph leaves behind a legacy that touched — and will continue to touch — generations of New Orleanians. He served the community in many ways: as an OB/GYN who delivered thousands of children; as a co-founder of St. Charles General Hospital; as first assistant Orleans Parish coroner who testified in numerous high-profile criminal trials; as a generous donor to educational, charitable, civic and religious causes; as a leader on the Louisiana State Museum Board and the Vieux Carré Commission; and as a tireless volunteer activist and board member on many other public and private boards.

I had the privilege of calling Ralph my friend for more than 30 years. In addition to embracing countless civic and charitable causes, Ralph had an infectious, passionate love for New Orleans and a wonderful sense of humor. I can't recall a single conversation that I ever had with him that didn't end with both of us smiling.

Ralph and his brothers, Dr. Arnold Lupin and Dr. Sam Lupin, founded and operated St. Charles General Hospital in New Orleans and successfully operated the facility until its sale to Tenet Healthcare Corp. in 1985. Their successes led the brothers to form the Lupin Foundation, which has helped many other non-profits, community service providers, churches and the needy with grants of $2 million a year for nearly 30 years.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu described Ralph as “a great friend and one-of-a-kind person. He gave his life, his time and his treasure to improve the lives of the people of New Orleans. We will miss him.”

Lt. Gov. Jay Darden likewise praised him as “the heart and soul of the State Museum System. He served on the board for more than 35 years, was elected chairman on three different occasions. His love of New Orleans, the French Quarter and its heritage was unsurpassed.”

Among Ralph's many charitable causes was the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), whose board he chaired and where the performing arts theatre bears his family’s name. NOCCA Institute Executive Director Sally Perry called Dr. Lupin “a remarkable, tireless man [and] one of the most generous, passionate, and engaged. More than once, I saw tears in Ralph’s eyes when he spoke about NOCCA and the work that students and faculty do here. He believed firmly in the importance of education and the arts, and the role that both play in improving the city and the state.”

Even as he neared the end of his life, Ralph continued to look for ways to serve and to share. One of this last acts of charity was the Lupin Foundation’s recent decision to fund and underwrite the creation of the Holocaust Wing of the World War II Museum. The wing is currently under construction. He added a major personal contribution to the foundation’s donation to help ensure successful completion of the wing. Museum director Nick Mueller called Ralph “a major contributor, very generous supporter and dear friend of the museum.”

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Queen of the grand gesture

Posted By on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Mickey Easterling — to her, the only unforgivable sin was to be boring.
  • Photo courtesy of George Long Photography
  • Mickey Easterling — to her, the only unforgivable sin was to be boring.


New Orleans lost another of its unique political characters this past week when Mickey Easterling passed away at her Lakefront home. She was a tireless supporter of many civic, political and cultural causes, and I was honored to call her my friend. In true Mickey fashion, she never divulged her age. Suffice it to say she was one for the ages.

I first met Mickey in 1981, when I was invited to a soiree she hosted at her home for a political candidate. She greeted me at the door, decked in one of her hallmark hats, one that had feathers going in all directions, with an equally memorable long gown. As she puffed a cigarette through a slender silver tube, she introduced herself and said of her candidate, “I’m his campaign’s director of protocol.”

“Well,” I answered, “he could sure use one of those.”

She responded with her wicked, legendary laugh, which always seemed to come from somewhere between a pack of smokes and a bottle of Dom Perignon. We hit it off immediately.

Mickey stood barely five feet tall, but she was larger than life in so many ways. She was fun-loving, purposeful, outspoken, and above all generous. She donated her time and money to many charitable causes, particularly Easter Seals.

She was a quintessential hostess and conversationalist, and she counted among her friends scores of politicians, celebrities, musicians, artists and business people. She loved politics, but she never chose her friends based on their political leanings. To Mickey, the only unforgivable sin was to be boring. Life around her was never dull. She could be discussing international affairs one minute and telling a ribald joke the next.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

New Orleans artist George Dureau dead at 82

Posted By and on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 3:59 PM

"B.J. Robinson," by George Dureau - ARTHUR ROGER GALLERY
  • ARTHUR ROGER GALLERY
  • "B.J. Robinson," by George Dureau


George Dureau, the painter and photographer who captured French Quarter denizens for decades using camera and brush, died today around noon, according to Arthur Roger, the art gallery owner who was Dureau's longtime friend. Dureau was 82 and had been in poor health.

"It's been a long journey. It's been a remarkably peaceful one. He was very restful," Roger told Gambit this afternoon. "George maintained his charismatic charm."

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Fond Remembrance: George Rodrigue

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 9:16 AM

George Rodrigue & Ken Bode met in 1984 and became fast friends.
  • George Rodrigue & Ken Bode met in 1984 and became fast friends.

In 1984, as National Political Correspondent for NBC News, I came to Louisiana to cover the Democratic presidential primary. At the suggestion of my friend Clancy DuBos, I wandered into George Rodrigue’s studio in Lafayette. We spent a couple of hours shooting pool, drinking beers and talking about his Cajun art. That night he took me to Mulate’s Restaurant in Breaux Bridge and introduced me to Kerry Boutte, the fellow who kicked off the appetite for Cajun cooking all over America.

That trip began friendships and a conversation that has gone on for 30 years, involving art, politics (especially Edwin Edwards), football (especially LSU and the Saints), Cajun cooking and endless Cajun jokes. Let me share a few moments from my memory bank.

In 1988, as Ronald Reagan was preparing to leave office, George called to say he was doing a portrait of Mr. Reagan and asked if I could help get some photos of the President riding his favorite horse. I went to the White House press office, explained my mission, handed over George’s address and they promised to accommodate.

A few days later George called to say a dozen photos had arrived. “Bode, these are no good,” he said. “I can’t paint the leader of the Free World on this pale, short-legged, spindly horse! Can’t you get me some better pictures?” My next visit to the press office was less well received: “Well, you just tell Mr. Rodrigue that is the horse the President rides.”

When I called George to tell him he was out of luck, he exclaimed, “It’s OK. I solved the problem. I went to the library and got a book on Hollywood cowboys. I’m painting Reagan on Hopalong Cassidy’s horse.” That’s the painting and the steed that George personally presented to Mr. Reagan. It was received with no complaints.

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