In Memoriam

Monday, November 28, 2016

New Orleans musicians honor Leonard Cohen Dec. 6

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 12:00 PM

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Around the globe, artists and writers have offered tributes and eulogies in the wake of the death of songwriter, poet and a decades-spanning incomparable enigma, Leonard Cohen. He died Nov. 7 at 82. In New Orleans, local artist and composer David Symons, in conjunction with Sanctuary Cultural Arts Center and Sound Observatory New Orleans, gathers several local performers to honor Cohen. On Dec. 6, Symons performs with Luke Allen, Bremner Duthie, Helen Gillet, Ingrid Lucia, MaeDea Lady LaRose, Harry Mayronne, Micah McKee, Lydia Stein and Bart Ramsey, with house band The Salt Wives.

The performance — "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" — begins 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Sanctuary Cultural Arts Center (2525 Burgundy St.) in Marigny. Tickets are $10-$20 on a sliding scale, and all proceeds benefit protestors near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota facing the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, where U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have given the hundreds of Native people and supporters a Dec. 5 deadline to leave. Hundreds of people have been arrested, tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets and water hoses.

In a statement, organizers write that "2016 has seen the passing of an inordinately high number of extraordinary artists, with Cohen atop a list that also includes Prince and David Bowie. The familiar feeling of losing a hero or mentor, coupled with the maelstrom of Trump’s America and the outrageous actions taken against the Standing Rock Sioux has shocked so many of us into a combination of disbelief, confusion, and action ... We are New Orleans and our action is our song."

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Remembering Kevin Kane of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Posted By on Sat, Oct 29, 2016 at 10:06 PM

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Some people can make a big difference without making a lot of noise. Such a man was Kevin Kane, founder and president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, who died of complications related to gastrointestinal cancer Oct. 27 at the too-young age of 50.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Louisiana musician Buckwheat Zydeco dies at 68

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Buckwheat Zydeco. - DRAGON TASLC
  • DRAGON TASLC
  • Buckwheat Zydeco.
Louisiana musician Buckwheat Zydeco died early this morning at the age of 68, according to his longtime manager Ted Fox. Zydeco, aka Stanley Dural Jr., had been suffering from lung cancer and unable to perform for most of 2016. Recently his Carencro home had been damaged in the August floods, according to Fox.

"Buck made everything and everyone he touched better and happier," Fox wrote on Dural's Facebook page. "RIP my dear friend, my brother."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Farewell to Gary Esolen, Gambit's spiritual godfather

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 9:22 PM

Gary Esolen. - COURTESY THE ESOLEN FAMILY
  • COURTESY THE ESOLEN FAMILY
  • Gary Esolen.

We at Gambit lost our founding father and longtime mentor Monday (Sept. 19) when Gary Esolen, the paper’s first editor and publisher, died at East Jefferson Hospital after a brief illness. He was 75.

In addition to his groundbreaking work at Gambit, Gary also was the co-founder and first executive director of the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation (NOTMC). In all his many civic and professional endeavors, Gary was a passionate advocate for the people and culture of his adopted hometown of New Orleans.

Born in Hancock, New York, Gary attended LeMoyne College, a small Jesuit liberal arts college — whose name, appropriately enough, matches that of the founder of New Orleans. At LeMoyne, Gary met several New Orleanians who influenced him, including future civil rights leader Rudy Lombard and future state Senator Hank Braden. Gary earned a Master’s degree at Syracuse and finished his coursework for a Ph.D. at Cornell. He was a Wordsworth Scholar.

Writing was always Gary’s first love, along with great conversation. He left academia to work as a writer and made a list of cities to which he might relocate — the top three being Santa Fe, Toronto and New Orleans. Gary’s wife Valeri LeBlanc summed up his choice: “New Orleans won as he felt he could find a place here and become part of it.”

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pete Fountain: 1930-2016

Posted By on Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Pete Fountain and his "Half-Fast Walking Club" on Fat Tuesday 2009. - CREATIVE COMMONS/CARNAVAL.COM STUDIOS
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/CARNAVAL.COM STUDIOS
  • Pete Fountain and his "Half-Fast Walking Club" on Fat Tuesday 2009.

Pete Fountain, the clarinetist and one of New Orleans' premier 20th century ambassadors to the world, died this morning in hospice, according to the Associated Press. Fountain was 86.

A native New Orleanian, Fountain rose to fame in the 1950s on The Lawrence Welk Show before returning to New Orleans and opening an eponymous nightclub on Bourbon Street in the building that now houses the Oz dance club. In the coming years, he would appear many times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, playing with the Doc Severinsen Orchestra and touring the country. In the 1970s, he closed his Bourbon Street club and established "Pete Fountain's Jazz Club" at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside, where he performed until 2003.

Fountain performed for Pope John Paul II at St. Louis Cathedral in 1987, and received the Big Easy Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. He also was known for his "Half-Fast Walking Club," a Mardi Gras marching group that wended its way into the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday morning. The group was too "half-fast" for Baton Rouge; in 2010, in its first appearance in a Mardi Gras parade there, organizers kicked Fountain and his krewe out of the parade for marching too slowly.


In a statement, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, "He was an inspiring performer whose unmistakable sound defined our city's unique cultural heritage. We have lost one of the jazz greats, but his music will live on forever. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time of grief.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "Mr. Fountain and his clarinet filled our streets, homes and hearts with music and joy. Throughout his extensive career, Mr. Fountain was always a proud ambassador for the City of New Orleans."

Here's Fountain in one of his many performances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1979. Below the cut: some social media memories of Fountain:

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Jo 'Cool' Davis died

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 6:01 PM

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Jo "Cool" Davis died, according to WWL TV. He was 63.

Davis was a gospel singer who recorded prolifically. He won numerous awards, including two Big Easy Music Awards. 

Davis was a familiar face in the Gospel Tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and he brought gospel music to many secular venues. To many New Orleanians, he was the face they met at the door of the club Tipitina's, where he worked and performed for many years. 

Davis is survived by his wife Evelyn, twin brother George and daughter Charlene.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alton Sterling peace vigil second line in New Orleans July 10

Posted By on Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Alton Sterling
  • Alton Sterling

Alton Sterling Peace Vigil March and Second Line

Sunday, July 10, 2016 5-7pm

Today’s peace march and second line is being spearheaded by Charles ‘Action Jackson’, radio DJ for WWOZ radio and ‘second line ambassador’, to show support for the family of Alton Sterling, who was killed by Baton Rouge police officers. “I’m tired.”, says a weary sounding Jackson. “I am a young Black man, born and raised in 9th ward. Fo so much killing going on, nobody more on radio that has a voice than me. I have to use that voice to keep people calm, to work with the police.”

Jackson, who worked over 36 years in law enforcement, says he can relate to the stresses police officers are under. “They have to make split decisions.” But says the goal of today’s event is “to stop the killing, stop the violence. We come in peace. We want to help everyone stay calm.”

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Monday, June 13, 2016

New Orleans gathers to remember victims of the Orlando shootings

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Participants at last night's vigil for the Orlando shooting victims formed a human chain along the Mississippi River. - DELLA HASSELLE
  • DELLA HASSELLE
  • Participants at last night's vigil for the Orlando shooting victims formed a human chain along the Mississippi River.
A black flag with a rainbow fleur-de-lis fluttered above. Below, a circle of men, women and transgender members of the New Orleans LGBT community stood in silence, cradling flickering candles. Some who gathered at a local vigil Sunday night could be heard sobbing as friends and loved ones tried to offer comfort.

Less than 24 hours after 50 were killed at an Orlando gay dance club — a massacre that is now being called the worst mass shooting in United States history — members of the LGBT community near and far were left reeling.

The loss was deeply felt in New Orleans, as the city’s Pride Week loomed just a week ahead, and as locals were preparing for Labor Day weekend’s Decadence Festival, the city’s largest gay event that’s been tradition for more than 40 years.

As he gave a speech on the Moon Walk next to the Mississippi River, Frank Perez, vigil speaker and member of LGBT+, reiterated a story that resonated among those who had gathered for the impromptu vigil.

Perez, he said, had woken up to the news, which had broken in the wee hours of the morning. Omar Mateen, 29, a Florida man who had reportedly given his allegiance to the Islamic State, had opened gunfire in Pulse, a club known for its outreach as much as for its dancing. Armed with an assault-type rifle and a handgun, according to the Associated Press, Mateen killed 50 and injured another 53 before being shot to death by law enforcement. In the aftermath, local blood banks cited a “dire” need for donations. It was a suspected hate crime.

“Like most of you I went through a series of emotions throughout the day. I was sad, I was angry, I was confused, I was dumfounded,” Perez said. “We want to make sense of these tragedies, and I don’t know if we can.”

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Purple reign: a purple Prince second line and celebration in New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 2:00 AM

The Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar in Treme spilled out with Prince fans and balloons before a second line and block party April 25.
  • The Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar in Treme spilled out with Prince fans and balloons before a second line and block party April 25.
One by one, purple balloons emerged from the Ooh Poo Pah Doo's front door. Hands found the balloons' strings and sent them into the crowd, where fans mourned and celebrated the life of Prince, who died Thursday, April 21 at his Paisley Park estate in Minneapolis.

Fans brought framed photographs and album covers and unframed sleeves, or plastic guitars shaped like his signature symbol, their faces flecked with glitter, eyeliner and pencil mustaches. A second line parade honoring the late performer, set for April 25, attracted fans far and wide, young and old to the bar on Orleans Avenue, dotted with rolling bar carts with Cognac and coolers with bottled water and Bud Light.

Two white horses pulled a Charbonnet Funeral Home carriage escort for a purple-draped casket, ceremoniously paraded and returned to the bar at sunset, where an enormous block party filled the streets, There, the crowd roared through the chorus of "Purple Rain," the memorial's finale, while holding up cellphone lights and peace signs.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Y@ Speak: dearly beloved

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 2:52 PM

New Orleans mourns the loss of The Purple One.

Also: nude dudes at Jazz Fest, which goes to peoples' heads on #NOLAscanner, 

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