In Memoriam

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A fond farewell to Jerry Romig, the "voice of the Saints" for 44 seasons

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Jerry Romig, the "voice of the Saints," who died Dec. 23.
  • Jerry Romig, the "voice of the Saints," who died Dec. 23.
New Orleans lost a great friend when Jerry Romig, the iconic “voice of the Saints” for 44 seasons, died at his home on Dec. 23 surrounded by his family. He was 86. Generations knew Jerry for his “First down … SAAAAAAINTS!” cry that was more a cheer than a play-by-play call. I had the privilege of knowing Jerry as a mentor and friend.

What I remember most about Jerry are his terrific sense of humor, his consummate professionalism, and his love of family and sports. He was one of the few people on earth who had both a Super Bowl ring (a gift from the Saints upon his retirement) and a genuine sense of humility.

I first met Jerry in the 1970s when his son Mark and I became fraternity brothers at UNO. Jerry and his wife Janice were everybody’s favorite parents; they tolerated more than a few of our raucous parties in their Lakeview backyard.

A few years later I got to know him better when I got involved in the local Gridiron Show. The show had fallen on hard times and needed a reboot. Jerry took the lead and was perfect for the job. He not only got the show running again, but he also brought a new level of professionalism to it. For years he opened the show with a Johnny Carson-like monologue that was consistently a hit. He also wrote many of the funniest scripts of that era.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Musicians, fans celebrate the life of Allen Toussaint

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Allen Toussaint's blue Rolls-Royce leaves the Orpheum Theater, passing a second line led by members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Treme Brass Band following Toussaint's memorial Nov. 20. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Allen Toussaint's blue Rolls-Royce leaves the Orpheum Theater, passing a second line led by members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Treme Brass Band following Toussaint's memorial Nov. 20.

Brian "Breeze" Cayolle removed his black cowboy hat before performing "Ave Maria" on clarinet. The room — full of hundreds of mourners at a tribute to Allen Toussaint — fell a beautiful kind of quiet after a powerful string of performances and shared memories from music luminaries, paying their respects to the giant of New Orleans music and rock 'n' roll. Cayolle, who performed alongside Toussaint for several decades and was among his pallbearers, made the reeds weep, sweetly, then he bowed his head.

More than 1,500 fans filled the Orpheum Theater and crowded the street Nov. 20 to pay tribute to the songwriter, who died Nov. 10 after a performance in Spain. Toussaint's casket, draped in white flowers and flanked by lilies, daisies and white roses, sat just below the stage — a piano, Toussaint's musical vessel, was above it. Among the tribute's many performers were Cyril Neville, John Boutte, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Deacon John Moore, Jimmy Buffett, Boz Scaggs, Davell Crawford, Jon Cleary and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Orleans songwriter, producer Allen Toussaint has died; New Orleans musicians remember the legendary artist

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Allen Toussaint performing at the 2007 Big Easy Music Awards, where he received Entertainer of the Year. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Allen Toussaint performing at the 2007 Big Easy Music Awards, where he received Entertainer of the Year.

The heart, soul, brain and style of New Orleans music has died. Allen Toussaint — the architect of New Orleans funk and R&B, having written, arranged and produced countless New Orleans hits, and whose fingerprints are unmistakable throughout rock 'n' roll history — died in the early morning on Nov. 10 following a performance in Spain, reports WWL-TV. He was 77.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Paul Prudhomme, pioneering Louisiana chef, dies at 75

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 12:05 PM

Chef Paul Prudhomme and his signature spice mix. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Chef Paul Prudhomme and his signature spice mix.

Paul Prudhomme
, the Opelousas native who popularized Cajun cuisine in the 1980s, has died at 75 after a brief illness resulting from an infection, WWL-TV reported this morning. A worker at his restaurant, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, confirmed the news.

Prudhomme, the youngest of 13 children, began cooking in Opelousas before apprenticing in kitchens around the country. He came back to Louisiana and worked in New Orleans at Maison Dupuy and Le Pavillon before being named executive chef at Commander's Palace in 1975. Prudhomme opened his signature restaurant, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, in 1979 on Chartres Street in the French Quarter. It brought national attention to the ingredients and rustic cooking style of rural Louisiana, including a national vogue for "blackened" meats and fishes after Prudhomme's own blackened redfish recipe.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Willie Mae’s Scotch House’s Willie Mae Seaton dies

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 6:27 PM

Willie Mae Seaton, of Treme institution Willie Mae's Scotch House, died this week, family members confirmed. - COURTESY WILLIE MAE'S SCOTCH HOUSE
  • Willie Mae Seaton, of Treme institution Willie Mae's Scotch House, died this week, family members confirmed.

Willie Mae Seaton, of the fried chicken institution Willie Mae’s Scotch House (2401 St. Ann St., 504-822-9503) has died. She was 99.

Seaton’s great-granddaughter Kerry Seaton-Stewart, who runs the Treme restaurant and its Uptown outpost, confirmed Seaton died on Friday, Sept. 18.  

Seaton was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi and moved to New Orleans with her husband in her 20s, during WWII. While her husband worked at a local shipyard, Seaton worked a variety of jobs including a long stint as a taxi driver, before opening the restaurant. 

“She was an entrepreneur,” Seaton-Stewart said. “She was extremely driven and hardworking and she did what she had to to keep the place going.”

Willie Mae's Scotch House opened in 1957, first as a as a bar, and later, following customer demand, as a restaurant.  Seaton tended the bar for about 15 years before finally becoming its chef. 

“(Bar patrons) would smell her food coming into the bar and they’d beg and beg and beg her to open a restaurant,” Seaton-Stewart said. 

Her cooking gained the following of locals and tourists alike who praised the spicy, crunchy fried chicken, creamy white butter beans and the casual and friendly neighborhood atmosphere.

"Everyone loved her — her customers and her family.  She was hard-working, smart, and driven," Seaton-Stewart said. 

During the years, Seaton continued to run the restaurant with help from various family members, including her daughter, Lillie, who passed away in 1991. 

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Happy birthday Tuba Fats

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 5:24 PM

Anthony Tuba Fats Lacen
  • Anthony 'Tuba Fats' Lacen

Today is Tuba Fats' birthday. The great New Orleans music legend and mentor to many of our great local musicians would have been 63 years old today.

Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, born Sept. 15, 1950, was a band leader and sousaphone player who played professionally with several brass bands such as the Young Tuxedo and the Olympia Brass Bands as well as leading his own band Tuba Fats & the Chosen Few Brass Band. He died in 2004 and is honored every year in Treme on Tuba Fats Tuesday, the Tuesday after the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival ends, in a small park on the corner of St. Phillips and N. Robertson named in honor of the beloved tuba player.

Happy birthday, Tuba Fats!

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Friday, August 28, 2015

A note to Gambit crossword fans

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 4:37 PM


Last week's paper was the first in many years without a crossword puzzle. Gambit’s longtime crossword constructor, Merl Reagle, died Aug. 22 of complications related to pancreatitis. Merl was 65 and a legend in the crossword world; his death was memorialized in The New York Times (twice!), The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other papers. And he had the ultimate honor of our age: a cameo appearance on The Simpsons.

In the weeks to come we will try out two crosswords that are popular in other alt-weekly newspapers. In Sunday's paper, you'll find both "Jonesin'," created by Matt Jones, and “The American Values Club Crossword,” edited by Ben Tausig. Both have the cultural references and wordplay that were so popular in Merl's puzzles — fewer clues about obscure rivers and dynasties, more clues about pop music and slang and lots of puns — some great and some so awful they're great.

Eventually we'll just run one puzzle, but we want to get reaction from the cruciverbalists among our readers (crossword solvers are a passionate bunch). Which one do you prefer?

Please let us know your thoughts. Email us with “crossword” in the subject line. Happy solving.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Gambit crossword constructor Merl Reagle dead at 65

Posted By on Sat, Aug 22, 2015 at 3:22 PM

Merl Reagle played an animated version of himself (left) in a 2008 episode of The Simpsons.
  • Merl Reagle played an animated version of himself (left) in a 2008 episode of The Simpsons.

Merl Reagle, one of the world's greatest crossword constructors and a weekly contributor to Gambit since 2008, has died at 65, according to reports in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

According to reports, he became ill on Thursday with pancreatitis and died this morning in a hospital in Tampa, Florida, where he lived. Reagle is survived by his wife, Marie Haley.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bush, Clinton visits added to Hurricane Katrina 10th anniversary events

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 1:09 PM

Yesterday it was announced President Barack Obama would be coming to New Orleans Aug. 27 to tour the city on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Now former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton will be coming to New Orleans next week as well to participate in some of the commemoration ceremonies.

Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush will visit Warren Easton Charter School Aug. 28 for an education round table discussion, at which the former president also will offer remarks. Clinton will come to the "Power of Community" event Aug. 29 at Smoothie King Center, the city's main event in the weeklong Katrina commemoration. Faith leaders and many New Orleans musicians will perform, and journalist Soledad O'Brien will host. The event is open to the public and free, and organizers say tickets are available at city libraries, or can be reserved via the city's website.

These are only two of many events — official and unofficial — going on next week as part of the Katrina commemoration. Our list of community events is here, and under the jump is the city's list of official events, and how you can attend.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

New Orleans business owners mourn the loss of Jillian Johnson

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Jillian Johnson was one of two victims in Thursday's Lafayette movie theater shooting. The artist, musician and retailer owned two Magazine Street businesses, Red Arrow Workshop and Parish Ink. Her death has left fellow boutique and small business owners reeling. Their reactions are below. 


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