In Memoriam

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Afghan Whigs guitarist Dave Rosser has died

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 12:30 PM

The Afghan Whigs. - PHOTO BY CHRIS CUFFARO
  • PHOTO BY CHRIS CUFFARO
  • The Afghan Whigs.

Following a battle with inoperable colon cancer, New Orleans musician and Afghan Whigs guitarist Dave Rosser has died. He was 50.

In a statement on social media, the band wrote, "It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our friend, brother and inspiration. Dave Rosser passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by love. Thank you to all who kept him in their hearts. He is forever in ours."

Rosser lived in New Orleans for more than two decades and performed with his band The Get Busy and with fellow New Orleans resident and Afghan Whigs member Greg Dulli with their Gutter Twins and the Twilight Singers. Rosser joined the Afghan Whigs  in 2014 following Do the Beast, the band's first album in 16 years, released on Sub Pop Records. Rosser also appears on the band's well-received 2017 Sub Pop album In Spades.
Last year, the band performed its seminal 1996 album Black Love at several concerts to support Rosser. In a statement announcing the shows, Dulli wrote, "Dave Rosser has been my close friend and bandmate for over a decade now. By doing these shows for him we hope to ease any financial stress he may face as he pursues treatment to combat his illness. [100 percent] of the proceeds for these shows will go to his medical care. I’m hopeful that folks will come out and show their support for Dave who will be performing with us.”

Rosser spoke with Guitar World last month and gave an update on his prognosis after six months of chemotherapy. "I’m feeling pretty good and my spirits are good," he said. "I record a lot at the house and have been making a lot of music with friends. I’m staying busy and have purpose."

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Longtime New Orleans journalist Dennis Persica dies at 67

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Dennis Persica. - COURTESY STEPHANIE STOKES
  • COURTESY STEPHANIE STOKES
  • Dennis Persica.

Dennis Persica, a journalist who worked for The Times-Picayune, The Lens and was most recently a weekly columnist for The New Orleans Advocate, died this morning after what was described as a short battle with cancer, according to his brother Michael Persica and sister Anne Persica Morel. Persica was 67.

Persica worked for The Times-Picayune for 25 years as both a reporter and editor, and was laid off in the "digital transition" there along with some 200 other employees of the paper. He led the Charter School Reporting Corps for The Lens for much of 2013, and worked most recently as a freelancer with a weekly column in The New Orleans Advocate.

Persica also managed — and occasionally refereed — the Facebook group Friends of the Times-Picayune, where current and former staffers of the paper kept in touch.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

A force of nature: remembering Nancy Marsiglia

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 9:28 AM

PHOTO BY JEFF JOHNSTON
  • PHOTO BY JEFF JOHNSTON

We all like to think we’re going to leave the world a better place, but only a few can truly be said to have enriched an entire community. Civic and political activist Nancy Marsiglia was among those few. In actions great and small, she inspired and empowered a generation of women and changed New Orleans very much for the better.

Nancy died suddenly Tuesday at the age of 64, leaving a host of shocked friends and family members to mourn her — and to carry on her work.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Remembering Bill Broadhurst: The lion who never roared

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 3:15 PM

Bill Broadhurst, the longtime Louisiana political strategist who died May 22 at 77.
  • Bill Broadhurst, the longtime Louisiana political strategist who died May 22 at 77.

The old political lions are leaving us, one by one. Each one’s passing leaves a void that cannot be filled — and reminds us that we won’t see their kind again. We lost another lion on May 22 when attorney, consultant, political strategist and lobbyist Bill Broadhurst died at his home in Crowley. He was 77.

In addition to the many hats Billy wore so well, he was also my friend. As a political insider, he taught me a great deal about Louisiana politics. As a trusted friend, he taught me just as much about life.

In the end, we both learned that the lessons of politics truly are the lessons of life, because the same things matter in both arenas: relationships; respect; trust; honor; loyalty.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Editorial: Remembering Deborah "Big Red" Cotton

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 2:22 PM

On the evening of Deborah Cotton's death, musicians, friends and neighbors gathered in Treme to remember her, stopping outside her old apartment for a tribute. - CLANCY DUBOS
  • CLANCY DuBOS
  • On the evening of Deborah Cotton's death, musicians, friends and neighbors gathered in Treme to remember her, stopping outside her old apartment for a tribute.

“With each second line that rolled down Ursulines Avenue, New Orleans lured me from my dark brooding funk and tossed me into the fire of dancing Black folks and brass instruments bobbing down the street, burning, sweating, marching from one end of town to the other. This went on for months until one day, between the parades and sessions with my shrink and onset of Spring, I began to feel alive again. And the haunting images of dead floating bodies faded away.

“This is the beauty — and the problem — with living in New Orleans. At any moment, life and death change places with each other when you least expect it. And try as you may to control what you let enter your life, you never know what’s waiting around the corner that will either thrill you — or level you to the ground.”


Deborah “Big Red” Cotton wrote those words in 2007, in her book Notes From New Orleans — six years before the Mother’s Day second line tragedy in which she and 18 other people were shot by two men who fired into the crowd. She took only one of the many bullets that were fired, but no one was injured more severely than Deborah. In the years that followed, she underwent dozens of surgeries to repair internal organs. Last week — nearly four years to the day since the shooting — Deb succumbed to complications from those injuries four years ago. She was fearless, fierce, compassionate and taken far too soon at the age of 52. She still had work to do.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Orleans social media users remember Deborah "Big Red" Cotton

Posted By on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 6:33 PM

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The passing of longtime New Orleans writer, activist, culture bearer and Gambit contributor Deborah "Big Red" Cotton was being roundly mourned today by a wide cross-section of New Orleanians, from former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite to DJ Soul Sister and Mayor Mitch Landrieu. A sampling:

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Deborah Cotton, longtime Gambit second line correspondent, dies at 52

Posted By and on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Deborah Cotton.
  • Deborah Cotton.

"It is my belief that you don't choose New Orleans — New Orleans chooses you. Those who have fallen for her, live with her, are sprung, lost and turned out in love with her, know exactly what I mean. Ain't no amount of wind, water, gunfire, potholes, 'ignant' politics or doomsday predictions can pry your death grip from her. Come hell or high water, you stay — or return.

"She makes you high from laughing too much and too long. She breaks your heart till you're crying on the kitchen floor. She haunts you, melts you and is just a damn joy to live in.

"I think she's a cult."
— Deborah Cotton
Deborah "Big Red" Cotton, Gambit's longtime second-line correspondent, local writer, filmmaker and advocate for New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian, brass band and social aid and pleasure club cultures died May 2 at University Medical Center. She was 52.

She was among 19 people injured during a mass shooting at an Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club second-line parade she was filming on Mother's Day, May 12, 2013. She underwent dozens of surgeries to repair damage to several of her organs and a year of rehabilitation following the shooting. Friends of Cotton told The Advocate she had died from those injuries.

Cotton was raised in Texas and Oklahoma and lived in California before moving to New Orleans in 2005, just as Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee breaches damaged the city. ("Taking a cab from New Orleans to Houston is certainly an original, if not inexpensive way to escape Armageddon," she noted.) She returned after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures with a mission to chronicle through blogs, photography and film what she considered the underreported aspects of New Orleans culture: Treme,  where she lived, brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians, social aid and pleasure clubs.

In 2007, Cotton published the book Notes From New Orleans: Spicy, Colorful Tales of Politics, People, Food, Drink, Men, Music and Life in Post-Breaches New Orleans, In it, she tackled such disparate subjects as the death of famed chef Austin Leslie; the eternal divide between native and non-native New Orleanians; the stories of the people of the 9th Ward; "The Welcome Arrival of Zoloft and the National Guard"; her search for the perfect "big black man named James" ("a tall black bear with a big belly who loves him a thick yella girl, the kind that would inspire Jill Scott to write a third album"); and her growing disillusionment with then-Mayor Ray Nagin.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Zydeco Hall of Fame in Cajun country burns down; owner now says he may rebuild

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 3:05 PM

Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, Louisiana burned down Tuesday night. It was one of the last extant zydeco roadhouses. - ROBIN MAY
  • ROBIN MAY
  • Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, Louisiana burned down Tuesday night. It was one of the last extant zydeco roadhouses.

The world of zydeco music lost one of its seminal clubs to a mysterious fire on Tuesday night, in a small town just outside of Opelousas, the self-described zydeco capital of the world.

Current owner Dustin Miller called the club "Miller’s Zydeco Hall of Fame,” but acolytes knew the Lawtell dance hall as zydeco’s Grand Ol’ Opry. Opened in 1947, Richard’s occupied a must-stop address on the famed "chitlin circuit." Both B.B. King and John Lee Hooker played there, expanding the club's legacy beyond zydeco.

The destruction of the dance hall, which was known for most of the 20th century as Richard’s, could bury for good the go-to stage for zydeco luminaries like Boozoo Chavis, Clifton Chenier and Terrance Simien. Zydeco pioneer John Delafose, who graced the Richard’s stage countless times, died of a heart attack shortly after a performance there in 1994.

“The building was built with good, old sturdy wood,” says dance hall researcher John Sharp, who visited the site on Wednesday. “Once a little bit of it caught fire, that’s a lot of fuel. Now, it’s a gutted big black hole.”

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Report: New Orleans-born singer Linda Hopkins dead at 92

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 3:44 PM

Linda Hopkins - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Linda Hopkins

Linda Hopkins, the New Orleans-born singer who was discovered by Mahalia Jackson and went on to star in Me and Bessie and Black and Blue on Broadway, has died at 92, according to Playbill.

Hopkins' career spanned 60 years of concerts, stage appearances, television and film. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

Here's Hopkins at age 66 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, singing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" — and absolutely killing it.

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