Football player-turned-TV host Michael Strahan (”Live With Kelly and Michael”) is 41 today.
*Just like the headline says, this page/board is where you can discuss the stuff that we didn’t cover in today’s issue. (It’s sort of like feedback with a twist) Remember, NO name calling, racial taunting, graphic sex talk and vulgarity in general, PLEASE.
EUR MOTIVATIONAL NOTE
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
Nov. 21: Singer Dr. John is 72. Keyboardist Lonnie Jordan of War is 64. Singer Chauncey Hannibal of BLACKstreet is 44. Rapper Pretty Lou of Lost Boyz is 41. Football player-turned-TV host Michael Strahan (”Live With Kelly and Michael”) is 41.
Nov. 21, 1984: TransAfrica’s Randall Robinson, congressional delegate Walter Fauntroy, and US Civil Rights Commissioner Mary Francis Berry are arrested at a sit-in against apartheid at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. (Source: www.BlackFacts.com)
*Wardell Quezergue, a prime mover in New Orleans rhythm and blues since the early 1950s as a producer, arranger and bandleader for a long list of artists including the Dixie Cups, Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers and Dr. John, died on Tuesday in Metairie, La, according to the New York Times. He was 81.
The cause was complications of congestive heart failure, his son Brian said.
As a producer and arranger, Mr. Quezergue (pronounced ka-ZAIR) was associated with a string of local and national hits, many of them propelled by his punchy, syncopated horn arrangements. These included “Big Chief” by Professor Longhair, “Iko Iko” by the Dixie Cups, “Barefootin’ ” by Robert Parker, “Groove Me” by King Floyd, “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight and “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore.
With the drummer Smokey Johnson, he wrote the 1964 instrumental “It Ain’t My Fault,” a New Orleans song later sampled by Mariah Carey, the rapper Silkk the Shocker and others.
“He introduced a new sound, with a richer, fuller horn section, and funky rhythms,” said John Broven, the author of “Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans.” “It gave New Orleans music a whole new dimension.”
“Groove Me” and “Mr. Big Stuff,” recorded at the Malaco Records studios in Jackson, Miss., became Top 10 hits in the early 1970s and helped revive the flagging fortunes of the New Orleans sound. A variety of artists then flocked to Mr. Quezergue, including Paul Simon, who worked with him on the album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.”
He later worked as an arranger on the albums “Fiyo on the Bayou” for the Neville Brothers; “Orchid in the Storm” for Aaron Neville; “Goin’ Back to New Orleans” for Dr. John; “Deacon John’s Jump Blues” for Deacon John Moore; and two albums for the blues singer Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown, “Gate Swings” and “American Music, Texas Style.”
“If I hear something, immediately I start arranging,” Mr. Quezergue told the NPR series “American Roots” in 2010. “Arrangement, to me, has to be part of the song itself, as if the two were made for each other at the moment that the writer wrote the song, and it should fit like a glove.”
Wardell Joseph Quezergue was born on March 12, 1930, in New Orleans to a musical family. He took up the trumpet and while still in high school began writing arrangements.
After leaving high school and enlisting in the Army, he continued to arrange for military bands while stationed in Tokyo. When his unit was sent to fight in Korea, he was held back to continue his arranging work. His replacement died in combat, inspiring Mr. Quezergue to write a classical composition, “A Creole Mass,” which he did not complete until 2000.
After returning to New Orleans he formed the Royal Dukes of Rhythm with other ex-servicemen. The group became a fixture, performing at dances and serving as the house band for visiting musical acts.
The bandleader Dave Bartholomew hired him as an arranger for Imperial Records, where he worked with artists like Fats Domino and Earl King and recorded with his own band, Wardell and the Sultans.
At Nola Records, which he helped found in 1964, Mr. Quezergue produced singles for local stars like Willie Tee and Eddie Bo. But despite national chart successes like “Barefootin,’ ” a Top 10 hit in 1966, the label went out of business in 1968.
He struck a deal with Malaco Records to supply artists and his production skills in return for studio time and session musicians. Driving a group of singers to the studio in a borrowed schoolbus, he presided over a marathon recording session in 1970 that yielded “Groove Me” and “Mr. Big Stuff,” both of which Atlantic and Stax Records turned down.
Released on Malaco’s newly created Chimneyville subsidiary, “Groove Me” took off and, after being picked up by a chastened Atlantic, rose to the top of the rhythm-and-blues charts. Stax, in a similar turnaround, decided to distribute “Mr. Big Stuff,” which also rose to the top of the R&B charts and reached No. 2 on the pop charts.
“Wardell delivered those hits at a time when New Orleans really needed them,” Mr. Broven said. “The city’s music scene was dead, but the symbolism of those hits gave New Orleans the impetus to get going again.”
In addition to his son Brian, Mr. Quezergue is survived by four other sons, Donald, Wayne, Victor and Martin; eight daughters, Violetta Johnson, Gaynelle Mitchell, and Iris, Diana, Yoshi, Helen, Ramona and Lesley Quezergue; a brother, Leo; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. His wife of 60 years, the former Yoshi Tamaki, died this year.
In 2009 he released his own album, “Music for Children Ages 3 to 103: The St. Agnes Sessions.”
*Could a partial Fugees reunion happen this spring in New Orleans?
Former members Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill were just announced as performers at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, joining a bill that features such artists as Willie Nelson, Kid Rock, Bon Jovi, Arcade Fire, Wilco, Cyndi Lauper and John Legend & The Roots.
Those performers will join hundreds of Louisiana artists, including Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Pete Fountain, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers and rapper Mystikal.
Festival producer Quint Davis says this year’s lineup delivers an unprecedented balance of the traditional and the contemporary.
The seven-day event runs April 29 to May 1 and May 5-8 at the Fair Grounds Race Course.
*Finally, Darlene Love will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The singer/actress joins Neil Diamond, the Alice Cooper Band, New Orleans musician Dr. John and singer-songwriter Tom Waits as part of the 2011 class, it was revealed Tuesday.
Piano man Leon Russell was honored with a musical excellence award, previously the sideman category, while executives Jac Holzman and Art Rupe were given the Ahmet Ertegun Awards.
It took three tries before Love, best known for hits such as “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and her work with producer Phil Spector and the Blossoms, was approved for the hall. When the AP reached her on Tuesday, an enthusiastic Love said: “I can actually breathe.”
“Finally it’s done,” she added. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. I still have that nervous stomach, and I’m still excited.”
The excitement will have to wait for some: Bon Jovi, nominated for the first time, was turned away from the hall, as was LL Cool J, the J. Geils Band, the Beastie Boys, Donna Summer and more.
As for who might induct Love at the ceremony, she thought two of her biggest boosters for the hall — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Stevie Van Zandt — would likely do the honors at the March 14 induction ceremony in New York City.
She was also happy for some of the other inductees, including Russell, who used to play on some of her sessions.
“This is going to be a helluva jam session,” she quipped about the upcoming festivities.
The induction ceremony will be aired on Fuse.
Below, Love has performed her 1963 classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” every year since 1986 on the last episode before Christmas of “Late Night with David Letterman” (NBC 1986 – 1992) and the “Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS 1993 to present). The song is always performed with Paul Shaffer and the show’s house band and Letterman has stated that the annual performance is his favorite part of Christmas.
*Lenny Kravitz, Mos Def and Ani DiFranco have signed on for a benefit concert to support relief efforts for those affected by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kravitz, who lives part-time in New Orleans, was the first to join the lineup when asked by Rehage Entertainment president Steven Rehage to participate in Gulf Aid. Others participating are: Allen Toussaint, Zachary Richard, Jeremy Davenport and The Voice of the Wetlands Allstars, which features Dr. John and Cyril Neville.
The benefit concert is scheduled for Sunday at Mardi Gras World River City, which overlooks the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Tickets cost $50.
Proceeds from the event will benefit fishermen and their families, whose livelihoods depend on the Gulf, and other organizations.