The Ponderosa Stomp, with a more eclectic and trimmer lineup, rocked the Continental Club on Friday night, previewing the annual multi-stage, weekend version to be held in New Orleans on April 29 and 30. While portions of the show featured New Orleans artists, there was also vintage Philly soul, rockabilly and East Texas garage rock.
Barbara Mason, a Philly soul pioneer, delighted the packed house with her impeccable phrasing and lush delivery of her classic hits, “Yes, I’m Ready”, “Sad, Sad Girl” and a killer female version of the Billy Paul hit “Me and Mrs. Jones.” The Flaming Arrow Mardi Gras Indians donned full headdresses and robes for a rhythm-driven, chanting set.
The self-proclaimed king of New Orleans “gut bucket blues,” Little Freddie King, was 60 minutes of primal energy full of stripped down, ragged guitar playing and Chuck Berry-inspired stage antics. The influences of his cousin, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and, of course, Texas blues giant Freddie King were evident throughout. New Orleans’ Michael Hurt and the Haunted Hearts followed King’s set with a dozen vintage rockabilly tunes.
Kenny and the Kasuals, a Dallas-based, regionally popular garage rock band from the 1960s, concluded the evening, mixing popular early rock n’ roll tunes with a few originals, including their one mega hit, “Journey to Tyme.”
The Stomp began with three southern soul artists: Wiley and the Checkmates from Mississippi, Herman Hitson from Atlanta, and Ralph “Soul” Jackson from Birmingham, Ala. They excelled in gaining audience participation for their dance numbers; all hands were in the air as Jackson concluded the party with a pulsating version of “Sunshine of Your Love.”