2013 Ponderosa Stomp Concert: Night 1

Night 1: 2013 Ponderosa Stomp Concert

James Alexander

James Alexander grew up in Lafayette, LA to the sound of his father playing the latest songs by Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and Lightnin' Slim on the guitar. The rock 'n' roll sounds of Fats Domino, Little Richard and Sam Cooke led James to start singing. At age 19, James joined his first band, the Candy Yams as singer/drummer. After 2 years playing clubs and parties around the Lafayette area with The Candy Yams, James left the band to join Good Rockin' Dopsie. He sang the R&B/rock 'n' roll hits of the day backed by Dopsie's accordion for a year and a half.
James then joined the 11-piece Lil' Buck and the Top Cats as the singer. Backed by the ferocious Top Cats, James would scream songs by James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. The hard charging Lil' Buck and the Top Cats toured all across Southwest Louisiana and East Texas, routinely hitting Houston, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Beaumont and all the towns in between. Lil' Buck and The Top Cats recorded two 45s for the La Louisianne label. James's vocals were featured on the ballad, "You Got the Power."
After five years with Lil' Buck and the Top Cats, James put his music career on hold, working in the oil industry to raise and support his family. Known for his flashy style of fashion and ability to sing the hell out of a song, James will be singing in New Orleans for the first time ever at the 2013 Ponderosa Stomp Concert, reuniting with the powerhouse Lil' Buck and the Top Cats

Lynn August

Lynn August my story

I could see until I was a little over four years old which gave my grandmother just enough time to teach me colors. She would use little plastic spoons and hold them up to the light and tell me the color she would use a red, yellow, and blue. After learning these three colors she would take the red and yellow and put them together to create the color orange. The blue and red would create the color purple where the yellow and blue would create the color green. Learning all my basic colors including black-and-white I was able to identify different shades of colors by looking at large objects like automobiles.

I loved to go to the automobile showrooms with my father in September of each year where they had something called the unveiling of the new cars.

I loved the cars of the 40s, 50s and 60s which cars are still my love today.

I have an extensive collection of die cast model cars .

Since I'm able to feel the model cars and thanks to my grandmother teaching me colors I am able to visualize what these cars looked like.

I had such a passion for antique cars that one of my cousin gave me a pristine 1958 Cadillac which I treasured.

I named the car the Creole cruiser.

A couple years later landing a 2 record deal with blacktop records I named one of my CD's the Creole cruiser. The cover picture featured me playing my accordion standing before my 1958 pink Cadillac.

One of the highlights of my life was at two o'clock in the morning my wife Pat and I took my Cadillac to Cajun field and I was able to drive my car.

Shortly after I lost my site completely I was about five years old my parents were determined to find something that I could do.
One of the ways for the Catholic Church to raise funds they would give Saturday night dances.
One Saturday night there was a well-known New Orleans-based musician by the name of guitar Slim that was performing at the Saturday night church function which my parents attended. What caught their attention was he had a blind piano player by the name of RC Robinson.

They spoke to the piano player briefly and found out that he was earning a living as a musician. The piano player RC Robinson we discovered three or four years later watching the Ed Sullivan show turned out to be the music genius Ray Charles. My parents would remember the times we would visit my aunt and uncle who had a record player. I would follow the sound until I would find that record player and would not move until they were ready to go.

Not long after that, we had a record player at our house I thought this was the greatest thing and it didn't take too long before I knew all the words of the Fats Domino, Chuck Willis and Lloyd Price song's.

No one in the neighborhood had air-conditioning so neighbors would assemble in their backyards and build a fire to smoke out the mosquitoes until it was time to go to bed.This is where I got my first experience as an entertainer singing such song's as Going home tomorrow, I'm going to the river, etc.

Then one of the most difficult times of my young life occurred,I discovered that I could not go to school in the morning and come back at home in the evening like the rest of the kids .I had to be brought to a boarding school for the blind in Baton Rouge.

My father promised and kept his promise that he would bring me to school on Monday and be there on Friday evenings to pick me up. This was very difficult for my family and me and I guess what was the final straw,is when I told my mother Mama these people at school are trying to teach me how to read. I don't want to read, I want to play music but they will not let the little kids in the piano room.

That's when my father went to the Catholic school and spoke with the nun in charge, she informed my father that they were not equipped to teach a blind child. But my father explained to her that he was not depending on her to teach me but if she would just let me go to school he would pay the full tuition .

The children at school didn't realize I was blind, they said I was cross eyed and I couldn't see well.

My two cousins who lived next door to me and myself figured what ways for me to participate in games that children played.

We would play baseball, marbles and spin tops.

We figured out that I couldn't do things exactly like them so we found alternative methods the results would be the same.

This proved very valuable to me, so I applied this type of living throughout my life and it worked with great results.

One example is the teacher would ask the kids to stand up and read aloud by the time it got to be my turn I stood up and put the book in front of me.

By that time I had memorized what I heard the kids say and I just recited my whole reading so the kids actually thought I was reading.

However in some ways I was retaining more than the kids that were actually visually reading.

Then in 1956 going into the third grade I had to face reality where the children would be doing more writing which I couldn't do, I would have to learn Braille.I was taken out of school and had a teacher that would come to our home and work with me.

What helped this transition a lot was that it was in 1956 and with Elvis Presley dancing around with a guitar and Chuck Berry's guitar picking. All the kids on the block started to exchange their baseball gear for guitars, my cousin Johnny who lived next door and was four years older than me learned to play the guitar, I would look forward to every afternoon when he would get back home from school so him and I could practice.

With his guitar and my number three tub I would sing and keep rhythm and he would play his guitar and we would practice for hours. With all the kids turning to guitars this put all the kids in the neighborhood into this little blind boy's playing field. Johnny eventually got good enough to where he and the kids around the neighborhood found kids that could sing and play different instruments. So they formed a band I really admired the kid with the drums and I was allowed to be there for rehearsals.

One day my father after getting off work came over to my uncles house next door when the band was rehearsing in the garage and he told them if they ever needed a manager when they thought they were good enough to come and talk to him.

They worked very hard and six months later they came by to talk to him and to my disappointment my father said he was only joking,that he didn't know anything about being a manager. I asked my father to please manage the band because that would give me a chance to learn.

He told the boys okay, but they would have to rehearse regularly he knew the importance of practicing our rehearsing because he managed baseball teams before. I was so happy because my father would take me to rehearsal on rehearsal night. And it wasn't too long before I got my first position in the band.

They would put a chair in the front of the bass drum and I would sit on the chair and keep the bass drum from moving. I guess you can say my first position in the band was a bass drum weight.

Sitting that close to the drummer I was absorbing everything that the drummer was doing.

Then I reached my second disappointment in life the boys in the band were all 15,16 and 17 years old and started playing little jobs.

But I was only 10 years old and could not go with the band other than rehearsals.

My father would work the band on weekends and work his daytime job and of course all the boys in the band were in school.

It was at that time that my grandmother who was paralyzed on the left side and myself being only 10 years old at the time would work together to get the drums out of the station wagon into the house and I would practice and practice and practice.

I would anxiously wait for my mother to come home from work because she always had some 45 records for me. These were records from New Orleans musicians.

At a very young age I learned and perfected a beat that was very popular in New Orleans called the New Orleans funk.

I would practice records from singers such as Eddie Bow, Earl King and Ernie K. Doe.

These New Orleans-based musicians at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s were releasing hit records and making it big.

Little did I know that someday Earl King and I would be recording for the same record company.

Eddie Bow would perform for one of my record release parties with blacktop at the House of blues and Ernie K Doe would work for me in Europe.

During that time that I was practicing at home it just so happened that across the street a young up-and-coming blues musician by the name of Jimmy Reed Jr. was dating one of the girls in the neighborhood just across the street from us.

I would get so excited when he would come to visit his girlfriend my grandmother told me that he had a big new shiny station wagon with beautiful red drums in the back.

One day while he was visiting his girlfriend he took out his guitar, amplifier and his drum set he set it all up on the porch and started practicing.

I immediately stopped what I was doing and went over sat in the ditch and just listened and listened to what he was doing.

How I wish I was there across the street with him One day my wish came true he walked over from across the street and spoke to my mother.

I heard him say every time I take my instruments and put them on the porch this little boy stops playing and goes sits in the ditch and just listens to me.

Would you mind if I take him across the street for a little while, my mother did consent to let me go and I was so happy.

He could not believe that a little boy like me could really play drums. He would point out some of the things that I would do wrong.

This started to be a regular occurance every time he would come across the street I would go over and spent some time and learn from him.

He could really play and sing the blues working with him I knew right then and there I wanted to be a blues singer.

All this time my father did not realize what was going on he would still take me to rehearsals on Tuesday nights. One day I got my big chance to shine.

My father's band was playing at a Sunday night church fair and since my mother and my aunt were going I was allowed to go.We went around picking all the musicians up and when we got to the drummer's house his mother told my father that John Willie could not play tonight .

She "promised" him, that if his grades did not improve he could not play with the band.

My father did not know what to do I will have to cancel because we cannot play without a drummer one of the musicians told my father don't worry Mr. August we have a drummer Lynn could play tonight.

My father said no there is no way my little boy is good enough yet to play, then another one of the musicians said what choice do we have.

We're all ready to perform with Lynn playing drums they finally convinced my father to let me play.

I was so excited when they took the drums and set them up on the stage,at last I would be in back of the drums instead of in front I played my heart out and it was a smash.

After that the band did not want to go play without me, at that time is when my name became little August.

One night at rehearsal the singer had trouble singing a song by Willie West from New Orleans the name of the song was "Did you have fun making me cry".

One of the musicians said why not let Lynn sing it because he knows the song, I stood at the microphone and sung the whole song without a mistake.

Again my father could not believe what he was hearing, my father decided to bring me on their most important Saturday night job,they were working at a nightclub in New Iberia Louisiana my mother agreed to let me perform since she and my aunt were going.

Again I took the show it wasn't long after that on Saturday nights it was so packed that my father had to carry me to the stage.

I would play drums part of the night and John Willie would play drums while I would sing.

Please check this website often for updates to the story of my life.

Find out how I got to New Orleans and made the switch to piano and organ to be coming soon.


Tickets Available at the Door

The 2013 Ponderosa Stomp Concert will take place on October 4th and 5th at The Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans, LA. Re-entry is allowed. Acts subject to change / No refunds or exchanges

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