Piano Night 2008 Artists

Published on: April 20th, 2008

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Check out some of the great musicians who made the 20th Piano Night so special.

Eddie Bo




In a career that spans well over 45 years, Eddie Bo has made more 45s than any artist has in New Orleans other than Fats Domino. He has produced records for Irma Thomas, Robert Parker, Art Neville, Chris Kenner, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, and Johnny Adams. He is a prolific songwriter of such wonderful songs as "Check Mr. Popeye," "It Must Be Love," "I'm Wise" (made famous by Little Richard under the name "Slippin' and Slidin"), and the hit recorded by Etta James, "My Dearest Darling." Eddie penned Tommy Ridgley's "In the Same Old Way" and further demonstrates genius in the realm of contemporary New Orleans funk on such creative works as "Hook and Sling" and "Pass the Hatchet."



According to The Boston Sunday Herald, "Piano pounding Marcia Ball plays masterful, red hot tracks from the Texas-Louisiana border. Her voice can break your heart with a ballad or break your back with a rocker." The Austin Chronicle heralds her as "a class act whose soulful, horn-laden swamp pop and murderous honky-tonk make her a stellar example of musical artistry." For more than 30 years, Ball has been delivering her signature brand of Texas blues, Louisiana R&B, and Gulf Coast swamp pop to audiences all over the world. She has earned a huge and intensely loyal following through critically acclaimed albums and continued non-stop touring.



Marcia Ball


Henry Gray




Henry Gray has performed at virtually every New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival since its beginning. A 1998 Grammy Nominee for A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf, who he played piano for from 1956-1968, he also performed at Mick Jagger's 55th birthday party in Paris, France in 1998.




Idle Monday nights led to a full-time gig for John "Papa" Gros. In 2000, the keyboardist worked steadily as a member of George Porter Jr.'s band, co-leader of the rock band MuleBone and as a solo act on Bourbon Street. To fill his open Monday nights he launched an informal New Orleans funk project, Papa Grows Funk, at a weekly residency at the Old Point Bar, later moved to the Maple Leaf. Papa Grows Funk is now Gros' main gig, with three CDs — 2001's Doin' It, 2003's Shakin', and the new release Live at the Leaf -- and 200 shows annually on a touring circuit that extends from coast to coast and to Europe and Japan.




John Gros



Joe Krown is a resident of of New Orleans. He is a New Orleans-styled piano and Hammond B-3 player. He has been nominated twice and won a New Orleans Big Easy Award in the Blues category in April 2001. Joe held the keyboard chair with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown & Gate's Express from 1992 until Gatemouth's passing in the fall of 2005. Joe is featured on the chart topping albums The Man, Gate Swings, American Music, Texas Style and most recently Back to Bogalusa albums. In 1995, Gatemouth and the Gate's Express including Joe on keyboards, did a 62-date world tour as the opening act for Eric Clapton. The band, Gate's Express, won an Offbeat 2004 Best Band Award in the Blues Category.




Joe Krown


Donald Ramsey




Donald Ramsey has been playing bass for 27 years. He is a lifelong resident of New Orleans and graduate of St. Augustine Sr. High. Professionally he has worked with Phillip Manuel, Papa Grows Funk, Wanda Rouzan, Marva Wright, and James Rivers.



Tom McDermott




New Orleans is a city with a rich musical heritage, and Tom McDermott is a pianist who has mastered many of its styles. In 1984, McDermott moved to New Orleans, lured here by a job at the World's Fair as well as a passionate interest in the music of Crescent City pianists like James Booker, Professor Longhair and Dr. John. He quickly found steady work, first as a solo pianist and later with jazz bands. Born in St. Louis in 1957, McDermott has adopted New Orleans as his home. Before the move he earned an art degree from St. Louis University and a Master of Music from Washington University. Making his way as a non-academic, working musician, he has toured extensively as a pianist with the Dukes of Dixieland, worked with New Orleans legend Danny Barker, composed and performed on screen for the movie He Said, She Said (1991), arranged for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and writes music based columns for the Times-Picayune. His arrangements for such groups as the New Orleans Nightcrawlers combine traditional New Orleans style with very distinctive modern innovations.



Master Pianist, Piano Wizard, Bandleader, Music Educator, Innovator, Well-Known New Orleans Musician, World Class Pianist — all terms frequently used in front of the name Amasa Miller. Miller's musical career is extensive. Having toured the world, Miller is commanding the keys alongside some of the top names in music today. With an extensive discography, Miller can currently be seen performing with the Pfister Sisters as pianist for the group as well as music director, with Charmaine Neville as pianist and bandleader, and in a trio with Charmaine and sax man, Reggie Houston, in addition to many others. What is New Orleans piano? One only need to listen to Amasa Miller to find the answer to that question.



Amasa Miller




New Orleans-born Charlie Miller is an old friend to several instruments, but the trumpet is his first love. His musical career began rather uniquely, to say the least: musician and composer Miller began by playing the family washing machine hose, then graduated to an old, beat-up trumpet gifted by an elderly gentleman to him, at the age of 12. That washing machine hose led to big things, as is evident in Miller's outstanding career to date. Performing with fellow jazz greats such as Dr. John, Thelonious Monk, Lou Rawls, Davell Crawford, Fathead Newman, Al Hirt, and many, many others. Miller currently maintains a busy New Orleans performance and recording schedule.



Charlie Miller




Like much of the great music to come out of New Orleans, Joshua's playing defies a one-word description. Starting with conservatory-trained technique, he combines the accessibility of blues and soul with the harmonic sophistication of jazz, sprinkled with the intricate rhythmic energy of funk and Afro-Cuban music. From his study of New Orleans legend James Booker he learned the art of getting the fullest possible sound from the piano by creating distinct, multiple parts -- playing with two hands what would seem to require at least three. He applies these elements to both his original compositions and his surprising, fresh interpretations of standards.

Joshua came to New Orleans in the early 90s to study with Ellis Marsalis at UNO, and has been a fixture of the local music scene ever since. He has performed and recorded as a soloist, leader, and with artists as diverse as the Wild Magnolias, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Leigh Harris, and the Cosmic Krewe. These days he's frequently heard with the Pfister Sisters, guitarist Mark Stone, and in a James Booker tribute project with Kevin O'Day and Jack Cruz. His forthcoming CD, a long-awaited solo piano recording, is still in the works, but preview discs will be available at Piano Night.



Joshua Paxton




Renard Poché




A contemporary of some of New Orleans' funk greats, Renard Poché's contributions can be counted among the defining factors of funk in New Orleans. Best known for his electrifying guitar work, Poché is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist whose been known to move effortlessly from guitar to trombone to percussion without missing a beat. In addition to his live and studio guitar work with artists such as Dr. John, Zigaboo Modeliste (of the original Meters), Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and N'Dea Davenport (Brand New Heavies), Poché's trombone work can be heard on recordings by Peter Gabriel, The Indigo Girls, Terrance Simien and The Neville Brothers, among others. Poché's original compositions have found their way to places as diverse as BET's Movie of the Week and the TaeBo Workout Video. Poché has recently shared his talent with renowned trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard in soundtracks for the films Dark Blue and Barber Shop.



Shannon Powell




A product of the culturally and musically rich Treme' neighborhood, when Shannon Powell is behind the drums, his fellow musicians and audiences are assured of the most solid, swingin' and stylistically simpatico rhythms to be found anywhere on the planet. Heavily influenced by "Uncle" Lionel Batiste, Powell is, at once, a traditional jazz and modern jazz musician, who, early on, worked with banjoist/guitarist Danny Barker as well as pianist Ellis Marsalis. Powell undoubtedly received his widest recognition during his six years in Harry Connick, Jr.'s band that resulted in two platinum records hanging on his wall. The rhythm and blues scene also utilizes Powell's huge abilities and he boasts recordings with vocalist Johnny Adams and Tommy Ridgley. Powell holds down two nights a week at Preservation Hall and on Sundays he swings out, leading his own group at Donna's.



From jump blues to soul blues and all the R&B in between, Carol Fran has been singing it for nearly fifty years. Her career started when she was still in her teens with the Don Conway Orchestra and continues to this day. In 1995, Carol was a nominee at the 16th Annual W.C. Handy Awards as the Female Artist of the Year and as the female vocalist of the year. 2001 saw Carol nominated once again as the Female Artist of the Year at the W.C. Awards. For these nearly 50 years, Lafayette's Carol Fran has been one of Louisiana's most precious "albeit obscure" musical resources. She has recorded an enviable body of work, one that R&B aficionados have raved about for years. Carol appears in the movie Absolution released in 2005. She also appears along with Dr. John, Eddie Bo, Randy Newman, Irma Thomas, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Allen Toussaint on Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album For The Gulf Coast Hurricane Victims, which was released in December, 2005.



Carol Fran




Her aim is true: "I like to keep it funky. Anything that really grooves — even if it's a shuffle, or whatever, as long as its grooving. That's what turns me on." Affectionately referred to by some as "Her Funkiness," Canadian-born Faulconer started calling New Orleans "home" in 1998. Her travels in the Gulf had introduced her to the infectious sounds and greasy beat of the Big Easy. Intrigued by the city's mystery and charm, she decided that New Orleans would be more than just a port of call. It is here where she honed her solid, supportive, grooving style, hooking up with the Crescent City's most esteemed drummers, players such as Johnny Vidacovich, Herman Ernest III, Stanton Moore, Gerald French, Allyn Robinson, Kevin O'Day, Jeffrey "Jellybean" Alexander, and innumerable others. Today, you can find her gigging in a wide array of settings almost every night of the week, from straight-up funk to low-down blues. If you keep your ear to the ground, no doubt you'll be lured into the deep pocket of Casandra Faulconer.



Casandra Faulconer




Dan Dyer




Dan Dyer greets his second decade as a musician with a self-titled album. From this soul-revivalist recording, produced out of an old snake-charmer church turned studio on the east side of Austin, emerges a spooky, diaphanous, and bright release drawn from an ever-deepening soul. Known for his songwriting and soulful singing, exhibiting a tremendous range, Dyer, born in East Texas and residing in Austin, has musical roots firmly set in his former residence of Missouri, reflecting the rhythm and blues tradition commonly associated with St. Louis. Vibrant, loose and engaging, his vocals recall the likes of W.C. Handy, Stevie Wonder and Lenny Kravitz. Kravitz produced Dyer's major label debut What Lies Beneath. Funky when he needs to be, reflective when it suits the moment, Dyer is capable of transcending easy categorization. Dan Dyer sings with an instinctive urgency that incorporates elements of country, blues and soul, tying things together with what's universal in the best of each genre: intensity.



Herb Hardesty




Born March 3, 1925, in New Orleans, Herb Hardesty will forever be famous as THE saxophone player behind Fats Domino. Of course, many sax men have backed the Fat Man through the decades, but Hardesty was there from the very beginning of Domino's recording career in 1949 until Fats gradually retired from performing, creating a unique 50-plus year association. Having had an extensive recording and touring career, Hardesty has performed alongside B.B. King, Dave Bartholomew, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, and many more, while also being heard on numerous movie soundtracks. Continuing to perform and tour, the 83 year old sax man states it best: "You have to stay busy," Herb Hardesty says. "You know, I can´t just sit down and not play my horn. My horn is my life. I love people. I love performing for people. I love the traveling. I'm still doing it and it's a part of my life. I'll always continue to do it."



A Piano Night alumnus, Jon Cleary is a triple threat—with a salty-sweet voice, masterful piano skills, and a knack for coupling infectious grooves with melodic hooks and sharp lyrics. He balances a career performing with his band The Absolute Monster Gentlemen and Bonnie Raitt, recording with both groups, and composing songs for various artists. His live shows are an explosive funk party mixing old school soul with the rhythms of New Orleans. Cleary has produced four recordings over the past 10 years, including Pin Your Spin (2004, Basin Street Records), Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (2002, Basin Street Records), Moonburn (1999, Virgin/Point Blank), and Alligator Lips & Dirty Rice (1994, Ace Records). Born in Kent, England, Cleary has educated himself in the musical culture and life of New Orleans for the past 20 years, steeped in the sounds of the Caribbean from Cuba to Haiti and beyond. His deft piano style and unmistakable vocals are heard on recordings by Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Ryan Adams, and Eric Burdon.



Jon Cleary


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