Piano Night 2009 Artists

Read more about Piano Night

Buy Piano Night T-Shirts and Posters in the WWOZ Swamp Shop


Check out some of the great musicians who will help make the 21st Annual WWOZ Piano Night so special.



Victor AtkinsVictor “Red” Atkins' style of piano has been described as "infectious, unconventional, tasteful, and powerful" all at the same time. Hailing from Selma, Alabama, he began playing with Delfeayo Marsalis in 1989 and was an integral part of the seminal work “Pontius Pilate’s Decision.” After receiving a B.A. from Berklee College of Music in Boston and an M.F.A. from the Manhattan School of Music, Victor has toured and performed with an impressive list of artists including Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Aaron Neville, Nnenna Freelon, Brian Blade, Lalah Hathaway, and Nicholas Payton. In addition to being a part of the Jazz Studies faculty at the University of New Orleans, he still travels extensively with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Some of his most creative work was produced during his time with the New Orleans-based Los Hombres Calientes, which produced an innovative brand of Latin jazz that can be heard on their Volumes 1-5. In every musical situation, Victor executes improvisational passages with great dexterity, combined with superior creative artistry. As guitarist Mark Whitfield stated, "Red plays with a great sense of time and rhythm, a great sense of fire and energy, and a lot of soul and spirit."




John AutinPianist, vocalist, producer, and songwriter John Autin is one of New Orleans' musical treasures. For years, Autin has been playing or recording with Luther Kent, Marva Wright, Snooks Eaglin, Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Eddie Bo, George Porter, Jr., Anders Osborne, and many more. He has also produced CDs for these and other artists on the Rabadash Records label. John’s current CD, Piano Face, features his keyboard playing and singing with drums, bass and tuba, and tracks were cut with New Orleans musical luminaries Johnny Vidacovich and Matt Perrine. The CD includes several John Autin originals along with tracks by Anders Osborne, Jay Griggs, Nora Wixted, Doug Duffey, and James Autin. Production has already begun on John’s new CD, which showcases the jazz side of his singing and playing.



Marcia Ball 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 non-stop touring.



Bruce Sunpie BarnesBruce Sunpie Barnes is a veteran musician, park ranger, actor, former high school biology teacher, former college football All-American, and former NFL player (Kansas City Chiefs). Sunpie Barnes' career has taken him far and wide, and he has traveled to over 35 countries playing his own style of blues, zydeco and Afro-Louisiana music incorporating Caribbean and African influenced rhythms and melodies. He is a multi-instrumentalist playing piano, percussion, harmonica, and he learned to play accordion from some of the best, including Fernest Arceneaux, John Delafose, and Clayton Sampy. With his musical group Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots, he has played festivals and concerts accross New Orleans and the US, as well as internationally, and they have recorded 5 critically acclaimed CDs. Sunpie is deeply involved in New Orleans parade culture and takes his music to the streets. He is Second Chief of the North Side Skull and Bone Gang, one of the oldest existing carnival groups in New Orleans, and a member of the Black Men of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club.




Josh CharlesJosh Charles grew up in Kansas City and started playing in blues clubs when he was a teenager. “Brooklyn is my home right now even though I’m more of a wandering nomad type and I feel a close kinship to New Orleans,” Charles maintains. “It's hard to put into words what that city means to me, but having been there right up until Hurricane Katrina and spent a lot of time there since, I can say that it's one of the most important and influential places in my life as an artist.” His debut, Josh Charles EP, features members of Dr. John's band, Josh’s touring band, and was recorded in New Orleans and New York. Co-producer, Steve Jabas and Josh spent months working on the EP and worked with one of the best mixers around, Ken Lewis (Jay-Z, Beastie Boys, Lenny Kravitz). So many great people and amazing musicians were involved and Josh is so grateful to have been able to work with each and every one of them.



Dan DyerKnown 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. He 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.



Casandra FaulconerHer 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.



Carol FranFrom 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 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 (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, released in December 2005.


Henry GrayHenry Gray's remarkable 60-year blues career began at the age of 16 in Kenner, Louisiana, and later on in Chicago. In 1956, Howlin' Wolf asked Henry to join his band, where he remained until 1968. During the fifties and sixties, Chess records employed Henry as sideman on many recordings, and he recorded frequently with J. D. Miller's Louisiana Excello band. He’s worked with a multitude of major stars, including Taj Mahal, BB King, and Guitar Slim. During the last thirty years, Henry has performed at virtually every New Orleans Jazz Festival, as well as festivals in Chicago, Montreal, Baton Rouge, San Francisco, Memphis, and many other festivals around the United States and in Europe. In 1988, Blind Pig Records released Henry's first U.S. LP, Lucky Man. More recently, Henry received a Grammy nomination for his 1998 release A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf. The Rolling Stones also paid homage to Henry by having him play at Mick Jagger's 55th birthday bash in Paris. In the summer of '99, Henry joined Marva Wright and her band for a 30-day Louisiana music European tour produced by Blue House Records. Henry Gray will perform at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest with his band, the Cats, and vows to continue keepin' the blues alive. 




John GrosIdle 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 last year's Live at the Leaf -- and 200 shows annually on a touring circuit that extends from coast to coast and to Europe and Japan.




Herb HardestyBorn 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 84-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."



Jim HessionJim Hession grew up in Pasadena, California, where he studied piano with composer Oscar Rasbach. By the time he was 20, Jim was a fixture in the traditional jazz scene, with his incredibly accurate two-handed piano style. A founding member of the Maple Leaf Club, Jim received his degree in composition from U.C.L.A., where he studied under Paul Chihara and Lalo Schifrin. While recording with Eubie Blake in New York, Jim began exploring more contemporary jazz venues, while retaining his handle on traditional jazz styles like ragtime, stride and boogie-woogie. Jim and his wife, vocalist Martha Hession, began their professional association with the Walt Disney Company in 1967. After performing at Disneyland, they were selected to be the first entertainers to open Walt Disney World in 1971. Later, Jim and Martha returned to California and continued their association at Disneyland and resorts until relocating to the Gulf Coast in 2003. Jim and Martha have performed with such luminaries as Teddy Wilson, Eubie Blake, Al Hirt, Bob Crosby, Johnny Guarnieri, Max Morath, Shelton Brooks, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, and Disney songwriters the Sherman Brothers.



Tom HookMusician/songwriter Tom Hook began his career in Kansas City, Missouri, and in the last three decades he has amassed an impressive array of performance credits. Tom’s love of traditional jazz is complemented by his love of rock-and-roll from the 50s and 60s, and he has appeared with the Coasters, the Drifters, the Platters, the Shirelles, Frankie Ford, and many more. Tom was also a founding member of the Black Dog Jazz Band—a band that seamlessly blended New Orleans Jazz with rock-and-roll energy. His successes led him to begin a series of appointments as musical director for casinos and cruise lines across the US—from Las Vegas to Disney World, from Pat O’Brien’s at Universal Studios City Walk to The Delta Steamboat Company, and here at home in New Orleans at Harrah’s Casino. Tom performs regularly in New Orleans at Dos Jefes, where he was worked steady Tuesday nights for nine years, and at Houston’s Restaurant where he has appeared five nights a week with the Garden District Trio for the last three years. Tom has also delved into the world of cyber entertainment, producing and recording period music for a series of military strategy games.



Joe KrownJoe Krown is a fixture in New Orleans on piano and Hammond B-3 organ. He has been nominated twice for 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 Brown's chart-topping albums The Man, Gate Swings, American Music, Texas Style and 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.




Matt LemmlerInfluenced by the music he heard while growing up in New Orleans, Matt Lemmler is an accomplished jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. Born and raised in the lower 9th Ward, blocks away from the home of Fats Domino, Matt remembers a childhood where music filled the house. He studied arranging with Grammy award-winning arranger, Tony Klatka and jazz piano with Ellis Marsalis, jazz patriarch of the Marsalis family. In 2000, Lemmler recorded his first CD, Portraits of Wonder, a New Orleans jazz tribute to the music of Stevie Wonder, which garnered national attention. After Hurricane Katrina, Matt decided to go into the studio and record his next CD, a compilation of classic New Orleans standards. The Music of New Orleans is a soulful and heart-rending tribute to his beloved city and to all the New Orleans musicians, past and present, which influenced him and his music. Most importantly, The Music of New Orleans is dedicated to his fellow New Orleanians who lost their lives and to those who have survived and continue to press on to rebuild a city like no other.



Tom McDermottNew 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 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.



Renard PochéA 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 also shared his talent with renowned trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard in soundtracks for the films Dark Blue and Barber Shop.



Shannon PowellA 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 currently holds court weekly at Preservation Hall and leads his own group at Donna's and many other venues.



David ReisDavid Reis has been a part of the New Orleans music scene for the past 12 years, performing as a solo pianist at a variety of venues and also serving as keyboardist for various local groups. His arrival in New Orleans in 1997 was a result of an experience while living in Austin that immediately and permanently altered his musical ambitions: He heard his first James Booker recording on a Louisiana music sampler CD. "To call it an experience tantamount to an epiphany would be a gross understatement to say the least. I probably listened to that track about 25 times in succession, and with each listen I was more and more amazed and in awe of what I was hearing. To hear that morphing of classical technique and stride piano within the context of the rhythms of New Orleans funk, R & B and soul really changed my perceptions of what was possible on the piano." David is currently recording a CD of original compositions under the moniker of Velvet Blackstone, which should be available by early fall.



Shannon PowellRichard Scott hails from Staunton, Virginia, and began piano lessons at the age of four. Richard’s grandfather is the reason he loves New Orleans piano music, not to mention the credit for his perfect posture while performing. In high school Richard learned the bass, trombone, and tuba, even playing in a Dixieland band called the Saint Clair Street Band. Richard’s special interest in ragtime music was enriched when he ran across an old LP by the Dukes of Dixieland, thus feeding his love for the New Orleans sound. “That’s when I began to combine improvised lines with a ragtime “stride” style left hand”.

As a professional musician, Richard began his career as an accordionist at Busch Gardens Theme Park in Williamsburg, Virginia. Before moving to New Orleans in 2000, he also worked aboard numerous Carnival Cruise ships in the Caribbean. Richard has been working in New Orleans ever since, while primarily playing piano engagements around the US and the world. He appears across New Orleans, playing this New Orleans piano music at some regular spots, such as Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub and aboard the Steamboat Natchez with the Dukes of Dixieland.



Dr. Lonnie SmithLonnie Smith has consistently been a leading force in jazz since 1969 when critics for Downbeat magazine hailed him as ‘Top Organist of 1969.’ More recently he has been selected as ‘Organ Keyboardist of the Year’ by The Jazz Journalist Association in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Born in Buffalo, New York, Lonnie was blessed with the gift of music and gained an exposure to gospel, blues and jazz through his mother at an early age. In the late 1950s Lonnie at last discovered the instrument he calls the “425 pound beast”—the Hammond B-3 organ. Reflecting back on that time, Lonnie explains, “Even though I didn't know how, I was able to play right from the beginning. I learned how to work the stops and that was it.” During the past decade Dr. Smith has been sampled in rap, dance and house grooves while being credited as a forefather of Acid Jazz. When questioned about his consistent interest in music some consider outside the jazz mainstream, Lonnie says, “Jazz is American Classical, and this music is a reflection of what’s happening at the time.”



Marc StoneGuitarist, singer, WWOZ show host, and music journalist Marc Stone has been performing professionally for over fifteen years. He has played in nearly 20 countries in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. He can be heard playing red-hot Delta Blues solo concerts on his steel guitar, leading the smoking four piece Marc Stone Band on electric guitar and lap steel, or backing great roots music artists in clubs, at Mardi Gras balls, on Jazz Fest stages, on the road, and on recording dates. Born in New York City, his early days put him on stage with New York blues heavyweights Johnny Allen, Jerry Dugger, Bill Sims, and members of the Holmes Brothers. In the early 1990s Marc's Eclectic Acoustic Jam in Greenwich Village was a stopping point for emerging talent such as Alana Davis, David Poe, and future superstar Dave Matthews. In 1993 Marc moved to New Orleans and began to play with a long list of Louisiana’s top artists. Since then Marc has gigged, toured or recorded with Eddie Bo, Marva Wright, Marcia Ball, Tommy Ridgely, Henry Gray, Ernie K-Doe, Big Al Carson, John Boutté, and many others.



Vince VanceVince Vance & the Valiants are a party band, corporate attraction, and hilarious family show. Vince has a saying, “You can’t buy a good time, BUT you can hire me and improve your chances.” For 3 decades with his band, Vince performs hundreds of concerts yearly in 13 countries and 34 states. From the Waldorf to the White House, the Super Dome to the Super Bowl, Bourbon Street to Broadway, Vince sparkles the world over with his magical tall hair, his band of Valiants and vivacious girls’ trio, the Valiantettes. In 2005, Vince performed at President Bush’s inauguration, and Vince Vance & the Valiants were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame the same year. In 2003, Fullerton Books released Vince’s book entitled The Vince Vance Rock n’ Roll Reader. In 2002 he released an album dedicated to the Gulf Coast, entitled Cruisin the Coast, and he was recognized by the Louisiana Music Commission for a lifelong contribution to Louisiana music.

Topic tags: 

Get the 'OZone monthly newsletter
facebook logo
Like us on Facebook
Volunteer at WWOZ
Hear it here!