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BOOKER FEST 2022

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BOOKER FEST
100 MEN HALL

Watch Booker Fest 2021

Sponsored by the Silver Slipper

Bay Saint Louis, MS – The 100 Men Hall hosts its third annual Booker Fest to celebrate the musical genius of James Booker. Booker Fest starts Friday, September 2 at 7PM and ends on Sunday, September 4, 2021. The festival is sponsored by the SILVER SLIPPER and features a rollicking good-time itinerary that allows festivalgoers to enjoy a weekend of great performances.

Booker Fest Schedule

Friday, Sep 2

7-9PM  Joe Krown Trio - $30

Saturday, Sep 3 – All events - $55

11-12PM  St. Rose Gospel on 100 Men Hall's historic stage

12:30-2PM  Booker piano tribute performed by New Orleans piano greats
               Josh Paxton and Joe Ashlar

2:30-3:30PM  Spoken Word - Sunni Patterson

4-6PM  Quiana Lynell and Trio

6:30-8:30 – Rita Brendt Comedy

Sunday, Sep 4

10-1PM – Booker Drag Brunch with 
Catastrophe, Zamareyah, Latonia & Misty

$30

Booker Fest Weekend Wristbands - $85

James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983) was a New Orleans rhythm and blues keyboardist born in New Orleans, LA and raised by an aunt in Bay St Louis where he attended St. Rose de Lima and learned classical piano. Booker's unique style combined rhythm and blues with jazz standards. Musician Dr. John described Booker as "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced."  The gifted artist played on the historic stage of 100 Men Hall and throughout the Bay. 

The September weekend will include a night with Joe Krown Trio, a morning gospel tribute by St. Rose de Lima,a piano tribute by two of New Orleans piano greats led by Josh Paxton, followed by spoken word artist Sunni Patterson, then the award winning voice of Quiana Lynell and her band, a good time with comedian Rita Brent, all while screening Lily Keber’s acclaimed documentary on Booker, Bayou Maharajah, AND ending the weekend with an outrageous Drag Brunch by Catastrophe, Zamareyah, Latonia and Misty in Booker's honor. Sound by Jesse Loya.  

Rachel Dangermond, owner of 100 Men Hall, credits the support of multiple sponsors for Booker Fest’s production, “The 100 Men Hall is grateful to our long time major sponsor, the Silver Slipper Casino, with additional sponsorship from Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty, as well as donations from Ann Madden Photography, Hollywood Casino, Cathead Distillery, and Shoofly Magazine. Their support is making this event possible.”

James Booker was born James Carroll Booker III on December 17, 1939, in New Orleans, and was influenced by his church and Baptist minister parents and grandparents, who played piano. Booker was a child prodigy who loved classical music (especially Bach) and part of his amazing skill lay in an ability to blend a Rachmaninoff tune with a rolling blues piano riff. After his father became ill during Booker’s early childhood, he and his sister Betty Jean were sent to live with his aunt in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. 

Opening the event on Friday night will be the Joe Krown Trio – Joe Krown is a resident of New Orleans with a home in Pass Christian. He is a New Orleans-styled piano and Hammond B-3 player. He has played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage every year since 2001 and the French Quarter Festival every year since 1998. From September 1996 to June 2001, Joe held the Traditional Piano Night slot at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans, which was once occupied by James Booker. After the untimely passing of the legendary great Allen Toussaint in November 2015, Joe was selected to fill the maestro's chair by playing piano with Toussaint's band backing up greats like Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, Dr. John and more at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz Fest, Hollywood Bowl, Midsummer swing at Lincoln Center and more. He has played the WWOZ Piano Night every year since 1996 to current and has been the producer of Piano Night since 2017. He has led a trio with Walter Wolfman Washington since 2007. Krown has toured with Mavis Staples, Allen Toussaint, North Mississippi All-Stars, Charlie Musselwhite and many more and toured in over 50 countries as either a member of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, Clarence Gatemouth Brown Band or as the featured artist. Listen: https://youtu.be/D51r62xINJg.

Saturday’s lineup includes:

St. Rose Gospel Choir - Considered the best Southern Gospel choir in the region, the St. Rose choir was already a Bay Saint Louis institution when James Booker played there. Several members sang when Booker played in the choir. The choir has been featured in the gospel tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Josh Paxton - In a city known for its piano players, Josh Paxton stands out from the crowd. By combining New Orleans' deep piano traditions with modern jazz twists, classical technique, and a funky rhythmic drive, he creates a unique and memorable style that led Dr. John to describe him as "[freakin'] blessed." Josh moved from his native Ohio to New Orleans in his early 20s to study with jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis. After earning his degree, he quickly found himself in demand as a solo performer and sideman, playing solo sets at festivals in and out of town, and touring and recording with such diverse acts as the Wild Magnolias, Li'l Queenie, the Cosmic Krewe, Maria Muldaur, and Bruce Hornsby. And by doing the first written transcriptions of the music of piano legends Professor Longhair and James Booker, he solidified his reputation as a serious scholar of the city's musical heritage. Listen: https://youtu.be/Q-Kj8ySDv1M.

Joe Ashlar - Pianist and organist Joe Ashlar has been performing music professionally around the US and internationally since age ten. He has studied with Barry Harris, Dave Santoro, Bruce Barth and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Joe his a regular on the New Orleans music scene, playing Hammond organ for music legend Dr. John. In addition, he stays busy with studio work, and locally can be seen with many notable artists, including Stanton Moore, Johnny Vidacovich, George Porter Jr., Donald Harrison, Steve Masakowski, Eric Lindell, Bonerama, Good Enough for Good Times, Papa Mali, Corey Henry, and Evan Christopher. These musical experiences also earned him a nomination for Offbeat Magazine's 2017 Best of the Beat Awards in the "Best piano/keyboardist" category. His music has been featured on national television, including CBS, BET on Jazz, and MTV. Joe also spends time writing original music, having composed the score for Brian Berkowitz's first short film, “Secret Transit Codes.” Listen: https://youtu.be/LbCcYNp6mJk

Sunni Patterson - New Orleans Native and Visionary, Sunni Patterson, is an internationally acclaimed Poet, Performer, Workshop Facilitator, Certified Spiritual Life Coach/Consultant, and an Initiated Priestess and Minister. She began her career as a full-time high school Teacher, and much of her life since has been devoted to serving as a Cultural Worker and Activist. Armed with an engaging story and voice, Sunni deliberately uses art, poetry, and praise (Ancestral remembrance) to encourage dialogue, connectivity, spiritual awareness, and healing. Listen: https://youtu.be/JdHg_Xb-ZRU.

Quiana Lynell – A full-range vocal southern belle who hails from Texas but has planted her musical roots in that jazz haven called New Orleans, is that next great singer that you’ll be hearing about. The power and electric intensity that Lynell brings to the stage in a live performance as she brought to the table at the 2019 Playboy Jazz Festival, is a page taken straight from the great singer playbook. She ripped it. A protegee of jazz master Terence Blanchard, Lynell is what you would call a storyteller through song. Growing up on gospel music and being influenced by Fitzgerald and Vaughan, Lynell took her big-sounding voice and has made good use of it. Listen: https://youtu.be/H2SS3z81ZvA.

Rita Brent - Rita Brent is a comedian, musician, and military veteran from Jackson, Mississippi. She discovered her love for music as a young girl performing in talent shows and southern Baptist churches as a drummer alongside her mother and singer-pianist, Angela. She credits her mother as the one who helped cultivate and support her talents. At age 18, she joined the 41st Army National Guard Band where she served for nine years and ended her time in service as a sergeant. Rita graduated from her beloved HBCU, Jackson State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass and Speech Communication, and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Listen: https://youtu.be/nqL7tE_xR6w.

Sunday will feature the 100 Men Hall's favorite and most talented drag queens - Miss Catastrophe Nicole Knight, Zamareyah Dawn, Misty Bordeaux Knight, and Latonia Love. Booker loved to dress up in flamboyant costumes and often wore a wig. He would joke or flirt with a guy in the audience while playing. He would engage in lengthy dialogues with the audience – or lecture or even scold it. He was a consummate performer, cross dresser, and musical genius.

Screening in the VIP room throughout the Fest, is a documentary directed by Lily Keber, Bayou Maharajah chronicles the life and music of this colorful, troubled figure, legendary in New Orleans but obscure elsewhere. The film features extensive performance and interview footage of Booker, who died in 1983 at age 44. “I’ve got some blues that contains old soul with new wrinkles,” the pianist says in a clip featured in the trailer, perhaps referencing the way his style seamlessly incorporated classical, jazz and gospel.

In his 20s, Booker worked with the touring bands of B.B. King and Aretha Franklin and in 1970, mysterious trouble led Booker to lose his left eye; afterwards he began to don an iconic eye patch. Attendees will be able to purchase Booker Fest merch, a signed limited edition posters, as well as Booker Fest eye patches created by artist Ann Madden and Booker Fest earrings and night lights by Darrin Butler at the Fest.

Throughout the weekend, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase food:  Friday – Coasty Food Truck, Saturday - Burger Box, Sunday – Makin Groceries

In addition to purchase of non-alcoholic beverages, fest attendees will have the opportunity to purchase, Cathead Vodka specialty batch Booker Bliss, Lazy Magnolia and other beer, wine, and spirit (pints) set ups at the 100 Men Hall bar.

Tickets for each of the weekend events as well as a wrist band allowing entry to ALL events  can be purchased online at https://the100menhall.com/products/booker-fest-2022  and available at Will Call throughout the weekend.  Tickets and wristbands purchased at the door during the event will be priced higher and based on availability.   

The historic 100 Men Hall is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (Hundred Members Debating Benevolent Association), supported by tax deductible donations.  Additional information about the venue’s history and other activities can be found on the100menhall.com or by emailing 100menhall@gmail.com