BOOKER FEST Sponsorships

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The 100 Men Hall launches its first annual Booker Fest as a fundraiser for the maintenance of this African American landmark in Bay Saint Louis, MS. The Hall is one of the rare standing buildings on the Mississippi Blues Trail. It is a 501c3 federal nonprofit operating for the preservation of this landmark and its sacred history of presenting live music, as well as a nexus to gather the community. Funds raised during this festival will be earmarked for exterior painting and carpentry, upgrading the HVAC and sound system, alarm system replacement and upgrade, as well as ongoing maintenance to the property. 

Booker Fest is designed to bring awareness to the musical brilliance of James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983), who was born in New Orleans and raised by his aunt in Bay Saint Louis. Booker played with the St. Rose de Lima gospel choir and on the historic stage at the 100 Men Hall. The festival will include a tribute by the St. Rose de Lima choir and New Orleans musicians, Tom McDermott and Josh Paxton, a screening of Lily Keber’s documentary on Booker, Bayou Maharajah, readings and talks by locals who knew Booker and the event will close with a DJ dance event. The festival schedule is listed below.

The Booker Fest will also promote the city of Bay Saint Louis to new visitors in the region and intends to draw an international following in the coming years. Until the 100 Men Hall’s Booker Fest, there has been no event or festival in historic Bay Saint Louis during the Labor Day weekend and no event that allows primitive camping in the city limits.

The 100 Men Hall is seeking community sponsors for this exciting new festival:

Village Sponsor

In addition to the music and film events, primitive camping will be available on site at the 100 Men Hall. The tents will be organized into four villages that are available for sponsorship. Each village will have an artist-rendered wooden sign erected with the sponsor’s name. A village sponsor will be mentioned on all marketing materials, radio and TV interviews, flyers, and on the Hall’s large marquis for the Booker Fest. A village sponsor will receive six free tickets to the festival. Village sponsorships are $1000.

Music Sponsor

Music tribute for Booker Fest, which includes a piano tribute, full gospel choir, and dance party are available for sponsorship. There will be a sign painted by a local artist announcing the music and the sponsor on stage during the performance. The music sponsor will be mentioned on all marketing materials, radio and TV interviews, flyers, and on the Hall’s large marquis for the Booker Fest. A music sponsor will receive eight free tickets to the festival. Music sponsorships for each performance are $1500.

Festival Sponsor

There will only be one Festival sponsor. To sponsor the Booker Fest and be highlighted as the presenting sponsor for the entire festival, the Festival Sponsor will be on all marketing materials, radio and TV interviews, flyers, and on the Hall’s large marquis for the Booker Fest. The Festival sponsor will receive one dozen free tickets, tee shirts, and Booker eye patches designed for the festival. The Festival sponsor is $5000.

James Booker Festival

The 100 Men Hall launches its first annual Booker Fest to celebrate the musical genius of James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983), who was born in New Orleans and raised by his aunt in Bay Saint Louis. The festival will feature a rollicking good-time itinerary that allows festivalgoers to enjoy the Hall as well as Bay Saint Louis. The festival is a fundraiser for the 100 Men Hall to help with the maintenance and preservation of this African American landmark and also to attract regional, national and international attention.

Festival Schedule:

Friday, August 30th

8PM               Indoor screening of Lily Keber's Bayou Maharajahat 100 Men Hall. The definitive documentary of James Booker. New Orleans Cuisine for purchase.

Saturday, August 31st

10AM             St. Rose Gospel Choir on 100 Men Hall's historic stage.  Sponsored by Hollywood Casino, Lazy Magnolia Brewery and Hancock Whitney.

4PM               Local readings and reminiscences about Booker.

5PM              The Silver Slipper presents a Booker piano tribute performed by Tom McDermott and Josh Paxton.

8PM               Outdoor screening of Bayou Maharajah

9PM               DJ dance party in the Hall. Food for purchase.

There will be primitive camping allowed onsite of the 100 Men Hall. 

Food will be provided for purchase by Chef Chris Hayes from the Smoking Oyster.

For a wrist band that allows entry to all of the events - $25 in advance here: https://the100menhall.com/products/james-booker-festival or $30 at door. Wrist bands will be given on arrival. 

For primitive camping that allows (2) entry to all of the events - $75
Contact Rachel at 100MenHall@gmail.com for details. You may purchase the camping ticket here: https://the100menhall.com/products/james-booker-festival-primitive-camping

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 an aunt in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. 

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.

St. Rose de Lima 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. The choir has been featured in the gospel tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Tom McDermott - Larry Blumenfeld of the Wall Street Journal writes, "The relaxed feel of Mr. McDermott’s playing sometimes conceals the boldness of his harmonic decisions and the rigor of his approach, which leans on diligent musicology. His playing and his original compositions draw from deep repertoire (he can play Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s mid-19th-century works with aplomb) and flash the same offbeat wit as the limericks and pencil drawings he publishes in small volumes."

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.

Food for purchase by Chef Chris Hayes of The Smoking Oyster. Chef Chris is a Food Network star. After obtaining his culinary degree, Chef Chris worked at various restaurants and casinos, before relocating to New Orleans. Earlier this year, Chef Chris was named the winning contestant on Food Network's Cooks vs Cons. His recipes are featured in Louisiana Cooking Magazine and Road Tours Magazine. 
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