I will continue and conclude my story about my friend Hal Benson next column but here are two current events which I wish to bring to your attention:
1. A PLAY:
During the 1930s, three pictures hung in practically every Cajun house in South Louisiana, including ours. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jesus Christ and Huey P. Long. A President, a Savior and a Governor/U.S. Senator of Louisiana. More than enough has been written about that trio but here’s one about the Politician.
When Perry Martin, my son, first met John “Spud” McConnell, Perry told him, “you look just like Bert Lair or Huey Long”. They were both part-time stand-up comics. Perry was a venturous and potential director and he found a play called the Kingfish, obtained the rights and before you knew it “The Kingfish”, a one man plays starring McConnell and directed by Martin was touring Louisiana and wound up at the Off-Broadway John Housman theater in New York.
John: The New York Post called it “a soaring success. This is a lovable ol’ Kingfish, entertaining and provocative.” “A zesty, zany entertainment” John Simon, New York Magazine “John McConnell Triumphs.” Perry: “It is sharply director by Perry Martin,” R. Sneerwell, Theatre Week. “The Director moves his actor majesty through time and space” John Simon, New York Magazine. “Staged skillfully by Perry Martin”. W. Raldy, Newhouse Newspapers.
The rest is history. The play is still alive and to celebrate its 30th birthday “The Kingfish” is back home again in Thibodaux for one weekend only at the Jean Laffite National Historical Park, 314 St. Mary street on August 10, at 2 and 7 P.M. and a Sunday matinee on August 11 at 2 P.M.
Hopefully, I will celebrate my August 4th 90th birthday watching it again for the 12th time. See you there. (I got to go…. Perry’s my son. Just kidding…. It’s worth every minute.)
When it appeared in New York, Dot and I, Mike and Tammy and a very young Hal Martin dressed in evening gowns and tuxedos and motored the many hundred miles to the “Big Apple” and watched the historic opening with U.S. Senator Russel Long and other celebrates. Tickets may be purchased for $35 on line at Thibodaux-playhouse.com or calling the box office at 985-446-1896. See you there.
2. A BOOK:
In 1983, a young British author named John Broven called me for an interview for a book he was writing called “South to Louisiana, The Music of the Cajun Bayous.” He sat with me for a few hours in the Assessor’s office of the Lafourche Parish Court House and now thirty years and 50,000 copies later he called me again because he was writing a second edition.
Once again I am flattered because he wrote a chapter and many nice things about me like: “the genial Leroy Martin deserves credit for stimulating the Cajun music scene in isolated South Louisiana” and basically a short history of my life in Cajun, Country, Zydeco, Blues and Swamp Pop music along with many mentions throughout the new edition in addition to what he had written in the first.
The book has a biograph on EVERY artist that has ever recorded any of the music factors in the brackets listed above. Rod Bernard, Joe Barry, Warren Storm, Jimmy Clanton, Johnny Allen, Aldus Roger, Doc Guidry, Jimmy Donley, Fats Domino, Guitar Slim, Carol Fran, Bobby Charles. I mean everyone, even Leroy “Lee” Martin.
Get it at your favorite book store or www.pelicanpub.com
I’d buy it even if my name wasn’t in it 20 or so times ... really!
Well, I fibbed! I don’t have to buy a copy. I got a free autographed copy straight from England. But I would…Honest!