100 Men Hall hosts the inaugural Booker Festival in honor of a New Orleans music icon who spent time growing up in Bay St. Louis.
- story by Lisa Monti
Booker came up in a conversation with Floyd Moseley when he was having his portrait taken for the 100 Men Hall People Project. “He said that Booker used to play at St. Rose and after would come to Floyd's grandma’s house because she was the only one with a piano,” Dangermond said.
Later she was talking with Bay St. Louis resident Lee Seal about his takeaways from putting together Bridge Fest and ideas for the Hall started “popcorning.” Seal said he liked the concept of the King Biscuit Festival because fest goers can camp out at the venue.
Seal also suggested Joe Krown for a piano tribute to Booker. Krown suggested Tom McDermott because he has a more extensive Booker repertoire.
Dangermond called her friend McDermott, well known for his playing and compositions, and he agreed to play. McDermott also suggested that Josh Paxton perform as well – the pianist’s unique style brought high praise from Dr. John.
With the piano tribute in place - along with a showing of “Bayou Maharajah,” Lily Keber’s definitive documentary on Booker - Dangermond added a gospel element to the festival lineup. The celebrated St. Rose Gospel Choir agreed to perform and will bring another local connection to Booker.
“It turns out some of the choir members remember Booker from back in the day when he played with the choir,” Dangermond said.
And when Mayor Mike Favre approved of primitive campsites on the Hall grounds, the festival was set for Labor Day weekend.
“It was one of those things,” Dangermond said. “When it’s right, it’s right.” Above all, she said, “I want it to be fun and funky.”
The camping option will give first time visitors an introduction to the area and benefit local merchants. “The festival itinerary is very loose and we’re hoping people who come for the weekend will go out to have breakfast and lunch and go shopping while they’re here,” Dangermond said.
While the idea behind Booker Fest is to raise funds annually to maintain and preserve 100 Men Hall, the goal also is to attract regional, national and international attention to the African American landmark and its history.
The festival will open at 8 p.m. Aug. 30 with the indoor screening of Bayou Maharajah. Food by Chef Chris Hayes from the Smoking Oyster in New Orleans will be available for purchase on both nights of the festival. Hayes was named the winning contestant on a Food Network show.
Primitive camping that allows (2) entry to all of the events is $75.
Contact Rachel at 100MenHall@gmail.com for details.
Purchase the camping ticket here.