100 Men Hall
Bay St. Louis, MS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2019
@ 100 MEN HALL
Bay Saint Louis, MS – The 100 Men Hall launches its first annual Booker Fest to
celebrate the musical genius of James Booker. Booker Fest starts Friday, August
30, 2019 at 8PM and ends on Saturday, August 31, 2019 at midnight. The festival
features a rollicking good-time itinerary that allows festival-goers to enjoy the Hall
as well as Bay Saint Louis. A very limited amount of lucky campers will be
allowed to pitch a tent onsite!
Booker Fest is designed to bring awareness to one of town’s most gifted artists –
James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983), who was
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. Booker Fest will
include a gospel tribute by the esteemed St. Rose de Lima choir and a piano
tribute by two of New Orleans greatest pianists, Tom McDermott and Josh
Paxton, a screening of Lily Keber’s acclaimed documentary on Booker, Bayou
Maharajah, as well as reflections on Booker by Ellis Anderson of Shoofly
Magazine, ending with a hip-shaking dance party headlined by Cuban
percussionist Alexey Martí with Jorge Perez, Paolo Castanogli and Oscar
The Fest is intended as an annual fundraiser for the maintenance and
preservation of the 100 Men Hall and also to attract regional, national and
international attention to this African American landmark, one of the few
standing buildings on the Mississippi Blues Trail. The event will happen Labor
Day weekend and allows primitive camping for the first time in the historic
district of Bay Saint Louis at 100 Men Hall.
A wristband allows entry to ALL of the events – $25 in advance here:
https://the100menhall.com/products/james-booker-festival or $30 at door. All
tickets will be Will Call and wristbands will be given at the door.
The 100 Men Hall is grateful to our sponsors, Silver Slipper Casino, Mississippi
Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty, Hollywood
Casino, Hancock Whitney Bank, Lazy Magnolia, Cathead Vodka, Smith & Lens,
Ann Madden Photography, Shoofly Magazine, SouthGroup Insurance, and Pop
Bros. Their support has made this event possible.
Booker Fest Schedule
Friday, August 30th
8PM Lazy Magnolia Brewery and Cathead Vodka present a screening of
Lily Keber’s Bayou Maharajah, the definitive documentary on
Booker at 100 Men Hall. Delicious eats for purchase by The
Saturday, August 31st
10AM Hollywood Casino and Hancock Whitney Bank present the St.
Rose Gospel Choir on 100 Men Hall’s historic stage.
4 – 5PM Reflections on Booker by Ellis Anderson, publisher of Shoofly
5 – 6PM The Silver Slipper presents a Booker piano tribute performed by
New Orleans piano greats – Tom McDermott and Josh
Paxton. Delicious eats for purchase by The Smoking Oyster.
9 – 11PM The Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area presents a Dance
Party with Cuban superstar Alexey Martí accompanied by Jorge
Perez, Paolo Castanogli and Oscar Rossignoli. Delicious eats for
purchase by The Smoking Oyster.
PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE NO PARKING AT THE 100 MEN HALL
during Booker Fest. Park at Train Depot or on Necaise Avenue.
There will be very limited primitive camping on nearly an acre of land at the 100
Men Hall next to the Historic Train Depot. Reserve your campsite now! Four
villages sponsored by Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty, Smith & Lens and Shoofly
Magazine will house four tents each. Primitive camping 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-
Food and Beverages for purchase including some deliciousness prepared by Chef
Chris Hayes of the Smoking Oyster, Pop Bros boozy popsicles, Cathead Vodka
specialty batch Booker Bliss, Lazy Magnolia and other beer, wine, and spirit
(pints) set ups at the 100 Men Hall bar.
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.
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. Several members sang when Booker played in the
choir. The choir has been featured in the gospel tent at the New Orleans Jazz &
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,