The Unsung Heroes exhibit was co-curated by Dr. Ira “Dr. Ike” Padnos, a New Orleans physician who founded the festival in 2001 to celebrate the contributions of pioneering artists from the late 1940s onward, and will include many items from his personal collection. Among the show’s highlights are Clifton Chenier’s royal crown; James Black’s drum set; Fats Domino’s piano; Louisiana blues legend Lazy Lester’s harmonicas; Earl Palmer’s drum; Dave Bartholomew's trumpet; a Shirley & Lee concert poster from 1955; a sign from Famer Cosimo Matassa’s historic J&M Record Studio (where Fats Domino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Dr. John, and others cut groundbreaking sides) and a sampling of rare 45 and 78 rpm records.
The exhibit takes a close look at the Louisiana’s post-war geographic music capitals — Shreveport, Lake Charles, Crowley, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and of course, New Orleans. With profiles on the entrepreneurial studio owners, the A&R men; and the key musicians, arrangers and producers who made the classic recordings.
“The purpose of the exhibit is to show the cultural importance and influence of Louisiana music,” said Ira “Dr. Ike” Padnos, founder and ringleader of the Ponderosa Stomp organization. “It illustrates how the various regions of the state developed their own sound, while at the same time they influenced each other.”
“Unsung Heroes: The Secret History of Louisiana Rock 'n’ Roll” is the first freestanding, continuously accessible physical repository of the Ponderosa Stomp’s extensive (and arcane) body of information about obscure and influential Louisiana music history. Surprisingly, it’s also the first museum exhibit of its kind—a much-belated celebration of the state’s formidable contribution to American music. Learn more about the exhibit.