Legends young and old promise to make the 15th annual Big Easy Entertainment Awards one of the most exciting in recent years. Where else will party goers be able to witness the coronation of hot jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton as its Entertainer of the Year as well as a nod to legendary saxophonist, arranger and bandleader Sam Butera as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner in music?
And that's only the tip of the iceberg, as R&B singer Clarence "Frogman" Henry will receive the Music Heritage Award while Edward "Kidd" Jordan will serve as the Honorary Music Chairman. (The theater nominees will be announced in next week's issue.)
Veteran co-host and part-time New Orleanian Harry Shearer (The Simpsons, NPR's Le Show) will team up this year with New Orleans native and Rendez-View producer and former Daily Show correspondent Vance DeGeneres as this year's masters of ceremonies -- guaranteeing a night of zippy one-liners. The awards, which also features performances by nominees in both music and theater, will be held Monday, April 22 at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Riverside New Orleans Hotel, followed by the Harrah's Celebration Bash at Harrah's New Orleans Casino.
This year's Business Recognition Award honors the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Committee for its support of the Louisiana Living History Project, which for five years has employed actors each December to provide visitors with live history pieces in the French Quarter.
VIP tickets to the Big Easy Entertainment Awards are $125 each, with tables of 10 going for $1,000. Cost includes open bar, buffet dinner, special reserved seating for the awards ceremonies and the Harrah's Celebration Bash afterwards. Call Lindsay Moylan at 486-5900, ext. 160 for reservations. The Big Easy Entertainment Awards is presented by Gambit Weekly, Harrah's New Orleans Casino, CC's Coffee, John Jay, Cox Communications, WWOZ, and Coleman E. Adler & Sons. The awards gala benefits the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education.
Among the music nominees, legendary R&B singer/piano professor Dr. John scored a hat trick with his three nominations: Best Male Performer, Best R&B Artist, and Best Album (Creole Moon). Chris Thomas King, who last week shared three Grammy Awards for his contribution to the O, Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, earned Big Easy nominations for Best Blues Artist and Best Male Performer. Fellow Grammy nominee Los Hombres Calientes earned Big Easy nominations for Best Contemporary Jazz Artist and Best Album (Vol. 3 -- New Congo Square). Payton, whose Dear Louis CD honored the centennial birthday of Louis Armstrong, was also nominated for Best Contemporary Jazz Artist.
BIG EASY AWARDS -- MUSIC NOMINEES
(for accomplishment in calendar year 2001)
Donald Harrison Jr.
Los Hombres Calientes
Olympia Brass Band
Treme Brass Band
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Lil Rascals Brass Band
ReBirth Brass Band
Beacon Light Baptist Church Choir
Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir
Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church Choir
Paulette Wright Davis
Papa Grows Funk
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Chris Thomas King
Daydreams & Curry
Morning 40 Federation
Egg Yolk Jubilee
New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars
Chris Thomas King
Rob Wagner Trio
Bluerunners -- Le Grand Bleu
(Louisiana Red Hot Records; produced by Mark Meaux; recorded at La Louisianne Studios)
Dr. John -- Creole Moon
(EMI/Blue Note Records; produced by Mac Rebennack; recorded at Dockside Studios)
Los Hombres Calientes -- Vol. 3 -- New Congo Square
(Basin Street Records; produced by Delfeayo Marsalis, Irvin Mayfield and Bill Summers; recorded at Mama Yvette Studios, UltraSonic Studios, Abdala Studios, African Symbol Studio, and the streets of the Dominican Republic)
Papa Grows Funk (Doin' It)
(Independent; produced by Tracey Freeman; recorded at UltraSonic Studios)
- Legendary saxophonist, arranger, singer and bandleader Sam Butera will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Music.
- Entertainer of the Year Nicholas Payton captured the spirit of Satchmo with last year's CD, Dear Louis.
- South Louisiana's Bluerunners scored nominations for Best Roots Rock Artist and its critically acclaimed, guest-star-filled CD, Le Grand Bleu.
- R&B singer Clarence "Frogman" Henry will receive the Music Heritage Award.
- Vance DeGeneres joins veteran co-host Harry Shearer as masters of ceremonies this year.
- Dr. John hit the trifecta with nominations for Best R&B Artist, Best Male Performer and Best Album (Creole Moon).