Dr. Ira Padnos, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Louisiana State University Medical Center, is better known to the music world as "Dr. Ike." He's founder and curator of New Orleans' annual Ponderosa Stomp festival, a full-tilt whirlwind of R&B, rockabilly, garage rock, and swamp-pop legends performing their best songs back to back.
At 3:30pm, Padnos is groggy from pulling a night shift, but his passion for the Stomp and its ancillary South by Southwest showcase is in full flower. This, after all, is a man who forswore cover bands to book everyone from R.L. Burnside to James Burton at his 2000 wedding.
"I decided to go through my record collection to see who I've always wanted to see play and never had a chance," Padnos says. "Then I set about trying to hire them. Basically, we had a crazy wedding with about 16 acts."
After being prodded to present such acts publicly, he co-founded the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau with musician/journalist Michael Hurtt in 2001. The Knights presented monthly concerts before settling on a festival format. Taking its moniker from a Lazy Lester song, the first Stomp was held in 2002.
"The idea with the Stomp is to run it like the old rock & roll revues," Padnos says. "I hate it when you go out and bands just drag on. I love it when they play exactly what you need to hear and leave you wanting more."
The Knights ultimately founded the nonprofit Ponderosa Stomp Foundation with the mission of celebrating pop music's "unsung heroes." In addition to SXSW, the foundation is putting on three shows at New York's Lincoln Center this summer and curating an exhibit for the Louisiana State Museum.
"We just wanted to get these guys out playing," says Padnos. "That's always been the number one focus."
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