June 3, 2013:
Living Blues has nominated www.erniekdoebook.com/ for Best Blues Book of 2012, along with several other fine titles, in the magazine’s 2013 Blues Awards competition. My very first published pieces appeared in Living Blues, starting in 1977. Many thanks to the magazine’s founders, Jim and Amy O’Neal (now Amy van Single) for those initial assignments.
“Voting is now open for the 2013 Living Blues Awards…Our 20th anniversary of honoring the best of the blues! Go to www.LivingBlues.com and click on the “VOTE” button on the right side of the page to vote. Voting is open until July 15th. Winners will be announced in the August/September #226 issue of “Living Blues.”
May 3, 2013: A great review of Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans in the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/books/ct-prj-0505-kdoe-20130503,0,1016259.story
Recent Appearances: Saturday, March 23, 1:30 PM, location TBA: The Oxford Conference of the Book, at the University of Mississippi in Oxford MS ( http://oxfordconferenceforthebook.com/ ) on a panel with Vladimir Alexandrov, author of The Black Russian (Grove/Atlantic, www.valexandrov.com ), and moderator Ted Owenby, Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
Sunday, March 24: The Tennessee Williams Festival, in New Orleans ( http://www.tennesseewilliams.net/festival/schedule ) 11:30 – 12:45 PM, at the Palm Court Jazz Café, 1204 Decatur, Drummer and Smoke: Discussion and Music Centered on the Book “Ernie K-Doe: the R&B Emperor of New Orleans,” with interviewer Sarah R. Doerries, Senior Editor of Publications at the Historic New Orleans Collection. Interview followed by a live set of Ernie K-Doe’s music performed by his longtime colleagues Ernie Vincent and Tommy Singleton, leading a band including myself on drums.
Thursday, April 4th, time/location TBA: presenting a paper about Ernie K-Doe at the Music of the South Conference ( http://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/ai1ec_event/music-of-the-south-symposium/?instance_id= ) at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS.
Thursday, April 4th, 6 PM, at Off Square Books, 1110 Van Buren Avenue in Oxford, MS: An on-air reading from Ernie K-Doe: the R&B Emperor of New Orleans on Thacker Mountain Radio ( http://thackermountain.com/ ), broadcast by Mississippi Public Radio.
Saturday, April 20th, Experience Music Project’s Pop Music Conference, at Tulane University, New Orleans: Presenting a paper on the connections between jazz, Cajun music, and zydeco.
News: February 22, 2013: www.erniekdoebook.com is co-selected as Humanities Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities ( www.leh.org .) The other book is historian Lawrence N. Powell’s excellent The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (Harvard, http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674059870 .)
January 6, 2013: Interview on WVXU-FM in Cincinnati about www.erniekdoebook.com , archived at http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wvxu/audio/2013/01/010613_BenSandmel.mp3
December 26, 2012 – January 2, 2013: Nick Spitzer of American Routes features Ernie K-Doe and www.erniekdoebook.com in the first hour of show, which is now archived at http://americanroutes.wwno.org/archives/show/778/from-home-page
December 24, 2012: www.erniekdoebook.com is selected by the New Orleans Times-Picayune as one the Top Ten Books of 2012. http://www.nola.com/books/index.ssf/2012/12/top_ten_books_of_2012_for_fans.html
December 22, 2012: Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by National Public Radio as one of the Best Music Books of 2012: http://www.npr.org/blogs/bestmusic2012/2012/12/22/167635661/staff-picks-our-favorite-music-books-of-2012?sc=tw&cc=twmp
December 3, 2012: Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Non-Fiction Books of 2012: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/issue/2012-best-of/section/nonfiction/?utm_source=kirkus&utm_medium=masthead&utm_campaign=BestNonfiction
Reviews: 4-15-12, KIRKUS REVIEWS: “A vital, loving chronicle of the colorful life and frequently hard times of the New Orleans R&B singer and self-styled “Emperor of the Universe… A vital, essential addition to the shelf of great books about New Orleans.” — starred review http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ben-sandmel/ernie-k-doe/#review
4-26-12, THE DAY (Connecticut): “…Sandmel…writes eloquently and wittily in this gorgeously constructed book. People all the time ask me what’s magical about New Orleans. Read this, folks.” — Rick Koster — http://www.theday.com/article/20120426/ENT03/304269563/-1/today
May 1, 2012, GAMBIT WEEKLY (New Orleans): “…any Festgoer would do well to pick up Ben Sandmel’s knockout new biography, Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans — http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/the-good-news/Content?oid=1997122
May 6, 2012, THE ADVOCATE (Baton Rouge): “Lee Dorsey… Chris Kenner… and Ernie K-Doe… are gone, but their memories are rekindled when Toussaint and many others perform their songs every year at Jazz Fest. K-Doe is more present than usual this year via a remarkably faithful new book by local writer and musician Ben Sandmel, “Ernie K-Doe: R&B Emperor of New Orleans.” — John Wirt
May 2012, DOWNBEAT: “…a vibrant biography that challenges a few myths but ultimately reinforces what made K-Doe’s life so extraordinary. Sandmel examines the regional roots of his sound, especially the impact of local gospel performers and Mardi Gras Indians. Colleagues like Allen Toussaint and Dr. John add their perspectives on K-Doe’s rise up the early 1960s r&b charts, his downward spiral and miraculous career resurgence as a Crescent City celebrity (and venue owner) before his death in 2001. This book is part of the valuable Louisiana Musicians Biography Series, and the publisher’s archives include an array of photographs, posters and other artifacts that illustrate how the cape-and-crown-wearing K-Doe always looked just as colorful as his words.” — Aaron Cohen http://www.downbeat.com/defaultl.asp?sect=editorspicks201205 , scroll down
5-13-2012, LOS ANGELES TIMES:”deeply researched and exquisitely drawn portrait of not just the singer’s ‘years trudging in torment’ — from club-circuit scuffler to homeless to ‘Emperor’…but of his relationship to the city that made him who he was: Context is essential when considering New Orleans, and Sandmel helps us understand the world out of which the charismatic K-Doe — whose single chart-topper was 1961′s ‘Mother-In-Law’ — emerged… Lyrically evoked, Sandmel’s take on Ernie K-Doe isn’t simply a study of the performer’s vocal prowess and outsized persona, but it allows the reader to wind through the streets of New Orleans during its golden era of R&B — the late 1940s into the 1960s — to really hear the distinct rhythm of the patois, feel the humidity of some after-hours hole in the wall where the musicians vamp and history was revving up. ” — Lynell George — http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-new-orleans-collection-20120513,0,5787915.story
5-24-2012, NO DEPRESSION: “…a collectors item for any fan of Crescent City r&b…it’s one you’ll find yourself coming back to over and over again to revel and remember with a chuckle the power and the glory that was Ernie K-Doe.” — Grant Britt — http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/ernie-k-doe-the-r-b-emperor-of-new-orleans-book-review
JUNE, 2012 (Issue #219), LIVING BLUES:”An obvious labor of love for its author, the biography strikes that rare balance of academic research and delightful, readable prose…Not only is K-Doe’s story told well, but a moment in time in New Orleans is captured as well…Ben Sandmel has raised the bar for music biographies. No serious student of New Orleans’ musical and cultural history should be without it.” — Melanie Young http://digital.livingblues.com/publication/?i=112707 ( page 56 )
JUNE, 2012 (Issue #270) BLUES & RHYTHM (U.K.): “…Sandmel is a fine, literate writer, one who is able to turn a phrase in the language of the educated man or in the jargon of the street with equal authenticity.” – Billy Vera ( page 43 )
6-11-12, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: …a terrific biography of the much-missed performer. Packed with anecdotes, candid photos, and interviews from those who knew K-Doe best, Sandmel charts the mercurial performer’s rise, fall, and redemption before his death in 2001. Though K-Doe’s trajectory (rapid stardom, reckless spending, substance abuse, career decline, and poverty) isn’t surprising, Sandmel remains respectful and manages to hold the reader’s interest, portraying K-Doe as an eccentric man who was by turns irritating, egotistical, and incredibly generous… the self-proclaimed Emperor of the World would likely have been pleased by this balanced biography of a truly unique performer. Rounded out with a thorough index and discography of K-Doe’s recordings, this is essential reading for those interested in the unique culture of New Orleans.” starred review, http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-917860-60-7
6-15-2012, AUSTIN CHRONICLE: “…eye-poppingly gorgeous… rich, scholarly text… an absolutely essential Gulf Coast read.” — Margaret Moser — http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2012-06-15/ernie-k-doe-the-rab-emperor-of-new-orleans/
6-21-12, ROLLING STONE, 4 STARS: — “With passionate R&B-detective research and eyewitness accounts from local legends like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, Ben Sandmel vividly captures K-Doe’s wild rise out of poverty, the riches on his many 45s and his long, strange rebirth as a Crescent City treasure. In a city that breeds and adores gifted eccentrics, K-Doe was royalty. And he reigned in style.” — David Fricke
6-22-12, USA TODAY:”R&B legend’s odd odyssey, explored with authority, admiration and affection in Ben Sandmel’s new ‘Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans’ (The Historic New Orleans Collection, $39.95). The exhaustive, photo-packed biography chronicles K-Doe’s kaleidoscopic history of fame and failure, delusional optimism, beguiling eccentricity and boundless self-regard.” http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/story/2012-04-26/ernie-k-doe/55155476/1 – Edna Gundersen photo gallery: http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Ernie+K-Doe,+Emperor+of+New+Orleans/G3909
6-24-12, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: …The Big Easy-based Sandmel, a musician himself, paints a meticulously researched yet enormously entertaining portrait of an artist who, for all his outrageous self-absorption, was ultimately a good-hearted guy and talented artist who was hard not to like….It’s also a uniquely and quintessentially New Orleans story. In telling it, Sandmel brings the reader into the Crescent City’s rich musical milieu — he interviewed scores of musicians as well as the late K-Doe’s family and friends — and also examines the city’s African American culture and the roots of its traditions, helping to explain K-Doe’s particular flamboyance…. Antoinette [K-Doe] Antoinette, who died in 2009, told the author: “Of course I know that K-Doe’s dead. But the fans don’t consider it a statue; to them it’s Ernie K-Doe. I want people to remember K-Doe as a legend; I want his music and legacy to live on.” With this fascinating biography, Sandmel has done his part to make sure that happens. — Nick Cristiano http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/literature/20120624_Ben_Sandme_s__lsquo_Ernie_K-Doe__The_R.html
JULY 2012 (Issue # 224) MOJO, 4 STARS, “Ben Sandmel’s affectionate portrait, always judicious, often hilarious, whirls the reader through the streets of New Orleans…” — Tony Russell
POP CULTURE CLASSICS, Around the world, K-Doe is known for his 1961 hit, “Mother-In-Law.” In New Orleans, he’s cherished as one of the city’s legendary figures. Sandmel’s illuminating, intimate, sympathetic, fascinating book tells the story of the late performer through a marvelous collection of anecdotes, interviews and photos. The self-proclaimed “Emperor of the Universe,” K-Doe had a rapid rise and a dramatic fall. The author makes the highest highs and lowest lows equally spellbinding. A thoroughly researched discography is included. The timeless tome, from The Historic New Orleans Collection ( www.hnoc.org ), celebrates the city, as well as this incredibly colorful character. — Paul Freeman — http://popcultureclassics.com/deja.html , scroll down
10-19-12, THE TENNESSEAN (NASHVILLE) – “…as Sandmel proves on each page of his book, K-Doe was as fascinating a character as you’ll find anywhere else in American roots music…. riveting…” – Peter Cooper – http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/tag/Ernie-K-Doe/
10-25-12, THE ADVOCATE (BATON ROUGE and the new daily newspaper in NEW ORLEANS, ”Like a great pop song, Ben Sandmel’s book about New Orleans rhythm-and-blues singer Ernie K-Doe opens with a great hook.” – John Wirt –http://theadvocate.com/features/people/4234449-123/rb-singer-subject-of-new
10-31-12, THE TIMES OF ACADIANA (LAFAYETTE, LA), “In his book, Sandmel takes readers backstage through interviews with K-Doe, his wife Antoinette Dorsey Fox, their family and friends, and more than 100 musicians, including Toussaint, Aaron Neville and Dr. John.” – Herman Fuselier http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20121101/ACADIANA01/210300330/Times-briefs?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7C
December 1, 2012, BLACK GROOVES (The Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University, Bloomington): “…K-Doe’s tirelessly entertaining personality offers a lot in the way of content. But Sandmel’s account improves on the tales K-Doe spun, perfectly framing the musician’s offbeat jive talk with a skillfully understated yet probing and witty literary voice, telling of New Orleans’ local treasure while casting him within universal themes. And Sandmel’s writing paints the details with a precision en par with the book’s amazing collection of archival photos… Sandmel honors K-Doe’s memory without ever idealizing him and humors K-Doe without ever patronizing him. Without a doubt, Ernie K-Doe was a larger-than-life character. Sandmel gives him the story he deserves.” – Betsy Shepherd Shepherd http://blackgrooves.org/ernie-k-doe-the-rb-emperor-of-new-orleans/
12-22-12, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Books Of 2012: Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans, by Ben Sandmel: “Much more than a biography of a New Orleans music eccentric, this perspicaciously researched book encapsulates the spirit of a city that honors the wisdom of its weirdos. It’s also the story of a unique place — K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge, the shrine to his career-defining hit, and a haven for connoisseurs of this precious city’s flamboyant expressive culture. Packed with rare photos and gorgeously produced by the Historic New Orleans Collection press, this volume will transport you to the liveliest city in America — a trip all music fans should frequently take. —Ann Powers http://www.npr.org/blogs/bestmusic2012/2012/12/22/167635661/staff-picks-our-favorite-music-books-of-2012?sc=tw&cc=twmp
3-22-13, THE OXFORD AMERICAN: BOOK REVIEW: Unfinished Blues and Ernie K-Doe ”…You can hear music anywhere, but in New Orleans you can feel it and smell it in the thick and salty air. Now and then you can read about it—but rarely in stories as well-told as Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man by Harold Battiste Jr. with Karen Celestan (2010), and Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans by Ben Sandmel (2012). These are the first two books in a series published by the Historic New Orleans Collection. The large-format books are liberally illustrated with photographs, poster and record label reproductions, and ephemera—get-well cards, poster boards, newspaper clippings, election buttons—that alone are worth the cover charge. But the storytelling makes the difference in these lavishly produced books… “…Ernie K-Doe’s story is… compelling, due largely to the writing talents and outsider’s eye of author, musician, and historian Ben Sandmel, whose prose reads like a great New Orleans song is supposed to sound: you start tapping your foot with each turn of the page, as the tales grow wilder, more exotic, and larger than life. Each time you’re ready to put the book down, you’re swaying and moving to some silent rhythm… “…Sandmel’s appreciation and respect for K-Doe and Antoinette shows through his rollicking, party-time narrative that celebrates the extreme aspects of entertainment without ignoring the consequences of what the pursuit of pleasure can bring… – Joe Nick Patoski http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2013/mar/22/book-review-unfinished-blues-and-ernie-k-doe/
5-3-13, The Chicago Tribune,