The festival that celebrates the unsung heroes of rock 'n' roll announces its lineup, which includes Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, Brenda Holloway, and the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas. 

freddie cannon photo
Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon

The Ponderosa Stomp Festival returns October 1-3 with its usual full slate of events including two nights of music at the Rock ’n’ Bowl October 2 and 3. This year’s headliners include Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon, Brenda Holloway, New Orleans’ Irma Thomas, R&B singer Mable John, P.F. Sloan, soul singer Willie Hightower, and a San Antonio Chicano soul revue with Rudy T. Gonzales backed by Sunliners alumni Little Henry, Rudy Palacios, and Chente Montes along with Manuel “Bones” Aragon of the Royal Jesters.

This year, organizers have given us an early look into how the lineup will be organized:

Brenda Holloway, Irma Thomas, Mable John, and Barbara Lynn are legendary “sisters of soul” whose talents and backgrounds are a reflection of many of the facets of rhythm and blues. Their participation respectively represents the Motown era, New Orleans’ own homegrown soul movement, soul’s gospel roots, and the Gulf Coast’s steamy take on emotive R&B.  

Like Barbara Lynn, Roy Head is slated to make a return appearance at this year’s Stomp. The energetic, often acrobatic, performer inspired countless singers and bands to, simply stated, “let it rip.” 

Also on tap is the enigmatic P.F. Sloan, one of the progenitors of the California folk-rock movement and composer of “Eve of Destruction” as well as scores of hits for the Turtles, Johnny Rivers, the Grass Roots, and others. 

Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, star of TV’s Where The Action Is, will be backed by Los Straightjackets, a combination that is sure to dazzle on his lengthy string of top 40 hits, the biggest of which is, most presciently, “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans.”

Along with rock and soul blues, rockabilly, and swamp pop, Tex-Mex performers are featured at The Ponderosa Stomp. Packing a rockin’ brand of Tejano soul, Rudy T. Gonzales of the Reno Bops will headline a revue backed by the core of San Antonio’s Sunliners—Little Henry, Rudy Palacios, and Chente Montes—along with fellow Chicano soul drummer Manuel “Bones” Aragon of the Royal Jesters.

First-generation Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold — whose “I Wish You Would” has been covered by the Yardbirds, David Bowie, and The Sweet — is returning to The Stomp this year. And Willie Hightower, one of Muscle Shoals’ most soulful standard bearers, will be making a rare appearance.

Rockabilly stalwarts Royce Porter, Mike Waggoner, Al Hendrix, Jim Oertling, and Mack Banks are primed to bop at The Stomp, along with J.M. Van Eaton of Sun Records’ Little Green Men and drummer for both Jerry Lee Lewis and Billy Lee Riley, 

The Louisiana-born phenomenon known as swamp pop will get royal treatment from a veritable Mount Rushmore of its stars: singers Tommy McLain, Rod Bernard, and Gene Terry, backed by The Mama Mama Mamas, a swampy supergroup that includes C.C. Adcock, Steve Riley, Dickie Landry, Pat Breaux, and drummer Jockey Etienne, playing his box tops that injected the murky soul into so many Excello 45s by Lazy Lester and others.

Louisiana’s own soul-music heritage is represented by New Orleans vocalists Tony Owens and Jimmy “Pistol” Jules, plus Creole-zydeco guitar slinger Lil’ Buck Sinegal and the Top Cats featuring James Alexander from Lafayette.

Making his Stomp debut, Gerry McGee, the son of Cajun music legend Dennis McGee, is the guitar great who worked on sessions for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, Nancy Sinatra, and the Monkees. A longtime member of the Ventures, McGee also replaced Ry Cooder in one of the earliest iterations of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band.

The Stomp also includes the record show and Music History Conference October 1 and 2 at the AC Hotel, and the Hip Drop DJ party at a venue to be named later. Two-night tickets for the concerts are on sale now.