Annual Booker Fest

303 Union St, Bay St Louis, MS 39520
(415) 336-9543
  • Presented By: 100 Men Hall
  • Dates: December 3, 2021 - December 5, 2021
  • Recurrence: Recurring daily
  • Time: Friday 7pm, Saturday 11am, Sunday 10am
  • Price: Friday, December 3, day pass Joe Krown Trio - $25 Saturday, December 4, day pass All Saturday Events - $50 Sunday, December 5, day pass Drag Brunch - $25 Festival Pass - December 3-5 All Festival Events - $75

Bay Saint Louis, MS – The 100 Men Hall hosts its second annual Booker Fest to celebrate the musical genius of James Booker. Booker Fest starts Friday, September 3, 2021 at 7PM and ends on Sunday, September 5, 2021. The festival is sponsored by the Silver Slipper and features a rollicking good-time itinerary that allows festivalgoers to enjoy a weekend of good music. 

The Fest is an annual fundraiser for the maintenance and preservation of the 100 Men Hall and also to attract regional, national and international attention to this African American landmark, one of the few standing buildings on the Mississippi Blues Trail. The event happens Labor Day weekend in the historic district of Bay Saint Louis at 100 Men Hall.

James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983) was a New Orleans rhythm and blues keyboardist born in New Orleans, LA and raised in Bay Saint Louis, MS. Booker's unique style combined rhythm and blues with jazz standards. 

Musician Dr. John described Booker as "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced."

Booker Fest is designed to bring awareness to one of the town’s most gifted artists who played with the St. Rose de Lima gospel choir and on the historic stage at the 100 Men Hall. Booker Fest will include a gospel tribute by the esteemed St. Rose de Lima choir and a piano tribute by two of New Orleans piano greats, Josh Paxton and Tom Worrell, a piano night with Joe Krown Trio, a concert with Sunny War, a screening of Lily Keber’s acclaimed documentary on Booker, Bayou Maharajah, ending with an outrageous Drag Brunch in Booker's honor.


Friday, Dec 3

7-9PM  Joe Ashlar Organ Trio

Saturday, Dec 4

11-12PM  St. Rose Gospel Choir on 100 Men Hall's historic stage.
12:30-2PM  Booker piano tribute performed by New Orleans piano great Josh Paxton and Tom Worrell
2:30-3:30PM  Spoken Word - Sunni Patterson.
4-6PM  Sunny War
6:30-8:30 – DJ T Swan

Sunday, Dec 5

10-1PM – Booker Drag Brunch with Catastrophe, Misty, Zemarayah, Latonia

Food and Beverages for purchase including some deliciousness prepared by Chef Chris Hayes of the Smoking Oyster, Pop Bros boozy popsicles, Cathead Vodka specialty batch Booker Bliss, Lazy Magnolia and other beer, wine, and spirit (pints) set ups at the 100 Men Hall bar.

James Booker was born James Carroll Booker III on December 17, 1939, in New Orleans, and was influenced by his church and Baptist minister parents and grandparents, who played piano. Booker was a child prodigy who loved classical music (especially Bach) and part of his amazing skill lay in an ability to blend a Rachmaninoff tune with a rolling blues piano riff. After his father became ill during Booker’s early childhood, he and his sister Betty Jean were sent to live with his aunt in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. 

Directed by Lily Keber, Bayou Maharajah chronicles the life and music of this colorful, troubled figure, legendary in New Orleans but obscure elsewhere. The film features extensive performance and interview footage of Booker, who died in 1983 at age 44. “I’ve got some blues that contains old soul with new wrinkles,” the pianist says in a clip featured in the trailer, perhaps referencing the way his style seamlessly incorporated classical, jazz and gospel.

Joe Ashlar - Pianist and organist Joe Ashlar has been performing music professionally around the US and internationally since age ten. He has studied with Barry Harris, Dave Santoro, Bruce Barth and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Joe his a regular on the New Orleans music scene, playing Hammond organ for music legend Dr. John. In addition, he stays busy with studio work, and locally can be seen with many notable artists, including Stanton Moore, Johnny Vidacovich, George Porter Jr., Donald Harrison, Steve Masakowski, Eric Lindell, Bonerama, Good Enough for Good Times, Papa Mali, Corey Henry, and Evan Christopher. These musical experiences also earned him a nomination for Offbeat Magazine's 2017 Best of the Beat Awards in the "Best piano/keyboardist" category. His music has been featured on national television, including CBS, BET on Jazz, and MTV. Joe also spends time writing original music, having composed the score for Brian Berkowitz's first short film, “Secret Transit Codes.”

St. Rose de Lima Gospel Choir - Considered the best Southern Gospel choir in the region, the St. Rose choir was already a Bay Saint Louis institution when James Booker played there. Several members sang when Booker played in the choir. The choir has been featured in the gospel tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Josh Paxton - In a city known for its piano players, Josh Paxton stands out from the crowd. By combining New Orleans' deep piano traditions with modern jazz twists, classical technique, and a funky rhythmic drive, he creates a unique and memorable style that led Dr. John to describe him as "[freakin'] blessed." Josh moved from his native Ohio to New Orleans in his early 20s to study with jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis. After earning his degree, he quickly found himself in demand as a solo performer and sideman, playing solo sets at festivals in and out of town, and touring and recording with such diverse acts as the Wild Magnolias, Li'l Queenie, the Cosmic Krewe, Maria Muldaur, and Bruce Hornsby. And by doing the first written transcriptions of the music of piano legends Professor Longhair and James Booker, he solidified his reputation as a serious scholar of the city's musical heritage.

Tom Worrell - Tom Worrell's career began as a touring multi-instrumentalist and vocalist when he was 18 years old. In the late 80's, he toured with the late great Solomon Burke. His musical direction changed when he was given a tape of Professor Longhair and James Booker. It was an awakening that would open the door to being known as one of the torch bearers of the New Orleans piano tradition and he has dedicated himself to representing it worldwide touring Europe, Japan, South America and playing festivals with New Orleans legends and with his own band Looka Here!!!

Sunni Patterson - New Orleans Native and Visionary, Sunni Patterson, is an internationally acclaimed Poet, Performer, Workshop Facilitator, Certified Spiritual Life Coach/Consultant, and an Initiated Priestess and Minister. She began her career as a full-time high school Teacher, and much of her life since has been devoted to serving as a Cultural Worker and Activist. Armed with an engaging story and voice, Sunni deliberately uses art, poetry, and praise (Ancestral remembrance) to encourage dialogue, connectivity, spiritual awareness, and healing.

Sunny War - Los Angeles-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War has always been an outsider, always felt the drive to define her place in the world through music and songwriting. As a young black girl growing up in Nashville, she searched for her own roots, looking first to the blues she heard from her mother’s boyfriend, and learning from a local guitarist. Moving to Los Angeles in her teens, she searched for herself in the LA punk scene, playing house shows with FIDLAR, and shoplifting DVDs from big box stores to trade at Amoeba Records for 80s punk albums. But here too she found herself on the outside, working to bridge her foundation in country blues and American roots guitar traditions with the punk scene she called home. She first made her name with this work, bringing a wickedly virtuosic touch on the fingerstyle guitar that sprang from her own self-discoveries on the instrument.

DJ T Swan - DJ T Swan from jz 94.5 known for his energetic multi genre music mixing is always guaranteed to bring the party , from the early days of hip hip to the latest radio hits you’re guaranteed to have a great time with this DJ! He has been on many tours around the United States sharing the stage with the likes of Kevin Gates, Ying Yang Twins, Boosie, Trina, Chanel west coast & plenty others! Also holding residency jobs in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida! Make sure to follow on all social media platforms @djtswan 

The 100 Men Hall's favorite and most talented drag queens - Miss Catastrophe Nicole Knight, Zamareyah Dawn, Misty Bordeaux Knight, and Latonia Love

Booker Fest signed limited edition posters (image by artist Cheryl Anne Grace) available for sale online and during the event. 

Booker Fest tee shirts and Hall tee shirts for sale online and during the event.

Booker Fest eye patches for sale by artist Ann Madden.

Art prints for sale by artist Cheryl Anne Grace

Food for purchase by Chef Chris Hayes of The Smoking Oyster. Chef Chris is a Food Network star. After obtaining his culinary degree, Chef Chris worked at various restaurants and casinos, before relocating to New Orleans. Earlier this year, Chef Chris was named the winning contestant on Food Network's Cooks vs Cons. His recipes are featured in Louisiana Cooking Magazine and Road Tours Magazine. 

Food for purchase on Saturday - along with The Smoking Oyster, South Beach Food Truck will be serving food. Michele Lee, a career banker turned restaurant/food truck owner, has had a passion for food since she was a little girl cooking savory meals in the kitchen with her mom. Michele will be serving up all-natural goodness from her truck for the event.

A wristband allows entry to ALL of the events - $75 in advance here - price goes up at the door:

Friday, December 3 pass
Joe Krown Trio - $25

Saturday, December 4 pass
All Saturday Events - $50

Sunday, December 5 pass
Drag Brunch - $25

Festival Pass - December 3-5
All Festival Events - $75

All tickets will be Will Call and wristbands will be given at the door.  

The 100 Men Hall is grateful to our sponsor, the Silver Slipper Casino, with additional sponsorship from Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty, Ann Madden Photography, as well as donations from Cathead Distillery, Lazy Magnolia, Pop Bros Shoofly Magazine, and SouthGroup Insurance. Their support has made this event possible.