(Every Friday afternoon, The Gambit will be posting a story from the upcoming week's print edition as a Web extra "early edition" for our Internet readers. This week: Noah Bonaparte Pais' look at the backstage brouhaha surrounding the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Festival.)
SCORN ON THE BAYOU
After two years of relatively smooth operation, the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo was marked by behind-the-scenes struggles in 2008. This year may be worse.
BY NOAH BONAPARTE PAIS
By all accounts, the 2008 Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo was a rocking good time. The music festival, held on the banks of Bayou St. John every May since 2006 by the nonprofit MotherShip Foundation, featured its regular art market on the Jefferson Davis Parkway neutral ground, an expanded two-day lineup for the first time in its history and rousing performances by a cross-section of New Orleans favorites: Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Rick Trolsen, Johnny Vidacovich, Ingrid Lucia, Anders Osborne and Rebirth Brass Band, among others.
??But some behind the annual production are now singing a different tune, opening a rift between Jared Zeller, executive director of the foundation and co-creator of the Boogaloo, and three longtime organizers — former foundation president Trixie Levins, former treasurer Pattye Brignac and volunteer Julie Posner — who collectively attempted to remove Zeller from command in the days after the '08 festival. That attempt failed.
??At issue, the organizers say, are alleged conflicts of interest with two entities operated by Zeller. The MotherShip Foundation is described on the festival Web site as "a non-profit (501c3) organization dedicated to encouraging social change." Zeller also directs a similarly named for-profit business, MotherShip Entertainment, which represents musicians like Glen David Andrews and the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio as well as handling "event management" for happenings like Celebration in the Oaks.
??The acrimony between the foundation board and its director culminated in Zeller dismissing Levins and Brignac as board members in late May 2008, resulting in a festival faceoff in 2009. Levins, Brignac and Posner applied for and received a city permit in February to stage their own event, dubbed Bayou Stomp, on the same dates (May 22-23) and near the same location as the Boogaloo. Zeller, meanwhile, maintains a contract with the city along the bayou on those same dates and is proceeding with his event as planned.
??Is Bayou St. John big enough for both events?