Jazz Fest Minutes: 'One Mo’ Time' With Actor Vernel Bagneris

May 3, 2013

The Show “One Mo’ Time” went from humble beginnings as a homemade New Orleans labor of love with a single scheduled performance to a worldwide theatrical sensation that ran for years. Its creator, New Orleans actor Vernel Bagneris, has loved the idea of putting on a show from way back.

“Cousins of mine still laugh at the fact that they used to come over and I’d put on a show for them and play a little accordion and single a little bit with the few chords I knew on a piano and do plays and make them all do parts,” Bagneris remembers.

Bagneris’ first professional theater experience came in the touring company of a show called “The Book of Job.”

“Since you’re sitting on a bus or sitting in a van most of the time, I started writing ‘One Mo’ Time,’” he says. He’d have music like old Bessie Smith songs playing, “And I also noticed the interest from other people in the music.”

“And I’d say, ‘Oh, listen to this one!’ And they would, and they’d really get a kick out of it, and I thought, you know, this is more than my self-interest. This could actually be interesting for a whole new generation.”

Bagneris says his friendship with clarinetist Orange Kellin was his original entrée to the material. They met when Bagneris was a waiter at the Café Creole in his college days, and Kellin was on the patio playing music with his band.

“Through those guys, and through the musicians they knew and the old musicians they bringing in from retirement or just people who hadn’t played in a long time because they couldn’t find work, I got involved and interested in that kind of music.”