Musician and artist Louie Archambeau. Photo Courtesy Louie Archambeau
Louie Archambeau arrived in Key Biscayne in 1969 and left just a few years ago but the move has not affected his commitment to one of his favorite annual gigs as the emcee of the Fourth of July Fireworks Show, now going into his 26th year.
The epic marathoner (54 races completed), voice over artist, and musician dubbed a Renaissance Man by the New York Post. He took the time to talk with Islander News as he gets ready to host another Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza.
IN: You choose the music that accompanies the half hour fireworks show, how do you make your selections and keep it fresh every year?
LA: I like to start with classical and then make a quick segway to hard rock blues and then go to something patriotic. Now we always end with Sandy Patty doing the Star Spangled Banner. She is a gospel singer and there is no better Star Spangled Banner. The song is usually under one minute and her version runs over five minutes. This year I am going to start with Wagner and then go to James Brown.
IN: How did you get started as an emcee for the Fireworks Show?
LA: Ray Sullivan and Jim Brewster sort of put it in my lap. I emceed the Lighthouse Run and the Sundown Run which I founded, it used to be on the night before the Fourth of July. Nowadays Jason and Alex at WDNA help me do the mixing, I was just there the other day, and then we send it off to the Grucci’s for them to create a unique show to the music.
IN: What is one of your most interesting memories from emceeing the Fireworks Show?
LA: One year the barge was stuck in the Miami River or moored on the river somehow and so I had to fill in the time for almost an hour and we waited and waited. I repeated announcements and many guests reach their peak inebriation at 9pm and they are ready for the show! Finally we see the barge on the horizon and now the inebriated witnesses get the word….”here comes the barge” and it was very exciting, that was about ten years ago.
IN: Tell me a little about your music career…
LA: I played Tobacco Road for about 12 to 15 years. I sing, guitar, banjo…blues. One night after the show a bunch of guys come over and said they really liked my show and I am self-taught. The lights came on and they are all in a bunch of tuxedos and they tell me they are with the New York Philharmonic. I said thank you gentleman excuse me I have to pack up. I turn around and five guys from the New York Philharmonic in tuxedos are carrying my equipment.
IN: What do you love most about the Fourth of July Fireworks Show?
LA: I have been singing in saloons for 60 years and this is an annual performance that I really look forward to because of the dynamics of the music and the power of the fireworks. When the first salute goes off there is just a chill…it’s our nation’s birthday and to put it together musically, visually in the sky, it’s wonderful.