NEW ORLEANS -- Though fatigued and a bit unsteady on his feet, Art Neville managed to stomp out a few dance steps as he joined a trio of musicians singing one of his hits _ "Hey Pocky Way" _ as the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a commemorative envelope in his honor Thursday.
Art, the eldest of the famed Neville Brothers and the only one now living in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, was all smiles during the ceremony honoring him as the subject of this year's limited edition New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival envelope, which the post office issues annually.
"I'm very proud to know that, that they remember me," Neville said, posing for pictures next to an enlarged, framed version of the envelope bearing his image. "I'm so happy that they remembered the stuff I did in the past up until now."
Besides singing and playing keyboard with his brothers, the 68-year-old Neville is also well-known for his work with the New Orleans-based band The Meters. Though he uses a cane to help him walk and at times a wheelchair for longer distances, Neville is expected to perform with them Sunday at Jazz Fest.
In 1954, Neville was still in high school when he cut his first hit single "Mardi Gras Mambo" with the Hawkettes. Between 1967 and 1969, he recorded four consecutive hits with The Meters: "Sophisticated Cissy," "Cissy Strut," "Ease Back," and "Look a Py Py."
Being the subject of this year's envelope puts Neville in the company of Irma Thomas, Pete Fountain, Dr. John, Fats Domino and other music giants from New Orleans. His brother, Aaron Neville, was the 2004 honoree.
This is the 18th year the business-sized envelopes have been issued. For $12 each, they will be sold during the festival, which opens Friday and runs through Sunday and again May 5-7.
Money generated goes into the U.S. Postal Service's general fund, but it also "draws attention to Jazz Fest and highlights local artists," said Postal Service spokesman David Lewin.
Only 3,000 were printed, and the envelopes include a commemorative postage stamp of singer Marian Anderson, along with a special postmark with Neville's likeness.
More than 100 fans and postal workers lined up to get their envelopes and a chance at Art's autograph Thursday.
"I have the whole collection, most of them signed," said New Orleans resident John Neal, standing in line holding the 2000 envelope which featured all four of the Neville Brothers. Neal already had Aaron's signature and was hoping to get Art's.
Anthony Ruda, of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, said choosing Neville as this year's honoree was "a slam dunk."
"He very easily epitomizes what New Orleans music is all about," Ruda said.