Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Getting Up There In Years

Last night we went to see Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Review at the Botanical Gardens in City Park. At least that was the plan, it was going to be a family affair we had even invited a couple other friends with kids to make it a concert playdate but when we arrived the set up was a bit different from the last time we attended one of the Twilight Concerts at the Gardens. Last year when we went the concert was held outside in the gardens with plenty of room to let the little guys look around and still not bother the other audience members. A perfect way to listen to some great live music with young children.
Last night however they held the concert inside the pavilion at the Gardens. At first we thought it might be due to weather even though the sun was shining and it was warm there were a few grey clouds floating about but we soon debunked this theory with the simple fact that none of the people entering the Gardens had blankets, chairs or anything else that would be needed to sit on the grass like last year. They obviously knew something we did not. We let the little ones run around in the grass for a while before going into the Gardens and as we watched the people file in we realized one other thing. The age of those in attendance had a posh retirement home feel to it, there wasn’t a single person even remotely close to my age let alone my son’s age.
It was then we decided it would probably be a bad idea to take five kids under the age of five into a room full of senior citizens and expect them to sit quietly for over an hour, so we bailed and went to the playground. Although I was looking forward to hearing Gal Holiday I’m sure the playground was the right way to go.
Now what I wonder is if all the concerts will be inside this year. I hope not, last year it was a great family outing and it can be again if they just move it back outside into the actual Gardens.

Note to self: If I’m going to be posting more I need to make sure I take pictures while I am out.

Here I am

Man it’s been a long time since I posted on here. I am going to change that, I promise. Have I said that before? Probably, but I mean it this time. I have been out of town for a while but I’m back and the weather is beautiful so I am going to get out and explore and I am making it a goal to share those explorations with you in the metblog universe.
There are so many fun and interesting things going on in the NOLA area, things that are in my plans to attend like this weekend (French Quarter Fest), this Thursday (Gal Holiday at the Botanical Gardens) and tonight I am on my way to a meeting at Audubon Charter School. My 4 year old son was accepted into the French program so there will be a whole new set of adventures in NOLA starting as we traverse the public/charter school system.
The whole prospect of school is scary for any parent but tack onto that the fact that my son will be going to school in French (I don’t speak french) and that adds a level of scary I am not at all sure I am ready to deal with, I hear they have some french classes for the parents and I hope beyond hope that I can keep up, languages are not my thing. I don’t want other parents to be left out in the cold, there are so many questions that I have about this whole thing and it isn’t so easy to find the answers. I will do my best to share with all of you the answers as I figure them out, how can my son learn the basics in another language and not fall behind in his day-to-day English speaking world? There must be a way kids do it all the time and Audubon is hailed at a great school in these parts, It’s just hard to wrap my head around. Of course no one ever said this was going to be easy.

Festival weekend

The French Quarter Festival is this weekend, starting Friday and blowing it out through Sunday. Having been based in the Quarter since Katrina, and right up the street from the quarter for two years before, the FQF has always been a favorite and I’ve been lucky to be around the last six festivals. The FQF is now the largest free music festival in the South and from experience, I can say it has done nothing but grow in the last few years.
Friday was always somewhat of a “so-so” day for the FQF. It’s always been more of a local festival than say Jazz Fest obviously, but I think that is changing. I have done my tour of the Quarter today and I know I have never seen this many people out and about on the Friday of FQF. It was always the slow day of the festival but not anymore. People are everywhere in the Quarter already, food cooking, people dancing and music playing. It feels like a Saturday already.

This is what people who don’t live here have a hard time understanding. The FQF is a perfect example of why New Orleans is one of a kind. When Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Bonerama, Rebirth, The Radiators, Rockin Dopsie plus jazz and brass bands from around the world come to town and play for free well it’s something special. The list of performers is rather long, not to mention the food/drink vendors. I have already chowed down on a BBQ Brisket sandwich and some baked beans from The Joint. I highly recommend it, very tasty!! Did I mention that this festival goes from one end of the quarter to the other? Start at the Old Mint on Decatur and work your way to Woldenberg Park on the river, making sure not to miss all the stages in-between. Do I need to mention again that it’s free? No ticket to get in, just find somewhere to park (legally of course) and do your thing. This is the reason we stay here. Get out and enjoy!!!

Down on the Corner…

Today we went to Satchmo Summerfest in the French Quarter. Baby Boyz Brass Band It was the perfect afternoon for it, there was a little rain earlier and the sky remained overcast which means the whole area stayed much cooler than it had been yesterday. We began our Search for good music at the U.S. Mint building, a logical choice since it seemed to be the center of all the festivities this year but so many people in such a small space overwhelmed us so we moved on down the French Market toward Jackson Square, after a while we crossed over and watched the boats on the river for a while before beginning our leisurely journey in the direction of home. That is when the real fun began, we ran into the Baby Boyz Brass Band playing on a street corner. This band put a smile on my face not to mention a dance in the step. I want to ask you a question. Do you see the young man in this first picture, see his dreads and his sagging pants? Do you also see that he is playing an instrument with a band? These things put together completely endear him to me, I love that he can be at seemingly two ends of a spectrum. This picture (ok it’s not the picture but the subject) represents what I love about New Orleans. After 4…5…6 songs with the Boyz we walked on till we came to the Balcony Music Club where we dropped in to listen to Dominic who we used to live across the street from and who has known the little guy since before he was born. We all had a seat and the little guy danced and was given a Sprite by the bar back for doing nothing more than being little and looking cute, he is good at that. It was a great day, we listened to some great music and had tons of fun doing it, couldn’t ask for much more than that.Baby Boyz Brass Band 2

Rollins: Potentially Bland Blather, But Uncut

Am I a total douchebag for being COMPLETELY uninterested in Henry Rollins’ special on IFC tonight? Here’s the description:

Three years after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, Henry Rollins ventures to New Orleans to examine the city’s current condition first hand. Avoiding the tourist center, Henry is overwhelmed by the lack of progress being made in the surrounding areas. In his search for answers, Henry instead discovers a fresh slate of devastating problems that now threatens this community post-Katrina. Even as tourism approaches pre-storm levels, tens of thousands of residents find themselves dealing with the depression of a city still living with the wreckage of the levee’s breach and now being victimized by a surge in violent crime.

In exclusive interviews with author Jed Horne (“Editor of leading New Orleans newspaper, “Times Picayune,” during Katrina”) and city officials like Cecile Tebo (Mental Crisis Coordinator, NO Police), and Jim Bernazanni (FBI), it becomes glaringly obvious that New Orleans still needs our help. Henry’s stage performance, at the legendary Tipitina’s music venue, is thus a tribute to the people of New Orleans who continue to persevere. Henry also has the opportunity to meet with music legend, Irma Thomas, the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” who explains how the music community has been affected and the role they continue to play in the aftermath.

So (a) it’s slightly old, and (b) feh.

FYI, this is one in a series of IFC docs that Mr. Rollins is doing–a series called Henry Rollins: Uncut. Which brings to mind a completely different image of the man. CAN WE PLEASE SEE THAT DOCUMENTARY PLEASE PLEASE?

Kid Friendly Truckstop Show

Last night we packed up the toddler and went out for a “kid friendly” concert by Truckstop Honeymoon. The first week we moved to New Orleans we heard Truckstop Honeymoon on the radio telling their Hurricane story and playing their music. Ever since then we have been buying their albums, they have become a staple of both my husband’s and my Ipods. I saw them for the first time two years ago when I was still pregnant, it was the best night out I had had in a while at that point. Last night it was great to be able to take the little one to see them in person and not just in the womb or through speakers in the car. We saw them at L’art Noir a great little art gallery on St. Claude. It is an intimate venue, we were sitting on the couch not three feet from them for most of the show (ok for the parts where we weren’t chasing the little one). Everyone was very nice to him by-the-way letting him lay on the carpet in the middle of the room and pet the resident cat.

If you want to see Truckstop Honeymoon but missed them last night, no problem, they are playing tonight at d.b.a. and Thursday night at The Circle Bar.

3rd and Final Voodoo-o-Rama

Third day at Voodoo Fest, and I am tired. I know the drill now, and I think the thrill is gone. We go in through the secret enterance, get a smoothie and head back stage for the first interview with The Blind Boys of Alabama and the Preservation Hall Band. Since I’m cynical after three days of trudging around with equipment, I get caught off guard when they start to sing “Amazing Grace.” It brings tears to my eyes, and I remind myself how lucky I am.

While we’re waiting to interview the blind boys, Patrick gets to chatting with the security guard about politics. He is a moderate Muslim and is extremely well informed on all of the issues. Patrick asks if he’s going to vote. “You’re too late, brother,” he says. “I’ve already voted.” This dude is the first Muslim we’ve met here. Back in the UK there is a large moderate Muslim population, and one of our best mates from film school is Muslim. (I’m sure that by writing this, I will be put on some list that will prevent me from flying, buying groceries or voting in future elections.)

We get to interview the lovely guys from the New Orleans Bingo Show, and catch a bit of their third show. Then we rush off to catch a bit of Cowboy Mouth and interview Fred LeBlanc and Regina Zernay. They are  hilarious and have a lot of fun with the interview. It doesn’t occur to me later that I met LeBlanc back in 1984 when we were both youngsters. I had gone to see Dash Rip Rock at Jimmy’s. It was still a young band, so they mingled with the crowd after.

Lastly, we barely catch Irma Thomas’ last song. After, she does a great interview. She looks awesome, “sweat and all.”

Our day is finished, and we should try to see the last of the bands. But we are so exhausted that all we can do is abuse the free PlayStation games and drink the free booze in the VIP Lounge.

2nd Day at the Voodoo Fest

Stopping for a Wee in the backstage Port-o-Loo

Stopping for a Wee in the backstage Port-o-Loo

On the second day of VIP Voodoo Festing, I finally make it over to the Smokers’ Lounge set up by The Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (American Spirit). I’m not really supposed to be smoking, but I figure, if I do, it might as well be American Spirit.

Our mate from New York wanted to have some real New Orleans cooking, so we stopped by the Voodoo Eats vendors and got some chow. He got BBQ Shrimp. Some people claiming to be locals tried to convince him that he was eating crawfish. They said that it was too late in the season for them and then proceeded to eat half of his shrimp. I would have intervened, but I was too busy chowing down on my shrimp tacos. But, I ask you, what kind of local would mistake shrimp for crawfish?

First on our musical lineup was Lil’ Wayne. We thought we might hang out in front of the stage, but we could only get half way up. The crowd was so thick that we couldn’t see anything, so we decided to go back stage. Security was  a combination of military, New Orleans po-lice, and Lil’ Wayne’s own crew who were, by far, the tightest of the bunch. They were only allowing hot girls on the actual stage. Being young and cute, Delilah made it up there and chatted with Lil’ Wayne after. I hear he’s quite the ladies man.

The rest of the afternoon was spent running around getting interviews. We kept bumping into people we knew, which was weird as there were so many people there. Saw Chris who was there chaperoning his 16 year old. He said he had seen The New Orleans Bingo Show and they had changed his life. This group has such an amazing sound, and their lyrics are gritty poetry. The multimedia experience that is their show “includes original black-and-white silent films, aerialists, dancers, ingénues, clowns, audience interaction, bingo games, slapstick comedy and shady characters who remind you that every stage door opens into a dark alley.” They are playing one more time at 2:00 p.m. today. Do not miss this show.

As darkness arrived, dudes pushed portable disco machines throughout the festival, and a marching brass band played up and down the streets drawing crowds of dancers and strippers. We made our way over to the Loa Lounge to see NIN. We were quite amazed at the tunes Trent chose to perform. It was challenging stuff for a festival venue…more suitable for an intimate listen through head phones while floating in a water tank. But that was what was so cool. Who else can perform this kind of magic?

I thought it was gonna be a nightmare to get a taxi, but as we made our way out onto Marconi, Ken James, owner of the New Orleans Jazz City Tours, was cruising by and offered to take us home. Ken is also a sax player and a wonderful conversationalist. The ride home was chilled, and he told us to call him whenever we needed a taxi and couldn’t find one. I would highly recommend him:

Rockin’ the Voodoo Fest

Somehow managed to wrangle VIP passes to the Voodoo Fest, so yesterday was pretty awesome. We arrived at around 1 p.m. via the secret entrance from the secret parking area. Went back stage to see Big Blue Marble and Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts and then interviewed them after. Both bands were very funny and quick with the improv. They were also polite, cool and professional.

Hung out in the Loa Lounge for a bit to chill. It’s sponsored by PlayStation, so it feels like some one’s pimped out living room. Free drinks, but no Doritos. I was really surprised at the amount of children hanging out in the VIP areas, but I guess rock stars have kids too.

Wandered over to see Mirva Wright and the BMWs and Joss Stone. Both of these women have amazing, powerful voices. Wright’s “Katrina Blues” really resonated with the crowd, but she followed up with “Ain’t got no Drawers On” to avoid feelings of Katrina fatigue.

The back stage thing is cool because I want to be right up there with the artist, but, at my age ya’ll, I can’t handle the crowds. And, there is a different crowd backstage. Everyone is cool with each other. No one copping a tude. Especially back stage with the New Orleans Bingo Show. Lloyd was feeding me free American Spirits…actually, come to think of it, everyone was being very free with the American Spirits. I later found out that you could get three free packs in the Smoker’s Lounge.

Finished up with the Stone Temple Pilots. What can I say? They really rocked.

After, in the Loa Lounge, I ended up hanging out with the Big Blue Marble for a little while. And my friend Gerrish was back there, so I spent a lot of time chewing the fat, which is my absolute favorite thing to do.

I think I’m gonna try the massage tent today.

Come find me and say hello if you’re there.

Some free stuff I did today…

Gnarled Tree at Palmer Park from Alex Castros Flickr Photostream

Gnarled Tree at Palmer Park from Alex Castro's Flickr Photostream

Yeah! We found another bus that goes from near ma maama’s* on the West Bank, over the Crescent City Connection and to Canal Street in just 22 minutes. I love the Algiers Ferry, but it takes too damn long to get to it. 

The Gen. Meyer bus (102) lets off just one block away from the downtown branch of the New Orleans Public Library. I love this branch of the library. There is a great little patio on the third floor (smoke ’em if you have ’em) where you can take books and mags to read when the weather is good. Next to the patio entrance is a fascinating display of turn-of-the-century mug shots. I stared into the eyes of these people and tried to imagine what they were thinking. Some were scared shitless. But a few looked satisfied, contented. I made up the stories in my head. 

The magazine section at the NOPL sports anything from “The Atlantic Monthly” to “Vogue.” This is a really good way to spend my tax dollars, thank you very much. We spent two hours in there before meeting Melissa in Palmer Park for the free outdoor concert by the Louisiana Philharmonic.

We waited by the side of the stage for all of our party to show up. I saw a shiny bald head and said to Melissa: “I know that guy.” “He’s hot,” she said. “But he lives in Dallas.” I didn’t realize it was Nagin until his minders were ushering him away. I wonder if they were going to take public transportation.

Palmer Park is a weird one. A few weeks ago, my maama was chaffeuring us around, and we passed by Palmer Park. She crossed herself and told us to never go there. It was dangerous, she said. Gangs. Well, I did find an article about how the gangs were ruling the park, but the park also hosts a monthly Artist Market sponsored by the Arts Council, so you be the judge.

I have become fascinated by the names of things here. Where does Palmer Park get its name from? I googled and googled and could only come up with Reverend Benjamin Morgan Palmer. Now this guy was a pretty nasty piece of work and used his pulpit to proclaim that slavery was the will of God, so I can’t really figure out why there is a park named after him in this city of all places. The park had originally been called Hamilton Park, but the name was changed in 1902. Sometimes google does not give the full story, so I am going to ask at the library the next time I am there.

After the concert, Melissa dropped us off for the bus on Elk and Canal. We had an hour wait, and I was a little nervous. I kept hearing a cacophony of voices in my head saying that this was not a great place for a couple of alabaster people to be hanging around after dark. But it was fine.

And, here’s the rub: I want to be careful. I don’t want to be arrogant or brazen or disrespectful to anyone. But I feel that I should be able to go anywhere I want to in this city at any time of the day or night. Isn’t that freedom? People in this city are more afraid of what other Americans might do to them than they are by what any terrorist might do. So, why exactly are we spending 341 million dollars a day** on making people in Iraq free? I want to be free too. 

*We are gonna have to leave ma maama’s soon as we are starting to bother her landlord. Who wants to put us up next? Email me.

**This, by the way, is a very bad way to spend my tax dollars…bad, capitalism, bad.

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