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Visit Pointe Coupee!
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AND WE’RE LIVE!
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In-person outings get a cautious revival.
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REFLECTIONS by James Fox-Smith
NEWS & NOTEWORTHIES
TU PARLES MA LANGUE Reflecting on the intricate cultural exchange fostered by Festival International de Louisiane by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot
GUMBO CONVERSATIONS WITH CAROLYN SHELTON Breaking barriers and good manners by Alexandra Kennon
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN LOUISIANA Bogue Chitto State Park unveils fourteen miles of new mountain bike trails. by Catherine Comeaux
On the Cover
Jordan LaHaye Fontenot
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Catherine Comeaux, Sean Gasser, Caroline Gerdes, Paul Kieu, Jordan McAlister, Misty Swilley, Chris Turner-Neal
THE ADVENTURE ISSUE
Cover by Sean Gasser
Adventure is in the eye of the beholder, they say. Or is that beauty? Find both, objectively and unabashedly, in full force accross our April 2021 Adventure issue. Exactly one year since the first time we had to type the word “coronavirus” into our magazine, we look upon the upcoming spring with a craving for experiences and a more innovative interpretation of the word “adventure” than ever before. Luckily, this is what we do best—finding creative, exhilarating adventures right here in our vibrant region. In this issue, find stories of mountain biking in the bayou and memories of festivals past. Read about some of the country’s most serious brick collectors, Mississippi’s first restaurant, and the New Orleans ingredient central to Vietnamese coffee. Join Arts & Entertainment Editor Alexandra Kennon with a traipse along the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail, or staff writer Lauren Heffker for a day in the Bigfoot Capital of Texas. Plus, as always, so much more.
AROUND THE WORLD WITH CAFÉ DU MONDE
The go-to ingredient for Vietnamese coffee around the globe by Caroline Gerdes
TRAILING TAILS An afternoon along Houma’s Crawfish Trail by Alexandra Kennon
IT’S IN THE WALLS Inside the exhilarating world of brick collecting by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot
DWELLING ON THE PAST The Slave Dwelling Project comes to Natchez. by Alexandra Kennon
WEIDMANN’S IS WORTH THE WAIT Re-entering the restaurant world, starting with Mississippi’s oldest by Chris Turner-Neal
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24 HOURS IN JEFFERSON, TX East Texas’s best kept secret by Lauren Heffker
Heather Gammill & Heather Gibbons
Custom Content Coordinator
Dorcas Woods Brown
Country Roads Magazine 758 Saint Charles Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802 Phone (225) 343-3714 Fax (815) 550-2272 EDITORIAL@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM WWW.COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM
Subscriptions 20 for 12 months 36 for 24 months
PERSPECTIVES Chase Mullen: Absence, Presence, and the Space in Between by James Fox-Smith
Copyrighted. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Country Roads magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. Country Roads magazine retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Country Roads cannot be responsible for delays in subscription deliveries due to U.S. Post Office handling of third-class mail.
City of New Roads Presents
on Main Street Saturday, May 8th
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The City of New Roads will launch a pop-up shop to assist small businesses during the pandemic. It’s a great place to enjoy a day of shopping and practice social distancing while allowing small buisnesses a chance to make sales.
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Reflections FROM THE PUBLISHER
f you read the “Reflections” column in last month’s issue, then you’ll know I’m writing this time from about as far from Louisiana as it’s possible to get. If you didn’t see last month’s column, then what you missed was CR Managing Editor Jordan’s elegantly-wrought stand-in Reflections, which she wrote at the eleventh hour and under considerable duress, since the usual columnist—for the first time in twenty-six years and about three hundred issues—was nowhere to be found. Well, actually he was on a plane somewhere over the Middle East on his way to Australia, where a bit of a family emergency was unfolding. Then, and in the weeks since, I’ve been back in my childhood hometown of Melbourne, Australia, helping my parents following a pair of hospitalizations that have rocked their ability to live independently. You don’t need a very firm grasp of geography to know that it’s a hell of a long way from Louisiana to Australia. In the best of times you must first get to a hub like L.A. or Dallas, before settling in for the fifteen-to-seventeen-hour flight across the Pacific, and these are most assuredly not the best of times. To travel to Australia right now, you must first convince the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs to grant you an exemption to its blanket international travel ban. And since struggling airlines
aren’t in the habit of flying empty planes nine thousand miles to countries with closed borders, there aren’t many tickets available. In fact, there were no major carriers operating flights on the usual routes out of the West Coast of the US, which meant going around the other way. That meant not one but two fifteenhour flights—the first from Dallas to Doha, Qatar, then another from Doha to Sydney. And trust me when I say that there’s not enough TV on Netflix to make that itinerary fly by. But it’s when you arrive at the (empty) airport that the weirdness really begins. Since early in the pandemic, Australia has taken extreme measures to keep the virus at bay. There have been curfews, border closings, months-long mandatory lockdowns, rigorous contact tracing, and an effective shutdown of international travel in and out of the country. But for those bound and determined to come, there’s quarantine. This isn’t your wishy-washy “I-promise-to-stay-homeand-not-kiss-anyone-for-a-coupleweeks” quarantine. We’re talking “military-bus-from-airport-to-speciallydesignated-hotel-for-two-week-solitaryconfinement”-type quarantine. Nothing says “Welcome to Australia” like being met at immigration by uniformed soldiers, frog-marched onto a bus, then driven off into the night—destination unknown. After driving around for awhile, the bus carrying the forty or so passengers from Qatar Flight 95 stopped in front of a Marriott near Sydney’s Circular Quay, whereupon we were laboriously checked in by PPE-swathed
like a badger emerging from hibernation, I exited the hotel into a Sydney afternoon teeming with maskless people strolling through Circular Quay, filing on and off trains and ferries, and piling into cafés and Greetings from Down Under, from the Mr. Fox-Smiths. restaurants. It’s been the hotel staff and escorted to our rooms by same in Melbourne. With essentially more soldiers, to commence a fourteen- zero viral spread, the twenty five million or so people who live here are getting to day quarantine. Ever passed two weeks without seeing enjoy life normally, albeit unencumbered another human soul? It’s peculiar to by the usual throngs of international say the least. For a few days there was tourists. When meeting people, it’s been some small novelty to passing whole fun saying “Hi, I’m James and I’ve just days within a 10’ x 15’ space with no- arrived from America,” and watching one to answer to but one’s self. There them take three quick steps backwards. were articles to write, reading matter Getting a seat in a crowded bar has never to catch up on, taxes to file. But after a been easier. Arriving from free-wheeling, “notweek, when you’ve finished all the tasks that-good-at-rules” Louisiana, the at the bottom of the “to-do” list, called contrast between the US and Australian everyone you went to school with, and responses to the pandemic has made the rendered yourself temporarily disabled distance between the place I once called by trying one too many YouTube home, and the place I now do, seem yoga videos (because remember, you greater in more ways than one. Right watched everything on Netflix on the now, with a week to go before climbing plane coming over); when it’s 2 pm in onto the first of those two fifteen-hour the afternoon and everyone you know flights that will bring me from my in America is asleep and you’ve still childhood home back to Louisiana, I’m got eight hours to kill before you can finding myself pondering the nature of reasonably go to bed … that’s when it what makes a place “home” more than gets weird. Mercifully the room had a ever. You might think that two weeks view. alone in a quarantine hotel room would On the other side of this strange be enough to figure out an answer to that experience lies the undeniable reality that existential question after all. But perhaps quarantining an entire population does it takes a lifetime. actually work. On day fourteen, blinking —James Fox-Smith
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Content Sponsored by Livingston Parish Tourism
Summertime, Livingston’s Breezy
our next stop is a destination with something to offer every type of traveler, from the freedom of the great outdoors to rich Cajun culture and cuisine. Livingston Parish is home to a whopping four hundred-plus miles of waterways waiting to be explored along with the small town charm found in historic downtown Denham Springs. Discover its award-winning antique district, which contains all manner of miscellaneous wares and wonders, while just down the road Bass Pro Shops has you covered for anything and everything outdoors. It’s more than just an outfitter, though; part museum, part art gallery, and part conservation center, the recreational retailer is an attraction in itself. If you’re lucky, you may even spot Fred, the store’s 125-year-old alligator snapping turtle, roaming the aisles! Hungry for a bite of the flavorful fare our region is so famous for? You’ll be well taken care of at any of the parish’s local Cajun and Creole eateries, where down home cooking is how it’s done. Stop by Porky’s Boudin and Cajun Meats in Livingston and try the signature deer burrito before loading up on boudin and
cracklins. In Maurepas, Fatheads Seafood Co. features live, fresh, and frozen catches barely out of the water in its full-service market and restaurant, while Hill Top Inn Restaurant offers a mouth watering spread of fresh boiled crabs, shrimp, and crawfish with all the classic fixins’ to boot. For a little lagniappe, beat the summer heat with an icy sweet treat at one of the parish’s numerous snowball stands, or visit Tiki Tubing in Denham Springs for a day of play along the Amite River; whether you’re four, fourteen, or forty, floating with friends out on the water never quite gets old.
Nature lovers and avid sportsmen will find there’s ample opportunity to get lost in the natural beauty of our neck of the woods via the many rivers, bayous, and lakes that run through the region. Perfect for fishing, watersports, paddling, and personal swamp tours, the parish has plenty of public and private boat launches into Lake Maurepas, the Tickfaw River, the Amite River, and more. You might even run into Laine Hardy himself out on the water—the Livingston native and American Idol winner can be sighted on the
southern waterways almost any weekend, so crank up his new single Tiny Town and keep an eye (and ear) out for the young singer. Speaking of local entertainment, you’re likely to come across live music at Livingston’s long-established mom-andpop restaurants throughout the week, and the newly opened Stars N’ Cars DriveIn Cinema at John Schneider Studios in Holden plays all the film classics during its weekend double features. Not ready for your escape to end just yet? Keep the good times going and lay your head in one of the parish’s great RV parks and campgrounds, including Tickfaw State Park, KOA in Denham Springs and Lakeside RV in Livingston. Whether it’s a road trip, antique hunt or outdoor adventure, one thing’s for sure—once you’ve stepped foot into the special, swampy world of South Louisiana, you’ll want to stick around just a little bit longer. We can’t blame you; when you discover a place as warm and welcoming as Livingston, leaving is the last thing on your mind. livingstontourism.com
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N E W S , T I M E LY F A C T S , A N D O T H E R
LO O K C LO S E R
PAMPLONA’S CHEF KRIS ALLEN EMBARKS ON A NEW VENTURE CLOSE TO HOME
ell this certainly isn’t anything like Pamplona’s,” I told my husband as we sat ourselves down in Lafayette’s newest eatery, helmed by Kris Allen, head chef of the famed downtown tapas bar. Where Pamplona’s brings ambiance, drama, and surprise—its new sister Roots takes you back home, especially if you’re from around here. In the spacious dining area, backed with a bar and adorned with vivid photos of local swamplands, the still-sweetly-novel 7 pm daylight savings time rays pour through wide window frames. An outdoor seating area—littered with families sipping on Coors Light and sucking crawfish heads—seems to draw inspiration from long Sunday afternoons spent in some uncle or aunt’s backyard, all with the steady bounce of Cajun music in the background. My first question for Chef Allen, though, had nothing to do with the seemingly radical chasm between his two enterprises: “So, I hear you get your crawfish from Ville Platte?” Acadiana residents will know what I mean when I say that restaurants boasting a “Cajun” identity are to be approached with caution, even right here in Cajun Country. Even knowing Allen’s pedigree— which includes a childhood spent in the kitchen with his grandmother, tutelage at Montana’s Rainbow Ranch, experience at some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants, which he brought with
him to Chicago for a time, and finally a home landing in Lafayette—I decided against ordering the gumbo. I pretty much instantly regretted it though, watching as two giant, steaming bowls wafting roux our way were delivered to a neighboring table. (I later learned that his gumbo has been dubbed a winner at the prestigious Black Pot Festival and Cook Off.) Challenged, we ordered the boudin and gratons, which, snobby as we are, we deemed the real damn deal—worthy competition for the collection of gas stations we frequent around our home in Scott. This is the food that Allen grew up with, he explained, and the restaurant exists as an effort to get back to his roots—thus the name. Since opening in mid-March, he’s kept the menu pretty bare bones, essentially a listing of beloved local staples that include turtle soup, crawfish étouffée, rice and gravy, and fried catfish. Now that he’s gotten settled in, though, Allen said he is excited to start offering more creative twists alongside the classics. He encouraged us to try the
night’s off-menu special: crab fried rice. Digging into the blend of fresh vegetables, Asian flavors, and indulgent chunks of buttery crabmeat, I thought to myself, “There it is,”— the surprise factor Allen has so come to be known for at Pamplona’s. Except that here at Roots, that creativity joins with the freedom of simplicity and a respect for the classics. For Julien, we asked for one more recommendation, to which Allen smiled and replied: “Well, you’ve got to get some of that Ville Platte crawfish.” —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot
Royal Reins on the Northshore
NEW ORLEANS’ FAMOUS CARRIAGES CROSS THE PONTCHARTRAIN
Photo courtesy of Royal Carriages. 8
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here’s just something about a carriage ride. It feels fancy—whimsical and dignified all at once. It’s a transportation method that exists in the twenty-first century only by the power of nostalgia. Touring a new city by car? How plebian! By foot? Barbarian! No, we’ll have nothing but the plushiest seats, the most ornate carriage, and the friendliest, least smelly mule you can find, thank you. Previously relegated to the realms of the French Quarter and Marigny,
the nation’s oldest carriage company, Royal Carriages, is crossing the Lake to Covington, adding a layer of enchantment to the Downtown Historic District. Thirty minute tours will highlight Northshore hotspots including: the Tammany Trace, Covington Cemetery #1, Bogue Falaya Park, The Star Theatre, and The Southern Hotel. —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot
Learn more at northshorecarriages.com.
To the Blue Zoo We Go
BATON ROUGE WELCOMES A HOST OF AQUATIC FRIENDS TO THE MALL OF LOUISIANA Courtesy of the Blue Zoo Aquarium
tingrays, sharks, and toucans, with hands-on exhibits like seahorses, oh my! an interactive bird room and a stingray Baton Rouge’s newest pool. Focused on giving guests an attraction, Blue Zoo immersive, entertaining experience, Aquarium, invites visitors to get up there’s plenty to pique the interest of close and personal with fascinating and the whole family. sometimes rare aquatic species. Set to “I’m a project guy, so I’ve done projects open April 1 in the Mall of Louisiana, all over the world,” said Wes Haws, the 16,000-square-foot space will founder and CEO of Blue Zoo. Haws— VCVB_Mar21_CountryRds_Half_9.75x6.625.pdf 1 resumé 3/11/21 includes 6:56 PM everything from house everything from snakes to whose
constructing an orphanage to building dome houses in Ethiopia—has a lifechanging injury to thank for getting him into the aquarium business. “I was out working one day in Ethiopia, and a villager jumped out from a bush and chopped me in the back of the head with a wood axe,” said Haws. “So, I had two brain surgeries and a long recovery. After probably about four years of not doing a whole lot, I got a fish tank and just fell in love with it. Something about the chemistry of it—watching the fish in the tank, building my own systems.” Haws’s passion grew into an aquarium maintenance business, soon followed by his first aquarium venture. Then, Blue Zoo was born, with its first location in Spokane, then another in Oklahoma City, and now, Baton Rouge. But, what makes Blue Zoo different from the other aquariums you’ve visited? Parents, this one’s for you: Blue Zoo goes above its call of duty to provide engaging sources of entertainment with little
ones in mind, including a giant pirate ship playset and ample opportunities to feel and feed animals like stingrays and starfish. Plus, features like the glass wall exposing the rather impressive water filtration system give guests a behindthe-scenes experience. “Everyone’s been to a public aquarium. And they’re a lot of fun,” said Haws. “You get to walk around and see the fun, rare animals, but I wanted something that was geared more toward smaller kids—something a little more interactive, a little more exciting. I wanted them to be able to come see all the things you’d see in a regular aquarium, but then get to wear them out as well. And if you have the opportunity to get all their energy out and learn something along the way, then you’ve really accomplished something.” —Kathryn Kearney
Early bird tickets and season pass deals are available at batonrouge.bluezoo.us.
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Supporting Local Businesses Builds a Strong Community
Do we really realize the community benefits of supporting local businesses?
ocal businesses help make a community interesting and charming. The uniqueness and charm of local retail shops, restaurants, and other businesses attract visitors for an experience that cannot be had anywhere else. Tourism dollars, driven
by local businesses, stimulate the local economy and the community. The appeal of local businesses also heavily impacts the ability of a community to maintain or grow its population and sustain adequate civil services and infrastructure. While these principles are well established, there are many other ways supporting local businesses is good for the surrounding community. The owners of small businesses are from your own community, your neighbors, who care about and are invested in the place they live and the people they serve. Having committed local owners creates a caring environment where customers receive exceptional service and dependable products. The benefit of being able to pick up the phone or talk with a local business proprietor who will care about the experience you have with their business cannot be overstated in today’s day and age. Purchasing local also directly helps support the local economy. According to The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), for every $100 you spend at local businesses, $68 will stay in the community. The money you spend at a
local business creates opportunity and progress in your community. Local businesses often give back to the community that supports them through goodwill and marketing efforts. Participating in fundraisers or local events to promote their business helps the local patrons. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales to the community in which they operate than national chain companies. Independent restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales than national restaurant chains. Small businesses also create jobs in the community. According to the SBA, small businesses employ 77 million Americans and accounted for 65% of all new jobs over the past 17 years. And, the jobs created by small businesses are most often filled by local residents. Did you know that eating local can also be good for you? Locally-made and locally-grown products are helping to make the community healthier. By using products with less chemicals and using fresh ingredients from local
farmers, eating at local restaurants can positively impact your health. There are many benefits to shopping local. Shop small and support your local businesses. You are helping your neighbor, supporting a better standard of customer experience, and making your community stronger.
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TOGETHER WE WIN Now, more than ever, your company needs a partner you can trust to be there for you. To understand your needs, listen to your concerns. Elevate your voice. And connect you to the resources to help you not only survive but thrive. When our area's businesses win, we all win. TOGETHER.
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In Memoriam: Anna Macedo, 1948-2021 REMEMBERING THE VISIONARY BEHIND THE COUNTRY ROADS AESTHETIC
A Twenty-Fifth Anniversary and a Performing Arts Issue Equals Lots to Celebrate
The 30th Anniversary Issue SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY ISSUE • Inside: 2008-09 Performing Arts Guide
Fringe Benefits • Fleet of Foot and High on Hope • The Battles of Hastings
This Fall, Zydeco is a Different Dance • And Our 2008-2009 Performing Arts Roundup
n September 1995, when Dorcas first invited Ashley and me to join her in publishing Country Roads, the person she made clear we had the most to learn from was Anna Macedo. As an artist, designer, and
creative spirit of the first order, Anna was at that time at the height of her powers—a giant on the Baton Rouge advertising scene with a reputation as one of Louisiana’s great creative talents. Back in 1983, when Dorcas first hatched the idea of starting a magazine, it was Anna to whom she turned to figure out what Country Roads—a magazine for “adventures close to home,” should look and feel like. So it was Anna who came up with the magazine’s visual signature: the chapbook-style artwork, the logo with the trotting horse, the approachable, scrapbook-y quality of the page layout; and certainly the little flourishes of warmth and whimsy that separated early issues of Country Roads from its brethren, marking it as something quirkier, more handmade, perhaps—than your standard magazine fare. Like Anna’s artworks, her page designs were little masterpieces—layered collages brimming with evocative visual cues and playful references that made reading those early issues a bit of a visual treasure hunt. As a reader you wanted to run your hands over them, and felt like a welcomed guest let in on a funny story with a punchline soon to come. By 1995, although Anna’s visual signature had endured, the publishing world had moved on. Magazine design had migrated to the desktop computer and Country Roads’ page layout
process, which still consisted of using hot wax to paste text, images, and headlines onto art boards in Dorcas’s back hall—was the relic of a bygone age. So, when Ashley and I arrived, armed with youthful enthusiasm but not the first idea how to put together a magazine, Dorcas sent us straight to Anna. What followed was a crash course in the hidden artistry of page design. For a week Ashley and I sat at Anna’s elbow, spellbound as she took the raw material of storytelling—text, artwork, type treatments, flourishes, and curlicues—and wove them into illustrated manuscripts that invited the reader in, drew the eye to what mattered most, and encouraged it to linger. Late on the day that first redesigned issue was scheduled for the press, we realized to our horror that we had somehow forgotten to consider the cover (rookie mistake), and were left with about thirty minutes to conceive and execute what was certainly the most important page layout of all. After a moment’s thought, Anna turned from her computer to her drafting table and, armed with a hot wax roller and an Exacto knife, began dissecting a pile of art books, tourist brochures and travel journals. Then she assembled this beautiful collage of Louisiana imagery that, just like that, felt like a postcard from home. Thus was the tradition of Anna creating Country Roads’ covers born. So here, in this first issue to be published since Anna’s passing, we pay tribute to Country Roads’ creative wellspring, gentle teacher, and dear friend, by sharing a few of her masterpieces that graced the cover of the magazine she ushered into being. Shine on, Nana. Your memory will always be a blessing. —James Fox-Smith
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Enter for your chance to WIN a weekend getaway! • Two-night WATERMARK stay* •Dinner for two at e Gregory • Breakfast for two at Milford’s on ird *Blackout dates apply
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US, LIVE AND
C A R E F U L LY T A K I N G
BACK IN ACTION
FROM THEATRE, TO SHOTS
A plethora of Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Ducatis, and other fine European cars and motorcycles are making their way along the Natchez Trace to Rosalie Plantation for Natchez EuroFest. See listing on page 20. Photo by Brian Pavlich.
TIME TRAVEL NATCHEZ SPRING PILGRIMAGE Natchez, Mississippi
“The most extensive tours of the most extravagant antebellum homes in America.” That’s the way the Pilgrimage Garden Club describes the Natchez Pilgrimage—the spring and fall tour of homes that has kept visitors coming back to Natchez since 1932. Why? Because Natchez was once home to more millionaires per capita than any other city in America—and although that situation came to an abrupt end after the Civil War, the city has managed to preserve the extraordinary architectural legacy of that wealth. Today, Natchez’s streets remain lined with the palatial mansions and filigreed townhouses of the cotton barons, and each year the families that occupy them allow guests to nose through two-hundred-year-old homes, meet descendants, hear tales, sip a mint julep, stay in one of more than fifty historic B&Bs, and generally get
a residents’ eye view of life in this most genial of Southern cities. This season, twenty-three antebellum mansions will open doors, each filled with antique furnishings, porcelain, portraits, silver, documents, diaries, and more. Other diversions include “Stories Along the Mississippi . . .Scenes from the Past,” which depicts life in Natchez from its inception to the Civil War through tableaux, song and dance. Find details on other special events, dinners, and tours at natchezpilgrimage.com or (601) 446-6631. k
ART EXHIBITION FOR THE BIRDS Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2020 was a difficult year, but Southern Louisiana artist Chris Bergeron’s exhibition For the Birds reminds its viewer not to make life more difficult than it needs to be. Bergeron explores life from the perspective of a bird’s eye view through his colorful, textured multimedia works in this solo exhibition at The Healthcare Gallery
in Baton Rouge, which is also available for virtual perusal online at ellemnop.art/forthebirds. k
UNTIL APR ART EXHIBITION FUGITIVE KIND
New Orleans, Louisiana
Japanese-born New Orleans urban landscape painter Kaori Maeyama’s first solo exhibition will be on view at LeMieux Galleries. Depicting decay and isolation of mundane settings with visual noise and dark palettes, Maeyama’s work emphasizes the passing of time. Monday–Saturday, 10:30 am–5 pm. lemieuxgalleries.com. k
ART EXHIBITION STUDENT ART EXHIBIT Denham Springs, Louisiana
Show your support for talented young artists at the Livingston Parish Student Art Exhibit, hosted by the Arts Council of Livingston Parish. Works by Cherie DucoteBreaux, 2020 Artist of the Year will be on // A P R 2 1
Beginning April 1
display, as well as works by the council’s newest members. artslivington.org. k
Louisiana, accompanies the exhibition. cacno.org. k
ART EXHIBITION MAKE AMERICA WHAT AMERICA MUST BECOME
ART EXHIBITIONS SOLOS: EXHIBITIONS AND NEW WORK SHOWCASES
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans presents the landmark exhibition Make America What America Must Become. The theme is inspired by a letter written by philosopher and commentator James Baldwin to his nephew on the hundredyear-anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: “Great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.” The CAC expanded its open call this year to include artists from across the Gulf South including Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, the Indigenous area of Bulbancha, Louisiana, and Texas. Artists were asked to consider and express the manifestation of power in America in our culture, politics, ecology, and economics. The unveiling of a new work by Brandan “BMike” Odums, which was commissioned by the CAC and ACLU of
Visual artists Shana M. Griffin, Ana Hernandez, and Sarah Hill were selected for the CAC’s Visual Artist Residency program and provided with one thousand square feet of built-out studio space in the CAC’s second floor Lupin Gallery, alongside technical and curatorial support for the creation of new, interdisciplinary work. That exciting work is now on display in SOLOS: Exhibitions and New Work Showcases. $10 for adults, $8 for children and seniors, and free for members. cacno.org. k
FLOWER POWER AZALEA TRAIL
New Iberia, Louisiana
The bayou-side town of New Iberia is a charmer any time of year, but especially so in the springtime when the azaleas are
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Stroll through historic New Iberia and admire the Cajun town at its grandest time of year, all bedecked in pink flowers on the Azalea Trail. Photo by Alli Remler.
in full bloom. Roll down your windows on Main Street for a self-guided driving tour of New Iberia’s brightest pinks, reds, purples, salmons, and whites... or just take a long stroll and welcome the sights and scents. Pick up an Azalea Trail touring map at the welcome center on Highway 14. iberiatravel.com or (337) 365-1540. k
ART EXHIBITIONS WANDERING SPIRIT: AFRICAN WAX PRINTS Port Allen, Louisiana
A tribute to the century-old Indonesian textile designs copied and industrialized by Europeans and exported to Africa, the West Baton Rouge Museum exhibit Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints explores the histories and mythology behind the African wax print. These textiles have served, for decades, as a deep seated means of communication and storytelling in Africa, and have gained popularity in part because of African culture’s associations between clothing and status (social, ethnic, marital, political, and regional). Though the designs are paved along colonial trade routes and globalization, and are not originally African, they have become irrevocably ingrained in African culture and society. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k
CULTURE COLLECTION THE GUARDIAN OF THE WETLANDS New Orleans, Louisiana
An artist, naturalist, photographer, and advocate, lifelong Lower Ninth resident John Taylor is the centerpiece of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s exhibition The Guardian of the Wetlands, which is presented in collaboration with The National Wildlife Federation. Growing up in the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle, Taylor has deeply fond memories of wandering through its swamps, catching turtles and crawfishing, collecting herbs and roots and selling them to make some extra money. A self taught artist and naturalist, he’s learned to whittle walking sticks from driftwood collected from the wetlands and rivers, using only a utility blade. As a historian and storyteller, Taylor uses his knowledge of the area and of ecology to advocate for the restoration of the Triangle, which has largely disappeared due to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet built in the early 1960s, along with other human interventions. The Guardian of the Wetlands showcases eight of Taylor’s walking sticks and eight of his photographs of the Triangle, alongside historical information on Louisiana wetland loss. Learn more at ogdenmuseum.org. k
CULTURE COLLECTION DANCING IN THE STREETS: SOCIAL AID AND PLEASURE CLUBS OF NEW ORLEANS New Orleans, Louisiana
The cultural phenomenon of second line parades has become synonymous with New Orleans. The Historic New Orleans Collection, in partnership with more than thirty local community partners and club members, is bringing them to life in this comprehensive exhibition. Black mutual aid societies, also known as social aid and pleasure clubs, were founded in the nineteenth century as a support network for African Americans at a time when they were denied many social services, and are a staple of New Orleans community and culture. Second line parades are one of the most vibrant and iconic traditions of such organizations. Free. hnoc.org. k
ART EXHIBITION THE PURSUIT OF SALVATION: JAIN ART FROM INDIA New Orleans, Louisiana
In Jain art, the faith’s founders, the Jinas (or conquerers) are always represented in one of two ways: seated in meditation, or standing in the kayotsarga (body abandonment) pose—a visualization of the Jina’s liberation from human attachments and emotion. Such freedom is the goal of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion that focuses on ending the cycles of rebirth and attaining liberation from all suffering. In the New Orleans Museum of Art’s exhibition The Pursuit of Salvation: Jain Art from India, visitors will examine this ideal through the artwork created over a period of more than fifteen hundred years, including sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts. noma.org. k
REAL LIVE TUNES LIVE MUSIC AT LA DIVINA Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Gelato, panini (or paninis, for you American types), and the frequent injections of heart and soul from Baton Rouge’s singer-songwriter enclave? Divine doesn’t even begin to cut it. Here’s the live music that will accompany your dining at La Divina Italian Café: April 1: Madi Swan April 8: Reece Sullivan April 15: Daniel Lee Comeaux April 22: The Dirty Rain Revelers April 29: Eric Schmitt 6 pm–8 pm. facebook.com/ ladivinabatonrouge. k // A P R 2 1
Beginning April 1st - April 7th APR 1st - APR 30th
April 23: Jourdan Thibodeaux April 24: Jesse Lege
Shows start at 7 pm. Visit the Hideaway on Lee’s Facebook page for the most updated schedule. k
GOOD EATS FEASTIVAL INTERNATIONAL In addition to Festival International de Louisiane’s busy schedule of music and other creative programming both livestreamed and in person, organizers have collaborated with restaurateurs around town to present the month-long city-wide culinary event: FEASTival International, an admirable challenge to fill the already-culinarily-endowed city with the best in festival-inspired street food. That crawfish boat is already calling your name. Details at festivalinternational.org. k
APR 1st - MAY 31st
FUN FUNDRAISER REVIVAL GALA-VANT Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Taking place of the Preservation Resource Center’s annual Julia Jump and Revival Gala, the first Revival Gala-vant is a selfguided run/walk/bike/kayak experience that gives participants five different routes to explore various New Orleans neighborhoods. Each route is paired with its own podcast to give fun, meaningful insight to each community and its historical sites and landmarks. $30. prcno.org. k
REAL LIVE TUNES FIRST FRIDAY LIVE MUSIC: THE DARYLS Folsom, Louisiana
5713 Superior Drive, Suite B-1 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816
Bluegrass and Americana act The Daryls are taking the stage (or paddock, rather) at Giddy Up Folsom for their First Friday Live Music in the Paddock series. 7 pm– 9 pm. Free. giddyupfolsom.com. k
APR 2nd - MAY 1st
REAL LIVE TUNES LIVE MUSIC AT THE HIDEAWAY ON LEE Lafayette, Louisiana
Downtown Lafayette’s newest hotspot for casual dining is also extending a welcoming hand to some of our best local musicians, hosting frequent outdoor concerts for free. See their upcoming shows, here: April 2: Rayo Brothers with Brother & The Hayes and Mando Saenz April 4: Dr. Daylight April 9: Julian Primeaux April 16: Cedric Watson April 17: Radio Zydeco 16
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APR 3rd - APR 4th FLOWER POWER THE FLOWER FEST Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Nestled off of the Mississippi River, the tiny community of Pointe-Marie in Baton Rouge will spend Easter weekend decked out in a wildly colorful collaboration between human artistry and nature’s impeccable touch. For the first ever Flower Fest, ten groups of floral professionals will compete to showcase their abilities, vision, and execution. All in the name of flora, local chefs, musicians, artisans, and locals will come together to indulge in a lush vision of creative community. A family-friendly event, Saturday will feature workshops for children and adults, food trucks, balloon artists, f lower crowns, and more. Attendees will be invited to cast their vote for a “Fan Favorite” award and enjoy champagne from the Bubble Tap, plus plenty of photo ops across the grounds. Saturday night brings an immersion into a Victorian Spring Promenade with a Louisiana twist. Flowers will envelope each of your senses as you embark upon an evening of cocktails, dinner from Bacon & Fig Events and the Louisiana Culinary Institute, and more. Sunday will be dedicated to showcasing the works of art; guests are invited to stroll the most exquisite of Sunday promenades. All proceeds from the event will benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. 9 am– 9 pm. $15 for noon or 2 pm entry on Saturday; $25 for early 9 am access; $10 for Sunday stroll. Gala tickets are $85, or can be combined with an early access festival pass for $100. Details at thef lowerfest.com. k
APR 3rd - APR 4th
CULTURE COLLECTION CARNIVAL 2021 HOUSE FLOAT EXHIBITION & AUCTION New Orleans, Louisiana
Documenting a historic pivot on what promised to be a dreary Mardi Gras season this year, the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans wasted no time in gathering the freshly crafted and celebrated artifacts for a special pop up exhibition. The artistic creations from the most captivating
of this year’s “house f loats” will be displayed all in one location for the first (and likely last) time, celebrating the enduring spirit of creative collaboration central to New Orleans’ culture. Visitors can view the exhibit for free on Saturdays and Sundays through April 4 at the CAC’s St. Joseph Street Warehouse. Reserve your time slot at cacno.org/hireamardigrasartist. k
APR 3rd - APR 30th
ART EXHIBITIONS LOUISIANA PRAIRIE SUN DAZE New Orleans, Louisiana
Plein air artist Chuck Broussard illustrates the beauty of his Cajun roots in a collection of works depicting Lafayette. Using a palette as rich as gumbo roux, the spirit of the region comes alive in his second dimension renderings. See his work at the Gallery 600 throughout the month of April. There will be an artist reception on April 3 from 4 pm–7 pm. gallery600julia.com. k
to the stage: the good, the bad, and the out of tune. 6 pm–9 pm. Free. visitnatchez.org. k
APR 5th - APR 9th KID STUFF ARTSPLOSION! SPRING BREAK CAMP
kindergarten through fifth grade. 8 am–3:30 pm. $260 per week. Before and after care options for an additional fee. artsbr.org/artsplosioncamp. k
APR 7th - APR 11th BIKE PARTY CYCLE ZYDECO
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
City of Lafayette, Louisiana
Join fellow burgeoning artists for a week of fun in a safe, kid-friendly environment. Following an “Art All Around Us” theme, Artsplosion! will allow campers to explore the creative process through movement, rhythm, sound, visual arts, literary arts, and more. Maximum is thirty campers,
This April, Louisiana’s Cajun & Creole cycling festival rolls through Cajun Country, letting riders experience the heart of Acadiana from the seat of their padded pants. During four days of cycling that cover almost two hundred miles, participants will follow a route that visits
several cultural spots that prove the tag line “The Best Party on a Bicycle.” And there’ll be no need to hold back from any of the fantastic food available since you’ll have more than enough opportunities to ride, or dance, the calories off again along the way. Details, schedule information, and registration are at cyclezydeco.org. k
APR 7th - JUN 1st
ART EXHIBITION ASSOCIATED WOMEN IN THE ARTS CELEBRATE JOHN J. AUDUBON Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In honor of the two hundredth arrival
GOOD EATS EASTER FEAST AT SUNNYSIDE Natchez, Mississippi
Arms open wide in the style of true Natchez hospitality, Sunnyside owner Colleen Wilkins welcomes all for a special Easter dinner at her beautiful antebellum home. 1 pm–4 pm. $55 per person. visitnatchez.org. k
DISCOVER AN OASIS IN THE CITY
APR 4th - APR 9th
REAL LIVE TUNES BEAUVOIR PARK LIVE CONCERT SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In the cozy, twinkling—and spacious outdoor—corner that is Beauvoir Park, live music finds a home. The Park’s open-air live music series features local favorites from all over the state. Lawn chairs, quilts, and blankets encouraged—as well as your own booze. Find their upcoming shows here:
Stroll through the beautiful gardens and walk the many trails. Step back in time to 19th century rural Louisiana. Enjoy the Burden family legacy in the heart of Baton Rouge. Approximately 440 acres of green space featuring LSU Rural Life Museum open-air and educational exhibits, Windrush Gardens, Birding Loops, and the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, which includes the Trees & Trails, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Black Swamp Boardwalk, Tropical Garden and Herb Garden.
April 4: Sassyfras Sunday. 2:30 pm. $15. April 9: Hydra Plane & Friends Beatles Tribute. 7:30 pm. $20. Details at Beauvoir Park’s Facebook Page. k
OPEN MIC OPEN MIC NIGHT AT 100 MAIN Natchez, Mississippi
Join Natchez personalities Sammy Qa’Dan and Crawford Stevens for a night of dancing, singing, perhaps belting or roaring—depending who you are—at 100 Main Spirits & Eatery. Open Mic Night welcomes everyone
Contact us for rental facility information Burden Museum & Gardens . 4560 Essen Lane . 225-763-3990 . DiscoverBurden.com . Baton Rouge . Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Admission is charged for LSU Rural Life Museum and Windrush Gardens. All other features are free.
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Events Beginning April 8
BIKE PARTY DANS LA RUE
spirited return of the Arts Council of
- April 10
anniversary of John J. Audubon to Louisiana, Associated Women in the Arts will host an art exhibition at the Old State Capitol to celebrate his influence on our state. The exhibit will feature homes, varied landscape, wildlife, and more. Opening reception will be April 8 from 5:50 pm– 7:30 pm. associatedwomeninthearts.org. k
APR 8th - APR
Baton Rougeians will enjoy the
Baton Rouge’s Jazz Listening Room, a series of intimate cabaret-style jazz concerts featuring nationally and internationally known acts. This month, catch local jazz, funk, and R&B keyboardist and vocalist Esco McCollum. The performance will take place at the outdoor stage at Chorum Hall to allow for social distancing. Tickets at bontempstix.com. Details at
REAL LIVE TUNES JAZZ LISTENING ROOM SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana
APR 9th - APR 11th SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP MARKET AT THE MILL New Roads, Louisiana
The City of New Roads will once again present its twice-annual three-day spring shopping extravaganza, Market at the Mill, at the historic cotton mill located three blocks north of Main Street, off Community Street. Complement your shopping with antiques, food and
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
Cajun Country welcomes riders and spectators of Louisiana’s annual Cycle Zydeco festival to the heart of Acadiana with a block party in downtown Breaux Bridge. The two-night live music lineup includes Forest Huval and Geno Delafose & the French Rockin’ Boogie on Thursday, with Belle Rose and Rockin’ Dopsie Jr & the Zydeco Twisters to take the stage on Friday. Thanks to the Breaux Bridge Chamber of Commerce, local merchants and galleries will be open late to join in on the revelry, and food and drinks will be available from the many eateries along Bridge Street. 4:30–9:30 pm. cyclezydeco.org. k
Cajun plein air artist Chuck Broussard paints the natural prairie landscapes of Acadiana, on display now in the exhibition Louisiana Prairie Sun Daze at Gallery 600 Julia in New Orleans, opening April 3. See listing on page 17. Photo courtesy of Gallery 600 Julia.
Ormonde Plantation 1164 Lower Woodville Road, Natchez This magniﬁcent 118.5 acre estate boasts a main residence with enclosed sleeping porches, ﬁreplaces, grand staircase and parlor rooms with beautiful chandeliers. An attached guest wing suite hosts additional bedrooms, baths, enclosed sun porch, and large game room/home school 2nd ﬂoor. Nearby a charming cottage with beaded ceilings and outdoor decking is an ideal viewing spot for the private wooded vista. Perfect for family, hosting events, or bed & breakfast. The inner landscape is beautifully manicured with gardens, fruit trees, central fountain, bricked walkways, and several large oaks with amazing canopies. The surrounding acreage hosts pastureland, wooded areas, a pecan orchard, and a large pond stocked with brim and bass. Deer and wildlife frequent the property enticing to hunters and nature lovers. Do not miss the opportunity to own this wonderful property.
209 Arlington Avenue, Natchez Victorian dream home available with all the bells and whistles! Noted for award winning restoration in 2011, some of the features include 4 parlors, large pocket doors, vaulted ceilings, AMAZING kitchen with island, downstairs master suite with walk-in closet, beautiful moldings, and hardwood ﬂoors. There's plenty of oﬀ street parking and covered porches perfect for entertaining. Close enough to walk to everything downtown but still away from the hustle and bustle. Call Betsy Iles 601-597-250.
Natchez, MS 114 Main Street • 601-442-2286 18
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beverages, crafts, and more. 10 am–5 pm Friday and Saturday; 11 am–4 pm Sunday. $5 daily admission or $10 for the entire weekend; tickets available at bontempstix.com. marketathemillnewroads.com. k
LIT FESTS BOOKS ALONG THE TECHE LITERARY FESTIVAL New Iberia, Louisiana
The world-famous literary detective Dave Robicheaux, created by author James Lee Burke, is coming home to Iberia Parish with his very own festival. The official Books Along The Teche Literary Festival returns for its fifth year, offering plenty of opportunities for exploration in the realms of literary history, culture, and cuisine—all in the beautiful historic district of New Iberia. The weekend kicks off with a Friday Cajun Cocktail Party in the gardens of Shadows-on-the-Teche, featuring music from the Bunk Johnson Brazz Band and delicacies provided by Cajun Aces Chefs Cody and Samantha Carroll. Saturday events include storytelling, children’s word and picture workshops, live music by Andy Smith, a James Lee Burke Symposium, a Dave Robicheaux walking tour, a 5K run, and much more. And don’t miss the Louisiana Seafood Great Southern Chefs Food Demo featuring Chefs Cody and Samantha Carroll. Tickets are available for the Cajun Cocktail Party ($40) and the Louisiana Seafood Great Southern Chefs Food Demo ($20) at bontempstix.com. Get all of the details for the festival at booksalongthetecheliteraryfestival.com. k
MUSICAL THEATRE DISENCHANTED, THE MUSICAL Slidell, Louisiana
What happens when Snow White decides she’s had enough of the dwarves, and Sleeping Beauty tosses her tiara? Find out with this musical comedy presented by Cutting Edge Theater about what happens when our favorites storybook characters aren’t happy with how they’ve been portrayed in pop culture, so they come to life to set the record straight. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. $27.50– $45. cuttingedgetheater.com. k
CREATIVE CLASSES ARTISTRY: PAINT POURING Hammond, Louisiana
Don’t knock it ‘til you try it: Hammond Regional Arts Center is continuing their ARTisTRY series with a workshop on paint pouring. Join skilled artisans to learn the craft and create a piece of
art to bring home. The children’s class is from 10 am–noon, and the class for teens and adults is from 1 pm–3 pm. hammondarts.org. k
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP SECOND SATURDAY MARKETPLACE Folsom, Louisiana
Peruse local crafts and handmade goodies to a soundtrack of live music from the Northshore Traditional Music Society in the Paddock at Giddy Up Folsom. Maybe even bring home a new furry friend to complete your household, as the market will double as a St. Tammany Humane Society Adoption Event. giddyupfolsom.com. k
GET COOKIN’ CORKS & COOKING DINNER Mandeville, Louisiana
Whether you burn pre-made cookie dough or can effortlessly throw together a crème brulée, Culinary Kids’ adult Corks & Cooking nights will enhance your culinary skills while providing a relaxing, fun time—you just bring your wine or other beverage of choice, and yourself. Learn how to prepare a multiple-course dinner menu from scratch with your table while you sip, then enjoy the meal you created (while also sipping). This one is adults only. 6 pm–8 pm. $60. culinarykidsns.com. k
1358 John A. Quitman Blvd., Natchez 601.442.5852 MonmouthHistoricInn.com
SPRING FESTIVALS SPRING GOSPEL FESTIVAL Jackson, Louisiana
Throw up your hands and shout “Hallelujah!” because the Spring Gospel Festival is coming to historic downtown Jackson. In addition to plenty of live gospel music, there will be food vendors, other local crafts and shopping, and loads of fun for the entire family. Just bring your lawn chair. 8 am–5 pm. (225) 247-7215. k
ARTS MARKETS SPRING FOR ART Covington, Louisiana
All of the artsiest descend on the historic St. John District of downtown Covington for the annual Spring for Art event, organized by the St. Tammany Art Association. It’s a stroll among boutiques, galleries, cafés, and outdoor locations for live music, artwork, art demos, special shopping sales, family-friendly activities, and food. 6 pm–9 pm. Free. sttammanyartassociation.org. k
P Y S E // A P R 2 1
VROOM VROOM EURO FEST
Beginning April 10 - April 11 th
ARTS MARKETS OLD TOWNE SLIDELL ART MARKET Slidell, Louisiana
Handmade local art, live local music, and plenty of treats to eat and sip, as well—it must be the Old Towne Slidell Art Market at Green Oaks Apothecary. 1 pm–7 pm (though the time will change with the seasons). Free. (985) 285-5613. k
VROOM VROOM CRUISIN’ THE CASTINE CAR SHOW Mandeville, Louisiana
For the second year, a fleet’s worth of classic cars will be on display at the Castine Center in Pelican Park to be admired. 2 pm–9 pm. Free. k
FLOWER POWER PETALS AND FLUTES GARDEN PARTY Natchez, Mississippi
Enjoy the sweet Southern comforts of
mimosas, coffee, light sandwiches, and desserts in the historic home’s gorgeous gardens. Local floral designer John Grady Burns—owner of Nest—will provide helpful hints on arranging flowers (and just in time for Mother’s Day). 10 am–11:30 am. $30 at eventbrite.com. magnoliacottagebandb.com. k
ANTIQUING PETITE ANTIQUES FORUM Baton Rouge, Louisiana
All right, all you antiquarians, this one’s for you. To begin the annual Petite Antiques Forum, guests will meet on the Magnolia Mound grounds to enjoy a socially-distanced picnic and open-air lecture. Dr. Wayne Stromeyer will present “Chêne Vert’s Gardens: Recreating an Early Louisiana Landscape” on the grounds of Magnolia Mound, focusing on antique garden design and indigenous plants, as well as those plants introduced to early South Louisiana. Guests will continue with a tour of eleven-acres of private historic gardens and outdoor spaces off Highland Road. Transportation not provided. Tickets $100, lunch included. friendsofmagnoliamound.org. k
Natchez SPRING PILGRIMAGE
CREATIVE CLASSES BEND IT LIKE BENGLIS SCULPTURE WORKSHOP Alexandria, Louisiana
Drawing inspiration from artist Lynda Benglis, participants in this workshop at the Alexandria Museum of Art will learn to create three-dimensional works of art,
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LOCAL BREWS CHAFUNKTA BREWING’S 8TH ANNIVERSARY BASH Mandeville, Louisiana
Celebrate eight years of good times and tasty local brews at Chafunkta Brewing Company’s Eighth Anniversary Bash. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a live band, food, and you guessed it—plenty of beer. 2 pm–11 pm. Free. k
APR 10th - APR 11th SPRING FESTIVALS BO’S EXTRAVAGANZA Holden, Louisiana
If you’ve ever thought hanging out with Bo Dukes from Dukes of Hazard would be a good time, now is your chance. Join Bo himself, actor John Schneider, at John Schneider Studios for the fourth annual Bo’s Extravaganza: a weekend-long car show and crawfish cook-off featuring live music, a carnival, car stunts, celebrities, bonfires, and much more fun. $30 general admission, $50 for a weekend pass. bosextravaganza.com. k
The Natchez Young Professionals and Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce will host the 2nd Annual Natchez Bicycle Classic on Saturday, May 22, 2021! Last year's ride was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to another one! This year's ride will again feature paved or multi-surface routes with beautiful scenic views along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Paired with Natchez's delicious culinary selection and entertainment, it is sure to be a fun wee weekend! Come for the ride; stay for the party!
For more information & registration www.natchezbicycleclassic.com
For a full calendar of events check out
One hundred and fifty Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Ducatis, and other glittering, rare, and elegant creations from Europe’s storied automotive marques will be whispering and snorting their way onto Rosalie Plantation for Natchez’s Euro Fest—a classic auto and motorcycle show featuring vehicles built in 1995 or earlier. This year’s fest will feature vehicles of the airborne variety, as well: the Bulldog Formation Flight Team will perform dazzling tricks in the sky overhead. Owners will be available to show off their steeds, and food and drinks will be available for purchase. All against a backdrop of bagpipers, Southern belles, and the beauty of the bluffs. 10 am–5 pm. euro-fest.net/natchez/index.php. k
incorporating reactive components and hand tools. All supplies are included; registration required. 1 pm–5 pm. Must be twenty-one or older. $65; $45 for members. themuseum.org. k
Follow us on Facebook Natchez Young Professionals
APR 10th - APR 18th SEA FARERS PIRATES OF THE PONTCHARTRAIN Hammond, Louisiana
The Louisiana Renaissance Festival is bringing a very nautical new event to Hammond. Each fall the Ren Fest converts a chunk of Hammond into the historical English Village of Albright, and this spring Albright will be transformed into a sea-faring town embracing the Golden Age of Piracy on the Caribbean. Daytime will bring pirate shows, games, and family merriment, while Saturday nights after sundown at 7:30 pm will be Pirate Nights—swashbucklingly raucous concerts for those over drinking age. Camping will also be available. $20, $12 for kids under thirteen, and free for kids under six. Night time concerts are $30. lapop.net. k
10th - APR 24th
REAL LIVE TUNES JAZZ’N THE VINES CONCERTS
April 10: Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue April 24: Debbie Davis pontchartrainvineyards.com. k
REAL LIVE TUNES BATON ROUGE CONCERT BAND SPRING CONCERT Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Embracing the theme “An Afternoon at the Movies,” the Baton Rouge Concert Band will be playing themes from several classic and modern movie favorites, such as Mary Poppins, LaLa Land, The Avengers, South Pacific, and The Lion King, among others. Plus, a couple of John Philip Sousa marches, just for fun. The concert will be outside, so bring your chairs or blankets. 3 pm–5 pm. Free. k
REAL LIVE TUNES SYMPHONY SUNDAY IN THE PARK
New Iberia, Louisiana
Throw it back and tap your toes to vintage classics and original tunes with this concert series at Pontchartrain Vineyards. 6:30 pm–9 pm. $10; ages seventeen and under free. Here’s April’s lineup:
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra will set up in New Iberia City Park this afternoon for its annual outdoor spring concert, featuring local choirs and musicians. Bring blankets and chairs and your picnic basket. In case of rain,
Adrienne Simmons performs as Swanilda in Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s production of Coppélia at Home. See listing on page 22. Photo courtesy of Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.
LIVE OAK LANDSCAPES
169 Homochitto St Natchez, MS 39120 (601) 445-8203
5064 Hwy 84 West Vidalia, LA 71373 (318) 336-5307
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Beginning April 11 - April 16 th
the concert will be held in the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival building. 3 pm– 4:30 pm at New Iberia City Park. Free. booksalongthetecheliteraryfestival.com. k
ART TALKS SIT AND LEARN SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana
What, after all, is a chair? A place at the family table, a worksite, a plush refuge as evening descends, a symbol of power. In the LSU Museum of Art’s newest exhibition, The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design, the seat becomes the centerpiece. In a series of programming exploring the themes in this exhibit, contemporary chair designers, local chair collectors, and scholars come together for a series of lectures and discussions about the noble-yet-understated chair. Stay tuned for interactive chair challenges and activities in the coming weeks. April 11: Local designers, collectors, and furniture enthusiasts come together in conversation about their chair choosing memories and the furniture they live with at home. 2 pm. Free.
April 29: Furniture designer Damien Mitchell discusses his design practice from his workspace. 5:30 pm. Free. Register at lsumoa.org k
12th - APR 16th
STEPPIN’ OUT COPPÉLIA AT HOME Online
A man loves a woman—but she only loves books. And she happens to be a doll. Oh, and he’s already engaged. In Coppélia, Dr. Coppelius has dastardly plans to bring a doll to life; he just needs the right sap to admire her. The Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre completes their season digitally with the E.T. A Hoffman-inspired ballet. $30. batonrougeballet.org. k
LOCAL HISTORY “SCORES OF BIG AND LITTLE JOBS” PRESENTATIONS New Orleans, Louisiana
On February 2, 1971, the ladies of The Woman’s Exchange (formerly Christian
Woman’s Exchange) opened the 1831 Hermann-Grima House doors to the public as a museum. Fifty years later, the organization still owns and operates the Hermann-Grima House and now also operates the Gallier House as an historic house museum. As early as 1963, leaders of the Exchange recognized the importance of restoring and preserving the Hermann-Grima House, and over the next decade would update its mission from being a place where working women could live at modest rates to one focused on preservation, education, and interpretation of its valuable historic property. With the help of volunteers from the Exchange’s membership, the Colonial Dames, local scholars, architectural historians, and craftsmen and women, over the past half-century Hermann-Grima House and Gallier House have thrived as centers of study for preservation and life in 19th-century New Orleans. Join PRC Executive Director, Danielle Del Sol to celebrate preservation month in April. Ms. Del Sol will open with an introduction to the preservation movement in New Orleans and Curator, Katie Burlison, will discuss the efforts of The Woman’s Exchange in preserving Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses. hgghh.org. k
CREATIVE CLASSES DRAWING 101: LEARN TO DRAW FROM NATURE Online
On third Thursdays, join Michelle Pontiff, Museum Educator at New Orleans’ Ogden Museum of Southern Art, for a series of stress-free, beginner-level online drawing classes designed to improve on and build your drawing skills. Participants are encouraged to tune in to learn a new technique and need only a pencil, eraser, and paper to join in. Optional additional materials for each class are suggested in each sessions’ description. Noon–1 pm. Online registration is free, but if you are able, please consider a donation of $10 to help the museum continue to present creative arts programming inspired by Southern art and artists. This month, sign up for the class “Learn to Draw from Nature!” To register, visit ogdenmuseum.org. k
REAL LIVE TUNES SUNSET SERIES: NIKKI HILL Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Man, have we missed the Manship! Happily, our favorite indoor venue has access to one of the best spots in Baton Rouge from which to watch a sunset. The Manship’s new Sunset Series brings talented musicians to the Shaw
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River Oaks Arts Center • Alexandria, LA www.riveroaksartscenter.com • 318-473-2670 22
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Wild & Free at Hammond Regional Arts Center features work by groundbreaking female artists from Louisiana, like this multimedia work “Untitled” by Kimberly Meadowlark. See listing on page 24. Photo courtesy of HRAC.
Center’s Fourth Floor River Terrace for a special outdoor concert experience. First up is Nikki Hill, a North Carolina choirraised barstool-burnished voice blending the soulful and sensual tones of R&B, soul, and Gospel with the blues and rock n’ roll. Doors open at 6:30 pm. $38. manshiptheatre.org. k
CRACK UP SOCIALLY DISTANCED SPOOF NIGHT! WITH STAR TREK II: WRATH OF KAHN Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Join Baton Rouge’s The Family Dinner Comedy Troupe for an interactive movie experience, poking fun at Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn. Enjoy live commentary, skits, and interactive games for laughs and a drink or two. Rated R; guests under sixteen require accompanying parent or guardian. 7:30 pm. $11. manshiptheatre.org. k
LIVE MUSIC ONLINE DOWNTOWN ALIVE! Online
Downtown Alive! has merged community and culture to create a beloved spring
tradition and celebration at Parc International in Downtown Lafayette. In the interest of safety this season, Downtown Lafayette Unlimited presents 2021’s Downtown Alive! Series as an online event, featuring three concerts from local favorites on the third Friday of the month. 6 pm–7 pm, streamed on the Downtown Alive! Facebook page. This month, don’t miss Sweet Cecelia. downtownlafayette.org. k
Boom or Bust Byway Roadtrip
! Plan Your Trip
16th - APR 17th
PRESERVING HISTORY NATIONAL FORUM ON HISTORIC PRESERVATION POLICY
Webster Parish Paddle Trail
Interested in historic preservation? This one’s for you. The eighth National Forum on Historic Preservation Policy keynote will be delivered by architect, educator, preservationist, and author Richard D. Wagner, PhD, AIA. The forum will consist of four sessions on the following topics: diversity and inclusion, displacement and gentrification, climate change, and landuse planning. Half of each session will be devoted to discussion among presenters and audience. Attendance limited to 120 registrants. $100. Register at rnco.org. k
Whether its on the Byway or the Bayou, Webster Parish is a destination worth exploring! COME DISCOVER OUR GOOD NATURE!
Webster Parish CVC | 318-377-4240 | 110 Sibley Rd. Minden, LA // A P R 2 1
Celebrate your special day at Milbank Historic Home or
Old Centenary Inn
HISTORIC LANDMARKS IN JACKSON, LA
Beginning April 16th - April 17th
16th - APR 18th
GOOD EATS LOCKPORT FOOD FESTIVAL
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Southeast Tourism Society named this a “Top Twenty Event,” and visitors will find out why when downtown Lockport offers three days of festivities that center around a wide variety of Cajun fare as well as Cajun and swamp pop music, and La Fête du Monde. 710 Church Street, downtown. Free admission. Details at facebook.com/lockportfoodfestival. k
For their annual Touch a Truck fundraiser, the Junior League of Baton Rouge is tapping into the simply strange curiosity of childhood and situating it right in the company of *big stuff*. The event has been shifted into a drive-thru experience, featuring displays of brightly colored, oh-so-tempting and oft-forbidden tractors, backhoes, emergency responders, tractortrailers, utility trucks, and more. Held at the BREC’s Fairgrounds at Airline Highway Park. 11 am–3 pm; Inner Wheel of Baton Rouge Quiet Hours will last from 9–11 am for children sensitive to noise. $30 tickets (per vehicle) can be purchased online at juniorleaguebr.org and include a scavenger hunt, swag bags, snack packs, and more. Attendees are also encouraged to bring diapers to support the Junior League’s Diaper Bank and be entered in for a chance to win an ice cream cart. juniorleaguebr.org. k
16th - MAY 2nd
MUSICAL THEATRE ONCE ON THIS ISLAND Slidell, Louisiana
Take a trip to a tropical Caribbean isle at Slidell Little Theatre with their production of the Tony Award-winning musical Once on this Island. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm. slidelllittletheatre.org. k
16th - MAY 21st
ART EXHIBITIONS WILD & FREE Hammond, Louisiana
Wild & Free, a new exhibition at Hammond Regional Arts Center, features the works of three groundbreaking female artists from Louisiana with unique and vividly colorful artistic styles. Artworks by April Hammock, Kimberly Meadowlark, and Denise Hopkins will be on display and available for purchase. There will be an opening reception from 4 pm–8 pm. Free. hammondarts.org. k
LOCAL HISTORY SLAVE DWELLING PROJECT Natchez, Mississippi and online
Joseph McGill will bring the Slave Dwelling Project to Natchez. The Slave Dwelling Project is a nationallyrecognized initiative to preserve slave dwellings, to bring attention to the stories of the enslaved, and address the legacy of slavery left in the United States. McGill will be visiting the slave cabins at Melrose, part of the Natchez National Historical Park, and will broadcast to Facebook Live from the site at 11 am and 6 pm and hold a campfire discussion over Zoom at 7 pm. This event is funded by the Mississippi Humanities Council. More information and registration for the Zoom discussion available at slavedwellingproject.org. Read more about the Slave Dwelling Project on page 47. k 24
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FUN FUNDRAISERS TOUCH A TRUCK
(225) 634-5901 • www.milbankbandb.com (225) 634-5050 • www.oldcentenaryinn.com
CARS & CRAFTS WASHINGTON BAPTIST CHURCH CAR SHOW & CRAFT FAIR Natchez, Mississippi
Hot rods convene! Join fellow car enthusiasts in Natchez this weekend for the Washington Baptist Church Car Show and Craft Fair, featuring impressive rides of every make, model, and year. Enjoy live music, revved engines, and plenty of family fun, and all for free. 39 Old Highway 84 #1. 10 am–3 pm. visitnatchez.org. k
GREEN THUMBS BOTANIC GARDEN PLANT SALE Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation Board, Friends of the Botanic Garden, and BREC invite the public to the annual Plant Sale. At Independence Park’s Botanic Garden, volunteers and vendors will offer culinary herbs, garden vegetables, roses, Louisiana irises, gingers, daylilies, native plants, begonias, succulents, ferns, and other plants and shrubs. Because these plants are all grown locally, buyers can be assured the plants will do well in the Baton Rouge area. Garden society members and vendors will be available in the sales areas to discuss the basics of selecting, growing, and maintaining
their plants. 8 am–noon. (225) 296-8008. k
BIRD WATCHING CAJUN COAST MIGRATORY BIG DAY Patterson, Louisiana
Look to the skies, Cajun coasters. Against the beautiful and wild backdrop of Patterson, Louisiana, the inaugural Migratory Big Day welcomes bird watchers and photographers from near and far to a friendly one-day tournament. Pack your binoculars, lawn chairs, and a picnic—or enjoy a $10 provided lunch including a hamburger, chips, and a drink delivered by golf cart. Download the app “eBird” before you come. 6 am–6 pm at a private property off Cotten Road (directions will be shared following registration). Registration is $7 at bontempstix.com. k
BON TEMPS INAUGURAL BAYOU TERREBONNE BOUCHERIE Houma, Louisiana
It’s a boucherie on the bayou, mes chers, with a white bean cookoff to boot. The Inaugural Bayou Terrebonne Boucherie promises more, too—someone said something about
a Cajun Olympics? Arts and crafts, activities for kids, and live music from Nonc Nu & Da Wild Matous, Tyron Benoit Band, Josh Garrett Band, No Posers, and DJ Doug Funnie. All at the Bayou Terrebonne Distillers in Downtown Houma. Doors open at 10 am. $15; children younger than five are free. Details at houmatravel.com.
run for a great cause. $45 to run the 10K, $35 for fourteen-year-olds and younger; $30 to run the 5K; $20 for fourteen and younger and for the 1-Mile Fun Run. $5 off for military and first responders. Register at newiberiaspanishfestival.com. k
While you’re in Houma, take a trip down the Crawfish Trail. Read more about it on page 37. k
GREEN THUMBS SPRING FLING PLANT SALE
FUN RUN NEW IBERIA RUNNING OF THE BULLS 10K, 5K, 1 MILE FUN RUN New Iberia, Louisiana
The excitement! The danger! The bloodshed! Okay, definitely not those last two—but excitement will certainly abound at La Asociación Española Nueva Iberia’s Running of the Bulls 10K, 5K, and 1-Mile Fun Run. Usually held in conjunction with El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia, the festival has been canceled, but the actionpacked race will go on. Race proceeds will be dedicated to New Iberia and Alhaurin de la Torre, its Spanish twin city, as well as Spain student program activities, and more. Come dressed in a white shirt and pants/ shorts, Pamplona-style with a red sash and bandana. Dogs are allowed to participate, so put some horns on your furry pal and
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Your garden’s winter blues (well, browns) don’t stand a chance against Hilltop Arboretum’s Hodge Podge Nursery and its group of “plant literati,” all on hand to help stock your garden for the season at this year’s Spring Fling Plant Sale. Free parking, “plantsmen and plantswomen,” a “Yarden” Sale, and even a guest plant vendor or few to spice up your shopping experience. 9 am– 4 pm. Bringing your own wagon (and helper!) is recommended.The list of plants on sale will be online one week prior to the event, at lsu.edu/hilltop. k
Apr 17 - Apr 18 th
CRAWLY CRITTERS HERPS REPTILE & EXOTIC PET SHOW Slidell, Louisiana
Come to the Harbor Center for all your scaly, slimy, we’ll-admit-actually-kinda-cute pet needs, from amphibians to reptiles and
beyond. 10 am–5 pm Saturday, 10 am–4 pm Sunday. $10 for an adult oneday pass, $5 for kids five–twelve, kids four and under free. herpshow.net. k
17th - APR 18th
ANTIQUING ANTIQUES AND UNIQUES FESTIVAL Covington, Louisiana
Two days of pure, unabashed eclecticism await. Antique furnishings, period collectibles, random knick knacks, and adorable hats. The Covington Heritage Foundation’s Antiques & Uniques Festival is back again, featuring the St. Tammany Association’s Art Market, which will display locally-made fine art, jewelry, photography, paintings, woodwork, fiber art, pottery, and more. 10 am–5 pm Saturday and Sunday at the Covington Trailhead. Free admission. covingtonheritagefoundation.com. k
APR 17th - MAY THEATRE IN ONE BED AND OUT THE OTHER
When a French couple becomes bored with their blissfully-married life, their Paris apartment becomes a playground for would-be and ex-lovers—strain on their marriage ensues in this side-splitting
THE ART OF SEATING
TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF AMERICAN DESIGN now on view until June 6
COLLECTION SPOTLIGHT RECENT ACQUISITIONS BY BLACK ARTISTS now on view until September 26
ART IN LOUISIANA VIEWS INTO THE COLLECTION ongoing / recently updated
For more information about exhibitions and programming, please visit lsumoa.org LSU Museum of Art thanks Partner Sponsor Donald J. Boutté and Michael D. Robinson and Presenting Sponsor Taylor Porter Attorneys At Law for sponsoring The Art of Seating. Programming sponsored by Louisiana CAT. The Art of Seating is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen PhD Foundation and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. Works in Collection Spotlight: Recent Acquisitions by Black Artists were made possible by The Winifred and Kevin P. Reilly Initiative for Underrepresented Artists. Additional support of all exhibitions is provided by generous donors to the LSU MOA Annual Exhibition Fund. LSU Museum of Art is supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, funded by the East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President and Metro Council. Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Support also provided by Art Bridges. Donald J. Boutté AND
Michael D. Robinson
IMAGES: (top) Designed and Manufactured by Kenneth Smythe (b. 1937), Oakland, CA, Synergistic Synthesis XVII sub b1 Chair, 2003, Photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn, Director of Acquisitions, Conservation and Photography; (bottom detail) Mario Moore, During and After the Battle, 2020, oil on linen, Purchased with funds from Winifred and Kevin Reilly, LSUMOA 2021.2
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Quilts by Cely Pedescleaux. 3 pm. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k
Beginning April 18th - April 24th comedy presented by Playmakers Theater of Covington. 7 pm Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays. $20. playmakers-theater-05.webself.net. k
FLOWER POWER HILLTOP ARBORETUM MAGIC MOMENTS GARDEN TOUR Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Each spring, Hilltop Arboretum leads a look inside the city’s most fabulous private gardens. This year’s tour is inspired by the words of Julia Hawkins, who uses the term “Magic Moments” to describe the wonderful, unique moments received from nature. Hawkins and her husband, Murray “Buddy”’s garden (6225 Boone Avenue) is the first on the tour—a wooded paradise of over sixty different trees, a seventy-year-old wisteria vine, and “Buddy’s Bayou,” which meanders across a backyard filled with native plants, a collection of driftwood, and a fifty-year bonsai collection. Next, wander to the property of Charlene and John Stovall (5757 Chandler Drive), which is dotted with original sculptures created by John from repurposed materials. The backyard patio is adorned with colorful
flower containers and perennial beds, offering a spectacular view of the middle garden, a serene space of mature trees, lawn, pathways, and plantings. Finally, Bunny and Bill Hines (5720 Chandler Drive) offers a story of revitalization worth listening to, while examining the fruits of his work in the form of a rich plant palette in a setting of mature trees. 1 pm–5 pm. $20. Tickets are available online or at any of the three gardens on the afternoon of the tour (cash or check only). Get more information at (225) 767-6916 or lsu.edu/hilltop. k
ART TALKS AFRICAN AMERICAN QUILTERS: TRANSFORMING THE CANON WITH SPIRIT DRIVEN WORK Port Allen, Louisiana
LSU Professor and Director of the African & African American Studies Program, Dr. Joyce Marie Jackson, an enthomusicologist, will present a talk at the West Baton Rouge Museum to accompany the exhibition Centered Around Culture:
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FUN RUNS VIRTUAL COURIR DU FESTIVAL
After indulging in Festival International de Louisiane’s FEASTival International month-long food fest, work your beignet belly off with the Virtual Courir du Festival, which invites runners (or walkers) to “make their own adventure” for this year’s Festival 5K. In addition to your usual speedy-gonzales trophies, awards will be given for the largest team, the course run farthest from Lafayette, and the wildest adventure course. The race can be run any time during Festival week from April 19–25. Registration is $40 until April 24. festivalinternational. org/virtual-5k. k
POETRY PROGRAMS JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF: LOUISIANA POETS PROGRAM Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Louisiana Center for the Book is pleased to announce the eleventh annual “Just Listen to Yourself ” programs.
The recorded programs will launch on the Louisiana Book Festival YouTube channel and Facebook page at noon. Free. The events are as follows: April 20: “Just Listen to Yourself ”: Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith hosts this program featuring readings from poets from all over the state. April 27: “A Look Back with Louisiana Poet Laureate Hosts”: Darrel Bourque, who first conceived of the event, will host the event virtually, featuring readings from other poet laureates who have hosted the event over the past decade. state.lib.la.us. k
REAL LIVE TUNES RIVER CITY JAZZ MASTERS: PONCHO SANCHEZ Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Conguero Poncho Sanchez will alight the River Terrace at the Shaw Center for the third installment of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and River City Jazz Coalition’s River City Jazz Masters 2021 Season. Season ticket subscribers can reserve their seats today by emailing email@example.com or calling (225) 3448558. Individual tickets can be purchased at the Manship Theatre box office or
online at manshiptheatre.org. Tickets are $45. 7:30 pm. k
DESIGN DISPLAYED ATOMIC NUMBER THIRTEEN New Orleans, Louisiana
One hundred and fifty years ago, the piles of pennies-worth aluminum cans crunched on the side of the road would have been worth more than gold. Seen as precious only a short century ago, this element is largely taken for granted today—a necessity used in our architecture, industry, and travel. The New Orleans Museum of Art’s exhibition Atomic Number Thirteen explores the changing role of aluminum in twentieth-century design. noma.org. k
BON TEMPS FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE LOUISIANE Lafayette, Louisiana
Anyone looking for a reason to feel proud to be a Louisianian need only tune into the exciting slate of virtual and immersive events centered in Downtown Lafayette for 2021’s Festival International de Louisiane. Building on the success and originality of last year’s Virtual Festival, organizers have drawn on the energy of collaboration and innovation to ensure that the Festival spirit lives on, even as we continue to navigate a world not quite rid of the coronavirus. Centered around the theme of “commUNITY,” this year’s event will take advantage of the chance to celebrate the remarkable spirit of the Acadiana culture immediately around us—with all of its resilience and diversity and vibrancy, while still drawing in the international community through virtual events with Festival friends the world over. Find the full schedule and more at festivalinternational.org and be sure to tune into Virtual Fest at the Festival International de Louisiane Facebook page. Read more about Festival International de Louisiane on page 26. k
THEATRE BLITHE SPIRIT
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Theatre Baton Rouge’s latest production is the classic Noel Coward comedy Blithe Spirit. This lively story features Charles Condomine, a successful novelist who arranges for an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house as research for his next novel. At the séance, Arcati inadvertently summons Charles’s first wife, Elvira, who has been dead
for seven years. The ghostly Elvira makes continued, and increasingly desperate, efforts to disrupt Charles’s current marriage. Showings April 23–25, and April 29–May 2. 7:30 pm. $30.75; $25.75 for students; $25.75 for children younger than eighteen. theatrebr.org. k
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STEPPIN’ OUT OF MOVING COLORS: POP Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Get your dancing shoes out for POP, Of Moving Colors Productions’ spring performance. POP will feature dance works inspired by musical legends like Madonna, Prince, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, and more. The performance will be held at Brown Holt Theatre. 7 pm. Tickets available at ofmovingcolors.org. k
CREATIVE CLASSES QUILT WORKSHOP WITH CELY PEDESCLEAUX Port Allen, Louisiana
#LANorthshore LIFE’S A PARTY ON THE LOUISIANA NORTHSHORE! We celebrate everything in St. Tammany Parish, one hour from Baton Rouge. Mark your calendar and plan a weekend getaway for these exciting upcoming events.
FUN FUNDRAISERS BATON ROUGE SYMPHONY SPORTING CLAY TOURNAMENT Port Allen, Louisiana
Novices and experts alike are welcome to participate in the Baton Rouge Symphony Sporting Clay Tournament at Bridgeview Gun Club. The tournament is formatted into fourperson teams, with prizes awarded to the highest scoring team, highest scoring male, and highest scoring female. Participants are responsible for eye and ear protection, shotgun, and shells (#7 1/2 shot or smaller.) 8 am– 1 pm. $600 per team, or $150 per person. Register at brso.org. k
April 17 Covington Antiques & Uniques & 18 Festival
April 17 HERPS Exotic Reptile & Pet Show & 18 at the Harbor Center Slidell April 19 Line Dancing at Northlake Nature Center Pavilion
April 24 Old Mandeville Shop Local Saturday
April 29 Chillin’ at the River Concert at the Bogue Falaya Park Covington
1-800-634-9443 • www.LouisianaNorthshore.com/cr Photo: Bobby Gilboy
In conjunction with her exhibition Centered Around Culture: Quilts by Cely Pedescleaux, the artist will present a workshop teaching the art of quilt-making. To register, contact the West Baton Rouge Museum at (225) 336-2422 Ext. 200. Noon–3 pm. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k
April 3 Drag Brunch at Restaurant Coté
April 10 Cruisin’ the Castine Car Show April 10 Jazz’n the Vines Concert at & 24 Pontchartrain Vineyards
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The Spring Season Tree fertilization program at Bob’s Tree Preservation promotes tree health and longevity in a natural manner that not only encourages vigorous plant growth but also arms your trees with biological defenses to ward off insects and instill disease resistance. Our Spring season bio-fertilization program is customized to the particular needs of your trees. It also brings our staff to your property on a regular basis, so potential problems are identified before they intensify or worsen.
CREATIVE CLASSES VIRTUAL ARTIST WORKSHOP: SHERRY OWENS New Orleans, Louisiana
Explore the medium of sculpture, deepening our understanding of the Ogden’s exhibition BUILT: Sculptural Art from the Permanent Collection, through a series of workshops. Each session will include an in-depth discussion with an artist from the exhibition, followed by an art-making
SCOTT, LA • 888-620-TREE (8733) CHURCH POINT, LA • 337-684-5431 WWW.BOBSTREE.COM // A P R 2 1
Beginning April 24th - April 30th workshop led by the artist. In April, join artist Sherry Owens in exploring simple methods of sculpture-making using collected sticks and investigating ways to join parts using wrapping and binding. Participants are asked to provide their own supplies; list available upon registration. 10 am–noon. $45. Registration required at ogdenmuseum.org. k
REAL LIVE TUNES ERIKA WENNERSTROM ON THE RIVER
POETRY PROGRAMS POUR IT AND POET New Orleans, Louisiana
A poet and a sommelier walk into a hotel, and inspiration strikes. Join Cubs the Poet and Advanced Sommelier Liz Dowty Mitchell for an intimate poetry and wine workshop at the Columns this spring. Each week will focus on a theme to be explored with words and wine. Fifteen percent of ticket costs will be donated to The Innocence Project. 7:30 pm. $125. Details at the Pour It and Poet Facebook Event. k
Erika Wennerstrom of the Austinbased rock band Heartless Bastards is performing for the Red Dragon Listening Room, but this time in the spacious backyard of Karyn and Buddy Roussel at 11120 Amite River Road. They’ve mounted a stage on top of a party barge, and they’re ready to jam. 7 pm–9 pm. $30. Reserve your seat via PayPal or Venmo: PayPal. me/reddragonlr or Venmo at ChrisMaxwell-58. (225) 939-7783. k
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP OLD MANDEVILLE SHOP LOCAL SATURDAY Mandeville, Louisiana
Shop Local Saturday is making a comeback with dozens of artist popups, food vendors, live music, and more. The event, hosted by Old Mandeville Business Association and its member businesses, will take place around Girod Street, stretching from
Yo u A R E Powerful! Yo u h a v e w h a t i t t a k e s . B e l i e v e
y o u r s e l f .
We can end sexual violence and oppression.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, contact our 24-hour, confidential helpline at 888.995.7273. Visit our website for helpful information or to find free counseling and free legal advocacy.
The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommedendations expressed in this ad are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice or LCLE. This project was supported by Subgrant Number 2018-VA-GX-5194 awarded by the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement through the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs.
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The dancers at Of Moving Colors present their spring performance, POP, which will feature dances to legendary pop music tracks by icons from Prince to David Bowie. See listing on page 27. Photo by Eye Wander Photography.
the Mandeville Trailhead to Lakeshore Drive. 10 am–4 pm. Free. facebook.com/ oldmandevillebusinessassociation. k
DOCUMENTARIES WAX PRINT: 1 FABRIC, 4 CONTINENTS, 200 YEARS OF HISTORY Port Allen, Louisiana
ARTS MARKETS DOWNTOWN ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR New Iberia, Louisiana
Extending down New Iberia’s Main Street is the Downtown Arts & Crafts Market. Admire art and photography exhibits along with local crafts; taste delicacies from local restaurants, vendors, and cake shops; and maybe pick up a gift or two for someone you love, just because. 4 pm–7 pm. Check the New Iberia Main Street program’s Facebook Page for a map of exhibitors and locations. k
The West Baton Rouge Museum will host an exclusive screening of the film Wax Print: 1 Fabric, 4 Continents, 200 Years of History. The documentary follows the global history of a fabric that has become an iconic symbol of Africa, and intricately connected with one woman’s story. 6:30 pm. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k
GOOD EATS CHEFS UNDER THE STARS Baton Rouge, Louisiana
OH, HONEY LSU AGCENTER ONLINE BEEKEEPING CLASSES Online
You’d better bee-lieve that LSU AgCenter is offering virtual classes in beekeeping, featuring speakers from universities nationwide and the federal government. April’s class is on biology and management of swarms with Mike Goblirsch from the USDA. 6:30 pm–7:30 pm. auburn.zoom.us/j/904522838. k
REAL LIVE TUNES CHILLIN’ AT THE RIVER CONCERT: CHRISTIAN SERPAS & GHOST TOWN Covington, Louisiana
Northshore favorite act Christian Serpas & Ghost Town will perform a free, outdoor concert at Bogue Falaya Park, with the Mande Milkshakers performing during intermission. Oh, and there’ll be a food truck, too. 5:30 pm–8 pm. Free. www.covla.com. k
APR 29th - MAY
GOOD EATS LOUISIANA CRAWFISH FESTIVAL Chalmette, Louisiana
Not ones to let the celebration of crawfish fixed-any-which-way-you-like-it remain an exclusively Acadiana event, Chalmette presents its own crawfish festival—and has since 1975. Hungry festival-goers arrive by auto, air, bus, and train to enjoy thirty thousand pounds of boiled crawfish with all the fixin’s, as well as crawfish dishes such as crawfish bread, crawfish pasta, crawfish pies, crawfish rice, and crawfish jambalaya. Live music galore, arts & crafts vendors, and a midway are also provided, of course. All the eating takes place at the Sigur Cultural Center. $5. louisianacrawfishfestival.com. k
Southeastern Louisiana University Foundation’s annual spring event is back for its thirty-sixth year—this time with a slightly different spin! Join the fun on the field at Strawberry Stadium for an elegant outdoor evening of food and music. Taste delicious cuisine from some of the best restaurants and caterers on the Northshore and enjoy top-notch entertainment by Southeastern’s Jazz Ensemble and Faculty Jazz Quartet. Tickets are limited; visit southeastern.edu/chefs to secure yours or learn more. k
30th - MAY 3rd
CREATIVE COMPETITIONS CITY NATURE CHALLENGE 2021 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Join naturalists (amateur and professional) in a global competition to showcase local wildlife. For four days, participants need only seek out the wildlife in your area— birds, insects, or plants—and snap a pic. Upload your observations to iNaturalist. org or with the iNaturalist mobile app to be added to ranks of the friendly competition, representing competing parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana. Learn more at citynaturechallenge.org. k
HISTORY, NATURAL BEAUTY, & SMALL-TOWN CHARM JUST WAITING TO BE EXPLORED In Louisiana’s northwest, come fish sand bass on the trophy-fishing waters of Toledo Bend Lake and the Sabine River. DeSoto Parish has adventure and history just waiting to be explored. Our pioneer spirit also beckons you to explore rolling, piney woods, and boat on peaceful waters only disturbed when you pull in the big catch! Conquering hunger is no trouble here either, as hot cornbread and fresh, fried catfish also calls your name.
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Your House, Your Gardens 7 BAMBOO RD, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70124 | 504.488.5488 ENGAGE & EXPLORE LONGUEVUE.COM
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MANNERS, TRAVEL, AND
A DV E N T U R E CUISINE OVER
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Tu Parles Ma Langue REFLECTING ON THE INTRICATE CULTURAL EXCHANGE FOSTERED BY FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE LOUISIANE Story by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot • Photos by Paul Kieu
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s Louisiana enters yet another scaled down festival season due to the spread of COVID-19, I wanted to reflect on one of my favorites. In 2019, I spent three days interviewing Francophone musicians performing at Festival International de Louisiane, with the intention to profile them to publish the following spring in a story anticipating 2020’s festival. Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned. Revisiting those interviews in 2021, a year into this global pandemic, I discovered that this was more than a story about Festival. My conversations with these four artists—a rock and roll Haitian Voodoo Priestess, a bearded librettist of the world’s first Acadian rock opera, a French piper in a kilt, and a New Orleans pop singer who learned French from her Cajun grandfather—revealed instead a story of profound cultural connection spanning continents, histories, and even languages. For almost thirty four years now, Lafayette’s annual April congregation of cultures has facilitated one of the world’s most remarkable global exchanges in the name of art and music. An incomparable feat of perfectlycoordinated serendipity, celebration, and connection—the energy of “Festival” is nothing short of quixotic. I’ve attended every year since I was seventeen, where—feeling very hip and cool in my floor-length skirt and crop top—I heard Trombone Shorty
live for the first time and found myself swaying along to the idiomatic “Tuku” music of the Zimbabwean musical legend Oliver Mtukudzi. In the years to follow I’d laugh with friends as we tried to imitate the mesmerizing way Imam Baildi’s lead singer gyrated her hips to alternative Greek rhythms; I’d follow a stilt man through the streets in search of a crawfish boat; I’d pay tribute to local legends Marc Broussard, Steve Riley, the Givers, and Tank and the Bangas; I’d witness African drumming and Irish stepdancing and the Balkan Beat Box. And I’d do a ton of two stepping. Festival International has always been about sharing such diverse perspectives through art. After a year of necessarily turning inward—into our homes, into our communities—the dazzling exchange that takes place in Downtown Lafayette each April recalls as all the more transcendent. More than that, it is valuable. This year, with caution and restrictions still in place, organizers have promised to build on the momentum of 2020’s Virtual Fest with a slew of livestreamed and archival virtual programming, combined with a schedule of safely-coordinated live and immersive experiences in Downtown Lafayette. The theme is commUNITY, a reminder that to best share our heritage and our home, we must take pride in it. We must preserve and protect it. And next year, we’ll meet our friends again on Jefferson, with plenty of new stories to tell.
These days, Serge Brideau works in a nursing home on the Acadian Peninsula, playing classics on his guitar for dementia patients, many who have no awareness of the pandemic that has temporarily halted his musical career. But two years ago, the Vikingesque frontman of New Brunswick’s Les Hotesses d’Hilaire sat across from
me in the lobby at the Holiday Inn in Lafayette, rubbing his eyes and nursing a hangover. “You know, we’ve been playing together for ten years, touring all over the world,” he said. “I don’t know how many shows we’ve played, probably something like nine hundred. And I’d have to say my favorite show was at the
Blue Moon Saloon last night.” Part of Festival International de Louisiane’s 2019 Rhythms and Roots after hours series, the intimate concert paired Brideau’s psychedelic rock troupe with Cypress Island Cajun musician Jourdan Thibodeaux’s band Les Rodailleurs. On first glance, these two groups might seem to have little business playing music together. Les Hotesses d’Hilaire’s seventies-inspired, eccentric blend of punk and prog rock, which the heavily bearded Brideau usually performs in a dress, stands in stark contrast to fiddler Thibodeaux’s classic two-step-able contributions to the modern Louisiana French repertoire. And yet, in the Blue Moon that night, centuries and distances coalesced into a shared history, a shared language, even a shared ancestry. Music of the peninsula met the music of the prairie, and, as Brideau put it, “magic happened.” “I play rock music, but I love traditional stuff too. We did a song with Jourdan and Cedric [Watson], this Acadian song from up north,” he recalled. “It sounds a little different with the squeeze box [accordion] . . . just beautiful. And the violin. . . People from the islands have a certain way of playing music, people from the peninsula, people from the mainland. And y’all have your own thing. If you’re really into it, you can hear these intricacies, this other way of playing the violin, with all of the energy put into it. The swing of the bow is not the same, and you can hear it. I really love watching those guys play the violin down here.” The next day, on Festival International’s Fais Do Do Stage, Haitian singer Moonlight Benjamin initiated another fold in the cultural matrix, belting out emotionallyladen lyrics in Creole against a unprecedentedly blended backdrop of traditional Haitian melodies and blues rock rifts. The crowd beneath her pulsed, entranced. Most of us didn’t understand the language, but we did understand what we heard, thanks in no small part to her collaboration with guitarist Matthis Pascaud, who served as her translator in our interview back at the Holiday Inn. “I am not African. I am not Haitian,” said Pascaud of his own ethnic and musical background. “I’m just a French guy who learned guitar and grew up on jazz and loves Dr. John. What is our connection? It is the music. We mix our cultures together.” Raised in a Christian orphanage in Port-au-Prince, the “Voodoo Priestess of Blues Rock” got her starts
in gospel. Curious about her heritage, for their flamboyant costumes and she eventually found a home in the vivacious stage presence—has described culture of Haitian Voodoo, and spent their approach to using Louisiana many years performing traditional folk French lyrics in their songs as “dressing Haitian music before seeking more an old language in new clothes”. Like formal training in France. “I wanted Benjamin, they aim to share their to bring Voodoo culture, through culture with new audiences, using the my music, to Europe, where it tends strategy of shifting genre. to be misunderstood,” explained Both of the band’s lead vocalists (and Benjamin, through Pascaud. “I wanted multi-instrumentalists) Sam Craft and to show people that our culture is Alexis Marceaux have Louisiana French about connection, energy, positivity.” roots. “We started toying around with After achieving considerable success the idea of taking old Cajun songs on her own in France, she joined up and putting them in a new idiom, with Pascaud in hopes of reaching new freshening them up and having fun audiences by integrating influences of with them,” said Craft. “People were American blues and rock and roll into really responding to it, even on the road her expressions of Haitian music. and not in Louisiana. They kind of “When we started to work together, understood what we were doing. So, we I would listen to her recordings, and said, let’s make a band that’s just this.” say ‘Okay, this is blues mode, blues Trading in the traditional accordions melodies. I hear something like Muddy and fiddles for bright percussion Waters there, a little B.B. King.’” said all around and an emphasis on Pascaud. “They’re there already because Southern “[THIS IS] A CHANCE TO Mississippi blues comes GIVE A STRONG IDEA from the same tradition, these African roots. ABOUT WHO WE ARE. And she feels a strong NOT WHO WE WANT connection to this music. TO BE, WHO WE ARE, IN It was not a long trip to A FRIENDLY ROMANCE arrive to that. Was just in front of us, made sense.” OF SORTS, TOGETHER, The result was the CELEBRATING LIFE, RIGHT critically lauded album HERE. EXCHANGING Siltane (2018), whose tour across the globe EXPERIENCES, SHARING included this stop in SOMETHING VERY South Louisiana. All-tooHUMAN, ALL THROUGH briefly brushing elbows OUR MUSIC.” with another branch of Creole, Voodoo, and blues —MOONLIGHT BENJAMIN cultures flourishing in the Crescent City, Benjamin’s ballads honoring the struggles of Haiti’s harmonious vocals, Sweet Crude people—particularly its slaves—find a has brought the Cajun language into particular resonance here. brand new territory. “We are really very “This music, my culture, it is the influenced by the energy of the music culture of the slave,” Benjamin said. “I that comes out of New Orleans,” said want to offer an homage to the people Craft. “So, we wanted to have that, but who came to the Americas and led also be French. And also be pop and difficult lives, and I don’t want this accessible and all of these things.” culture to be forgotten. I want it to be As part of the millennial generation alive.” This, explained Pascaud, has of Louisianans awakening to the also been the effect of fusing Voodoo urgency of our region’s language loss, melodies with the energy of American Craft and Marceaux are excited about rock and roll. “We want to show her the renaissance of Louisiana French culture to the world,” he said. “Make culture currently taking place—of it more accessible. Take it out of the which traditional musicians like museum.” Thibodeaux are no small part. “There This strategy of challenging the is a ton of music representing French paradigms of traditional folk music Louisiana right now,” said Craft. “It’s came back around in a conversation I very exciting.” Marceaux added, “It had twenty-four hours later, standing really is kind of up to our generation to behind the TV5Monde Lafayette preserve this, and not only to preserve it stage as the members of Sweet Crude but to continue it. We want to wave that packed their van after their show. The French flag of Louisiana, because if we New Orleans indie pop band—known don’t, who else will?”
DELIVERED D A I LY
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Tu Parles continued . . . Craft pointed out that there are several incredible groups of young musicians working to do the same thing, and even putting their own spin on it. “We’re just a little bit further out there in terms of French music typical of Louisiana,” he said. “But when we go to places like New Brunswick or Quebec, places where they consciously sing in both English and French and switch back and forth, we totally have a home in what they are doing.” Brideau, who is from Canada’s only official bilingual province—New Brunswick—would agree. Language is treated just as intentionally in Les Hotesses d’Hilaire’s lyrics, which, like Sweet Crude’s, shift back and forth between the two languages. And while Les Hotesses d’Hilaire does not necessarily sing “traditional” Acadian music, the band does proudly promote its identity as Acadian. In fact, their 2018 album Viens avec moi was actually written as an irreverent, theatrical, and caricaturist “Acadian rock opera” inspired by the story of Wilfred LeBouthillier, whose success as the first winner of Quebec’s reality television show Star Academie Brideau credits as the agent behind the early 2000s popularization of “Acadian music” beyond the peninsula. “He was kind of a perfect Acadian poster child because
he was a singer, a lobster fisherman, all these ‘exotic’ things,” said Brideau. “And he exploded, became a superstar in Canada.” Brideau explained that for musicians like himself, the LeBouthillier phenomenon allowed Acadian musicians to claim their heritage without necessarily having to play a fiddle. “It gave permission to more underground groups like us to simply be like ‘I’m Acadian. This is my perception of the world, living in a Francophone rural area in Canada. This is my reality. It doesn’t depend on a particular sound. It’s just who we are. And that is still Acadian music.” And though Les Hotesses relishes in its own distinct style and sound, Brideau’s lyrics often deal directly with things like language politics, such as in the song “Super Chiac Baby,” in which Brideau proclaims: “I’ll French you right on the English. Come on we have the same lips!” The song satirically addresses the linguistic tensions in New Brunswick where there are the French purists who won’t utter an English syllable, there are the English-speaking conservatives who are actively working to do away with the country’s French institutions, and then there is everyone in between. “There are a lot of places where there
is a totally different kind of French, almost half English half French, where they speak English words in French sentences and conjugate English words like French words,” said Brideau. “So, it’s kind of its own language. We call it Chiac. The song basically says, ‘Oh, we can’t agree on the language? Let’s just all speak Chiac!’” The story of linguistic struggles against the forces of colonial assimilation, and the distinct regional languages that developed as a result, is not a story isolated only to the Americas. Just as Moonlight Benjamin travels the globe singing of her homeland in Creole; as Sweet Crude bops along in Louisiana French; as Brideau invites us to settle our differences through Chiac; across the Atlantic a culture of language preservation exists right in France herself. “One hundred years ago, ninety five percent of the people in Brittany spoke Breton,” explained Nicolas Husson, the co-president of the pipe band Bagad Plougastell, who met me at Dat Dog following their afternoon performance at the Scene TV5Monde Lafayette stage. Breton, a Celtic language most similar to Welsh, dates back to before the eleventh century. Today, the only place in the world where it is still spoken is Brittany, where it was almost
entirely eradicated due to assimilation policies throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. “Today, only about ten percent of people speak it, and most of them are over seventy years old. Everybody’s grandparents spoke Breton, but our parents spoke only French. Some children are starting to learn it in school now, but it isn’t compulsory,” said Husson of the plight that feels eerily parallel to the generational decline of the Cajun French language in South Louisiana. But just as it has here, interest in language preservation in Brittany has soared in recent decades—a renaissance of sorts. And it is in no small part because of the music. “It’s amazing how the revival of pipe band culture has gotten so many young people interested in Breton culture,” said Husson. A relatively new phenomenon, the pipe bands— called Bagads—have emerged as representatives of each major town in Brittany. Bagad Plougastell comes from the community of PlougastellDaolas, and has a membership of one hundred and twenty players, featuring bagpipes, bombards, and drums. Made up entirely of volunteers, there are over eighty bagads across the country who participate in various ceremonial events and festivals, compete against each other, and even travel across the world to
WE CARRY EACH OTHER It’s how we do things in Louisiana during times of challenge. We’re stronger together and we know our strength lies in the helping hands of our neighbors. So let’s wear a mask and protect one another. And protect the life we love.
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events like Festival. “Since this musical revival, there’s also been a revival in what we call Fest Noz, our traditional parties,” said Husson, describing Saturday nights spent performing traditional dances, “with lots of drinking,” he laughed. “Anywhere you go at night, you’ll find it. And it’s full of young people. The culture is vibrant, and the language—it returns with the culture.” Thirty-seven members of Bagad Plougastell made the trip to Louisiana, and participated in parades down Jefferson Street leading up to a rousing onstage performance, which included another appearance by Thibodeaux alongside Trey Boudreaux. “We had the whole pipe band playing Cajun music, and they played some Breton music,” said Husson. “This exchange of music and cultures—there was definitely a connection there.” Brideau spoke of this connection, and he spoke of the energy vibrating through Lafayette: “The happiness is contagious. Even the cops are smiling, people are drinking in the streets. Kids playing music with their parents on stage. There’s a spirit to it.” A continuity, he explained. A respect for music and its role in tradition from one generation to the next, spanning continents and cultures and experiences. “It brings out
the best in musicians,” he said. As Benjamin put it, it was a chance for unabashed authenticity: “A chance to give a strong idea about who we are,” she said, through Pascaud. “Not who we want to be, who we are, in a friendly romance of sorts, together, celebrating life, right here. Exchanging experiences, sharing something very human, all through our music.” h
Festival International de Louisiane 2021 will officially take place, with a schedule of virtual and in-person events, from April 23–25. Throughout the month, local restaurants will also take part in FEASTival International, celebrating the best of Festival eats. Get all of the details at festivalinternational.org. Since 2019, when I met with these artists, Les Hotesses D’Hilaire, Moonlight Benjamin, and Sweet Crude have all released new albums. Learn more about their music, and about the important work undertaken by Bagad Plougastell, at the websites below: leshotessesdhilaire.com moonlightbenjamin.com sweetcrudeband.com bagad-plougastell.com
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AROU N D TH E WORLD AN D BACK
Gumbo Conversations with Carolyn Shelton ONE OF CONTINENTAL’S FIRST BLACK FLIGHT ATTENDANTS ON GOOD MANNERS AND THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF FOOD
Story and photos by Alexandra Kennon A disclaimer: I, the writer, was given a substantial amount of some of the very best chicken and sausage gumbo I’ve ever had by Ms. Shelton following our interview. Anticipating my protest, Ms. Shelton told me the same thing she tells the kids in her etiquette classes: “Just take it, and say ‘thank you,’” which I was certainly in no position to argue with. The excellent gumbo did not affect my coverage of Ms. Shelton’s story.
an you make some gumbo?” This question has followed Carolyn Shelton—who became one of the first Black flight attendants for Continental Airlines in 1969—on her international travels from Guam, to Hawaii, to Japan, and far beyond. No matter the destination, when a new friend (because like her mother, Shelton never meets a stranger) heard she was from Louisiana, gumbo was always the first priority for discussion. “Gumbo is like a universal word,” Shelton told me on a recent afternoon spent chatting about her life in her New Orleans home. “I don’t care whether you’re in the Netherlands, if they take you from Louisiana, there’s a gumbo conversation.” And, luckily for the many international friends Shelton has made throughout her storied career—and for me—the answer to the gumbo question is a resounding, “Oh yes, cher.” “We were raised on Creole food. It was gumbo. Gumbo was all the time. I mean, I don’t care whether you went to my mom’s house, my Nana’s house— everybody had some gumbo,” Shelton emphasized. “We grew up with gumbo. Gumbo was our healing soup, it was our friendship soup.” For the Creole woman born in Cajun country, nothing comes quite so naturally as a good gumbo roux—except for an intense streak of friendliness, positivity, and ambition. Shelton spent her early childhood in Youngsville, Louisiana, the oldest of nine children. Around the time she entered high school the family moved to what is today Houston’s Fifth Ward, which was largely populated by Louisiana Creoles. “And what made Louisianans different from the other African Americans in Texas was that most of them were Catholic,” Shelton recalled. “So they had they built their own church, they spoke French.” At 34
the time Shelton lived with her family in Houston, the Fifth Ward area was known as—and is still called by many—“Frenchtown”. Her mother Angelique was a housekeeper who wore lipstick and pearls to work every day, earning only around five dollars a day. “The person I admired the most was my mom,” Shelton mused. “And my grandmothers, but my mother never seemed to have a bad day.” Despite her mother’s graceful and dignified approach to her profession, Shelton once told her—and herself—that she could never clean another person’s house for a living. “So, at a young age, I knew that I only had one weapon to get out of that situation,” she said. “And that was to get an education.” Her plan was to become a teacher, marry a doctor, and live “happily ever after”. As is often the case with carefully-laid plans, things turned out quite differently than she imagined: less than two years into a wonderful marriage, her husband died in a car accident in the military. “So, one morning I just woke up and I said, ‘Mother, some friends and I are moving to California. I’ve got to leave,’” Shelton recollected. “Because I had too many memories.” So, in 1969, Shelton dropped out of Texas Southern University, moved to California, and became a flight attendant for Continental Airlines (“Which, of course, is now United,” she reminded me). At the time, Shelton was one of the first Black flight attendants with the airline—the very first, she recalled easily and with reverence, was a lady named Diane Hunter. “So, I endured a lot of racism,” Shelton said matterof-factly. “Lots. Lots, lots, lots, lots.” Her memoir Coffee, Tea, or Watermelon: Life as a Flight
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Attendant chronicles these, along with her other varied experiences as a Black flight attendant at a time when to be a person of color in aviation was to be a pioneer. In the same breath that Shelton spoke of the racism she endured, she volleyed back to her signature positivity. “I lived a very good life. I lived in Hawaii, Guam, Australia. In many of the destinations she traveled to, “Gumbo” became Shelton’s nickname, which she embraced. “When I lived in Chicago, they used to say, ‘Hey, Gumbo!,’” she chuckled. “I’d be walking on Michigan Avenue in a mink coat: ‘Hey, Gumbo!’” In Chicago, and many of the other cities Shelton lived over the course of her career, she would throw “gumbo parties”, inviting the friends she made
so easily wherever she went: “Girl, it would be jam packed.” During her time back in Houston where her family lived, she took the opportunity to share the wealth of new experiences she had been introduced to working for Continental. “I mean, we never had money to go out to dinner. So, all of the fancy restaurants that I had been experiencing, I took my mom, and my sisters, and everybody,” she said, beaming. “So now I’m living in a nice section of Houston, you know, Audi, Mercedes, the whole nine yards, shopping…” But when she wanted a taste of Creole food—a taste of home—she found herself back in Frenchtown. “When I wanted that good food that my mama used to make…I’d have to go to the hood where my mom lived.”
“IT WAS GUMBO. GUMBO WAS ALL THE TIME. I MEAN, I DON’T CARE WHETHER YOU WENT TO MY MOM’S HOUSE, MY NANA’S HOUSE—EVERYBODY HAD SOME GUMBO. WE GREW UP WITH GUMBO. GUMBO WAS OUR HEALING SOUP, IT WAS OUR FRIENDSHIP SOUP.” —CAROLYN SHELTON On those visits, she began to take notice of the young people living in her old neighborhood. Growing up in a family of Louisiana Catholics, manners were pinnacle to Shelton; something she was taught in Catholic school and around her grandmother’s table. Her skills in etiquette helped her obtain her flight attendant job, as well as get along with individuals all over the world. “Back in the day, many of us were interviewed over a lunch or dinner, and they’re watching and paying attention to your manners,” Shelton emphasized. “When you represent the U.S., and let’s just say you go to Japan and you go to Australia,
you go all over the world, you have to know the norms and mores of that culture.” She wanted the kids she observed in Houston, and eventually far beyond, to be equipped with the etiquette that opened the cabin door to her own successes. “So, long story short, I started a program teaching self-esteem and manners,” Shelton said. “All of a sudden, I’m all over the place. Everybody’s buzzing about the stewardess teaching etiquette.” First a Houston newspaper did a story, and eventually news of the flight attendant teaching manners to low-income youths made it to Joe
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Gumbo Conversations continued . . . contributions African Americans have made to the culinary world. “These kids need to understand that we have made tremendous, tremendous contributions. Most of us have worked in the back of the house. I tell them that okra came from Africa … gumbo did not come from Nova Scotia. The word gumbo means okra, which I didn’t even grow up knowing that … so I want them to be proud.” h
Lovett at 60 Minutes, and Shelton was interviewed on the show by Sylvia Chase. “The most important thing was respect, and saying excuse me, thank you, and please. That was the most important message,” Shelton told me of her curriculum. “And it worked.” She began to get requests to teach her
etiquette classes all over the country, from Omaha to Seattle to the CabriniGreen Housing Projects in Chicago. These days, like many things in the era of COVID, Shelton teaches etiquette, as well as cooking, virtually. “My passion, even right now in 2021, is to one day—I don’t know
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when, I don’t know if—but to open an etiquette school,” Shelton said, describing that she would want her school to be multi-faceted: not only teaching etiquette, but cooking, and ki;tchen management. She said she’d also want to empower her students by educating them about the extensive
Carolyn Shelton’s books include her memoir chronicling her life as a Black flight attendant Coffee, Tea, and Watermelon, her recipe book highlighting the contributions of African American cooks who work in the back of the house 47 Years In the Back of the House, and a cookbook of recipes from Zydeco musicians called Zydeco Gumbo. To purchase Shelton’s books or discuss booking her as a speaker or etiquette instructor, email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B U I L D I N G M O U N TA I N S
Biking the Bogue Chitto
JUMP, DROP, FLY DOWN WASHINGTON PARISH’S FOURTEEN MILES OF NEW MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS
Story by Catherine Comeaux • Photos by Sean Gasser ooooohoooo!” a blonde toddler squealed as she rolled the red dirt berms through the piney woods of the Bogue Chitto State Park Mountain Bike Trails on a recent Saturday morning. Before her first birthday, she was riding a balance bike—learning the physics of steering from the hips. It wasn’t long before she was pedaling her own two fat tires down the trails behind her Papa, a trail regular and one of the many volunteers who have been working this past year moving muscle and mud to shape the rolling hills of Southeast Louisiana into a world-class mountain biking experience. Nestled in the loess hills along Washington Parish’s Bogue Chitto River, the original four miles of singletrack mountain bike trails were developed in 2018 through a partnership between the state park and the Northshore Off-Road Bicycling Association (NORBA). Winding through forests with exhilarating ups and downs—mostly at an intermediate blue level of difficulty—these trails created an adrenaline-fueled momentum among local mountain bikers, keeping them coming back not only to ride but to also volunteer. Over the past few years, this group has worked together
to add more trails, create new technical challenges, and build a variety of opportunities for riders of all skill levels. Guiding this expansion of the trail system is Mountain Bike Park Developr Toby Cortez and his team of ten trail captains, who each volunteer their time building and maintaining trails. Cortez’s enthusiasm is infectious. On my recent visit, I followed him on a ride throughout the park. Along the way, he checked on volunteers and attracted a small train of mountain bikers trailing behind him. We all followed along as he gave an impromptu tour and shared NORBA’s vision of the Bogue Chitto becoming an International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Ride Center—a designation earned by destinations offering an array of high-quality mountain biking trails. Ride Centers attract cyclists from all over the world; they are places where local economies flourish as communities embrace their role in welcoming mountain bike enthusiasts to their trails. With support from local, state, and private funding, Cortez was able to hire professional trail builder Preston York from Flowmotion Trail Builders, whose extensive experience includes work on trails that have achieved
IMBA Ride Center status. When deciding to accept the job, which would require living in the campground with his crew for three months, York recalled, “I was excited for the opportunity to create trails in this unique hill country in the middle of the swamplands.” Capitalizing on the natural elevation of the land and the gorge running through the park, his crew, alongside NORBA volunteers, expanded the trail system to almost fourteen miles of trails, each aptly named after once-famous Louisiana roller coasters. These earthen counterparts offer the same stomach-flipping, adrenaline-pumping experience of a roller coaster ride, except that the biker is in full control of their experience, determining speed, jump, drop, and flight. The Ghost Train offers over two miles of green beginner level switchbacks, ups, and downs through a grove of tall pine trees. Zydeco Scream and Muskrat Scrambler provide three more miles of green trails for those who prefer a more mellow ride. Zephyr, which includes some of the original trail network, sends riders along 5.6 miles of intermediate blue level climbs and descents. For downhill fun—coming and going—ride the 1.25 miles of Jump Trail, which was carefully designed // A P R 2 1
Biking continued . . .
to flow naturally downhill in one direction and to use berms, pump rollers, tabletops, and jumps to create an illusion of downhill flow in the opposite direction. Taking a break from the Jump Trail, a young rider related, “I started riding out here with my dad a few years ago, and it was fun, but. . .” she paused with a big smile on her face “ . . . but with these new trails, I can’t wait to get out here—it’s exciting.” For riders looking for more adventure, the half mile section known as the Mega-Zeph boasts one of the biggest jump zones in the region. This black level
area is stacked with jump upon jump—with plenty of opportunities for experienced riders to catch air. And if the Mega-Zeph isn’t enough challenge for you, just beyond the jump zone is the Tower of Terror. At twelve feet, it is the tallest trail gap drop in the South. To the newbie, this straight down drop from the edge of a bluff evokes images of broken necks and impossible landings. To the highly-skilled rider who understands, at a muscular level, the physics of the drop—this is pure thrill. Riders eager to feel the excitement of flying over
the trails but not quite skilled enough to achieve it yet should head over to the new trailhead area, designed to be a mountain biking education center. This spring it opened with a balance bike course and a progressive jump park. Soon-to-be-added ladder bridge drops will help riders gain confidence for the larger drops out on the trails and a dual slalom course will allow riders to test their speed and skill against each other. An asphalt pump track is planned for completion in 2022. Before visiting, riders should check the weather at Bogue Chitto State Park since a heavy rain, especially
April 17 & 18, 2021
SATURDAY & SUNDAY • 10 AM TO 5 PM ANTIQUES | VINTAGE COLLECTIBLES & CRAFTS ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE | FOOD | MUSIC & MORE STAA COVINGTON ART MARKET For more information, visit www.covingtonheritagefoundation.com or email email@example.com Covington Trailhead • 419 N. New Hampshire Street Covington, LA • 985.892.1873 WE WILL BE FOLLOWING THE 6 FT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND FACE MASK MANDATE AS REQUIRED BY OUR GOVERNOR AT THE TIME OF THE EVENT.
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on the newer sections, might cause temporary closures to protect trail integrity. Maps are available through the Trailforks App. The grand opening of Bogue Chitto’s new trails is planned for Saturday, April 10. Trails will open to the public at 10 am, and a ceremony will be held at the new trailhead at 1 pm, followed by the “Mega-Zeph Mega Jam,” a rider demo on the black line trail’s jump zone. Throughout the day, guests can take part in guided tours, watch a flat lander demo by three-time NORA (Number One Rider Award) Cup winner
Terry Adams, and learn more about the park’s other offerings including: horseback riding, tubing, disc golf, and hiking. For the day, the $3 park fee will be waived, though visitors are welcome to support their state parks by paying the fee as a donation. Visit norbatrails.org or the NORBA Facebook page to keep abreast of trail events (there is rumor of a festival in early October) and find more information on the grand opening at lastateparks.com. Don’t forget to air up the tires before heading out, and on the advice of the trail manager, “Prepare to be amazed!” h
To donate to the Northshore Off-Road Bicycling Association in support of this project and others like it, simply scan the QR code with your cell phone.
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NEW ORLEANS COFFEE
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SECRET TO VIETNAMESE
Around the World with Café du Monde THE NEW ORLEANS STAPLE FLAVORS VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE AROUND THE GLOBE
Story by Caroline Gerdes • Photo by Alexandra Kennon
owner was a New Orleanian in the Pacific Northwest like I was? When I got home, I consulted Google, which revealed, remarkably, that Vietnamese iced coffee across the country—from Brooklyn to Seattle—is actually brewed with Café du Monde coffee. But the coffee connection between Vietnam and New Orleans doesn’t stop with Café du Monde: PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans boasts three coffee franchise locations in Ho Chi Minh City. Traditionally, Vietnamese iced coffee is
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MEAL AT MISSISSIPPI’S OLDEST RESTAURANT W
ast year, while eating lunch at Mr. Saigon, not far from Pike Place market in downtown Seattle, I spotted a familiar display of golden canisters lining the walls of the restaurant, and quickly did a double take. I had spent the afternoon among the airborne salmon of Pike Place, not the sticky beignet and humidity laced air of The French Market. Why was this place filled floor to ceiling with cans of Café du Monde coffee? As I continued to eat my sandwich and drink my coffee, I assumed a local connection. Perhaps the
WILL TRAVEL FOR FOOD
made with New Orleans Café du Monde coffee and condensed milk—over ice, of course. A segment in the “New Orleans” episode of the PBS show No Passport Required recommends Vietnamese Longevity Brand condensed milk to accompany the chicory coffee. “Café du Monde coffee is a good choice to make Vietnamese Iced Coffee since it has a deep rich color, flavor, and a strong coffee aroma,” said Anh Nguyen, who works in marketing and graphic design for Lam’s Seafood Asian Market in Seattle. “This is definitely a popular product in the Vietnamese communities. We see it being used in every Vietnamese restaurant around the Seattle area.” So, how did Café du Monde become the brand of choice for Vietnamese restaurants and cafés across the United States? “One of the large [VietnameseAmerican] population clusters is here in New Orleans, because of our Catholic community,” said Burt Benrud, Café du Monde Vice President. In the 1970s, Catholic Charities helped Vietnamese refugees find homes in the United States. New Orleans was an attractive location because of the area’s wetlands and its similar climate to Vietnam. According to The New York Times, the Vietnamese immigrants who came to New Orleans, beginning in 1975 were part of the first wave of refugees who escaped Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. Many of the early immigrants were tied to the U.S. presence in Vietnam, and other initial refugees were escaping religious persecution. These Vietnamese refugees were drawn to New Orleans and Baton Rouge because of the promise of the Louisiana fishing industry. Café du Monde on Decatur Street, Benrud said, began to hire Vietnamese immigrants in the seventies and eighties, and these employees started drinking Café du Monde coffee on a drip pot with condensed milk. “[The recipe] passed through word of mouth to other relatives across the United States … that taste has spread coast to coast,” Benrud said, adding that the Café du Monde blend has become the “standard” for Vietnamese iced coffee. Café du Monde coffee has long been a
beloved New Orleans souvenir, shipped to family and friends around the world. And, according to Benrud, when Café du Monde got wind that VietnameseAmerican employees were drinking the chicory coffee and sharing it with friends and family, they started stocking it in Vietnamese grocery stores. Now, Benrud said, it’s available nationwide in Vietnamese groceries and Vietnamese restaurants. Of course, Café du Monde is also the brand of choice at Vietnamese restaurants in its own backyard. Peter Nguyen, owner of Banh Mi Boys in Metairie, said his sandwich shop proudly makes their Vietnamese iced coffee with Café du Monde coffee. The menu at Banh Mi Boys—which is located next to Nguyen’s parents’ gas station—combines the New Orleans and Vietnamese cuisines Nguyen grew up eating. You can see this culinary merger in menu items like the banh mi sandwiches—or, as Nguyen calls them, Vietnamese po’ boys. He said a significant part of the New Orleans and Vietnamese coffee connection is the two cultures’ shared French heritage. “A lot of our cuisine is influenced by the French,” Nguyen said. He added a practical reason as well: “It was what we had available.” He also offered one piece of menu advice, with a laugh, “As for Vietnamese coffee, it’s delicious. I think people should know how strong it is before they try it.” Generations of Vietnamese families in New Orleans have been connected to Café du Monde on Decatur Street, Benrud said. Some of those employees have been working there since the 1980s, watching their children grow up, go off to college, and achieve their own careers, maybe even out of town. But they haven’t forgotten that their parents established roots here, in New Orleans. “The kids grew up doing summer jobs at Café du Monde and have lived the American Dream,” Benrud said. It’s surprising, he added, how things have evolved over time and how Café du Monde has become a Vietnamese coffee staple. “I’m happy our product has developed the way it has and people can enjoy it coast to coast.” h
A SPICY PILGRIMAGE DOWN THE BAYOU
Story and photos by Alexandra Kennon
t’s that time of year, again: when the smell of cayenne pepper and seafood wafts on the breeze throughout Louisiana; when boil pots are pulled from their storage sheds and given a baptismal rinse from the hose; when two, three, even half a dozen hand-washings can’t erase the spice from your fingers, the smelly beacon of pride letting everyone you encounter know that your last meal was superior. It’s crawfish season, folks. Pushing against the assumption that authentic crawfish and Cajun cuisine requires a drive to Louisiana’s prairie parishes, Houma Travel welcomed this year’s crawfish season with its initiative, the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail, which highlights over thirty businesses serving Louisiana’s prized crop. After an afternoon spent roaming the Trail myself, I can confirm that the experience is sure to leave you and your vehicle coated in that coveted “new craw” scent. While Terrebonne Parish has always been seafood-centric, Melissa Durocher, Head of Destination Development and Marketing for the Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, noted that the statewide crawfish obsession is a somewhat more recent development. “If you look at when even I was growing up, you didn’t have crawfish everywhere, like you have it now,” she said. Her father, who she described as being “from a crawfish family,” was somewhat of an exception, simply because they lived on the bayou and it made practical sense. “They actually caught crawfish and ate it as just a staple in their house because of where they lived. They lived near the swamp,” Durocher explained. “And he couldn’t believe when we were growing up how that changed. I mean, now everybody’s going crawfish crazy, everybody wants crawfish. Whereas before it was kind of like it’s a mudbug … now it’s almost like it’s famous.” That Terrebonne translates to “good earth,” in French is somewhat ironic, considering that a huge percentage of the parish is comprised of water, meaning it is highly likely that there are actually more crawfish than people in Houma and its surrounding areas. While Breaux Bridge and the rice fields of the prairie Cajuns tend to get the glory this time of year, the good people of the parish named “good earth” want us to know that they have an impressive bounty and variety of the crawly, spicy critters, too.
Before crawfish took off, Melissa told me, boiled shrimp or crabs were—and still are, in addition to crawfish—favorite staples in the Houma area, because they were available fresh locally. “My parents would have to take the crabs and put them in our platters because I would get so upset if my brother had a crab that was heavier than mine,” Durocher chuckled. “And so, we grew up with that kind of craziness. But we ate what was fresh—so we would catch shrimp and boil shrimp, we’d catch crabs, boil crabs, we’d have crawfish day…it’s just what we had that was local. We all grew up like that.”
Crawfishing in Terrebonne Parish is considerably different than the more controlled methods of crawfish farming in the central part of the state. Mitch Aucoin, co-owner of A&B Seafood and tugboat captain “by trade,” has been fishing, boiling, and selling seafood since he was in high school. He described the Lower Atchafalaya crawfishing as “wild caught fishing”. “We’re not like the farmers,” he said. “The farmers can control the water, they can pop ‘em out the ground by draining the water, they got ‘em at their fingertips. We’ve gotta kinda wait ’til it comes.” Wild caught crawfishermen usually hold off on harvesting until late in the spring, when the snowfall up the Mississippi has melted, allowing enough water for their mud-motored boats to enter the necessary parts of the Basin. “Wild caught [crawfishing] is very fragile, you could say, with Mother
Nature,” explained Aucoin. “If we don’t get the water, we don’t get the crawfish.” When the water levels in the Basin are too low, Aucoin sources crawfish from a farmer he knows personally in Welsh, Louisiana. By around midto-late-March, however, all of the crawfish Aucoin sells are caught right in Terrebonne. One more thing to note before embarking on the Crawfish Trail: the folks around Houma are big proponents of sauce, so for an authentic experience, don’t skimp on it. Crawfish dipping sauce is usually a pink, mayonnaisebased sauce that’s varying degrees of sweet, spicy, and/or smoky depending on where you get it. It’s a reliable Southern edict that mayonnaise-based sauce improves most foods, and I must admit that in my opinion, crawfish is no exception.
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Crawfish Tales continued . . .
A&B Seafood Headed by childhood friends-turnedbusiness-partners Mitch Aucoin and Marshall Brown, A&B Seafood is not just a boil house, but also a wholesale supplier of live seafood. “Everything that we have is hands-on touched,” Aucoin explained of their practice of either fishing the product themselves or working directly with those who do. “That’s how we get the quality that we have.” In addition to the quality of their seafood, A&B is lauded for their boil seasoning, and an unusual addition to the usual corn, sausage, and potatoes boiled sides: hot tamales. Mickey Brown’s Hot Tamales are a long-time local staple made at a nearby USDA facility by Marshall Brown’s parents— with some help these days from their son and Aucoin. The tamales are placed in mesh bags and dropped directly into the seasoned boil water with the crawfish. “We do a tamale Tuesday,” said Aucoin. “I had to do somethin’ for taco Tuesday ‘cause it was killin’ us, but we got it.” Belly full of crawfish and tamales, it was easy for me to see how of all of the destinations on the Trail, A&B is a favorite. The comforting heartiness of a corn masa-enrobed beef tamale soaked through with crawfish boil spice was good enough to make me wish I’d known about them sooner, inducing a sincere “Where have you been all
Quizine Quarters my life?!” moment of reckoning in the parking lot. The small, Mississippi-Delta-style tamales and the rest of the boil are soaked in A&B’s signature crawfish seasoning “bomb”—which is so particular, Aucoin said, that they were unsuccessful in outsourcing it and have to make it themselves, using a secret red pepper that is low on the Scoville scale but packed with flavor. They also make a product called “seafood cheese” that is similar to hogshead cheese but made with seafood. Despite such exciting and unusual products, boiled crawfish, shrimp, and crabs remain the favorites. On Fridays during Lent, Aucoin says they can sell anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of crawfish. Aucoin told me that stimulus checks dropping into locals’ bank accounts has, well, stimulated his business, as well—it’s a rare day that they don’t sell out, so try to get there sooner rather than later.
A&B Seafood 5990 West Main St. Houma, Louisiana 70360 (985) 580-4311 Find A&B Seafood on Facebook.
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One of the newest developments on the Crawfish Trail is Quizine Quarters, which in addition to a thoroughlyseasoned boil offers specialties like the Boo Special—a behemoth of a seafood stuffed potato doused in a cream sauce and served with fried catfish—crawfish bread, and much more. Owner KJ Townsend opened the restaurant on October 24 of last year, and the pandemic clearly has not hindered Quizine Quarters’ quick success. “It’s
been a great experience, a lot of positive feedback,” Townsend said. “A lot of smiling faces, I’ve even got a few hugs from customers, so I think we’re doing the right thing.”
Quizine Quarters 6670 West Main St. Houma, Louisiana 70360-1248 (985) 746-5242 quizinequarters.com
Bourgeois Meat Market You might be wondering why a meat market is included in a trail dedicated to seafood. In response, I’ve only got two words for you: crawfish boudin. “Crawfish boudin is a no brainer for anyone new to this area,” said Beau Bourgeois, fourth-generation owner of the 130-year old establishment. “Think, ‘If South Louisiana was a food’.” You’d also be right to balk at the more-than-century-long family history I just casually slipped into that quote attribution. Bourgeois was first opened in 1891 by Beau’s great grandfather Valerie Jean-Batiste Bourgeois, who founded the business by butchering a single pig or cow at a time and selling the cuts to locals via horse and carriage along Bayou Terrebonne. The advent of refrigeration allowed him to open a storefront on West Main Street of Schriever, Louisiana in the 1920s, where products like hogshead cheese and boudin helped curate a
positive reputation and local following. After returning from World War II, Valerie’s son Lester decided to relocate the business onto Bayou Terrebonne, where it remains today. More than a century and a few generations later, that reputation is still strong in Shriever and Thibodaux and beyond. Not only does Bourgeois’s reputation hold up, but the old-school atmosphere of the little bayou-side cement block building does, too. It’s one of those spots where if it weren’t for the occasional customer brandishing a cell phone, it might be mistaken for a film set replicating the look of a 1950s butcher shop, or an even earlier one. “People come here to experience something,” the current Bourgeois, Beau, said of his family’s store. “I’ve tried to define what that something was my entire life, but I’ve concluded that the only way to explain it is to feel it for yourself.”
But that’s enough history—back to the boudin. “Our recipe stems from our grandmother’s crawfish bisque recipe, and it is unlike anything else I’ve tried,” said Bourgeois. Made with fresh local tails, the crawfish boudin is only available in the relatively narrow window of crawfish season. “Remember, the season comes and goes before you know it,” Bourgeois warned the market’s following in a mid-March Facebook post. “Once the trappers stop catching bugs, we stop making boudin. Don’t be the coo-yon that waits until it’s too late.” Of course, crawfish boudin is far from the only offering. Bourgeois also offers traditional pork boudin and shrimp boudin. While boudin burritos—simple and tasty, mild pork boudin in a flour tortilla crisped in a convection oven— have become a modern favorite, beef jerky has been the market’s pride and joy for quite some time. Plus, there’s still the
recipient of The Courier Daily Comet’s Bayou’s Best of the Best awards countless times (really, the plaques are on the wall, and while we could have counted, there are enough stretching from the ceiling to the floor that we didn’t want to). The Shack’s dipping sauce is subtly sweet, a tasty contrast against the classically spicy tails. In addition to boiled crawfish, shrimp, and the fixin’s,
The Shack is known for its charbroiled oysters, fried alligator, and Bang Bang Shrimp. “Our team puts their heart and soul into our food and service,” Davis emphasized. “You won’t be disappointed.” I certainly wasn’t, and based on the steady stream of locals coming into the restaurant and through the drive-thru to get their fishy fix, I’d wager that’s consistent.
hogshead cheese, and any cuts of pork or beef butchered on-site that you can imagine. “The beef jerky is what we are best known for, but what I think is more special here is the lost art of butchery,” Bourgeois said with evident pride. “We still butcher whole grass-fed calf quarters, and that fresh veal makes the best gravy you can imagine. We are proud of the recipes that we’ve maintained over the years, but more importantly, the skills and cooking methods that were passed down to us through our parents.”
Bourgeois Meat Market 543 W Main St. Thibodaux, Louisiana 70301-5433 (985) 447-7128 bourgeoismeatmarket.com
The Shack of Houma Owner of The Shack Douglas Davis grew up in Houma, crawfishing as a kid for the contents of family boils. As an adult he opened three other successful restaurants with partners, before opening The Shack. “It was time to be able to fully have creative freedom,” he told me. A relatively traditional, moderately spicy boil with nice, large bugs, The Shack is a local favorite of many; having been the
The Shack of Houma 1226 Grand Caillou Rd. Houma, Louisiana 70363 (985) 868-9996 theshackofhouma.com
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Crawfish Tales continued . . .
Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Cajun Cookin’ Seafood Restaurant
Interest Free Financing available WAC
www.signaturesouthernaccents.com 9305-A Main Street, Zachary, LA • (225) 654-7110 Mon-Fri, 9am - 5pm • urs, 9am - 6:30pm
We’ve all heard the Cajun jokes in varying degrees of inappropriateness, and here at Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Cajun Cookin’ Seafood Restaurant, they come to life printed out and framed on the walls. Opened twenty-three years ago by Mike and Debra Blanchard— who are from Houma and Thibodeaux, respectively—the seafood-loving couple of thirty-seven years “strives to create a light-hearted, comfortable feeling for all of our guests, beginning with the entry lined with jokes on the walls and tables, to the friendly wait staff, to the incredibly delicious, truly authentic Cajun food,” explained Debra. The menu is massive—including items like alligator sauce piquante, étouffées, loads of fried and boiled seafood options, beignets, and much more, meaning that however you choose to approach the Trail, you can find something signature at B&T’s. Sitting at a picnic table outside beneath a joke about Boudreau and Thibodeau’s ditsy female counterpart Clotilde, I indulged in the open-faced crawfish pie—which delectably wrapped a homemade étouffé in a subtly-sweet
cornmeal crust. Beside it, the B&T Seafood Appetizer boasted crispy-fried boulettes of shrimp and crab topped with a richly-flavored and spicy crawfish cream sauce—good enough that even with the absurd volume of food I ate that day, I brought the last one home to enjoy later. For another day, I noted the alligator sauce piquante and turtle on the half shell dessert, which have each been featured on the Travel Channel’s show Food Paradise, which brings in the outof-towners. Still, Debra emphasized: “It is because of our regulars that we have become so successful.” But, if you’re really not from around here (we know this probably doesn’t apply to you, Country Roads reader, cher,) the friendly staff will even teach you how to peel crawfish.
Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Cajun Cookin’ Seafood Restaurant 5602 West Main Street Houma, Louisiana 70360-1248 (985) 872-4711 bntcajuncookin.com
GRAND ISLE Whether CHARTER FISHING, watching for MIGRATING BIRDS, KAYAKING through mangroves, or just sitting back to enjoy the SUNSET ON THE BEACH,
Every day is an adventure on Grand Isle.You set the Pace.
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Of all of the many boil houses along the Crawfish Trail, the seasoning blend used by Juicy Seafood is perhaps the most unusual, and in my humble opinion, one of the tastiest. The tiny, takeout-only storefront has only been open for around two years, helmed by owner John Verret, who is joined by seasoning expert and boiler Chad Carrere. When questioned about the contents of his boil, Carrere mostly just smiled mysteriously and shook his head at me—an enigmatic secrecy I discovered was the standard from the masters of some of the best boils. I could glean from the flavor and pictures on Juicy Seafood’s Facebook page that a substantial amount of citrus and bay leaves are involved, but wasn’t able to place what kind of pepper was used—
just that it was really, really spicy. Another standout feature of Juicy Seafood is their special butter sauce— sweetened with honey, spiced with that evasive red pepper and plenty of herbs— some of which I’m relatively sure I’ve only encountered in Asian cuisines. I have a feeling I’ll be eating a completely unrelated dish, maybe years from now, perhaps in another country, when—like an epiphany—the herb blend will be revealed to me. For now, all I know is that it’s delicious.
Juicy Seafood 1217 Lafayette Street Houma, Louisiana 70360 Find Juicy Seafood on Facebook.
Bayou Terrebonne Distillers How does a whiskey distillery land on a list of crawfish joints? By creating the official Crawfish Trail cocktail, that’s how. “So you can go have some cool cocktails after you burn your face off eatin’,” Durocher explained. It helps that I’m a sucker for interesting family histories and craft whiskey, an affinity I’ve got a hunch some of our readers probably share. Owner of Bayou Terrebonne Distillers Noah Lirette comes from a legacy of distillers—though historically, they aren’t so above-board. “My great grandmother was a moonshiner, that’s how this whole thing started,” he explained, pointing out Lily Lirette’s antique copper still, which sits in the distillery’s tasting room today. In addition to making liquor during the Prohibition years, Lily is remembered as Houma’s first Mardi Gras queen. “We say she’s a queen and an outlaw,” Lirette told me with a smile. Family stories about Lily abound, and she is often remembered peeling snap peas with a cigarette mostly burned to ashes dangling from her lips. “She would hide moonshine under the card table, because she and her sisters would play cards, and when the Sheriff would come lookin’ for the booze, he would look everywhere else but underneath the card table, because
C’est Bon Café When I visited C’est Bon Café fairly early on a Monday evening, I found the parking lot and nearly every table full, which probably tells you all you need to know about how the locals feel about this spot. The café serves solid, classic, not-too-spicy boiled crawfish with a zesty variety of pink dipping sauce and a massive menu of other offerings—including an invention I’ve never encountered outside of Houma called a shrimp patty. This is essentially chopped fresh shrimp re-formed into a hamburger patty shape, breaded, and fried, served on a bun and dressed like a burger—simultaneously indulgent and light (well, compared to an actual burger,
there’s a bunch of women sitting down,” Lirette told me. The name Bayou Terrebonne Distillers comes not only from the current location in the 1921 cypressframed Blum & Bergeron Dried Shrimp warehouse on the Bayou, but because Lily made her moonshine further up Bayou Terrebonne, as well. “We have an old-time story,” Lirette told me. “Our purpose is to preserve our family tradition along with the culture and beauty of the bayou region, and preserving this old building kind of fits squarely into that.” Another homage to Lily’s original illegal enterprise is the name of the distillery’s current primary product: a clear whiskey made with corn grown in Alexandria called Contraband Whiskey, which is used in the Crawfish Trail’s signature cocktail. “Le Mon Temps,” or “me time” is served in a tall glass with lemonade, mint syrup, and cherry syrup; rounding out into a delightfully tart, sweet, and smooth refresher after a day of relishing in local spices.
Enjoy the outdoor fun!
Bayou Terrebonne Distillers 8043 Main Street Houma, Louisiana 70360 (985) 790-7722 Btdistillers.com anyway). For me and my ravenous sweet tooth after a day spent eating spicy crawfish, the highlight at C’est Bon was the homemade tarte à la bouillie and red velvet whoopie pies. The tarte is infused with the homemade-with-love comfort that has me convinced the recipe comes directly from someone’s grand mére—a perfect, sugary-rich button to wrap up a crawfish feast. h
C’est Bon Café 1400 Grand Caillou Road Houma, Louisiana 70363 (985) 360-3928 cestboncafehouma.com
For more information about the over thirty stops on the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail, and a link to an interactive Google map of all of the locations, visit crawfishtrail.com.
8592 Hwy 1, Mansura, LA 800.833.4195 travelavoyelles.com // A P R 2 1
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Weidmann’s is Worth the Wait
A VACCINATED RETURN TO RESTAURANTS, STARTING WITH MISSISSIPPI’S OLDEST
By Chris Turner-Neal
ow I’ve missed restaurants. I am an enthusiastic eater but a middling cook, a problem I have solved by only dating men who cook well, excelling at conversation so that I am always invited to dinner parties, and going to restaurants, a three-pronged strategy that kept me happily fed until recently. In February I had it confirmed that I’d gotten a vaccine in a clinical trial, and immediately hopped in my car for a whirlwind solo road trip: I saw the Shiloh battlefield, the highest point in Mississippi, and, most coveted of all, the inside of a restaurant. Weidmann’s, a Meridian fixture and the oldest operating restaurant in Mississippi, marked my reentry into an actual indoor restaurant after my unhappy exile. I couldn’t have chosen better. Weidmann’s had been recommended to me by a friend whose former position as a civil-rights lawyer had involved a lot of crisscrossing the South and working up an appetite upholding the Constitution. Weidmann’s stood out as a favorite of the restaurants she’d explored, and her glowing reviews put it on the top of my list of places to visit when I
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got to Meridian. Well, I didn’t go that direction for a while, and then I couldn’t go that direction for a while, and all the while the idea of Weidmann’s blossomed in my mind. Established in 1870 by a Swiss immigrant, the restaurant is not only the oldest in Mississippi but among the oldest in the nation: Charles Frazier, the current operator, estimates that it’s among the thirty or forty most senior of the nation’s eateries. (For a bit of context, Weidmann’s is older than thirteen states). It’s existed in different buildings in Meridian and even decamped briefly to Hattiesburg to serve hungry soldiers mustering for World War II at Camp Shelby, but has flourished in downtown Meridian since 1923, welcoming visitors with a bold neon sign over the sidewalk. Frazier has helmed Weidmann’s since 2010, when the investment group that held the operation recruited him as an owner-operator. Mindful of the major spot the restaurant holds in the city’s psyche, but not a native himself, Frazier began his research, perusing old menus and talking to people who remembered Weirdmann’s from the fifties and sixties—and in a few cases, even longer ago. The previous operator
Photos courtesy of Visit Meridian Tourism.
had reimagined it as a high-end spot with modern dishes and prices to match, a strategy that stumbled in the 2008 crash and alienated the Meridian residents who loved it for what it was. Frazier attributes some of his success presiding over the restaurant’s revival to his not being a chef, getting feedback from the city about what they wanted to see and then recruiting a chef who could deliver that vision. Southern cuisine is always a mishmash of influences, and one of the pleasures of eating down here is finding a note that’s different from “your” Southern food: local touches like “comeback sauce,” a garlicky topping emerging from Greek eateries in Jackson and radiating outwards. These touches, combined with chef-specific flairs like crunchy panko crumbs in the fried green tomato batter, place the Weidmann’s menu in the enviable spot where comfort food meets new experience—as I learned that road-weary night in February. The bread that came before the meal was worth spoiling your appetite for—and oh, how long since free bread! Strengthened, I looked over the menu: Frazier had described a 250-plus item menu from the fifties, now streamlined, but the restaurant still offers a deep bench of delectables. My friend had recommended the crab cakes and the fried green tomatoes—these are of course what I would have been most interested in anyway, so it was especially thrilling to see that you can order crab cakes placed on fried green tomatoes under a layer of fontina cheese and beurre blanc sauce. It sounds over the top, but some occasions call for excess. I ate and enjoyed every last bit of it, unapologetically chasing the last drops of sauce and crab fragments with my fork. I returned a nearly pristine plate to the waitress, who didn’t comment, as I’m sure she sees this every workday. As I ate, I indulged in another pleasure I hadn’t enjoyed in a while: eavesdropping. After so long minding
my own business, just being near strangers’ conversations felt both normal and exciting. I lingered over my last few bites, unreasonably invested in whether my fellow diner was going to drive to Tuscaloosa to see a woman. (He told his friend he would not, but I didn’t believe him, and I don’t think the friend did either.) Too full to give dessert its due, I ordered a slice of pie to go, deciding in a mild panic to choose the lemon almond over the famed black bottom. Cozy in the first motel I’d seen in over a year, I left the pie on the nightstand instead of popping it into the fridge: I’m not the kind of person who forgets there’s pie for breakfast, but it seemed foolish to risk it. The next morning, I popped open the plastic clamshell and went at it, and I must report that it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten, defeating Lea’s Lunchroom’s and both my late grandmothers’. Silky, lemony without quite being tart, sweetness subdued enough to let the delicate almond through—I ate it as slowly as I could stand to and, in the absence of witnesses, ran my finger along the crenellations in the container to sweep up any lingering meringue. I can’t wait to bring someone to Weidmann’s. Like everywhere, it was shaken by the events of 2020, but cooperation among a fraternity of restauranteurs sharing solutions and the now-familiar pivot to take-out during the jittery spring and summer kept the place afloat, and now it stands ready to help future generations of Meridianites and admiring out-of-towners make memories. I’d like to be among them— but I’m not sharing. h
Weidmann’s 210 22nd Avenue Meridian, MS 39301 (601) 581-5770 weidmanns1870.com
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MR. STRANGE’S BRICK BARN
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B U I L D I N G B LO C KS
SLAVERY AT MELROSE
It’s in the Walls
INSIDE THE EXHILARATING WORLD OF BRICK COLLECTING Story by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot • Photos by Misty Swilley
alking up to City Roots coffee shop, I picked out Daniel Strange and John Hicks with little difficulty: two older fellows, sitting slightly apart from everyone else, talking animatedly and conspiratorially—as though they had a secret. I pulled up a chair and asked them if they’d found anything yet. They looked at each other and smiled, then said they couldn’t tell me much—but their sources here were promising. Strange had been up since 2:30 am, sleepless with excitement—“It’s like Christmas Eve!” And on the drive from West Monroe to Baton Rouge, they traveled with eyes peeled. “We were coming down,” said Hicks, “and we saw something in a ditch we passed, a deep ditch north of Baton Rouge. We did a U-turn. 48
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“If you pass it up this time, well you never know if you’ll go down that road again.” The riches the pair sought could be rare; they could even be valuable. But they are also plainly, invisibly, mundanely everywhere—and to the untrained eye, remarkably fundamental to the point of being unremarkable. “Right when we pulled up here, we started looking at these brick buildings,” said Hicks, gesturing to the 106-year old former power plant that now serves at Baton Rouge’s Electric Depot complex. “They’re all around you. Most people don’t even see them. Just kick them out of the way, throw them through a police car or something. “But, they’re history. There’s history behind these bricks.”
The International Brick Collectors Association (IBCA) was founded in 1983, evolving out of what was first a group of barbed-wire collectors. As Chicago Tribute writer Christopher Borrelli put it in a 2016 article on the subject, “These are fanboys of the prosaic, champions of the everyday.” Today, the group consists of approximately four hundred active members spread across the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and France. Strange is the current treasurer of the group—he and Hicks being two of Louisiana’s four active members, along with Greg Duggan in Natchitoches and Terry Taraba in Stonewall. For ten and a half years, Taraba served as the association’s president, accumulating a collection of seven thousand bricks along the way, which includes representatives from every state in the mainland U.S.,
Daniel Strange currently serves as the treasurer of the International Brick Collectors Association. Over the last few decades, he’s accumulated a collection of about 3,500 bricks. He stores them in a custom-built storage shed—a “brick barn” —in his backyard.
over five hundred Mexican bricks, fifty Canadian bricks, and over a hundred more from countries like Lithuania, Vietnam, and Australia. The hobbyists of the IBCA range from the casual brick admirer to full-on civilian archaeologists, and members of the group have made significant contributions to the collective knowledge of our nation’s brick manufacturing history. Allan Gilbert, for example, is a professor of anthropology and founded the three-thousand-item New Netherland/New York Brick Archive at Fordham University. Frank Clement, known for tracking down old brickyards that once existed along rivers and then jumping into said rivers in search of precious blocks, turned his forty-plus-year 8,500-count collection into the Frank and Jane Clement Brick Museum in Orchard Park, New York. For a time his wife Jane served as president of the association, and Frank as vice president. The group’s current librarian, Jim Graves, has compiled one of the most extensive public brick databases in existence, listing known bricks in the United States and their qualities (brand, type, maker, location) at brickname.com. The highlights of IBCA participation, though, are its brickswaps, which typically take place three times a year at various locations around the country. (Because of COVID-19, the group hasn’t had an official swap since September 2019, though they’ve had a couple of unofficial swaps in the meantime.) Early on Saturday morning, the collectors will convene in a designated parking lot, where they will arrange the bricks they are willing to part with behind their vehicles. The blow of a horn announces the swap’s start, and all bets are off. “It’s a bit of a free for all,” said Hicks. Anyone can take what they please. There are, though, a few ways to ensure you get the best of the bunch, explained Strange. “John and I’ve got some good bricks,” he said. “If you put them out on Saturday, anybody can get them, and you might not necessarily get good ones in their place. Both of us are pretty aggressive, so sometimes we’ll do a little preswap.” Another strategy is what in the brick fanatic community they call “putting your foot on it.” Basically: Get there early, scope out the goods, and stand on top of the best ones until the swap begins. The swap system, explained Hicks, keeps the club— and the hobby of brick collecting—accessible to all. “We keep it on level ground that way,” he said. “The rich man’s always going to be able to afford a rare brick, but we want to keep it family friendly, available to everyone.” “We’re enjoying our retirement,” said Hicks. A de facto “brick chasing” team, he and Strange take trips about once a month to various
parts of the Louisiana-Mississippi area. Relying on a network of mysterious “sources,” they hit demolition sites, brickyards, Facebook Marketplace finds, and the occasional home of an old lady with a pile of bricks in her closet—leaving plenty of room to stumble upon a pile in the ditch here or there along the way. “It’s good,” said Hicks. “We watch each other, keep each other company, share expenses. It’s companionship—more exciting when you have someone to share it with.” The two have been collecting together for a little over three years. They met through Taraba when Hicks first discovered IBCA. “He called me and came to visit one afternoon,” said Strange. “He brought a bunch of Thurber pavers for my sidewalk project, and took home a bunch of new bricks for his collection.” “I didn’t know there were other weirdos like me out there,” laughed Hicks, who first started collecting around forty years ago while driving routes for UPS. “I used to see these bricks all over, with names on them,” he said. He started his collection intending to use his finds as a floor in his first home. “Every time my wife and I went on a trip, we’d find them, load the car up, take them back. We’ve got them in our house, in the sidewalks.” Today, though, he keeps his collection in his garage, awaiting the day when he can build it a proper home— a brick barn. “Susan, my wife, says that once you see my brick barn, you’ll never look at bricks the same,” said Strange. A 36x50’ metal building filled with seven-foot shelves designed precisely for the purpose of displaying his bricks, which are organized alphabetically by state, Strange has got a bonafide brick museum in his backyard in Minden. In fact, at one point, Webster Parish Tourism was even considering including Strange’s house as a stop on tours as part of the 2018 initiative “Destination Webster”. Bricks are in Strange’s blood. His father was a brick layer, and he worked with him all the way through college and graduate school, earning his journeyman’s union card. The first brick he ever purchased was part of a fundraiser at Northwestern State University. But Strange’s brick collection really got its start on a mission trip in Dewey, Oklahoma in 1987, when a David Ward of Independence, Kansas gifted him seven Kansas bricks. “Kansas has some of the best bricks of all, with an ox and yoke design on them,
or a sunflower,” said Strange. “That got me started.” Today, Strange’s collection is up to around 3,500, and Hicks’s is over 2,000. “I’m a little more picky, since I don’t have a designated place to store my bricks,” said Hicks. “I’m more of a regional collector. I do have some from up North that are interesting, but I’m really looking for this area. I want Deep South, local. There are very few people seeking out this region’s bricks exclusively.” The bricks that most collectors focus on are brand bricks: bricks with words or designs on them. Starting around the 1860s and 1870s, brick manufacturers started emblazoning bricks with the name of their family, company, or town as a form of advertising. This trend faded out around the 1940s as the industry became more mechanized and monopolized. “There are probably only about three major manufacturers left in the United States today,” said Taraba over the phone. “And everything is done automatically, no one touches the brick. So it is becoming harder to find those original hand-made, mud-made bricks with identifiers. Most of the bricks we find with interesting designs or names were made before 1940.” Over the past year, Strange and Hicks have found a handful of rare and even never-seen-before bricks that, each on their own, would be the pinnacle of any brick collector’s career. These include a plantationmade “RKG BELLE HELENE” and what appears to be its predecessor, a very similar brick with the letters “BH” inscribed on it. Last year, they found four “JOHNSON CONE”s in Jackson, Mississippi, and that summer Hicks found “a palace” more of them. “And nobody had seen these up to this point,” emphasized Strange. Hicks has got a “BACOT” from McComb, Missisippi, which upon further research revealed itself to be from the descendants of Pine County’s first sheriff. “As people were coming from Chicago area down the Mississippi, they’d clear forests and use the wood to build houses, and they needed bricks. So they’d start these little family operations. You
Some of Daniel Strange and John Hicks’ s favorite bricks from their collecctions. Photos by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot. // A P R 2 1
Walls continued . . . won’t find this brick in Milwaukee, or even New Orleans. These are so rare. It’s a local brick and it never left the area.” Some of Strange’s favorites include a BREAUX BRIDGE, a CHAPPUIS, and a RAYNE. The Chappuis and Rayne bricks, Hicks and Strange believe, are from the same family. “I got two or three from the Chappuis great granddaughter,” said Strange. “I’ve had five or six and John’s had a few of them. Very sought after.” John found his on a whim, just riding around the area. “I was just riding down country roads in the Rayne area, and I looked to my left. Thunderstorms were coming, and I remember, under a big old Spanish oak tree I saw a pile of bricks. I did a U-turn, went back, and started looking through them. I realized what they were and went weak-kneed.” “He’s the only person I know who can be driving sixty-five miles an hour and see a brick under a tree while he’s driving by it,” laughed Strange. They each have their all-time favorites, though. Hicks’ is a heavy, rough, hard tan brick with “D,R, Morgan” handcarved in script on both the face and the side. “There’s only one of this one,” he said. Strange pointed at it and said, “When John dies, that comes to me.” Strange’s favorite is more sentimental, and almost as rare: the ELSTAN LITTLE JEWEL. “I had found five at my dad’s place, long after he died,”
he said. “He had bricks all over there.” Part of his very early collection, one of the bricks ended up under a serious collector’s foot seconds into Strange’s first swap at Taraba’s house. “I didn’t even know what I had,” he said. To his knowledge, no one has ever found another Elstan Little Jewel. “That’s the thrill of this thing,” said Hicks. “It’s the hunt, the needle in the haystack.” These collectors keep their prized jewels close, but they also carry along an inherent spirit of generosity unique to the art of brick collecting. Everywhere they go, Hicks and Strange are not just looking for bricks for their own collections—they are collecting extras; seconds and thirds of their own rare finds to give to their friends. “These are some of the most generous people in the world,” said Hicks, who keeps what he calls a “bone pile” in his back yard, separate from his personal collection. “Good bricks, good traders that other people will want, that I just don’t need,” he explained. “You can use them to swap or to gift other members.” Taraba explained that whenever a new collector attends one of their brickswaps, he always makes a point to send them home with around twenty-five bricks, “and everyone else there does the same thing.” But, every now and then, Hicks and Strange will find something special, something unearthed with another collector’s name already on it. When
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a club member named Cecil Poston stopped collecting in 2019 due to health constraints and gave his collection to Hicks and Strange, they went up to Tulsa, OK with a twelve-foot trailer. When they got home, and were going through the pile, they came across one deeply-coveted COMANCHE I.T.. “It’s one of the most sought-after bricks among collectors,” explained Strange. When they saw it, the two men said
simultaneously: “Terry.” “Terry had been looking for one for over twenty years,” said Strange. “We called him and asked if he would meet us at Picadilly in Shreveport.” “He was speechless,” said Hicks “He cried,” nodded Strange. “A seventy-year old man, he cried.” h
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Dwelling on the Past THE SLAVE DWELLING PROJECT VISITS NATCHEZ Story by Alexandra Kennon • Photo by Jordan McAlister
Joseph McGill founded The Slave Dwelling Project in 2010 in hopes of raising awareness for the need to incorporate slavery narratives into our understanding of American history. In April, he’ll be staying in the slave quarters at Melrose Estate (pictured) in the Natchez National Historical Park.
oseph McGill, who founded and took on the Slave Dwelling Project in 2010, is not content with slavery being treated as a mere footnote in American history—not when it was the harsh reality for nearly four million individuals prior to the Civil War. “We know well about the nice, beautiful big house,” McGill explained. “What’s missing from that story are the lives of the people who enabled all that.” As a means of filling in the oftenneglected details of what actual life was like for the enslaved, through the Slave Dwelling Project McGill steps through the doors of the historic cabins, outbuildings, attics, and other places where American slaves lived their lives, and he spends the night there. In the process, he’s realized that many of the places that enslaved people once lived are no longer still standing, or have been converted to garages, storage spaces, man caves, and the like. As a result, he’s had to expand his criteria a bit, and has also incorporated preserving these less-thangrand historic structures into the Slave Dwelling Project’s mission. “Eleven years and twenty-five states later and the District of Columbia, I'm still at it,” McGill said, expressing no intent to stop or slow down until his body mandates it. “Because I can't correct in my lifetime what it took over one hundred years to get wrong.” I spoke to McGill, along with Executive Director of the Historic Natchez Foundation Carter Burns, ahead of McGill’s visit to the slave quarters at Melrose, which is part of the Natchez Historic Park, on April 17. Natchez is a town known for its “big beautiful houses” and extensive plantation legacy, which drives much of its tourism. Conversations about better representing the Bluff City’s full history—namely, by including accounts of slavery’s role in that legacy—have become increasingly urgent in recent years, particularly in the wake of
bestselling travel writer Richard Grant’s book The Deepest South of All and last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. When I spoke with Burns and McGill in early March, Natchez was preparing for its annual Spring Pilgrimage beginning the following week—which included installing interpretive panels on enslavement at Longwood and Stanton Hall ahead of the events. Natchez’s antebellum roots being thicker than a live oak’s, organizations like The Historic Natchez Foundation and Visit Natchez have been working diligently to provide the infrastructure and tools necessary for historic property owners to better incorporate the history of slavery into their tours and other offerings. “We're trying to assist everybody so that they can all have the tools they need to share those stories with their visitors,” Burns said. While McGill’s sleepover at Melrose will mark his first official stay at the Natchez Historic Park (though he has conducted overnight stays for the project at Prospect Hill in neighboring Jefferson County and at Concord Quarters in Natchez before), Burns and McGill hope to continue to bring the Slave Dwelling Project to Natchez on an annual basis, and to expand upon and deepen the conversations already taking place. “I think that what you guys are doing there is great,” McGill said to Burns of the ongoing work in Natchez to better present the town’s history of slavery, “And we're just building on it.” Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when McGill conducted overnight stays, he would invite people to join him to spend the night in the spaces and for conversations around the campfire. In the process, project participants not only experienced one aspect of the harsh realities of life for enslaved individuals, but also had the opportunity to engage in discussions about how to practically address the repercussions of slavery in America today. “In these conversations, we talk about things basically centered
around slavery and the legacy that it’s left on this nation,” McGill explained. These days the events are presented virtually, but the profound and difficult nature of the talks has endured. “Most of the people in these conversations are usually engaging with people who don't look like them,” McGill said. “And that’s the important thing, even in the mode that we're in now, looking at the screen and seeing the mosaic of people engaging in these conversations. We consider that success.” Virtually or otherwise, McGill said the conversations “get very interesting,” and sometimes result in “jaw-dropping moments.” “What is now common is that most of the white folks who participate are descendants of slave owners,” McGill said. “And, you know, they want to participate because of that, and they don't shy away from it.” Once, for instance, a woman admitted her father was a member of the KKK. In conversation, these participants reckon with their own racism and their family history of it while also exploring difficult topics ranging from Confederate monuments to white privilege to plantation weddings. The Slave Dwelling Project does not merely aim to bring attention to the often-overlooked history of slavery, but to address its legacy in tangible and beneficial ways moving forward. McGill explained that at the heart of the project is the question: “What history are we going to disseminate? Are we going to continue down the path that we were and tell a more watered-down, sugarcoated, more comfortable history? Or are we going to be real, and insert into that narrative the fact that, yeah, we're a great nation, but along the way, we’ve committed some flaws—or we did some things, some atrocious things?” Accurately filling in that narrative and raising awareness of the history of slavery inspired McGill to embark on the project. Yet, when McGill first began the
overnights, he did so alone. “That was that kind of period where folks were just kind of sitting back and waiting…trying to ignore what I was doing, because they were hoping that it would just go away,” McGill said. For his first ever overnight, McGill stayed in a slave cabin at Magnolia Plantation in South Carolina, where he is currently the History and Culture Coordinator on a full-time basis. There was a wedding on the grounds that night. As he tried to sleep, McGill could hear the beat of the live band playing at the reception, as well as the loud caws of peacocks and a tree limb repeatedly hitting the roof in the wind. “I eventually got to sleep,” he said. “But it was the next morning when I got up, which was Mother's Day of 2010, that I started to explore, not knowing where I was going,” McGill said. "I ended up in the graveyard where the enslaved people are buried. If someone was born enslaved and died free, they had a headstone. But if they were born enslaved and died enslaved, their graves weren’t even marked. So, I had to find the indentions in the earth—because if they were buried at a wooden box, you know, that wooden box would eventually give way, and that Earth would conform accordingly.” Finding those graves, sunken into the earth, McGill felt the magnitude of his mission. He was doing it for them. “When they were here on this earth, they were muted,” he said. “So I knew that this project and I would be their voices to carry their story forth.” h
Joseph McGill will be visiting the slave quarters of Melrose Estate April 17 as part of The Slave Dwelling Project, including Facebook Live broadcasts at 11 am and 6 pm, and a virtual campfire discussion via Zoom at 7 pm. Register for the Zoom discussion at slavedwellingproject.org natchez.org // A P R 2 1
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BIGFOOT CAPITAL OF THE
CAPITAL OF TEXAS
S M A L L TOW N S E A S O N
24 Hours in Jefferson
EAST TEXAS’S BNB CAPITAL IS ONE OF ITS BEST KEPT SECRETS Story and photos by Lauren Heffker
Top: The 19th century Greek Revival-style home, the House of the Seasons, is named for its cupola, inside of which the left photo was taken. Bottom left: The First United Methodist Church of Jefferson alight at dusk. Bottom right: Ms. Shirley’s prepared breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt, homemade banana bread, a hearty slice of warm quiche, and seasoned potatoes served with cherry tomatoes, served at The House of the Seasons in the Bed & Breakfast Capital of Texas. 52
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he tiny town of Jefferson, Texas bears not one, but two distinguishing titles: it is the bed and breakfast capital of the Lone Star State; it is also the Bigfoot Capital of Texas. How did it earn this latter prestigious designation, you wonder? According to the mayor’s 2018 proclamation, Jefferson happens to be the geographic epicenter of numerous reported Bigfoot sightings in and around Marion County; the town also hosts the annual Texas Bigfoot Conference (yep, you read that right), where bigfoot believers, researchers, and enthusiasts gather to connect and compare field notes on the legendary beast. Such an oddity, combined with Jefferson’s possession of a museum dedicated to the subject of “measurement and time,” was just peculiar enough to shape a portrait of place and to pique my curiosity. The once-bustling town—home to a population of just over two thousand today—was the state’s largest inland river port during its heyday. From the mid-to-late nineteenth century, Jefferson was a gateway to the West for steamboat traffic off the Red River. Over one hundred years later, its historic character and Southern charm pose for a quiet getaway in a sleepy bayou town. On a recent cloudy Thursday afternoon, I scooped up my sister Lanie inLafayette, and into the piney woods of northeast Texas we went, passing through Natchitoches and Shreveport up west toward Dallas and Fort Worth, rolling hills and ranches gradually replacing crawfish fields and Cajun prairies. Nearly four hours later, we arrived at the House of the Seasons, a historic residence-turned-B&B. The easydemeanored general manager, Shirley Reiman, was already waiting for us. She opened the door to the residence’s carriage house, where we would be staying for the night, with a “here you are, my dears.” To my sister’s delight, the defining feature of the Epperson Suite was an in-room jacuzzi, an interesting contrast to the green paisley patterned carpet. Next to a saran-wrapped plate of lemon-glazed pumpkin spice cookies, the room’s guest book was filled with entries addressed to Shirley, all the pages of loopy cursive or messy scrawl thanking her for her cooking and caretaking, promising to return again.
For dinner we decided on one of the few local eateries, McGarity’s Saloon No. 61, easily finding our way to its neon-green lit 1861 brick exterior while exploring downtown—no need for Google Maps when there’s only two stop lights (which seem like formalities at that). Original artifacts and remnants of Jefferson’s history remain intact and scattered throughout town, like the old hitching posts in front of McGarity’s where patrons would tie their horses. Inside, it was warmly lit and intimate, with various memorabilia and taxidermied creatures adorning the walls and ceiling, including a moose with one particularly searing stare. As we finished our shared entrees of white cheddar mac and cheese and a french dip sandwich, our server returned and, leaning over the remaining chair, said in a low tone that had our meal had already been taken care of by someone in the large party seated next to us, but he couldn’t reveal who. A good first
TO MY SISTER’S DELIGHT, THE DEFINING FEATURE OF THE EPPERSON SUITE WAS AN INROOM JACUZZI, AN INTERESTING CONTRAST TO THE GREEN PAISLEY PATTERNED CARPET.
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impression, indeed. “That’s just living in a small town for you,” remarked Pam Thomas, from the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau, when I later mentioned the gesture to her over the phone. The next morning, the sound of classical music wafted through the kitchen doorway of the main house as Shirley served us a delicious breakfast spread of fresh fruit and yogurt, homemade banana bread, and a hearty slice of quiche paired with seasoned potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Once we’d eaten enough to last three lifetimes, she gave us the tour of the three-story home, its grandeur and finery striking. For twenty years, Shirley has overseen the care and upkeep of the House of the Seasons, herself trained in home restoration. The home was built in 1872 in the Greek Revival and Victorian styles by Colonel Benjamin Epperson, who was a prominent lawyer and Texas politician, as well as a confidante of Sam Houston. It was purchased by Richard H. Collins
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24 Hours continued . . .
Plants thrive inside the greenhouse at the House of the Seasons.
and restored from 1974 to 1976. Jeannie Epperson, Ben’s youngest daughter, who lived in Jefferson as a schoolteacher up until her death, sold the original home’s artifacts and furniture back to Collins, allowing for visitors like us to enjoy them today. The House of the Seasons gets its name from the multicolored cupola atop the roof,
The colorful storefront of Caddo Mercantile Antiques on East Austin Street is one of many eclectic antique shops in Jefferson.
where each windowpane of stained glass represents a different season: green for spring, red for summer, orange for fall, and blue for winter. On the first floor, an interior dome looks up to artfully painted murals of the goddesses of the seasons on the second, and then all the way up to the peak of the cupola on the third floor.
The House of the Seasons contains many original pieces, such as this 19th century chair within the main hallway on the first floor.
Every room is a thing of meticulously crafted and restored beauty. The property’s Victorian gardens and grounds, normally in full bloom this time of year, were still thawing from the recent freeze. Luckily, color persevered within the clear-glass confines of the greenhouse, where there were more than a few blooms to behold that had
been saved from the frost. Lanie and I spent the rest of the day walking about town, visiting the Port Jefferson History and Nature Center, the historic homes and landmarks, the Jefferson Historical Museum, and the many antique shops. The Jefferson General Store is a longtime local gem filled wall-to-wall with souvenirs, gifts,
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and old-time candies and treats. For lunch, we opted for the highlyrecommended Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue, located downtown on North Polk Street. It’s the kind of nofrills joint with white folding chairs and communal tables, a roll of paper towels atop each—this is how I knew we were about to eat good, especially considering that Texas Monthly included it in its ranking of the fifty best purveyors of smoked meat in the state (which, in Texas, is saying something). We ordered a couple of pork and brisket sandwiches with their signature swamp fries on the side, and let me tell you—this lunch alone was
worth the drive. On our way out, we stopped by to see Caddo Lake State Park, home to one of the only natural lakes in Texas. Framed by thick cypress trees, it felt like home; I suppose that’s the appeal of this place, radiating with all the warmth and welcome of a proper homecoming. h
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Light from the multicolored cupola above refracts beneath the inner dome on the second floor of the House of the Seasons.
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P E R S P E C T I V E S : I M A G E S O F O U R S TAT E
ABSENCE, PRESENCE, AND THE SPACE IN BETWEEN By James Fox-Smith
t doesn’t matter where you live in Louisiana, nature always crowds in. Whether in a city apartment, suburban ranch house, or bayouside shack, we live amid riotous abundance— the region’s perfect storm of warm air, fertile soil, and water, water, everywhere creating conditions for growth that guarantee the boundary separating human and natural realms to forever be contested territory. Alligators amble along highway shoulders, deer devour our gardens, kudzu’s emerald tendrils creep over neglected structures. To try and impose order upon the Louisiana landscape is to live with the impression that Mother Nature is ever on the verge of gaining the upper hand. If we were to turn our backs, we might be swallowed whole. This liminal space is where painter Chase Mullen plies his craft. In acrylic paint on birch panels, Mullen draws on a lifelong fascination with the work of early naturalists and scientific illustrators like John James Audubon, creating precise, photo-realistic work that juxtaposes the secret life of Louisiana’s flora and fauna against the man-made in exquisite, startling ways. A marsh wren’s nest overtakes a gas lantern’s glass chamber; a buck clears the hood of a police cruiser at a leap; a single strand of web stretched between a watering can’s body and spout, quivers beneath the banana spider’s delicate advance. Wild
attention to detail and anatomic accuracy of early scientific illustration, with a contemporary aesthetic. “I looked at those early naturalists and scientific illustrators then asked, ‘What would that look like in 2021?’ It would look like what the world looks like. It’s not the untouched natural landscape that Audubon saw. It’s changing. My task is recording the creature
hog piglets trot jauntily beneath mailboxes all askew as accumulated mail spills from an open flap. Road signs, street lamps, a rusting paint can: totems of human endeavor without a human to be seen. But everything so beautiful, so alive, making the viewer ponder: if we all were to vanish tomorrow, how long before no trace of us remains? It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. In Mullen’s work life creeps, crawls, and flutters in, filling any void that we humans leave vacant. “That’s the juxtaposition; I’m always coming back to that,” observed Mullen, explaining that when he first started carving out a narrative path for himself as a painter, he went looking for a way to marry the exquisite
how it lives today.” The result: photographic realism set against an incongruous backdrop that renders Mullen’s work ever so slightly surreal, and integrates an element of humor, too. ‘Anytime you incorporate things from the civilized world with ‘varmints’ there’s something inherently funny there,’ Mullen noted, thinking about a piece with a raccoon sporting about in a blue wheelbarrow while a red fox dashes by. It’s a humor that demystifies, creates affection. By setting his plant and animal lives amid the mundane stuff of human existence, Mullen’s work elicits not only a smile, but also empathy for the creatures striving to retain a foothold in our increasingly crowded world.
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But if there’s a deeper note of environmental activism here, Mullen says it’s not by any grand design. Where death features prominently in his work—and it does—it’s presented more in the spirit of scientific observation, than as the sounding of an environmental alarm. In a piece named “Fructify,” a young lotus flower springs forth from a vacated turtle shell. “I wanted to do something with a turtle shell for aesthetic reasons,” Mullen explained, “and out of fascination with the way evolution pushed this thing to grow its own shell. But it’s hard to think about a turtle shell without thinking about the dead turtle, so I made one with a lotus flower growing out of it. When I finished, it didn’t remind me of death. Yes, it’s a rotting shell, but it reminded me of new life.” Looking at this work, it’s easy to go looking for hidden meaning—messages about life, death, renewal and decay. But Mullen said that building allegory into his paintings isn’t a driving factor. “I’m not hiding messages here,” he explained. “Sometimes I consider certain narratives that I could build or layer in. But this is more about using the South’s flora, fauna, and landscape to make something that fits into new contemporary, and also pays homage to the South. If I can also work in a subtext about the modernization of this landscape, great. But mostly this is about really finding my culture, and then adding something to it.” Speaking of adding, Mullen and his wife welcome their first child—a little girl—this spring. Does he think that might change his work? Might little people find their way in at last? “I can feel already that I’m going to be taking myself significantly less seriously,” Mullen said. “I’m excited to have a young mind around, to remind me what creativity looks like. And if for some reason she really likes butterflies … then there will be more butterflies.” h
chasemullenstudios.com instagram.com/chasemullenstudios Image by Chase Mullen, “Fructify”.
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Join us this spring as we celebrate
THE YELLOW HOUSE BY SARAH M. BROOM
a National Book Award-winning memoir named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times. We’ve planned a variety of FREE virtual and in-person programs & events beginning in March, through mid-May, including book discussions, genealogy classes, crafts and more!
For a detailed schedule, visit the Events Calendar at ebrpl.com.
Check out What’s Coming Up:
DIY Oral History Workshop 3 p.m. Sunday, April 11, Main Library at Goodwood
Healing Words: Telling Stories and Poems to Find Purpose Again in the Years after Katrina 3 p.m. Sunday, April 25 Main Library at Goodwood
Author Event with Sarah M. Broom & Margaret Wilkerson Sexton Time TBA, Saturday, May 15, Main Library at Goodwood
For more information about the One Book One Community selection and program, go online to the InfoGuide at ReadOneBook.org.
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