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Journey back to the River Center Theatre Join Baton Rouge Symphony as we celebrate 75 dynamic years, return to the River Center Theater, welcome several exciting guest conductors and performers, and guarantee fresh and engaging experiences for our audiences.

Season subscriptions and single tickets available now.

225-383-0500 brso.org

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@BRSymphony


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Contents

SEPTEMBER 2021

Events

11 6 8

Features

THE SHOW GOES ON High kicks and high notes continue, regardless.

REFLECTIONS My family and other animals by James Fox-Smith

NEWS & NOTEWORTHIES

VO LU M E 3 8 // I SS U E 9

28 32 36

FROM A PUPPETEER’S POINT OF VIEW How an art-starved alien fulfilled a childhood dream

Publisher

James Fox-Smith

Associate Publisher

Ashley Fox-Smith

by Kristen Foster

RENAISSANCE PENDING A second fall performing arts season is threatened by COVID-19. by Alexandra Kennon

Managing Editor

Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Alexandra Kennon

Creative Director

THE SOUTH’S NEW HOLLYWOOD Tate Taylor on developing Natchez as a premiere film destination by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

On the Cover

Kourtney Zimmerman

Contributors:

Jason Christian, Beth D’Addono, Kristen Foster, Kimberly Meadowlark, Olivia Perillo, Chris Turner-Neal

Cover Artist

Kimberly Meadowlark

THE PERFORMING ARTS ISSUE Cover image by Kimberly Meadowlark

Advertising

In Kristen Foster’s feature story describing her experience working with the new LPB original children’s educational program Ziggy’s Arts Adventure (page 28), she writes: “Growing up, when adults asked me that quintessential question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I’d answer, with a youthful lack of hesitation: ‘A puppeteer.’” Foster’s story illustrates the enduring wonder of the performing arts, their power to inspire and innovate—even in adulthood. In this 2021 Performing Arts issue, we find ourselves documenting a pivotal moment in our local performing arts landscape. Faced with yet another season of cancellations, postponements, and moves to virtual—how are our performing arts organizations pivoting, coping, enduring? And what roles might we, the audience, play in ensuring that these institutions succeed?

Cuisine

38

MEET ME FOR COFFEE In small town Louisiana, coffee shops hold sway as vibrant cultural hubs. by Alexandra Kennon

Culture

44 46

48

JULIE ODELL The musician, maker, and mother enters a new era.

50

by Lauren Heffker

A Q&A WITH MAURICE RUFFIN The author’s latest is a love letter to New Orleans. by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

REMNANTS Rethinking performance for the digital generation

by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot 4

Escapes

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MY MARIGNY In the face of gentrification, a strand of the neighborhood’s eccentricity endures. by Chris Turner-Neal

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PEACE AT PALOMA LAKE A bucolic retreat in Plaquemine by Beth D’Addono

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PERSPECTIVES Douglas Bourgeois by Jason Christian

SALES@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM

Sales Team

Heather Gammill & Heather Gibbons

Custom Content Coordinator

Lauren Heffker

Advertising Coordinator

Kathryn Kearney

President

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

$ $

ISSN #8756-906X

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.


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Reflections FROM THE PUBLISHER

Editor’s note: The following has nothing to do with the performing arts. Readers in search of thematic relevance should turn to page 8

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confess to being a little distracted. This is because from my perch at the kitchen table (I’m working from home, as has become the norm for lots of us), there are pressed to the back door four of the most plaintive, hangdog faces you have ever seen. Well, alright, three hangdog faces and one hang-cat, since one of them is, in fact, feline. For an hour or so they’ve been sitting there with eyes for none but me. Now and again one of them shifts a little, utters a groan, or sits back and presses a nose or a paw against the smudged glass in a transparent attempt to look irresistible. Any time I glance up or bestir myself to top off a cup of tea, they begin fidgeting excitedly. Tails wave, ears prick, tongues loll. But then, when I settle back down at my computer the performance ends and they all slump back into fugue state to resume the surveillance. Already this morning they’ve gone for a run with my wife, accompanied me down to the

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barn to feed the chickens, terrorized a tardy opossum that they managed to bail up in the fig tree, and been rewarded with a heroic dog’s breakfast that included half a roast chicken I found in the back of the fridge. In other words it’s been the sort of morning that you would think ought to constitute doggy nirvana. So, what more could these three dogs (and one cat) possibly want out of life? What they want, of course, is to be let inside, and they know a pushover when they see one. The object of their affection is the product of an “inside pets” family. I was raised in a suburban house that had a decent-sized, if fairly tame, patch of backyard, large enough to accommodate a couple of dogs as well as my brother, sister, and me. My parents’ dogs of choice were Shetland sheepdogs, or “shelties,” a breed of pint-sized, long-haired herding dog well-adapted to chasing sheep (and Shetland ponies, presumably) around freezing islands in the North Atlantic, but less well-suited to suburban life in the blazing hot summers of southeastern Australia. So, although our shelties

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Photo by James Fox-Smith

had room to run around the backyard, the shortage of Shetland ponies out there meant that where they spent most of their time was asleep on the couch, or in a pinch, under the kitchen table. This was fine by my parents, who apparently saw nothing untoward about sitting on a couch festooned with tawny dog hair; or stepping over (or sometimes on) an elderly sheltie passed out on a rug dreaming of stunted sheep. On the other hand, my wife was raised on a farm, where actual farming took place. As anyone who has ever set foot on a working farm knows, they’re usually dirty, muddy, odiferous environments that present quite the obstacle to anyone trying to keep the farmhouse habitable. They’re paradise for dogs though, and although there were always a couple rollicking around the farm while my wife

was growing up, they would never under any circumstance be allowed inside. Now that my wife and I are adults living in that same farmhouse, and although nothing besides kids, chickens, and pine trees have been farmed here in a long time, the old, “outside dogs” policy still stands. Sort of. This is why our three—fresh from morning adventures that may or may not have involved digging up moles, dog-paddling around a pond, or tossing a dead opossum around like a gruesome frisbee—can show up at the back door and still stand a reasonable chance of being let inside if they have the right audience, and if their performance is good enough. So there at the back door they will sigh, and schmooze, and make goo-goo eyes at me until I finally open the door and let them in. When I relent, they’ll throw themselves around the kitchen in epileptic fits of joy, scrutinize the floor for dropped breakfast, and try to climb into my lap before settling down under the table to shed fur and dream of opossums. And there they’ll stay until you-know-who enters the room. When she does, all four of us will have to go outside. —James Fox-Smith, publisher james@countryroadsmag.com


A Special Advertising Feature from Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

A Breath of Fresh Air With 2021 marking the 50th anniversary of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we’re sharing patient success stories that show the impact of compassionate cancer care. For former patient Jimmie Brown, consistent treatment made survivorship a reality.

Throughout his lengthy career, Jimmie Brown has toured around the world, in addition to playing many local festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. When the New Orleans-born singer and musician was diagnosed with lung cancer, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever get to play music again. Thanks to the care he received at Mary Bird Perkins, he’s not only able to continue doing what he loves, but also to pass down his lifelong passion to his grandchildren, too. In 2017, Brown went to his primary care physician complaining of neck pain. When a subsequent MRI revealed a mass in his lung, Brown was referred to Dr. James E. Carinder Mary Bird Perkins in Covington, where Dr. James E. Carinder, a Northshore Oncology Associates physician, diagnosed him with stage three lung cancer. He began an extensive treatment plan, visiting the Cancer Center every weekday to receive radiation therapy over the course of a year. “They took care of me, I mean, they’re like my family now,” Brown says. Since he’s been in remission, Brown and his band, Just Us, have provided entertainment for several Mary Bird Perkins fundraising and holiday events. Brown has lost his father and two siblings to cancer. His steadfast faith, along with time spent writing songs with his fifteen grandchildren, kept his spirits high throughout his rigorous course of treatment, Brown says. “Music helped me so much, it just releases whatever you need out there,” he says. “I knew that if I just kept on moving like I did yesterday, no matter what happened, I’d be alright. There’s no use worrying about it, because life always has a way of working out.” Before he was diagnosed, Brown spent nearly three decades volunteering as the head coach of St. Roch playground for the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD), where in addition to teaching sports to at-risk youth, he served as a mentor to kids outside of the park, too. Now that he’s cancer-free, he’s looking forward to returning to NORD. “God left me here for a reason. Those playgrounds in New Orleans, a lot of them are closed,” he says. “So I think I need to figure out why they closed and try to get them back open.”

Learn more about lung cancer screenings available at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at marybird.org.

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Noteworthy

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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

CURIOSITIES

LO O K C LO S E R

W

Foster a Uke

ARTS FOR ALL’S NEWEST PROGRAM INVITES MUSIC NOVICES TO TAKE HOME A UKULELE FOR A MONTH

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icture yourself, settled in the hcrook of a big St. Francisville oak, strumming lazily away and filling the thick Louisiana air with the mellow notes of the uke. In a town known for sweet little eccentricities, such a dream is never too far away. Thanks to a gift from the Bank of St. Francisville, the nonprofit organization Arts for All was recently able to purchase fifteen ukuleles for its summer Songbird Music Camps. At the suggestion of musician and educator David Hinson, the organization decided to share the fine instruments—and the gift of music—with the larger community. Enter: the Foster a Ukulele Program.

The concept is simple. Each little uke has a name—homages to ukulele players the world over like Tiny Tim, Bonnie, Lucille, Don Ho, Blue Hawaii, and more—and anyone can apply to foster the instrument for a month at a time. Keep an ear out Felicianians; it won’t be long until the whole town is strumming away. Ukulele teacher Kat Carlson will offer a beginner’s class during the Yellow Leaf Arts Festival on October 30–31, followed by a ukulele jam session. Those interested in fostering an instrument may reach out to Lynn Wood at artsforallwestfeliciana@gmail.com. —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Mark Your Calendars AN OPERA, A FESTIVAL, AND AN EXHIBITION

S

eptember always carries a sense of anticipation with it, ushering in cooler temps, new beginnings, and the height of our region’s arts season. That this hparticular September came with especial expections hardly needs to be said—expectations that have largely been disappointingly dashed by the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. But as always—as is evidenced throughout this issue— our arts organizations carry on. With safety in mind, we’ve earmarked three events from our calendar that piqued our interest for their historical, educational, and philanthropic impacts. From Abita Springs to Port Allen to the safety of your home, we hope to see you there. Moonshadow Festival (September 4–5): Facilitated by the nonprofit A. Glantz— which is dedicated to creating programming designed to fuel the artistic community in the Greater New Orleans area—this inaugural festival in Abita Springs joins local music performances with culinary indulgence, visual and performing arts, wellness, and environmental sustainability. The multifaceted experience will elevate creatives from the region while fostering community in the beautiful environs of rural Abita

Springs. Attendees must have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within the last seventy-two hours, or they will be required to wear a mask. Capital Trash (September 17): Have you ever heard an aria about garbage? In Opéra Louisiane’s latest creation, a mini opera presented in conjunction with Marie Constantin of the Louisiana Stormwater Coalition, Baton Rouge’s trash problem is the star of the show. Aiming to inspire locals to clean up their hometown and protect the region’s waterways, this production will be presented virtually as part of the Arts Council of Baton Rouge’s Ebb & Flow Festival. Music Behind the Gates (opens September 18): In its newest exhibition, the West Baton Rouge Museum explores the distinct art being created behind the bars of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The history of the infamous prison is colored by the bands created by its prisoners, the iconic songs, and story after story of how music provides solace in even the darkest places. On display through January 2022. Learn more about these events and more in our regional calendar on page 11. —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Fest Fest THE KREWE OF RED BEANS COMES TO THE CROWD SOURCING RESCUE, AGAIN —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot 8

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uring a normal festival hseason, the average Joe hor Josephine like you and me could only dream of hosting one of the New Orleans greats on our front porch. Imagine it: Kermit Ruffins, or the Lost Bayou Ramblers, or Cha Wa groovin’ right there in your yard, just for you and your friends. As we watch our much-anticipated

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fall festival season dissipate for a second year, the Krewe of Red Beans has once again stepped up to creatively foster a way to financially support local musicians who have lost their gigs—while also keeping the NOLA festival season spirit alive. Through the nonprofit’s latest initiative Fest Fest, Louisiana residents can donate to a fund that will be used to re-hire local

musicians originally slated to play at Jazz Fest, Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, and French Quarter Fest. Every time enough money is raised to book a band, a winner will be randomly selected from the pool of donors for a private porch or backyard pop up concert in Orleans Parish. To donate, and enter the raffle, visit festfest.org.


Poems by Mona Lisa Saloy

TWO POEMS FROM LOUISIANA’S NEW POET LAUREATE

These are days . . . Days of heavy rains & hurricanes Booming thunder, lightning, & sultry nights When bed sheets stick & ‘Skitoes follow your skin Hum a tease in your ear side up Stinging & blood sucking while you Sleep if you can Water bugs rise from sink drains, from Deeper pipes, mice or rats visit toilets and Private parts of unaware sitters in the dark Between thunder claps that Echo wars of the past & Inner wars of the present-Absent love or hearts heavy with jealousy or Love family full of face with empty pockets-When the lights fail All electrical sound stops Not even white noise No birds yak no dogs bark We marvel at jagged light Streaks across grey-black skies When the air cools & Smells freshly washed in Thundershowers like bombs of water falling We give thanks for such Reminders, what’s important Being here

From Second Line Home

Louisiana Lore Why go barefoot in Louisiana? Holy Ground American by birth Louisianans by Grace God’s Country, Chaque corps importe (everybody matters) New Orleans, a Creole Country by Baptism, a Local Call to God

From Second Line Home

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Presented by the Louisiana Office of Tourism and Louisiana Seafood

November 13—14, 2021 • Myrtles, St. Francisville, LA

Celebrated Mississippi & Louisiana Chefs • Delicious Dishes • Creative Wine Pairings • Book Signings Cocktail Tastings • Lawn Games • Tasty Door Prizes

2021 Festival Highlights

Chef’s Demonstration Stage Presented by Paretti Jaguar/Land Rover and LaCroix Loft & Landings of Covington Beer & Brats Garden Presented by Bank of St. Francisville Capital City Tasting Experience Presented by City Group Hospitality Small Town Chefs (2021 Award Winners) Tasting Experience Presented by Wiliamson Eye Center Plus … Saturday Night Winemaker Dinner • VIP Enclosure with Private Bar, Buffet & Seating and So Much More!

WWW.STFRANCISVILLEFOODANDWINE.COM

P r es e n t e d W i t h G e n e r o u s S u p p o rt F r o m

Paretti Jaguar Land Rover Baton Rouge

LouisianaNorthshore.com

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Events

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THIS

MONTH

LOOKS A

BIT DIFFERENT THAN WE

KNOW NOW THAT CREATIVITY CONQUERS

F I N G E R S C R O SS E D

MIGHT HAVE

ALL, AND

C U LT U R E

HOPED, BUT WE CARRIES ON.

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Baton Rouge dance company Of Moving Colors’ annual fundraiser, Byrde’s Dancers Scholarship Luncheon at the Old Governors’ Mansion, is entering its fifth year of providing scholarships to ensure that any young dancer has the opportunity to explore the art of dance with OMC. See listing on page 12. Photo by Eye Wander Photo.

Reader, a note: Before attending any of the following events, please always refer to organizers’ websites to get the latest updates with regard to cancellations and adjustments caused by COVID-19. Thanks, and stay safe.

UNTIL

SEP 18th

ART EXHIBITIONS EYE OF THE BEHOLDER Lafayette, Louisiana

From watercolors, to pen and ink, to pottery, to collage, to sculpture, and beyond—works of many of Lafayette’s most talented visual artists are on display for the Lafayette Art Association’s annual open competition and awards. This year’s Best in Show Award went to Susan Chiquelin. Free. Email info@lafayette.org for more information. k

UNTIL SEP

18th

ART EXHIBITIONS ASSOCIATED WOMEN IN THE ARTS ART SHOW AND SALE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

See the Associated Women in the Arts’ annual summer member show Southern Cultural Identity at Elizabethan Gallery this month. The organization, founded in 1980, is made up of Southern Louisiana

women artists, who work together to create opportunities to celebrate women’s art in the region. An opening reception for Southern Cultural Identity will take place on August 12 from noon–7 pm. Masks required for entry. associatedwomeninthearts.com. k

UNTIL SEP

25th

PHOTOGRAPHY SHOWS TWO PRESIDENTS, ONE PHOTOGRAPHER Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Pete Souza was the Official White House Photographer for two starkly different American presidencies, capturing candid moments of humanity in each: those of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Now, fifty-six of his photographs from these presidencies will be on display in the exhibition Two Presidents, One Photographer, on exhibit in the Old State Capitol. Free. louisianaoldstatecapitol.org. k

UNTIL

SEP 30th

LOCAL HISTORY AMERICAN DEPRESSION ERA GLASS A-Z, 1920S-1940S Opelousas, Louisiana

Collectors, assemble! The Louisiana Orphan Train Museum in Opelousas is presenting a special exhibition of over four hundred pieces of Depressionera glassware made by manufacturers Cambridge Glass Co., Hocking Glass, New Martinsville Glass Co., and Heisey Glass. Reserve your tickets for $10 at (337) 290-2885. cityofopelousas.com. k

UNTIL

SEP 30th

ART EXHIBITIONS AT BATON ROUGE GALLERY Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Lining the walls at Baton Rouge Gallery this month, you’ll find: Dawn Black’s exploration of ambiguous relationships on paper in her Tales of Fancy collection, and her catalogue // S E P T 2 1

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Events

Beginning now - September 1st

of one hundred-sixty figures in various states of concealment (from masquerade to disfigurement) in her Conceal Project; Kathryn Hunter’s work in mixed media; and Kelli Scott Kelley’s explorations of the complex and wonderful relationships humans have with animals. A first Wednesday Opening Reception will take place virtually on September 1 from 6 pm–9 pm. Articulate Artist Talks will be held on Sunday, September 5 at 4 pm, featuring each artist discussing their work. Free. batonrougegallery.org. k

UNTIL

SEP 30th

ART EXHIBITIONS RIVER ROAD ART SHOW Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The River Road Show, sponsored by the Art Guild of Louisiana, is a national juried exhibition entering its fifty-first year. Works must be original, two-dimensional (of any medium), and created within the last three years. This year’s juror, nationally acclaimed artist Soon Warren, has selected seventy paintings to be on final exhibit at the Louisiana State Archives Gallery. artguildlouisiana.org. k

UNTIL

NOV 14 th

LOCAL HISTORY THE NEGRO MOTORIST GREEN BOOK Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In 1936, Harlem postman Victor Green created a guide for African American travelers navigating the Jim-Crow era South. The travel guide, known as The Green Book, was published annually until 1967, and provided Black travelers with information about which restaurants, gas stations, department stores, and other businesses were open to African Americans; as well as lists of “sundown towns,” or communities which did not allow African Americans to stay overnight. The exhibition will include artifacts from road signs to postcards as well as historic footage, images, and accounts of what traveling as an African American was like during this fraught period in history, chronicling the experience of travel for the growing Black middle class and how the The Green Book was a necessary, sometimes life-saving, resource. Developed by SITES in

Opéra Louisiane is presenting lively events both in-person and online this month, from their Summer Soirée (see page 17) to the virtual “mini-opera” Capital Trash (see page 13). Photo by Marcia LeCompte. collaboration with award-winning author, photographer, and cultural

UNTIL DEC

18th

documentarian Candacy Taylor,

ART EXHIBITIONS AXIS

The Negro Motorist Green Book is

Lafayette, Louisiana

made possible through the support

Natural wood grain meets vibrant pops

of the Exxon Mobil Corporation.

of color in Khara Woods’ exhibition at

louisianastatemuseum.org. k

the Hilliard Museum, Axis. Her use of Plaquemine Lock Historic Site

COME EXPLORE

LEARN MORE AT VISITIBERVILLE.COM 12

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intricate patterns tricks the eye into perceiving vibrations and movement, a result of the eye’s color and light receptors confusing the sensations. hilliardmuseum.org. k

UNTIL

JAN 22

nd

ART EXHIBITIONS UNIVERSE OF THE MIND

and shoes. With the goal of providing scholarships to as many dancers as possible, Of Moving Colors is hosting the fifth annual Byrde’s Dancers Scholarship Luncheon at the timelessly beautiful Old Governor’s Mansion at noon, sponsored by Aetna. $30 for individual seats; $500 for a table. bontempstix.com. k

Lafayette, Louisiana

Master Shen-Long’s mastery of the arts spans multiple mediums: Classical Chinese poetry, painting, calligraphy, and seal-carving. In this exhibition for the Hilliard, he fuses these skills with contemporary art-making practices, providing a new interpretation of traditional culture. hilliardmuseum.org. k

SEP 1st

FUN FUNDRAISERS BYRDE’S DANCERS SCHOLARSHIP LUNCHEON

SEP

1

st

- SEP

ART EXHIBITIONS LABOR DAY ART SHOW & SALE

25

th

Morgan City, Louisiana

The Artists’ Guild Unlimited hosts its fifty-seventh annual art show at Everett Street Gallery. Free. artistsguildunlimited.com. k

SEP

1

st

- SEP

29

th

FRESH FINDS EUNICE FARMERS MARKET

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Eunice, Louisiana

Baton Rouge dance company Of Moving Colors is consistently devoted to ensuring aspiring dancers of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to pursue the art of movement and performance. One of the many ways they do this is with the Byrde’s Dancers Scholarship, which funds young dancers’ classes as well as costumes

Open year-round, the Eunice Farmers Market offers customers seasonal garden vegetables, fruits, jellies, sweet dough pies, honey, breads, and other locally made delicacies. Plus a smattering of arts and crafts items made by local artisans. 1 pm Wednesdays and 8 am Saturdays at the corner of Second and Park streets. (337) 457-6503. k

SEP

1st - SEP 30th

KIDS’ ART EXHIBITIONS ART FLOW JUNIOR: ART MAKING WAVES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

As part of this year’s Ebb & Flow Festival, Louisiana youth will get their day in the sun in a special exhibition featuring artists in grades three through twelve from the eleven parishes represented by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. The juried Art Flow Junior show, with the theme Art Making Waves, will be on display at the River Center Branch Library throughout the month of September. ebbandflowbr.org. k

SEP

1st

- SEP

30th

FALL FESTIVALS EBB & FLOW FESTIVAL Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Throughout the month, the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is pointing a spotlight towards the city’s many vital arts organizations for the fifth annual Ebb & Flow Festival. Produced in conjunction with the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge and multiple community partners, the festival will include special events, performances, exhibitions, and concerts throughout September. The eight recipients of the 2021 Ebb & Flow Festival Grants will receive special

highlights throughout the month, including: Friends of the LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge Gallery, Louisiana State Museum Friends, Inc., Opéra Louisiane, Art Guild of Louisiana, Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, and Line4Line. ebbandf lowbr.org. k

SEP

1st

- SEP

30th

ART EXPERIENCES MICHELANGELO: A DIFFERENT VIEW Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Every year, four million people visit the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican to admire the beautiful ceiling frescoes by famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo, who spent four years creating them—some of the most famous imagery in all of art history. Now, in partnership with Visit Baton Rouge, the Raising Cane’s River Center will offer the unique opportunity to look at these famous images in a new way. The exhibition shows photomechanically reproduced copies almost in original size, but this time on the ground, so that visitors can walk around the gigantic masterpieces for a unique perspective unlike any other. $17.50 for adults; $12.50 for groups of ten or more; $7.50 for kids twelve and younger. raisingcanesrivercenter.com. k

NEW DATE 10/21/21

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Events

Beginning September 1st - September 4th SEP

1st

- OCT

15th

FRIENDLY COMPETITION NOLA ON TAP HOMEBREW COMPETITION Online

This year, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the largest beer festival in the region is going virtual and inviting homebrewers everywhere to submit their potions for the NOLA on Tap Homebrew competition. Hosted through Brewstock Homebrew Supplies, the competition will carry on the connective celebration of beer and its craft across the region. Registration is open from September 1–October 15 at Brewstock Homebrew Supplies or by calling (504) 208-2788 or emailing oliver@brewstock.com. Each entry is $8. Winners will be announced on November 7. nolaontap.org. k

SEP

1st - OCT 21st

HISTORY EXHIBITIONS CONEY ISLAND: VISIONS OF AN AMERICAN DREAMLAND Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A new exhibition at the Louisiana Old State Capitol studies a particular site of

American culture: Coney Island. The New York Harbor amusement park has held a vibrant place in the American imagination for centuries, and has been represented by various artists as a microcosm of the American experience. The exhibition includes such works along with photographs, ephemera, film clips, and hands-on interactive exhibits. An opening reception will be held on September 2 at 5:30 pm, and Dr. Karen Leathem from the Louisiana State Museum will discuss the history of Mardi Gras and its traditions. On September 12, as part of the Ebb & Flow Festival, the Capitol will also host a family-friendly, free event called “Dreamland at the Old State Capitol” (see page 20). louisianastatecapitol.org. k

SEP 2nd - SEP 6th

PRIDE PARTIES SOUTHERN DECADENCE

carnival, featuring a parade and all sorts of flamboyant (and risqué) festivities. Since the early eighties, Southern Decadence has evolved to become New Orleans’ “Gay Mardi Gras,” celebrating the South’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities with live music from local musicians and DJs, street dancing, costume contests, and so on. It all leads up to the annual Southern Decadence Parade on Sunday, which gathers steam from Royal Street’s Golden Lantern (at Barracks). southerndecadence.com. k

SEP

2nd - SEP 23rd

CREATIVE CLASSES POTTERY WHEEL BASICS Covington, Louisiana

Over the course of four weeks, instructor Janie Dick will guide pottery beginners in the basic forms of the potter’s wheel. Learn to create mugs, bowls, and plates; how to incorporate texture and design through stamps; and how to apply glazes. 6 pm– 8 pm on Thursdays. Supplies included. $200. sttammany.art. k

New Orleans, Louisiana

Back in 1972, friends living in a cottage in the Tremé threw together a small “Come As Your Favorite Southern Decadent” party and impromptu parade, and through the years that intimate fête has mushroomed into a full-blown

SEP

2nd - SEP 29th

CONCERTS LIVE MUSIC AT THE RED DRAGON LISTENING ROOM Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Red Dragon Listening Room is back

in full swing, bringing local favorites and touring musicians to the beloved Baton Rouge listening room. Here are the shows that aren’t already sold out this month: September 2: Eric Disanto & Will Wesley ($20) September 12: Mike & The Moonpies ($35) September 17: Randall Bramblett ($30) September 23: Susan Cowsill ($30) September 24: Jonathan “Boogie” Long CD Release ($25) September 28: Albert Cummings ($30) September 29: Jackie Vensen ($25) Updated details at the Red Dragon Listening Room Facebook Page. Buy tickets at PayPal.me/reddragonlr, just put the name of the artist in the description. k

SEP 2nd - SEP 30th

CONCERTS 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. Look forward to live music Thursdays–Saturdays, with Fridays being home to the “Original Music Gathering” hosted by Donald Gelpi, where up-and-comers can bring their original songs and sign up for a chance to play two to three songs on a first-come-first-served basis. Here’s the

When morning came to Louisiana, we were wide awake. Ready for what’s next. And as we begin anew, Blue Cross stands ready to support you. bcbsla.com

01MK7553 04/21

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3rd - SEP 25th

live music that will accompany your dining at La Divina Italian Café in the coming weeks:

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September 2: Clay Parker and Jodi James September 9: The Leftovers: Phil Cangelosi, Doc Chaney, Adrian Percy, Joel Walker September 16: Worth Powers September 23: Rachel Hunter September 30: Melissa Seidule

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

6 pm–8 pm. Free. facebook.com/ ladivinabatonrouge. k

SEP

2nd

- OCT

2nd

CONCERTS HENRY TURNER JR.’S LISTENING ROOM

CONCERTS GROOVIN’ ON THE GRASS Bring a blanket to sit on and/or your dancing shoes for Red Stick Social’s Groovin’ on the Grass outdoor concert series. Bring the dog too—it’s even pet friendly. Lineups are on Red Stick Social’s Facebook page. 8 pm Friday and Saturday. redsticksocial.com. k

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with the City of Covington, presents the Covington Art Market, a juried market of visual arts and crafts held ten times per year on the first Saturday of the month. The event features a variety of work from local and regional artists, including jewelry, photography, paintings, woodworking, and more. The market is hosted on Lee Lane in Downtown Covington. 10 am–2 pm. sttammanyartassociation.org/artmarket. k

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with praline chicken bites, and you’ve got the makings of a quintessential Louisiana morning. The annual Zydeco Breakfast happens under the oak trees surrounding the St. Landry Parish Courthouse, when local restaurants and bars around the square offer an assortment of breakfast menu items to be enjoyed within earshot of the music. 9 am–11 am. cityofopelousas.com. k

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4th

GOOD EATS, GOOD TUNES ZYDECO BREAKFAST

FALL FESTIVALS SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA ZYDECO MUSIC FESTIVAL

Covington, Louisiana

Opelousas, Louisiana

Online

St. Tammany Art Association, in partnership

Combine the bouncing rhythms of Zydeco

Nestled in the heart of Cajun Country,

SHOPPING EXCURSIONS COVINGTON ART MARKET

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

It’s always a fun night at Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room—Baton Rouge’s premier spot for introducing new and original musical talent. Fridays bring performances by Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor, and the Listening Room All-Stars, who may include Kelton ‘Nspire Harper, Larry LZ Dillon, comedian Eddie Cool, and more. Friday nights welcome special guests, along with an all-you-can-eat community fish fry. Saturdays go acoustic, bringing in special guests and soul food. Here are some special guests to look forward to: September 10: Jeffrey Dallert September 18: Kennedy Richards $10 entry. henryslisteningroom.com. k

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3rd

CONCERTS TIPITINA’S FREE FRIDAY New Orleans, Louisiana

Here it is, the moment New Orleans live music lovers have long awaited: the return of Tipitina’s Free Fridays. All of your local favorites, no cover or tickets required (just proof of COVID-19 vaccine or negative test from within the last seventy-two hours). This month, see Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes + Sam Price & The True Believers. 9 pm. tipitinas.com. k

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3rd - SEP 19th

MUSICAL THEATRE RENT Mandeville, Louisiana

A re-imagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, RENT has been a force to be reckoned with since its 1996 Broadway debut. The story follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out, amidst the AIDs crisis of 1980s New York. Performances are at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 pm on Sundays. Adult tickets are $19, with discounted ticket rates available for seniors, military, students, and children. 30byninety.com. k

Enjoy an oasis in the heart of the city. Stroll through the beautiful gardens and walk the many trails of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens and Windrush Gardens. Step back in time to 19th century rural Louisiana at the open-air LSU Rural Life Museum.

Upcoming Events Ione E. Burden Symposium

Saturday, September 11 . 8 a.m.-3 p.m. LSU Rural Life Museum Tickets available at BonTempsTix.com.

Harvest Days

Saturday, October 2 . 8 a.m.-5 p.m LSU Rural Life Museum See website for admission details.

Corn Maze at Burden

Every Saturday in October LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Tickets available for two-hour scheduled experiences. Advanced tickets required. Available at Eventbrite.com.

Zapp's International Beerfest

Saturday, October 23 . 3:30-6 p.m. LSU Rural Life Museum Tickets available at BonTempsTix.com.

Night Maze & Bonfire

Saturday, October 30 . 6-9 p.m. LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Advanced tickets required. Available at Eventbrite.com.

Haints, Haunts and Halloween Sunday, October 31 . 3-6 p.m. LSU Rural Life Museum See website for admission details.

Botanic Gardens For details about these and other events, visit our website or call 225-763-3990. Admission may be charged for some events. Burden Museum & Gardens . 4560 Essen Lane . 225-763-3990 . DiscoverBurden.com . Baton Rouge . Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily // S E P T 2 1

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Beginning September 4th - September 10th

Opelousas once again hosts the world’s largest Zydeco music festival, celebrating the rich culture of Louisiana Creoles and Cajuns by highlighting, documenting, preserving, and enhancing their fun-loving heritage. Held virtually, performers and interviews this year include Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, Jeffery Broussard & Zydeco Cowboys, Koray Broussard & Zydeco Unit. Email assistant@cajuntravel.com for more information. k

SEP

4th

- SEP

5th

FALL FESTIVALS MOONSHADOW FESTIVAL Abita Springs, Louisiana

The Moonshadow Festival is bringing a synthesis of music, wellness, and art to beautiful Abita Springs on Labor Day Weekend. Musical performances will feature New Orleans-based performers such as Handmade Moments, Mahmoud Chouki, Ray Wimley, Silk & Mortar, Anna Moss & The Nightshades, Santa Barbara Streisand Band, Sara Kirby, Brittany Purdy, Nobody & Nothing, Zoomst, and Sansho. In addition to live music, The Moonshadow Festival will feature wellness programming including

yoga classes, motivational seminars, cacao ceremonies, propagation workshops, and more. Independent local artists will also create installations for the event, such as projection mapping and live painting. The festival will be held on the grounds of The Abita Springs Be & Be, a magical eightyeight acre property equipped with two cabins, labyrinths, lakes, a watsu pool, a sauna, and a non-denominational temple among the extensive amenities. Corporate partners include The Spotted Cat, Nola Station, and Lakeside Photoworks, to name a few. Some vendors include Clesi’s Seafood Restaurant, Pixie Dust Glitter, Freebird Revolution, Luxpunk, and Bone Crone. Tier one general admission tickets are $85, which includes full festival access and one camping and car pass. Day passes are $45. To rent an RV, which comes with four admission tickets, is $1200. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within seventy-two hours will be required for entry. Unvaccinated attendees will be required to mask. Tickets at moonshadow.norby.live. Read more about this new festival in Jordan LaHaye Fontenot’s Noteworthy about interesting events this month on page 8. k

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EVENTS, POINT YOUR PHONE CAMERA HERE!

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In Gallery 600 Julia’s latest exhibition The Living & The Dead, West Coast transplant to Louisiana Sean Randall takes inspiration from the characters of New Orleans, both with us and on the other side, in a series of oil paintings. Artwork “Metropolitan Glide,” courtesy of Gallery 600 Julia.

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4th

- SEP

30th

ART EXHIBITIONS THE LIVING & THE DEAD

those who have gone before us and now reside in New Orleans’ above ground cemeteries. See a selection of these

New Orleans, Louisiana

oil paintings at Gallery 600 Julia’s

West Coast transplant Sean Randall is inspired by the folks outside his door. His recent work, though, focuses on

September show. There will be an opening reception from 5 pm–7 pm. gallery600julia.com. k

LOCATED AT BURDEN MUSEUM AND GARDENS OPEN DAILY 8:00–5:00 • I-10 AT ESSEN LANE, BATON ROUGE, LA FOR MORE INFO CALL (225) 765-2437 OR VISIT WWW.RURALLIFE.LSU.EDU


SEP

4th - OCT 30th

ART EXHIBITIONS AT LEMIEUX GALLERIES

SEP

8th - OCT 30th

ART & NATURE ANIMALS IN ART

New Orleans, Louisiana

Denham Springs, Louisiana

LeMieux Galleries is presenting recent works by artists Carolyn McAdams (Watershed Moments), Miro Hoffman (Food Apartheid), and Andrew Catenese (At the Edges of Things). Free. lemieuxgalleries.com. k

In anticipation of October’s National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, the Arts Council of Livingston Parish is celebrating the adorable loyalty of our furry companions through art. A percentage of any artwork sold from the exhibit will go to the Denham Springs Animal Shelter, but donations for the shelter are also welcome. artslivingston.org. k

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4th - JAN 2nd

ART & NATURE LOUISIANA BIRDS

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Port Allen, Louisiana

New Orleans-based artist and author Katherine Klimitas brings her vast collection of Louisiana birds (and dogs!) to the West Baton Rouge Museum for a special exhibition. Known for her watercolors of animals and insects, Klimitas wrote of the series: “With studies of pelicans, egrets, herons, and a few in between, I hope each painting in the collection captures the same elegance and grace that I see when I look at these magnificent creatures.” westbatonrougemuseum.com. k

SEP

7th

- SEP

28th

CREATIVE CLASSES ABSTRACT OIL PAINTING WORKSHOP Covington, Louisiana

Join artist Macy West Zimmer at the St. Tammany Art Association Art House for a beginner-level course on the intricacies of oil paint and the freedom of abstract painting. Students will learn about materials and surfaces, experiment with mixing, and work to create a 16x20 painting. Ages fourteen and older, some supplies required. $150. sttammany.art. k

SEP 7th - SEP 28th

PARLEZ VOUS? TABLE FRANÇAISE AT TANTE MARIE Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Pratiquez votre français chez Tante Marie! Whether you can read that or not, the Teche Center for the Art’s French Table invites you—in person or virtually—to Tante Marie every Tuesday from 5:30 pm–7 pm to practice, and speak, French. All levels of language experience are welcome. Each week’s class is led by Quebec native and Breaux Bridge local Ms. Ray “Cana-Jun” Cloutier, who leads the conversation in person, and online, from Tante Marie, 107 N. Main. techecenterforthearts.com. To learn more about Breaux Bridge community staple Tante Marie, read Alexandra Kennon’s story on coffee shop culture on page 38. k

9th

FUN FUNDRAISERS SUMMER SOIRÉE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Is there anything more luscious than a dinner and cocktails over opera? We couldn’t think of much. Take in a dinner theatre performance of William Bolcom and Mark Campbell’s one hour opera, Lucrezia, featuring real-life couple and Metropolitan Opera Council winners, Ashley Dixon and Carlos Santelli. Stay after for dancing with a live band. Adults only, due to some bawdy content and occasional raucous language. 6:30 pm–10:30 pm. Tickets start at $50 at bontempstix.com. k

SEP

9th

CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS BEHIND HEALING AND WHOLENESS: ART + HEALTH New Orleans, Louisiana

In conjunction with the exhibition Behind Every Beautiful Thing, the Contemporary Arts Center presents a panel of artists and health policy makers, hosted by guest curator David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. 6 pm–7:30 pm. Free. cacno.org. k

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10th

FALL FESTIVALS HONEY ISLAND SWAMP FEST Pearl River, Louisiana

Head out to KBR Lake in Pearl River to enjoy live music, food and beverages, a monster truck show raffle, carnival rides, live music, and vendor booths with arts and crafts. Plus, live performances by local stars that include Christian Serpas and Ghost Town, Jay Jones, John Schnieder, Lynn Drury, and more. This is a rain or shine event, so wear your boots and bring your chairs and canopies; leave outside food and drink and pets at home. Gates open 4 pm Friday, 10 am Saturday; $15 per day, $20 for weekend pass. 39576 Pump Slough Rd. deepsouthpromo.com. k

SEP 10th

BARREL OF LAUGHS FAMILY DINNER IMPROV COMEDY SHOW Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From the folks who brought us Spoof // S E P T 2 1

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Events

Beginning September 10th - September 12th

Night! with Films at Manship comes a locally-made, monthly Improv Comedy Show. Hang out with Baton Rouge’s premier comedy troupe in the Hartley/Vey Theatre’s studio side for some live, interactive improv games. 7:30 pm. $7. manshiptheatre.org. k

SEP

10th

SEP 11th

FUN FUNDRAISERS CURTAIN CALL BALL

FALL FESTIVALS RED GRAPE STOMP CELEBRATION

New Orleans, Louisiana

Celebrate the kick-off of Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré’s one hundred-and-fifth season with the party St. Charles Avenue calls “the most entertaining gala of the year!” This year will feature performances by Kathleen Monteleone, as well as live and silent auctions, with Mark Romig as emcee and auctioneer. 6:30 pm. Support opportunities start at $150. lepetittheatre.com. k

SEP

10th - SEP 26th

MUSICAL THEATRE HELLO, DOLLY! Kenner, Louisiana

Winner of ten Tony Awards including Best Musical, Hello, Dolly! is one of the most enduring Broadway classics. In this production by Rivertown Theaters, the strong-willed matchmaker Dolly travels to Yonkers, New York to find a match for the ornery “well-known, unmarried, half-amillionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Featuring its irresistible story and unforgettable score, including the title song, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “It Only Takes A Moment,” and the show-stopping “Before the Parade Passes By.” 7:30 pm Thursday–Saturday. 2 pm Sunday. $37–$51. rivertowntheaters.com. k

SEP

10th - OCT 2nd

MUSICAL THEATRE CABARET Slidell, Louisiana

“Willkommen! And bienvenue! Welcome!” Is it stuck in your head yet? Join iconic character Sally Bowles at the Kit Kat Club in Berlin for a raucous night with the iconic Bob Fosse musical at Cutting Edge Theatre. Tickets start at $27.50. 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays. cuttingedgetheater.com. k

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ART EXHIBITIONS TWENTY YEARS OF MARAIS PRESS: IMPRINTING A CAMPUS AND COLLECTION Lafayette, Louisiana

At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, professor and artist Brian Kelly has led the Marais Press in the Department of 18

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the Visual Arts since 1999. This special retrospective exhibition features the creative output of visiting artists’ printmaking collaborations within the press, and honors the creative community it represents. hilliardmuseum.org. k

West Monroe, Louisiana

Against the high energy country-rock tunes of the Mike McKenzie Band, Landry Vineyards presents the Lenoir Red Grape Stomp Celebration. Come dressed like Lucy Ball and make sure your feet are clean—prizes go to the best imitation of that I Love Lucy episode, so be sure to do your research. For $10, you can even leave with a t-shirt adorned by your glorious grape-stained footprint. Food trucks and wine aflowing will keep you going. Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged. 4 pm–7:30 pm. $10; $5 for children ages thirteen to eighteen; free for children twelve and younger. landryvineyards.com. k

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11th

LOCAL HISTORY MAMMY AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD Natchitoches, Louisiana

Join us at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum as Gaynell Brady, founder/educator of Our Mammy’s, shares the stories of African Americans in Louisiana through the lens of her ancestors. Mammy and the Underground Railroad explores the ways “Mammy” served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and how freedom seekers found their way to liberty through this network. This program includes storytelling, a scavenger hunt, and other activities for families and children ages six and older and accompanied by an adult. 2 pm. Free. louisianastatemuseum.org. k

SEP

11th

JAM SESSIONS ZYDECO CAPITAL JAM Opelousas, Louisiana

St. Landry Parish is reestablishing its status as the Zydeco Capital of the World with its monthly series: Zydeco Capital Jam. Led by accordion legend Jeffrey Broussard, the event will be the region’s first zydeco jam session of its kind in nearly fourteen months. Jams will be held on the second Saturday of each month from 1 pm–3 pm at the St. Landry Parish Visitor Center. cajuntravel.com. k


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11th

KID STUFF STORYTIME IN THE GARDEN Baton Rouge, Louisiana

At Burden Museum and Gardens, StoryTime in the Garden promotes early childhood literacy in the community through storytelling, crafts, and activities. Parents with children ages three to eight are invited to join in the fun from 9 am–noon; the last reading begins at 11:30 am. The program meets one Saturday a month from August through May. Registration is not required and admission is free. lsu.edu/botanic-gardens/events.. k

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11th

FUN RUNS COURIR DE PONT BREAUX: DANCE AWAY 5K Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Run, or dance if you like, through downtown Breaux Bridge to the finish line at the Courir de Pont Breaux Dance Away 5K this month. What’s there to lose when each registration earns you entry to Buck & Johnny’s Zydeco Breakfast, along with a free bloody mary, music, a t-shirt, and beer? Proceeds benefit the Teche Center for the Arts. 1-mile Fun Run starts at 7 am; 5K starts at 7:30 am; packet pickup from 4 pm–7 pm the day before at 222 St. Bernard Street. $30. Register at runsignup.com. k

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11th

LOCAL HISTORY IONE E. BURDEN SYMPOSIUM

food, music, and exhibitions, with a 9 am commemorative patriotic opening ceremony. Free. acadiatourism.org. k

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Three hundred years after the settlement of Louisiana’s German Coast, our state’s German communities are the subject of this year’s Ione E. Burden Symposium. Speakers from the German-Acadian Coast Historical & Genealogical Society, from the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, and from Evergreen Plantation will speak on aspects of Louisiana culture influenced by its German families. 8 am–2 pm, with a “Meet the Speakers” reception to follow. $40; $20 for Friends of the Rural Life Museum; $10 for LSU students—includes lunch and a speakers reception. lsu.edu/rurallife. k

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GREEN THUMBS GARDEN DISCOVERIES SERIES: BUTTERFLY GARDENING Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Join the Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation for its free “Garden Discoveries” series at the Main Library. This month Dr. Zhu H. Ning and Dr. Brian Watkins will explain how different trees and plants can benefit the health and ecosystem of the Baton Rouge community. There will then be a guided walking tour of the Baton Rouge Botanic Gardens and Independence Park. 11 am. Free. ebrpl.com. k

SEP

LOCAL HISTORY OLD SPANISH TRAIL DAY

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11th - SEP 12th

FALL FESTIVALS BILOXI SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

Rayne, Louisiana

Join the community in celebrating the creation and development of Old Spanish Trail Highway (U.S. 90 and LA 182) at the Depot Square in historic downtown Rayne. Speakers will address historical aspects of the transcontinental highway, focusing on Louisiana, including a discussion of the impact of cattle drives of the 1800s on early roadway development. Celebration will include open car show, arts, crafts,

Biloxi, Mississippi

Celebrating its serendipitous proximity to the Gulf’s bounty, the city of Biloxi invites all to its enormous annual Seafood Festival on the Town Green. This Gulf Coast happening attracts tens of thousands of people and is consistently ranked as a top event in the Southeast. With succulent seafood, live music, and arts & crafts, who couldn’t find something to like? $5. 10 am–

8 pm Saturday, 11 am–3 pm Sunday. 710 Beach Boulevard. mscoastchamber.com. k

SEP

11th - SEP 25th

CONCERTS JAZZ ‘N THE VINES Bush, Louisiana

Come take a swig of good fun as the folks at Pontchartrain Vineyards embark on the spring edition of its long-running Jazz ‘n the Vines outdoor concert series, now in it’s twenty-first year. Wines are available for tasting and purchase, and food trucks will be on site. See the lineup here: September 11: Samuel Ray Warren as Ray Charles September 25: The Charmaine Neville Band 6:30 pm. 81250 Old Military Road. $10–$25; children seventeen and under free. bontempstix.com. k

SEP 12th

STEPPIN’ OUT BRBT AUDITIONS FOR THE NUTCRACKER Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The holiday wonderment of The Nutcracker is certainly magical from the audience, but the experience is even more profound from the perspective of the dancers. Now, Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre is making this experience

A T D

Natchez

MonmouthHistoricInn.com // S E P T 2 1

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Events

SEP 16th

Beginning September 12th - September 18th accessible for all by offering scholarships to supplement the cost. The Nutcracker Scholarship Fund covers all fees associated with participating in the show, provides two tickets for families to watch their child and also includes some fun extras such as commemorative T-shirts, Nutcracker dolls, and backstage photos. Scholarships are limited in number and will be awarded when dancers are sent information regarding casting. Forms will also be available at the audition to fill out in person, but dancers are encouraged to apply online or print a scholarship application at batonrougeballet.org/ nutcracker-auditions. k

SEP 12th

FAMILY FUN DREAMLAND AT THE OLD STATE CAPITOL Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Experience the wonder and spectacle of Coney Island—an epicenter of American culture—at the Old State Capitol for this special event, which coincides with the exhibition Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland. Free and familyfriendly, the day will feature jugglers, ball

walkers, aerial artists, and more. 1 pm– 4 pm. louisianaoldstatecapitol.org. k

SEP 15th

PRIDE QUEER CONVERSATIONS Online

Even though Pride Month is technically over, Baton Rouge Pride is continuing their Queer Conversations series for the rest of 2021, with topics ranging from intersectionality to proper pronoun usage. This month’s talk is “Identity, Religion, and In-between: Congregating and analyzing the trials and tribulations related to being religious and LGBTQIA+.” Free; however, registration is required to attend. brpride.org. k

LOCAL HISTORY LUNCHTIME LECTURE: HOW THE ACADIANS TURNED SALT MARSHES INTO FERTILE FARMLAND Port Allen, Louisiana

Make the most of your lunch break and join artist, genealogist, and historian Gayle Breaux Smith for a special lunchtime lecture at the West Baton Rouge Museum. Smith will speak on the topic of Aboiteau, the technique that allowed the Acadians to build the systems used to save their farmland—allowing them to thrive in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Acadie. Noon. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.org. k

SEP

16th

CONCERTS BATON ROUGE SYMPHONY CHAMBER SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For this month’s performance for the Baton Rouge Symphony’s Chamber Series at the United Methodist Church, Willis Delony will play compositions by Beach and Brahms on the piano. 7:30 pm. brso.org. k

SEP

16th

CONCERTS ONSTAGE: THE PIANO MAN Covington, Louisiana

Robert Eric captures the essence and sound of Billy Joel in his tribute, The Piano Man, presented at Fuhrmann Auditorium. 7 pm. $20. bontempstix.com. k

SEP

17th

OPERA CAPITAL TRASH Online

GREEN THUMBS EAST BATON ROUGE MASTER GARDENERS LIBRARY TALKS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

SEP 16th

Lawn and Garden Care,” covering how to get your greens safely through the winter and ready for re-emergence in spring. 6:30 pm–8:30 pm. Free. ebrmg.com. k

Join the East Baton Rouge Parish Master Gardeners for their 2021 Library series, featuring a special set of presentations on various gardening skills at local libraries. At the Bluebonnet Branch Library, Louisiana Master Gardener Kerry Hawkins will lead a discussion on “Native and Commercial Soil, Fertilizer Basics, and other Additive Options.” LMG Leo Broders will follow with “Cool Season

In a groundbreaking partnership between Opéra Louisiane, community activist Marie Constantin of the Louisiana Stormwater Coalition, and the BREW agency—Baton Rouge’s premier opera organization presents the mini opera Capital Trash. Highlighting Baton Rouge’s trash problem and the ways it affects Louisiana waterways, the show aims to inspire locals to do their part in ensuring a healthy ecosystem. The virtual performance will be presented in conjunction with the Ebb & Flow Festival. operalouisiane.com. k

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WAL L A C O L OUR

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Honorary Walk Chair: Michael Tipton

REGISTER/ DONATE: ALZBR.ORG ALL FUNDS DONATED STAY HERE! CORPORATE PARTNERS

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PRESENTING SPONSORS


SEP 17th

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Covington, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Who doesn’t like free, outdoor live music? We, and the folks on the Northshore certainly do, and they make it evident with their Sunset at the Landing concerts. Past acts have included The Groove Kings, The Magnolia Sisters, Sweet Olive, and many other esteemed local artists. Always a lively crowd, and did we mention that it’s free? Just bring chairs and refreshments. 6 pm–9 pm. louisiananorthshore.com. k

Presented by Theatre Baton Rouge’s Young Actors Program, this condensed version of Tolkien’s classic follows the beloved Bilbo Baggins on an adventure to be told across the generations. Dwarves, lost treasure, and dragons await in this fantastic epic directed by Jason Breaux. Performed in the Studio Theatre at 7:30 pm Thursdays– Saturdays and at 2 pm on Sundays. $30; $25 for students and children younger than seventeen. theatrebr.org. k

CONCERTS SUNSET AT THE LANDING

17th - SEP 26th

KIDS’ THEATRE THE HOBBIT

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Port Allen, Louisiana

Westwego, Louisiana

Your weekly happy hour just got happier, with an added dose of storytelling and local lore. For its regular Historical Happy Hour events, the West Baton Rouge Museum hosts local musicians and storytellers, featuring intellectual discussions, music, panels, speakers, and—of course—drinks, though those are up to you. So pack up your favorite libations, and open your mind to the history of our community. Held on the back lawn near the Juke Joint; bring blankets and folding chairs. 6 pm–8 pm. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k

A playground skirmish expands to epic proportions in this Tony Award-winning comedy without manners, revealing that oftentimes adults can be more childlike than the children themselves. See the show performed by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society at the Westwego Performing Arts Theatre this fall—kicking off JPAS’ fortyfourth season. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm. Sundays at 2 pm. $35. jpas.org. k

SEP 17th

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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CHEERS TO LOCAL HISTORY HISTORICAL HAPPY HOUR

FRESH FINDS VILLE PLATTE FARMERS MARKET Ville Platte, Louisiana

Head downtown on the third Friday of every month for Ville Platte’s Farmer’s Market, hosted by Revitalize Downtown Ville Platte, the Evangeline Chamber of Commerce, and Evangeline Parish Tourism. Local vendors from around the state will be set up with arts and crafts, pop up shops, food, drinks, music, and fresh fresh produce around the Louisiana Swamp Pop Museum. Lawn chairs encouraged as the community gathers to enjoy an afternoon downtown. 3 pm– 6:30 pm. Call (337) 363-1878 for more information. k

SEP

17th - SEP 18th

ART EXHIBITIONS ST. TAMMANY ART ASSOCIATION MEMBER GALLERY ROTATION Covington, Louisiana

Come see what the talented and eclectic group that makes up the St. Tammany Art Association have been creating. September 17 from 10 am–4 pm, and September 18 from 11 am–4 pm. sttammany.art. k

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THEATRE GOD OF CARNAGE

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18th

FALL FESTIVALS BATON ROUGE BLUES FESTIVAL Originating in 1981, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival is one of the oldest free blues festivals in America, and exists to encourage promotion, preservation, and advancement of Baton Rouge’s native Swamp Blues music. This free-to-the public, family-friendly festival will feature an impressive lineup of internationallyrecognized performers and local blues legends alike, including: Robert Finley, Kenny Neal, Nikki Hill, Jonathan Long, Alabama Slim, and many, many more. Held at Repentance Park and Galvez Plaza, downtown Baton Rouge. Free. VIP tickets are $125. batonrougebluesfestival.org. k

SEP

18th

Celebrating the Arrival of America’s Greatest Artist/Naturalist with the

“I looked with amazement — such an entire change in so short a time appears often supernatural, and surrounded once more by thousands of warblers & thrushes, I enjoy Nature.”

COMING EVENTS September 17-18, 2021 - The Annual Inaugural John James Audubon Symposium LECTURES • WORKSHOPS • BIRDING TOURS • HISTORIC SITES • ST. FRANCISVILLE & SURROUNDS

September 18, 2021 - “AUDUBON UNDER THE OAKS" Gala 4 pm–7 pm • Audubon State Historic Site An elegant evening of fine Louisiana cuisine and refreshments served in the shadow of Oakley house, where Audubon painted 32 of the bird species highlighted in his famous Birds of America portfolio. Beautiful music and the camaraderie

Tickets for Gala & Symposium are Limited and On Sale Now at

point your phone camera here

LOCAL HISTORY GENEALOGY SLEUTHING WITH OUR MAMMYS Natchitoches, Louisiana

Join us at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum as Gaynell Brady, founder/educator of Our Mammy’s, shares the stories of African Americans in Louisiana through the lens of her ancestors. Genealogy Sleuthing with Our Mammy’s is an interactive program that will introduce children to family history. Participants will develop a

#AudubonCountry

West Feliciana Tourist Commission www.explorewestfeliciana.com • 225-635-4224 • St. Francisville, LA

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Events

Beginning September 18th - September 23rd

portion of their family tree, look for clues, and uncover evidence from artifacts. This educational program is geared for families and children ages six and older and accompanied by an adult. State regulations regarding masks and physical distancing will be followed. louisianastatemuseum.org. k

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge Gallery is bringing back its Movies on the Lawn series with a different silent cinema classic each month until October in BREC’s City Park. This month, catch The Kid Brother (1927) with an original score from Minos the Saint. 8 pm. $7 a ticket, bottomless popcorn included. batonrougegallery.org. k

18th

ART IN ACTION DROP-IN CERAMICS DEMOS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Local ceramicists will be activating the

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ART WALKS PONCHATOULA ART & WINE STROLL Ponchatoula, Louisiana

SILVER SCREEN MOVIES & MUSIC ON THE LAWN

SEP

studio space for the LSU MOA’s exhibition The Boneyard: The Ceramics Teaching Collection with live ceramics demos. This month, watch Matthew Barton from 2 pm–4 pm. lsumoa.org. k

Come out and have a glass of wine (or another beverage of your choosing) and stroll the streets of Downtown Ponchatoula. Arts and crafts, vendors, musicians, and authors line the streets. See local students’ art in the windows of the downtown stores. A family-friendly outing from 5 pm–8 pm. $20 in advance, $25 day-of for unlimited wine samples; free to stroll. ponchatoulachamber.com. k

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FALL FESTIVALS HIGHLAND JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL Shreveport, Louisiana

The Highland Jazz & Blues Festival returns to Shreveport’s Columbia

Park with nonstop live music on two stages and fun for everyone. Free. highlandjazzandblues.org. k

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18th - JAN 2nd

LOCAL HISTORY MUSIC BEHIND THE GATES

honing their craft on Louisiana’s street corners—this year, six sets of local talent will perform. The Busker Festival is jointly presented by the Abita Springs Opry, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Noon–7:15 pm. Free. louisiananorthshore.com. k

Port Allen, Louisiana

Providing an intimate look into the world of prison pastime and reform, the West Baton Rouge Museum’s Music Behind the Gates exhibition will explore the life of Angola prison inmates and the role music plays in their lives. The art emitted from Angola—in the form of bands, iconic songs, and touching stories—is representative of the art created within the confines of prisons across the country. Presented in collaboration with the Angola Museum and help of Dr. Marianne Fisher-Giorlando and Dr. Benjamin J. Harbert, Associate Professor of Music. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k

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19th

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21st - SEP 25th

FRIENDLY COMPETITION FISHERS OF MEN CHAMPIONSHIP BASS TOURNAMENT Berwick, Louisiana

If you or the fisherman in your life is confident they can catch a big ol’ bass, head to Berwick Landing to try your hand at this championship competition. Register by end of day September 18. cajuncoast.com. k

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CREATIVE CLASSES FLORAL CENTERPIECE DESIGN Covington, Louisiana

FALL FESTIVALS ABITA SPRINGS BUSKER FESTIVAL Abita Springs, Louisiana

If you brake for buskers, don’t miss the Abita Springs Busker Festival at the Abita Springs Trailhead. This festival showcases the talents of young musicians

Sara Gray-Foreman from Violeta’s Floral and Plant Shop is leading a fun workshop at the St. Tammany Arts Association on the art of floral design. Learn about flower identification, centerpiece mechanics, and floral color theory, balance, and insertion—then bring home a fabulous work of art for your kitchen table.

online.lsu.edu/olli

Request your FREE

EXPLORE THE NORTHSHORE VISITOR GUIDE

FALL IS A TIME OF CELEBRATION 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.

Fri. – Sun., Matilda the Musical Aug. 27 – Sept. 12 at Slidell Little Theatre Sept. 3-4 DTC Film Festival at Southern Hotel Sept. 4-5 Moonshadow Festival at Abita Springs Be & Be Sept. 7 & 23 Lobby Lounge Concert at Slidell Harbor Center Sept. 18 Pink Tutu 5K Run/Walk at Fontainebleau State Park Sept. 19 Abita Springs Busker Festival Sept. 25 Girod Street Stroll in Mandeville Sept. 11 & 25 Bayou Jam Concert at Heritage Park, Slidell Sept. 25-26 Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival Sept. 26 Pelican Park Fall Festival Sept. 29 – Oct. 3 St. Tammany Parish Fair

© Bill Lang

*Event details subject to change. Visit us online for the most up-to-date information.

1-800-634-9443 • LouisianaNort hshore.com/cr 22

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Enrichment Activities for adults

50 AND ABOVE

Fall courses start

September 27

Membership

$50


Supplies included, all ages welcome. Noon–2 pm. $165. sttammany.art. k

SEP 22nd

LITERARY LESSONS SURVIVING SHAKESPEARE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

William Shakespeare not only contributed some of the greatest plays in the English language, but the rhythm written into his verse conveys a subtext of meaning and expression. Join Dr. Tony E. Medlin to explore the mysteries and history of the great playwright. 6 pm. Free. ebrpl.com. k

SEP 23rd

FALL FESTIVALS FARM FEST New Iberia, Louisiana

Shadows-on-the-Teche, in partnership with the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival & Fair Association, honors the farmers who grow the most significant crop in the area. The young folks who have shown up in past years wearing red bandannas and straw hats will be glad to know they now have a festival to attend, with hamburgers and chili, beer and wine, and other festival food to feast on. Musical entertainment provided by Alligator Blue, and lots of chances to dance the night away are all on the evening docket.

Minors should be accompanied by an adult. $10 per family. 4 pm–9 pm. shadowsontheteche.org. k

SEP 23rd

SILVER SCREEN MANHATTAN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 2021 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

As one of four hundred cities across six continents, Baton Rouge will host screenings at the Manship Theatre of the ten finalists in the 2021 Manhattan Short Film Festival—a format that offers attendees the chance to view, then vote for, their favorite films. And with past finalists having gone on to receive Oscar nominations in the “short film” category, the festival has become known as a breeding ground for the next big thing in film. You be the judge. 7 pm Thursday. $9.50. manshiptheatre.org. k

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- SEP

26th

FALL FESTIVALS ALLIGATOR FESTIVAL Luling, Louisiana

See ya’ later alligator—at St. Charles Parish’s annual Alligator Festival— where, no, there are no crocodiles to be found. Held at West Bank Bridge Park, gear up for music, carnival rides, craft vendors, live music, and plenty of

A new exhibition at the Louisiana Old State Capitol studies a particular site of American culture: Coney Island. See listing on page 14. Image courtesy of Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. gator fare—fried, grilled, frittered, in a sausage and in a sauce piquante too. alligatorfestival.org for details. k

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23rd - SEP 26th

FALL FESTIVALS LOUISIANA SUGAR CANE FESTIVAL New Iberia, Louisiana

If you love sweet, sweet sugar, a trip to the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia is a must (don’t worry, we won’t tell your dentist). For over seventy years, the festival

has brought together sugar-producing parishes to honor the sugar industry with royalty, sweet treats, fun, and dancing in the streets. Attendees can expect a street fair, fais do-dos, blessing of the crop, art exhibits, a horticulture show, fireworks, a Louisiana Sugar Cane parade, and of course the coronation of Queen Sugar. Plus, this year’s lineup is headed by LA Roxx, Parish County Line, Clay Cormier, Jamie Bergeron, Geno Delafosse, Three Thirty Seven, and The Bad Boys Band. Head to New Iberia’s historic downtown district and follow the crowds. hisugar.org. k

Tailgate with your

NEIGH-BORS THIS FOOTBALL SEASON • 108 campground + RV sites • Two miles from LSU • Guest parking for large crowds • Shuttle option to LSU Campus on home games

Equestrian Center & RV Campground 6402 River Rd., Baton Rouge, LA • 225-769-7805 • brec.org/farr •

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Events

Beginning September 24th - September 25th SEP

24th

FALL FESTIVALS BREWS ARTS FESTIVAL Hammond, Louisiana

Definitely designate a driver for the Hammond Regional Arts Center’s annual Brews Arts Fest. Attendees will enjoy a thirty-strong selection that includes plenty of locally crafted beers, paired with cuisine prepared by area chefs. Plus, live music alongside artwork by regional artists. It all happens in Morrison Alley parking lot off North Cypress Street (behind the Arts Center at 217 East Thomas Street) in downtown Hammond. 5 pm–9 pm. $25 in advance; $35 at the door. hammondarts.org. k

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24th

FUN FUNDRAISERS LOVE IN THE GARDEN New Orleans, Louisiana

There’s nothing like a garden party to bring in the cooler autumn months, and NOMA’s annual fall soirée in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden provides a perfectly romantic environment for sipping a cocktail and enjoying a conversation about

fine art under moonlit oaks. Food will be provided by the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, and entertainment by NOCCA Trio and The Bucktown All-Stars. Patron party begins at 7 pm, Garden Party at 8 pm. Presented by Hancock Whitney Bank. Tickets start at $75. noma.org. k

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gritty, soulful sounds, the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival returns to Cassidy Park bigger and better than ever. Headed up by Eric Gales, Kenny Neal, Jonathan “Boogie” Long, Big Al and the Heavyweights, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, The Chitlins, Laurie Morvan Band, Abita Blues Band, and Looka Here. $15 Friday; $20 Saturday; $35 for the weekend. VIP and overnight camping options also available. bogalusablues.com. k

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24th - SEP 26th

End, Envision da Berry invites the public to join in a special show of community spirit in Iberia Parish. Coinciding with annual harvest celebrations and emphasizing the economic, civil, and cultural contributions of the city’s West End—the festival will bring the community together with two main music stages connected by a vendor village of representatives in every aspect of the cultural and artistic tapestry of the area. Noon–8 pm. Free. envision-da-berry-2.square.site. k

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25th

ART WALKS GIROD STREET STROLL

Thibodaux, Louisiana

CATEGORY WOMEN’S WEEKEND BATON ROUGE Online

Against the incredible backdrop of Historic Downtown Thibodaux, artists and culturemakers from the area will set up for the biannual Arts Walk. Stroll the streets, support your local businesses, grab a bite, and bring home a treasure or two. 5 pm–8 pm. Free. downtownthibodaux.org. k

Honor the influence of the two X chromosomes during Women’s Weekend! With the theme “The Total Woman,” Women’s Weekend in Red Stick has an extensive programming schedule, presented virtually this year. Celebrate womanhood with a variety of classes, demonstrations, and workshops from experts and entertainers. womensweekbr.org. k

The Old Mandeville Business Association will welcome the fall season to Old Mandeville at the annual Girod Street Stroll, from the Mandeville Trailhead to the Lakefront. Patrons will enjoy light tasting plates by top local chefs, and specialty cocktails served by more than twenty local businesses. Patrons must purchase a commemorative stroll cup, which is the ticket to sample all food and beverages at the event. Cups can be picked up at the registration area—the corner of Girod and Monroe Streets near the Rusty Pelican— beginning at 3:30 pm on the day of the event. Patrons must show their photo ID and e-ticket or printed ticket to pick up their cup. Must be over twenty one. 5 pm–9 pm. $40 at oldmandevillebiz.com. k

ART WALKS THIBODAUX FALL ARTS WALK

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24th - SEP 25th

FALL FESTIVALS BOGALUSA BLUES AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL Bogalusa, Louisiana

With plenty of succulent food, quality handmade arts, and blues music items available; all against a live soundtrack of

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25th

FALL FESTIVALS BROWN SUGAR MUSIC FESTIVAL New Iberia, Louisiana

Celebrating its return to New Iberia’s West

Mandeville, Louisiana

The Longue Vue EXPERIENCE House and Garden Tours • Community Programs Custom Workshops • Yoga and Wellness Private Events • Photography Locations & Accommodations Edith and Edgar’s Museum Cafe

7 BAMBOO RD, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70124 | 504.488.5488 ENGAGE & EXPLORE LONGUEVUE.COM

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2019 Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith will give a special reading at Baton Rouge Gallery as part of their Sundays@4 series on September 26. See listing on page 26. Image courtesy of Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective.

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25th

HISTORY & ARCHITECTURE HERITAGE & HARVEST TOUR Shreveport, Louisiana

The Heritage & Harvest Tour, sponsored by the Red River Crossroads Historical Association, comprises nine attractions from Dixie to Ida, including historical churches, vineyards, museums, shops, and memorials. Adapted this year to suit COVID-19 guidelines, this year’s tour is selfdriving and totally free, featuring a theme of “Old Fashioned Porches”. Maps and tour information are available at Hoogland Home (4610 Highway 3049 North), Belcher Presbyterian Church, Main Street Restaurant in Gilliam, and in each home on tour. redrivercrossroadshistorical.org. k

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25th - OCT 23rd

LOCAL HISTORY NATCHEZ FALL 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-hundredyear-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. Find details on other special events, dinners, and tours at natchezpilgrimage.com. k

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Enjoy the outdoor fun!

25th - OCT 30th

CREATIVE CLASSES SILVERBACKS IMPROV THEATRE COMEDY CLASSES Lafayette, Louisiana

Looking for a fun way to step outside of your comfort zone? Make new friends? Learn a new skill? For the troupe of Silverbacks Improv Theatre, these things happen yearround, especially now that their Improv Comedy Classes start up again in person, taught by Leslie Boudreaux Tidwell. Divided into three levels, these Saturday classes begin with Improv 1, an entry-level journey into the craft of improvisation where students learn the application of “group mind,” the “yes, and” technique, and more improv concepts and vocabulary. Students can then move into Improv 2 and Improv 3 at their own pace in a safe, low-stakes, friendly atmosphere. Ages sixteen and older. 10 am– noon. $120. Scholarships and payment plans are available.silverbacksimprov.com. k

SEP 25th - MAR 27th ART EXHIBITIONS SPELL, TIME, PRACTICE, AMERICAN, BODY New Orleans, Louisiana

Photographer, filmmaker, and educator RaMell Ross received wide critical acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination, for his documentary Hale County This Morning, This Evening. Ross utilizes large format photographs and a DSLR video camera to capture facets of American identity, Blackness, and how those influence life in the South. Ross’s method is considered to be a pioneering approach to documentary storytelling, particularly in the approach to presenting the Black experience. The exhibition explores African American life in Hale County, Alabama—the subject of the film—through Ross’s vibrant, intimate images and videos. ogdenmuseum.org. k

8592 Hwy 1, Mansura, LA 800.833.4195 travelavoyelles.com // S E P T 2 1

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Beginning September 26th - September 30th SEP

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CONCERTS THE LISTENING LIBRARY Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Music and storytelling are joining forces, thanks to the Baton Rouge Concert Band, to bring you on a journey through literary classics like “The Raven,” Gulliver’s Travels, and more in this special concert at the Main Branch Library on Goodwood. 5 pm. Free. ebrpl.com. k

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26th

HOLY MATRIMONY MORGAN CITY WEDDING EXPO Morgan City, Louisiana

Not sure how to make your wedding fantasies come to life? A bit pressed to think of your something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue? The Morgan City Wedding Expo promises to help you reach your “happily ever after” by putting all the vendors you could possibly need in the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium for your perusal. $5. 4 pm. (985) 380-4639 for more information. k

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ART & POETRY SUNDAYS@4 BATON ROUGE GALLERY: READING BY JOHN WARNER SMITH Baton Rouge, Louisiana

This month’s special guest at Baton Rouge Gallery’s Sundays@4 event is 2019 Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith—the first African American man to serve in the position. Smith will present a special reading of works from the course of his career as a poet and writer. 4 pm–6 pm. Free. batonrougegallery.org. k

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in-person will be offered in Baton Rouge, Slidell, and St. Francisville. online.lsu.edu/continuing-education/olli-lsu. k

- NOV

5th

UNCONVENTIONAL ED OLLI AT LSU CLASSES

30th

FUN FUNDRAISERS BREADA’S FARM FÊTE Online

From the folks who bring you the Red Stick Farmers Market and Main Street Market—a fabulous silent auction from the safety of your living room. BREADA’s annual Farm Fête fundraiser will offer opportunities to bid on unique Farmers’ Market items, including farm tours, culinary gifts, and exclusive experiences. To sign up and view items up for auction, text “FARMER” to 72727 or visit breada.org. k

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finest guitarists to the stage, including: Dave Malone (The Radiators), Renard Poché (Neville Brothers, Dr. John Irma Thomas, Aaron Neville, Allen Toussant), and June Yamagishi (Papa Grows Funk, The Wild Magnolias). A musician and luthier, Moser is known for crafting one-of-a-kind playable art instruments for years. His latest creation will be an homage to Dr. John: The Nite Tripper Guitar, which will be enshrined at Tipitina’s in a handmade case. Proceeds from the event will benefit New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, an organization close to Dr. John’s heart. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within seventy-two hours will be required for entry. 8 pm. $30. tipitinas.com. k

30th

CONCERTS THE NITE TRIPPER GUITAR COMES HOME”

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Ochsner Lifelong Learning Institute at LSU, also known as OLLI at LSU, is an adult learning membership program designed for inquiring adults, ages fifty and “better,” who wish to pursue lifelong learning in a relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere. There are no tests, no grades and no homework, just pure enjoyment. This fall seventy-five classes online and

Known as Dr. John by most, as The Nite Tripper by others, as Mac Rebennack by his friends: the New Orleans legend is the cause for occasion at this special concert presented by Tipitina’s and Don Moser. Featuring a lineup curated by Musical Director Leo Nocentelli—founding member of The Meters and Lifetime Achievement Grammy recipient—who has invited some of the city’s

To see our full list of regional events and festivals, including those we couldn’t fit into print, point your phone camera here.

“It is my privilege to care for you and provide outstanding care to help you stay happy and healthy. I value the trust you place in me and look forward to getting to know you.”

Welcoming to

Dr. North-Scott joins Drs. Michelle Cosse’, Reagan Elkins, Tommy Gould, Amanda Lea, Kimberly Meiners, and Jeremy Dedeaux, FNP-C at Lane Family Practice.

To schedule an appointment, please call 225-654-3607. New patients welcome!

Dr. Maria North-Scott, D.O. Dr. North-Scott is here to help adults and children with their healthcare needs. From seasonal allergies and cold/flu/COVID symptoms, to migraines, urinary tract infections, STD testing/treatments, and more. Services include: • Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy • Annual Wellness Exams • Preventative Check-ups • Blood Pressure management • Diabetes management • Immunizations • COVID-19 testing • Flu Shots • On site x-ray and laboratory testing • Same day appointments available

Highlights Board certified in Family Medicine and board eligible in Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy Received Doctorate degree in Osteopathic Medicine from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, New York Completed residency in Family Medicine and was Chief Resident at Methodist Charlton Family Medicine Residency in Dallas, Texas

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Sponsored by the Ascension Parish Tourism Commission

The Sweet Spot of South Louisiana Along the River Road, a respite in Ascension Parish

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etween the metropolitan cityscapes of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, sprawling stretches of sugarcane fields roll along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi for miles. Concrete jungle gives way to towering old oaks, cypress swampland, and winding back roads that lead to the heart of plantation country—Ascension Parish. Within the small towns and river communities that make up Louisiana’s Sweet Spot, a treasure trove of historic, cultural, and culinary gems await. Set off on a self-guided walking tour of Donaldsonville’s Historic District (the second largest in the state!), and see firsthand how five centuries of multiculturalism shaped the city into what it is today. Seven trail panels form a 2.5-mile path throughout downtown, tracing the area’s cultural influences through time. While perusing the past, you may even get a glimpse of the future—several local preservation projects are currently in the works as part of Donaldsonville’s Main Street revitalization program. Continue your historic tour at the River Road African American Museum, an institution that brings important stories to light through

powerful storytelling. The museum captures the rich legacy and perspective of the region’s rural Black communities, ensuring that the oft-overlooked contributions of both enslaved and free people of color are recognized for generations to come. Enriching exhibits commemorate the fortitude and achievements birthed by a generation of artists, educators, doctors, craftsmen, politicians, and musicians. Delve even further into remnants of the Riverboat Era at the newly opened Great River Road Museum. The 35,000-squarefoot space features period art, antiques, and artifacts exploring nineteenth century life on the Lower Mississippi in addition to housing Dixie Café, a casual dining spot where you’ll find large breakfast and lunch buffets. Plus, it all happens to be located within one of the parish’s most popular (and breathtaking) attractions—Houmas House, which you’ll find is most deserving of a day trip (or at the very least, a detour) to Darrow. A vision of Southern grandeur for more than two hundred and fifty years, the nineteenth century-era sugarcane estate certainly lives up to its title as “the crown jewel of River Road.”

The splendor of the historic manor is matched only by the stunning, lush landscape surrounding it. Sprawling thirty-eight acres, the Gardens of Houmas House represent a range of flourishing Louisiana flora. In addition to hosting guided tours, the grounds are also home to fine dining restaurants Latil’s Landing and The Carriage House, along with The Turtle Bar, The Wine Cellars at Houmas House, and a luxurious inn for overnight guests. For some sweet spot shopping, The Cajun Village is a must. Housed in a collection of restored Acadian dwellings, seven specialty boutiques offer a range of Louisiana-made goods and souvenirs, from handcrafted art and antiques to pottery and swamp candy. There’s even an on-site coffee shop and nearby B&B, so you have all the more reason to stick around, sip on a café au lait, and watch the daily feeding of the village’s two resident alligators, Big Boy and Nubby. Now that’s what we call camp living, Cajun style.

Just like sugarcane coaxes out the flavor in everything it’s added to, Louisiana’s Sweet Spot is sure to bring out the best in every guest.

visitlasweetspot.com

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Features

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ALIENS JAMMING

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NATCHEZ, THE

TO CHUCK BERRY STARS FALL TO

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JOHNNY B. GOODE

A Puppeteer’s Perspective

HOW ZIGGY & THE JUNKYARD BAND FULFILLED A CHILDHOOD DREAM Story by Kristen Foster • Photos by Kimberly Meadowlark

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t is 8 am on a Tuesday, and I am crawling beneath a mound of artistically-arranged junk zip-tied and screwed in to a hollow scaffolding of chicken wire and wood. I scooch across the floor on my side, inch-by-inch, maneuvering around corners and stretching toward a jagged hole cut in the rubble just large enough to thread an arm through. With my body fully eclipsed by trash—a bent bicycle wheel, a burned out toaster—I reach up into a simulated spring afternoon. I witness this surreal effect— my arm blooming through debris— on a small screen carefully balanced between my face and a two-by-four. “Alright!” a voice at once gruff and impish calls out to me from the surface. “You ready?” it asks, while working the foam and felt over my forearm. I answer, “yes!” with the i m me d i a c y born from a

subconscious anticipation that has been coiling, spring-like, for years. “Outstanding!” the voice booms, “Puppets up!” And just like that, my arm becomes the spine, my hand the jaws and eyes, of Pat Riot—a mohawked and safety-pinned punk rock bass player who, along with the rest of the Junkyard Band, has arrived to guide a spaceship-wrecked alien named Ziggy through lessons on arts and empathy in Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s newest original children’s educational program. Growing up, when adults asked me that quintessential question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’d answer, with a youthful lack of hesitation: “A puppeteer.” Said adults rarely knew what to say next. In fact, it would take decades for me to meet another person who shared an appreciation for this particular art form and understood its impor-

tance. It was then five years after I first met Clay Achee that he became the puckish director guiding my puppeted arm from the opposite side of a garbage pile. In truth, it wasn’t until recently that I even bothered to ask Achee what drew him to puppetry in the first place. It was always something that felt inherently obvious to me, an unspoken understanding we’ve shared since the day I first crashed into his inbox upon hearing there was a “puppet guy” in town. While the contents of that initial missive are long since lost in the digital ephemera, it would be fair to imagine an overall tone of fanatic desperation. There was a puppet show in town, and I wanted in. I needed in. To my great fortune, Achee is one of those people who finds room for everyone, a quality that not only makes him an edifying creative collaborator, but a superlative friend. So, it was no surprise to me that, when I finally did get around to asking, his answer might have been pulled from the pages of my own history: it was The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal. It was, in short, Jim

Puppets Ziggy, Pat Riot, and River Young from Ziggy’s Arts Adventure.

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Henson’s innumerable enchantments orchestrated using only what could be built, then brought to life, by skillful hands. I remember vividly the first time I got my hands on—or, more accurately, inside of—a puppet. It was a muggy summer in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and my grandfather and I were visiting the country music-themed amusement park, Opryland. A vendor with an array of brightly-colored shaggy puppets festooning his kiosk beckoned to the crowd with the rodded arm of a fuzzy brown monster who was, in a gruff and wild voice, hawking his wares: “Brother for sale! Sister for sale!” I moved closer, mesmerized by the assemblage of costume fur and wire that seemed to live and breathe before my widening eyes. The monster, whose nametag read “Bofleeceus”—a triple-layered word play of Hank Williams Jr.’s nickname—proved to be a world class salesman. Gesturing toward one side of the kiosk made to look like a jail from the Wild West, Bofleeceus leaned in and asked my grandfather if he’d like to, “spring one of these criminals.” “Well, I don’t know. What do you think?” my grandfather asked me in his playfully rhetorical way. I don’t remember answering, but I do remember BeBop, the taffy pink monster with dark aviator sunglasses and a straw cowboy hat who became my constant companion for the rest of that summer and years thereafter. “I’ve always been drawn to practical effects,” Achee explained of his own affinity towards puppetry and performance-based storytelling. “The magic trick of something happening onscreen that I knew wasn’t real, and yet it was actually happening, was just so neat to me as a kid. I remember turning back to my dad and asking, ‘How’d they do that?’” It’s a question that, today, has become an indelible guide to his many creative pursuits.


The writer, Kristen Foster, pictured with her puppet Pat Riot.

Achee’s childlike curiosity ultimately resulted in a degree in Film and Television from Savannah College of Art and Design, followed by a decade of work in the Louisiana film industry in various capacities. The connections he acquired on sets over the years were not only instrumental in the eventual production of the Ziggy’s Arts Adventure television program, but also—and quite by accident—in providing the initial spark of inspiration for the project. “One day, I was helping a friend read through a stack of scripts. She just asked me to help her see if there was anything good,” Achee recalled. “There wasn’t. Not really. But, there was this one sort of not bad biopic of Carl Sagan. It was about the Voyager and The Golden Record.” The Golden Record, appropriately titled The Sounds of Earth and launched into space on The Voyager in 1977, is a painstakingly-crafted LP grooved with examples of music, spoken language, images, and text from our planet. If discovered by life forms beyond our solar system, the record is meant to provide cultural insights into our inhabited world, at least as it appeared through an American lens up to the late 1970s. “It was such a lovely idea,” said Achee. “It was meant to inspire us with awe, and let me tell you, it succeeded on me grandly.”

Of the music on The Sounds of Earth—which included selections by masters Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach—it was the inclusion of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” that most inspired Achee. “I just kept seeing these little green aliens bopping along to Chuck Berry,” he said. “I just loved that idea.” And as fate would have it, one of these imagined aliens would someday travel through space in search of rock ‘n’ roll, crash landing in a Louisiana junkyard. The journey from Ziggy’s Arts Adventure’s inception to its realization was no straight line. When Achee first decided to transition out of film industry work, he was making puppets purely as a hobby, but soon started selling them with his wife, artist Kirstin Martinez, at local arts markets and festivals. Before long, the couple decided to increase their efforts and focus more creative energy on making the puppets into a revenue stream for their family. One such project evolved into the creation of Achee’s junkyard-dwelling puppet rock band. “Each puppet represents a different genre of music,” he said. “We would ride floats in parades and make appearances at local events.” On weekends, Achee would take two of the puppets to New Orle// S E P 2 1

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ans to busk on the street for the tourists passing by. “I don’t know when the two ideas came together, but, at some point, I just knew that this band would be who would take in the alien.” Achee began by making Youtube videos, which were viewed by handfuls of family and friends, but he didn’t see it as the ideal platform for the project. Encouraged by a friend who works at LPB, he submitted a program proposal in July of 2019. With the ensuing chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, he recalled, “I had almost forgotten I had applied when I heard back from them.” When, at their first meeting, LPB told him that they wanted to offer Ziggy and The Junkyard Band a home at their Studio B, Achee joked, “The moment just kind of hung in the air. Eventually, it dawned on me— wait—this is the greatest thing that has ever happened.” This sentiment was overwhelmingly shared by the cast and crew who, after funding was secured, spent the next six months writing, building, and rehearsing. The cast, comprised of actors from LSU’s theater department, local improv comedians, and musicians, was mostly in place at the time the show was picked up. Auditions were held for a new character, the jazz saxophonist Cynthia, and the glam rock puppet Nic Fit. In addition to the producers and crew provided by LPB, Achee’s film industry contacts filled out the rest of the talented team that brought the dream of Ziggy to vibrant green, bugeyed life.

As he was developing the program, Achee sought out resources to help him integrate educational curriculums into Ziggy’s story. “The characters and main ideas were there, but the show was never overtly educational,” Achee explained. “I always knew I wanted to teach through the puppets, and I was confident in teaching the soft skills—like empathy and character—but to create something


that was teaching curriculum-based lessons, I knew I had to get Foos.” Elizabeth Foos’s company Foos for Thought provides creative learning resources and training for educators to implement the arts into their curriculums. Foos had been working with Achee for years before signing on as his co-creator of Ziggy’s Arts Adventure. “I’ve been playing with Clay since he arrived on the scene,” she said. “So, a decade. I was excited that Baton Rouge had gotten a strong enough and vibrant enough arts community that we could support a puppet guy.” Together, they’ve created educational videos with puppets and brought puppets into classrooms to teach important concepts through creative play. According to Foos, “No matter what you’re teaching, your curriculum is lurking in the arts.” This poetic philosophy shapes each episode of Ziggy’s Arts Adventure and almost subliminally communicates the deeper messages that lie below the surface. “I was brought on to figure out how to not only bring the show into an educational universe that didn’t lose any of its pure imagination, joy, and story arc— but to make something for an elementary audience that could be genuinely useful as a resource not just for learning about the arts, but for Louisiana,” Foos explained. “I think our first goal is to feature Louisiana. Not just the arts, but everything that’s awesome about it.” In each twelve-minute episode, Ziggy, a nine-year-old alien who leaves his artless home planet in pursuit of the feeling Chuck Berry’s music gave him, learns

an important artistic concept with help from a professional Louisiana artist. This season, special guests include—among others—dancers Anna Schwab and LeTiger Walker, visual artist Chris King, violinist Alba Layana; and even the First Lady of Louisiana Donna Edwards, a former music teacher who unyieldingly advocates for arts education in our state. Foos described the impact of including guest artists as twofold. In addition to experiencing expert demonstrations of various art forms, young audiences are learning that art can be a profession. “We must make new artists,” Foos emphatically explained, citing, among other things, the crucial link between our state’s artistic identity and the revenue it generates. “The only way to make new artists is to show them that this is a valid profession.” At the August 1 premier, sitting curled behind the junkyard fence that had been temporarily transplanted from Studio B to the library—where the gathering crowd buzzed beyond our barricade—I thought about how this show and the phenomenally gifted people who brought it to life are all the proof anyone should ever need of that validity. After a live performance by The Junkyard Band, accompanied by trumpet virtuoso John Gray, it was finally time to roll episode one. And, well, to colloquialize: it is everything. It is, at long last, a resounding response of affirmation to the kid who wanted, more than anything, to be an artist, to be a puppeteer. h

lpb.org/programs/ziggy

Humans and Puppets from left to right: Kristen Foster, Pat Riot, Chase Bernard, Ziggy, and Clay Achee.

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S TAT E O F T H E A R T S

Our Renaissance is Pending LOUISIANA PERFORMERS AND AUDIENCES GOT A TASTE OF OUR OWN POST-PLAGUE ARTS REVIVAL, BUT WE AREN’T THERE YET Story by Alexandra Kennon

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egular readers may remember our story from September 2020 titled, “The Future for the Performing Arts in Louisiana,” which detailed the challenges faced by our region’s performing arts organizations during the 2020 COVID19 pandemic. When, a few months ago, I pitched a follow-up to that story, I envisioned a very different piece than what follows. Just a few short weeks ago musicians, actors, and other artists were ecstatically—if cautiously—returning to their livelihoods on stage as the rest of us excitedly and loyally clamored back into venues as audience members. The mutual joy of performers and patrons coming back together—to connect, to share space, to share art—was palpable in each precious interaction. After a painfully long year and a half apart, isolated, distanced, or connected only through screens, Louisiana performers and audiences experienced a beautiful reunion; reaffirmed in our understanding that live music, theatre, and dance are integral to our culture, our way of life, and our happiness. I so looked forward to interviewing performers about the rush of returning to

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the stage after a long absence, and venue owners about their audiences’ renewed appreciation for live performance. Needless to say, things are different now. Instead of attending the plays and concerts marked on my calendar, I’m now writing from my own quarantine, as my COVID-positive (and vaccinated) musician partner isolates on the opposite side of the house after returning from tour. A mask mandate has been reinstated statewide, and New Orleans has implemented vaccine or negative test mandates for all indoor public spaces. Jazz Fest’s cancellation (yet again) felt like a harbinger of things to come, and other major annual festivals like Festival Acadiens et Creoles and French Quarter Fest have surely enough followed suit. At this point in time, perhaps the only thing that is certain for the performing arts is that they are needed, now more than ever. That’s not to say that artists and producers have not persevered despite the hurdles. Outdoor stages that allow for distanced audiences have popped up in unexpected places—Beauvoir Park in Baton Rouge, The Broadside in New Orleans, and even private porches like

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the Constantinople Stage in New Orleans have kept music playing and money in musicians’ pockets, albeit on a smaller scale than we’re used to. Several of the venues that closed and were up for sale this time last year—d.b.a. (which has now expanded to include the open air venue across the street, d.b.a at Palace Market), Gasa Gasa, and The Joy Theater—have since reopened. The Acadiana Center for the Arts’ James Devin Moncus Theater was originally designed with the intent of also functioning as a studio/recording space, and not being able to fill the three hundred-capacity house during the pandemic provided incentive to finally outfit it with the necessary equipment for recording and broadcasting virtual content. Even with those worthwhile investments—which provided an outlet for local artists to produce their own content, and for the AcA to produce Festivals Acadiens et Creoles and Festival International 2020 entirely virtually—the center still received special permission from the state to host a limited-attendance concert on December 10, 2020. “Because we just felt like we couldn’t let the calendar year end without doing

something,” said Executive Director Sam Oliver. “If we knew that we could do it safely within every standard set out, then we were saying to ourselves, well, why don’t we do it? We’re here to serve an audience. We’re here to serve artists, and to be a connector, so if we’re going to be a live and in-person connector, let’s do it in whatever way makes sense.” Many arts organizations made creative and impressively agile shifts to producing virtual content in 2020. Now, the same companies who successfully and enthusiastically embraced digitally broadcasting performances a year ago are acknowledging that their patrons and staff are thoroughly burnt out on these virtual productions. Opéra Louisiane is one of many organizations who proved their resiliency last year by producing online and virtual content. “However, nothing beats a live performance,” admits Leanne Clements, General Director of Opéra Louisiane. As of press, Opéra Louisiane plans to hold its Summer Soirée in person on September 9, along with its Open Air Fair at the Baton Rouge downtown library on November 6, and a full in-person production of the Menotti holiday classic


Photo by Michael Alford.

Amahl and the Night Visitors on December 18. They’re also producing another creative virtual performance on September 17 as part of the Ebb & Flow Festival, in collaboration with Marie Constantin and the Louisiana Stormwater Initiative: Capital Trash, a mini opera about Baton Rouge’s trash issue. “You may see a few virtual performances in the future from Opéra Louisiane, but we are focused on live and in person events in as safe and comfortable an environment as possible,” said Clements. Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, one of the longest-running local theatres in the country, also hopes to allow audiences a safe return in-person after last year’s virtual programming. “It’s been invigorating to hear from people who have been coming for years, how excited they are that we’re getting back on stage,” explained Production Manager James Lanius. “Everyone is over ‘digital theatre’ and just ready for some in-person performance.” Last year Le Petit successfully produced several cabaret-style shows online, including one featuring New Orleans favorite talent Leslie Castay in December. “We had an older patron who showed

up at the theatre a few days before to buy a ticket. It took three of our staff to explain to him that he would not be able to watch the show in the theatre, and that he would have to watch it at home on his computer,” Lanius recalled. “He was heartbroken, and said ‘I just want to see Leslie sing, and cheer for her, and shake her hand after the show. I can’t do that on the computer.’ People are ready to get back in the theatre and remind ourselves why in-person performance is so important.” This sentiment echoes. We used to say that theatre was the antithesis to the digital age—in the era of COVID, the digital realm of presentation has become a necessary, if somewhat resented, crutch to allow theatre (and live music, and dance) to continue at all. And as crutches go, virtual venues have allowed performances to continue and helped artists to get paid, so different as they may be, it’s hard to knock them. “We managed to make a lot of art in the last eighteen months, and we were able to pay artists, makers, and technicians a total of over $100,000 for their work onstage, on camera, and on tour,” Lanius said. “Our staff is smaller now than it was eighteen months ago,

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“IT COMES DOWN TO JUST THE ORGANIC, VISCERAL NATURE OF PERFORMING LIVE IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. IT’S AN ITCH THAT NEEDS TO GET SCRATCHED FOR A LOT OF US, WHETHER YOU’RE DOING IT PROFESSIONALLY, OR JUST FOR THE LOVE OF IT. WE REALIZED DURING THE PANDEMIC, NOT BEING ABLE TO DO THAT, THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE NEED THAT IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY. AND I FOR SURE AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.” —GEORGE GEKAS, THE REVIVALISTS but we’re working towards getting back to pre-pandemic levels, and in the meantime we will still able to produce worldclass theatre in the French Quarter.” Moving forward, Le Petit hopes to open this fall with a full season of five plays, in addition to its Curtain Call Ball Gala. While last year’s gala and most programming were held online, the plan—as of press time—is for the full season to be in person. “At this point we are optimistic that we’ll be able to have those performances in person,” Lanius told me. Like all of the production leadership I spoke with, safety procedures are at the forefront of Lanius’s mind, with the hopes that their staunch implementation will allow audiences to continue to return. “We plan to produce as long as we can safely do so. Shutting down production is not an option for us unless we are

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mandated,” said Jenny Ballard, Managing Artistic Director of Theatre Baton Rouge. “We were planning on requiring masks for our audience members well before the mask mandate was reintroduced, and we’ll return to temperature checks at the door, as well as COVID protocol cleaning procedures.” At the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, Director of Marketing/Programming John Kaufman emphasized that communication among their staff, and safety for performers and audiences are ultimate takeaways from the last eighteen months. “We have been receiving constant praise about returning performances and appreciation from our patrons that we are still taking the precautions to keep everyone safe, both staff and patrons,” said Kaufman. Three of the Manship’s concerts last year pivoted to being produced at Beau-

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voir Park—an outdoor venue in Baton Rouge that started up during the height of the pandemic, which hosted shows for the Manship as well as Mid-City Ballroom, along with other musical acts. “We found a little opportunity to step in and put on concerts in a safe manner— outside, obviously, is the way to go,” said J. Hover, talent buyer and promoter for Beauvoir Park and Director of Entertainment at Red Stick Social, whose weekly Groovin’ on the Grass concert series has also kept live music going outdoors. “Really, for us, it was all about providing musicians a platform to do what they wanted to do.” Even prior to New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s issuing the city-wide vaccine or negative test mandates for public buildings, some of the city’s most iconic and beloved music venues had already taken the initiative to issue such regulations. Tipitina’s, d.b.a., and Maple Leaf Bar were among the first. “We’re trying to remain open while still being responsible and protecting our patrons and staff and musicians,” said Stanton Moore, co-owner of Tipitina’s and drummer of Galactic. “I just think that everything that we can do is going

to help … I would love to encourage people to do what we have to do, based off of facts, to get through this.” Like many, Moore expressed frustration at the current situation. Earlier this summer he experienced, both as a musician and venue owner, the profound emotion of returning to the stage before an audience after the long hiatus, when he performed with David Torkanowsky and James Singleton for a small audience of around fifty—a sort of “soft reopening” show welcoming an audience of friends and family back to Tipitina’s for the first time since March of 2020. “It was an incredible experience, especially for me in the position that I’m in … to be a co-owner of Tip’s and performing,” Moore remembered. “It was a really unique, but very special experience. I mean, I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.” Monica R. Harris, a New Orleans-based actress, recalled a similar giddiness at returning to the stage at the Contemporary Arts Center as part of Rebecca Hollingsworth’s Artist Residency—especially because the CAC was the last place she had performed for an audience before the lockdowns in 2020. “I just felt so grateful to be back. It’s as if I had completed a circle,” Harris told me. “And yes, I have to wear a mask. And we have hand sanitizing stations, and extra masks. But God, I’m rehearsing again, and I’m getting to learn lines again, and I get to see people


I haven’t seen in over a year—it just all kind of hit me at once in that moment. “Just like any actor, I would imagine, or any theatre maker, anyone to do with live performance of any medium, I was like ‘God, I miss it.’ I just missed that connectivity, that sense of coming together,” said Harris. “Experiencing something with not just your fellow cast mates, but every crew member, every audience member, even the people working box office in front of house making this thing happen, that we can all share together.” Harris, who played Luciana in the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane’s recent cut-short run of Comedy of Errors, said that the first rehearsal for the production felt like the first day of school. “I could barely contain how excited I was to just sit at a table with people and read a script together,” she said. “It was as if I got to step back into the timeline that was taken away so suddenly. I got to come right back, and I could feel everybody feeling that in the room. That was really special, and that’s been carrying me through. When we get off the phone, I’m gonna go do my show and I’m going to be thankful every time I get to do it. It’s made me acknowledge why I missed it and given me so much more gratitude.” Surely enough, after performing one last show the night of our interview, the next day the Shakespeare Festival announced the cancellation of the remainder of its run. “This is a reminder

of how quickly things can change sometimes, and we’ve got to make the most of the time we have because we don’t know how much that is,” Harris said the day before the cancellation was announced. “We’ve just got to make it all count. Every performance I do, I make it count, one hundred percent of the time.” For George Gekas, bassist for The Revivalists, the COVID-mandated hiatus from performing for audiences was the longest period he’s gone without playing live since he started his career. Like many musicians, Gekas took several less-conventional, scaled-down outdoor or live-streamed gigs in the absence of traditional venues and crowds. Many professional musicians like Gekas would not necessarily play to such modestly-sized audiences under normal circumstances—of course, in the absence of normal circumstances, performers and audiences alike are having to adjust their expectations. “It comes down to just the organic, visceral nature of performing live in front of people. It’s an itch that needs to get scratched for a lot of us, whether you’re doing it professionally, or just for the love of it,” Gekas said. “We realized during the pandemic, not being able to do that, that a lot of people need that in order to be happy. And I for sure am one of those people.” As vital as the performing arts’ fullfledged return may be for personal fulfillment and happiness, the practical reality is that as long as COVID ravages our

state, countless artists’ livelihoods remain in jeopardy. The Jazz & Heritage Music Relief Fund reopened for applications for aid this summer, while many other grant programs that provided aid last year have ceased. The Krewe of Red Beans, who provided New Orleans musicians with temporary jobs as drivers along with other other aid in 2020, is hosting Fest Fest: a series of crowd-funded, COVIDsafe porch concerts to help supplement musicians’ lost income from yet another round of cancelled festivals. (Read more, and learn how to support the effort in Jordan LaHaye Fontenot’s story on page 8.) As the arts council for its region, the Acadiana Center for the Arts has put out more than $200,000 in small checks— what Oliver calls “makin’ groceries” checks—to more than four hundred artists in Acadiana. “Our hope is that it at least shows the artists who are here that they’re seen, and that they have somebody they can come to,” Oliver expressed. “We as an organization are committed to seeing them survive, and survive as the kind of creative makers and doers that we need to remain, frankly, a city and a region worth living in.” If there is a positive to this situation, it’s that artists are experiencing deeper connections with each other and their art—a sense of care and compassion for one another is more tangible than ever. “The frame of mind is shifting when it comes to being more compassionate for the person, and not just building towards

a product,” Harris said. “Even if we are working on this project, and we have a deadline, and we have these goals we have to meet, we can still take care of each other at the same time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.” “I think as artists, the challenge of this time—but it’s also the gift of this time—is just being very present with yourself with your community, with your creativity. Because that’s the best gift we can give ourselves as artists,” said Claire Cook, Artistic Director of Basin Arts in Lafayette. “And then ultimately, that’s what contributes to the good stuff that gets out to the public.” If it wasn’t evident before, this tumultuous period has proven that presence, connection, and compassion are crucial to the arts, and to everything. Following the scourge of the bubonic plague in the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance was born. I wanted this story to be about Louisiana’s post-COVID renaissance, the beginnings of which were so tangible, full of hope and opportunity. It turns out we just aren’t there yet, but when we are—by God, we’ll be ready. In the meantime, for the sake of our pending renaissance, and for the sake of each other: stay safe. h

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S TA R S T R U C K

The South’s New Hollywood

TATE TAYLOR ON DEVELOPING NATCHEZ AS A PREMIERE FILM DESTINATION By Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

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Award-winning producer and director Tate Taylor has made Natchez his home, and now he is trying to bring the movie business there with him. Photo by Tim Marsella, courtesy of Film Natchez.

efore Wanda Sykes headed home after filming for Breaking News in Yuba County hwas complete, she took the time to hscribble a note in the guest book at Tate Taylor’s restored historic home in Church Hill, Mississippi. She wrote, “I can’t believe I’m going to say this. But the most creatively fulfilled and embraced I have ever felt was in Natchez *bleepin* Mississippi. When are we coming back?” Bringing first-timers to the South is one of the best, and most fulfilling parts of Taylor’s job as a director, he told me. He and his partner in filmmaking and in life, producer John Norris, have spent the last decade promoting Mississippi, and Natchez in particular, as a premier film destination. In addition to bringing their own projects, including Get On Up, Ma, and Breaking News in Yuba County to the Mississippi Delta—the couple also works to showcase the region’s vast natural and architectural beauty and its range through their production studio Crooked Letter Pictures, and their nonprofit Film Natchez. 36

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“Natchez in particular has such a diversity in its location-ability,” said Taylor. “All periods of architecture are here—from the lavish to the shacks.” The best example of this, he explained, is Get On Up, the 2014 James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman. The scene in which Brown performs his iconic Live At the Apollo show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, for instance, was filmed in the transformed Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center on Homochitto Street in Natchez. “We had to go from Georgia to Paris, to Vietnam,” said Tate. “We had to be in the 1930s all the way to the 2000s. And you can find all of that here.” A native of Jackson, Taylor moved permanently back to his home state a few years after directing the 2011 Oscar-award winning film The Help, when he embarked on a nationwide search for “an old house that needed restoring in the middle of nowhere that no one could find.” He landed at Wyolah, a one hundred acre property centered around an 1836 Greek Revival home in the tiny community of Church Hill, Mississippi— twenty miles north of Natchez. “So,” he said, “it was an old house that brought me back to this region.”

In the middle of nowhere as he was in Church Hill, Taylor said Natchez quickly became his community. “And I just saw what a sleeping giant the town was, and how much need there was for ideas and opportunities for people who have been underserved,” he said. After years of promoting the area from within the film industry, in 2019 Tate founded the nonprofit Film Natchez—an organization that “aims to promote the film economy in Natchez through outreach, education, and support.” Though stunted a bit by the 2020 pandemic, the organization has already hosted several workshops and seminars, bringing top level representatives from various factions of the film industry—from stunt coordinators to writers to special effects to casting—as resources for locals interested in exploring such work themselves. “A lot of what we do is based on the fact that when I and Octavia [Spencer] wanted to get into the business— we were both production assistants on A Time to Kill in Canton, Mississippi—we didn’t have two pennies to rub together, but we had the opportunity to leave and to go and seek out our dreams,” said Taylor, explaining that for a lot of people in the South, the barriers to entering this industry go beyond financial ones. “A lot of people just don’t have that opportunity. Film Natchez is built around the idea of giving people the opportunity and an access point to our business.” Beyond its educational initiatives, Film Natchez also actively promotes Natchez as a film destination by spotlighting its various backdrops and local actors and actresses, as well as Mississippi’s competitive film incentives, expanded by Senate Bill 2603, which former Governor Phil Bryant signed into law in 2019. These include cash rebates up to $5 million on eligible expenditures and payroll, as well as tax reductions on eligible rentals and purchases. “This was paramount in opening the doors,” said Taylor. “People can make their films anywhere. Without the film incentives, it was a nonstarter for any studio to come here.” Such investments by the state, Taylor emphasized, have proven themselves to have an incredible impact on the communities selected as sites for film projects. “It’s tried and true,” he said, citing the $17 million that went directly into Greenwood’s businesses during production for The Help—and that’s not to mention the boost in tourism the town experienced following the film’s success. “It’s a shot of adrenaline,” he said. “We have two movies filming in Natchez right now, and I can’t tell you the merchants who come up to me and throw their arms around my neck and say, ‘You don’t know me, but we just had our best month ever.’ It makes the city proud and then they start spending money, and homeowners start taking pride in their city and spending money. It goes beyond the fact that the movie people are here in town.” Over the last year, Taylor himself has made some significant investments in Church Hill and in Natchez, having overseen the openings of three—with one on the way—culinary experiences in the Adams and Jefferson County area. Church Hill Variety Restaurant and Farm, which is settled near Taylor’s property at Wyolah, will offer an elevated dining experience centered on locally-sourced (from the adjacent farm, when possible) ingredients. The restaurant will also boast a farm store with grab-and-go meals and produce. “Jefferson County is a very underserved county,” said Taylor. “There is not a restaurant other than Hunt Brothers Pizza at the Chevron. There’s


such a need for healthy food there. So, Church Hill Variety is me serving my community.” In Natchez itself, Taylor has also gotten his hands on two iconic spots on High Street. He’s reopened the legendary juke joint Smoot’s Grocery, and introduced the new Natchez hotspot, The Little Easy. And this month, he noted, construction will begin on transforming the 106-year-old Broadway Street train depot into a restaurant, too. After opening his Crooked Letter Pictures Company on High Street in 2020, when the coffee shop (previously Steampunk Coffee Roasters) and Smoot’s went up for sale around the same time, Taylor said it was a no brainer. “You can walk out of the office door, and you can get a wonderful chef-driven lunch or dinner, and if you are working late you can go get a drink and listen to some music at Smoot’s,” said Taylor. “It’s all part of curating this film experience in Natchez. The payoff is that when crews and producers come to see what we’ve got going on, we can show them the stage space, then you go ‘And there’s a restaurant right there, and there’s a club, and there’s the Mississippi River, and you can rent all these houses back here, and you never have to even drive.’” Taylor and Norris’s work in developing Natchez not only as a film destination, but as a vibrant cultural center, joins various other longtime efforts by Natchez leaders in cultivating an evolved identity for “The Antebellum Capital of the World.” In the wake of the publication of Richard Grant’s polarizing portrayal of Natchez in The Deepest South of All—which scathingly critiqued the city’s long-practiced legacy of plantation tourism and ritual celebrations of the Old South—Tate has observed an increase

in national perceptions of his adopted home town as a place stunted by its own racist interpretations of history. “People who don’t know the South, who have never been here, are like ‘Is this real?’ And it hurts—it hurts my casting and all that we are trying to do here. Lopsided and sensationalized clichés hurt the South in general.” Taylor said that the book, which he criticized for focusing on a small sensational segment of Natchez’s diverse community and overall story, “is just not helpful.” “[Grant] never came to people like me, people in the government or in tourism who have all been working very hard doing exactly what he was suggesting long before he came around,” he said. “The narrative in Natchez has been changing profoundly for years.” And it goes beyond simply shifting the focus from plantations to culinary destinations and film tours. Taylor noted that Natchez’s leaders have been working with his foundation and with the National Parks Service to construct a true reckoning of the city’s history as one of the biggest markets of enslaved people in the country. “We are going to build a National Museum of Slavery at the Forks of the Road,” he said. “This is going to be the jumping off point of the Civil Rights Trail in Mississippi—it’s going to be in Natchez! And it’s going to tell the whole story. Along with the historic homes that exist here, it must be boldly stated that they were built on the backs of enslaved people. The entire economic engine was. Come see where it began.” When Taylor first invited Sykes to Natchez, he said she referenced her Netflix comedy special Wanda Sykes: Not Normal. “I really let Trump have it in there,” said the award-winning Black lesbian comedian and actress

“WE ARE AMBASSADORS OF THE SOUTH AS A WHOLE. IT IS DIVERSE HERE. IT IS NOT ONLY THE THINGS THAT CERTAIN PEOPLE PERPETUATE. IT’S MORE.” —TATE TAYLOR from Virginia. “Am I gonna be safe?” Taylor assured her that she would be fine in Natchez, and by the end of her time there she told him over and over again: “This is not what we are told of the South. I love this place.” “In many ways,” said Taylor, “we are ambassadors of the South as a whole. It is diverse here. It is not only the things that certain people perpetuate. It’s more.” When asked about how he envisions Natchez’s future—in ten years, in fifty—Taylor said that he wants to see four concrete developments: “I want the film industry to be here to stay. I want Natchez to be a sought-after tourist destination. I want our airport to start having commercial flights flying in. And as a result of all of that, of the people moving in and the economic engines created, our schools will improve.” Ultimately, he said he hopes for Natchez’s growth and evolution to continue. “People talk about the economic prosperity—schools and all—of the early 1980s,” he said, imagining getting back there. “But minus the hoopskirts.” h

filmnatchez.org crookedletterpicturecompany.com

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Cuisine

SEPTEMBER 2021

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ESPRESSO MEETS EXPRESSION

IN

SMALL TOWN

In addition to being a bustling café and lunch spot, Tante Marie hosts regular French Tables and Cajun Jams. Photo by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot.

LOUISIANA

CAFÉ AU LIFE

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FOR JAM - LOVERS

Meet Me for Coffee IN SMALL LOUISIANA TOWNS, THE LOCAL CAFÉ IS THE CULTURAL HUB

Story and photos by Alexandra Kennon

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re there any two things more universally enjoyed than coffee and music? Beyond perhaps food and air, little comes to mind. Ever since coffee’s seventeenth century arrival in the Western world, the bitter, caffeinated bean has held a strong grasp on modern life and culture. In addition to its abilities to enhance mental clarity and productivity, the daily act of consuming coffee has evolved into a revered, often social ritual upon which many have become dependent in ways beyond brain chemistry. For those such as the European philosophers in London in the 1700s and the Greenwich Village Beatnik writers of the 1950s, coffee shops have long served as communal spaces where creativity historically and famously sparks, and thrives.

Of course, in cultural epicenters like London or Greenwich Village, other venues for the arts abounded alongside the coffee houses, and still do. In small Louisiana towns like Folsom, Saint Francisville, and Breaux Bridge, though, coffee shops are not merely one outlet for artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives to meet and express themselves. In these three rural towns, and others like them, coffee shops are often the only communal hubs for artists available. Here are three coffee shops in rural Louisiana small towns that not only provide their communities with quality caffeine fixes and pastries, but also serve as incubators for the arts; providing outlets for local musicians, visual artists, and beyond to express themselves creatively, and nurturing a culture of artistic community.

The Giddy Up, Folsom

The Giddy Up in Folsom serves two origin coffee from South America, roasted in New Orleans, along with homemade pastries and lunch. They also host regular live music, an art gallery, and various activities for the Folsom community.

The Birdman in St. Francisville is a favorite spot for local musicians to gather and jam together. 38

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With a population under one thousand, Folsom does not technically qualify as a town; it’s a village. At the heart of that village, both physically and otherwise, is a grand, beautifully-restored wooden home with a high, peaked roof and a steady stream of locals coming and going, checking in on each other and sipping on—you guessed it—coffee. A shiny baby grand directly by the front door hints that there is even more brewing at The Giddy Up. Not that the coffee alone isn’t worth a trip—owner Frank Richerand is a self-professed connoisseur, and sources one hundred percent Arabica beans from South America, Central America, Indonesia, Honduras, and Guatamala, which are blended and roasted in New Orleans. “I get testimonial after testimonial about the coffee. People drive here for it,” Richerand told me. There are also housebaked Morning Glory muffins and other pastries, a sizable variety of paninis (including the “Muffulini,” whose name Richerand had trademarked), a Greek frittata and other gluten-free offerings from certified local vendors, soups, smoothies, and more. The sprouts in the

veggie sandwich are from local farmer/vendor Sam’s Sprouts, and the tomatoes and goat cheese cake are from right around Folsom, too. “We try to buy as much local as we can,” explained Richerand. Their iced coffee and “Frost Bite”—a frozen, frappé-like drink—are also favorites among regulars. There’s even a drive-thru, which kept the business going at the height of the pandemic. When The Giddy Up first opened in 2016, Richerand and his daughter Ashley Richerand Penton, who joins him in running the business, thought coffee was going to be the priority. “When we first started, we were focused on the food and the coffee, but we always talked about doing music, open mics,” Penton explained. Her sister, Micah Richerand Desonier— who works part time at The Giddy Up— is a singer and actress, frequently leading musicals with the Jefferson Performing Arts Society and encouraging a family-wide love of the arts. “So, it’s something that we definitely love being a part of, but we didn’t know how the community would respond,” Penton said. Now, The Giddy Up hosts live music on the first Friday night of each month


and every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, either inside The Giddy Up itself or out back in The Paddock—a literal grassy, fenced paddock, where “We could have horses,” said Penton, but instead there’s a stage, and folks are invited to bring their own chairs or blankets to enjoy outdoor concerts. “Ninety-nine percent of the time we use Northshore people,” Richerand said of the musicians they book, noting an exception that was recently made for the New Orleans-based cellist Hellen Gillet. “We do try to keep it local,” Penton chimed. “It’s nice to be able to offer it to the artists around here—there’s a lot of talent.” From jazz, to rock ‘n’ roll, to bluegrass, and beyond, the talent to grace The Giddy Up covers quite a few genres, too. After a few local artists requested to have their artwork hung in the coffee shop, Richerand and Penton realized that Northshore visual artists needed an outlet, as well. In November of 2020 they opened Far Horizons Art Gallery directly next to The Giddy Up. In May, they hosted the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Art Show, a juried art show featuring local artists of a variety of mediums commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Louisiana Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Some of the work, along with ceramics by Craig McMillan, paintings by Peg Usner, and much more, is still hanging in the gallery for viewing, along with other local pieces. Moving forward, the plan is for Far Horizons to host an annual

Scenic Rivers Art Festival. The thread weaving together all the art, music, and coffee in and surrounding The Giddy Up is the community of Folsom itself. Another of the many events usually offered (but on hold at present due to COVID) are Community Breakfasts every first Friday of the month, which usually feature a guest (like the local sheriff), providing opportunities for networking and community building. “I think people feel comfortable here. It’s cozy,” Richerand said. “They know they can put their feet up and relax.” On second Saturdays, the Northshore Writers’ Group meets in the afternoons, and on the fourth Saturday of each month, a Mixed Media Art & Junk Journaling Group convenes. There are also periodic art workshops and book signings, and plans for several styles of dance classes in the future. If that seems like a lot to keep up with (and we haven’t even mentioned the snowball stand/ice cream parlor/pizza shop Bee Sweet Courtyard, pending bed & breakfast suites, historic library renovation, or other undertakings the industrious father-daughter duo have in the works), not to worry: there’s a weekly text line to update folks on upcoming events (text “JOIN” to (985) 520-4030 to sign up), as well as a monthly newsletter called the Giddy Up Gambit that can be found and subscribed to at giddyupfolsom.com.

A sweet celebration of the sugar cane harvest

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ly ial c o S ced tan s t i D Fes r a Sug

October 3 , 2 0 2 1 Live Music

Folk Art Demonstrations

Sweet Treats

For more information go to

www.WestBatonRougeMuseum.org or call, 225.336.2422 x 200 Birdman Coffee, Art & Music in St. Francisville. Photo by Ellen Kennon.

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The Giddy Up in Folsom

Birdman Coffee, Art & Music, Saint Francisville

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In the town of St. Francisville, to which the word “bustling” has never been applied with any sincerity, there is one place that—especially prior to 11 am—is almost always bustling. Families sit having breakfast, groups of regulars converse spiritedly about culture or politics, and if you’re from St. Francisville or have spent any amount of time there, you probably won’t spend more than five minutes without someone you know passing your table to say “hi,” and to ask how your family is doing. “This place is about being a community thing,” owner Lynn Wood explained. “It’s kind of like my living room.” When Wood opened Birdman in 2001, never having run a business, let alone a coffee shop, she thought business would be slow enough to allow her to set up easels and paint—a long-time, beloved pastime of hers. These days, with a constant stream of traffic as the only coffee shop in town, Wood laughs at her past naivety. “I envisioned painting and putting my paintings on the walls. And I did that for a while, but we got busier, and that kind of stopped, of course,” Lynn recalled. “But that kind of set the tone though, it really did.” Wood used to stock literature in the shop, which was originally named “Birdman Coffee and Books”. But between the jam stains that kept appearing on the pages and the clear focus on art and music the small hub had taken on, she has since changed the name to “Birdman Coffee, Art & Music”. The River Road Coffee (or house “Hummingbird Tea,” delicious espresso, or countless other beverages) has always been at the forefront, but Wood is always looking for local art (besides her own) to grace the walls, and music has become a major fixture of the Birdman, too. “We have had some of the best jam sessions ever. I always have a person who’s leading the sessions, and then I invite people, and other people hear

about it,” Wood said. “I mean we have had it packed in here before—a big circle of chairs, everybody playing together, all ages. That is just the most fun.” One of the more memorable Birdman jam sessions took place when Ethan Hawke was in town filming the movie Blaze. After coming into Birdman to grab coffee a time or two, he asked Wood about the instruments. “He was very interested in the music part, because he loves music as well,” Wood explained. “And I told him about the jam session, and I said, ‘y’all come!’ And I didn’t expect him to come, but sure enough, he walked in. And he just had a ball.” Hawke performed a song, accompanied by his two daughters. “He brought them up to the microphone, and it was the cutest thing ever. He liked the same kind of music we were doing, you know?” For jam sessions, which in non-pandemic circumstances happen monthly on Sundays, Wood has local talents like Nancy Roppolo or Adrian Percy lead the diverse group of musicians in songs everyone knows and loves. “They understand music well enough to keep it to things everybody can play along with,” Wood said. “And they’re both really good at that.” The only real parameter is that folks are asked to keep it acoustic, so everyone can participate and be heard. In the summer months, Wood hosts Songbird Music School at the Birdman, which includes Young Songbirds, an adult Jam Camp, songwriting classes, and more. Songbird provides opportunities for fun creative collaboration, and a supportive community to help build confidence, even allowing participants to pick up an instrument for the first time—that’s how Wood discovered her own love of playing upright bass. She had never


before played an instrument, and the first couple of years she hosted Songbird, she just observed. “I’d gained a lot of knowledge from watching and listening, so I decided I was going to try it myself,” Wood said. “I tried the bass because I thought it was something I could handle, something I could do. The first time I tried it was on David Hinson’s bass that he brought to Songbird, and he just told me a little bit and I started playing, and I played all weekend long with the Jam Camp. After that weekend, I knew that I could do that. That was maybe five or six years ago. I love it, I just love it.” The Birdman also hosts monthly evenings of Supper and Music, usually on Sundays, where bands like The Fugitive Poets take the “stage” and Wood cooks a big pot of some comfort food or other for those who come to listen and

sing along. Of course, even with all the music, art, and quality coffee, breakfast at the Birdman is a favorite of many. Wood or Manager Christi Jarreau bake pastries from scratch each day—from cheesy sourdough biscuits, to blueberry muffins, to tea cakes, to gluten-free and vegan breakfast cookies. “They’re popular with everybody, not just vegans,” Wood assured. As for hot breakfast favorites, the simple classics really shine. “People just love an old fashioned breakfast,” Wood said. “The Tradition” remains a star: yellow corn grits, two eggs any way, bacon or sausage, and a biscuit or toast. There are also low-carb options like salsa eggs and egg white omelets; or on the opposite end of the spectrum, fluffy waffles and pancakes (regular or sweet potato, with the option of adding pecans, blueberries, or chocolate chips). Whether it’s for a homey breakfast, a jam session, or a coffee and catch-up, the local regulars keep coming back. “We have a wonderful group of regulars. They just keep us going, and we love ‘em. We’re all so close,” Wood gushed.

Tante Marie, Breaux Bridge In the historic 1920s Broussard Hardware Store building in downtown Breaux Bridge, fluffy biscuits are served with jam of two varieties: fruit preserves, sure, but also improvised music. Each Saturday’s busy breakfast service marks the weekly Cajun Jam, where Zydeco and Cajun French musicians are invited to play in an always-changing rotation. Never too early for dancing in Acadiana—couples often get up and waltz between the tables in Saturday brunch bliss. Friday and Saturday evenings might even bring genres beyond Zydeco (though in Breaux Bridge, French music remains a favorite): The Huval Family Band, Le Recolte, Cedric Watson, Amis Du Teche, and T’Monde are among the many acts to appear at Tante Marie. On Tuesday evenings, the Teche Center for the Arts hosts Table Français Chez Tante

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Marie, inviting locals to practice their Cajun French together. Breakfasters can sip on Community Coffee, locally-roasted Rêve espresso, or even bottomless mimosas while tackling a rich, hearty Cajun breakfast seasoned by the lively sounds of accordions and fiddles. Shrimp and grits in a tasso cream sauce is a go-to, as are their chicken wraps, and the Zydeco Salad. In the heart of Cajun Country, beignets are big at Tante Marie, too. “We stuff the beignets with boudin, so that’s a hit, as well,” said Angela Theriot, who stepped into ownership of Tante Marie in March of 2021. Previously known as Joie de Vivre, which has a similar café business model and also hosted live music, Tante Marie is named for a former chef’s aunt (“tante” being the Cajun French translation for

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“aunt”). In November of 2020, Theriot—a native of St. Martinville—was contacted by the café’s previous owner and manager Scott Shilling, who invited her to open a location of her rolled ice cream business, The Moo Cow Moo, in a spot next door to the café. “A little spot was coming up open, and he wanted to know if I’d bring my ice cream to Breaux Bridge,” Theriot explained. And she did. Three months after the new Moo Cow Moo opened—after observing how well Theriot ran her ice cream shop— Shillings invited her to take over ownership and management of Tante Marie. Since stepping into ownership of the Breaux Bridge institution, which draws locals and tourists looking for an authentic Cajun experience alike, Theriot said the response has been wonderful. “Our sales have tripled since I’ve walked in there,” she said. “We get new people, I mean we’re in a tourist area, so it’s not like an out of the way thing. But we get nothin’ but good, good feedback. From the community, from tourists, just all around.” h Note: Many of the offerings at these coffee shops, like the Birdman’s Supper and Music nights and the Giddy Up’s Community Breakfasts, are currently on hold due to COVID concerns. Keep an eye on their Facebook pages and websites for the most updated information.

giddyupfolsom.com jamsandbiscuits.com Find Birman Coffee, Art & Music on Facebook. Don’t sleep on the sweet potato pecan waffles at the Birdman Coffee, Art & Music.

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Culture

SEPTEMBER 2021 44

NEW MUSIC

B Y J U L I E O D E L L // 4 6

PERFORMING ARTS

A Q&A WITH

MAURICE

RUFFIN

NEXT GENERATION // 4 8

AUGMENTED

REALITY MEETS

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MUSIC

In the Way of Wonder

MUSICIAN, ARTIST, AND MOTHER JULIE ODELL IS MAKING SOMETHING NEW

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Story by Lauren Heffker • Photo by Olivia Perillo

hen I finally got in touch with Julie Odell to ask about her upcoming album, she was phoning from the kitchen of her sister’s family farm in Indiana corn country, in the midst of a flower harvest. She was telling me how the day before, she had accompanied her sister, Jessica, to an Amish produce auction, where they purchased three hundred and fifty pounds of tomatoes that would then be brokered off to different vegetable vendors by the time Odell returned home to New Orleans. Before her Midwest sojourn, the Odells had spent most of July off in the woods, soaking up the last weeks of summer in the green and blue foothills surrounding the Chattooga River, hiking, swimming, sunflower field frolicking, and whitewater rafting. For Odell, every day seems to be an opportunity to put herself in the way of wonder, whether it’s finger painting rainbow collages with her five-year-old wild child, Lilou, sewing up a storm ahead of any occasion worthy of a costume, or planning her thirty-second birthday party as a live show at a Franklinton farm after a year without an in-person performance, just for the sake of making some noise together again. The singer-songwriter has spent the better part of the past decade embedded in the New Orleans music scene, a fixture at local venues like Banks Street Bar, Gasa Gasa, The Music Box, One Eyed Jack’s, and Carnaval Lounge. Making a living as an artist runs in her blood. 44

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Though she’s originally from Ruston ( ... and Covington, and Lafayette, too), Odell and her siblings were often on the road with their parents, who made their livelihoods as ceramic artists, traveling around the country to arts and craft festivals. Growing up this way, surrounded by roving artsy types who spent their days creating with only their hands and imagination, she never could foresee a fluorescent light future, tethered to a desk. Today, the musician’s life is one infused with whimsy and color thanks to a patchwork of side projects—Odell is one half of The Jelly Sisters, where she performs with Tiffany “Teddy” Lamson (also known as the vocalist of Lafayette-born indie-pop band GIVERS) and one third of Mosquito Eater, an experimental act with Jonathan Arceneaux and Anthony Cuccia, also known by his stage name The Night Janitor. Offstage, Odell is a mixed-media maker inspired by the swamps of her scattered South Louisiana upbringing. She often creates eye-catching posters for upcoming shows and occasionally updates her Etsy shop, Crystal Pony Co., with handmade tapestries, earrings, pottery, and prints, along with her online merch brand, Pink Pollen. Then there’s The Pepper Lantern, the “rainbow cuisine” supper clubstyle popup Odell has run with Vanessa Degrassi since 2014—the pair started the event as a “backyard speakeasy,” cooking a creative, seasonal vegan menu and hosting live music at their Seventh Ward home. After years spent gaining a foothold in the industry,

opening for headliners or sharing marquees, packing up gear and playing house shows, and dealing with a few shady and sexist club owners, Odell said she is now moving into the next phase of her career. All the relationships with other musicians she’s cultivated in the process have given her a network of support and an established niche in the who-knows-who of NOLA music. This close-knit community is important, because it contributed to what Odell recalls as a major turning point for her—her 2018 Solstice performance at the Marigny Opera House. Backed by a “tiny orchestra” of music-making friends and others who had volunteered to help with running sound tech, recording the show, and constructing the set—which Odell had designed with arches and bridges in mind—the end result was pure magic. “The whole arch symbol was such a perfect representation of that night for me because I did feel a little bit like I crossed over into another realm in the community, and within myself, just learning of different boundaries that I could push personally but also collaboratively,” she said. “I was always so afraid to collaborate because it’s hard for me to not do great in front of people, so this was something that I was totally terrified to do. But it was almost like entering into motherhood. I was like I have to keep doing things that totally freak me out, and because they’re things that I dream of all the time, and I don’t want to live my life and be like, ‘I cannot believe I didn’t do the thing because I was too afraid.’ And it all


came together so beautifully.” Easier than articulating Odell’s fluid sound is translating its visceral, visible effect on the listener; a space where she makes a powerful exchange of catharsis possible, both for herself and the audience. From delicate and folksy exuberance to expressions of grief and deep tragedy, listening to her songs is a bit like wandering around in the dark to an unknown destination, but Odell has the map. It’s transfixing, really—the type of unexpected force that stops you in your tracks. It’s the type of soulful performance that asks stillness of an audience. To say Odell’s talent is a sort of superpower wouldn’t be a far cry from the truth; she has been known to bring people to tears at her shows—a capability reserved only for truly great art. “I feel like what I have going on internally, most of the time, is really, really intense, and I have a hard time communicating in general,” Odell said. “So I think the reason all of my songs end up being so emotional is because it’s just like all of my internal thunderstorms have been gathered in a song, and a lot of my songs do have a lot of sorrow and sadness in them, but I always try to remember to add in some kind of hopeful element. I want to let people feel understood, because when you’re in your darkest moment it’s really hard to remember that it will pass.” Her raw candor and transparency is likely what elicits her audience’s strong reactions, especially when hearing her play for the first time. These can range from curiosity to bewilderment, as described by Katie Sikora, concert photographer and executive director of The Sexism Project, which first exhibited at Preservation Hall in 2018. Odell was slated to perform at the exhibition’s opening reception in a lineup curated by fellow local musician Alexis Marceaux. In a 2019 Q&A with Odell, Sikora described overhearing an attendee comment in awe, “What did I just watch?” following Odell’s set.

Odell is proud to provide a space where people can feel without constraint or judgment, she said. Most of the time, it’s the lyrics that come to her first, especially while listening to classical piano music. “Since I was a kid, it’s just something that’s always helped me open up some portal in my brain that lets things flow. And it usually happens around 3 am; I wake up from a dream, and go on to write the music.” Since she often writes from what she knows, Odell loves to incorporate imagery and detail into her lyricism, jumping on the guitar or piano to match the words with melody. “I do want people to be able to kind of see the light coming in, and the water flowing,” Odell said. “I want people to be able to have pictures in their heads when they hear my song, but also be able to relate to them on multiple levels.” In early 2020, Odell signed with Frenchkiss Records, an independent record label based in New York City. Her first single and accompanying music video—shot against a dreamy Lake Martin sunrise—is slated for release in early 2022, and eventually, a full-length album will follow. It will also be Odell’s first recorded work with her backing band, a trio of talented locals who have played with the songstress since 2017: Jonathan Arceneaux on drums, Kenny Murphy on bass, and Chad Viator on guitar. According to Odell, the track is different from anything she’s done previously; “It’s a high energy, fastpaced emotional rollercoaster,” she said. The following record will be her first studio release in a decade, and though she’s no longer an emerging artist in the sense of experience and craft, it’s a step in a new direction for Odell. The work mirrors her transformation from an idyllic twenty-something to finding her footing in her thirties, now as a mother. But like any significant change, it’s scary, too, and comes with its own wave of trepidation, particularly about touring and having to leave her daughter for extended periods of time.

“Signing to a label kind of feels like jumping off a cliff in some ways, but also I have faith that it’s going to put me in a better position,” she said. “All of these years that I have played in the South and hustled and grinded so hard, it’s gotten me places and it’s opened up opportunities for me, but there’s only so far you can get with the type of music that I play. It’s just a necessary step if I want to keep doing this, because I can’t imagine doing that hustle and grind anymore. I’m glad I did it, because it taught me so much and I met so many great people that are a network I’ll never lose. So it created the foundation for my career, but now there are bricks being laid.” The forthcoming record, written over the course of ten years, covers a broad and important swath of her life, Odell said. “In that time, I got married in my early twenties, then divorced. And then I moved all over the country and worked on some farms, and I lost some people, and made so many mistakes, and it took me a really long time to learn from all of them. And then right as I started to figure it out, I got pregnant and had the most crazy birth in a blizzard.” While sharing the inherent beauty and fragility of her life in each and every song can sound emotionally taxing, Odell said that she finds the meaning of her music tends to shape-shift for her over time, allowing her to view old verses and versions of herself with new eyes. You could say it’s the gift that keeps on giving. “That’s what I love so much about music, it can always be healing in one way or another, whether it’s letting you feel your sadness, or helping you to forget something, or helping you to remember something in a different light.” h

Follow Julie Odell’s journey on social media via @juliekodell on Instagram.

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L I T E R AT U R E

The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You MAURICE RUFFIN ON HIS LATEST STORY COLLECTION AND ITS MAIN CHARACTER: NEW ORLEANS By Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

In We Cast a Shadow, you built an anonymous world using building blocks that someone from our region might recognize as New Orleans. In this book, New Orleans is presented more concretely, as the actual thing that draws these stories together. What is it that drove you to center this collection in New Orleans? I think I’m driven, like many writers, by the fact that I’ve read so many depictions of my hometown, and I’ve seen so many movies—but I’ve never seen New Orleans presented how I want to present it. One of the missions for the book—I wanted people that I’ve known all my life, my friends, my family, people around town, to pick up my book and go, “Yeah, that’s what it’s really like.” Like it’s not just party time all the time. It’s people with real lives.

Your writing tends to be very character driven—true studies of the human person. What is your process for character building? I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it is kind of easy for me. I’ll sit down at my laptop, and will just start writing, and I’m trying to do a voice that is not my own voice. Being from this city, I can just sort of hear voices that I’ve heard in the past, and I try to figure out, “What is their story?” So, I almost kind of ask that voice, “What do you want to talk about? What is important to you right now?” More often than not, that leads to the character in the story.

Something that I very much admire about your writing is pacing. There is such a movement in your prose that masterfully avoids rushing the actual activity happening on the page. Often, it’s all very quiet but happening without pause. Is that something that you have consciously developed, or emulated from other writers?

Photo courtesy of Maurice Ruffin.

N

othing shows you New Orleans like the people who live there, says the award-winning author of We Cast a Shadow (2019), Maurice Carlos Ruffin. In his new collection of short stories, Ruffin presents a multi-faceted portrait of his hometown— guided by characters whose lives have been shaped by the intricacies of a city both beautiful and burdened. There are unlikely friendships forged under bridges, missions to save old men as the waters rise, and a young man working the Quarter’s corners, who counts the heart shaped leaves outside the window of a john’s little condo. “Everything in the French Quarter is small,” he says. “If everything was big, it would be the French Dollar.” In anticipation for the release of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You on August 17, I sat down with Ruffin to discuss his New Orleans stories, his approach to his craft, and how he hopes the book will be received. “There’s no city like New Orleans,” he said. “Read my book, and you will get a sense of what it truly means to be somebody who is from this place, who lives in this place.” Because, he said, this is what makes New Orleans special—who its people are.

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That feeling of tension and anxiety, even though things aren’t happening constantly —literary writers don’t say it often, but part of our job is to entertain. I don’t want people to feel bored at any point. I want them to feel like there is something happening, something to grab onto. I’m just trying to make it a fun read, whether through the language or through the characters. But there are a lot of writers that I name check. I always point to Toni Morrison, obviously. Nabokov, a lot of mid-twentieth century writers. Colson Whitehead, Jesmyn Ward, Kiese Laymon.

Some of the strongest and most poignant themes in We Cast a Shadow are of family, love, and race—how are these explored in your new book? I mean, what is more important than love? And I mean that in the broadest sense: romantic love with a partner, love in your family, the place you came from. This book is very much exploring that. In every story, at the center of it are people taking care of each other, and remembering the past. What it comes down to is just characters trying to live. I hope that anybody who reads the book, whether they are from New Orleans or not, that they recognize themselves, their own lives. Because that’s what it is really about. You’re trying to live the best life, and trying to show people how much you love them. That’s why the title is what it is.

How did you go about selecting the stories for this collection? I had a few rules. Number one: I wanted to make sure that all the stories are set in New Orleans. Then, I wanted to make sure that all of the stories are realist, contemporary stories—I’ve written some speculative fiction, and didn’t want that in this one. The third thing is that the vast majority of the characters in The Ones Who Don’t Say


They Love You are African American. And the reason for that is because there have been a lot of books put out by great writers in New Orleans, from New Orleans. But as far as I can tell, I’ve hardly ever seen nationally-published books by African American writers about New Orleans. So, I wanted to forefront those characters for the first time.

A major function of We Cast a Shadow was illustrating the ways external forces in society—racism, white supremacy, and misogyny—might affect a person’s interior sense of identity and their decisions. How does this sort of excavation of the human person within a larger system play out in the stories of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You? I think that sometimes you have to make a choice about how you are going to present a social problem. Obviously, racism is something I’ve written about consistently in my writing, but I wanted to make a point in these stories that, for the most part, you’re going to the character first. You’re seeing how their individual lives are shaped by racism.

What do you hope your readers will take away from The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You? Well, first, that there’s no city like New Orleans. I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of those cities that people kind of dream of going to their whole life. And I think it is wonderful to have fun stories—like that movie Girls Trip—that’s all about “Come to New Orleans and have a great time.” But I do think that if you want to have an understanding of what really makes New Orleans special, who the people are, well—read my book. I hope people read the book and get a sense of what it truly means to be somebody who is from this place, lives in this place, and loves this place. h

Find The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You at penguinerandomhouse.com or at your local bookstore. Ruffin is hosting several virtual book tour events, including one on September 1 at Square Books with author Kiese Laymon. Get the most up to date schedule from Ruffin’s Instagram and Twitter accounts @mauriceruffin.

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SEARCH OUR ONLINE CALENDAR OF EVENTS

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IMMERSIVE PERFORMANCE

Remnants

RETHINKING PERFORMANCE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

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By Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

n the spring of 2019, BODYART Dance’s Artistic Director Leslie Scott and I shared a glass of wine hinside a home in New Orleans’ Fontainebleau neighborhood—the site of the company’s immersive performance Maison, which I had attended the night before. Describing her inspiration for setting the site-specific work inside a private home, she told me: “We all have different lives when we close the front door. So how do you share that—or not share that—or reveal, or conceal that? There’s just something really, really rich in the space of the home.” Two years later, against the context of a global pandemic, Scott is still thinking about home. “Sometimes, I find myself just telling the same stories over and over again,” she laughed over a phone call in late July. But, of course, the concept of home—especially as a site for acting out our lives—has gained a new significance since she produced Maison. BODYART’s answer to the challenges of producing work during the pandemic was, like so many other performing arts organizations, to embrace the digital space. The result is Remnants—a digital storytelling experience that uses augmented reality technologies to explore, once again, the concept of home. Inspired by video games like What Remains of Edith Finch and Mountain, Scott collaborated with Jesse Garrison from Night Light Labs and writer Ann Glaviano to figure out the story that she wanted to tell. “When it came down to it,” Scott said, “we were thinking of the components of home and components of time. We reflected on our own homes and the four walls and roofs over our head. During the pandemic, whatever homespace you had had to contain your whole life for several months. And we wondered, could that be the jumping off point for a story?” 48

Remnants’ journey, Scott explained, careful to avoid spoilers, takes place within the spaces of each viewer’s individual home. Using the app, “We’re asking you to move through your house in ways you perhaps haven’t before. You are asked to change your perspective—maybe lay on the ground and look at your ceiling.” The choreography is presented as a series of

we’ve curated in our homes, that have kept us company during this pandemic.” Reflecting a certain reality of the pandemic’s isolation, Remnants also uses the borders of our spaces to emphasize the ways we interact with time. “We’re playing with what happens when time goes haywire in your space,” said Scott in a recorded conversation on the project

choices, Scott explained. The viewer has options for how they move through the space. “We tried to make it as universal as possible, using items or spaces in your home that many people will have. We’re not asking you to go to your third lanai. We guide you to your sink, your power outlet, cues that are accessible and can be part of a shared experience. It’s about, too, really appreciating those things that

published on the bodyartdance.com website. “We are looking at things in our life that we use to stop time.” She cites refrigerators, eye cream, photographs, Tupperware containers—“all the ways in which we feel like somehow, we can win, or we can stop time from marching on.” Such meditations on time resurface when Scott considers the future of per-

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forming arts. People often talk about going back to the way things were before, she explained. “But we’re embracing this idea that we aren’t going back. We are moving forward.” Experimental from the start, BODYART Dance is no stranger to integrating technology into traditional performance. Since its beginnings in 2006, the organization has created five dance films, including Legal Canvas, which melded the art of dance with that of graffiti art—highlighting each form’s ephemerality and public nature. Scott has collaborated with video artists Reid Farrington, Patrick Lovejoy, and Sofy Yuditskaya for various projects, and the company’s recent dance works hymn+them and Maison each incorporated features like projection, music, and light into live performances. “We’ve always worked in the digital space,” said Scott. When the pandemic hit, “It felt like the right time to pivot. So many of our performances got cancelled, and rather than putting a bandaid on this and hoping to quote-unquote ‘go back to the way it was,’ we needed to keep moving forward. We needed to invest in the infrastructure in a meaningful way, instead of just making something work quickly and then shifting back to only in-person performances.” As an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance at Tulane University, Scott teaches the Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminar (TIDES) for first year students. In it, she explained, she and her students discuss their relationships to the digital world: things like social media and its intersections with real life. “It’s freedom for a lot of people,” she said. “The digital realm is access for a lot of people. It gives you the ability to make believe or just be who you are for a little while.”


While Scott emphasized that she still firmly believes in the art of bodies moving through space for a physically present audience, she also imagines different ways to get there. Managing Director Megan Lewicki predicts the ways the next generation will consume and produce art in her conversation with Scott published on the BODYART website: “They’re going to value different experiences. The experiences that we long for, and that we are nostalgic for (like live theater, or live spaces, or in-person experiences or whatever) are not going to be the same for the next generation. They are going to create new technologies, new digital spaces that cater to that kind of visceral exchange that we get from in-person performance. I think they’re going to be able to create that digitally in some kind of way with technology that doesn’t exist yet.” Such a shift, Scott hopes, would be a way for performing arts experiences to become more accessible to a broader diversity of audiences. “This is a space where we can be making art and meeting people where they are,” she said, noting that access to the app would cost no more than a few dollars—making it available not only to people unable to physically go out to the theater because of health, time, or transportation

concerns; but also to people who have never patronized live performance because of the cost. “We’re really doing the work when we say that everyone should have access to the arts, and we want to be sure that we are adding to that conversation.” Bringing the technology to the forefront of the work, though, rather than using it as a supporting mechanism, is a journey that has certainly come with its challenges. “It’s a whole other level of planning,” said Scott. “Just so many

different considerations, and it’s not second nature for me. There is a learning curve, but I’m learning so much about how to tell stories in this space. Learning the technology, the terms, the different things that are available.” Scott intends for the beta version of Remnants to be released in early 2022— though she emphasized that they want to give it the time it needs to be the best possible experience for the largest number of viewers. “As audiences, we have such an extreme digital literacy that we haven’t had before. We’re used to

beautiful images, phones being as clear as real life. We want to be in conversation with what people expect visually, but also be sure that there is real substance to the story itself.” Once Remnants is ready, though, Scott predicts progress will ramp up exponentially. “The goal is to have chapters that are all part of a larger story,” she said. “It’ll be an episodic experience that is totally user driven.” We’ve spent over a year now getting used to our smaller physical worlds, expanded with the help of technology. Art has always been a pathway to experimentation and expansion. Bringing it even more prominently into the digital space, who can predict where it will take us? “If you think about your phone—it opens up the entire world to you, but also sucks you through the rabbit hole, where you can fall into a totally different place,” said Scott. “My hope with Remnants is that people will give themselves permission to follow their curiosities, that your home might be transformed into a space that you see differently than you did before.” h

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Escapes

SEPTEMBER 2021

50

HOW TO

BE

A GOOD

TOURIST TO

THE

MARIGNY

// 5 4

A

RESPITE

KEEP NOLA WEIRD

AT PALOMA

LAKE

W

KNOW NOL A

My Marigny

IN THE FACE OF GENTRIFICATION, A STRAND OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD’S ECCENTRICITY ENDURES

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Story by Chris Turner-Neal • Photos by Alexandra Kennon

t’s been a rough few years for the Marigny, although it might not look like it from the outside. The “cool” neighborhood next to the French Quarter has been well and truly discovered, bringing the mixed blessing of tourist traffic and a wave of real estate speculation that has threatened to price out both the locals and the very businesses that originally made the area so attractive. A flash flood from Hurricane Barry’s rainbands cracked the area’s 50

high-ground hubris—and all this before 2020, which we needn’t discuss. In a city where nostalgia is a way of life and where what used to be is often more relevant than what is, the inevitability of change can seem like a personal insult. One of the many half-joking truisms about gentrification is that you always want to be the last person to move to a neighborhood. I moved into the Marigny in late 2017, and I already want the changes to stop. The grimy gay bar

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where I went on my first date with my current partner has been repainted and made into a “pub”; more ominously, the city is repairing streets and sidewalks. Ostensibly this is because they needed fixing, but the consensus suspicion is that it’s being done to cater to the tourist influx expected from the rebounding AirBnBs and almost-completed hotels and condo blocks dotting the area. Elysian Fields has parking lanes. Gene’s Po-Boys has closed (sorry, it ain’t

dere no more), and the building next to it has become an art bar. (I don’t know what an art bar is, and when I emailed to interview them for this article, they never answered but put me on their mailing list). Gossip addresses which developer has purchased what property at least as often as it reports who was seen canoodling with whom. It would be hyperbole to say the Marigny is turning into Cleveland, but in a sense it feels like it’s turning into Uptown, a suspicion


emphasized by a recent trend among realtors to refer to a chunk of the Seventh Ward as the “New Marigny”. And yet. I had a chance to move to Austin and I didn’t. I had a chance to move Uptown and I didn’t. Even as the bachelorette parties and bro-weekend groups return to the newly-leveled sidewalks, there’s still a mighty streak

of eccentricity underpinning the neighborhood, a core of people who threatened to run away to New Orleans and then did it. Change has come and some of it has been bad, but the cultural assets that have made the neighborhood a draw persist. Here are some recommendations for a day in my Marigny, what I show visitors and what keeps me here.

Caveat: the formal dividing line between the Marigny and the Bywater is Press Street, which is Homer Plessy Way for part of its length and which abuts the train tracks. Some people put the line at Elysian Fields, and others combine it all into the Marigny-Bywater, following the example of Austria-Hungary. Some of these fun-day recommendations are technically in the Bywater, but they’re all close enough for an easy, walkable day.

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Breakfast Flora is breakfast in the Marigny. The cozy coffee shop on Franklin Avenue escaped disaster during Hurricane Zeta when its venerable oak collapsed into the street and not onto the building. Breakfast pastries are made fresh daily—you can show up too early—and the curry breakfast burrito is a treat that will fill you up for the morning. You can also swing by the new, but already thriving Baldwin & Co., a Black-owned coffee shop and bookstore that encourages browsing while you wait for your coffee and breakfast. Petite Clouet, a newish café in a cheery yellow that bravely opened during the pandemic, has an impeccable quiche game and offers whimsical coffee specials (think dalgona, the Korean whipped coffee craze from last summer).

Perambulating Walking around is a classic urban activity, and taking in the pretty painted cottages and lush gardens, many of which spill onto or over the street, is the perfect way to get in a little activity before the day gets too hot. People here tend to add cool little lagniappes to their properties; look for rust gardens of creatively-arranged scrap metal, the sweet-sad grave of a sugar glider named Liam, sassy signage, and other tweaks to the urban environment. Crescent Park runs along the river and is perfect for a waterside stroll, with the occasional bonus of people practicing dance, skate tricks, or soccer drills. When you are ready for something that’s more explicitly an “activity,” head for Studio Be, the warehouse-turned-gallery curated by Brandan “Bmike” Odums, the guerrilla artist known for his all-building murals on abandoned properties in the east of the city. The massive space houses both Odums’ and other artists’ work, with room for big pieces and installations to stand on their own.

Lunch/Dinner

I hate whimsical menus—it comes from being too vain about my own jokes (and too fussy about my food). Despite this prejudice, I don’t even need to grit my teeth to order from Arabella Casa di Pasta, home of the delectable John Lemon, the scrumptious John Belu-cheese, and a coveted mushroom sauce that they haven’t named after anyone yet (Fungus Grissom?). Newish Budsi’s offers Thai food based on the recipes of upcountry Thailand, near the Laotian border—Thai food fans will recognize the flavors while being surprised and intrigued by the different regional takes. (The happy hour is an unfathomably good deal.) Paladar 511, a dream for diners who like to share, is single-handedly responsible for more of my credit card debt than I care to disclose. Wash whatever you have down with beers at Brieux Carre, the best of New Orleans’s deep bench of good little breweries with aggressively quirky branding. 52

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Nightlife A surprising number of the neighborhood bars survived the challenges of the last year. For an upscale cocktail, visit the bar at Hotel Peter + Paul; I badly, badly wanted to dislike this hotel in a deconsecrated church (and in fairness I do hate the curtains) but the drinks, attached ice cream parlor, and occasional distribution of Bellegarde bread to the neighbors after bouts of construction won me over. Music and comedy are coming back to the Hi-Ho, which hosts occasional pop-ups for a late-night snack. Across the street is the AllWays Lounge, a cabaret and performance space that hosts drag, burlesque, experimental Shakespeare, musical theatre about notorious murders, a traveling cat circus, and various other acts only classifiable as “miscellaneous.” Nearby Kajun’s is the only place in the city really worth doing karaoke; battle the crowds on weekends to belt “Angel of Montgomery” or play hooky on a weekday afternoon for a less crowded experience that might lead, as it once did for me, to watching a singer rework lyrics to praise Keanu Reeves. If you catch the right bartender in the right mood, they’ll make you a drink out of interesting ingredients they’ve found; I still remember the clean coldness of a colloidal silver-based tipple from several years ago. I could go on. There’s a bar with toilets for seats, a bar where a drag queen might call you fat, murals of Black excellence, junk stores, obscene graffiti, preachy graffiti, art spaces, and a convenience store that sells costumes. Nothing lasts forever—not even in New Orleans—and between the city government’s promotion of a specific idea of tourism and development, the ever-hungry Gulf, and whatever economic crisis follows this one, it’s more likely than not that the neighborhood will lose its charm. (People who’ve lived here longer than me might say it already has.) But several local coffee shops persist years after a Starbucks opened, and the only fast-food outlet is a Rally’s that’s been serving “emergency fries” to late-night drinkers since time immemorial, so there’s a chance that even in the face of the accelerating changes encroaching upon the world’s tourist cities, something of the neighborhood’s quirk may endure. New Orleans has long been a place where creative people do strange things near excellent restaurants, and maybe that can happen in the shadow of condos. While this neighborhood is here and while it blooms, come see it: shop and eat at the Black-owned, gay-owned, experimenter-owned places that make it a place tourists need to see. Then, go away. h

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Images provided courtesy of Paloma Lake.

R E T R E AT

Peace at Paloma Lake A BUCOLIC RESPITE JUST OUTSIDE THE CITY

By Beth D’Addono

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triad of alligators glide across the lake, moving perfectly in tandem with the grace of prehistoric synchronized swimmers. On the opposite shore, a great blue heron stands motionless in the water, scanning the shallows for prey, ready for a lightning strike. At every turn the lake is alive, dragonflies helicoptering along the surface and a low rumble of cicadas and frogs filling the twilight air. Although this is a scene played over and over at lakes around the state, this particular bucolic setting is in Braithwaite, a riverside community in Plaquemines Parish just thirty minutes southeast of downtown New Orleans. Welcome to Paloma Lake, Chalyn Perez’s realized vision for outdoor adventure and hospitality. Opened Labor Day weekend 2019, the property includes five A-frame glamping cabins and two raised lodges with a full menu

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of amenities geared to families and celebration events, all built into a landscape of ancient live oaks and native plantings. Outdoors, there’s a full array of activities: kayaks, bikes, and games like horseshoes and bocce aimed at getting kids of all ages outside, away from screens and into nature. Paloma Lake is also a tribute to Perez’s father, Chalin Perez, who died in 2003. The family patriarch went to Braithwaite to buy a horse back in the 1950s and wound up buying sixteen hundred acres of pastureland, the horse thrown in as a lagniappe. “It’s where we all grew up, spent summers and holidays away from the city,” said Perez, who is named for his dad, with the changed spelling of “Chalyn” as a nod to his mom Lynn. The -lyn suffix is shared by all of his siblings. “We grew up fishing and hunting and really enjoying the outdoors. My childhood was spent getting lost with a fishing pole.

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I’d fish in a puddle if I thought I’d get a bite.” Although he comes from a family of lawyers, Perez, a graduate of Jesuit High School with a law degree from Loyola University, ultimately decided he didn’t want to sit behind a desk. Instead, he invests his time and efforts in business ventures that keep him outdoors, including Paloma Lake. As he’s developed the project, keeping his dad’s love of the outdoors and Plaquemines Parish at the forefront was paramount, said Perez. “He used to tell us stories of going hunting in Mexico where he would meet and interact with bird boys down there,” he recalled. “Whenever a dove would fly over they would shout ‘paloma paloma!’ which means dove in Spanish.” Doves are also a symbol for peace, making Paloma a fitting name for a place to find peace away from the craziness of city life.

Because Perez sold the dirt excavated to create the fifty-three-acre manmade lake to Plaquemines Parish to shore up the east bank of the levees, the twoyear job extended into an eight-year ordeal that was finally completed in 2017. With the help of landscape architects and fish biologists, Perez, an avid fishman, aimed to create a trophy bass fishing lake, stocked with F1 bass. The resident alligators weren’t part of the plan; they just showed up. Today, Paloma Lake exists as an oasis that draws a startling variety of migrating birds and waterfowl. Geared to multi-gen families and milestone events, Paloma Lake offers two different kinds of stays, depending on what you’re looking for. Take the right fork in the road at the end of the long driveway, and you’re going to be gently roughing it in one of the small cabins, sleeping on a queen-sized memory foam mattress, with a little


info@mid-cityartisans.com • 225-412-2802 • Baton Rouge, LA

“MY CHILDHOOD WAS SPENT GETTING LOST WITH A FISHING POLE. I’D FISH IN A PUDDLE IF I THOUGHT I’D GET A BITE.” —CHALYN PEREZ AC window unit keeping it cool. Think a tent with walls, and you get the idea. Everything is brand new, including a bathhouse with showers, toilets, and outdoor sinks. There’s a screened-in picnic area and places to grill. Take the left fork in the road and you’re heading for the raised lodges, which can be rented in total or by the suite. These each have four sleeping areas and a central gathering space with a full kitchen, television, WiFi, and comfy couches for lounging. A large second floor back porch lined with rocking chairs offers lakeside views. Underneath the raised structure, outdoor furniture looks out onto the lake and an outdoor kitchen is outfitted for group cooking. If you’d prefer to leave it to the pros, the town of Violet is about fifteen minutes away, with eateries like Charlie’s Restaurant dishing up homestyle New Orleans specialties and seafood.

Onsite, a menu of concierge services is available, offering everything from stocking the fridge with groceries to delivering a private chef experience, along with hunting and fishing guides. There’s a crawfish pond to provide mudbugs for boils and the chance to go crawfishing with the kids if that’s a whim. Skeet shooting, archery, UTV tours, and citrus picking can all be folded into the experience with additional fees. Notwithstanding the hiccough of a global pandemic, business is picking up. Assuming that things take off, Perez has plans to build more lodges and glamping cabins, including an ADA compliant lodge with an elevator. “This place is extremely important to all of us,” said Perez. “It was our family property and we want it to be there forever.” h

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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

“Douglas Bourgeois”

FIGURATIVE AND LAYERED WITH TENSION, THE NEW ORLEANS ARTIST’S WORK IS STILL A JOY TO MAKE By Jason Christian

Douglas Bourgeois, from left to right: “Pop Singer,” 1992. Oil on panel, 24x18 inches; “Harbinger,” 2020. Signed and dated; dated en verso. Oil on birch panel, 16x12 inches, 16 3/4x12 3/4 inches framed; “Palmetto Grace College,” 2021. Signed and dated. Oil on panel, 26x24 inches. All courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery.

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uring the long slog of hlonely pandemic days, hDouglas Bourgeois reminded himself that he still knew how to draw. As a working artist with decades of experience, having shown his paintings from Honolulu to New York, he should have never had any doubt. But a stray negative comment from the public is a form of evil magic. It can lodge into your brain and fester there for years, decades even, overpowering all of those accolades and awards and museum shows, forcing you to remember why you do this thing at all. Bourgeois got to work, pencil in his hand, creating portraits of stranger’s faces from his collection of old yearbooks and other found sources. As the weeks passed, he upgraded from paper to washed book covers and illustration board, brushing washes over the surface to give it an old-timey look. “God, it was so much fun,” Bourgeois says, glowing from the memory. This was his element, and he was good at it, though photorealism was never the point. “I think I finally kind of accepted that. I’ll never paint like, you know, that perspectival painting. I don’t really want that. I prefer ‘non-realist’ realism.” A retrospective of Bourgeois’ work, sixteen paintings created from 1989–2020, is on display at the West Baton Rouge 58

Museum in Port Allen through September 4. There you’ll find vivid, melancholic representations of Bourgeois’ dreams and preoccupations, oil-rendered fragments of Americana rooted in a Cajun Catholic upbringing in Ascension Parish as they collide with his insatiable curiosity about his surroundings and the artists he admires. Born in 1951, Bourgeois has spent most of his life in the unincorporated village of Saint Amant, where he lives and works today. After earning an art degree at LSU in 1974, he moved to New Orleans and began to hone his style. Once there, he met a gaggle of other artists, including the Ecuadorian painter and curator George Febres, who represented Bourgeois’ work in his Galerie Jules Laforgue, which took up the first floor of his Marigny home, a space that doubled as “a little homemade salon,” Bourgeois recalled. The gallery shut down in 1984, just three years after it opened, but it was established long enough to put Bourgeois and a small cohort of artists on the map. “He would arrange shows for us,” Bourgeois said. “He was really good at getting the work seen.” Critics noticed, too, and in 1990 one of them dubbed the group the “Visionary Imagists”. “We didn’t choose that name,” Bourgeois said, “and we would

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kind of play it down.” Nevertheless, the term stuck. It was a handy way to emphasize that unlike some of their New York contemporaries pushing minimalism, conceptualism, and abstract expressionism, the art of this group (comprised of Jacqueline Bishop, Charles Blank, Dona Lief and a few others) was imagistic and narrative, exploring pop culture, humor, puns, history, and nature. Bourgeois’ paintings are typically small, oil on panel, and saturated in detail. The subject might have a halo around her head, like a saint, and occupy a claustrophobic interior space, or otherwise stand among unforgiving Louisiana flora, surrounded by dreamy depictions of any number of nostalgic consumer products: wooden toys, dolls, postcards, musical instruments, transistor radios, and so forth. Pop cultural figures are a frequent subject: Motown icons, gospel singers, hip-hoppers, rock-n-rollers, even Edgar Allen Poe. Mixing cultures is Bourgeois’ jam and always has been. When those cultures are in conflict, like his religious upbringing and his love of rock-n-roll, then he’s compelled to explore the tension with brushes and paint. “It’s all hybridity,” Bourgeois said about culture in general. “I mean, it’s just always one overlapping the other and that’s what’s so great about it.”

Bourgeois has long been concerned with how our culture elevates a select few people, only to swiftly tear them down. “Fame is so fleeting and meaningless,” he said. His piece, “The Pop Singer,” gets at heart of this matter, with a dapper man standing center stage at a microphone, apparently belting out a number, while background singers and a guitarist help him put on the show. The audience, though, doesn’t seem to care all that much. One woman reads a book, another fixes her makeup, and someone appears to be asleep. An old Genie lamp sits at the edge of the stage, as though to suggest, “be careful what you wish for,” Bourgeois explained. For his own part, Bourgeois is content to stay out of the limelight and keep doing what he does. He’s still got plenty ideas. He’s still inspired by his musical muses. And he’s still very much having fun. h

Art by Bourgeois is on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum until September 4. Bourgeois’ work is also represented by Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans.


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Profile for Country Roads

Country Roads Magazine "Performing Arts Issue" September 2021  

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