Jazz Fest hit an eclectic array of high notes Saturday, ranging from Native American hip-hop to the Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra to some low-down blues by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite.
Jazz Fest's 2013 Cultural Pavilion programming is focused on Native American music and culture and performers are spread throughout the regular tents and stages as well as the pavilion area in the lawn between the Congo Square Marketplace and Food Area II. The Canadian hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Red (pictured) had an early set on the Gentilly Stage, and it started with a traditional flourish, dancers in traditional Native American costumes on stage with the DJs. Ian "DJ NDN" Campeau, Dan "DJ Shub" General and Bear Witness mix a reggae and dub-step influenced blend of beats and Native American songs and chants. The vocal chants work really well with the slow tempo and it was pretty mellow original and compelling sound. The DJs pumped some politics into the final tune when the dedicated it to "racist sports teams everywhere," and Florida State Seminole fans couldn't have missed the dig at the sample of the "War chant" played as fans do their "tomahawk chop," which was later adopted by Washington Redskins fans.
In a more edifying moment, one of the Stoney Creek Singers who was performing on the Fais Do-Do stage explained that the traditional "rain dance" isn't done to summon rain but to offer thanks for rain.
A Tribe Called Red is on the interview stage Sunday at 4:15 p.m. The Stoney Creek Singers perform twice Sunday in the performance tent at the pavilion area, first at 12:05 p.m. and again at 3:15 p.m.
Another international visitor Saturday was Brazilian performer Magary Lord. He's created his own type of music called Black Semba, and it's a mix of African beats, Latin rhythms and some of the twinkling guitars and steel pan drums (sampled electronically) of the Caribbean. It took a few songs to get the crowd in step with its Brazilian party music, but the crowd picked it up and it's a very upbeat Latin-Caribbean blend. The group returns Sunday on the Congo Square Stage at 12:35 p.m.
The Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra turned in the best set I heard today. I am not familiar enough with Latin jazz to offer much context, but the horn section and array of percussion was simply stunning.
Also amazing was the set turned in by harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite, a blues legend at this point, and Ben Harper, who spent much of the set playing slide guitar. The two have collaborated through the last decade and released Get Up! in January. The age difference isn't as great as it seems, Musselwhite is almost 70, Harper is 43. But they seem to bridge generations and more in their extraordinarily natural connection. Musselwhite seems solidly grounded in an almost elegant style of old-school Mississippi Delta blues, and Harper has synthesized blues, folk, soul and rock and been embraced by jam band fans and younger generations, but their rapport is seamless.
In the opening weekend of shows at the New Orleans Puppet Festival, Skookum Heehee Tumtum Productions makes the most of the cavernous space at the Marigny Opera House. The set features twin scaffoldings more than 20 feet tall, and at one point, a young woman in the story is carried away by an eagle-like suitor to his nest in a flight spanning nearly the full-length of the deconsecrated church.
The festival features different slates of shows both weekends at both venues. The opening trio of shows is a mixed bag. Skookum’s The Pearl Assembly, an adopted Inuit creation tale, is in many ways the most ambitious show in terms of scale. In the mythical tale, a man entertains suitors for his daughter, and she is taken away by the eagle. The man tries to retrieve her, but their escape across a body of water is doomed and the curtain between the towers opens to reveal a shimmering seascape and eventually a rising mermaid. The show features a very large cast, including a full chorus, and several different types of puppets including shadow puppets and giant rod puppets. Unfortunately, the scale of some of the props sometimes makes them unwieldy, and some technical aspects, like hooking puppets to the tether wire upon which the eagle flew, prove difficult to operate smoothly or quickly.
Four years ago, Gov. Bobby Jindal hoodwinked lawmakers, the public and most of the Louisiana Press Association into supporting legislation that he uses to keep virtually all his administration’s records from public view. He also uses his enormous power to prevent that law from being overturned or narrowed.
The 2009 law, which Jindal cynically proclaimed a “transparency bill,” is a prime example of the old wisdom that the devil is in the details. It contains an Orwellian provision that allows anything deemed part of the governor’s “deliberative process” to remain secret. Under the law, Team Jindal gets to “deem” as liberally as it pleases.
Turns out Jindal loves to keep lots of things secret, particularly details about himself and his policies.
Since 2009, the Jindal Administration, including departments that are not even part of “the governor’s office,” have hidden behind the “deliberative process” scrim every time someone files a bothersome public records request. It’s why Jindal is widely known as the least transparent governor in America. More important, it makes it next to impossible for an average citizen, or even a news organization, to pry public information out of Louisiana’s executive branch.
Now that the feds are investigating the Jindal Administration for possible criminal violations relating to the hiring of a Maryland contractor, CNSI, to process the state’s Medicaid claims, it’s becoming clear why Bobby Jindal likes to keep things secret. Former state Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein, who previously worked for CNSI, pushed through changes to the bid solicitation that helped his former employer win the state contract.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Details about those rule changes, how they came about, and when, are precisely the kind of things that Team Jindal typically deems “part of the governor’s deliberative process.”
Lucky for us, that dodge doesn’t cut it with the feds. They have subpoenas. The rest of us, sadly, have to rely on Louisiana’s public records laws, which, thanks to Jindal, have been eviscerated.
That could change. State lawmakers are considering at least two bills to remove the “deliberative process” loophole. You can bet the governor will once again pull out all the stops to kill both measures — but there’s hope this year. Because Jindal is now even less popular in Louisiana than President Barack Obama, perhaps lawmakers will muster the courage to correct the grave error they committed in 2009.
Making its debut tonight, along with seven brand new bands, is Not Enough Fest, a production of No More Fiction. Since 2009, the group has supported and produced LGBTQ and feminist punk rock and DIY bands with shows typically benefiting local nonprofits.
With Not Enough Fest, inspired by the Portland, Ore. music and art festival, bands must meet a few requirements: they must be brand new and be composed of at least half women-identified and/or queer-identified people. Event organizers encouraged novice musicians to meet, learn, and play together as a group. The end result is the debut of seven bands — Spring Break-Up, Pregnant, Mans, Goat, Arabella Arabella, Osedax, and If So, Uh-Oh.
Over the last several months, No More Fiction hosted mixers where musicians or soon-to-be musicians could meet like-minded players, share ideas and music interests and start putting together groups. Organizers also hosted workshops, where budding musicians could learn guitar, bass, drums and vocal skills. The event is meant to "encourage the participation of women and queers in DIY music making in our town."
The event also features a screenprinting demonstration, and all proceeds from Not Enough benefit Ashley Volion, a Lafitte woman with cerebral palsy who was denied by the state to live and work in Chicago while pursuing a PhD at the University of Illinois for disability studies, the only program of its kind in the country.
The all-ages event begins at 7 p.m. at 3 Ring Circus' The Big Top Gallery (1638 Clio St.). Admission is $5-$25.
By just about anyone's estimation, Marcus Stewart has arrived in the fashion world. A celebrity stylist and reality TV star, the New Orleans native got his start working at Hemline. Here, he shares his story, along with styling tips, and the reasons why he wouldn't have had a fashion career if he'd lived anywhere else.
You're featured on the Bravo reality show Dukes of Melrose. What is the show about?
It's about the legendary consignment boutique Decades, which dresses all the big Hollywood stars in vintage looks for their red carpet events. The show follows my two bosses, Christos (Garkinos) and Cameron (Silver), who couldn't be more opposite. I'm the East Coast buyer, and I'm often showcased as being in the middle.
In addition to being a buyer, you're a trunk show coordinator for Decades, and you do image consulting. What tips do you have for women who want to incorporate vintage items into their wardrobe but aren't sure where to start?
Make sure you go shopping when you have time to try on things. If you're in a rush, you won't see what's in front of you. Always try on clothing with heels, because they totally change the situation. Heels do wonders for women. If you want to do vintage, you have to know your own body type: If you're an apple shape, find your waistline and cinch it in. An hourglass can wear more form-fitting things. A tall and skinny banana type can wear trapeze and sheath dresses, but you also want to draw attention to your waist. If you don't know your body, vintage is hard because you can't see what you need and nothing will seem like it fits. If you know your body shape, you know what to gravitate toward and you know what can be fixed with a tailor. Your tailor is your best friend. Have a vision beyond the clothing rack: envision a garment smaller here or let out here. Clothing is moldable art.
Firmly rooted in the Southern literature of writers ranging from Mark Twain to mystery novelist James Lee Burke, Mud is the engaging and atmospheric third feature from writer-director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter). With its story of two teenage boys who discover a mysterious drifter named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on a small and remote island on the Mississippi river, the film far exceeds what usually passes for a coming-of-age story in Hollywood. Mud offers a soulful meditation on the nature of love disguised as a Southern Gothic crime thriller, all told from a distinctly male point of view. It has a mythic quality that carries it through the rough spots even when it turns out to be a bit more conventional (and long-winded) than it might have been.
Arkansas native Nichols came home to mount the first large-scale film production in that state’s history, and the result is a setting that feels both fresh and familiar while supporting the story’s uniquely Southern vibe. It’s hard to imagine anyone but McConaughey in the title role, oozing earthiness and authenticity while using his low-key charisma to win over Ellis (Tye Sheridan), the smarter and more troubled of the two teens, and enlist the boys in his struggle to reconnect with the absent Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Even Witherspoon is believable, a few extra pounds keeping her from looking like a movie star. Her careless character may not be the ideal object of devotion, but she does provide an object lesson on the true price of love.
It’s easy to understand Robert Redford’s attraction to the material and worldview found in Neil Gordon’s The Company You Keep, the 2003 novel on which director Redford’s movie is based. The book fictionalizes the later life of members of 1960s and ’70s radical revolutionary group The Weather Underground, imaging what might happen to them if their assumed identities were finally exposed after they spent 30 years hiding in plain sight. Redford is known for his progressive politics, and bringing Gordon’s book to the big screen affords him the chance to revisit a misunderstood era and reexamine the passions that led to violence in the name of social justice. It’s harder to imagine why Redford would bother to make an uninspired movie on the subject.
Though its subject matter is obviously close to Redford’s heart, The Company You Keep is sleepy and unconvincing. At 76, Redford seems too old for the lead role of a former late-’60s radical. At least his friends are well cast: it’s a pleasure to see Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Julie Christie, Stanley Tucci and others sharing Redford’s attraction to the story and bringing it for their time on screen. The best lines are reserved for Redford’s character, though, as he repeatedly chastises the young reporter (Shia LaBeouf) who exposes him for not understanding the crucial role of the press in revealing difficult truths. That’s a message that bears repeating, but it’s not enough to support a two-hour film.
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