The Social Aid and Pleasure Club parade schedule has FINALLY been released for the 2013-2014 year. YAAAAAY!!!!!!!
(details below the jump!)
The 11th edition of the Ponderosa Stomp kicks off 7 p.m. Thursday with a screening of the documentary Muscle Shoals at the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St., 504-528-3800). The film takes an unconventional look at the titular Alabama town — curiously named after the mussels that settled in pockets of the Tennessee River — and its two hit factories. FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound studios delivered massive success stories, from Percy Sledge, Arthur Alexander, Clarence Carter and Wilson Pickett to Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones and dozens others. It's also the epicenter for contemporary artists Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell, The Civil Wars and just-east neighbors Alabama Shakes.
The film opens with gorgeous landscape shots that frame Colbert County as a sort of magical foundation for the music it produced — from an unlikely group of sharecroppers' sons, like FAME founder and architect of the Muscle Shoals sound Rick Hall, whose story of tragedy and triumph opens and closes each act. FAME house band and Muscle Shoals Sound founders The Swampers, a group of good ol' Alabama white boys who backed black artists during the tumultuous mid-'60s under Gov. George Wallace, are the film's humble heroes. Keith Richards, Bono, Jimmy Cliff and other famous talking heads throw heaps of praise at the group.
Director Greg "Freddy" Camalier anchors the film in the "mystic" elements of north Alabama rather than the realities of it, but it moves gracefully through decades of hits with rare footage, oral histories and an engrossing look into an under-appreciated landmark of American music.
Watch the trailer after the jump and read Gambit's interview with director Camalier.
The Saenger Theatre opened its doors today for the first time since Hurricane Katrina closed the Canal Street landmark in 2005. Under new twinkling fiber optic ceiling stars — part of a $52 million renovation — Mayor Mitch Landrieu proclaimed the project a symbol “of resurrection, redemption, resilience, of building the city not back the way she was but the way she should have always been.”
The Saenger was built in 1927 and the team of public-private entities responsible for its renovation, including the Canal Street Development Corporation, Ace Theatrical Group and the City of New Orleans, restored the building to reflect the original, with modern accoutrements like an expanded stage. The inside is complete with the dashing red carpet reminiscent of the original, and everything from the chandeliers to the paint scheme was researched for historical accuracy and constructed to reflect the building’s original interior. “All of the work that you see here is a reincarnation of the original designs and the original paintings,” Landrieu said.
The Saenger will host a slew of Broadway shows, musical, comedic and stage acts, including a grand opening performance by Kristin Chenoweth and the Louisiana Philharmonic Oct. 5. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performs three shows during this weekend’s soft opening. New Orleans is the third largest producer of Hollywood films, behind New York and Los Angeles, thanks to film credits offered by the state and will have an originating tax credit for Broadway productions as well, Landrieu said, “because, in order for this thing to work, these seats have to be full, and the productions have to be great.”
Broadway Across America President Lauren Reid said “New Orleans will now be a destination for Broadway’s best and brightest.”
Though the opening is one of the most anticipated post-Katrina rebuilding efforts and a linchpin of the Canal Street corridor rehabilitation, Landrieu said “there’s other stuff going on. This is not the only thing that’s happening as you think about what is occurring just in this general space, in these two square miles. You have the VA and UMC hospitals, $2 million coming out of the ground as we speak.”
New Orleans City Council President Jackie Clarkson was in the Saenger for her fifth birthday, before World War II. “Thanks for the memories,” she said. “Many a tale has been woven in this edifice.”
After dozens of stakeholders squeezed behind a gold ribbon for a photo-op, the curtains of the Saenger opened to display its historic SAENGER letters, lighted and floating on the newly revealed stage. “You have this before you today,” Landrieu said. “It’s a gift to the people of the city of New Orleans.”
New Orleans Bike Advocacy group Bike Easy will be hosting its latest "Bicycle Second Line" on Saturday, October 5th. Riding from Noon until 2 p.m. Bike Easy has also held two-wheeled second lines at Po-Boy Fest and Bayou Boogaloo.
Part of Bike Easy's largest membership drive of the year, the second line is free to all and will feature the Pocket Aces Brass band and an NOPD escort. The eight-mile bike ride starts at Ponchartrain Park and ends with an after party at Gentilly Fest, with two rest stops in between.
Participants are encouraged to sign up with Bike Easy online in advance of the ride or to buy a $15 t-shirt to support Bike Easy. Local businesses are also encourage to sign up as sponsors for the event. More information can be found on Bike Easy's web site and photos of past events can be viewed on their Facebook page.
Formed in 2003, Bike Easy's mission is to "make bicycle riding in New Orleans easy, safe, and fun." Along with second lines and community workshops, the group also advocates for better bicycle safety and provides free bike valet services at local concerts and festivals.
In 2011, New Orleans was named one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the U.S. by the League of American Bicyclists and was named the 43rd-best bicycle city by Cycling Magazine's 2012 Editor's Choice issue. New Orleans is on track to have 80 miles of bike lanes by the end of the year.
You'll still need a museum ticket, but you won't have to pay for it. Go to Smithsonian Magazine's website to sign up. One ticket is good for two people, though guests are limited to one ticket per household. A ticket is only valid for one museum.
A list of participating New Orleans museums is under the jump ...
In his book Imagined Communities, the scholar Benedict Anderson might as well have been talking about New Orleans when he said that a community "is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion."
The Young Leadership Council is creating a literary New Orleans communion again this year with its annual One Book One New Orleans project, when it invites the entire community to read the same book and attend a series of events geared toward its central themes. This year, the selection is Louisiana, a novel by the Jamaican sociologist and social activist Erna Brodber.
The book is the story of Ella Townsend, a Jamaican-born anthropologist who travels to St. Mary Parish on an anthropology fellowship from Columbia University to document the lives of the Southeast Louisiana community. The YLC kicked off the event last night at the Marigny Opera House, just a week after local reading champion and host of WWNO's The Reading Life Susan Larson celebrated New Orleans literary culture with the rerelease of her essential literary guidebook to the city. The YLC has a calendar of events for the one book project slated until Dec. 4.
Perhaps it's the sign of the growth of a local festival that it starts issuing a poster by a local artist. The New Orleans Burlesque Festival (Sept. 19-21) is marking its fifth anniversary, and it just released the poster image. Artist Brandon Delles also has created posters for French Quarter Festival and local events.
The festival features top burlesque performers from around the world, and dancers are coming from Sweden, Italy, England and Australia. The festival has had male burlesque dancers perform before, but this year there is an entire showcase of men, including several Chicago dancers from The Stage Door Johnnies, who have performed in New Orleans before in STRUT, a show created by New Orleans Burlesque Festival and Bustout Burlesque founder Rick Delaup. There are appearances by Tammi True, a dancer who performed in Dallas in the 1960s at the Carousel Club, which was owned by Jack Ruby. Also appearing is Leslie Zemeckis, who created the documentary Behind the Burly Q, and released a companion book in June. The festival presents workshops open to the public, and there are parties where attendees can meet performers.
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