Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Out now: new releases from Dr. John, Benjamin Booker

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Benjamin Bookerfeatured in this week's Gambit cover story — arrived in New Orleans two years ago, and his self-titled debut album for ATO Records is out today, Aug. 19. 

Benjamin Booker is Booker's discovery of the blues and gospel (via WWOZ) filtered through a post-adolescent punk brain. Lo-fi demos of chugging blues numbers gave Booker a chance to flex his newly discovered gift of a voice, a smoke-rattled, throaty, note-sensitive whisper-growl not unlike that of blues greats before him. With his first record, those songs come to life as hot-blooded, organ-driven rock 'n' roll demons, though his quiet, folk and gospel-influenced arrangements show an incredible restraint and patience unique for an untested (but already road-weary) new artist.

Standout mid-album track (and current single) "Have You Seen My Son" pummels forward with a Chuck Berry rhythm while Booker sings about his dissolve "all the way from Florida down to New Orleans."

"It's still the most representative song of what I want to do," Booker told Gambit, "that mixture of punk and gospel and R&B and all these things I grew up listening to."

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Five best food raps by New Orleans rappers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 4:41 PM


After 5th Ward Weebie's song "Let Me Find Out" — featuring tributes to both Wing Snack and Manchu — became a hit this summer, I started a personal quest for some of New Orleans' best food references in rap.

Below are five New Orleans rappers committed to cuisine:

1. "Mr. Ice Cream Man" by Master P
This track — which starts out with a tinkling ice cream truck jingle — isn't really about the sweet treat, but Master P's metaphor runs deep, even getting in a Baskin Robbins reference (I got half gallons of milk, fool/I got 31 flavors). The sultry refrain (Before you jump in the game, let's get one thing understood/If you sellin' that ice cream ya got to make sure it's good) grounds the track in serious — slightly ominous — slow jam territory.

2. "Light Snacks" by Curren$y
Curren$y is perhaps New Orleans' most culinary rapper, with a Twitter and Instagram feed full of chatter about everything from Lemonheads to his love of angel hair pasta. In "Light Snacks" the rapper shows off his highbrow culinary leanings, with an ode to the lady/ladies who keep him grounded (A lime to a lemon/My Jetset women), followed by a humblebrag about all his fancy snacking (I be on tour with him you should come along with us/Champagne, flutes, cheese, crepes, and fruit).

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Watch: Esquire's Best Bars in America does Bourbon Street

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

New Orleans comic Sean Patton, right, co-hosts Best Bars in America with Jay Larson. - ESQUIRE
  • New Orleans comic Sean Patton, right, co-hosts Best Bars in America with Jay Larson.

Comedians Sean Patton and Jay Larson — co-hosts of Esquire's bar-hopping travel program Best Bars in America — stop in New Orleans for its latest episode airing this week. Hometown hero Patton escorts Larson to Bacchanal, Parasol's, the Mother-in-Law Lounge, Cane & Table, Broussard's, Erin Rose, Arnaud's French 75 and Snake & Jake's. In this Gambit exclusive clip, watch them tour Bourbon Street (with local comic Andrew Polk). "Bourbon Street done, mistakes relived, fun had," Patton declares, hand grenade in tow.

The full episode airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on the Esquire Network. 

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Harvey Wallbanger bar crawl Monday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 12:05 PM

The drinks conference Tales of the Cocktail's official opening event was marked by a flash mob-style promotion from Lucas Bols B.V. the spirits company that distributes Galliano L'Autentico, the Italian liqueur that turns a screwdriver into a Harvey Wallbanger. The cocktail was invented in California in the 1950s and popularized in the 1970s.

In a follow-up event that's open to the public, there's a Harvey Wallbanger bar crawl Monday, Aug. 25, in the Warehouse District. People wearing ’70s outfits get free Harvey Wallbangers. Local bartenders will present their versions of the drink. The crawl starts at The District at 5:30 p.m. and moves roughly every hour to the next stop — Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, Barcadia, Ernst Cafe and Apres Lounge.

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Brewsday Tuesday: Lagunitas brews arrive in New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Lagunitas Brewing New Orleans rollout party on Aug. 11.
  • Lagunitas Brewing New Orleans rollout party on Aug. 11.

Last week, California's Lagunitas Brewing Company splashed into the New Orleans craft beer market, introducing its flagship IPA, the hoppy wheat beer Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and Imperial Red. The beers are available on draft now, with bottles coming in September.

Also coming next month, The Avenue Pub will host hundreds of sour beer aficionados when Belgium's Brassierie Cantillon releases its annual Zwanze beer on Sept. 20. The beer’s taste profile and style differs from year to year, but it is always spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts, which is what gives the beer its sour tang.

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Annual Film Industry Expo scheduled for Oct. 11 in New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 8:24 AM

The 6th Annual Film Industry Expo will take place on Saturday, Oct. 11 at the Sheraton New Orleans. Geared toward both filmmakers and actors, the Expo includes panel discussions and workshops like "Promotion and Distribution for Indie Filmmakers," "Creating Your Own Web Series" and "Social Media for Actors." The exhibit area is free and open to the public and will feature purveyors of camera equipment and filmmaking software and many other film- and acting-related businesses. More info here.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Serpas accepted a job at Loyola University

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Former NOPD chief Ronal Serpas has joined the faculty at Loyola University New Orleans. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • Former NOPD chief Ronal Serpas has joined the faculty at Loyola University New Orleans.
Following this morning's announcement that Ronal Serpas has retired as chief of the New Orleans Police Department, Loyola University New Orleans has announced that Serpas will join the school's department of criminal justice.

Serpas was a member of Loyola's faculty from 1993 to 2001. His return is a replacement position made available through staff openings made under attrition within the school's department. Serpas — who holds a doctorate in urban studies from the University of New Orleans — was formerly chief of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and chief of the Washington State Patrol. He began his career at NOPD in 1980 and was appointed assistant superintendent of police and the first chief of operations in 1996.

In a statement, Loyola Provost and vice president for academic affairs Marc K. Manganaro welcomed Serpas to the staff.

“Having such a well-respected law enforcement leader as a faculty member in the Department of Criminal Justice will serve our students well in offering a forward-thinking, hands-on education that connects the classroom to the many exciting careers in criminal justice,” he said.  “We welcome Chief Serpas to the next phase of his career.”

In a statement, criminal justice department chair William E. Thornton said Serpas is "recognized for his management and administrative skill in what is known as the ‘new paradigm’ in law enforcement management and policing. We are very excited about him joining the faculty.”

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Y@ Speak: rallying cry

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 3:38 PM

New Orleans has been gripped by the events in #Ferguson, and in this week's Y@ Speak, we look at some of the voices and downtown rallies and demonstrations in response. Meanwhile, the Saints apparently raptured themselves after doing that ice bucket challenge.

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St. Charles Bar and Grill now closed

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM


St. Charles Bar and Grill (736 St. Charles Ave.) — a CBDhole-in-the-wall watering hole catering to billiard players and post-Wednesday at the Square revelers — is now closed.

The building where the the bar is located has been sold, making last Saturday and Sunday the final nights of celebration at the space. Saturday was the official last night open to the public, with a special friends and family gathering on Sunday.

The bar's low ceilings and cavernous vibe added to its no-frills neighborhood charm, whether tipplers came stumbling in from a Mardi Gras parade, joined in on a Friday crawfish boil or grabbed a bourbon to go on the way to the Superdome.

The Crescent Cafe — a comfort food spot that shared the building — closed permanently as well Friday, August 15.

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Serpas out as NOPD chief; Harrison sworn in as interim superintendent

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu introduced new NOPD interim chief Michael Harrison at a press conference this morning. Harrison is Commander of the 7th District. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu introduced new NOPD interim chief Michael Harrison at a press conference this morning. Harrison is Commander of the 7th District.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who was picked by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in 2010 to lead the troubled New Orleans Police Department, announced he was stepping down at a City Hall press conference this morning. Serpas said he and his family would remain "proud residents of New Orleans" and said he had taken another position in the city, which he would be announcing later this week.

The interim superintendent will be NOPD 7th District Commander Lt. Michael Harrison, who was sworn in immediately following the press conference. "It's an honor and I'm humbled to lead NOPD during this transition," Harrison said. "God has blessed me and smiled on me."

Serpas said there was no pressure on him to leave the department. "We've made a difference in rebuilding the police department," he said, citing new police stations, vehicles, new police promotion standards and pay raises as among his achievements. He added that the NOPD had cleared a backlog of 850 rape kits and said the department had an excellent relationship with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

Landrieu said Harrison was a strong candidate for the permanent top cop job — "Possession is nine-tenths of the law," he joked — but said, "I will listen to the public over the next couple of weeks as to what they want."

A New Orleans native, Serpas joined the NOPD in 1980 and staying with the department for 21 years and rising to deputy chief. He left to become chief of the Washington State Patrol in 2001 before moving to Nashville to become chief of police there in 2004. His tenure there was marked by criticism and skepticism of the crime statistics Serpas used in his claim that crime in that city had hit a 20-year low point.

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