In Memoriam

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Zydeco Hall of Fame in Cajun country burns down; owner now says he may rebuild

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 3:05 PM

Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, Louisiana burned down Tuesday night. It was one of the last extant zydeco roadhouses. - ROBIN MAY
  • Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, Louisiana burned down Tuesday night. It was one of the last extant zydeco roadhouses.

The world of zydeco music lost one of its seminal clubs to a mysterious fire on Tuesday night, in a small town just outside of Opelousas, the self-described zydeco capital of the world.

Current owner Dustin Miller called the club "Miller’s Zydeco Hall of Fame,” but acolytes knew the Lawtell dance hall as zydeco’s Grand Ol’ Opry. Opened in 1947, Richard’s occupied a must-stop address on the famed "chitlin circuit." Both B.B. King and John Lee Hooker played there, expanding the club's legacy beyond zydeco.

The destruction of the dance hall, which was known for most of the 20th century as Richard’s, could bury for good the go-to stage for zydeco luminaries like Boozoo Chavis, Clifton Chenier and Terrance Simien. Zydeco pioneer John Delafose, who graced the Richard’s stage countless times, died of a heart attack shortly after a performance there in 1994.

“The building was built with good, old sturdy wood,” says dance hall researcher John Sharp, who visited the site on Wednesday. “Once a little bit of it caught fire, that’s a lot of fuel. Now, it’s a gutted big black hole.”

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Report: New Orleans-born singer Linda Hopkins dead at 92

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 3:44 PM

  • Linda Hopkins

Linda Hopkins, the New Orleans-born singer who was discovered by Mahalia Jackson and went on to star in Me and Bessie and Black and Blue on Broadway, has died at 92, according to Playbill.

Hopkins' career spanned 60 years of concerts, stage appearances, television and film. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

Here's Hopkins at age 66 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, singing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" — and absolutely killing it.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Agents of change: Remembering Lolis Edward Elie and state Rep. Ralph Miller

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 1:57 PM

Civil rights attorney Lolis Edward Elie (left) and former State Rep. Ralph Miller, both of whom died recently, each was an agent of change in his own way. - ELIE: COURTESY THE LOLIS EDWARD ELIE FAMILY
  • Civil rights attorney Lolis Edward Elie (left) and former State Rep. Ralph Miller, both of whom died recently, each was an agent of change in his own way.

Change doesn’t come easily. It typically requires great risk by people willing to take on the status quo against daunting odds. Louisiana recently lost two agents of change with the passings of civil rights lawyer Lolis Edward Elie and former state Rep. Ralph Miller.

Elie fought in the trenches of the local civil rights movement, often representing clients that no other attorney would take. Though not large in stature, Elie had a lion’s heart. “He was fearless,” recalled longtime friend Don Hubbard, a businessman, veteran politico and a former leader in the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of Elie’s early clients.

Miller, also an attorney, worked the legislative halls pushing bills that opened local and state government to public view for the first time. They included strengthening Louisiana’s Sunshine Law (open meetings), Public Records Act and campaign finance disclosure laws. When Miller arrived in Baton Rouge in 1968 as a freshman lawmaker from his hometown of Norco (where he lived until his death), “open government” was a radical concept. Today, no investigative reporter could function without those laws.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

New Orleans celebrates Bowie's birthday

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM

New Orleans celebrated the life of David Bowie with a memorial parade through the French Quarter following his death last year, just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his monumental final album Blackstar. On Jan. 16, 2016, members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Arcade Fire led a parade from the hall to the Mississippi River, attracting hundreds of people dressed as spiders from Mars, goblin kings and queens and dukes of all colors.

Bowie would have turned 70 on Jan. 8. Last year's parade ended with Win Butler helming a dance party at One Eyed Jacks, where New Orleans musicians will present Run for the Shadows on Sunday, Jan. 8, featuring more than a dozen musicians performing an hour and a half's worth of Bowie's music. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Mimi's in the Marigny hosts a Bowie birthday party at 9 p.m. Sunday. Patrons dressed as their favorite Bowie could win a $50 bar tab. Glamarama and Vinsantos pay tribute to Bowie at Cafe Istanbul at 7 p.m.

And at Bar Redux, DJ SeXX ED and Skully'z Records host a Bowie-themed dance party beginning at 7 p.m. with screenings of Bowie concerts and films in the courtyard. There also are prizes for best-dressed Bowies.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Carl Anthony Barbarin, trumpeter and band director, dies at 31

Posted By on Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 12:32 AM

Carl Barbarin
  • Carl Chaisson
  • Carl Barbarin

Carl Anthony Barbarin

Sunrise: October 22, 1985 - Sunset: December 24, 2016

New Orleans has lost yet another great young musician and band director. Trumpet player Carl Barbarin, band director at William J. Fischer Middle School, passed away Dec. 24, 2016 at the young age of 31. The tight-knit music community is still reeling in shock after it was announced that he suffered a heart attack after complaining for several days of chest pains.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Krewe of Chewbacchus to honor Carrie Fisher with second line Dec. 30

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2016 at 5:18 PM

Leijorettes march in the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade.
  • Leijorettes march in the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade.

Following news of the death of Carrie Fisher, the actress who starred as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus announced it will hold a second-line parade in tribute to her. The event is planned for 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday starting at the krewe den at Castillo Blanco Art Studios. The krewe currently is seeking permits for the parade.

Fisher is best known for playing Princess Leia in several Star Wars installments, including The Force Awakens in 2015, but she also appeared in When Harry Met Sally and 30 Rock, and many other films and TV shows. She published novels and memoirs and spoke about coping with bipolar disorder. She died in Los Angeles after suffering heart problems on a flight returning from London. She was 60.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

New Orleans musicians honor Leonard Cohen Dec. 6

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 12:00 PM


Around the globe, artists and writers have offered tributes and eulogies in the wake of the death of songwriter, poet and a decades-spanning incomparable enigma, Leonard Cohen. He died Nov. 7 at 82. In New Orleans, local artist and composer David Symons, in conjunction with Sanctuary Cultural Arts Center and Sound Observatory New Orleans, gathers several local performers to honor Cohen. On Dec. 6, Symons performs with Luke Allen, Bremner Duthie, Helen Gillet, Ingrid Lucia, MaeDea Lady LaRose, Harry Mayronne, Micah McKee, Lydia Stein and Bart Ramsey, with house band The Salt Wives.

The performance — "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" — begins 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Sanctuary Cultural Arts Center (2525 Burgundy St.) in Marigny. Tickets are $10-$20 on a sliding scale, and all proceeds benefit protestors near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota facing the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, where U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have given the hundreds of Native people and supporters a Dec. 5 deadline to leave. Hundreds of people have been arrested, tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets and water hoses.

In a statement, organizers write that "2016 has seen the passing of an inordinately high number of extraordinary artists, with Cohen atop a list that also includes Prince and David Bowie. The familiar feeling of losing a hero or mentor, coupled with the maelstrom of Trump’s America and the outrageous actions taken against the Standing Rock Sioux has shocked so many of us into a combination of disbelief, confusion, and action ... We are New Orleans and our action is our song."

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Remembering Kevin Kane of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Posted By on Sat, Oct 29, 2016 at 10:06 PM


Some people can make a big difference without making a lot of noise. Such a man was Kevin Kane, founder and president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, who died of complications related to gastrointestinal cancer Oct. 27 at the too-young age of 50.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Louisiana musician Buckwheat Zydeco dies at 68

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Buckwheat Zydeco. - DRAGON TASLC
  • Buckwheat Zydeco.
Louisiana musician Buckwheat Zydeco died early this morning at the age of 68, according to his longtime manager Ted Fox. Zydeco, aka Stanley Dural Jr., had been suffering from lung cancer and unable to perform for most of 2016. Recently his Carencro home had been damaged in the August floods, according to Fox.

"Buck made everything and everyone he touched better and happier," Fox wrote on Dural's Facebook page. "RIP my dear friend, my brother."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Farewell to Gary Esolen, Gambit's spiritual godfather

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 9:22 PM

  • Gary Esolen.

We at Gambit lost our founding father and longtime mentor Monday (Sept. 19) when Gary Esolen, the paper’s first editor and publisher, died at East Jefferson Hospital after a brief illness. He was 75.

In addition to his groundbreaking work at Gambit, Gary also was the co-founder and first executive director of the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation (NOTMC). In all his many civic and professional endeavors, Gary was a passionate advocate for the people and culture of his adopted hometown of New Orleans.

Born in Hancock, New York, Gary attended LeMoyne College, a small Jesuit liberal arts college — whose name, appropriately enough, matches that of the founder of New Orleans. At LeMoyne, Gary met several New Orleanians who influenced him, including future civil rights leader Rudy Lombard and future state Senator Hank Braden. Gary earned a Master’s degree at Syracuse and finished his coursework for a Ph.D. at Cornell. He was a Wordsworth Scholar.

Writing was always Gary’s first love, along with great conversation. He left academia to work as a writer and made a list of cities to which he might relocate — the top three being Santa Fe, Toronto and New Orleans. Gary’s wife Valeri LeBlanc summed up his choice: “New Orleans won as he felt he could find a place here and become part of it.”

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