New Orleans loves its music and its food-and its craftspeople and artists too. There are many ways of experiencing or taking home with you some of New Orleans’ quirky crafts and artworks, while still eating and listening to music! In the spring, it’s really fun to visit some of the local arts markets. One of the oldest is the Arts Market of New Orleans, held rain or shine in Palmer Park located on the corner of South Claiborne and South Carrollton Avenues, the final stop of the St. Charles historic streetcar. The Arts Market is held on the last Saturday of every month, and you can eat wonderful food there (of course, it’s New Orleans!) and also listen to live music (of course, it’s New Orleans!) Many local visual artists show their work, and you can drool over gorgeous jewelry, hats, handbags, ceramics and wood items, and anything else that our creative artists have imagined. Upcoming dates for the next three months are (rain date Sunday) Saturday March 31st – Celebrate Africa Day at the Arts Market; Saturday, April 21st (special early market); and Saturday May 26th . You can the ride complimentary bicycles offered by your Garden District Uptown Bed and Breakfast, Southern Comfort there too; there’s a Bicycle Valet program.
Monthly Archives: March 2012
New Orleans is a cinematic city, steeped in visual clichés. We all know about the feature films, television shows and television commercials that get made here. HBO’s Treme’ has shone a spotlight on the local music industry, and given quite a few locals work. Right now, it seems everyone is either working in the film business in some capacity, or trying to avoid film crews! But it’s not just the out-of-towners who are coming here to take advantage of our scenery and the Louisiana tax credit program for filming. Talented young filmmakers who live right here are making acclaimed movies right here.
For example, Jeff, Who Lives at Home opened this past weekend nationally. Directed by a pair of New Orleans brothers, products of Jesuit High School, and filmed mostly in Metairie (to look like Baton Rouge!), the movie has received great reviews. It’s the latest in a series of several features by Jay and Mark Duplass, who wrote, directed and produced Cyrus and Baghead before Jeff, Who Lives at Home. The movie, about a 30-year old slacker who lives in his mom (Susan Sarandon)’s basement in Baton Rouge , is acclaimed as a mature piece of filmmaking.
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New Orleans is built upon layer after layer of strata, and its population followed suit. The current Pontchartrain Expressway, running from Pontchartrain Boulevard to the Union Passenger terminal, located at Loyola Avenue, was built along the route formerly known as New Basin Canal. In 1831, the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company was formed to begin construction of the canal, which was to connect Lake Pontchartrain through the “swamp” to the Uptown section of New Orleans. By 1838, after an expense of $1million, the 60-foot wide, three- mile long canal was complete enough to be opened to small vessels. It took seven years to build, and countless lives of the Irish immigrants who were coming to the city in hordes back then. Yellow fever in New Orleans in the 19th century was a ruthless killer. Estimates range from 4,000 to 30,000 deaths of immigrant Irish workers digging the canal. Today, the canal has long since been closed For more information, see www.irishchannelno.org/ New Orleans is as much Irish in its heritage as it is French or Spanish. It’s not just about green beer. New Orleans grew physically to accommodate new residents, making it the second largest population of Irish immigrants, only to New York City.“The Irish were the catalyst for making New Orleans a metropolitan city,” says Fitzmorris. According to Tulane historian Terrence Fitzmorris, “The city’s vibrant economy based on trade drew immigrants like the Irish. They were part of the powerful regional and Atlantic economy that made New Orleans a global city.”
Here in New Orleans, life moves to the rhythms of the Catholic liturgical calendar. It’s an old city, with European sensibilities merged with African, Creole, Haitian, all that jazz, with a bit of Anglo-American-Irish mixed in–after all, we did become a part of the United States a while back! Our celebrations follow a familiar pattern-Christmas, then Carnival Season, which begins on 12th Night, the Feast of the Epiphany in many Latin countries, Spain, and Italy, and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter. (That’s called Mardi Gras; you’ve heard of it).
Many New Orleanians attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, but Lent is hardly a sacrifice here. Once the ashes are washed off, and the Lenten vows to “give up” something taken, we can move on to enjoy spring.
Typically, beautiful weather in March and April draws us out of doors, to-Festivals! Right now, we’re anticipating the new season–great food, often seafood; interesting music; and just being together to celebrate various ethnic traditions such as St. Joseph’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. We love to get out our lawn chairs and pack up our coolers in anticipation of seeing our friends at the festival. Apart from the bigger events like the French Quarter Festival and, of course, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, there are many other gems.
For example, next week’s Louisiana Oyster Jubilee, in the 300th block of Bourbon Street, is a relatively new festival celebrating a Louisiana delight. Live music, food and the French Quarter come together. You can watch local chefs create delicious concoctions, not to mention build the Longest Oyster Po-Boy.
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It wouldn’t be a stretch to call New Orleans one of the most soulful cities in the United States, and much of the rich culture we have to thank for that comes from the longstanding traditions of the African-American community. The 9th Annual Soul Fest, set for March 3rd and 4th at the Audubon Zoo, is a fantastic way to celebrate the unique history with over 20,000 other guests in a city known as the first to recognize “Free People of Color” following the horrors of slavery.
The weekend event is tailored for families and visitors of all ages and tickets are included with general admission to the Zoo. The sweet sounds of Jazz, Gospel, and R&B will be heard through the day, with performances from the Hot 8 Brass Band, Irvin Mayfield & The Playhouse Review, along with musical tributes to recently passed Etta James, Whitney Houston, and Soul Train’s Don Cornelius.