Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gigs Galore as New Orleans Gets Its Autumn Groove - My New Orleans (blog)

By Ian McNulty

Sep 19, 2012 - 10:09 AM

Gigs Galore as New Orleans Gets Its Autumn Groove

Gal Holiday

When I asked a friend what he had in mind for a night on the town recently, his reply was a text message listing gig after gig around town. We needed Jazz Fest-style schedule cubes just to understand all of our options, I joked, and maybe a futuristic teleporter to make it from spot to spot.

It was an incredible list â€" an alt rock CD release party over here, a standing traditional jazz gig over there, a visiting blues guitarist, a young Cajun band and at least a half-dozen more choices of note all in between â€" but it really wasn’t all that unusual. It’s not quite officially fall yet, but the energies of New Orleans are stirring again, and the local music calendars are getting back to their robust best.

You don’t even need to wait until the weekend to get into it. Consider, for example, some of the shows on my radar for the next few days:


The Latin-tinged roots rock band the Iguanas are the main act at tonight’s edition of Harvest the Music, the free, outdoor concert series held each Wednesday in the fall downtown in Lafayette Square. Los Po-boy-citos open the show, which starts at the early banker’s-hours-happy-hour slot of 5 p.m. The whole Harvest the Music schedule looks pretty great, and in particular it’s worth marking your calendar for next week’s free visitation from Dr. John along with Jon Cleary.  

Harvest the Music wraps around 7:30 p.m., which is just in time to catch Tom McDermott, the piano virtuoso, at Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St., 304-4717), or the Tin Men, confidently billed as “the world’s premiere washboard-sousaphone-guitar trio” at dba (618 Frenchmen St., 942-3731). I’m happy to report that both of these fine venues are smoke-free.  


The following day, there’s a chance to see two of the three members of the Tin Men doing their own things at separate downtown gigs. Washboard Chaz joins the rest of his Texas swing partners in Washboard Rodeo back at dba at 10 p.m., while right around the same time Tin Men front man Alex McMurray does an acoustic solo set at the incomparably atmospheric Saturn Bar (3067 St. Claude Ave., 949-7532). 

A bit earlier, another outdoor music event starts up at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, that gorgeous urban oasis in City Park which hosts its Thursdays at Twilight concert series. This week features traditional jazz clarinetist Tim Laughlin. Admission is $10, the show goes from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and there’s a cash bar and food for sale in the gardens.


For something completely different, the enthralling, occasionally creepy country Americana of My Graveyard Jaw will be at the Den (907 S. Peters St., 529-5844), the smaller venue attached to the Howlin’ Wolf. Crooks opens the show, which starts at 10 p.m.


Guitar goddess Kristin Diable, who was the subject of an extensive profile by Times-Picayune music writer Keith Spera last week, will start off Saturday with an early, 6 p.m. set at the Three Muses (536 Frenchmen St., 252-4801). This is a small, very cool restaurant/bar/music club on Frenchmen Street that is probably the most intimate venue you’ll find Kristin Diable playing these days as her star keeps rising. 

Down the street, back at dba, you can catch a star of a whole different stripe when sissy bounce rapper and hipster favorite Katey Red gets the place moving around 10 p.m. D.J. Quickie Mart shares the bill.

And way upriver, Gal Holiday brings her Honky Tonk Revue to perhaps the most appropriate local venue for any honky tonk revue, the River Shack Tavern (3449 River Road, Jefferson, 834-4938). It’s just over the parish line from the Riverbend, but this joint feels like it could be out of some country music video of dusty parking lots, cold long necks and sassy girl singers, which is just what you’ll find when Gal Holiday has the mic.

This is of course just a highly selective slice of what’s happening this week for music. Plan your time wisely, people. We are surrounded by greatness.  

James Gray given OK to run for New Orleans City Council seat -

An attempt to bar attorney James Gray from running for a seat on the New Orleans City Council failed for the third time this week, kindling some public jabs between Gray and another candidate. The challenge to Gray's candidacy for the District E seat was based on the issue of where he's legally domiciled: His home in the district remains uninhabitable seven years after it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, so he has been living outside the district.

james-gray.jpgJames Gray, candidate for District E seat on New Orleans City Council

But Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Paula Brown and the state's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal sided with Gray, and the state Supreme Court on Monday declined to reconsider the lower courts' rulings, ending the case.

"We always said this lawsuit was frivolous and irresponsible, a dirty trick of our opponent Austin Badon and his supporters," Gray said in a news release announcing the Supreme Court's decision.

Badon responded by pointing to Gray's own admission in court records that he has not slept in the house for more than one night in a row in seven years.

"It's not a dirty trick, it's reality," Badon said. "Everybody around here knows that the guy has not lived in the house since Katrina. He does not live in the district."

Hurricane Isaac's debris still festering on many New Orleans curbs -

Three weeks after Hurricane Isaac, the final phase of digging out is wearing thin for many New Orleanians. Most yards are clean and the garbage has been hauled away, but piles of leaves, branches and black bags continue to litter many curbs throughout the city. The distinct stench of rotting debris, likely from discarded food added to the piles in recent days, has begun to waft across certain blocks.


"My ... concern is not only the smell, but it's a nice place for rodents and roaches to hang out," said Ruth Thompson, whose Garden District neighborhood near Magazine Street has yet to see a debris truck.

"This is where the tourists want to see beautiful homes. This is where the tourists want to shop," she said. "A gentleman from Texas asked me something (about it), and I said, 'You know, that's why they call it the Big Easy.' I don't want to air our dirty laundry to someone from outside the city."

Thompson said she didn't understand why garbage crews declined to pick up household waste at some homes, or why the debris still remained untouched. When she called the city's information hotline, she got a different answer each time, she said.

Michelle Thomas, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's deputy of operations, on Tuesday asked residents to be patient. She said debris crews have made their first pass down most city streets, but she noted that some neighborhoods in Central City and elsewhere have yet to see any curbside debris removal.

She also had strong words for garbage and debris collectors alike, imploring both to pick up everything placed on curbs by residents.

"No contractor should go by a home and leave a bag on the curb," she said, adding that city attorneys are exploring all available legal actions. She didn't elaborate.

Richard's Disposal Inc., Metro Disposal Inc. and Progressive Waste Solutions, formerly known as SDT Waste & Debris Services, handle New Orleans' household waste pickup.

The city's debris hauler, DRC Emergency Services, has collected more than 120,000 cubic yards of storm debris -- which would fill around 240 typical shotgun homes. Thomas estimated that Hurricane Isaac in the end will outpace the 137,000 cubic yards of debris that Hurricane Gustav yielded in 2008.

Holding DRC accountable for slow response times could prove difficult for city attorneys. There is no clause in the contract that sets specific deadlines for collecting debris, and every storm that passes through southeast Louisiana produces a different amount of waste. The emergency debris removal contract, capped at $6.5 million for five years, was signed in August 2008 during Mayor Ray Nagin's administration. DRC was the lowest bidder.

DRC does have a list of 27 subcontractors that the city contractually approved to assist with debris removal. It's unclear how many companies were activated during Isaac's aftermath, but Thomas said around 200 personnel were still on the job Tuesday.

For Thompson, the debris can't be picked up quickly enough. The pile outside her house has already grown beyond her own contributions as passers-by add their own trash.

"It begins to take on a life of its own," she said.

Richard Rainey can be reached at or 504.883.7052.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Louisiana Children's Museum 'Chairishes' the Children -

Cherish is the word that's used to describe a brace of bashes. One focused on kids; the other, cancer.

For 14 years -- and going socially strong into the future -- The Louisiana Children's Museum (LCM) has presented a fundraiser titled Chairish the Children that rates as one of summer's top revels. This year, the gallivanting made "Big Top" its ado and amassed partygoers for "The Greatest Show in NOLA." All proceeds will benefit the educational programming and exhibits of the museum, "where families connect through play."

DANIEL ERATH / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Chairish the Children Gala. David and Maria Huete, Gina and Kevin McMahon. Saturday August 25, 2012. Chairish the Children 2012 gallery (5 photos)

Ringleaders for the revelry were event chairwomen Maria Huete and Gina McMahon, who attended with husbands David and Kevin. Their work was praised as tireless and directly responsible for the success of the bash. Thanked, too, was Capital One Bank the "Most Chairished Sponsor, " and several other sponsorial groups.

To launch the levity, there was a Schlumberger-sponsored patron party with an exclusive silent auction, cuisine by chef David Slater of Emeril's, a signature patron cocktail, and the chance to ogle the circus decor. In addition to a classic carnival big top complete with stilt walkers and other related characters, colors played a significant role. Red, white and Tiffany blue dominated, appearing in red and white draping, pompoms and pinwheels. The feeling of being inside a festive tent prevailed.

Among the headliners, in addition to Maria and Gina, were LCM Board President Jennifer Couvillon and Mason, Executive Director Julia Bland, decorations chairwomen Tara Labiche and Shannon Zink, celebrity auctioneers Mark Romig and Travers Mackel, Scott and Brady Cunningham, Michael and Tracie Griffin, David and Lisa Farnsworth, state Sen. Conrad and Carol Appel, Chad Berg, Pam and Warner Williams, Eleanor Farnsworth, Thomas and Brandy Whisnant (she's the new Junior League of New Orleans president), the David Haydels, Stephanie and Terrance Osborne, Chet Pourciau, Luis Colmenares, Walt Navoy, Woody and Kristen Koppel and scores more. As they gazed, they grazed on the slew of delectable offerings from more than 20 gourmet restaurants and the sugary enticements of The Sweet Shop. Eat treats abounded.

The main attraction was the grand display of one-of-a-kind, hand-painted chairs (hence the event's title) from artists and organizations around and about the city, including Chet, Stephanie, Lizano's Glass Haus, Matthew Holdren Woodworking, and Karoline Schleh. To mention a creative few. All of the chairs were auction-available, as was the work of longtime museum supporter Luis Colmenares, whose sculpted seafood-themed table and chair set drew "sought-after" status.

Further bright lights within the auction excitement were a Saints-themed chair made to look like a football field and signed by 17 pigskin players, including Drew Brees; a private tour of the Saints facility; and fabulous vacation packages. The bidding was decidedly spirited, as was the dancing. Groovy 7 assured lots of numbers on the dance floor.

Hope Gala
DANIEL ERATH / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Hope Gala. Sean Collins, Julie Kanter, Nancy Parker, Billy Wells. Saturday August 18, 2012. Hope Gala 2012 gallery (5 photos)

Elsewhere, but on a different Saturday evening, the American Cancer Society held Hope Gala 2012 in The Shops at Canal Place with Clark Castle as the gala chairman; Ron Forman, the honorary chairman; and, as the nine Spirit Award honorees, Barbara Servat and Drs. Nagarajan Chandrasekaran, Sean M. Collins, Gregory Henkelmann, Julie Kanter-Washko, Craig Lotterman, Matthew McElveen, Jaime Morales and William Wells. During the course of the 6:30 p.m. patron party, which counted at least 200 attendees, the awards were given. Culinary contributions came from Morton's The Steakhouse. All so savory.

Then it was on to the gala itself and the 600 individuals in the party pack, who bid on such live auction items as a tailored Brooks Brothers suit and a party for 50 people in a Canal Place movie theater. The "going, going, gone" was orchestrated by host Chuck Mutz.

In a second year, celebrity chefs attended and cooked in competition to raise donations. Thanked profusely for their donated time were top toques Betty Fraser, Hosea Rosenberg, Tracey Bloom, Grayson Schmitz, Ed Cotton and Manon Guerrier.

Festive facts to note were Gold Sponsor Superior Energy, Amy Jett Photography, Perfect Presentations floral designs, food from a multiplicity of area restaurants, and the jewelry donation from Friend & Company for the Champagne, Pearls and Diamonds promotion. All this was enjoyed by Ochsner Health System President Warner Thomas and Linda, Philip Rebowe, Miguel Solorzano with Clark Castle, Lorrie Lee, Terry and Neil Birkhoff, Lisa Picone, Dr. Prescott and Celia Deininger, Dr. Elizabeth and Michael Fontham, Glenn Beck, National Volunteer Award recipient Colleen Lemoine, Dr. Ed Trapido, Dr. Daniel Rupley, Dr. Paul Monsour, Tracie G. Bertaut, Cheryl and Jack Fourcade, and David Boyd Williams. For starters.

And to initiate the night moves, the Bucktown Allstars entertained on the shopping emporium's Level One.

Dozens of blocks away on Canal Street, "Happy Birthday" was the cause for celebration. Enjoying a midday meal at Canal Street Bistro were Ruth Chouest, Nellie Watson and Cindi Knapton, who were joined by the wait staff (and a few lunching patrons) in singing to birthday girl Adrian Deckbar.

. . . . . . . .

Nell Nolan can be reached at or 504.826.3455.

New Orleans Hornets players gained valuable experience in San Antonio -

Although the workouts were volunteer, New Orleans Hornets rookie Anthony Davis got a chance to work against San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan while a majority of his New Orleans’ teammates met their objective to build chemistry among themselves last week.

Unable to use their practice facility at the Alario Center because it was used as a Hurricane Isaac food stamp card distribution site, Hornets players paid their own lodging expenses and airfare to San Antonio to use the Spurs’ practice facility.

Players went through volunteer pickup games and conditioning drills that went unsupervised by coaches because they are not allowed to put players through organized offseason workouts.

Among some of the Hornets players taking advantage of the work in Texas besides Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in this past June draft, were rookie guard Austin Rivers, center Robin Lopez, forward Ryan Anderson, forward Hakim Warrick, forward Jason Smith, point guard Greivis Vasquez, rookie forward Darius Miller and shooting guard Xavier Henry.

``Obviously Tim was around and there’s not a better guy to learn from,’’ said Anderson, a 6 feet 10 forward whom the Hornets acquired in a sign-and-trade deal from the Orlando Magic in July. ``He is such a great leader and just talking with him was a positive experience in San Antonio.’’

In an offseason that already involved Davis gaining valuable experience as the youngest player on the gold-medal winning Team USA at the London Olympics last month, it was the first time he got a chance to work against Duncan.

A 15-year veteran, Duncan has won four NBA championships and is a two-time league MVP and 13-time All-Star participant with the Spurs.

Davis couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, but Smith said last week’s work was beneficial for all of the Hornets’ players, especially the post players because they got a chance to work out with Duncan and Spurs center Tiago Splitter at the facility.

``I think it was really good for us to go against somebody different,’’ Smith said. ``To let us come over to their gym to workout was an honor.’’

With a roster that includes eight players there weren’t on the team last season, the Hornets have participated in volunteer offseason conditioning work since last month. They are trying to get a jump on things before training camp opens on Oct. 2 at the Alario Center. The Hornets open the regular season on Oct. 31 against the Spurs, a franchise the Hornets are modeling themselves after because of their success as a small-market franchise.

The Hornets’ younger players like Rivers and Miller are trying to get a thorough understanding of the concepts of Coach Monty Williams’ system, while most of the players returning from last season are pushing for improvement.

``I think there are a lot of players that have came in and have been really ready to work,’’ Smith said. ``I think Austin has come in with the mentality that he wants to make a good first impression. Anthony Davis has an amazing summer going to London and winning a gold medal.

``I think he’s going to come in more prepared because he’s been around those superstar players. Darius has come in and he’s working hard. I would not count him out. I think he will get a good bit of playing time. There are so many different guys.’’

Anderson, who has been in the league for three seasons that includes the previous two with the Magic, said he’s never played on a team that has bonded so quickly like the Hornets’players have so far. Anderson is expected to emerge as a perimeter scoring threat likely to draw minutes at both forward positions.

``I haven’t played on a team that was necessarily a family group, where everybody was kind of on one page,’’ Anderson said. ``It’s hard to find that in the NBA because there are egos you know and just a lot of different things involved.

``But we all really have a close connection with each other here. We’ve bonded as a group through this process. We’ve had a bunch of meals together and as the new guy that’s really important to build that relationship.’’

Isaac damages could cost Entergy up to $500 million -

Damages from Hurricane Isaac, the slow-moving, Category 1 storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers across Louisiana, are expected to cost Entergy Corp. as much as $500 million, the New Orleans utility giant said Tuesday. Isaac, which lingered over New Orleans for more than two days, gave Louisiana's electrical grid its first real test since 2008's Hurricane Gustav left much of the state in the dark.

LaPlace cleanup Saturday
DAVID GRUNFELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE With the life contents on the curb, a statue of Jesus at the LeBlanc's residence 709 St. Andrews Blvd. in LaPlace Saturday September 15, 2012. Hurricane Isaac cleanup continues in LaPlace gallery (8 photos)

Next to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was the second-worst storm Entergy has dealt with in New Orleans, with more than 126,000 homes and businesses left without power.

Over all, it was the fourth-highest number of electricity customers to lose power during a storm in Entergy's history, including more than 700,000 across Louisiana, according to the utility.

Now, weeks later, Entergy estimates the damage to its electrical facilities to be in the range of $400 to $500 million, including its territories in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. That figure puts the toll sustained by Entergy New Orleans, which provides electricity to about 160,000 customers on the east bank of Orleans Parish, at $50-to-$60 million; Entergy Louisiana, with customers between suburban New Orleans and Baton Rouge, racked up between $70-to-$90 million in damages, the utility said.

Extensive repairs from the 2008 storm season, which consisted of Gustav and Hurricane Ike, which followed shortly afterward, cost Entergy Louisiana $395.9 million, and it cost Entergy Gulf States, which serves areas between Baton Rouge and Texas, $236.3 million. The storms cost Entergy New Orleans $32 million.

Each utility will be on the hook for covering its storm-related expenses. Entergy also expects that its bottom line will take a hit from the widespread power outages that Isaac caused throughout southern Louisiana.

Four years apart, Gustav and Isaac followed similar paths, tracking the spine of the state's major transmission towers. But Isaac caused significantly less damage.

Gustav's 110 mph winds knocked out 13 of 14 major transmission lines connecting New Orleans to the rest of the state's power grid, whereas Isaac only claimed four.

And during Gustav, 11,800 utility poles were downed and 5,000 pole-mounted electrical transformers were damaged; during Isaac, about 4,500 poles and nearly 2,000 transformers were wrecked.

As city and utility officials continue to haggle over how much Orleans Parish residents will pay for electricity next year, final damage figures from Isaac may play a factor in whether rates go up or down, as the utility has sought to redirect a credit that customers now receive and use that money to boost its storm reserve.

In Isaac's wake, city and utility officials will have to assess damage estimates and look over any money spent from the storm reserve as part of the response, a standard move after a storm. Just more than $16 million was in the storm reserve at the end of August.

NOPD seeking driver who may have information on Uptown sex crime -

New Orleans police are searching for the driver of a truck shown in a surveillance photograph released Tuesday who they believe may know something about a sex crime Uptown. The incident happened in July.

truck.JPGPolice say the driver of this truck may have information on an incident in which a man broke into a woman's Broadway Street apartment and performed a sex act on himself while she was sleeping.

On July 22, a woman sleeping alone in her apartment in the 1000 block of Broadway awoke to find a man standing at the foot of her bed performing a sex act on himself. The woman screamed and the man ran out the back door, police spokesman Officer Garry Flot said in a news release.

Police described the perpetrator as about 6-feet, 1-inch tall, erighing 200 pounds and wearing a blue shirt.

Police said the driver of the truck was in the area at the time of the incident and may know something about the crime. The driver is not a suspect, police said.

Anyone with information that can help locate the truck or the driver of this truck can call Crime Stoppers at 504.822.1111.