On the second and fourth Monday each month, the 300 South Main Art Gallery sponsors Wine Down Mondays, an event featuring an opportunity to sample fine wines paired with food offerings, a DJ and live music. This past Monday night, DJ Kojak was providing the recorded sounds, and Memphis drummer Otis Logan’s superb band 4 Soul was providing the live grooves, ably aided and abetted by ubiquitous Memphis trombonist Suavo J, straight from his second-place award in the International Blues Challenge with the Ghost Town Blues Band. The atmosphere was just right for the grown and sexy set eager for something to do on a very cold Monday night after work.
On Thursday January 23, 2014, New Orleans-born Memphis rapper Preauxx held a listening party for his upcoming EP “Die Willing” at Ardent Studios in Midtown. The event gave many in the Memphis music community an opportunity to hear what he has been working on, and was also something of a pep rally for the artist’s Pledge Music campaign toward the scheduled Spring release of his debut album “Forever. I Will.” The larger room with a DJ was a festive party room, while the engineer’s booth was the place where Preuaxx curated his new music for critical listening. The new songs sound great, and the whole event was a lot of fun. The “Die Willing” EP is available for download on Preauxx’s internet website here.
My homeboy Darren is the bass drummer for the awesome TBC Brass Band, so when he suggested that we grab a breakfast on the West Bank, I was eager, except that I had never spent much time in Algiers, and didn’t know much of what was over there. Fortunately, Yelp suggested a place called Tout de Suite, which proved to be one of those cool corner breakfast cafes in a quiet neighborhood called Algiers Point. It’s mostly a coffee bar, but you can get omelettes or traditional breakfasts with bacon and eggs, and the environment is relaxing and comfortable. After breakfast, we strolled around the vicinity, taking pictures of the kind of really cool buildings that pop up only in New Orleans neighborhoods. Especially cool were the boarded-up Rita’s Bar which had once been the home of the Mohawk Hunters, one of the Black Indian gangs of New Orleans, and the Manicure Record Shop, home of the Westbank Steppers, one of the social aid and pleasure clubs.
After my dinner at Acme Oyster Bar in Metairie, I headed across the street to something called the New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Company, which was just about to close but hadn’t closed yet. Having tried Morning Call and Cafe du Monde many times, I was eager to see what was different about this newer place, and I soon found it, in the form of a sign on the wall: “Home of the original Chocolate beignet.” Well, perhaps the only thing I like better than beignets is chocolate, so I had to try it. How was it? Decent. What was it? Basically some beignet dough to which had been added Hershey’s cocoa powder. Nothing all that fancy, but good nonetheless. So all in all I was pleased. The beignets are good, the cafe au lait was good, the parking is free. What didn’t I like? They close at 10 PM. If only they were open 24 hours a day!
New Orleans Coffee and Beignet Company
3005 Veterans Memorial Boulevard
Metairie, LA 70005
New Orleans hip-hop artist and activist Truth Universal may not be one of New Orleans’ most popular rap artists, but he is certainly one of the best. He appeared at the Recording Academy celebration in conjunction with cultural guardian and percussionist Luther Gray and with notable New Orleans DJ E.F. Cuttin. His amazing show opened with a libation ceremony for the ancestors, including poet Amiri Baraka who died recently.
Robin Barnes is a relatively new neo-soul singer in New Orleans, backed by an excellent band known as the Soul Heirs. Her performance at the Recording Academy event on January 13 at the U.S. Mint was especially impressive, as was the musicianship of her band members.
Immediately after Black Water Bride, Valcour Records’ artists Bonsoir Catin appeared. They are an all-female band playing traditional Acadian music from Lafayette, Louisiana, and like all Valcour artists, they are really good.
The service region for the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy also includes Shreveport, which is a city with a recording past and which seems to be experiencing something of a musical rebirth since the opening of Brian and Brady Blade’s Blade Studios. Black Water Bride is one of Shreveport’s hot up-and-coming new bands, blending elements of country, rock, soul and other Louisiana music styles, and they were a natural opening act for our Recording Academy party at the Old Mint.
The Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy (formerly NARAS) is a large, regional chapter that includes the city of New Orleans, so one a year our chapter board meeting is held in New Orleans. This year, after the meeting on January 13, we held a Membership Celebration at the Old U. S. Mint in the French Quarter, which featured food, drink and great live music from several bands and artists. Attendees included the chapter’s executive director Jon Hornyak, chapter president and legendary Memphis producer Boo Mitchell, chapter trustee and Memphis artist Susan Marshall, board member and producer Scott Bomar and folk artist/board member Shannon McNally.