Ah, November. We can finally sigh with relief after an enormously hot summer in New Orleans and get on with enjoying what this city has to offer in abundance: music, food, entertainment, art.
Three musical events take prominence this month in New Orleans: The Sixth Annual New Orleans Artists Against Hunger & Homelessness Concert (November 10 at the UNO Kiefer Arena); the Contemporary Arts Center’s Sixth Annual Music Festival; Soundscape (November 23-December 1 at the newly opened CAC, 900 Camp Street); and the JazzTimes Convention (November 28-December 1 at the Fairmont Hotel).
The NOAAHH concert will feature a sparkling array of stars this year: Little Feat, Joan Baez, the Neville Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Maria Muldaur, Rita Coolidge and special guests, Ed Bradley and Quincy Jones. Jones owns local Fox affiliate WNOL television. The price of admission (tickets are $17.50 and $20, with VIP tickets at $75) should be genuinely worth it for the opportunity to see him alone, assuming he performs at the concert. Purchase of a VIP ticket includes refreshments, a concert t-shirt and “an opportunity to meet the artists.” Ticketmaster (522-5555) is vending general admission tickets. Call 861-5830 for VIP seating. There’s also the Hard Rock Cafe “Rock-N-Roll” Run (1-mile & 5K) the morning of November 10 that starts at the Hard Rock (418 N. Peters) at 8:30 a.m. The run also includes a “Little Rockers” walk. Runners/walkers will go the course through the French Quarter. A similar event will take place in San Diego November 24. Both events benefit the hungry and homeless in the city.
The stunningly renovated Contemporary Arts Center presents its Sixth Annual Soundscape music festival with a series of events that includes chamber music and jazz featuring local artists Tony Dagradi, Kidd Jordan and “Red” Tyler, among others. The String Trio of New York is the featured group on November 30. Call the CAC at (504) 523-3800 for ticket information.
JazzTimes Magazine convenes representatives from virtually all spheres of the jazz community at its conference at the Fairmont Hotel November 28-December 1. The convention, themed “The Family of Jazz-Unification in the ’90s”, will feature local jazz master Ellis Marsalis as guest of honor, Dr. Billy Taylor, one of the nation’s foremost jazz educators, presents the “State of Jazz” address and Bruce Lundvall, the keynote address. There will be workshops and seminars all day, with performances by Ellis Marsalis, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Rebirth Brass Band, Donald Harrison, Sr. and the Guardians of the Flame, Vernell Brown, Jr., Danny Barker and his Jazz Hounds, the Dukes of Dixieland, the George French Band with Alvin “Red” Tyler and Germaine Bazzle, Donald Harrison, Jr., Earl Turbinton and Willie Tee, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Treme Brass Band and many others. The convention also includes an Artists Showcase, Record Fair (December 1) and trade show. A major event for lovers of the jazz genre. Get the latest schedule of events and registration information from JazzTimes at (301) 588-4114 or (800) 666-1300.
Lovers of jazz should also check out Artists’ Showroom’s (612 Dumaine Street) display of portraits by famed painter Noel Rockmore. Rockmore’s work includes portraits of some of the greatest traditional jazz artists ever to come out of New Orleans. Gallery owner Alice Berry is an expert on the subject, and has one of the largest collections of Rockmore’s pieces in the country. Rockmore’s works were painted as the musicians played, so there’s a unique movement and life to the paintings that’s reminiscent of the music itself.
Another event that many New Orleanians (and visitors alike) will want to check out is Back to the Beach, a weekend-long event (November 16-18) that will benefit the clean-up of one of the city’s most valuable resources: Lake Pontchartrain. The event will include a fest of food and music that, hopefully, will harken back to the days when Pontchartrain Beach and the lake played such a more important role in the recreational life of the Crescent City. Performers include Oliver Morgan, the Nobles, and Bobby Cure & The Summertime Blues, among others. Call Save the Lake Foundation at 836-2215 for more information.
Another event that kicks off the Christmas season is the absolutely wonderful Christmas in the Oaks in City Park. This, we can say without reservation, is one of the most beautiful holiday celebrations in the country. During the 30-day event (beginning November 23), City Park, a 1,500-acre urban park, is transformed into a “holiday wonderland.” The huge live oaks in the park are brilliantly lighted; there are displays of Christmas trees by the city’s foremost interior designers; special displays for kids are featured. Drive-through or walking tours are available, and we promise you, if you’ve never experienced the sparkling snowflake flurries, mammoth stars and other exhibits, you don’t know what you’re missing. Visitors will also experience another treat this year: drive-through tourists will be offered a Christmas tape that features selections from a new album from Epic, A Creole Christmas. The album, out in mid-November, has local performers Pete Fountain, Dr. John, Aaron Neville, Johnny Adams, Irma Thomas and many, many others. Call City Park (483-9415) for more info on the event.
Speaking of albums, blues-beltin’ mama Marva Wright has a fine new blues album (Heartbreakin’ Woman) out this month on Tipitina’s Records, the first (and long-awaited) album for Ms. Wright. (Writer Rick Coleman gives an in-depth look at the blues scene this month in OffBeat, as well).
Another set of tracks zydeco fans have waited for is the new album by Terrance Simien (Zydeco on the Bayou, on Restless Records). See Geraldine Wyckoff’s review this month.
The New Orleans Film & Video Festival commences its festival on November 1 with screenings of new work by local filmmakers Neil Alexander, Ladd P. Ehrlinger, Marika Menutis, and Tom Thurman. Menutis’ new film Maggie May will premiere on November 3 at 8 p.m. at Loyola’s Bobet Hall, and on November 4 at the Canal Place Cinema at 4:30 p.m. The fest presents its fundraiser, “Hollywood on the Mississippi,” at 820 Marigny Street on November 2 from 6-8 p.m. Call the festival at 523-3818 for more info on the festival itself.
On the club scene in New Orleans, a new player appears with Mudbug Saloon, an unbelievably huge dance club/honky-tonk (60,000 square feet!) on the West Bank at 2024 Belle Chasse Highway. Manager Mike Holmes tells us the club holds 3,000 people, and that they will host concerts for fans of country, Cajun and zydeco music. One-ton crawfish boils every Sunday afternoon will be a regular feature. For you East Bankers who don’t often venture to the other bank, the club is only about a 10-minute drive from the Crescent City Connection. Call the club at 392-0202 for more info on the opening date and music schedules.