Greetings, gates, and welcome back to another heaping helping of Spare Parts. I just returned from New Yawk City and the Louisiana influences were all over the place. I caught a great set by the Bluerunners at CBGB’s in the Bowery. Then I spent some time at the American Booksellers Association Convention where I just missed getting a free autographed copy of Anne Rice’s latest novel, The Witching Hour. Then, just before I got on the train called The City of New Orleans (Amtrak really does have a train that goes by that name!), I noticed that the Neville Brothers were about to play a big show in Central Park to help raise money for the summer Free Concerts in the Park series. That’s one helluva series by the way. Last summer I was up there in July and caught local producing wizard and funky music maker Mark Bingham with his band sharing a bill with that granddaddy of beat poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti…for FREE!
FESTIVALS, WE GOT FESTIVALS DEPT…I just thumbed through a 55-page guide to the various festivals around our state for 1991 and was amazed to find two missing from the 18 listed for July alone. On July 14th, I’m heading up north to Saline for their Watermelon Festival. I’ve got a fetishistic appetite for watermelon and I visited the beautiful laid-back burg of Saline in May, so I’m looking forward to a real watermelon orgy come mid-July. Then later in the month I’m heading south to Grand Isle for the Tarpon Rodeo. My friend Caroline took me down to Grand Isle in April and I heard legendary stories about this bash, which takes place in late July. For exact dates you can call Tijo at his rockin’ bar The Tarpon Lounge: (504) 787-3388.
Other fests that looked tempting as I perused the guide looking for details about the two fore-mentioned basholas are the Louisiana Catfish Festival in Des Allemands on July 13-14—I wanna see the catfish skinning demonstration at that one—and Lake Charles is having their 4th annual Cajun French Music and Food Festival on July 20-21, which will be a guaranteed good time, especially for you Cajun two-step maniacs. Then from July 26-August 4, I’m bound for Baton Rouge to spectate the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship, which will feature “mass ascension and competing flights twice daily with over 150 balloons.” Hey dude, dig those crazy mass ascensions!!
MOVIES AND BREWSKIS DEPT…If you like mixing your movie viewing with a cocktail or two you oughta visit Movie Pitchers at 3941 Bienville in Mid City. They show second run movies at $2.00 a pop, and you can buy beer, mixed drinks, sandwiches, popcorn and other assorted munchies while you’re enjoying the silver screen entertainment. Call 488-8881 for schedule info.
NEW CLUBS ON THE SCENE DEPT…DeNovos, once a trendy St. Charles Avenue restaurant is now a trendy St. Charles Avenue club, with local contemporary jazz artists like Michael Ward and James Rivers as regulars.
Owners of the Cat’s Meow on Bourbon are reopening the venerable Lucky Pierre’s just a few steps away at 735 Bourbon. But it won’t be quite the same—the new place is to be a “World Beat” dance club with an environmental theme, and will appropriately enough be called Lucky Pierre’s World Beat. The courtyard is being renovated into a multi-level extravaganza of light and sound…reggae and Caribbean dance tunes will blast forth nightly, with some possible live music upstairs. The famous front room will remain an up-scale piano bar, with a wild jungle theme-painted floor.
Blues aficionados will be glad to hear that they can get a regular dose of their kind of music at Rhythms at 201 Bourbon Street. The club was originally the Bourbon Street Gospel and Blues Tent and has gone from an occasional blues act to having blues seven nights a week, with the likes of J Monque D’, Marva Wright, and Breeze and the New Orleans Allstars.
Speaking of revivals, Storyville has been purchased by local entrepreneur Marc Winston along with partners Taylor Hackford (of movie direction fame) and Chris Blackwell (founder of Island Records). The trio plans to reopen the place in the fall as combination comedy-music club, after renovations.
Co-owner George Hartman is also reopening the Warehouse District’s answer to Tipitina’s, the New Orleans Entertainment Hall (in a previous life, the New Orleans Music Hall at 907 S. Peters). The place is huge (it hold 1,200) and is air-conditioned to the max, so it should be a great place to hear music seven nights a week, as the owners plan. A grand opening is set for August.
Some of the most exciting news yet is the Labor Day opening of Charlie B’s, music entrepreneur Charlie Bering’s baby. This will be the city’s only showcase club where we’ll (finally) be able to hear the likes of performers like Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock and local talent like Allen Toussaint and Fats Domino (as well as local jazz, R&B and blues artists) in a comfortable and intimate club setting (yeah, we can sit down and listen to music). Those of us who pine for Lu & Charlie’s (also a Bering club) and Rosy’s are ecstatic. The club’s located at 835 Convention Center Blvd. (right across from the Convention Center and a half-block away from Mulate’s), so it will be pretty convenient for visitors to hear good ole New Orleans music. Locals can park safely in the Fulton Street garage or Riverwalk, both a half a block away, or on the street. Welcome back, Charlie!
Rumor has it that Metairie’s best rock club, the Howlin’ Wolf, is also on the move to the Warehouse District. So move over Uptown, soon us down-towners will have it all: rock, blues, jazz, R&B, Cajun!
Remember, keep us posted on what y’all want to see in this column by writing to me c/o OffBeat. ‘Til September…