Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mute Math

I am gradually getting introduced to New Orleans music. I love the jazz, but I also love the more alternative and rock sounds the local musicians are playing.
Recently, the Coats' introduced me to Mute Math. Love the music! Also, the videos that the band releases on their youtube channel are very fun to watch.
For music videos I recommend Typical which can be viewed as the official video or even more amazing as a live performance.
Now, I recommend watching the video, than the live performance because you will be amazed with how they are able to recreate the video live.
For a fun vlog, check out Paper Darren.
Now their debut album came out last year so they aren't new, but I have not heard of them so I thought I would share them with y'all. I just read that the band has a song on the new Twilight soundtrack, so keep you ears open for them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Manon Lescaut

Tonight I went to the opera, so exciting!
My friend Ellen from work informed me a couple days ago that dress rehearsals were free to attend and today at work she informed me tonight was the dress rehearsal for Manon Lescaut. All in all I was pretty stocked to be there since 1) this was my first opera experience and 2) it was in Italian with English subtitles which means I got to practice my Italian!
The performance was amazing, I can't understand how people can sing so beautifully. The story-line, however, did not excite me. Manon is this young woman who, on her way to a convent, meets a young student, des Grieux, and they fall in love after about 1 second of knowing each other. Now, I'm usually a fan of romances, but the character of Manon makes you crazy mad. Her and des Grieux run away together to Parigi (Paris) at the end of Act One. When Act Two starts up, Manon is living a life of wealth with an old man named Geronte who fancied her in Act One and had made arrangements to be with only to have her abducted by des Grieux. Turns out, the life of poverty with the young student didn't do it for Manon so she went with the wealthy option of Geronte. Yet, she still longs for des Grieux and when her brother brings him to her place she begs him to take her back. The poor sap says yes but when Geronte discover the two together he calls the police to have Manon taken away. Manon is too concerned with gathering all her precious jewels to escape and so the police have her removed. about greedy, clearly jewels have a bigger place in her heart than love for des Grieux. Thus ends Act Two. Well, Act Three follows with des Grieux plotting to have Manon rescued from banishment to America (Louisiana to be exact). What is this guys problem, didn't he learn from Act Two that she can't be happy in poverty with him? Well, he fails and rescuing her but does convince the Captain to let him go along on the trip to America.
Now, I think the production I saw might be the abridged version because Act Four begins with a lot of subtitles telling us about how they lived peacefully in America together until Manon's beauty got them in trouble. The Governor's son desired to steal her away from des Grieux and after a bitter fight which ends with des Grieux killing the son (well, he fears he is dead but we don't actually know if he dies) the two flee. When Act Four opens Manon and des Grieux are roaming aimlessly through the barren and uneven country starved and dehydrated. *SPOILER ALERT* Manon can carry on no longer and sings of her sad sad story. She sings, and sings, you keep thinking, "Oh this must be it, she is going to take her last breath" but then she comes back for some more. She FINALLY dies and the play ends. My friend tells me most operas have the prolonged death scene, so I am now prepared for that I suppose.
All in all, it felt great to be back at the theatre. I have been longing for some performance for my enjoyment and now feel my thirst has been quenched for a month or two.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Art for Art's Sake

Art for Art's Sake was this weekend. I went to the Uptown celebration that is free, and close to home. Basically, a bunch of art galleries and boutiques on Magazine Street have open houses where they serve wine and hor' devours, and some hire bands to come and perform. So, imagine walking down the street at night with live jazz music on every street corner and wine in hand, as you stop by different art galleries to admire the beauty and soak in the life. It was so much fun. After a bad day at work, this was just what I needed to unwind. I'm realizing the city is a very "come as you are" kind of place, very laid back. I saw people dressed up in heels and dresses and people wearing t-shirts, jeans and flip flops, and no one looked out of place. There were whole families, elderly couples, young couples, singles of all ages, and near new-born babies. My favorite memory was seeing 10-12 year-old boys pouring wine into the glasses of 50-60 year-old women. That is how they do things in New Orleans.

Rue de la Course

Did I mention that this is the very first cafe, scratch that it is the very first business I ever visited in New Orleans? In Summer 2006 when I came down here for summer project this is the cafe where my small group leader took me and the other two girls in my small group for our first meeting.
The people are not super friendly, I'm told it was once on campus but the University did not extend the contract because the business was not student friendly.
The coffee is pretty strong, and the facilities are great with fee wifi and two public restrooms. As I said before it is a little pricey but I am realizing that is normal for New Orleans coffee places. How I miss moderately priced high quality coffee from the west coast.

The Neutral Ground

I mentioned this place before, the coffeehouse with the open mic night.
After an evening in the French Quarter, I concluded the night with a trip to The Neutral Ground where Craig Paddock was performing. Another friend from church, Craig is an amazing musician. He plays a style of music he sometimes refers to as sock (soul and rock). He has a voice that doesn’t match his appearance, his sound is soulful and at times raspy. He is a great performer; he really knows how to talk to the crowd. His performances aren’t such that he just goes through the music, he stops and talks to the audience, shares some jokes or stories. He plays a variety of songs, some he has written and some covers of more famous musicians. I am told he was once in a Beatles cover band, although they never made it to their first show. This does explain why he performed Beatles’ songs both times I have seen him. This night he even threw in some Sufjan, I appreciated this because not to long ago I was talking about him to someone I met in New Orleans and they had no idea who he was. For a minute, while Craig was singing Chicago I went back to Zellerbach Auditorium with Stephers, Molly, Caleb, Donna, Anna….I don’t in anyway want to compare Craig to Sufjan, because they are not same—Craig is one man playing guitar and Sufjan is an entire band and orchestra—I’m just beginning to appreciate more how powerful music can be at triggering memories.
Craig is awesome, check him out on Facebook or Myspace.

House of Blues

Friday October 3, I finally took a trip downtown! I’ve been to the French Quarter plenty of times as a tourist, but it took two months of living in New Orleans for me to go.
I went to the House of Blues where I met up with a lot of people from my church; we were all there to support someone from our church named Chase McCloud. Before that night I hadn’t heard any of his music, and to be honest the performance before him made me skeptical. The first band to play was a group named Horizon. Horizon is comprised of three angsty teen boys who look like every other high school boy in tight jeans and a t-shirt. And the kids at the House of Blues were so annoying. I don’t know how many times a little 13 year-old trampled on me. They all oozed with immaturity. They reminded me of how immature I was at that age, and it made me embarrassed for 13 year-old me. I was reminded of how my patience for teens gets smaller and smaller as I become older in age.
Chase McCloud is not a teenager and thankfully his music was angst-free. I was truly surprised with how much I enjoyed his music. I even bought a CD.
After HOB a group of us went to Crescent City Brewhouse for food.
I shared the buffalo wings with a friend, the wings were so good! They were not to spicy but had a slight kick, and were glazed with something involving nuts which added a slight sweetness. The appetizer only came with 6 wings, and sharing meant I only had three which in my opinion is not enough considering there deliciousness. After that I was still hungry so I got the vanilla ice cream dessert with praline pecan topping—SO GOOD! I’m discovering that I like anything with praline pecans and for me vanilla ice cream is one of my favorites, so combining the two is destined to work.
Some people I was with ordered the baked brie. I had some and it was pretty good. Brie is my current favorite when it comes to cheese, and I have not had any since I was back in Berkeley at Edith’s house. I went to Robert Fresh Market the other day and the cheese selection was big compared to the supermarkets I normally go to, but the brie was all packaged and fake looking. My stomach light up when I saw the cheese section and sank when I realized I would not be finding decent brie there. All that is to say that when we were at Crescent City I was delighted by the brie and the apple topping that came with it. My brie desire has been temporarily appeased.
The restaurant is kind of on the pricey side. Though the appetizers are affordable (the wings are $7.95) they don’t give you the satisfaction of a meal. Buying a couple appetizers and sharing would make it affordable and from what I sampled the appetizers are pretty good. I am told you can find coupons around the city for buy one get one free entrees, when you present an out of state license/ID.