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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Long weekend ahead

I'm taking off for a long weekend so this is my final post until Monday. Originally, I had plans to skip town and visit my good friend who moved to Austin, Texas, last fall. However, my plans have shifted and I'll just relax at home this weekend.

I'll miss the weekend in Austin. It's easily my favorite southern city. With good music every night, beautiful scenery and outdoor activities, what's not to love?

Enjoy your weekend and check back here Monday.

The latest addition to our family

Since I was a little girl, I've always wanted a sister. But against all my wishes, I landed smack in the middle of two brothers -- Chris, who is approaching 28 and 15-year-old Taylor.

Taylor is my guy. He's the one I play Guitar Hero with for hours (he always takes it easy on me). If I want to play golf, he's always up for a round. If I want to watch a movie, he always lets me pick. He's always willing to goof off with me, but on the other hand he lets me lend him sisterly advice from time to time.

Chris often gives me a hard time, but he's also the first to defend me. He's my big brother and has always done a good job of looking after me. When I was sick with a migraine, Chris drove across town to my parents' house late at night to pick up medicine, drove back over to my house, gave it to me and waited until the meds kicked in and I'd fallen asleep before going home.

The picture above was taken on our vacation last summer. My stepmom, Amy, just wanted a nice picture of her three kids, and we couldn't stop clowning around long enough to give her anything suitable. This picture is all she got from our photos shoot. I'm not sure what I'm doing. Possibly illustrating how I could ring my brothers' necks sometimes. The three of us fight, bicker and tease each other to pieces, but our relationship is strong.

Last night, over dinner we added to the fold. My brother proposed to his girlfriend, Ashley Whittington, which means I'm finally getting the sister I've always wanted. No longer will the boys team up on me. No longer will I be teased on vacation about how long it takes me to straighten my hair and put on makeup. Now, I have an ally in Ashley.

She's hilarious, warm, caring and the perfect addition to our family.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More NKOTB news

Thanks to Ashley for sending me the latest news on the New Kids on the Block reunion first thing this morning. Get out your crimping irons and prepare to sling your neck-less T-shirts over one shoulder -- the rumors appear to be true! This story posted on
There's a new ballad on the block. Nearly 14 years after breaking up, the '90s boy band New Kids On The Block are back with a new ballad on their official Web site. The song (its name isn't revealed) plays over a promotional video for the band that says the Kids once had it all – a $1 billion in album sales, millions of fans, with music that "influenced a generation" – but then "walked away from it all." The video next teases the a comeback, asking: "Are you ready?" The song, a source says, was recorded by all five Kids last November in Orlando.
I'm thrilled at the news. I can see my girlfriends piling up in the car for a trip to Dallas to see this show (assuming it doesn't come to Bossier City). The last time we traveled to Dallas for a concert was for Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas. It wasn't a concert I would have been dying to see, but it was a blast with a few of the girls.
Anyway, check out the Web site. Tell me what you think of the new song/promo video. I don't think it really matters how good or bad the new material may be, nostalgia is what's going to sell these concert tickets. Just look at the Spice Girls. They didn't even record new music and their tour is selling out at each stop.
In addition to the new promo video, you can check out old videos from NKOTB. One video even features Donnie cruising around on his motorcycle! Eat your hearts out ladies! And please note, in the photo posted above Donnie's acid-washed jeans are tight rolled. Honestly, what's not to love.
I think if this concert comes here, we'll have to have a contest: The tightest tight-roller wins two free tickets to the show!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jazz Fest returns for full seven days

For the first time since 2005, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is returning for a full seven days of programming. Eleven stages will host a mix of rhythm & blues, rock, jazz, country, blues, gospel, world beat and more. The festival is scheduled for two weekends -- April 25-27 and May 1-4.

This will be the first year the festival has been fully rejuvenated since Hurricane Katrina. Jazz Fest will draw tens of thousands of fans each day and have an estimated $300 million economic impact on Louisiana. Quint Davis, producer/director of the event, said this year's festival will hold special meaning.

“In New Orleans, culture is a beacon for the rest of the community. When a trumpeter blows the right notes, we come together and dance. When a grand marshal steps, we step with him. Jazz Fest is trying to help lead the way in guiding New Orleans to complete recovery—culturally, economically and spiritually,” Davis said in a news release.

The festival be held from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. each day at the Fair Grounds Race Course.
A listing of hotels offering special Jazz Fest rates is posted at Tickets also are available at the site.

Check out the lineup. Take your time, it's a lot to digest.

Weekend One Music Lineup (April 25 - 27)

Friday, April 25

Buckwheat Zydeco, Sheryl Crow, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Burning Spear, Ozomatli with Chali 2na, Lizz Wright, Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Terence Simien & Zydeco Experience, Leo Nocentelli’s “Rare Gathering” feat. Bernie Worrell, Doug Wimbish & Will Calhoun, Doyle Bramhall with C.C. Adcock & the Louisiana Marquis, Ellis Marsalis, Paul Porter of the Legendary Christianaires, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, Barbara Lynn, Theresa Andersson Group, Banu Gibson & New Orleans Hot Jazz, The Iguanas, The New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Twangorama, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, Zydepunks, Vivaz!, Shamarr Allen, Zion Trinity, Otra, Kim Carson, Moov of Martinique, Kustbandet of Sweden, Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Leah Chase, Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective, Rosalie “Lady Tambourine” Washington, Jesse McBride, Bonsoir Catin, J. Monque’D Blues Band, Bamboula 2000, Paky Saavedra’s Bandido, Jamil Sharif’s New Orleans Jazz Professors, Voices of Distinction, Pastor Sean T. Elder & the Mt. Hermon BC Mass Choir, Creole Wild West and Semolian Warriors Mardi Gras Indians, Joe Hall, Rufus “Rip” Wimberly & the Dreamers, Brice Kapel of the Togo, Amina Figarova Group of The Netherlands, Jonno & Bayou Deville, Andrew Hall’s Society Brass Band, Real Untouchables Brass Band, June Gardner, Val & Love Alive Fellowship Choir with the Dimensions of Faith, Teatro Alpargata of Argentina, Family Ties and Big Nine SAPCs, Hazel & the Delta Ramblers, Smitty Dee’s Brass Band, McDonogh #35 Gospel Choir, Gregg Martinez, Keep N it Real and Single Ladies SAPCs…

Saturday, April 26

Dr. John, Billy Joel, Keyshia Cole, O.A.R., The Count Basie Orchestra feat. Patti Austin, Cowboy Mouth, Cupid, James Cotton, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Trinitee 5:7, Wayne Toups & Zydecajun, Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters, Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, The Imagination Movers, Ponderossa Stomp Revue feat. Tammy Lynn, Archie Bell, Roy Head, and Dennis Binder, Big Jay McNeely, Warren Storm w/ Willie Tee & the Cypress Band, NewBirth Brass Band, Astral Project, Davell Crawford Singers, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, DJ Bomshell, Eddie Bo, Benjy Davis Project, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, Tricia "Teedy" Boutté & Ytre Suløens Jass-Ensemble of Norway, Mahogany Brass Band, Germaine Bazzle, Bobby Lounge, Tribute to George Lewis feat. Dr. Michael White and Tommy Sancton, Tribute to Wilson “Willie Tee” and Earl Turbinton, Big Chief Peppy & the Golden Arrows, Sonny Bourg, Big Blue Marble, PJ Morton Band, Hadley Castille, Jeremy & the Zydeco Hot Boyz, Po’ Henry & Tookie, Rockie Charles & the Stax of Love, Carol Fran, 101 Runners, The Original Last Straws, Tyronne Foster & the Arc Singers, Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Berklee College of Music Jazz Ensemble, Nine Times and Single Men SAPCs, The Electrifying Crown Seekers, Golden Comanche and Chief Iron Horse & the Black Seminole Mardi Gras Indians, Xavier Jazz Ensemble, Connie Jones’ Crescent City Jazz Band, Kayla Woodson with Louisiana Lightning, NORD Crescent City Lights Youth Theater, First Emmanuel BC Choir, The Worship Squad, Unstoppable Gospel Creators, NOCCA Jazz Ensemble, The RRAAMS Drum and Dance, Lady Jetsetters, Dumaine Gang and Divine Ladies SAPCs, Red White & Blue Mardi Gras Indians…

Sunday, April 27

Irma Thomas, Tim McGraw, Al Green, Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, Cassandra Wilson, Delbert McClinton, Del McCoury, Pete Fountain, Byron Cage with Kim Burrell, Voices of the Wetlands Allstars, Jeremy Davenport, Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue, Hot 8 Brass Band, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Roy Young, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Nicholas Payton, Davell Crawford’s New Orleans R & B Orchestra, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone's Harmonica Revue, The Throw Back Jamm feat. Joe Blakk, UNLV, MC T. Tucker, Dolemite, BustDown, and Cheeky Blakk, Rob Wagner and Hamid Drake, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, Tim Laughlin, Jo “Cool” Davis, Mamadou Diabate of Mali, Little Freddie King, Jambalaya, Leroy Jones, Willis Prudhomme & Zydeco Express, Wilberforce University Choir, Kenny Bill Stinson, Paulette Wright, Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Egg Yolk Jubilee, Midnite Disturbers, David Egan, Lars Edegran’s New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, Furious Five, Untouchables and Big Steppers SAPCs, UNO Jazz Ensemble, Shades of Praise, Michael Ward, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Lionel Ferbos & the Palm Court Jazz Band, Carrollton Hunters and Flaming Arrows Mardi Gras Indians, Gregg Stafford’s Jazz Hounds, Nineveh BC Choir, Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, AsheSon, VisionQuest Chorale feat. Maurette Brown Clark, N’Fungola Sibo West African Dance Company, Percussion Inc., Patrice Fisher & Arpa feat. Angel Rios of Honduras, Craig Adams & Higher Dimensions of Praise, Olympia Aid, New Look and The First Division SAPCs, Kilts of Many Colours, Percussion Inc., Ninth Ward Navajo and Cherokee Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Colleen Salley…

Weekend Two Music Lineup (May 1 - 4)

Thursday, May 1

Randy Newman, Widespread Panic, Tower of Power, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Bettye LaVette, Gene “Duke of Earl” Chandler, Deacon John, Donald Harrison, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ruby Wilson, Luther Kent & Trickbag, Porter, Batiste, & Stoltz, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, The Lee Boys, Fredy Omar con su Banda, Maurice Brown, Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove, Creole Zydeco Farmers, Walter Payton & Filé Gumbo, Music Makers’ Relief Foundation’s Blues Review featuring Boo Hanks, Macavine Hayes and Eddie Kirkland, Hot Club of New Orleans, Topsy Chapman’s Tribute to Dinah Washington, John Ellis feat. Jason Marsalis, New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy, Philip Manuel's tribute to Nat King Cole, Dukes of Dixieland, Dillard University Jazz Ensemble, Ernie Vincent & the Top Notes, Panorama Jazz Band, Mighty Chariots of Fire, Kerry Grombacher, Codac, Dizzy, Betsy McGovern & the Poor Clares, John Lee & the Heralds of Christ, Mark Braud, Joe Torregano, God’s House Westbank Cathedral Choir, Billy Iuso & the Restless Natives, The Melody Clouds, TBC Brass Band, Tony Bazley, Heritage School of Music, Small Souljas Brass Band, The Golden Wings, Red Hawk and Geronimo Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Culu Children’s Traditional African Dance Company, Charles Jackson & the Jackson Travelers, Bon Temp Roulez and VIP Ladies SAPCs, Olayella Daste, David & Roselyn, Second Mt. Carmel Gospel Choir, Basin Street Sheiks…

Friday, May 2

Art Neville, Stevie Wonder, John Prine, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Richard Thompson, The John Butler Trio, John Hammond, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave., Marva Wright & the BMWs, Terence Blanchard & the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Papa Grows Funk, Sunpie’s Tribute to Clifton Chenier, Zigaboo Modeliste, The Jackson Southernaires, The Lee Boys, Bonerama, The Bad Plus, John Boutté, Soul Rebels, Ingrid Lucia, Coco Robicheaux & Spiritland, Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet, Chubby Carrier, Bluerunners, Wanda Rouzan, Driskill Mountain Boys, Ann Savoy’s Sleepless Knights, New Orleans Jazz Vipers feat. Sophie Lee, Stoney B & Grampa Elliot, Gina Forsyth & the Malvinas, Clive Wilson & the New Orleans Serenaders feat. Butch Thompson, New Wave Brass Band, Tuba Woodshed feat. Matt Perrine and Kirk Joseph, Belton Richard & the Musical Aces, Eve’s Lucky Planet, Larry Garner with Henry Gray, Ritmo Caribeño, New Orleans Jazz Ramblers, Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, Betty Winn & One A-Chord, Lyle Henderson & Emmanuel, Kid Simmons’ Local International Allstars, Pinettes Brass Band, D.L. Menard & the Louisiana Aces, Legacy – the students of Alvin Batiste, Greater Antioch Gospel Choir, New Orleans Mardi Gras Rhythm Indian Section, Ebenezer BC Radio Choir, Loyola University Jazz Ensemble, Casa Samba, The Smooth Family, Eulenspeigel Puppets of Iowa, Original Big Seven and Original Four SAPCs, McMain High School Gospel Choir, Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors, New Orleans School of Circus Arts and ISL, Gospel Inspirations of Boutte, Rosedean Choir of South Africa, Scene Boosters and Old N Nu Fellas SAPCs…

Saturday, May 3

Marcia Ball, Jimmy Buffett, Diana Krall, Steel Pulse, The Roots, Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. & the Greater St. Stephens Mass Choir, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Henry Butler, Aaron Neville’s Gospel Soul, John Mooney & Bluesiana, the subdudes, Rockin’ Dopsie & the Zydeco Twisters, New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, Ruthie Foster, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Savoy Center of Eunice Saturday Cajun Jam, Charmaine Neville, The Dixie Cups, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, James Andrews, Dr. Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band feat. Thais Clark, Lillian Boutté, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Stephanie Jordan, War Chief Juan & Young Fire, Pine Leaf Boys, Bionik Brown, Treme Brass Band, New Orleans Blues Serenaders, Spencer Bohren, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Roddie Romero & the Hub City Allstars, Lil’ Buck Sinegal feat. Rudy Richard, Feufollet, Pinstripe Brass Band, Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Tribute to Max Roach feat. Herlin Riley, Jason Marsalis, and Shannon Powell, Tondrae, Chappy, Danza feat. Evan Christopher and Tom McDermott, Beyond Measure, Lil Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers, Rumba Buena, Rocks of Harmony, Guitar Lightnin’ Lee, St. Joseph the Worker Mass Choir, Big Chief Ke Ke & Comanche Hunters and White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Leviticus Gospel Singers, Tulane University Jazz Ensemble, Secondline Jammers, New Generation and Undefeated Divas SAPCs, Trouble Nation and Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Hunters, Archdiocese of New Orleans Community Choir, Bester Singers, Donald Lewis, Young Guardians of the Flame, Stephen Foster’s Mid City Workshop Alumni Ensemble, Westbank Steppers, Valley of the Silent Men and Pigeon Town Steppers SAPCs, Golden Blade and Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians…

Sunday, May 4

The Neville Brothers, Santana, Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, The Raconteurs, Dianne Reeves, Galactic, The Radiators, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Derek Trucks Band, Keb’ Mo’, Rebirth Brass Band, Sonny Landreth, Snooks Eaglin, John P. Kee & the New Life Community Choir, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Tribute to Mahalia Jackson feat. Irma Thomas, Marva Wright and Rachelle Richard, Vernel Bagneris: Jelly Roll & Me, Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys, Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk, DJ Captain Charles, Kenny Neal, Sherman Washington & the Zion Harmonizers, Bob French & the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Elysian Fieldz, The New Orleans Bingo Show!, Benny Grunch & the Bunch, Goldman Thibodeaux & the Lawtell Playboys, Jonathan Batiste, Rotary Downs, George French, Chris Ardoin & Nu Step, Guitar Slim Jr., Grupo Fantasma, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Ovi-G & the Froggies, The Revealers, Pfister Sisters, Salvador Santana Band, William Smith’s Tribute to Kid Sheik, Eddie Boh Paris aka Chops, SUBR Jazz Ensemble, Chris Clifton, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Ensemble, New Orleans Spiritualettes, Zulu Male Ensemble, The Jazz Jam, Tribute to Tuba Fats, Highsteppers Brass Band, Black Eagles, Hardhead Hunters and Apache Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Lady Rollers and CTC Steppers SAPCs, Guyland Leday with Family & Friends Zydeco Band, Young Traditional New Orleans Brass Band, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, Wild Apaches, Young Magnolias and Black Feathers Mardi Gras Indians, Original Prince of Wales and the Original New Orleans Lady Buckjumpers SAPCs, Tornado Brass Band, Judy Stock, Minister Jai Reed…

Monday, January 28, 2008

Do they still have the 'Right Stuff?'

There's a rumored reunion that will be more exciting than the Spice Girls if it actually happens. Talk of the New Kids on the Block getting back together sends an arrow straight through my heart. I had it all -- the albums, the posters, the dolls, the T-shirts, pillow cases, etc. These are the heartthrobs of my generation!
So, what do you think of a reunion? As the article I've attached (below) mentions, this isn't their first time around the block. They are no longer "new" or "kids," so will their one-time loyal fans be able to embrace those sugar sweet pop anthems that once made us scream and cry?
I'm all in if Donnie promises to wear his signature Homeboy T-shirt ... and if they get Debbie Gibson to open the show. Or better yet, Futuro Boots.

Read more on the reunion talk here.

Mardi Gras means fun for all ages

I love Mardi Gras. Twenty minutes after the parade, the beads I scream my head off to catch have absolutely no value to me but the excitement is trying to nab as many throws as I can.

Last year, I attended the parade with my pal L.J. and her two nephews John Collier and Cayden. The boys are adorable, even though in the picture above they don't look nearly as excited as us to be at the parade. We held them in the air as floats passed and helped them grab as many toys and beads as we could. It was fun watching them have such a great time. It reminded me of when my family used to pack up and head out to the parade when we were kids.

This year, I covered the parade for the paper. I walked along the parade route and chatted with people about why they loved Mardi Gras in northwest Louisiana. After I'd done a lot of my interviews, I decided I would enjoy a bit of the parade with my friends. I met up with my best friend Kate and several others along the parade route and at the end of the parade I looked like Mr. T.

As one parade marcher passed me, dancing with his festive umbrella, he made his way over to our side of the street to put some beads around my neck and give me a kiss on the cheek. My friends went wild. It was a funny moment, only made more amusing by my friend Melissa's comment, "Oh and he gave you pearls."

Our friend Mark Crawford rode on the "M.A.S.H." float and tossed Kate and I tons of beads and two Mardi Gras dolls, which we're pictured with below. I have a great time at Mardi Gras each year. It always brings out the kid in me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend entertainment warms up

About once a week someone tells me,"Man, there's nothing to do in this town but go to the same ol' bars and talk to the same ol' people." I can sympathize, even though I happen to like hanging out at the same bars with the same people. But this weekend, there's no room to complain. Shreveporters, you will be entertained. Here's what's going on:

Krewe of Centaur's Wonderful World of Television parade
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: corner of Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway and Lake Street, Shreveport.
COST: free.

This weekends biggest event is the Krewe of Centaur parade. It's the first major parade weekend of the year and it should be exciting. Centaur's floats are decorated as favorite TV shows. The float pictured above represents "M.A.S.H."

Krewe of Barkus and Meoux pet parade
WHEN: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Riverview Park, Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway, downtown Shreveport.
COST: free for spectators. $10 per pet for parade marchers.

I refuse to spray paint my little guy, but Mr. Baxter and I are planning to make our first appearance at the pet parade. He'll be dressed down compared to a lot of dogs, I'm sure. But really, what's cuter than a miniature schnauzer in a red polo?

Craig Robinson
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Centenary Gold Dome, Centenary College, Shreveport.
COST: $10.

It's unfortunate that this show is scheduled during the Centaur parade because I'm sure a lot of people would love to see Craig Robinson's stand-up routine. A star on the hit show "The Office," Robinson grabs laughs as Darryl Philbin -- bully to Michael Scott(Steve Carell).
Whether you catch some beads or grab some laughs, enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reading and rock 'n' roll

Finishing a book has got to be one of my favorite feelings. You turn that final page, close the back flap, and for that one split second there is this feeling of completion. This summer, I started my second Chuck Klosterman read, "Killing Yourself to Live." I've always loved Klosterman's odd observations. Only a music writer could compare all of his past relationships to the members of KISS. It's so off the wall that I find his words hard to resist.

Chuck was my summer companion. For one week, I lounged on the beach with this book and read about 3/4 of Chuck's tale in between family fishing trips, jet skiing excursions and putt putt. But until a week or so ago, I'd left the other 1/4 hanging. I finished the book last night.
In "Killing Yourself to Live," Klosterman spends a little over two weeks in a rental car, driving across the country to visit the spots where famous rock stars have died. The concept of the book is that the tragic deaths of these musicians elevated their fame. Klosterman's journey fittingly ends in Seattle -- the location of Kurt Cobain's suicide. The book also reminded me of my visit to the grave of Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon.

I was in Lafayette, Ind., on loan to another newspaper for two weeks, when a fellow loaner told me that Hoon's grave was only 15 minutes from where we were staying. We hopped in the car, drove to the cemetery and walked around checking headstones in search of Shannon Hoon.
We'd walked through the upper part of the cemetery before making it to the far back corner, where we found Hoon's grave. Trinkets, notes, flowers, cigarettes, rocks and more were scattered on and around his grave. I'll never forget it.
In the far back corner of a dirt-road cemetery in rural Indiana, I was looking at the grave of one of the most legendary voices of the '90s. He was someone with so much promise and such a unique voice. It didn't feel like he belonged where he now and forever would be.

The headstone reads lyrics from Blind Melon's song "Change": I know we can't all stay here forever so I want to write my words on the face of today and they'll paint it."
This is why I've listened to almost nothing other than Blind Melon for the past week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Giant Bear returns to our neck of the woods

Giant Bear will return to Shreveport this Friday for a show at Jackrabbit Lounge. The performance will kick off two months of touring for the Tennessee band. The tour includes dates at South By Southwest, an appearance on My Old Kentucky Blog's Sirius Radio podcast and the International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis. The show starts at 10 p.m. and there's a $5 cover charge.

Following the tour Giant Bear will return to the Memphis' Sun Studio to record their follow-up to last year's self-titled LP.

Expect to see more national Indie acts in town in the coming months. Several bands are scheduling stops in Shreveport on their way to South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. Here's a previous write up on Giant Bear from when the group played here almost exactly a year ago.

Giant Bear blends genres

When Giant Bear combines rock, folk and funk with classical music they create a sound all their own called "orchestral funkability."

The Memphis, Tenn., band will stop tonight at Lil' Joe's Bottleneck in Shreveport as part of their "New American Wilderness" tour.

"Our music has really rootsy elements to it, but the beat is driven and danceable. I guess that's where the funkability comes in," band member Mike Larrivee said.

Having released its first full-length album in the spring, Giant Bear is in the process of recording a second album. Tonight's live performance will blend fan favorites with a preview of new songs as well.

Giant Bear was named the critic's pick at the Midpoint Music Festival. The band also has been invited to perform a slew of other festivals including the Joshua Tree Music Festival, The Wilderness Fest in Big Sur, Calif., The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., and the Organic Farm Aid Festival.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Signature sips

I've got a story idea in my head that I need a little help with. I thought it would be fun to feature some of Shreveport-Bossier City's signature drinks. My list so far includes:
  • Kon Tiki's Peking Mule (yikes, this one is kicks like a mule)
  • Superior Steakhouse's Pineapple Fusion
  • Superior Grill margaritas
  • Stray Cat's Filthy Martini (my absolute favorite)
  • Bella Fresca's Apple Martini

Send in your suggestions. What about a beer you can't get anywhere else but Strange Brew? Or a club or bar that serves a crazy shot other than the standard (disgusting) Jager Bomb? Does Tokyo or Shogun have a unique Japanese beverage that goes beyond your typical Mai Tai? Drink up (in moderation) and share your thoughts?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Krewe of Harambee rolls on

My teeth have yet to stop chattering from this afternoon's Krewe of Harambee parade. There were brief raindrops, however the krewe celebrated one of its best turn outs so far. People were feeling festive and the krewe was overjoyed to not have rain or ice pelting them as it has in past years.

Several bands participated, including Southern University's marching band. More than 100 members marched through downtown and performed a few songs for spectators on the steps of Municipal Auditorium following the parade.

I've never attended the Harambee parade before, but it was an enjoyable event to cover. Here's the video I shot, a photo gallery posted by Shane Bevel and Janelle Rucker's story should post tomorrow.
(photos by Shane Bevel/The Times)

Friday, January 18, 2008

The New Frontiers hit below the surface on "Mending"

The New Frontiers have created a beautiful disguise with their first full-length release "Mending." Approachable music masks the intensely introspective lyrics, and the two concepts harmonize magically.

This is an album you don't play once and forget. Rather, if you listen to the words, you'll rediscover the album with each listen. A new meaning to each song or a line you may have missed before.

Frontman Nathan Pettijohn is credited for most of the lyrics on the album, and they were likely written from personal moments in his own life, but all can relate to his words. What strikes the listener at a particular time all depends on what they feel at that moment.

Fear, loss, doubt, love and hesitation are captured in the album's 10 tracks. The New Frontiers connect with listeners on the deepest level any musician could hope to achieve. The album pours from the heart and in that vulnerability it makes an intimate connection with those who give in and listen with their hearts too.

On "The Day You Fell Apart," Pettijohn sings, "With your head up high would you try/try to place your feet back on the ground/I've found that it's easier to hide in the cold, alone/Unraveled since the day you fell apart/But honey, I'm alive." It's an admission of pain, but with that comes acceptance that he's doing the best he can. He's making it and encouraging someone else to do the same.

"Mirrors" speaks a similar tale, "They will rob you blind/They will take your peace of mind/And you'll want to run away from here/But I know you can't escape from all of your fears/I made my peace with the world and all that it brings/I'm holding my own."

But possibly my favorite song is the album's final track, "Who Will Give Us Love." It's the only song on the album written by guitarist Jacob Chaney, and it comes from a different perspective than the album's other tracks. "I hope Jesus is the one/But what if we're wrong and he doesn't come/Who will give us love?" I love the honesty in his words. We're all waiting for someone to love us -- a savior -- without thinking much of the love we're asked to give. The lyrics simultaneously discuss faith and doubt.

The album is accurately titled "Mending" because that's what it does for listeners. It painfully digs into our hidden and vulnerable places and through facing life's dark spots comes healing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New venue announces today

Soon there will be a new bar in town. Horseshoe and CMT have partnered to bring the first CMT Crossroads Bar to Bossier City. I attended a news conference today detailing the event and here's some info on what's to come.

Horseshoe pairs with CMT to create first CMT Crossroads Bar

Horseshoe Casino & Hotel and CMT have partnered to bring the first CMT Crossroads Bar to Bossier City.

Construction on the $3.3 million project began Thursday, and the venue is expected to open in the spring. The CMT Crossroads Bar will throwback to an authentic roadhouse atmosphere, complete with country decor and Crossroads memorabilia.

“The most exciting thing for us with the CMT Crossroads Lounge at Horseshoe is the fact that our consumers and Horseshoe consumers will be able to touch the CMT brand. And that’s going to be very exciting,” said Lori Megown, vice president of consumer products and radio for CMT.

The venue is 3,300-square-feet with a stage, dance floor and 27-foot circular bar. Local and regional acts will perform at the venue, and national acts are being considered. Seating options allow for flexibility in creating a multi-purpose entertainment venue. Lounge mode capacity is 123, while the bar also can hold up to 276 for live concerts.

“This is a big deal not only for the Horseshoe but for Bossier City and Northwest Louisiana,” said Geno Iafrate, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe.

“This is going to be a destination venue for people miles and miles away.”

The CMT Crossroads Bar pays tribute to the hit television series “CMT Crossroads,” which pairs country music stars with artists from other genres to play together and swap stories. Recent episodes included Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers, Bon Jovi and Sugarland, Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire and Joss Stone and LeAnn Rimes.

Up-and-comer Nicole Atkins may have arrived

I was straightening my hair and sipping on some joe this morning when I saw a familiar face pop up in a new American Express commercial. I put my flat iron down and clicked my TiVo into rewind mode to watch the commercial again.

The girl looked just like Nicole Atkins, an up-and-coming singer who performed at Jayne Marie on Cross Lake in September. I couldn't be too sure until her name appeared on screen. It seems Atkins is a pretty fast climber. Anyway, look for the commercial and here's the story that ran a few months ago when Atkins performed here.

Nicole Atkins inspires romance through song

Nicole Atkins has been a woman waiting on a loved one to return home from war. She's been frustrated by long-distance romance and devastated by change. Named one of Rolling Stone's Top 10 Artists to Watch this year, Atkins captures listeners through her stories.

"One day I was watching footage of the war in Iraq on TV. The footage was in black and white so when they fired into the sky it looked like bleeding diamonds. So I started to think about a housewife sitting on her couch, watching the footage, and I sing the song ("Bleeding Diamonds") from her perspective," Atkins said.

"Every song has to have some sort of story or it wouldn't make any sense. Sometimes the story is premeditated or sometimes I'll come up with a line that I have to interpret and figure out what it means."

The Columbia Records artist will perform (Sept. 14) at Jayne Marie on Cross Lake with her band the Sea "” guitarist Dave Hollinghurst, bassist John Flaughter, drummer Dan Mintzer and keyboardist Dan Chen.

"The album is very orchestral, but our live shows are a little more rock 'n' roll. They are very energetic and kind of emotional," Atkins said.

"People also get to slow dance, and a lot of romance has been forged at our shows."

The 26-year-old singer/songwriter's major-label debut, "Neptune City," expected to be released Oct. 30, and her EP already earned her praise from USA Today, Jane, and Playback Magazine. However, Atkins feels little pressure from the buzz her EP has created.

"My only expectation is that people will actually get to hear it and like it, and we can tour for a year or two and get to make another one," Atkins said.

"I've already got the next three records written."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tyler Read goes on tour with Puddle of Mudd

Local boys Tyler Read are gearing up for their upcoming tour. The band will hit the road Jan. 29 in San Francisco as the opening act for Puddle of Mudd. The band's album released last April and they've toured steadily ever since.

I'm extremely proud of Tyler Read, mostly because I've known Brent Skinner (guitar and keys) since my college days at Louisiana Tech. Before Brent was playing rock 'n' roll, he'd play an acoustic set with me and our friend FJ (Fun Jacob) about once a week in Ruston. We weren't very good. Let me take that back, I wasn't very good. I ended up leaving the guys to play with my roommate in a group called Lilies of the Field. Since then I've sold my guitar and I don't sing except for my occasional performance of "Somethin' to Talk About" at Tiki Tavern. However, Brent hasn't let me live down my choice to leave our group -- even seven years later.

Anyway, let's wish these guys the best as they hit the road. There's one local date on the tour schedule that you guys should check out.

Jan 29: Slim's in San Francisco, Calif.
Jan 3: Roseland Theater, Portland, Ore.
Feb 1: Big Easy, Spokane, Wash.
Feb 2: El Corazon, Seattle, Wash.
Feb 3: Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Feb 5: Rock City, Grand Prairie, Alberta.
Feb 7: The Backalley, Calgary, Alberta.
Feb 8: Jet, Edmonton, Alberta.
Feb 9: The Drink (The Wolf), Regina, Saskatchewan.
Feb 11: My Bar, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Feb 12: Playmaker's, Fargo, N.D.
Feb 14: Majestic Theater, Madison, Wisc.
Feb 15: Emerald Theater, Detroit, Mich.
Feb 16: Machine Shop, Flint, Mich.
Feb 17: Mr. Small's Theater, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Feb 19 : Phoenix Concert Theater, Toronto, Ontario.
Feb 20: Magic City Music Hall, Johnson City, N.Y.
Feb 21: The Station, Portland, Maine.
Feb 22: Webster Theater, Hartford, Conn.
Feb 23: House of Blues, Atlantic City, N.J.
Feb 25: 9:39 Club, Washington, D.C.
Feb 26: The National, Richmond, Va.
Feb 27: The Norva, Norfolk, Va.
Feb 29: Hooligan's, Jacksonville, N.C.
March 1: Jester's Pub, Fayetteville, N.C.
March 2: Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte, N.C.
March 4: Club La Vela, Panama City Beach, Fla.
March 6: Riverdome at Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, Bossier City, La.
March 7: House of Blues, Dallas, Texas.
March 8: Diamond Ballroom, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Christian Simeon puts on solo show before tour starts

Christian Simeon of Outlaw Nation will perform a solo set Wednesday at Noble Savage. This will be one of Simeon's last performances in Shreveport before the band heads out on tour with Slightly Stoopid.

The tour begins Feb. 14 in San Francisco and ends at March 8 in Townson, Md. Dates in Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Nebraska, Indiana and Colorado are sandwiched in between.

Simeon goes on at 8 p.m. You can listen to Outlaw Nation at

Monday, January 14, 2008

Golf highlights busy weekend

When I checked my voicemail and heard Ty say, "9:02 tee time on Saturday," I had to press one to repeat the message. Surely, he didn't mean a.m. For goodness sakes, it's Saturday. But that's what he said and that's what we did, which meant I was up at 7:30 a.m. on my best sleep-in day of the week to make a 9:02 tee time at Crooked Hollow in Greenwood.

The first few holes were a little rocky. It had been a year since I swatted at that little white ball and there were plenty of kinks to work out. However, but the fifth hole I'd found a decent rhythm. My tee shots were right up the middle, my approach shots usually got me where I wanted to be and well, my putting left something to be desired.

But, ultimately, I had a wonderful time -- even at 9:02 a.m. Now I'm craving a few more rounds.

My weekends are typically busy, but this weekend I never stopped. Friday night I went to Jayne Marie on Cross Lake to watch Quiet Company and The New Frontiers. Both bands were amazing. They're worth checking out and definitely worth a download. I'll review their albums later this week.

After golf Saturday, I celebrated my friend Suzanna's birthday, which landed me at an unlikely location before we made it to our usual spot Stray Cat. I took it easy Sunday by accompanying my pals Bevin and Kate to see "Juno." It's hard to categorize the movie. On one hand it's an off the wall comedy, much like "Napoleon Dynamite," but it's also warm and sensitive at other points. Our gang loved it. Bevin, who said she never laughs out loud at movies, loved it and laughed her head off.

I did a little bit of everything this weekend, maybe next weekend will slow down a bit.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

CenturyTel Center brings big shows in coming months

The CenturyTel Center has announced so many concerts lately that I'm having trouble keeping up with who is playing when. I know Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban are playing soon. Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire even sooner. Somewhere in the mix there's Kid Rock. And didn't I hear something about Cirque du' Soleil coming back to CTC? I figured some of you may be sharing in my confusion. Here's a list of what's on the schedule for the upcoming months.

Jan. 11 and 12: Professional Bull Riders
Jan. 18 and 19: AMP Live Monster Trucks
Jan. 24: Harlem Globetrotters

Feb. 2: Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson
Feb. 3: Lipizzaner Stallions
Feb. 10: Shreveport Blues Festival
Feb. 14: Xtreme International Ice Racing
Feb. 16: Celtic Woman
Feb. 19: Kid Rock
Feb. 26 and 27: Sesame Street Live "When Elmo Grows Up"
Feb. 29: Michael Buble

March 1: Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Seether
March 2: Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood
March 8 and 9: Cirque du' Soleil: Saltimbanco

April 16: Disney On Ice High School Musical

For tickets, or more information on any show visit the CenturyTel Center's Web site at

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Homemade halftime show

When I agreed to watch the game last night at my parents' house, I didn't know I was scheduled to be the halftime entertainment. Oh, but sadly I was.

Sometime, in the midst of a commercial break, my older brother, Chris, and I started talking about our elementary school experience. While some schools may have offered football, cheerleading and other team sports, our little outskirts school offered one extra-curricular activity -- jump rope.

We didn't just Jump Rope for Heart. We jumped rope for everything. Pep rallies. School assemblies. A jump rope routine was as common as saying the pledge. And my membership to the Jumping Jacks remains the reason why I know every word to the Pointer Sisters' "Jump (For My Love)."

Chris and I could once do some pretty awesome tricks. Crossing our arms and jumping through the rope, jumping with the rope under one leg and double jumps. So, naturally, when we started talking about this I chimed in that I could still do it all.

"Oh really! It just so happens I have a jump rope," my step mom said.

I thought, "you've got to be kidding me."

The next thing I know, I'm on the back patio surrounded by five other people and the pressure is on to jump -- for my love and my dignity. I started swinging the rope. Hop. Hop. Hop.

No problem. I crossed my arms and jumped through the rope. Impressive.

I kicked my leg over my left arm and kept on jumping. I still got it.

Everyone laughed, a little surprised that I could still do it. After all, fifth grade wasn't just yesterday. Chris cowered down to my stellar performance, and I shocked myself.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Geaux Tigers

Hey gang, I'm back from my blog hiatus. It wasn't intentional, but after several comments asking where the heck I'd been I figured it was time to kick this thing in to high gear once again.
First, allow me to say Happy New Year. I hope you all toasted to 2008 among friends. I spent the evening rolling around town on a trolley with about 20 of my closest friends. It was quite hysterical. Turns out it's not easy to "Macarena" in a moving vehicle. Oh yeah, I said it. We did the "Macarena." The song may have been released in '95, but I still got it!
Anyway, I'm happy about this day and that's why I've posed some of my favorite pictures from this year's football season. I traveled to Baton Rouge for most of the games. Even Baxter (my dog) made the trip with me several times. I met up with fellow Times staffers Adam Causey and Janelle Rucker for a game (top picture).
I learned how to play washers, and found my fiercest competitor to be this kid pictured to the right. Since I clearly had a height advantage and once upon a time I was an intramural softball pitcher (intimidating, I know), I let the little guy stand closer to the target. However, he took the liberty of just dropping his washers in the hole. Then he'd mock me with a victory break dance. Kids, what are you gonna do?
For away games, I'd hang out in Shreveport with some other local Tiger fans. The bottom right picture was taken during my favorite away game to watch at home with friends. It was the Alabama game and Moss Duvall invited everyone over for tons of food and good football. The game ended up being a nail biter, but you can't tell in this picture.

Anyway, it was a great season and I couldn't have watched it with better people. Tonight, I'll gather with my family to watch the Tigers hopefully win it all. I'm almost just as excited about the Herby K's gumbo we're having as I am about the game itself. ... Almost.
Enjoy the game. For me, it's making Monday go down a little easier.