Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Mighty Pelicans

           For this year's DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil, we're thrilled to welcome back the Mighty Pelicans from Austin, Texas. The Pelicans have thrilled the crowds for the past two years, so we decided to bring them back for a third year in a row. 

The Mighty Pelicans! 

            The four members of The Mighty Pelicans have deep roots in Louisiana. Kerry “Kingfish” Blackmon (drums and vocals) and Chuck Doyle, Louisiana natives, first met in college in the 1970s at LSU. In the 1980s, after both men moved to Austin, Texas, they began playing together in various blues, R&B, and zydeco bands. Together  with Kerry’s son, Michael "Mudbug" Blackmon and guitarist Johnny Blue, they formed The Mighty Pelicans. While all of the men originally played in a variety of bands, including a zydeco band, in 2011 they committed themselves to The Mighty Pelicans and have been playing in the Austin area ever since.   
  


Last year, the Pelicans premiered a new song in honor of Doug titled, Call Doug. The song details the life of DGA's founder and leader Doug Green. We hope to have a version available to share with you all soon. The Pelicans also featured some fantastic second-lining as shown in the video below. For our out of town guests, second lining is a New Orleans style of dance in which participants follow behind a band walking, spinning, or dancing around. The tradition most likely originated from the musical traditions of West African slaves brought to Louisiana. Over time, these traditions merged with the marching band traditions of white Americans, creating something uniquely New Orleans. Now second lines are a common part of most parades in New Orleans and are neighborhood events with participants singing, dancing, and interacting with members of their communities. They are a time to celebrate and be with loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

Second lining! 

We hope you can join us for the second line at the 11th Annual DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil on March 10, 2018 at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, Louisiana. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Benny Turner Bio

            For the fifth year in a row, we’re proud to welcome back Benny Turner and the Real Blues with Sam Joyner to the 11th Annual DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil.   


Benny Turner is a veteran of the New Orleans, Chicago, and Texas blues scenes. His connections to the history of the blues in America run deep. His brother was legendary blues artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Freddie King. Born in Gilmer, Texas, Benny and Freddie learned guitar from their mother and uncles. Freddie gravitated towards the guitar and performing while Benny enjoyed music and spending time with the brother he admired. The family moved to Chicago in the early 1950s and as Freddie’s fame and prowess with the guitar grew, his brother soon joined his band as a bass player. By the late 1950s, Benny had toured across the United States with R&B singer Dee Clark at venues like the Apollo Theater in New York City, the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia, the Howard Theater in Washington D.C., and the Regal Theater in Chicago. Benny also enjoyed a stint in the Soul Stirrers, a touring gospel music band, and introduced the bass to gospel music, laying the groundwork for modern gospel music which is heavily reliant on the bass. 

By the late 1960s, Benny returned to Chicago, playing in local bands and recording songs for the Leaner Brothers’ One-Derful and M-Pac! labels. He soon rejoined his brother, Freddie King, on the touring circuit. Alongside his brother, Benny performed with artists like Dionne Warwick, Memphis Slim, BB King, Solomon Burke, Eric Clapton, and Grand Funk Railroad. In December 1976, Freddie King passed away at the age of 42. Having lost his best friend, brother, and band mate all at the same time left Benny unable to perform. After two years away from music, famed Chicago blues artist Mighty Joe Young convinced Benny to join him on stage. Over the next few years, the two men travelled and performed together as Benny rejoined the blues scene.  



By the 1980s, Mighty Joe Young had retired from touring and Benny took another big step: moving to New Orleans and becoming the bass player and band leader for blues singer Marva Wright. Wright, known locally as the “Blues Queen of New Orleans,” toured all over the world and was a staple of the French Quarter music scene. After Wright died, Benny struck out on his own. In 2011, he released, “A Tribute to my Brother Freddie King” a collection of some of his brother’s most famous songs. In 2014, he released “Journey” playing homage to his history with the blues. His latest album, “When She’s Gone” mixes some of Benny’s original songs with old blues classics. He dedicated the album to his mother, Ella, the woman responsible for his and Freddie’s love of music.

            So come see this great blues artist perform on March 10, 2018 at Maison Lafitte, Mandeville, Louisiana. In the meantime, go to Benny’s website, read about his life, listen to some of his music, and buy an album or two in support of this legendary blues artist.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Things to Do in NOLA

With the 2018 DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil just over a month away, we thought we'd offer some suggestions for things to do for our out of town guests in New Orleans.   

Frenchman Street/Three Muses: If you want a taste of real New Orleans culture (and to avoid the touristy traps of Bourbon Street) head over to Frenchman Street. Jamie highly recommends going to the Three Muses, a bar/music hall. In the years since Hurricane Katrina, Frenchman Street has become the center of musical culture in the city. Go in to Three Muses, order some food (the food is as good as the music), and listen to some of the best music New Orleans has to offer. Remember to tip the band and thank us later.  

The Riverwalk 

Aquarium/Riverwalk: Located at the foot of Canal Street, the Aquarium features a 400,000 gallon tank filled with coral reefs, sharks, and other aquatic life that populates the Gulf of Mexico. After touring the exhibits, take a few minutes and watch the sharks and turtles swim by. It’s a cool sight to see and well worth your time. The aquarium also has a stingray touch pool, sea otters, and a replica Amazon rainforest. Additionally you can walk along the Riverwalk to get to the Aquarium and watch the ships sail past the city. 

Jackson Square: If you’re in the French Quarter it’s impossible not to walk around Jackson Square at some point. The square is named for Andrew Jackson, who famously defended New Orleans from the English during the War of 1812 (even though the battle took place in Chalmette and the war had ended two weeks earlier). At almost any time of day, you'll see artists selling their wares and there will be a band or two playing in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. If you want a great view of the river and the Square go across Decatur Street and climb to the stairs to the top of the little platform. It's a great place to snap a picture and enjoy a great view.

 
Inside the World War 2 Museum 

World War 2 Museum: During World War II, New Orleans was the home of the construction of the "Higgins Boat" an amphibious landing craft used in the Atlantic and the Pacific. Thanks to the efforts of Stephen Ambrose, the popular historian and University of New Orleans professor, and New Orleans business leaders, the museum, located in the Central Business District, opened in 2000 as a way to celebrate and study American involvement in World War 2. It is a must-visit for anyone interested learning more about this crucial period in American history. Read more about the museum here

Mardi Gras World: Since 1947, the folks at Mardi Gras World have designed and built the oldest and biggest floats for every Mardi Gras season. Each year they build and decorate over 500 of them. The museum offers tours that include a history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and then take visitors to see the entire construction process. The museum is open year round as Mardi Gras in New Orleans never stops. 

The white alligator 

Audubon Nature Institute: The Audubon Nature Institute includes a variety of museums and facilities including the Aquarium of the Americas (discussed above), as well as Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo. Located uptown--away from the Quarter and other tourist areas, Audubon Park has over 1.8 miles of jogging paths, ancient live oak trees, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The Zoo, located within a section of the park, houses over 2,000 animals including gorillas, oranguatans, and a rare white alligator with blue eyes. 

Cemetery/Swamp Tours: Due to its low elevation, New Orleans cemeteries are unique in that they generally bury their bodies above ground. Inside the famed St. Louis Cemetery you can find the tomb of Marie Laveau, a famed 19th century Voodoo priestess. You can also see the future tomb of actor Nicholas Cage. If cemeteries aren't your thing, then try a swamp tour. A number of different companies offer tours of the famed Louisiana bayous. Riding in a swamp boat or even an airboat. You'll get to see cypress tress covered in Spanish moss, alligators, pelicans, and other wildlife unique to southern Louisiana. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: NOLA Restaurants

New Orleans is known for many things: Mardi Gras, voodoo, its rich history, and perhaps most importantly--its food. So if you're coming to New Orleans for the crawfish boil and you're looking for places to eat in the city, have no worries. We've collected a list of restaurants that show off the culinary legacy of the Crescent City. 

Café Du Monde: We’re starting off with the obvious, but sometimes what’s obvious is best. It’s New Orleans, it’s beignets, don’t overthink it. Stroll on down Decatur Street and stop when you see the famous exterior. Go in, order the beignets, and blow powdered sugar on your friends and family. Enjoy a café au laut and watch the world go by. If you walk out of there and you’re not covered in powdered sugar, you’ve done it wrong.


Green Goddess: If you want eclectic modern New Orleans cuisine go no farther than the Green Goddess. Make sure you keep your eye out, it’s tucked away in a narrow alley just off of Bienville Street. The unassuming exterior masks the culinary creativity within. The menu changes with the seasons and takes a global approach, fusing Louisiana classics with ideas from around the world. Benson and his wife Liz swear by the food and the cocktails (especially the cheese plate).

Killer Poboys: Nestled in the back of the Erin Rose Bar is one of the best kept secrets of the New Orleans culinary scene, Killer Poboys. The Poboy is a traditional New Orleans sandwich consisting of some kind of protein, generally roast beef or fried seafood served on New Orleans style French bread (there’s an entire festival devoted to them). Done right, the poboy is a blank canvas for culinary innovation. And Killer Poboys does them right.


Antonie's: Named by historian Paul Freedman as one of the "Ten Restaurants that Changed America", Antoine's has been a French Quarter institution since 1840. This famous restaurant was the birthplace of classic American dishes like Oysters Rockefeller (which is still on the menu today). Much like the city it has come to epitomize, Antoine's has had its ups and downs. It's been a financial success, received critical acclaim, and served as the culinary center of the city. It has also suffered through financial woes, been damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and struggled to make itself attractive to the tourist industry. In the last few years, however, Antoine's has had something of a rebirth under the leadership of fifth-generation owner Rick Blount. If you want to taste authentic Creole cuisine and experience a piece of New Orleans history, eat at Antoine's. 

Déjà Vu Bar and Grill: Open 24/7/364, Déjà Vu is the place to go if you’ve been out all night drinking and need some good, filling food. They serve breakfast all day including southern staples like biscuits and gravy. Their menu includes burgers, seafood, and a host of Louisiana classics. Benson also vouches for their beer selection.

Toups Meatery Board 

Toups' Meatery: Located in Mid-City near City Park, Toups Meatery is one of the city's standout cajun restaurants. It's a meat-friendly menu includes duck breast, lamb neck, quail, and venison. Chef Isaac Toups, who appeared on the 13th season of Top Chef, really shines with his cured meats and charcuterie. If you're going to order one thing at Toups, make sure you get the Meatery Board which features head cheese, chicken liver mousse, cracklings, boudin balls, and homemade sausage. We recommend splitting it with another person. 

Peche: New Orleans chef and restaurateur Donald Link has been on a roll these past few years. In 2006, he opened Cochon, an ode to Cajun cooking, located in the Central Business District. In 2013, Link decided to conquer the New Orleans seafood scene with Peche. The James Beard Foundation named Peche the Best New Restaurant in America in 2014. We've eaten there several times and the menu highlights Gulf seafood at its absolute best. 

La Divina Gelateria: And we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend at least one dessert place. La Divina makes all of their gelato in house and from scratch. The owners, Katrina and Carmelo Turillo lived in Florence and loved taking late night walks and getting gelato. So they decided to study how to make gelato and brought it over to Louisiana. They opened in February 2007 after being delayed several years by Hurricane Katrina. The shop has four locations, including one in the French Quarter. So if you’re talking a late night walk, stop in for some of the best gelato outside of Italy.

Just a reminder: the 10th Annual DGA Crawfish Boil is March 10, 2018 at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, Louisiana. We hope to see you there! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2017 Video!

Thanks to our friends at Trial Access, we've got this awesome recap video from last year's crawfish boil to share with everyone.


We had tons of crawfish, great music, and entertainment. If you missed out on last year's boil, no worries. This year's boil is just around the corner. Check out the rest of the blog for information on hotels, other events in the city, and the history of our Crawfish boil themed t-shirts from Dirty Coast. In the coming weeks, look for restaurant recommendations, bios of the bands, places to visit around the city.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Hotels

Just a reminder, the crawfish boil is being held at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, Louisiana on Saturday March 10, 2018. Maison Lafitte is only about twenty minutes from our office.  So we won’t have to travel far, but most everyone else will. With that in mind, we figured it would be a good idea to make some hotel recommendations for our out of town guests.

Mandeville is on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. So we'll divide the recommendations depending on if you want to stay near the boil or in New Orleans. For anyone unfamiliar with the Greater New Orleans area, getting across the lake is a breeze thanks to the Causeway that cuts right across the lake.  



On the South Shore, New Orleans boasts a bevy of great places to stay. We recommend that visitors make their accommodations in the city as much of the trip to Covington is on the Causeway. And if you’re going to stay in New Orleans, you may as well stay in the French Quarter (especially if you’ve never been to New Orleans before). Staying in the Quarter is a unique experience and puts you right into the action.  Most of the city's tourist attractions are easily accessible and there’s always something going on nearby.


The interior of the Sazerac Bar 

Currently, our favorite hotel in the city is the Roosevelt. It's part of the Hilton-Waldorf Astoria luxury hotel chain and about 10 years ago it underwent a complete renovation that modernized the interior but kept its New Orleans charm. The renovation restored the hotel's iconic Sazerac Bar to its original 1940s decor. The Sazerac excels at cocktails in a historic New Orleans space where Huey "Kingfish" Long used to drink and meet with constituents. If you want a comfortable hotel that also exudes old school New Orleans, the Roosevelt is the place to stay. 


Interior of the Roosevelt 

Jamie likes the W New Orleans - French Quarter hotel. She and her husband have stayed there before and recommend it highly. Its restaurant, Bacco, is good, and the hotel is in a quieter part of the Quarter down on Chartres Street, but still only a couple of blocks from Bourbon.

The Royal Sonesta 

The Royal Sonesta Hotel is a good place to stay in the quarter. It is right on Bourbon Street which is a plus in many ways, although you will find it to be bustling, especially in early March.

The JW Marriott is on Canal Street, and is very close to the Quarter. Here you can be within easy walking distance of the Quarter without being surrounded by it.

For the wedding of Doug’s younger daughter the guests stayed at the Courtyard Marriott, down by the river walk. It is not in the quarter, but still close to the action.


Now, we'll cover some accommodations in the Mandeville/Covington area. Covington has the standard range of visitors' hotels, but we thought it would be better to recommend some places for guests who prefer a quiet location close to the boil. 

Annadele's 

In Covington, one of the best B&Bs is Annadele's.  Annadele's is a lovely plantation home near Old Covington.  The grounds are charming and the rooms nice. Doug’s eldest daughter had her wedding at Annadele's.  The restaurant is also usually pretty good, and would be a nice place for breakfast if you stayed there. 

There's also the Southern Hotel in Covington.  It's located in the heart of downtown Covington and houses one of our favorite local restaurants, Ox Lot 9.  The restaurant also has a great bar that makes fantastic cocktails. The rooms are spacious and there's a spa located within the hotel. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Band Announcement!

We're thrilled to announce that this year's DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil March 10, 2018 at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, La–  will feature local New Orleans funk-rock band, Flow Tribe.

Flow Tribe 

The band consists of members: 
K.C. O'Rorke – vocals, trumpet 
John Michael Early – harmonica, vocals, keyboard, and washboard 
Russell Olschner – drums 
Chad Penot – bass, vocals 
Bryan Santos – guitar 
Mario Palmisano – guitar 

The band formed in 2004 from a group of friends from Brother Martin High School. Penot's back porch served as their primary rehearsal and hangout space. Like most high school musical ventures, the band broke up once all the members went off to college. In 2006, Hurricane Katrina brought all six men back home. They devoted themselves to rebuilding efforts, but also sought to contribute to the city's rebuilding in their own way – through their shared love of music. Early recalled that "We thought about our love of the city's music, the history, the culture. We were just a bunch of 18 and 19-year old kids, rebuilding our parents' houses during the summer... and we knew the only way we could contribute on a bigger level was with music."
The band soon reformed and hit the road. They played shows for music lovers and displaced Katrina survivors across the South. Their musical style, a blend of different New Orleans musical genres, found a wide audience amongst exiled New Orleanians and people from different parts of the country. 
The cover of Flow Tribe's latest album-Boss 

Since 2006, Flow Tribe have been a fixture in the New Orleans music scene while also touring across the country. They've appeared on The Real World: New Orleans in 2010. They've played at the Voodoo Music Experience, appeared on the main stage at Jazz Fest, and at just about every other major festival in New Orleans. They describe their music as "backbone crackin’ music”—a "gumbo" of funk, rhythm-and-blues, rock, bounce, hip-hop and zydeco. Flow Tribe cite Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Kermit Ruffins, R&B and funk classics of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and hip-hop hits released by Cash Money Records in the 1990s and 2000s, as some of their influences. 
They've recorded four albums: Pain Killer (2012), At Capacity Live: Live at Tipitina’s (2013), Alligator White (2014), and Boss (2017). If you want more information or examples of the Flow Tribe's music check out their website here. And make sure you come see them at this year's Crawfish boil!