Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Crawfish Boil 2020: Band Bios

          So the Crawfish Boil is obviously about the crawfish. But it's also about the music. And if you know anything about us, it's that we take our music very seriously. So for this year's Boil we're proud to welcome an old friend, Benny Turner, a returning band, Flow Tribe, and a new band the Dapper Dandies! 


            We're proud to welcome back Benny Turner and the Real Blues with Sam Joyner to the 12th Annual DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil.   


Benny in action

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 at the crawfish boil. 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.

Flow Tribe 


            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.


            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! 

Dapper Dandies 

            Signed to Total Riot Records, the Dapper Dandies are part of a new generation of musicians bringing back the sounds of traditional New Orleans jazz. One review of their album Between St. Roch & the Channel describes the Dapper Dandies sound as "slow and boozy, yet lighthearted and romantic." The reviewer also writes, "The bass sax by Adrian Seward sounds nearly human; it’s throaty and soulfully wailing its sentiments. Jason Cash’s clarinet has a major place in the opening of “I’ve Found a New Baby” as he plays a winding tune before Aaron Lind on the guitar plays a jaunty backing to Fourmy’s melody. During the bridge, Sean Dawnson’s trumpet growls above everything else. Dawson’s horn has just a bit of a tinny echo throughout the album, which adds a nostalgic layer, as though you heard this on an original record." 
            

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Crawfish Boil 2020: Stuff to Do in New Orleans

        With the 2020 DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil coming up in a few short weeks, 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.  

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 the view.

The World War Two 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, February 4, 2020

Crawfish Boil 2020: Restaurants

      New Orleans is known for many things: Mardi Gras, voodoo, its rich history, and perhaps most importantly--food. Like any other major city, New Orleans has its share of tourist traps and great restaurants. The recommendations below will steer you towards the the city's rich and diverse culinary landscape. 


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.

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.

One of the many dishes available at Coquette 

Coquette: Located just near the famed Commander's Palace, Coquette is an upscale neighborhood restaurant that exudes the best of New Orleans cuisine--quality local ingredients cooked simply and beautifully. Order off the al a carte menu or just order the tasting menu and put yourself in the capable hands of chefs Michael Stoltzfus and Kristin Essig. 

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. 

Rabbit Curry at Bywater American Bistro

Compere Lapin: After participating in Top Chef: New Orleans, St. Lucia native Nina Compton relocated to the Crescent City and opened Compere Lapin (Brother Rabbit) in 2015 in the Warehouse District. The result, which we've reviewed here, was a stunning meal that fused New Orleans with the Caribbean, culminating in a curried goat dish that you'll never forget. 

Bywater American BistroLast year, Compton opened a more casual neighborhood spot in the Bywater. Bywater American Bistro has some truly standout dishes like rabbit curry and smoked ricotta angolotti as well as a strong cocktail menu. Either of one of these restaurants are worth a visit.  

Small plates at Saba 

Saba: First at Shaya and now at Saba, chef Alon Shaya has brought upscale Israeli food to New Orleans. The hummus is delicious, you won't stop eating the pita, the cocktails are well-done, and the lamb kabobs are rich in flavor. Saba is a ways up Magazine Street, but well-worth a visit. 

      Next week we'll be back with some stuff to do when you're in New Orleans. 

      Just a reminder: the 11th Annual DGA Crawfish Boil is March 7, 2020 at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, Louisiana. We hope to see you there!