12.17/12.18: Harry Shearer and Judith Owen’s Christmas Without Tears

The highlight of the holiday season. Not only will this be a delightful time to spend with actual people, they may even share their fancy candy or smuggled-in drinks with you. I expect there will be both. And it’s led by world-class performers, held in an intimate, historic little theater founded by an earlier generation of performers and residents who were probably just like Harry and Judith and their friends. And it benefits Le Petit Théâtre and the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.

$70 | VIP Tickets

$45 | Adult Tickets

December 17-18th, 7:30PM

Buy here:

Get ready for the Christmas party of the year! In a series of intimate evenings full of music, laughter and special guests, musician Judith Owen and her husband, actor and humorist Harry Shearer (The Simpsons, Spinal Tap), will once again spread their special brand of yuletide cheer for the 2018 Christmas Without Tears Tour.

A tradition that began in Shearer and Owen’s Santa Monica home, these annual gatherings have grown into a heartwarming house party around the piano that involves and entertains fellow performers and audience members alike. Since 2005, when the first public performance was staged at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to aid the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Christmas Without Tears has been a guilt-free way of having fun and giving back: ALL proceeds go to charities, with this year’s New Orleans performances benefiting Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré.

A reverent and irreverent antidote to the most stressful of seasons, each evening includes both invited performers and surprise guests who drop into Harry and Judith’s onstage living room and share a song or a joke to bring the holiday spirit to all. Song selections range from the sentimental (“Winter Wonderland” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”) to the irreverent (“F&*k Christmas” and “Jesus Was a Dreidel Spinner”). Comics, magicians, female impersonators, and even a somber clown have been welcome additions, adding the perfect mix that makes this a true variety show.

Past revelers have included Mario Cantone, Davell Crawford, Evan Christopher, Alan Cumming, Donald Fagen, Béla Fleck, Christopher Guest, John Goodman, Tom Hanks, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Steve Martin, Tom McDermott, Stephen Merchant, Tim Minchin, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short, Richard Thompson, Fred Willard, and Weird Al Yankovic, to name but a few.

A throwback to simpler times, this homespun variety show is both festive romp and salve for the soul, serving as a reminder to all that Christmas is a time to be with the ones you love…and sometimes, even family!

Recommended for ages 13 and up.

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Ironwork: why?

The brilliant geographer/author Rich Campanella has shed so much light on many facets of New Orleans physical space that it is hard to separate what we knew before he began to teach us about our place and what we now know. Search his name on this blog and find the many pieces that have inspired me.
His latest in The Advocate on the ironwork that has become a signature of the city separates fiction (mythology may be more apt) from fact and is a good example of his gently musing writing style that is eminently approachable and therefore useful to a wide number of people.
I have begun to photograph and map the different ironwork designs around the Quarter, relying on his map from my favorite book of his, “Geographies of New Orleans” which has maps galore of structure styles, ethnographic clusters and much more.
One of those maps is recreated in The Advocate piece, a “heat map” of the many styles of ironwork found in the old quarter.
I’d like to ask him if he thinks this house was Pontalba’s home during the construction of the Jackson Square apartments and if that is why the same signature ironwork can be found on it.

“Why is New Orleans alone among American cities in its association with iron-lace galleries? To be sure, other 19th-century coastal and river cities also expressed their wealth through ornamental iron, oftentimes flamboyantly. Examples may be found in Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Baton Rouge, Natchez, Vicksburg, St. Louis, Natchitoches and Galveston, among others.
But New Orleans is the only American city where iron-lace galleries dominate entire streetscapes. At play are a number of variables. This city has long had an outdoor culture, not to mention a spectacle culture, and both are abetted by galleries and balconies, especially in a climate of hot summers and balmy winters.
The city’s Franco-Hispanic Afro-Caribbean heritage imparted it with a legacy of ironworking and ironworkers. Starting in the late 1700s, its many multistory brick edifices were structurally conducive to balcony and gallery installation, particularly in high-density urban environments.
Port activity made imports of pig iron cheap and available, and an abundance of local furnaces were in place to convert the metal into finished railings.”

Find my photographs using the ironwork search function on this blog.

Pontalba exhibit opens

As someone researching the mercantile history of Jackson Square from the time of the Pontalba buildings built this is an exciting opportunity, but this exhibit and the interactive mapping of our 300-year history of New Orleans (I understand it features the excellent work of our local geographer/historian Rich Campanella) should draw everyone to this museum.

I’ll update after going to the exhibits later this week…

https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_1e8789b4-f4ce-11e8-a444-4b879655b709.html

 

 

Culinary Improv: TriC event

A dynamic conference bringing together internationally known performers, artists and scholars in an exploration of improvisation across the arts – cuisine, music, literature, visual arts, politics and oral history.

Zarouhie Abdalian | Courtney Bryan | Ben Burkett Mel Chin | Theo Eliezer | Randy Fertel | Ham Fish Paul Goussot | Chris Kaminstein | Richard McCarthy | Stephen Nachmanovitch | Davia Nelson Jenna Sherry | Gwen Thompkins | Rob Wallace | Alice Waters | Matt Wuerker

First up: A special presentation with Chef, author, activist, and founder/owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California ALICE WATERS, BEN BURKETT, farmer/activist and president of the National Family Farm Coalition and oral historian DAVIA NELSON, co-host/producer of NPR’s Kitchen Sisters. Moderated by RICHARD MCCARTHY of Slow Food USA.

Richard McCarthy: Farmers markets in New Orleans started from an improvisation: the city wouldn’t allow open air markets to operate again, so we called it a food festival instead. Yes, a weekly festival 4 days per week. In 4 different neighborhoods.

Let’s start with Farmer, mentor Ben Burkett: what did you think this weekend was all about for a farmer?

Ben Burkett: I didn’t know but I came because of the people involved.

We’ve been bringing food to the city for almost 50 years. Farming is all improvisation.

We do markets because we wanted to defy the Get Big or Get Out mantra.

To do that, I reduced my scale and my methods to rethink for the markets.

Next up, Davia Nelson NPR host, “DJ for the night” and question asker, we want her to tell us how does scale work in food.

And Alice Waters, mother of the food system.

RMC: reading the preface of Waters memoir.

“I look for aliveness, color. I listen to the farmer to hear what is happening in the fields. I think we forget that food is alive.”

Waters: we didn’t know how to run a restaurant when we opened at Chez Panisse.

And we couldn’t find the ingredients.

So we went to the doorsteps of the organic farmers coming to market.

We had to use what they had. It gave us the ability to come up with special dishes, to improvise, still relying on classic recipes.

We had to use ingredients available that day; had to adapt to what was available.

Sometimes we had to reprint the menu between the two seatings, either because we didn’t like the first try or maybe because someone brought in a flat of raspberries in between the two seatings.

Davia: tell us about your fathers role in improv:

Waters: my father was a businessman but a farmer at heart. When he saw us struggling to find farmers, he and my mother went to Davis the ag school and asked for the list of all organic farmers within an hour of CP. Went and visited all of them over 9 months and said:

“Found 3, and only one is crazy enough to work with you.”

That farmer leads the menu and keeps the restaurant completely alive.

Question for Ben: How have things changed over 23 years in going to the market?

Burkett: things change. Kale used to be for the horses, now it’s on the table. We have a cooperative member growing mushrooms. He did great this year. Never did that before.

Nelson: is this climate improvisation?

Burkett: absolutely. There is definitely an effect on the crops that I am seeing. I’m 100 miles into MS, but can grow lemons, mirlitons, things we have never could grow before.

Waters: this is true in California too now. The food is ripe before it has full flavor in it.

Improvisation TriC event Part 2oo

A dynamic conference bringing together internationally known performers, artists and scholars in an exploration of improvisation across the arts – cuisine, music, literature, visual arts, politics and oral history.

Zarouhie Abdalian | Courtney Bryan | Ben Burkett Mel Chin | Theo Eliezer | Randy Fertel | Ham Fish Paul Goussot | Chris Kaminstein | Richard McCarthy | Stephen Nachmanovitch | Davia Nelson Jenna Sherry | Gwen Thompkins | Rob Wallace | Alice Waters | Matt Wuerker

Lead ideas presented by organizerRandy Fertel:

What is the structure and purpose of improv in the world?

It’s an affront to the mainstream, to the routine, to societal norms.

A way of being in the world.

It’s a revolt against structure.

Even the Place d’Armes’ axis of rationality leads to the improvisation of Congo Square and further to Zulu on Orleans and Broad and the F&F Botanical and Candle Shop, a Gris-Gris shop.

What is clear in that mapping is how the rationality of the power center in antebellum New Orleans or even on Loyola Ave still relies and feeds on the chaos and informality of back of town.

The tension is clear between the decorous, the formal and the rough and ready.

Mint Improvisation

A dynamic conference bringing together internationally known performers, artists and scholars in an exploration of improvisation across the arts – cuisine, music, literature, visual arts, politics and oral history.

Zarouhie Abdalian | Courtney Bryan | Ben Burkett Mel Chin | Theo Eliezer | Randy Fertel | Ham Fish Paul Goussot | Chris Kaminstein | Richard McCarthy | Stephen Nachmanovitch | Davia Nelson Jenna Sherry | Gwen Thompkins | Rob Wallace | Alice Waters | Matt Wuerker

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Just sitting down to the keynote and culinary kickoff for the Tricentennial event entitled “New Orleans Gift To the Modern World, improvisation.” Randy Fertel, organizer and author begins with Funky Butt Blues (Buddy Bolden’s Blues) using Jelly Roll Morton’s version:

Open up that window, and let that bad air out.