Getting Back in the Swing, Gently

I always seem to have the best intentions as each Mardi Gras comes to a close, for what little good that ever really does me.

As the excitement of Tuesday morning turns into the fatigue of Tuesday night, as the whole beautiful, exhilarating but exhausting Carnival season lunges towards the finish line, thoughts of calm, quiet nights at home grow increasingly appealing. This is more or less the point of a big pre-Lenten blowout after all.

But in New Orleans the invitations and temptations to venture back out into social circulation resume almost immediately. This year, the prospects of a post-Mardi Gras dry spell are dimmer than ever. St. Patrick’s Day is just next week and the big Irish parades begin this very weekend.

For those still uncomfortable with the idea of plowing straight back to the parade route or the pub, tomorrow brings an opportunity to more gently ease into the fray. It even comes with a convincing cloak of high culture. 

Thursday evenings are when the Ogden Museum of Southern Art hosts its Ogden After Hours series, with local musicians performing and giving moderated talks inside the museum’s soaring main hall. It’s from 6 to 8 p.m. and admission is the same price as always  ($10 for non-members, free for members). All of the museum’s exhibits are open, so you can either treat the event as a concert in the museum or let the music serve as a soundtrack as you take in the art collection around the building. The museum’s rooftop patio is always worth a trip too.

But I have to imagine that for tomorrow’s edition of Ogden After Hours most people will be focused on the music. The featured musicians are Jim McCormick, a New Orleans native and now a Nashville songwriter, and Kristin Diable. (Check out her excellent, old-school music videos) The most recent Kristin Diable performance I saw at d.b.a. was hot enough to melt paint from the walls, so I hope some precautions are taken to protect the Ogden’s collection. Anyway, it should get the room’s attention. If you miss Thursday’s show, Kristin Diable also will perform Friday at Carrollton Station with singer-songwriter Andrew Duhon.

Ogden After Hours falls around happy hour time, so the museum staff wheels out a fully stocked bar. There’s always a specialty drink, which this time around is made with vodka, grapefruit and rosemary syrup. One could easily rationalize such a cocktail as much-needed vitamin C therapy. Why not? I’ve toasted to less convincing pretenses before.

Speaking of sustenance, Linda Green, the local caterer known in second line circles as Miss Linda or the “ya ka mein lady,” will serve her distinctive soul soup. Ya ka mein is that faintly Asian noodle soup made with bits of beef, lots of salty bouillon, boiled egg, green onions and spaghetti that also goes by “old sober” for its purported abilities to diminish hangovers. If a few hangovers are lingering around New Orleans two days after Mardi Gras, a dose of high art, great local songwriters and old sober at the Ogden might just be the trick. 


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