Our top picks of the month’s events
Not a Lost Art
Letter-pressing became a world-changing technology when Johannes Gutenburg perfected the true movable and reusable type, though it may have originated even earlier. In addition to conveying ideas and the written word, letter-pressing is also a unique form of art that will be displayed through Oct. 11 at the Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University thanks to a traveling Smithsonian exhibition.
“American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print” illustrates the blend of visual art with pop culture and music history with the letterpress posters of Nashville’s Hatch Show Print. In 1879, brothers Herbert and Charles Hatch opened their namesake business, which is still in operation, designing hundreds of new compositions each year with some of the original, hand-carved wood blocks to reproduce classic images on the old letter-presses.
The exhibition at Newcomb features 126 historical and contemporary posters, along with 29 hand-carved wooden blocks, some of which have never before been viewed by the public. There will be a reception on Sept. 9 featuring local rockabilly and country music band Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Review, to complement the pieces of art. As lagniappe, the complimentary beverages will include a wine inspired by the Hatch Show Print – “The Show” wine comes in bottles bearing graphics from the archives of wood blocks and type at Hatch.
Though festivals aren’t exactly difficult to come by in New Orleans, there’s a new one in town with an ultra-contemporary vision different than the rest. The aim of Project 30-90, on Sept. 5, is to ensure that artists, musicians, the overall atmosphere and even the audience members themselves can all be eco-friendly to create an enjoyable experience.
Produced by Don Kelly Productions, a local event-production company with a strong belief in sustainability, the festival will take place at the New River City Plaza at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World (on the east bank). The lineup is stellar: Bands who perform on both local and national levels include Ghostland Observatory, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, the Benjy Davis Project, Von Bondies, MynameisJohnMichael, and numerous others. Stages run on solar and wind turbine power, and the festival will offer “paperless” green tickets, recycling and carbon offsets.
Information, www.project3090.com, www.ticketmaster.com.
A classic love story with a modern take will come to Le Petit Thèâtre du Vieux Carré Sept. 3-20. Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida is a musical take on the tale of the star-crossed lovers: the enslaved Nubian princess Aida and an Egyptian soldier. Their devotion transcends the cultural divide between their warring nations, and heralds a time of peace and prosperity. The musical numbers are as passionate as the story itself; with pop-rock ballads and vigorous dancing, the performance is electric and crowd-pleasing. Idella Johnson plays the title role, and Keith Claverie stars as her lover, Ramades. Aida is directed by Donald Byrd, who recently directed the smash summer hit, White Noise.
All you need is Love
As the weather drops just a few degrees, it makes way for evening cocktail parties under the stars. Sept. 25 the New Orleans Museum of Art will host a grand fundraiser: “Love in the Garden” will be held in the picturesque Besthoff Sculpture Garden, with music by Deacon John at the main event, and a patron party preceding with a performance by Joe Simon’s Jazz. There will be an open bar, dancing and cuisine provided by dozens of local restaurants. A variety of artists will be honored as well. Information, 658-4121, www.noma.org.
What started decades ago as a simple going-away party has blossomed into one of the biggest festivals in New Orleans. Southern Decadence, fondly referred to as “Gay Mardi Gras” Sept. 2-7, takes place in the French Quarter, particularly at nightclubs near the intersection of Bourbon and St. Ann streets. The theme this year mocks our unusual weather patterns: “Hurricane – This Year, They Blow Back.”
Dance parties will feature DJs Max Rodriguez, Lydia Prim, Don Bishop, Jayskee and others. Festivities will include a talent show, a parade, drag shows, contests and concerts.
Information, 522-8049, www.southerndecadence.net.
Benefiting a variety of causes throughout the region, and keeping hungry bellies satisfied is the third annual New Orleans Seafood Festival, Sept. 25-27. With contributions from more than 20 restaurants, including bigwigs like Mr. B’s, Drago’s, Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s, Acme Oyster House and more, the festival benefits the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, which reaches out to hospitality and culinary causes in the city, as well as children’s education. Each restaurant will have its own booth, selling one or more signature seafood treats.
Additionally, there will be tons of live music (at least 20 bands will play over the course of the three-day fête), and some of the top chefs will host cooking demonstrations.