News + Notes

ESSENCE Festival of Culture 2021

Last year, ESSENCE Fest went entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, ESSENCE organizers have announced that they will be utilizing a hybrid format. While full details have not been released as of press time, the event will take place over two weekends (June 25-27 and July 2-4). This year’s celebration will feature the theme “Live Loud.”

ESSENCE’s website announced “ESSENCE is thrilled to curate an invaluable hybrid experience that offers the best of in-person and virtual worlds via a celebration of the resilience, power, and achievement of our community and the omnipresence of our culture.” There will, as always, be a mix of stimulating panel discussions and musical performances. Some live-to-tape activations will be available only to New Orleans and Louisiana residents, honoring essential workers and first responders.

Visit for more information on schedules, performers, and panelists, as well as ticket options.


New Orleans Food and Wine Experience 2021

The New Orleans Food and Wine Experience returns June 9-13 with a mix of in-person and virtual options. Once again, the event offers a variety of mini-events and tastings highlighting New Orleans’ culinary delights. Proceeds go to causes supporting culinary education. For tickets, visit

Wartime Piano Happy Hour

On June 20, stop by BB’s Stage Door Canteen at the National World War II Museum for an entirely instrumental performance of World War II classics like “Sentimental Journey” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Guests will be required to stay at assigned tables and remain masked unless eating or drinking.

Blank Book

“Girl in the Walls”

New Orleans novelist A.J. Gnuse makes his debut with the suspenseful coming-of-age novel “Girl in the Walls” (now available at bookstores).

Elise is an orphan hiding in the walls of her family’s former home. Eddie is a teenager whose family now lives in the house. He thinks he sometimes sees a girl out of the corner of his eye. When his impulsive older brother also sees Elise, the two brothers try to hatch a plan to get her out of the house, which brings more danger to their home.

“Strange, outré—this remarkable debut novel is both of these and more… Gnuse has done a brilliant job of making the implausible plausible and of creating characters, especially Eddie, who are simply unforgettable. The Louisiana setting is evocative and a marvel of verisimilitude. The sui-generis result is haunting and, like the characters, unforgettable,” “Booklist” wrote in a starred review.


“Let’s Get Happy Together” 

Six-time Grammy-nominated folk and blues singer Maria Muldaur (“Midnight at the Oasis”) teamed up with the New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny on the new album “Let’s Get Happy Together.” The album followed a January 2020 live performance by Muldaur and Tuba Skinny at the International Folk Alliance Conference in New Orleans.

Bayou Segnette State Park

For those willing to make a quick 30-minute drive from New Orleans to Westwego, there’s a wealth of fun outdoor activities awaiting at Bayou Segnette State Park. Open daily, the park offers boating, camping, canoeing, hiking, and picnic grounds. A boat launch gives visitors a chance to explore areas they can’t get to on foot. It offers unique fishing opportunities by featuring both saltwater and freshwater fishing areas. Bass, catfish, perch, redfish and trout are common. The state park also offers guided hikes where rangers educate hikers on topics like the local plant life and bird population. There are playgrounds and a wave pool for children as well as large group shelters if you want to hold a larger event for your friends or extended family. For more information, visit

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