20 hits on Joint’s Jumpin’, based off of the taped-live local show at Harrah’s, will have you singing and shaking your booty in no time. New Orleans rhythm-and-blues classics such as “Tell It Like It Is” and “Blueberry Hill” are skillfully performed by a cast of musicians and vocalists Tereasa Betts, Gina Brown, Luther Kent, Tony Owens, Danon Smith and Johnny Vindigni. The four Mardi Gras songs tell you that it’s “Carnival Time” and everyone is having fun. CDs are available at Louisiana Music Factory on Decatur Street.

Non-Fiction l At first glance, The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans Ned Sublette’s part memoir part music encyclopedia part history of New Orleans might lead a local to say the often uttered phrase of dismissal: “He’s not from here.” Raised in Natchitoches in his early years, Sublette didn’t reside again in Louisiana until 2004-’05 when he was a Tulane Rockefeller Humanities Fellow. Yet, his engrossing book is full of a lifetime’s worth of reflections on the perfectly imperfect Crescent City. He touches upon the beauty and plenty of the ugliness that he experienced here during the year before Hurricane Katrina. The writing is passionate, honest and funny. Sublette’s greatest strength lies in his extensive musical knowledge. Of particular interest is his dissection of New Orleans’ hip-hop represented by superstars like Baby (who once flew coach, but that’s my story) and Soulja Slim. Through his library research and street experiences, one learns a lot from Sublette as well as rediscovers what is already known: adoration for this crazy place and hope for its future. The author also penned The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square.

History l Christmas in New Orleans is more pleasing than a Maison Blanche winter wonderland window display.

Authors Peggy Scott Laborde (wife of New Orleans Magazine Editor Errol Laborde) and John T. Magill introduce all that is merry in NOLA’s unique Christmas past, present and, as traditions dictate, future. There is a gift for everyone in its 240 pages: heartwarming stories like Mr. Bingle’s post-Katrina rebirth, depictions of the 18th and 19th century Place d’Armes and Church of St. Louis – today’s Jackson Square and cathedral – and photos of Hanukkah ceremonies complete with a second line. Of course there are bonfires, surprise snow flurries, Al Copeland’s house, Bûche de Noel and Twelfth Night! 

Children’s l Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud is an important study of Louisiana’s most important crustacean. Yes, it’s a story picture book and sure to be a hit with early readers. The tale of trickster Crawfish and hard-working Crab culminates with a valuable moral. Bonus: Mom and Dad could learn a lesson. Bonus No. 2: writer Johnette Downing’s illustrations are collage-like and sure to spark some artistic endeavors by budding Romare Beardens.

– Alisha Murphy

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