The Tremé Brass Band has long celebrated an urban heritage rich in music, performance, jazz funerals and second-line, even winning the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award in 2006 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The band’s newest release New Orleans Music!, just recorded on the Mardi Gras Records label in March 2008, carries on the New Orleans tradition of soulful brass music. Benny Jones Sr., bandleader/snare drummer, leads celebrated performers including “Uncle” Lionel Batiste on the bass drum, Dirty Dozen co-founder Roger Lewis and percussionist Herlin Riley.
Nonfiction l Well-researched, engaging and informative, Savage Barbecue by Andrew Warnes investigates the modern and historical impact of barbecue cooking on history, culture, race and social status. Warnes traces, through various written accounts et alia, barbecue history, from Columbus’ aversion for iguana-roasting natives in 1940s Cuba to cars and the boom of roadside restaurants in the 1900s. He asserts provocative hypotheses, explores etymology and postulates interesting ties between race, class and an American-born cooking technique that’s flourished through the modern day.
Sports l New York Times sports reporter Jeré Longman writes about sport and spirit in The Hurricanes: One High School Team’s Homecoming After Katrina. Longman, a native of Eunice, spent two seasons following football at South Plaquemines High, a school formed to accommodate students from several ravaged communities. He followed the Hurricanes, a name the players themselves coined, through state playoffs in 2006 and the team’s subsequent struggles in ’07 to perform in spite of poor conditions at home and on the field.
Fiction l Tom Piazza’s newest novel, City of Refuge, begins in August 2005. Set in New Orleans, the novel follows two families – one black, one white – and their struggle to survive Hurricane Katrina and subsequently rebuild their lives. Piazza’s novel shines poignant light on modern conflicts tied to race and wealth, yet an omnipresent hopefulness weaves throughout the novel. The author’s description of storm-ravaged New Orleans will likely stir vivid, fearful recollections in readers; however, even in the darkest days there’s comfort in commiseration.
Fiction l Yellow Moon by Jewel Parker Rhodes presents protagonist Marie Levant as the vampire-hunting, voodoo-practicing, fictional great-granddaughter of real-life legend Marie Laveau. Levant, also an ER doctor, uncovers all kinds of secrets in the course of her sleuthing, finding pollution, crooked politics, even murder most foul. An entertaining read for those who don’t fear Things That Go Bump in the Night.
– Leigh Ann Stuart