Read and Spin

Phenom Amanda Shaw’s notoriety began when she was too young to stay at Clearview Mall past 4 p.m. Now 17, this fiddler-singer-songwriter-bandleader-actress has released her newest album, Pretty Runs Out, with her band The Cute Guys. Shaw’s tremendous fiddle work shines throughout and her sprightly vocals, while still emanating traces of youthfulness, are solid overall, and are even on occasion evocative of a young, Cajun Gwen Stefani.

His first live, solo album, Henry Butler’s most recent release, PiaNOLA Live, comprises 11 songs pulled from his illustrious 20-year recorded history of performances. The selection includes Butler’s embellished takes on songs including Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” and, one of our Louisiana state songs, “You are My Sunshine.” Each selection highlights Butler’s piano mastery, soulful vocals and deep-set New Orleans roots. PiaNOLA succeeds as a chronology of live performances by one of New Orleans’ piano greats.

Fiction l Author Toni McGee Causey’s audacious heroine returns to shelves this month in Bobbie Faye’s (kinda, sorta, not-exactly) Family Jewels. This book follows Causey’s first novel, Bobbie Faye’s Very (very, very, very) Bad Day and carries the wackiness into this installation – which readers will see from the very first line: “Bobbie Faye Sumrall was full up on crazy, thank you very much, and had a side order of cranky to spare.” A funny, light read, the novel follows Bobbie Faye as she tracks missing jewels, dodges bullets and weaves her way to and through romantic entanglements.

Non-fiction l The first book by journalist Ronnie Greene, Night Fire: Big Oil, Poison Air, And Margie Richard’s Fight to Save Her Town, recounts the compelling, true-life story of a Norco (a town named for the New Orleans Refining Co.) resident and her struggle to hold Shell Oil accountable for pollution emission that caused many of her friends and neighbors to fall ill, or in the most heinous cases, die. Margie Eugene Richard banded her neighbors, largely poor and black, together to fight what’s been called environmental racism perpetrated by a corporate giant. The book is infuriating, frustrating, and inspirational – a worthy read for any proponent of justice.

Cookbook l Ralph Brennan, restaurateur, owner and operator of the NOLA establishments, Ralph’s on the Park, Red Fish Grill and Bacco, teamed up with chefs from his restaurants to create Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook.
The weighty tome includes recipes for everything from bread to dessert to classic New Orleans cocktails. The sections on seafood include recipes, of course, but also very handy guides, with corresponding “how-to” photos on cleaning and preparing critters for cooking. – Leigh Ann Stuart