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PRESERVATION: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall and The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program is the kind of CD you should enjoy when picking up your Mardi Gras guests at Louis Armstrong Airport. Nineteen perfectly charming tracks by the Preservation Hall Band and special guests will have you singing aloud to “Blue Skies” in your own “Louisiana Fairytale.” If New Orleans had a soundtrack this would be it. The varied collection includes “Tootie Ma Was a Big Fine Thing” with Tom Waits, “Freight Train” with Ani DiFranco and “Rockin’ Chair” with Louis Armstrong. Other highlights include Amy LaVere’s vocals on “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home,” Clint Maedgen’s showmanship with Blind Boys of Alabama on a wildly spirited “There Is a Light,” and a collaboration by Angelique Kidjo and Terrance Blanchard in “La Vie en Rose.” The Deluxe Version adds seven spectacular tracks.
Thriller l James Rollins, bestselling author of the Sigma Series, chose New Orleans as the setting for his thriller Altar of Eden. A bunch of Frankenstein animals are found as abandoned cargo on the Mississippi and veterinarian Lorna Polk and Cajun Jack Menard team up to crack the case. New Orleans readers will be amused by explosive scenes in bayou country. Also of interest is the inclusion of ACRES, the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, the real-life place that influenced Rollins’ storytelling after he heard of a cloned African wild cat named Ditteaux. Rollins’ tale of intrigue delivers as he knows that in New Orleans, you don’t need to make this stuff up.
Cookbook l Champion Chef John D. Folse has done it again with Hooks, Lies & Alibis: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Game Fish & Seafood Cookery. Folse and co-author Michaela York certainly represent the state well with this kitchen bible sure to be passed down for generations. The more than 900 pages begin with a History of Fishing. Later, recipes fit for Poseidon’s table cover everything from Steamed Whole Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions to Spicy Barbecued Stingray to Shrimp, Crab and Okra Gumbo. Desserts and drinks are well-represented as well. The photography throughout is stunning on the giant glossy pages and teaches a heart warming lesson: Fishing and cooking are great with family and friends.
Art l If you mated Lisa Frank’s plastic-covered binders with a Blaine Kern float you would have the eye-catching Mardi Gras posters by Andrea Mistretta. Her extravagant artwork is celebrated in Mardi Gras Parade of Posters. The artist’s collection is impressive not to mention fun for Carnival season. Pick your favorite Mona Lisa and read the story behind the mysterious smile. Frame-worthy!