NON-FICTION: As a New Orleans transplant I’ve always said that one of my biggest draws to the city is the music. Since my arrival seven years ago I’ve made it a mission to explore the various locations in and just outside New Orleans. Until I read The New Orleans Jazz Scene Today: A Guide to the Musicians, Live Jazz Venues, and More by Thomas Jacobsen, I hadn’t realized the sheer number of places left to discover. Offering a peek into nearly every nook and cranny of both the past and present day jazz scene, Jacobsen reveals the city’s up-and-coming artists as well as established ones.
After Hurricane Katrina, many believed New Orleans, along with its music, was lost. Jacobsen’s book gives insight to just how far the city has come, and the talent that continues to flow from its riverbanks. His local observances and passion for jazz makes this an informative read and a captivating guide to venues across the city.
COFFEE TABLE BOOK: I first opened this book on a rainy day while sitting in my Mid-City shotgun-style living room with the doors open and hot tea in hand. It was honestly the perfect setting and added to the experience of reading an already compelling book. This revised edition of New Orleans Then and Now by Sharon Keating is riddled with gorgeous photography and insight to some of the most notable of the city’s sites.
The comparative photos prove how much New Orleans has preserved and persevered in the face of several wars, hurricanes and massive fires. The book also documents how much has changed not just in recent history, but in the last 300 years. Some interesting bits from the book include the St. Louis Hotel once held slave auctions; Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop survived the French Quarter fires in the late 1700s due to its slate roof; and Café Du Monde has been serving coffee and beignets since 1862. Pick up this novelty coffee table book for yourself to enjoy on a rainy day.
JAZZ: Seva Venet, New Orleans Banjo Vol. 1, “Musieu Bainjo” is high-energy and will inspire you to get up and rolling this Mardi Gras season, even on the dreariest of days. Venet has been performing, teaching and recording in New Orleans for nearly a decade, and leads his own band called The Storyville Stringband. Venet’s banjo jams are reminiscent of musical legend, Danny Barker. Crank out Venet’s newest CD while mixing your on-the-route drinks to remind yourself just what makes New Orleans’ diverse music scene so great, whether it’s 1927 or 2017.