Fifteen million songs. Absolutely free; absolutely legal.
October 23 will mark the 10th anniversary of the original iPod, a revolution that made Apple a cultural touchstone and, perhaps more importantly, drove the final nail into the coffin of giant CD storage towers as acceptable home decor. Millions of us would eventually be able to lower the sun visor on our morning drive without fear of being smacked in the forehead by A Decade of Steely Dan and the other nine CDs we’d acquired for just 1 penny and a lifetime of harassment from Columbia Records. Right up there with fire and the wheel, this was.
But a decade is like a millennium in technology years. The iPod is as dated as a Members Only jacket next to the coolest export from Sweden since ABBA: Spotify. The service has been legal in Europe for years but has only recently secured the rights to operate in the U.S. Free memberships were on an invite-only basis until last week when they were thrown open to everyone (everyone with a facebook account, that is).
Streaming music? Big freaking deal: Pandora’s been doing it for years, you say. Spotify is a quantum leap forward, 15 million tracks versus only about 800K for Pandora, the ability to integrate your personal music library into your selections, and the ability to create and share playlists. For example, here’s a little one with a few selections from artists scheduled to perform this fall at Wednesday’s at the Square. You can check it out once you’ve downloaded the Spotify software.
Spotify comes in three flavors: Totally free, which contains ads, Unlimited for $4.99 per month which eliminates the commercials, and Premium for $9.99 which also allows unlimited streaming to any mobile device. If you’re a music freak, this moves the needle. Instead of an algorithm feeding you music ‘like’ something else, a la Pandora, you can listen to the actual song you want to hear. Imagine that. There’s a ‘Related Artists’ tab, perfect for discovering new music, and an ‘Artist Radio’ tab if you do want that lean-back Pandora approach.
Spotify’s by far the best take on streaming music I’ve ever seen, good enough to forgive Sweden for that whole Dancing Queen thing. All the cool kids are doing it, so you should check it out.
He and She Said:
More than maybe anything else, music makes us who we are in New Orleans. With apologies to Jazzfest, next weekend’s French Quarter Festival is the best opportunity to experience the embarrassment of musical riches with which we are blessed in the this city. The sheer density of amazing musicians living and performing here continues to amaze us. Over and over again we see visitors slack-jawed at the brilliance of a set on an average Tuesday night, many times with no cover charge. Let’s never take for granted what we have here.
The list of acts for the Festival can seem overwhelming, and the sheer number of choices can sometimes cause folks to gravitate to the great artists they already know. We’re hoping you don’t do that. FQF weekend is the perfect opportunity to discover something new.
With that in mind, check out our guide to the music right here or in the page under French Quarter Fest Music Better. We’ve tried to mention some of what we feel are the most intriguing acts of the Festival. Hopefully there are one or two with whom you’re unfamiliar. This is the time to change that.
Let us know which of your favorites we missed, and maybe we’ll see you out there.
The third Long Island Tea was usually very good; it was the first two that took some work.
I wasn’t what you’d call a sophisticated kid. Formative years in suburban Jefferson Parish had left me with a predictable sense of diversity; which is to say none at all. I distinctly remember being perplexed to learn that JFK was the only Catholic President. Where the hell, I wondered, did they find 38 Protestants? I recall reading about anti-Semitism and being similarly puzzled, unsure but curious as to what anyone could possibly have against a Jewish person, never having managed to meet one myself. Basically I was about as cosmopolitan as a ham sandwich. With the crusts cut off.
Imagine showing up for Thanksgiving dinner only to find your family had moved away.
More than a few times I’ve said that the iconic Donna’s reminded me of holidays with my extended family. If, that is, my extended family suddenly included an ever-changing cast of brilliant musicians and we routinely stayed up past midnight together. New Orleans has an embarrassment of essential live music venues, but Donna’s has for me always been the friendliest, the most unassuming. Each time I walked through the doors at the corner of Rampart and Saint Ann I would get the same vibe. Donna’s had a distinct personality, and it always felt to me like they were asking me to come on into their living room, settle back, and grab something to eat. And oh, by the way, this brass band we’ve got tonight will blow your freaking mind. So have a drink and make some new friends, because you’re at home here.
A million-dollar talent played a million-dollar instrument, and most people didn’t even notice. Several friends have mentioned to us the experiment in context performed by The Washington Post in which renowned violinist Joshua Bell performed on a Stradivarius in a D.C. subway, unremarked by most passers-by. Many conclusions have been drawn from this. Here is one view, and here is another. Let me offer a third: I claim no expertise in classical music and I cannot speculate on the rarity of Joshua Bell’s talents. But I am confident that the only thing preventing us from encountering brilliant musicians in the NOLA subways on a daily basis is the lack of the subway. We’ve got the musician thing covered.
Food has been the North Star of this project since its inception, but music is another abiding passion we share. We’ve spent the fall reviving the blog and exploring some of the amazing new restaurants all over town; the Holidays are a particularly good time to be food-centric. Now that the calendar has turned to January we’re starting to get juiced for Festival Season, and not just because of the food booths. We’ve been a few places both in and out of the country, and each has their charms, but none are as musical as New Orleans. Not Paris, not Barcelona, not Rome, not San Francisco, and not Saint Petersburg. The more places we go the more we realize we have right here. Starting with this post, the nature of the blog is going to change significantly as we devote some of our prose to a celebration of the Trenta-sized collection of musical talent among which we live.
This review is long overdue. In August, Chris Starnes, Sophie Lee, and Dan Esses opened Three Muses on Frenchmen Street, between Blue Nile and Praline Connection. Billed as a fusion of hospitality, food, and music, this place looked promising to us. As former residents of the Marigny Triangle and now part-time French Quarter habitués, we have a great affection for our old stomping grounds.
We’ve run across Dan Esses’ food in a number of venues: The now-defunct Bank, formerly at the corner of Dauphine and Touro, the Marigny Brasserie, Clever Wine Bar, and the courtyard Sunday nights at Bacchanal. For whatever reason, Dan’s been kind of a gypsy chef, bouncing from place to place. What has been consistent is the quality of his work. This guy knows what he’s doing, so hopefully he’ll stay around for awhile.
We got to know Chris when he was running the front of the house at The Marigny Brasserie, right after Katrina, when that was a very solid place. After that, he ran Coffea Café in Bywater, where Satsuma is now, and also popped up at the very well-regarded Boucherie.
So, knowing some of the players, we had high hopes. But we also had significant reservations as we waited to see the concept. In recent years, Frenchmen has grown more and more funky, and less and less amenable to fine-dining. The Brasserie, blessed with by far the best space and location on the street, did a good job for awhile, but the wheels have come off in recent years. Some may remember Belle Forche anchoring the other end of the block years earlier. For the most part this stretch of the Marigny has proved friendlier to casual, eclectic places like Yuki, 13, and Adolfo’s. We wondered if Three Muses would open it’s doors with a concept that would catch fire with the very singular Frenchmen crowd, but we worried they might aim too high. We’ve now been five or six times, and this review keeps getting away from me, so it’s time to sit down and knock it out.
I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to partake in a whole slew of adventures over the past 9 months and it would be impossible to include them all in this blog based upon my recent slacking tendencies. Instead, I’ve decided that maybe it would suffice to highlight those experiences/things that stood out.
In true rant fashion, there is no rhyme or reason to the order of my list. If I offend anyone with the below opinions, well, I do have a very finite take- just ask my husband. By the way, this does not necessarily reflect his perspective either. I’m just sayin’.
Posted in Lists, Rants, She said
Tagged Bar-Tonique, Bistro at Maison de Ville, BMC, Cafe Amelie, Cake Cafe, Coquette, Croissant d'Or, El Gato Negro, Envie, French Quarter, Gal Holiday, Hansen's, Hermes Bar, Iris, Irvin Mayfield, La Divina Gelateria, lists, Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, Mona Lisa, music, Parkway Bakery, Refuel, Rio Mar, Sangria, Sukho Thai, tapas, The Bean Gallery, The Sazerac, Three Legged Dog, Three Muses, Treme, Wasabi, Yo Mama's