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Rich Collins of New Orleans Band Imagination Movers Releases Solo Album Golden Pick – Watch

Rich Collins of the New Orleans band Imagination Movers has just released his second solo album. The Imagination Movers are one of the most popular bands for kids in the world owing to the Disney show they had going for three seasons that was translated in many different languages. That show was shot on a soundstage in Harahan not far from my house.

Rich Collins of New Orleans Band Imagination Movers Releases Solo Album Golden Pick – Watch

rich collins imagination movers new orleans band

Rich Collins and his Golden Pick playing music in the park.

I watched that show several times and was amazed at the music, the fun and the creativity. It was very entertaining. The four Movers were all naturals on camera and is probably one of the reasons they are so popular in their live shows.

The group was started by four best friends in New Orleans who had an idea for a band that would create and perform pop music for kids but still could be appreciated by adults, too.

Well, they’ve done a good job of it because they’ve been going strong for many years now playing gigs in New Orleans as well as traveling the United States doing festivals and major events in New York and Washington D.C. So I guess you could say that they’ve become a big deal.

This song Golden Pick is the title track to the new CD. It’s fun, upbeat and just has this infections rhythm that makes ya wanna dance. And it’s shot right there on the banks of the Mississippi River and what looks to be City Park.

The New Orleans Band Imagination Movers is a great project and can’t wait to see what other great music and art projects happen in this city that go global.


Posted in New Orleans Art, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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New Orleans Pizza: Are We Famous for That Too? The Janoskians’ Luke Shows Us How to Eat It – Watch

I would have thought that New Orleans pizza was probably just as good as anywhere else. But this guy Luke from the Melbourne, Australia band The Janoskians shows us the fine art of chowing down on some really yummy looking pizza.

New Orleans Pizza: Are We Famous for That Too? The Janoskians’ Luke Shows Us How to Eat It

new orleans pizza

This is where you can get some of the best New Orleans pizza.

I’ve never been to this place Vieux Carre Pizza, in fact I’ve never heard of it. But that is not unusual for an uptown person. There are all kinds of things happening in the French Quarter that I don’t know about.

But man this pizza looks really good. Really thick with all kinds of stuff on it. Me, I can eat a whole regular pizza by myself and not feel full. But these thick slices this kid eats well I might have trouble eating an entire pie.

If you can watch this video without getting hungry, well then maybe you might wanna get your taste buds checked. I wanna drive down to the Quarter right now and order me one. It’s at 733 St. Louis St. if you are interested. If you go down there could you pick up a pizza for me?

Mm, mm, mm, dere ain’t nothin’ like good New Orleans pizza. Yeah you right!

Posted in New Orleans Food, New Orleans Life.

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New Orleans Musician John Batiste Teaches Stephen Colbert How to Hang – Watch

When New Orleans musician John Batiste was asked by Stephen Colbert to be his bandleader for his new show on CBS he had only one request: He had to visit him in New Orleans. He wanted Colbert to really get that unique New Orleans vibe.

New Orleans Musician John Batiste Teaches Stephen Colbert How to Hang – Watch

stephen colbert john batiste in new orleans

Do these guys know how to hang or what? Stephen Colbert and his bandleader John Batiste on Frenchman Street in New Orleans

Batiste meets Colbert in a bar where he shows him some fine intricacies of New Orleans rhythm. Then they are out on Frenchman street soaking up the vibe and just hanging out. Notice the white suit, a very southern thing and an appropriate outfit for New Orleans.

The musician meets up with his “drummer”, which is really some bearded street guy in a pink dress with a tambourine, and they do a little jam, with Batiste on his mouth piano.

He shows Colbert how to successfully “hang” on Frenchman Street. He explains “hanging” as being out there on the street with style and purpose. He also explains to him some obscure New Orleans slang like “bleaching” that I’ve never heard before watching this video.

It’s cool that this young guy, this New Orleans musician John Batiste has got such a plum gig on The Late Show. Congrats to him!


Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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11 Things About New Orleans Mardi Gras You Probably Have No Clue About

New Orleans Mardi Gras, we like to say, is a party the city likes to give for itself where everyone in the world is invited. The news media loves to play up the rowdiness and the seeming chaos that occurs on Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras weekend and Fat Tuesday. But this is only one street in the French Quarter where mostly tourists gather to participate in what they think is the real Mardi Gras. It hardly reflects what is happening in the rest of the city during carnival.

11 Things About New Orleans Mardi Gras You Probably Have No Clue About

One of the many amazing costumes that you can see Mardi Gras day in New Orleans.

One of the many amazing costumes that you can see Mardi Gras day.

So here is short list of things most people have no clue about when it come to New Orleans Mardi Gras:

1. It has its origins in Roman times and is actually originally a pagan celebration

2. The Catlick Choich tried to wipe it out since it was really a pretty heathen holiday. But when it realized it could not be squelched it just adopted it and put it right before Ash Wednesday, actually creating Ash Wednesday to be the day after Mardi Gras.

3. The original reason people masked during carnival way back in ancient times was to conceal their identity so they could engage in all kinds of debauched activity for that one day.

4. New Orleans was founded on Mardi Gras day, and that piece of land (not present day New Orleans) is still known as Mardi Gras Point. The French brought the celebration with them to the new world.

5. Other U.S. cities have tried to have their own Mardi Gras but it has always ended in chaos and riots because these people only see the surface celebrations of New Orleans, the parades, the masking, the drinking without understanding the unique religious, societal and historical underpinnings of the holiday.

6. Mardi Gras and carnival can only occur in Catholic countries and cities. Without the idea of the coming season of Lent and sacrifice, fasting and prayer the holiday otherwise has no meaning. Which is why when other city’s have tried to duplicate the trappings of the holiday it always devolves into chaos. These people do not understand its essence and thus fail, and fail miserably.

7. At various times during Carnival in New Orleans there can be a million people out on the streets for the parades. There are no riots and never have there been riots or anything close to it. Everyone pretty much behaves themselves and are only out there looking to have a good time with friends and family.

The New Orleans police department is world-renowned for crowd control. But it is more than just the police that keeps it under control, it’s the attitude of the people of New Orleans, that this is a party we are throwing for ourselves, and letting things get out of hand is not tolerated, and is not even anybody’s idea of having fun. We just want to watch a parade, catch beads, eat, drink, be with friends and family and have a good time.

8. New Orleans Mardi Gras and carnival is for people of all ages, and is not just a debauched holiday with people getting drunk and naughty and crazy. Yes, you can find some of that in the Quarter but away from there you will see families with little kids in tow, sitting on top of ladders made especially for parade viewing and catching beads. You’ll see little old ladies with their hands out for a throw from a float.

You’ll see nuns and priests among the crowds as well having a good time too, sometimes you’ll see them with a beer in hand shouting “hey hey hey” waiting for the guy on the float to throw them something. And I’ve been the Quarter on Mardi Gras day and seen little kids down there too with their parents in cute family costumes.

9. On Mardi Gras day you’ll see some of the most amazing, creative costumes that you’ll see anywhere in the world. You’ll find these especially in the Quarter, but I’ve seen many unique, funny creative costumes uptown on St. Charles Avenue. But the Quarter definitely has the lion’s share of them.

rex and comus new orleans madrdi

The customary meeting of the courts of Rex and Comus Mardi Gras evening.

10. 12th Night is the beginning of the carnival season in New Orleans and from then on to Mardi Gras day there are krewes giving very formal beautiful invitation-only balls with a king and queen and debutants being presented.

Almost every parading organization has such a ball with the king, usually anonymous to the ball goers, the queen, usually a debutant who has been honored with being queen for that year, wearing a beautiful gown especially designed for her.

These exclusive balls has its own customs and traditions. But not every krewe has a parade. So there are tons more of these krewes who give balls then those who parade.

Usually the krewes are made up of men, but there are a few female krewes, a few black krewes and even some gay krewes with their own formal celebrations. Some of these krewes have been in existence for over 150 years.

Beautiful artwork representing a Comus parade during New Orleans Mardi Gras

Beautiful artwork representing a Comus parade.

11. The oldest organization that has paraded continuously up to the present day is Rex, which rolls in the morning on Mardi Gras day. It was founded in 1872. The very oldest organization is Comus founded in 1856 and for 100 years was the Mardi Gras night parade. It stopped rolling in the 1991.

So do you see why you can’t just decide your city’s gonna have Mardi Gras one year. NOLA’s grew out organically and the New Orleans Mardi Gras we now celebrate came from over hundreds of combined years of celebrating and deep lasting traditions. And to be honest this list only scratches the surface of our unique New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life.

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A New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball: How To Be Queen

What does it take to be queen of a New Orleans Mardi Gras ball? My grand-niece Gigi Bienvenu showed us all as the queen of the 2016 Acheans ball, one or the many such private affairs the folks of New Orleans have during the carnival season.

Your humble correspondent attended as an invited member of the committee dressed in the costume de rigeur – in other words “tails” you know like they wear in Downton Abbey – with other family members, to watch as Gigi reigned over the proceedings next to her king.

How To Be Queen of a New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball

Gigi Bienvenu queen of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball Acheans

Gigi Bienvenu queen of the 2016 Mardi Gras Ball Acheans. Photo Daniel Erath The New Orleans Advocate

As is the custom with a New Orleans Mardi Gras ball, the name and identity of the king is not revealed. He wears a beard and blonde wig underneath his crown which makes all kings of Mardi Gras balls look almost exactly the same. Only members of the organization (“krewe” in NOLA lexicon) and the queen know his identity.

new orleans mardi gras ball the acheans 2016 carol bienvenu

Carol Bienvenu, the mother of Gigi Bienvenu flanked by Lauren Fitzpatrick and Lydia Scanlon. Photo Daniel Erath The New Orleans Advocate

Nell Nolan of The New Orleans Advocate explains this year’s theme:

For the Achaeans, Athena was summoned to guard Odysseus home to Ithaca and a reunion with spouse Penelope, whom he had not seen for years, and who was beseiged by suitors. As the program stated, “Retrieve his wife, his home, and his friends” after his long odyssey.

With such a spirit of return and welcome, it was most fitting that her majesty would be surnamed Bienvenu. Reigning as the queen was Miss Genevieve Marie Bienvenu, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Albert Bienvenu IV. 

Her majesty Gigi related shortly before appearing in her majestic glory in the Sheraton’s Grand Ballroom that she was “excited about the whole experience” of being queen. She learned about her honor in April of 2015, when her parents took her to Antoine’s Restaurant for dinner. On the baked Alaska dessert was inscribed in icing “Queen of Achaeans.”

gigi bienvenu queen acheans new orleans mardi gras ball 2016

Gigi Bienvenu strolls through the pre-ball throng gracing her subjects with her beautiful presence. (Taken with my little old-fashioned flip phone.)

Vera Wang protege Suzanne St. Paul created Gigi’s bead-embellished silk satin gown with Rows of Swarovski crystals.  The organization’s traditional ermine-trimmed mantle and Medici collar as well as the glittering crown and scepter were her queenly accessories.

Before the ball there was a pre-party affair at her parents’ home where the maids of honor and the queen were toasted with champagne and the proper edicts were announced regarding the evening.

Afterwards at around 10:30 PM the queen’s supper was held in the hotel’s Armstrong Ballroom where the fantastic cover band Liquid Blue from San Diego entertained on into the night not letting up once during their spectacular 3 hour “reign” over the late-night proceedings. You name it they played it, all styles with equal ability and gusto.

Gigi said at the end of it all, “I had an experience of a lifetime — a truly magical evening.”

So how does one be queen of a New Orleans Mardi Gras ball? With grace, generosity, beauty and elegance. Gigi showed us all how to do it.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life.

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