Summer breakup show

Molecules move faster in the summer heat. Thunder rumbles through the late afternoons. Evenings of cold beer become nights of tears and recrimination.

There’s nothing for summer breakups but to celebrate them, with awe at the beauty that once was, laughter at being led so astray, and feisty determination not to let that happen again. (Good luck with that.)

Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers at the Allways Lounge in New Orleans, June 26, 2012

Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers at the Allways Lounge in New Orleans, June 26, 2012. From left are Casey Coleman, Aurora Nealand, Scott Potts, Andre Bohren and Spencer Bohren. Not seen in this photo are Casey McAllister, Bill Malchow and Mark Paradis.

Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers waved a rockabilly wand over heartbreak June 26 at the Allways Lounge on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans. It was a fine crowd for a Tuesday night, with a little elbow room available, but only way in back.

Eight musicians crowded the small stage, each getting an opportunity to share the spotlight with frontwoman Aurora “Rory Danger” Nealand.

Sassy, playful numbers such as “Rip It Up,” “Cat Man” and “Cast Iron Arm” were interspersed with readings of poetry and “Dear John”/”Dear Jane” letters submitted by the audience. Spencer Bohren sang “Straight Eight” from his “Born in a Biscayne” album, and Marc Paradis provided the voice of The Man on “Summertime Blues.”

Intermittently, the music took extravagant swings into overwrought sentimentality, poking fun at the drama of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound.” “…Where my love lies waiting silently for me. … Silently because there’s nothing there,” Nealand interjected. “Cold, dark, fucking silence.”

And then there were moments of pure, sweet sorrow, especially when Paradis took the microphone for “Oh, Donna,” “Blue Christmas,” and Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying,” “when you see the one who no longer loves you.”

The show ended with Bobby Vinton’s “Sealed With a Kiss,” with the band members leaving the stage to the sound of a la-la singalong, a communion of lonely souls.


By your presence, you consent to be filmed

Frenchy works on a painting of David Arquette at the Maple Leaf

Frenchy works on a painting of David Arquette performing with Johnny Vidacovich, James Singleton and Keiko Komaki at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans on June 21, 2012

Even as Louisiana has climbed to the No. 3 rank for film production in the United States, being around celebrity productions is still a kick. Watching the crews work with their deluxe gear is interesting, and actors who come across as likable on the screen can have room-filling charisma in 3-D.

Deborah Vidacovich posed a riddle to the fans of her husband, Johnny, when promoting his June 21 show with James Singleton and Keiko Komaki at the Maple Leaf Bar. Vidacovich’s regular Thursday night gig would have as a special guest a movie star! Who is also a TV star! Who is also a wrestler! Can you guess?

It was David Arquette, filming an episode of a reality series to be called “Mile High” for the Travel Channel. The program will follow Arquette and his friend Mike McGuiness, owner of PR firm McGuiness and Feinstein, as they squeeze “spontaneous” adventures into their weekend travel, using social media connections to make the most of their getaways. “Mile High” is being produced by Coquette Productions, the production company Arquette runs with his ex, Courteney Cox.

The celebrity moment at the Maple Leaf was fairly brief. Arquette climbed on stage and played trumpet with the band on “Big Leg Woman,” a sure crowd-pleaser. Singleton chimed in with his trumpet, giving the situation a boost.

In less than 10 minutes, that part of the show was over. And the music blossomed, wandering the landscape from blues to “Jan Jan” to a punk pounding for the blank-canvas beat poetry of Please Don’t Be Squeezin’ My Heart.” At the end of the first set, Vidacovich said, as he often does, “You know, we played this music earlier today, when you weren’t here, and it was not so good. But now that you’re here, it’s great! Thank you!”

The musical experience was fine when the band was playing for the cameras, but it was perceptibly better when the bright lights were taken down and the musicians and their listeners could focus again on their shared act of creation.

Playing the Katrina card

Hurricane season has begun, and the Katrina card is being put into play.

References to the 2005 hurricane are used to suggest, without elaboration, that the survivor has come through the tempest stronger and wiser, with full ownership of inner qualities previously untapped, and with an intense focus on what matters most.

My house in Lakeview, a month and a half after Hurricane Katrina.

My house in Lakeview, a month and a half after Hurricane Katrina.

But Katrina’s effects on the souls of the Gulf South were not so consistent. For some, the Katrina experience provided lessons in lying and cheating to claim resources intended for someone else. Others learned to find opportunity in others’ desperation.

The Katrina card can be played responsibly. There’s no reason to dismiss the ways the experience transformed thousands of lives for the better. But the Katrina card is a meaningless joker without an explanation of its meaning to the player.

When I tell you that Hurricane Katrina taught me about the power of hope and faith, I refer to the devastating bewilderment of my return to my ruined house in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans, and how daily plodding effort got my family back home in October 2006.

When I tell you that Hurricane Katrina enhanced my appreciation of civil society, I refer to the distress I felt when it seemed that no one could be trusted, not even the police.

When I tell you that Hurricane Katrina taught me about the power of culture to bind a community, I refer to the dedication of my son’s classmates and teachers at NOCCA and to the embraces shared within my own circle of music fans during that amazing 2005 Voodoo Music Experience at The Fly.

When I tell you that Hurricane Katrina made me value work for the sake of work, I refer to how purposefulness freed me from helplessness and despair while my family was in Baton Rouge.

Playing the Katrina card with integrity preserves its effectiveness for those who earned it with tears. Those who use it for anything less should be called out for it.

Bacchanal’s year of transformation

Beau Ross was not anticipating the reinvention of the business he manages when the Friday evening party at Bacchanal was interrupted by the arrival of New Orleans police officers, sanitation inspectors and members of the Fire Department on Aug. 26, 2011.

The patio at Bacchanal

The patio at Bacchanal

The music entertaining a near-capacity crowd came to a halt about 9 p.m. when officials found the business to be in violation of a variety of codes and lacking proper permits.

The immediate response from Bacchanal supporters was an angry one. Facebook posts pointed fingers and vowed retaliation.

Feeling blindsided, Ross at first was at a loss for how to respond. But working through the challenges of the past year have put him in a position for greater success than he aspired to a year ago.

The Internet was a powerful ally, Ross said. With online supporters maintaining an aggressive charge on the publicity front, he could focus on working behind the scenes to solve the business problem at hand.

The online ruckus may also have been a factor in New Orleans City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer’s decision to contact Ross to offer help working through Bacchanal’s permit problems.

The process has not been an easy one. Winter was particularly grim. But with online supporters continuing to call attention to Bacchanal’s struggles, it was able to pull through, and on March 12 it got the city’s OK to present live music again. Ross said this summer’s profits will be dedicated to creating an indoor performance space above the wine shop, which will provide a more intimate setting for those more interested in listening to the music than in chatting with their friends. Having an indoor space will also allow shows to go on no matter the weather.