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Defender Picks



November 25th


Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings

Smoothie King Center, 7p.m.

Kings of the water battle kings of the jungle


Stanton Moore Trio

Snug Harbor, 8-10p.m.

Drummer and founder of Galactic graces Snug’s intimate stage with modern jazz and funk renditions


Geek Trivia NOLA

Siberia, 7p.m.

Video game trivia!


Crescent City Farmers Market

Broadway St, 9a.m.-1p.m.

Uptown edition of the city's prime local market


Treme Brass Band

d.b.a., 9p.m.

Traditional New Orleans brass music straight from Cool Uncle Lionel and Benny Jones


Jon Roniger

The Little Gem Saloon, 5p.m.

With songs like “Redneck Riviera” Roniger blends jazz, blues and folk sounds with a southern twang


Rebirth Brass Band

The Maple Leaf, 10:30p.m.

The OG’s of the New Orleans brass band movement


Open Ears Music Series ftg The Kirk Nasty

Blue Nile Balcony Room, 10:30p.m.

Do you know where your ears are? Organized by Jeff Albert with various performances


Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns

Spotted Cat, 6.p.m.

Jazz singer with a vintage twist


Progression Music Series ft. Merrily and the Poison Orchard & The Humble Kid

Gasa Gasa, 9p.m.

Every Tuesday celebrate the contemporary music scene of Nola  


Jazz & Poetry

Sweet Lorraine’s, 8:30p.m.

Open mic slam hosted by African-American Shakespear; open to singers, poets, musicians


Kermit Ruffins & The BBQ Swingers

Bullet’s Sports Bar, 7p.m.

See Kermit at home in the 7th Ward and get to bed early


November 26th


Uptown Get Down

Tipitina’s, 10p.m.

Tony Skratchere, Unicorn and DJ Matt Scott $5


Mistress Kali’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Siberia, 6-9p.m.

Free monthly show featuring vaudeville and sideshow acts


Uptown Jazz Orchestra

Snug Harbor, 8-10p.m.

Somehow Delfeayo Marsalis’ orchestra fits on Snug’s intimate stage


Soul Project

Blue Nile, 8p.m.

Got soul?


Johnny Sansone Band ft. John Fohl

Chickie Wah Wah, 9p.m.

Electric harmonica, accordion and lyrics that take you back to the meaning of home


Hump Day SIN

The Country Club, 10a.m.

Half off pool admission for service industry employees; bring proof (bar card or check stub)!


Shot & Haircut

Circle Bar, $20

Punk thrash London rockers, the Noise Complaints, play at 10p.m.


The Tin Men

d.b.a., 7p.m.

Sousaphone, washboard and guitar trio hit the stage prior to the Wolfman


Water Wolfman Washington & The Roadmasters

d.b.a., 10p.m.

Teeth pickin’ local guitarist appears on Frenchmen for his weekly show; $5 at the door


Frank Warren: The World of Post Secret

Garden District Book Shop, 6-7:30p.m.

Enter a world of strangers’ secrets as author discusses this collection from the award-winning PostSecret blog


Lagniappe Brass Band

Blue Nile, 11p.m.

Six horns and a whole lotta sweaty funk



November 27th

Opening Day at the Track

Fair Grounds, 11a.m.

Celebrate turkey day with a $29.99 buffet at the Grandstand and 10 thoroughbred races


Bayou Classic Smoke-Free Thanksgiving Day Parade

Superdome, 3:30-6p.m.

Starting at the dome the parade marches all the way to the French Market sponsored by #SmokeFreeNOLA


Thanksgiving: Dine-In or Pre-Order Take-Out!

The Country Club, 11a.m.-7p.m.

Full course family-sized options made to order hot and fresh on turkey day


Micah McKee and the Little Maker

Blue Nile, 7p.m.

Folksy local singer-songwriter


Turkey Day Race

Tad Gormley Stadium, 8:30 p.m.

107th Annual five mile & half mile races benefitting Spina Bifida


Celebration in the Oaks

City Park, Open thru Jan 3

View the magical display of lights by foot or by train


Thanksgiving Throwdown 

Howlin’ Wolf, 10p.m.

Free Comedy Gumbeaux show (8:30p.m.) followed by Rebirth Brass Band and Glen David Andrews ($15)


Thanksgiving Zydeco with Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie

Rock ‘N’ Bowl, 8:30

Celebrate why you’re thankful for Louisiana roots with nouveau zydeco from da bayou


Reggae Night with DJ T-ROY

Blue Nile, 11p.m.

Roots reggae with local dreaded DJ


The Soul Rebels

Le Bon Temps Roule, 11p.m.

Brass heros take on their regular gig this Thanksgiving



Siberia, 10p.m.

Celebrate Black Thursday on St. Claude with local spinner



November 28th

The New Orleans Suspects feat. Paul Barrere of Little Feat

Tipitina’s, 10p.m.

Also with special guests Ed Volker (The Radiators) and John “Papa” Gros


Tank and the Bangas “Stone Soul Picnic”

Chickie Wah Wah, 10p.m.

Rhythmic soul and spoken word from locally formed group led by singer Tarriona Ball


Grayson Capps

Carrollton Station, 10p.m.

Raw bayou blues done right + Lauren Murphy; $2 Rolling Rock


Luke Winslow King w/SamDoores (The Deslondes/Hurray for the Riff Raff)

d.b.a., 10p.m.

Fresh Americana from Nola rooted musicians $10


Kermit Ruffins & The BBQ Swingers

Blue Nile, 7p.m.

Friday nights with Kermit on Frenchmen ($10)


Brass-A-Holics vs. Mainline

Blue Nile, 11p.m.

Dueling brass


DJ Black Pearl

Blue Nile Balcony Room, 1a.m.

Two nights of EDM from the princess of Indian dj’s


Teairra Mari: All Black Affair

House of Blues, 11p.m.

Presented by Tscolee & Loft 360 Society she's sung w/ Gucci Mane & Soulja Boy


Lalah Hathaway, Najee, Anthony David

Saenger Theatre, 7:30p.m.

Grammy-winning singer brings soul to the Saenger


Bayou Classic Golf Tournament

Joe Bartholomew Golf Course (Pontchartrain Park), 10a.m.

Test your driving and putting skills in this bonafide local tournament


Career & College Fair

Hyatt Regency Hotel, 10a.m.-3p.m.

Part of Bayou Classic’s events helping companies and graduates connect


Battle of the Bands And Greek Show

Superdome, 6p.m.

A decades long rivalry features a battle of school marching bands in preparation for tomorrow’s big game


Marc Broussard

Southport Music Hall, 8p.m.

Son of Boogie King’s Ted Broussard this cajun’s voice is full of well-placed soul


Black Friday Fiasco

Banks St. Bar, 10p.m.-3a.m.

A tribute to the Ramones with sideshows by lydia Treats, Pope Matt Thomas and burlesque from Xena Zeit-Geist




November 29th

Water Isaacson - The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers Geniuses, and Geeks Created a Digital Revolution 

Newman, 1-3p.m.

Hear author of Steve Jobs speak about pioneer of computer programming Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and other innovators of the digital age


Cedric Burnside Project ft Garry Burnside and Gravy

Tipitina’s, 10p.m.

Catch this Blues Hall of Famer uptown


Little Freddie King

The Beatnik, 9p.m.

Join this class act local bluesman in Central City


FKA Twigs

Republic, 9p.m.

The sexiest electronic R&B show you’ll probably ever go to


Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

The Country Club, 10a.m.-3p.m.

Do it how you live it + $10 bottomless Mimosas every Sat and Sun


DJ Black Pearl

Blue Nile Balcony Room, 1a.m.

Two nights of EDM from the princess of Indian dj’s


Hustle w/ DJ Soul Sister

Hi Ho Lounge, 9p.m.-1a.m.

Get ya hustle on to humble resident DJ who spins it how she lives it


John Boutte

d.b.a., 8p.m.

Witness local jazz vocalist’s voice floating on Frenchmen ($10)


Funk Monkey

d.b.a., 10p.m.

Second-line funk and dank boogaloo groove made to make ya move ya feet


Eric Lindell

d.b.a., 11p.m.

San Franciscan native turned Cajun sifts through elements of blues and soul $15


Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue

Siberia, 10p.m.

Authentic N.O. honky-tonk rockgal



Southport Hall, 7p.m.

Philip Anselmo's local metal cult 


Bayou Classic

Superdome, 1:30p.m.

Rivals Southern University and Grambling State duke it out for the 41st time in this annually played game


Fan Fest

Champions Square, 9a.m.-1p.m.

Music outside da dome featuring 5th Ward Weebie and more


Fringe, Singed II

Icarus, Underground Railroad Game, Ice Scream Theater: Fringe Fest Reviews

In this round of NOLA Defender's 2013 Fringe Fest reviews, puppets cover history and mythology takes to the aerials.



Somehow, The Underground Railroad Game manages to balance entertainment with cringe worthy discomfort. Groundswell, a theatre troupe from Philadelphia, tells the true story of two teachers, a black woman and a white man, who used the titular tool in their own middle school classrooms.


Carolyn (Jean Kidwell) and Stewart (Scott Shepherd) break their students (the audience) into two teams, Union and Confederate armies. The goal for students is to either free or capture as many slaves, represented by black baby dolls, as possible.


Obviously, this is a problematic educational tactic.


Kidwell and Shepherd’s stage chemistry blossoms as quickly as their romantic relationship. Throughout their lectures and their intimate moments, race is omnipresent, though rarely addressed directly. 


Although there is a traceable plot, the action is not linear. One scene transforms from an on-stage slavery presentation, starring Carolyn, into a candle-lit, silhouetted sex scene. The end brings the message of the play full-circle, without shoving a clear moral down the audience’s throats.    


Race is a dangerous topic. “Edgy” humor alone cannot advance the dialogue surrounding issues such as power dynamics in interracial dating, and the tendency for well-meaning white people to drown out black voices. 


Because it so unapologetically addresses these topics, Underground Railroad Game is a Fringe standout, the kind of play that mainstream theatre lovers and avant-garde snobs can both enjoy. Kidwell and Sheppard’s stellar performances make the crowd, or the class, laugh, cringe, and often do both at the same time.  


Underground Railroad Game is a 14+ show, playing again at Den of Muses (Architech St.) on Friday, 11/22 at 9 p.m., Saturday, 11/23 at 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11/24, at 9 p.m. 

-M.D. Dupuy


READ: 2013 Fringe Fest reviews, Pt. 1

READ: NoDef 2013 Fringe Reviews, Vol. 3

READ: NoDef 2013 Fringe Reviews, Vol. 4



If you haven’t seen traditional Wayang (shadow puppet) theatre, you must. The Red String Wayang Theatre of Gulfport, Miss., combines traditional techniques with modern storytelling and culturally relevant themes. Struggle for Justice features a remarkable number of puppets and sets, all artfully designed by director Michael Richardson and made in Indonesia. The puppets are transparently colored in great detail, and are surprisingly expressive (for two dimensional objects). Each character has a distinct voice, way of moving and recorded sound effects that help bring the action to life. The company also uses the traditional drumbeat, usually to signal a character’s exit, which adds gravity to the performance.


Shadow theatre is particularly adept at depicting violence, and the story of life in the Jim Crow South provides plenty of opportunities for shadows to swirl into chaos and then land in color on the screen with a clear image of a lynching, fire or other travesty. The story itself covers quite a number of years within the brief time of the production, focusing on a family of Mississippi sharecroppers who are saving up to buy the land they’ve been working. A relative from Detroit comes to visit, bringing different ideas of relationships between whites and blacks, and shakes things up in their small town, resulting in tragedy. Years later, the sharecroppers’ son, Albert, goes off to fight in World War II, which starts the conversation about whether or not fighting together in the war will change race relations back home. For Albert, it does—he saves the life of a white soldier in the Black Forest of Germany and the two become friends. After the war, Albert is committed to the cause of equal rights, despite the fear his activism causes his pregnant wife. When his white war buddy visits him, their small town is shaken up again.


In the wide array of characters presented on the shadow screen, Red String Wayang Theatre represents a broad range of voices on race relations during a pivotal time in the history of the American South. Although some characters seem to be flattened caricatures, this is in keeping with the shadow puppet tradition of social critique. The real central character here is the forward motion of history, where a series of events over a number of years lead inevitably to a call to action.


Struggle for Justice plays at the Backyard Ballroom (3519 St. Claude Ave.) Friday, November 22 at 9pm, Saturday, November 23 at 11pm, and Sunday, November 24 at 5pm.

-Elizabeth Gross



A youthful figure emerges from behind a chest. She twirls in a pink tutu. A montage of twisted fantasies plays on the screen behind her— Disney villains, witches, tigers and Zeppelin. She drops her pink tutu to the ground and the audience knows there is no going back.  

Through monologue and a multimedia montage, Ice Cream Theater, created by Christy Soto and directed by John LaTier, follows a girl’s quest to escape a house of addiction. From snorting coke off a dilapidated dollhouse occupied by liquor bottles to defying the odds and getting a college degree, the story takes various twists and turns only to end up on the same note it began, despair.

It’s a compelling story carried by the impressive acting skills of Nicole Lovince, but one that becomes overshadowed by its props.  During major points in Lovince’s monologue the screen behind her flashes pivotal looks from dangerous, female anti-heroes like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, a blood-covered Sissy Spacek in Carrie and a determined witch of The Craft.  As a result, the audience gets lost in the pop-culture backdrop, rather than paying attention to the foreground.  No matter how good the script, it’s difficult to compete with the movies.  

Despite hogging the attention, the screen conveys atmosphere and the emotional state of the character as the play moves through time.  By the end, a woman on the verge, like Uma on her way to kill Bill, is not so far from a powerful woman.     

While the monologue shows fluidity and economy, the hour-long play drags on a bit. Although compelling, the subject matter is cumbersome and difficult to sustain without becoming a weight for the audience. In an attempt to break up the monologue, LaTier and Soto add singing, a device that seems just as indulgent as alcohol. Really, Lovince shines most when speaking.  Her singing is pleasant, but prevents the plot from moving forward.  Regardless of length, Lovince maintains a vibrant energy throughout and never misses a beat.  

It isn’t until the end of the show when the audience realizes that her story of addiction is true.  Moving from fiction to reality, the screen trades out movie stills for photographs of a single mother.  Although she looks benevolent enough, she’s clearly the addict mother of Lovince’s character.  Finally, the subject of the play gets a face and, surprisingly, it is not that of a villain.   


Dynamic, heartfelt and masterfully performed, Ice Cream is definitely worth a see. Even if it’s not all ice cream and tutus, buried deep under the despair, there’s something sweet.    

Catch the show at The Old Firehouse (718 Mandeville) Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 9 p.m. or Sunday at 11 p.m.   

-Emma Boyce




The Mudlark Public Theatre presents another page of sordid New Orleans history with Blue Book: A Dioramic Guide to The Days and Ways of Storyville. The production combines the Mudlark’s usual mix of puppets, shadow puppets, and music for an informative and entertaining journey through the rise and fall of New Orleans’ red light district. The subject matter provides ample opportunities for lewd acts between puppets (a sure crowd pleaser) but Pandora Andrea Gastelum’s writing also communicates more subtle themes, particularly in the connections between legalized prostitution and race relations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Blue Book starts at the very beginning—comically depicting Iberville’s plea for more women from France to prevent relationships between the Canadian settlers and the native populations. Iberville’s desperation about this matter, along with his thick French accent, had the whole room laughing. From there, the puppeteers, who control and their puppets from behind, usher the audience swiftly through history, tracing connections between the first female settlers (prostitutes), the sale of light skinned “fancy girls” at the slave trade, and the development of Storyville, with the obsession and commodification of mixed-race beauty as a through-line between eras. Lulu White rises to be a powerful Madam, making different claims about her race and background depending on the fashions of the moment. We move in and out of her story for much of the play, as the puppeteers also give a complete, bordello-by-bordello tour of Storyville in its heyday.


Music by Salvatore Geloso (guitar) and Sarah McCoy (keyboard) sets the old-timey, lighthearted atmosphere and the quick pace for Blue Book. The puppets themselves are beautiful and strange, while the puppeteers’ voices are expressive (and frequently hilarious), and occasionally break into song. It’s remarkable how many characters are brought to life by just five puppeteers (Pandora Andrea Gastelum, Rheanna Keefe-Powers, Aaron Damon Porter, Milissa Orzolke, and Ben Aleshire). The production's most impressive element was the timing, under the direction of Pandora Andrea Gastelum. The story covers a lot of ground, but is divided into brief, concise segments, and never lags or wanders. Alternating between shadow and three dimensional puppetry techniques adds to the energy and rhythm throughout the play.


Blue Book: A Guide to Storyville plays at the Mudlark Public Theatre Thursday, November 21 at 9pm, Friday, November 22 at 9pm, Saturday, November 23 at 3pm and 11pm, and Sunday, November 24, at 5pm and 9pm.

-Elizabeth Gross



Icarus starts out as a typical romance: winged boy falls (beautifully) from sky, girl steals boy’s feathers while he’s on the ground, boy wakes up and a flying dance battle ensues. Both aerialist dancers, Rachel Strickland (who also directed the piece) and Meredith Starnes, are a pleasure to watch, and carry the story through dance and gesture. But, although they claim to be “retelling the story the world got wrong,,” the story isn’t really the point here. The piece feels more like a meditation on the joy of movement (and especially flight) occasioned by the hopeful re-imagining of an Icarus who survives the fall, and falls in love.


The love story begins on the ground, as Icarus instructs the girl in choreography that imitates flight. This middle section of joyful synchronized dance stands out in the context of the action that mostly unfolds vertically on the ropes, as the two explore the freedom of moving through space. Icarus leads the girl into flight in a touching sequence of movement where the two grip hold of each other in the air and weight of their bodies balance each other.


The music, by Jym Daly, is a mix of steady, repetitive drums with cello and distortion. At times, the beat fades away and the music is more ambient, and at other times it grows into a dance beat. The most exciting part of the performance takes place after the lovers are established, as the beat grows, and the two performers compete with each other on spinning hoops hung side by side. During Icarus’ frenzied spinning, her wig comes off, revealing her flowing blond hair. Her lover recoils from her, and the music shifts entirely to slow, wandering piano improvisation as Icarus returns to her rope alone. Rachel Strickland’s solo aerialist performance here is the most expressive in the piece.


The stage is spare, allowing the backdrop of Mardi Gras floats at the Den of Muses to become part of the dream-like scene. A stagehand crosses the stage from time to time adjusting and setting up the ropes and hoops, which increases the dream-state feeling of the piece—as if the performers are sleepwalking.


You can see Icarus, by Madame Rex of San Francisco, at Den of Muses Friday, November 22 at 11pm, Saturday, November 23 at 5pm, or Sunday, November 24 at 7pm.


-Elizabeth Gross


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