LPO Melts the Ice with Fireworks, Pipa Concerto

by Joe Shriner

While the winter storm continues to ice over New Orleans, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is ringing in the Chinese New Year with some fiery musical fare. On Friday, January 31, the LPO performs works by Stravinsky and Mahler, and celebrates the first day of the year in the Chinese calendar with a pipa concerto by Chinese native Zhao Jiping.


Conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto, the LPO will be joined by internationally renowned pipa star Wu Man, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. The performance kicks off at 7:30 pm at Mahalia Jackson Theater.


Awarded Instrumentalist of the Year in 2013 by Musical America, virtuoso Wu Man has been widely credited for bringing the pipa to Western audiences. The lute-like Chinese instrument has been around since at least around the 2nd century, and has been appearing more regularly in Western repertoire largely due to artists like Wu Man performing pipa works by American composers Philip Glass and Terry Riley. Over the last decade, Wu Man has given world premieres of scores by these composers, as well as works by Chen Yi and Bright Sheng. Continuing collaborators include Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Cho-liang Lin, and the Kronos Quartet. She has also performed with some of the most distinguished conductors today, including David Zinman, Yuri Bashmet, and Dennis Russell Davies.



Wu Man will solo on a concerto by Beijing resident Zhao Jiping for LPO’s Friday program. Jiping wrote the piece expressly to showcase Wu Man’s mastery of the instrument, basing the work on a folk melody from her hometown. Jiping is mostly known for his film scores for Chinese director Zhang Yimou.


Included in Friday’s program is Fireworks, written by a young Igor Stravinsky in 1908. The short orchestral fantasy was written to commemorate the marriage of Nadia Rimsky-Korsakov, the daughter of the composer and Stravinsky’s mentor, Nikolai. The showpiece, which makes use of a large orchestra is brightly dramatic yet controlled, marks a turning point in Stravinsky’s career. This was his most innovative and successful composition to date, and would eventually lead him to a life of fame.


Das Lied von der Erde (or “Song of the Earth”) by Gustav Mahler, by comparison, was not written as a celebration, but as a premature farewell to the world. Mahler had conceived the work the same year Stravinsky completed Fireworks, finishing it in 1909. The symphonic song-cycle is made up of six movements featuring two singers and orchestra. Friday’s concert showcases Grammy-Award winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and acclaimed tenor Anthony Dean Griffey performing the epic work.


Clocking in just over an hour, Das Lied von der Erde focuses on themes of romance and debauchery, but also of loneliness, grief, and dealing with mortality. Written during a difficult period where the composer was mourning the loss of his eldest daughter and was diagnosed with an inborn heart defect, Mahler used texts based on Tang Dynasty Chinese poetry.


The LPO presents “Chinese New Year,” Friday, January 31 at 7:30pm at Mahalia Jackson Theatre, located in Louis Armstrong Park. Tickets begin at $20, with discounts for student and children. For further information, visit the LPO website or call (504) 523-6530.

Flood Insurance Bill Passes U.S. Senate

Even with this week's surge from the White House, the U.S. Senate passed a flood insurance reform bill Thursday that is designed to roll back premium increases for thousands of Louisiana residents. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, passed by a vote of 67-32. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where prospects for passage are less certain.


Under the bill, insurance premium increases that were passed as part of the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 would be delayed for four years. Since Biggert-Waters passed, local leaders have drawn attention to the fact that many of the changes would lead to skyrocketing rates for many homeowners.


Specifically, the bill would delay increases for any property that was perviously grandfathered, but have been remapped into an area with higher premiums. People who bought new policies after July 6 but were not legally required to buy insurance could also see relief.


The bill gives FEMA time to study the insurance rates and their impact on local areas before making a final decision. The bill also requires FEMA to certify that they have accurate flood maps, eliminate penalties for communities that are providing their own flood insurance apart from the federal government and sets money aside for a Flood Insurance Advocate position within FEMA to assist homeowners.


"Affordable flood insurance is bigger and more important than politics. It’s a pocketbook issue that affects people’s everyday lives, and it is my responsibility as their senator to make it right,” said Landrieu, who has led the charge for Louisiana.


U.S. Senator David Vitter, who led Republican efforts to get behind the bill with Sen. Johnny Isakson, also applauded the bill's passage.


"Unsustainable rate increases are just out of the question for millions of homeowners,” Vitter said. “The legislation we just passed would provide a huge relief, and fix some of the program’s problems in a long-term, fiscally sustainable way.”


In the House, the companion bill could face opposition from Speaker John Boehner. While the House passed a one-year delay to the flood insurance increases in a measure authored by Landrieu's November election opponent, U.S. Rep Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge), the chamber's GOP leader has expressed unwillingness to go along with more comprehensive reform.


The bill also faced pushback earlier this week from the White House. The Office of Management and Budget objected to the bill on the grounds that delaying the Biggert-Waters reforms would leave the National Flood Insurance Program in serious debt.


Nevertheless, Landrieu called for the bill to go to the House floor for a vote.


"With more than 180 bipartisan House members backing a similar bill, I urge the House to quickly bring it to the floor for an up-or-down vote," she said.


Six Ten Candles: 610 Stompers’ Ball Benefits Autism Society

by Stacy Coco

Before they head out to the route, the 610 Stompers aren't forgetting any birthdays. The league of ordinary men with extraordinary moves known as the 610 Stompers are hosting their 5th annual Sweet 610 Debutante Costume Ball, Friday, February 7 at the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd.). Along with their own fifth birthday, the 610 Stompers are making sure we all remember Sam Baker's with this year's theme, Six Ten Candles.


Along with the dance moves they put on display at Carnival parades and parties all year, the five-year-old dance krewe also aims to give back.


“We are a non-profit that supports other non-profit organizations. Over the past few years, we have been able to donate about $250,000 to other non-profit organizations,” said Mont “Big Bird” Creamer, Executive Director for the 610 Stompers. 


This year, the all-male dance club and charity organization has chosen to raise money for the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans, whose mission is to provide advocacy and support for individuals with autism and their families.


The Autism Society will use the donations to improve students’ lives and the way they learn by purchasing iPads for teachers to use with students in the classrooms, Creamer noted.


“The iPads provide a customizable interactive platform for students to learn on the go," he said. "Most children who use the iPad also find that tapping the screen or sliding their finger is easier than looking up and down at a keyboard and monitor. The way the kids respond to it is incredible. It improves their lives so much.”


The Stompers have had major success in the past as far as planning, donating to different charities and gaining support from sponsors.


“Budweiser has been with us since day one,” Creamer stated also adding, “Budweiser basically said ‘Let’s just give ‘em some beer and see what happens,’ and now they’re our largest annual sponsor.”


The Stompers have sold about four times as many tickets as this time last year. They expect to have about 2500 guests, according to Creamer.


So, what have the Stompers been doing to prepare for this year’s ball?


“We practice about twice a week. We haven’t done these dances ever. That’s why it is called a debutante ball because we are debuting these dance moves for the first time,” said Creamer.


The Johnny Sketch & The Long Duk Dongs, an 80s cover band formed especially for this party featuring Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, John "Papa" Gros, Darcy Malone and other guests. DJ Hammer will also provide music.


General admission tickets include food from the city’s best restaurants, open bar/free draft beer, birthday party favor and a preview of the Stompers’ freshest dance moves! The Debutante Patron Party Ticket includes all general admission perks plus early admission at 7 p.m., a Patron-only private open bar, a 610 Stompers calendar and photos and private dance lessons with your favorite Stomper.


The ball will be complete with an 80s costume contest where party goers will be named King or Queen of the ball. Lending a hand to creating the perfect 80s getup, Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes on Magazine has put together a few pieces for inspiration. Humbug Boutique in Kenner, who Creamer said hopes becomes an annual sponsor, is also providing inspirational 80s wear.


All you Jake Ryans, Samantha Bakers and compulsive 80s costume party goers know you want to grab the nearest foreign exchange student, your polka-dotted panties and jack a vintage Rolls Royce to indulge in your Molly Ringwald fantasies.


The annual ball is February 7 at Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd.) from 8 p.m. to midnight. General admission tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Tickets for the Patron Party are $100. If you are unable to attend the party, the 610 Stompers encourage people to make donations in lieu of their friends at the Autism Society. Click here for event and ticket info.


Drew Brees Talks Sherman, Extra Points on David Letterman (VIDEO)

The Saints aren't in the big game and we're not hosting, but New Orleans is still has a place in Super Bowl hype. A King Cake baby already made an appearance in the NFL's pre-Super Bowl late night talk show blitz. Now, it's Breesus' turn.


The Saints QB appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, where he combed through some NFL hot topics like ending the extra point and Richard Sherman's behavior. On Thursday night, Brees will be a guest on the Colbert Report.




Punch Party

With the Crescent City in the midst of a string of celebrations, Rhinannon Enlil provides a guide to one of the most anticipated bowls of the season.


For new residents of the city, one of the most pleasant surprises of the New Orleans calendar is what we mean when we talk about the holiday season. Anywhere else, New Year's Day means the fun is over; in New Orleans, however, it means we're just getting started with Carnival!  In that spirit, I'm often asked for advice on what beverages to provide for a party, or what to bring when invited over to someone's house. 


Different fetes call for different drinking styles. Headed to a courtyard barbeque or crawfish boil? I'd bring a 12-pack of beer. For a nice dinner party, I'll usually bring a bottle of wine. 


But what about a house party, for collective costume-making or for watching the Super Bowl? 


No question: bring punch.  


Not some powdered fruit drink mixed in a bucket with Everclear, but a classic, fresh-juice punch made with quality booze.


Punch is a great way to please a diverse crowd. Guys, gals, seniors and college students, pretty much everyone can drink punch. If you make it at home, bring an appropriate vessel and even a block of ice, your party contribution is sure to be a favorite. 


Another great thing about punch? You don't have to do any cocktail-making. Simply pour it into a cup and get back to the more important task of watching the big game or stitching those sequins for your costume. Making a large, balanced punch can seem daunting; no one wants to waste a whole bottle of booze in a mixed-up mess of ingredients. But if you stick with some punch basics, it really is an easy task.


Good Rhyme for Good Time

A simple way to remember a reliable punch recipe is in this rhyme: 'One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak.' 


Sour equals one pint (16 oz) lemon juice, which is roughly a dozen decent size lemons. If any of your local Meyer lemons survived the winter freeze, they yield quite a bit more juice than store-bought lemons. Limes can also be substituted for the sour instead of lemons, but in the winter season they're usually dried tiny green rocks, not fruit. (Lime-based punches are better in the summertime anyway.)


For Sweet we'll use two cups of sugar, stirred until dissolved in the lemon juice. If you're nervous about all that sugar, start with one cup and taste the mixture. It should be similar to a strong, sweet lemonade, not puckering or super tart. Getting creative is pretty easy here; for example, consider adding a flavored simple syrup or honey instead of plain sugar. If you're working with a liquid sweetener, start with 16 ounces and continue to add more, tasting as you go.


Now, the best part, Strong: two 750 mL bottles of booze, such as one bottle of cognac and one bottle of dark rum. This is also a place to be creative, since most spirits work very well in this formula. I like using brandy and rum since they both have depth and richness, which gives the punch more quaffable qualities. 


Lastly, the Weak: two quarts (64 oz) water. Either still or sparkling will work. If I want to make the punch a bit more celebratory, I'll throw in a bottle of sparkling wine in this formula and cut the water down to 40 ounces.  Some punch recipes call for using tea instead of water, which is yet another way to be expressive. But always make sure you're using a decaf tea or you'll have a bunch of boozed-up guests bouncing off the walls.  


Like most things in life, punch is better with a little "Spice!"  It may not be in the rhyme, but a punch is really incomplete without this little accent. You can either generously grate fresh nutmeg or cinnamon into the punch, or toss in several dashes of bitters, such as Angostura.


The above recipe will yield about 40 (4oz) servings. The total quantity of the punch should be around 162 ounces (that's 34 ounces more than a gallon), so pick an appropriate container to transport and serve the batch.  The serving vessel is traditionally a large punchbowl, served with a ladle into nice punch cups, but if you don't feel like carting that to a party, then a large pitcher or closed cooler with a spout will work.


Packing More…

If the instructions above have been no problem, consider trying a bit of advanced-level coursework to impress your fellow revelers! Two days prior to the party, freeze an ice block to put in the punch bowl or cooler. Fill up a large round bowl with water and put in the freezer, but make sure that whatever container you're freezing in will fit the vessel for your punch after you take the ice out. If you want your ice block to be spherical, fill up a large party balloon and tie it like a giant water balloon, then set that in a bowl in your freezer for two days. Then, simply cut the rubber balloon off your ice ball.


The definitive book on punch, including history and a myriad of recipes, is cocktail historian David Wondrich's Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl. In this book, and in countless other sources, there are literally dozens of easy and delicious punch recipes that work with nearly every occasion, and they can all be sized-up to serve a large group, or sized-down for a small gathering. 


New Orleans is not a town for those averse to celebration.  During the "holidays," make sure you're prepared with a potent punch.

Pelicans Struggle in Davis’ Absence

by Will Winston

All right, Pelicans fans, there was no game in Minnesota on Wednesday, January 29. The flash of light you saw on your television was a projection of the light overhead beaming off of your smartphones. The players galloping up and down a basketball court surrounded by timber trees were actually just men in tanks disguised as basketball players.


If anyone witnessed the abominable showcase of basketball that took place Wednesday night in Minnesota, they should be allowed to be flashed with a memory erasing neuralyzer like in the movie Men in Black.


The Pelicans went into the contest without Anthony Davis, who had a sore left index finger after dislocating it late in Tuesday’s win against the Cavs. With Davis, Holiday, Anderson and Smith all injured, let’s just say that points were hard to come by. In fact, the Pelicans put up a season-low 77 points in a 77-88 loss to Minnesota. They were only able to muster 35 percent shooting, including a mind-boggling 9.5 percent on 21 three-point attempts.


It was a sluggish performance for both teams, as Minnesota only shot 40 percent from the field and lead by only five after three quarters. The T’Wolves scored eight straight to start the 4th quarter and a double-digit lead was too much for the cold-shooting Pels to overcome.


The Pelicans only assisted on 12 of their 29 field goals, a 15 percent dip from their season average. With Davis out, the T’Wolves forced the Pelicans’ perimeter players to shoot more outside shots than usual. The result was a lack of offensive flow and contested mid-range and 3-point attempts.


The lone bright spot for the Pelicans was Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu finished with 18 points (8-13 FG) and 12 rebounds. He was by far the most active Pelican on the night. The rest of the team would rather have their nights erased from memory as well.


The Pels didn’t have a match for Kevin Love down low, who went for 30 points and 14 rebounds.


The loss comes after a stint of three wins and puts them back at 19-26, four games from that coveted bottom-five slot.


Davis will be day-to-day with his injury. Without him everything becomes a strain, but he should be able to play Saturday at the Arena against the Bulls. Offensive production will be at a premium; the Bulls are the second best defensive team in the league. Not exactly the best team to play when looking to bounce back from a shooting slump. Hopefully we won’t have to break out the neuralyzer twice in one week.


Boxscore | More Pelicans coverage | @PelicanDefender | Schedule


Today in New Orleans 1.30.14

The Ogden hosts Dave Jordan’s Birthday Bash, Tip’s has indie bands Royal Teeth and Chappo and 19-year-old sensation, Jake Bugg, performs at The Civic. Tank and the Bangas can be heard on Canal while the Soul Rebels rock the uptown scene on Magazine. Deloreon and Until the Ribbon Breaks are in town. On this day in 1835, Battle of New Orleans hero Andrew Jackson managed to survive America's first presidential assassination attempt when a deranged man fired two pistols at him in the House chambers. For the rest of today's happenings, read on.


Dave Jordan's Birthday Bash (Ogden Museum, 6 p.m.)

The multi-instrumentalist is celebrating his birthday throughout Ogden’s Stephen Goldring Hall. Lagniappe goodies include a kids art activity table, eats from Miss Linda’s Soul Food Catering (that's the Yakamein Lady) and free admission for museum members, $10 at the door for nonmembers.


Royal Teeth & Chappo  (Tipitina's, 10 p.m.)

With folk-driven music and electronic sounds, local indie rockers, Royal Teeth, kick off their U.S. tour. Infectious Brooklyn-based pop/rock band Chappo opens while four-piece local ensemble Luxley joins. Doors open at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12.


Jake Bugg  (The Civic Theatre, 8 p.m.)

Nineteen-year old Nottingham native performs his widely successful indie-folk music. Brooklyn-based rock band The Skins also perform. Tickets are $18 for floor, $20 for balcony, $25 for opera box.


Tank & The Bangas (Chickie Wah Wah, 10 p.m.)

This up and coming local band will perform their soulful compilation of R&B, hip-hop and spoken word. Plus, the world’s only all female brass band, The Original Pinettes, will open at the Canal St. locale.


Soul Rebels (Le Bon Temps Roule, 10p.m.)

The Soul Rebels have been playing their NOLA brass cum funk for several decades, but it's still not old. From classic second line tunes to powerful covers like "Sweet Dreams" to originals like "Unlock Your Mind," the Rebels are guaranteed to whip an audience into a frenzy.


Deloreon + Until the Ribbon Breaks (One Eyed Jacks, 7 p.m.)

Barcelona-based band, Deloreon is bringing their sound to NOLA. They play Mediterranean club music flecked with Spanish beats. British solo artist, Until the Ribbon Breaks will also perform followed by OEJ's staple 80's night. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.


Mascherarsi: A Rock Opera

The Eiffel Society (7 p.m.)

An original love story created by the Reese Johanson Collective, with music from Monteverdi and Mozart


House of Blues 20th Anniversary

House of Blues (9 p.m.)

Kermit Ruffins, Colin Lake & More


Pot and the Palette Cookbook Exhibit Opening

Southern Food and Beverage Museum (2p.m.-4p.m.)

100 local recipes + illustrations from New Orleans' best student artists. Free and open to the public


Little Freddie King

d.b.a. (11p.m.)

Blues guitar legend playing a late set on Frenchmen


Naughty Professors Open House Party

Howlin’ Wolf (8:30 p.m.)

Sexual Thunder, Stoop Kids, Loose Willis, and the Big Excuse    


Cherry Smash

Siberia (10 p.m.)

The New Orleans Cherry Bombs, Christin Bradford, The Pinettes Brass Band, and DJ Nat  



Carrolton Station (9 p.m.)

Local jazz, celtic and R&B band in the Riverbend 


Pelicans vs. Bulls

N.O. Arena (7 p.m.)

Chicago (23-22) vs. New Orleans (19-26)

Man Injured in Uptown Shooting

Updated 1/30 10 a.m.

New Orleans police responded to an Uptown shooting Wednesday evening that left a man injured. The shooting happened about 5:50 p.m. in the 4200 block of Magnolia St., said officer Frank Robertson III, a NOPD spokesman.


A 32-year-old man was found lying on a sidewalk in the street with multiple gunshot wounds, Robertson said. Police said he was shot by someone who got out of a car.

He was transported to the hospital in serious condition.


Further information was not immediately released. NoDef will update this post as more information becomes available.


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