Monthly Archives: August 2014

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON: Back on tour, singing hits he wrote in the Louisiana oil fields

Mention Kris Kristofferson to women of a certain generation and they’ll still swoon over his performance as the bare-chested, bad-boy rocker opposite Barbra Streisand in “A Star Is Born” 30 years ago. Their kids know him best as Whistler, the grizzled mentor to vampire Wesley Snipes in the “Blade” trilogy. Those are notable bookends for […]

HOME GROWN: From a cozy Cajun kitchen, Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy reach for Grammy gold

It started in the kitchen, like so many good things do in Louisiana. There might have been biscuits in the oven, or gumbo on the stove, or a pot of coffee or tea on the countertop. Children would float in and out, or a telephone might ring, but that was OK. This was informal, natural, […]

SMOKEY ROBINSON: The Way He Does the Things He Does

Have you ever belted out a heartfelt rendition of “The Way You Do the Things You Do” to your sweetie when that Motown chestnut popped up on the radio? Did you dance to “My Girl” with your daughter at her wedding? Whenever you watch “The Big Chill,” do you sing along to “The Tracks of […]

KENNY LOGGINS & JIM MESSINA: Together Again

The early 1970s were the conflicted teenage years for American rock ‘n’ roll. While the Who, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were hitting their creative peaks in England, stateside radio was force-feeding us two Tony Orlandos for every Allman Brothers Band, offsetting rugged Grand Funk Railroad with smarmy Seals & Crofts and deflating the […]

JAMES TAYLOR: At Home on the Road

He tours almost constantly, across the country and around the world. He plays benefits for environmental causes. He does cable and public television specials. Every so often, he cuts another album. For a star of his magnitude in the galaxy of rock ‘n’ roll heroes, he is surprisingly averse to taking it easy. Meet James […]

STILL IN ROTATION: “The Big Easy” soundtrack

[Guest post on California-based blog Midlife Mixtape (“For the years between being hip and breaking one”), March 4, 2014.] Still in Rotation is a feature that lets talented writers tell Midlife Mixtape readers about an album they discovered years ago that’s still in heavy rotation, and why it has such staying power. Ron Thibodeaux has been one […]

TOUR OF DUTY: A son retraces a World War II soldier’s path through Europe. His discovery? What matters most is not where you go, but what you leave behind.

Dad loved his work, never complaining about the six days he had to toil every week to keep his small grocery business afloat. He loved to cook — and he was good at it, like so many Cajun men of his generation. He loved the church, taking us to 11 a.m. Mass at St. Gregory […]

TWO FAMILIES, ONE HOME: An unexpected reunion, 250 years in the making

POPLAR GROVE, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA — It was approaching 9:30 in the morning, and Sara Beanlands was making her way toward the family farm. Like generations of her mother’s family before her, Sara had traveled this road all her life, but on this occasion the 32-year-old graduate student drove more slowly than usual. She hardly […]

AT WAR WITH HIMSELF: How Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Led to Tragic Murder-Suicide of Louisiana Marine and His Brother

Traumatized by Iraq and the deaths of two comrades, local Marine Travis Twiggs couldn’t overcome his inner demons   PART 1: MARINE CARRIED WAR HOME INSIDE OF HIM The all-points bulletin that crackled from the radios of law enforcement officers across southern Arizona was explicit in its urgency. Be on the lookout, authorities were warned, for a […]

THE FIDDLER’S FAREWELL: David Greely prepares to bid The Mamou Playboys adieu

Imagine going to a Rolling Stones show, making your way to the stage and ordering up your favorite tune from “Exile on Main Street.” Good luck with that; Mick and the boys aren’t exactly in the habit of taking requests. It’s different with Cajun music. The two-step and the waltz are cornerstones of the Cajun […]

BOOK REVIEW, “BAYOU FAREWELL”: Louisiana coastal wetlands’ disappearing act

When a writer from back East prepared to board a small plane in Houma to get a bird’s-eye view of the marshes and barrier islands of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, his guide told pilot Bruce Stamey that he intended to write a book on Louisiana’s coastal land loss. “You better hurry!” the pilot warned him. […]

BOOK REVIEW, “‘ACCORDIONS, FIDDLES, TWO STEP & SWING”: Behind the Musique

Cajun music used to be one of the great hidden treasures of Louisiana. As a linchpin of the state’s once-isolated Acadian culture, it was relegated to house parties and dance halls for local enjoyment but virtually unknown to the outside world. Modernization finally caught up with south Louisiana after World War II, but it threatened […]

BOOK REVIEW, “A GREAT AND NOBLE SCHEME”: Vive l’Acadie

For devotees of Cajun culture, books on the tragic and controversial Acadian deportation are like hot sauce. You can go almost anywhere in Louisiana and find beaucoup varieties on the shelves, but most of them just aren’t very good. Some are lackluster, adding nothing to what’s already on the plate. Others are too hot, so […]

GROWING A NATION: New Orleans was the centerpiece of the Louisiana Purchase

Ah, New Orleans — such a curious, exotic place. The streets are bad, the music good. Mosquitoes are an unceasing aggravation, drainage a constant challenge. The locals have a strange way of talking and don’t work too hard, but they do like to have their fun. Two years after the turn of the century, even […]