While St. Francisville is less than a two-hour drive from Lafayette, it would take days to explore its magical places with the same depth and curiosity as Bevil Knapp’s lens. In St. Francisville: Louisiana’s Historic River Bluff Country (LSU Press), the photographer revels in the interplay of light and shadow, distressed wood and craggy brick sun-dappled beneath beneficent live oaks. The slant of light — illuminating a dogwood in its full, frothy bloom or lazy, gauzy Spanish moss — is a recurring theme in Knapp’s rich photography of the West Feliciana town. With an introduction by Danny Heitman, St. Francisville forays north from the town to the plantation homes mainly along the Mississippi River — Live Oak, Rosedown, The Myrtles, they’re all represented — and even makes a quick pass through Angola State Penitentiary. St. Francisville is positively and precisely antebellum, and in that sense it is timeless. This welcome addition to the coffee table retails for $34.95 and is available at all major booksellers. — Walter Pierce


Composed of ex-members of The Good Captain, the dudes in The Botanist take a detour away from the funk that characterized their former band and head down the Heavy Dude Rock Highway. Their debut CD About Ghosts lays out a Southern noir landscape of highways, darkness, full moons, monsters, ghosts, the devil, and a host of other useful cinematics that lend themselves to heavy rocking tunes by dudes looking to rock freely and transcend the monosodium cold hash of bad trips. Don’t try to bring down their Sagittarian stroll; they’ll beat you back with weighty doses of prog riffery and fables of the desert moonchild sun star. It’s that kind of darkness that illustrates this disc. Hey, they even have a moody acoustic bongo tune on this thing reminiscent of the junk-tinged languor of Layne Staley. Buy it at: www.myspace.com/thebotanist. — Dege Legg


New Orleans hot jazz stalwart Preservation Hall Jazz Band has assembled a dream list of collaborators for its latest album, simply titled An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. Tom Waits lends his raspy baritone to revitalize the early Mardi Gras classic “Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing” and Danny Barker’s “Corinne Died on the Battlefield.” Ani Difranco revs up “Freight Train,” Merle Haggard gets “Basin Street Blues,” Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket tries on “Louisiana Fairytale” and “St. James Infirmary,” while Angelique Kidjo and Terrence Blanchard guest on “La Vie en Rose.” All 18 tracks were recorded live at Preservation Hall. The album is available through most major music outlets or online through preservationhall.com. — Nathan Stubbs

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