OUR MUSICAL MECCA
If you like American music, make a pilgrimage to its birthplace, Congo Square in New Orleans. Jazz can trace its roots there. So can blues, R ’n’ B and hip-hop. The 1-4-5 chord progression of country and rock ’n’ roll owes a debt, too. Even the twangy banjo is the progeny of African instruments strummed and plucked in this cultural hotbed across Rampart Street from the French Quarter where, on Sundays, slaves and free people of color gathered to shake off their troubles and celebrate the musical and dance rhythms, the pagan religions, languages and market economy of their African ancestry. This is where it began, and author Freddi Evans’ Congo Square — African Roots in New Orleans ($20, softcover, UL Press) is the go-to source on the history and import of these few sacred acres, tracing the square’s development from pre-colonial times through the antebellum era and into the 20th century. The customs of the Mardi Gras Indians have their genesis in Congo Square, as does the second line. And fortunately the city of New Orleans has long been acutely sensitive to its cultural underpinnings and preserved this cultural landmark. Evans is an alumna of Tougaloo College in Mississippi and studied in Ghana, and her knack for telling an engaging story is on par with her exquisite scholarship. — Walter Pierce
Religion is big in decor this year, and these iconic tiles are sure to be inspirational. Handmade by Jane Cooke of Shreveport, the wooden plaques topped with angelic icons come in several sizes ranging from matchbox to wall-mountable. The tiles are just a sampling of the religious art, jewelry and furnishings offered at the newly opened Eclectic Design and Interiors in the Oil Center. Locally owned by Tamara and Michael Miles, who previously operated Pavé in Jefferson Street Market, the shop carries affordably priced European antiques, accessories and works from local artists including Hope Hebert, Julie Breaux and Bonnie Camos. Eclectic also showcases the Feed Asher jewelry line featuring unique necklaces and bracelets accented with tiny religious medallions and crosses designed by the Miles’ daughter Misty Corbell. Opened on April 6, Eclectic is located at 1116 Coolidge Blvd. in the Oil Gardens Shopping Center occupying the former garden center Atelier. Coming soon is a green house that will be merchandised by Atelier’s Susan Voitier. — Lisa Hanchey
WE CAN HELP
JustAPinch.com, a recipe-sharing website, came to our attention via a press release touting the gastronomic contributions by Acadiana residents. That piqued our interest. The site contains thousands of recipes from contributors all over the country, free for the download and a whirl in the kitchen, including dozens of recipes bearing the beloved adjective “Cajun,” although few have a Louisiana provenance. Nonetheless, you can find recipes for making a roux (in the microwave) as well as red beans & rice that are true to our food culture. There’s even a chicken & sausage gumbo recipe complete with a made-in-the-pot roux that is dead on. But the ubiquitous ingredient in these Cajun dishes is simply — drum roll please — “Cajun seasoning.” Yes, kids, that is the essence of our fine cuisine: Just sprinkle some Tony’s or Slap Ya Mama on it and, voila!, you have yourself an authentic Cajun dish. Extra points if you eat said Cajun dish under the shade of a moss-festooned live oak tree while wearing overalls. And after every delicious bite, yell, “Aiyeeee!” That’s where we come in. There are several discussion boards about Cajun cooking at JustAPinch.com. Log on, jump in and dispel some misconceptions. — WP
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
His company bankrupt and being liquidated, the Lafayette businessman’s financial troubles are mounting.
Jefferson Street Pub continues its generous tradition with its 4th Annual Festival Preview Party this Thursday featuring Big Sam’s Funky Nation.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Pop-up dinner of chef Justin Girouard’s creations reflect farming traditions
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
newsy bits for the fam
Festival International de Louisiane is right around the corner — April 23-27 — and IND Monthly’s second annual Fest fIND contest is along for the ride.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
Georgia-based fried chicken chain would go up against Raising Cane’s, Chick-fil-A and others (like the Popeyes near its proposed location).
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The perfect color for Easter Sunday
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
A Scott businessman has pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to award Opelousas Housing Authority construction bids to his company.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
Egg-citing ideas for sharing at family gatherings
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.