Second Line Arts Collective: Music Education from Recess to Record Deals (sponsored)

In 2016, professional musicians Darrian Douglas and Gregory Agid were perplexed. New Orleans is a world renowned music city- Why were so many local musicians struggling to make ends meet? They soon discovered that many artists were lacking business skills and too often were depending on playing endless gigs to pay the bills. 88% of musicians they surveyed had zero music business exposure throughout high school or college. They decided to change the narrative by founding Second Line Arts Collective, a music education nonprofit for aspiring artists to grow their industry skills and knowledge base.

‘Cure’ book celebrates city’s cocktail culture — and divulges recipes

Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em, a book by mixologist and entrepreneur Neal Bodenheimer and writer Emily Timberlake, is set to be released on Oct. 25. 

More than just a typical cocktail book, Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em features in-depth information about New Orleans cocktail and drinking history. Bodenheimer is a New Orleans native who owns Cure the stand-alone cocktail bar that opened on Freret Street in 2009. Bodenheimer also owns other spots, Cane and Table and Peychaud’s in the French Quarter and Vals across Freret Street. 

Timberlake was a cocktail-book editor at 10 Speed Press for a decade before making the leap to full-time writer. A longtime fan of Cure, she teamed up with Bodenheimer to write a book that was not only a cocktail guide for locals but would serve as a guide to anyone who appreciates the city’s culture and stories.

Nix Library is back again after more repairs

Patrons of the star-crossed Nix Library can use the one-room branch on South Carrollton Avenue again. It reopened Monday (Aug. 22) after drain pipe repairs, after a brief reopening following 17 months of renovations to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act plus repairs to the roof and interior. The small library offers a wide collection of books, music and movies and has been an important part of the Carrollton neighborhood for almost a century. Nix Library
1401 S. Carrollton Ave.

Nix Library on Carrollton reopens after 17 months

It’s been a long wait, but the Carrollton neighborhood has its library back. Nix Library on South Carrollton Avenue reopened Tuesday (July 19) after 17 months. The tiny branch library was shuttered in February 2021 for American Disabilities Act upgrades, including the installation of an ADA-compliant wheelchair lift and improvements to make the public bathrooms more accessible. During the ADA renovations, workers found other “maintenance challenges” in the 92-year-old building, a library spokesperson told Uptown Messenger in March. The work included roofing and internal repairs.

Redevelopment of the famed Dew Drop Inn is officially underway

Officials gathered in Central City on Thursday (July 7) to officially break ground on the restoration of the famed Dew Drop Inn, the city’s leading Black music venue for three mid-century decades. The groundbreaking was complemented by performances from the Beautiful Creole Apache Tribe and Cyril Neville. Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is working to redevelop the section of Central City where the Dew Drop Inn Hotel & Lounge at 2836 LaSalle St. can serve as an anchor. “The city of New Orleans is making sure we’re leveraging our dollars in this immediate area,” she said.

Curtain set to open on Crescent City Stage theater company and actors studio

Crescent City Stage was formed when a group of actors realized the New Orleans theater scene lacked something: the ability to make a living wage. Part of its mission is to create theater productions in which actors can share their art and support themselves at the same time. The nonprofit union-affiliated professional theater company developed by actors Elizabeth Elkins Newcomer, Jana Mestecky and Michael A. Newcomer will begin its inaugural season this fall. Its affiliated actors studio is starting classes in July. 

Co-founder Michael A. Newcomer has been a professional actor for 24 years, working in regional theater, film and television. He and his wife, New Orleans native and actor Elizabeth Newcomer, settled in New Orleans seven years ago and quickly discovered that the theater landscape was sparse for union work providing sustainable wages.

Portside Lounge, Caribbean outpost in Central City, is set to close

Portside Lounge, the Central City tiki bar that’s been serving up tropical cocktails since 2017, is closing, an announcement on Facebook said Wednesday. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that I make the announcement that I will be closing down The Portside Lounge,” the post reads. “It’s been a wild ride with a ton of amazing people, artists, and musicians, but nothing lasts forever and all good things must come to an end.”

The bar will host its grand finale this weekend with music every night, including  The Unnaturals on the Fourth of July, its last day. The bar is coming full circle, according to the Facebook post. The Unnaturals, a local surf rock band with attitude, played the bar’s first show.

Porch concerts, a remnant of pandemic shutdowns, are too popular not to continue

A product of the pandemic, the Constantinople Stages free porch concerts are continuing. You can find the porch stage at 1201 Constantinople St., near Coliseum Street.  Bring your chairs, drinks, friends and family. And remember to tip the musicians; cash or Venmo is accepted. The following concerts have been scheduled. For updates, visit the Constantinople Stage Facebook page.

‘Out of time and options,’ Live Oak Cafe is latest casualty of pandemic losses

The Live Oak Cafe — the epitome of Oak Street’s laid-back, creative vibe — is closing its doors Sunday (May 8) after its Mother’s Day brunch. Announcing the closure on the cafe’s Facebook page, chef and owner Clare Leavy said that the uptick in business during Carnival season was not enough to overcome the losses experienced during the pandemic. “Simply put, we are out of time and options,” Leavy stated. The cafe is known for its fresh, down-home renditions of classic brunch fare with dishes such as Sweet Potato Benedict and its beloved Shrimp & Grits. And every meal at Live Oak has been served with a side of live music.

Review: New Orleans artists present a celebration of diversity and place

By Saskia Ozols, guest columnist

The current exhibit by the Renegade Artists Collective, “Off the Beaten Path,” includes an outstanding combination of voices that link symbolism of New Orleans and the Greater Gulf South, through commentary on its history and notes on considerations for the future. 

RAC exhibition curators Erin McNutt and Cheryl Anne Grace, both painters themselves, organized the show to include artists of varied genres and professional backgrounds — all currently working in New Orleans and without traditional gallery representation. The exhibit features work by professional mid-career artists along with the works of select students, art majors chosen by a committee from local universities. 

Exhibiting new talent with established professionals has been a formula in historic art communities to assure longevity. It both preserves and promotes a healthy, thriving art community. The structure fosters growth and provides a pathway for both artists and collectors to persevere through generations despite otherwise challenging conditions. Cities such as Boston, New York and Philadelphia have long histories of this structure in their most venerated institutions.  

This structure is especially important now as visual arts practice, preservation and education are quickly slipping away from public view.