Monthly Archives: December 2010

Hoppin’ in to 2011

The custom of eating Hoppin John on New Years Day requires a bit of foresight. I have found that if I don’t soak the black-eyed peas over night they are–how should I say this–less..digestible.

Anyway, I was curious where the name “Hoppin’ John” came from, and what sounds most plausible to me is that it sounds like the french pronunciation of “pois pigeon” or pigeon pea, which is what the french speaking natives of West Africa, who created this dish, would have called it. Cool, huh?

So, it’s tomorrow, and you’ve soaked your beans. Now what? …I like Emeril’s recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large ham hock
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
  • Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 3 cups steamed white rice


Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

I’m serving mine with some kale and cornbread.



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Yale Whiffenpoofs

So, I have a confession. I am a secret fan of The Sing-Off–the a capella competition that recently aired on NBC. No doubt the show started as a reaction to the popularity of Glee–about which I have mixed feelings. Regardless, I really like competition shows featuring people doing creative things extremely well–especially the ones that are strictly about the talent, and not about dramas between the contestants (although I watch shows like that, too). Anyway! So, this season on The Sing-Off, there were a bunch of a capella groups ranging from a group of sextuagenarian guys from Oakland in Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town to the privileged sons of the Yale Whiffenpoofs–the hundred year old a capella group from Yale University. There were a smattering of church boys and jazz nerds and children of stage parents in between with awesome names like “Pitch Slapped.” So, one of my favorite moments was when the conductor of the Whiffenpoofs let everyone know that they had invented a capella–as if no one in human history had thought to sing together in harmony, unaccompanied by musical instruments before 1909–and then one of the judges, none other than a former member of Boyz II Men, put that kid in his place.

I can’t believe I have gone on this long about The Sing-Off…So! I forgave the Whiffenpoofs their smugness. And, honestly, I really liked their bizarre and funny stylings. And, they’re in town tonight! They will be performing a free show tonight at 7pm at Trinity Episcopal Church.

BTW: This was one of my favorite moments from the show this season. Forgive me:

But, c’mon, they took this kind of forgettable Beyonce song and turned it into a feminist teenage anthem…Anybody?

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Anxious Sound’s Holiday Ho-Down

Nothing says the holidays like experimental cajun music, right?

The Hi Ho Lounge is hosting Anxious Sound’s annual Holiday Ho-Down tonight at 10pm. Here’s the deets:

Anxious Sound’s annual tradition of closing out the year with a convergence of the region’s most adventurous improvising musicians continues with the 2010 installment which looks to be the most exciting one yet. The cast of characters will include such local luminaries as JAMES SINGLETON, SIMON LOTT, DONALD MILLER, JESSE MORROW, WILL THOMPSON, ROB CAMBRE, and Mississippian BRUCE GOLDEN. But there’s one set in particular that we’re really psyched about….

Are you ready for FREE CAJUN IMPROV ???
There is no better proof of the universality, endless scope, and continuing vitality of free improvisation than GERARD DUPUY. A resident of Moncla, LA (on the Red River) in Avoyelles Parish, Mr. Dupuy is the leader of the Moncla Cajun Band and plays the traditional instruments used in Cajun music, particulary the violin. He is know in those circles as the “Stump Man” due to the tree stump he stands on in performances. Gerard is a retired GED instructor from the Jumonville Memorial Area Technical Institute. He performed in France and London for the first times this past June. BUT in addition to all of this, Mr. Dupuy has independently evolved his own free-improvising approach to the double-bass that in some way resembles the organic treetrunk crackle-and-throb of such giants as Peter Kowald and William Parker but filtered through Mr. Dupuy’s life & music experience in Cajun culture. This achievment is all the more remarkable for being developed in relative isolation and with NO knowledge that such an approach to music existed on a worldwide level. Mr. Dupuy arrived to this type of playing completely on his own.

Six years ago, Baton Rouge-based bassist & improvisor BILL HUNSINGER came across film footage from a French doumentary “GUM-BOH! LA! LA!” that featured Mr. Dupuy playing in this fashion and henceforth dedicated himself to finding the man. Since then Hunsinger & Dupuy have met and played together, and will feature the public debut of their collaboration – dubbed CONTRA-CONTRA-CAJUN – at the 2011 Holiday HO-Down.

Needless to say, we are VERY excited to present this dynamic new project to New Orleans listeners. In addition to being fun & exciting music, it serves as living proof that adventurous approaches to sound are RIGHT AT HOME here in Lousiana.

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Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker

Okay, I know, you’re just about over this whole Christmas thing. But, it’s the Moscow Ballet. This is the real deal. Tonight only, the Moscow Ballet is performing The Great Russian Nutcracker–wait, isn’t that what they call Vladimir Putin? Zing! Mahalia Jackson Theater. 8pm. $30-$70.

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Night Catches Us

Night Catches Us, the first feature by writer/director Tanya Hamilton, is being held over at Zeitgiest through the 30th & then January 1st-4th, all @ 5:30 pm.

Here’s their description:

In the summer of ’76, as President Jimmy Carter pledges to give government back to the people, tensions run high in a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood where the Black Panthers once flourished. When Marcus returns—having bolted years earlier—his homecoming isn’t exactly met with fanfare. His former movement brothers blame him for an unspeakable betrayal. Only his best friend’s widow, Patricia, appreciates Marcus’s predicament, which both unites and paralyzes them. As Patricia’s daughter compels the two comrades to confront their past, history repeats itself in dangerous ways. Night Catches Us masterfully reckons with the complexity of its characters’ revolutionary ideologies and internal desires. Bell-bottoms, Afros, potlucks, and Caddies set the scene as the film potently interweaves political media with an evocative soul-inspired score by The Roots, summoning a vivid sense of place and time. The golden light that bathes characters’ faces seems to express the promise—and elusiveness—of the necessary change Marcus and Patricia struggle for so dearly—each by separate means. Starring Anthony Mackie, “The Hurt Locker; Tariq Trotter, lead singer for The Roots; Kerry Washington, “Ray,” “Lift”, “For Colored Girls” and the incredible Jamara Griffin. Winner Audience Award – New Orleans Film Festival 2010 and the FIPRESCI Award at the 2010 Seattle Film Festival.

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Lady Rollers Second Line

Got folks in town for the holidays? I know it’s cold out there today, but you should take ’em out to a second line. There happens to be one today, from 12-4pm the Lady Rollers are, well, rolling. Here’s a clip from last year, and click here for the route, which I always get from the Blog of New Orleans.

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Christmas Day, say heyyy

Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a pretty rad Christmas day planned. After some skype-ing the relatives and opening of gifts we’re heading out in pursuit of dim sum. It turns out that Panda King is closed today, but the one other restaurant in the GNO that does dim sum, Royal China is open at 4pm!

The it’s off to see True Grit at Clearview. Showtimes today: 11:15am  1:50  4:25  7:00  9:35pm

Then it is off in pursuit of my annual egg nog daiquiri.

Merry Xmas!

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