New Orleans' underground: Not under water
Yesterday I get an e-mail from a friend now living in Athens, GA: "From the ATH to the NO" said the subject line, and it was a plug for Christopher's Liver, an Athens act I'd never heard of before playing at a club I'd never heard of before somewhere in Mid-City.
Now, outside of festival season, Mid-City is still not a thriving center of commercial activity, although the residents over that way seem to have been making a pretty remarkable recovery of late. But I'd never heard of this "The _____ Underground" club before, and I was as curious about that as I was about the bands scheduled to play there. (That said, how can you not be curious about a headlining band that calls itself "Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?").
Anyway, thanks to the false confidence inspired by Google Maps, we headed over that way, forgetting that New Orleans' peculiar logic is impervious to Google Maps, so we drove around on the wrong side of Esplanade for a while looking for the right place. In a testament to how little it takes to constitute a "happening" in post-K New Orleans, we immediately assumed the small group of four or five young people standing on a street corner smoking cigarettes was the band on break and pulled over in front of them, but we couldn't see any clear signs of a club nearby. "Are you a bar?" we asked them, which cracked them up until they realized we were serious. "Oh, wait -- I know what you're talking about," one of them said. "You gotta drive the wrong way down this one way street over here and then take a quick left then another left and it's a big house on your left..."
Turns out that's exactly where it was, and while we missed the shows -- they have to end them pretty early because, as the proprietor, a local writer named Gabrielle Reisman, pointed out, the "underground" part of The ______ Underground is for real (and if you're an employee of the City of New Orleans, nothing you've read in this aforementioned post is true) -- it was so fantastic to see a bunch of punk-rock-ish looking young kids hanging around such a perfectly unlikely garage-turned-venue as the bands packed up their tubas and accordians and laptops-turned-instruments.
It made me feel like all this time that I've been whining and wondering, New Orleans has already been coming back in lots of little corners that I haven't even conceived of yet.
AJ BlogsAJBlogCentral | rss
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Rebuilding Gulf Culture after Katrina
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Elizabeth Zimmer on time-based art forms
Public Art, Public Space
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog