let my people go (home)

Just when I was feeling guilty about heading into Passover without a thought of my desert-crossing ancestors or my going-without-bread family members, I ran into Ronald Lewis, a sweet-hearted, tough-minded guy who is still among the lonely pioneers who've returned to his Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. (He was a key character in a piece I did for Salon last year.)

"You comin' to the Seder?" he asked.

"What Seder?"

"The one at my house."


Turns out LJ Goldstein, photographer, Jew-about-town, founding member of Krewe du Jieux, was holding his krewe's ritual dinner at Lewis's recently restored home. If my culture was on display for a night at Lewis's place, so was his, permanently: When I introduced my wife, Erica, Lewis commanded: "Go see my museum!" -- the House of Dance and Feathers located just behind his home (this is the second edition, and impressive at that, reconstructed after Lewis lost his previous artifacts in the floods).

Some guests had prepared traditional Jewish fare -- kugel and matzoh ball soup and so on. There was brisket, too -- from The Joint, a favorite Bywater barbecue spot. We sat on the floor and worked through two hours of a Passover service far more faithful than my family's version. And different -- the Haggadah, for instance, began with "Shalom, y'all." Helen Regis, scholar of all things second-line, was there, as was Joel Dinnerstein, who is on Tulane Univeristy's faculty. So was Willie Birch, whose paintings, drawings, and mixed-media sculptures tell stories of struggle and transcendence as powerfully as the Haggadah.

"Yeah. I'm doin' a multicultural thing," Lewis joked when Birch showed up. When it came time to give thanks and to reflect, he turned serious. "I'm thankful for being back. But I miss the Ninth Ward like it was. I used to be able to just walk and see everyone and everything where there is still mostly nothing."

From there, as any good Seder does, we traced the tale of enslaved Jews on the run from Egypt, and I thought about how little difference there is between "Let My People Go" and "Let My People Go Home."

April 22, 2008 8:18 PM | | Comments (0)


Leave a comment


Evan Christopher Django à la Créole (Lejazzetal) 

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a California native, moved to New Orleans in 1994. In his frequent duets with Tom McDermott, and as a standout member of trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, his erudite and personalized approach to traditional jazz commands attention.

Dr. Michael White Blue Crescent (Basin Street) 

Long before the floods that devastated his city, clarinetist Michael White wrestled with the challenge of preserving New Orleans traditional jazz without embalming it. He sought to write tunes built on time-honored local forms that spoke to the here-and-now. But Dr. White struggled to compose anything at all during the past three years--until late 2007, when original music began pouring forth.

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Red Earth: A Malian Journey (DDB Records/Emarcy/Universal) Despite her place in the top rank of American jazz vocalists and her crossover success, Dee Dee Bridgewater has often felt displaced. "I'm always trying to fit in somewhere," she once told me. This new disc, which finds Ms. Bridgewater and her band in collaboration with a cast of Malian musicians and singers, is no further pose:
David Murray Black Saint Quartet featuring Cassandra Wilson Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 
Long among the strongest, most adventurous reedmen in jazz,
Joe Zawinul Brown Street (Heads Up) 
The list of great Viennese composers must include Zawinul--same for the honor roll of jazz innovators.
more listengood


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by ListenGood published on April 22, 2008 8:18 PM.

tribeca film fest: worthy docs was the previous entry in this blog.

goodbye, lincoln center; hello, wider world is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.