Some serious and successful partying took place in New Orleans during April and May. The French Quarter Festival and the Jazz & Heritage Festival, with Wynton Marsalis’ performance of “Congo Square” sandwiched in between. The weather was glorious and if you didn’t attend all the events, then you really missed out on terrific music, fun and food. The Sunday afternoon that Marsalis second-lined down Rampart Street to Armstrong Park, where he brought his New York Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra and Ghanian percussion and voice ensemble Odadaa! to premiere an ambitious synthesis of African and American music, was truly a feast for the ears. WOW!
And did you hit the street for Jammin’ on Julia? It was more proof that New Orleans is alive and kickin’! The four-block stretch of Julia Street, from Tchoupitoulas to St. Charles Avenue, was a sea of art lovers as 16 members of the New Orleans Art District Association opened their galleries to showcase contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography and glasswork. Tim Laughlin tooted his clarinet, sultry chanteuse Kitt Lough lulled us with her ensemble, and artists Steve Martin, Alisa, Myra Williamson, Jordan Ivanov and others donated their works for the evening’s drawings. Vespa New Orleans and Tommy’s Restaurant and Wine Bar contributed to the evening as well. Check out his new Wine Bar at 746–752 Tchoupitoulas, featuring hundreds of vintages.
Huge congratulations and kudos go out to Chef John Besh of Restaurant August and Besh Steakhouse at Harrah’s. Recently awarded Best Chef: Southeast by the New York City James Beard Foundation, Besh said, “I don’t know what to say except that it’s been quite a year.” Twenty New Orleans chefs and restaurants contributed time and talent to the event, and the New Orleans restaurant community received the Humanitarian Award. By the way, Besh and Dr. David Newsome have co-authored The New Orleans Program, a book on maintaining your health while giving in to our city’s obsession with food. We are very proud of you both.
During the French Quarter Festival, we spotted architect Henry Shane and Pat at George and Wendy Rodrigue’s seafood soiree extraordinaire amidst the fauna of their lovely landscaped garden in the French Quarter. Chatting with Louis Wilson was Neal Shapiro and Sandra Meyrose of Carmel, California, while kith and kin frolicked in the pool. Then a bunch went on to the Moonwalk to enjoy Rockin’ Dopsie. It was a great day!
And how could we forget the Zoo-to-Do? Mimi Bowen, chairwoman-to-die-for in her green chiffon frock must have had ringing in her ears as the accolades poured in. Escorted by her hubby, Dr. John Bowen, son Pierre Villere and brother Jim Robinson, she chatted with John Kallenborn, Chase title sponsor and his wife, Boo, and George Renaudin of Humana, Zoo-to-Do for Kids title sponsor and his wife, Louise. Elly Lane, chair of Zoo-to-Do for Kids, escorted by hubby Merritt, was busy thanking Mike Mann of Eustis Benefits with Cindy Villamarette, Dave Gillis of Schlumberger, and Janet and Jimmy Frischhertz of Frischhertz Electric for being tent sponsors. Also spotted were Caroline, Sarah and Izzy, Elly’s children and her parents, Herman and Nancy Kohlmyer. Jamie Schlottman of Humana and his wife, Gianna, were featured guests as was Jay Johansen of Zapp’s Potato Chips, another sponsor.
The kids enjoyed a plethora of delights, including Dani-Nic, the Klein Kids, Dennis & Company, face painters, tattoo artists and clowns, while adults swayed to the sounds of the Bucktown All-Stars, ELS, Coolbone Brass Band and soulful tunes of Kim Prevost and Bill Solley. Fifty great restaurants came through, as usual, and I think everyone slept in late the next morning. Great party!
Hey! It’s a balancing act! I recently lunched at Rene’s Bistrot with Rick Maack of Philadelphia who was here touting his Balance Spa & Fitness centers located in the Loews Hotel and on Bienville in the FQ. Take a break and see what they have to offer!
Don’t forget Juleps in June, a benefit for the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society on June 23. Join us for all that glitz, not to mention mint juleps made from author Walker Percy’s famous recipe. Tickets are $75, with patron level $125. It’s always a beautiful party, and for such a good cause. Call Faulkner House Books at 524.2940 or e-mail Faulkhouse@aol.com. Early reservations suggested.
Be sure to catch the Michael Pellera trio “Playin’ at the Polo” (Lounge, that is) at Windsor Court, the “Unofficial Headquarters for the Rebuilding of Your New Orleans,” Fridays, 7 p.m. to midnight in June. Check it out!