George Porter Jr. On Getting Funky For Fool’s Paradise And Crawfish Festival

first_imgL4LM:  You’re gonna be rocking the NOLA Crawfish Festival.  How hard is it gonna be keeping your mind on playing with all that delicious food laid out in front of you?GPJr.:  Awwwwww….that’s not TOO hard for me to do.  I live here, after all.  (Chuckles)L4LM:  There’s gonna be a Crawfish cook off during the festival.  Are you thinking of volunteering to judge it?GPJr.:  I’m not very good at judging crawfish.  These days, with this old body…they’re getting a little too spicy for me.  I don’t eat them as much as I used to. I’m sure I’ll have a few though.L4LM:  Crawfish boils, to an outsider, seem like perfect example of the melting pot that is New Orleans.  It looks to me like everybody gathers together, rich or poor, to share a meal, smiles and stories.  Would that be a fair assessment?GPJr.:  Well…I’m not sure how much sharin’ stories get told while you’re bitin’ on those crawfish heads.  But gettin’ together…elbow to elbow…pickin’ the crawfish outta the the pile and suckin’ the heads and eatin‘ the tails…that’s just what we do good. L4LM:  The secret weapon of Nola Crawfish Festival is Chris “Shaggy” Davis. He’s known as the “Crawfish King”…do you think he has earned that crown?GPJr.:  Oh absolutely. I can’t put him up against anybody else at this point cause…like I said…I have had to remove myself from being a big crawfish eater. I’m not sure if there is someone else out there that’s doin’ crawfish as good as Shaggy…but he’s definitely the most visible.  I get to eat Shaggy’s stuff more than anyone else’s.   L4LM:  Your set at the fest is being labeled “The Crawfish All-Stars,” and your name is top of the bill.  Are you running that band?GPJr.  No…I believe Billy Iuso is runnin’ that band.  We always call him the bandleader.L4LM:  How are you guys gonna go about picking music to play at during the Crawfish Fest?  It’s safe to assume you all know a lot of the funk classics…GPJr.:  I don’t believe there’s been any suggestion of a rehearsal at this point.  I would think it’s gonna be as it has been in the past…we’ll be onsite before two hours before the gig, and after we dig into the crawfish for an hour or so after everybody has had their fill we’ll get together and figure out what we’re gonna play.  Someone will say “Hey, this is what song we oughta play” and somebody else will say “Well how ’bout this one” and that’s how it gets done. L4LM:  During a jam session like upcoming Crawfish Kings set, how hard is it to fight the temptation to just abandon the set list and just see where the music tales you?GPJr.:  Well…you know….like I said earlier.  When musicians are in a jam session configuration, then everyone is paying attention…If everyone is knowledgeable…I’m not sure if respect is the right word, but if everyone has the respect of each other, then it doesn’t happen.  People need to have the comfortability, they get a chance to make their statement, to say what they want to say and pass it on to the next person to speak.  Everyone is allowed to have a voice in the jam.  That’s usual when you’re dealing with regular players who show each other respect.  When respect is given, when one person is not tryin’ step over everybody and wants to be seen more than anybody…it works.  There are times when those sorts of things happen, and I’m grateful that that sorta thing doesn’t happen that often in my life.Check out a past interview we did with George where he explains the concept of “The Pocket” below:L4LM:  So is Jazz Fest the busiest time of the year for you?GPJr.:  I should think so.  Locally for sure.  And I don’t play like this, two or three gigs a day…anywhere else in the world.  Only in New Orleans.L4LM:  Some folks carry pedometers to figure how long and far they walk in a day or a week. Do you have any idea how much time you spend gettin’ funky on a stage?GPJr.:  (Laughs)  No, I don’t.  I probably should.  I probably easily could figure that out just by lookin’ at my schedule for a year to figure out how many hours in a year.  I could just look at how many of the gigs I have booked and played. The I could put jam sessions and sit-ins are like a third of the time that a full gig is.  I don’t know though. I may just go add that up and email it to ya.  (Chuckles) L4LM:  We’d be happy to get you a stop watch, so you could just click it every time you go out onstage and again when you come off.GPJr.:  I might just have to give that gig to someone else! (Laughs)L4LM:  Well, thanks for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to chat with us.GPJr.:  You’re welcome!  I’m always a phone call away. It’s rare that a legend lives up to the hype, but George Porter Jr. has been exceeding expectations and blowing minds for nearly five decades, and he isn’t showing any signs of stopping.  Whether it’s being a founder of one of the most respected funk bands in music, The Meters, touring with his own band, The Runnin’ Pardners, endless studio sessions, side projects and jam sessions he carries the torch as a representative of the living spirit of New Orleans.Our own Rex Thomson caught up with George in-between studio sessions to talk about the concept of jamming and a couple of most anticipated upcoming big, all star shows at the upcoming Fool’s Paradise and NOLA Crawfish Festival events.L4LM:  What is it about the way you play that makes it so easy for you to plug into any musical situation?GPJr.:  For me, what makes it easy for me to sit in with when I play with anyone is that I hone in on the groove.  I get myself in the pocket that the drummer is playing and I try and make what I play as close as possible.  The two of us need to be like one.  But it’s not the drummer that needs to be thinking like me, it’s me that needs to be thinkin’ like them.L4LM: Some sit ins seem like the guest is taking over the sound, but somehow you always sound like you have always been there, or at least were always supposed to be there.GPJr.:  Yeah, that’s probably true.  I have kinda pushed in on things sometimes.  I HAVE been known to move in and take things in a different direction, if the direction has not been too spelled out. In jam sessions, that is what is supposed to happen.  If everybody is payin’ attention, it’s very easy for the jam to turn on a dime.  Sometimes everybody goes exploring together.L4LM:  The inaugural Fool’s Paradise Festival is bringing you back together with Chris Robinson for an all-star jam session, and folks are excited to hear what that’s going to sound like.  How would you describe what those lucky fans are gonna get to hear?GPJr.:   There’s no way of telling yet.  We have had no conversations on that as of yet.  So I have no idea. (Laughs) I’m gonna be…well…I won’t be as surprised as the audience will, because I’ll have at least a few hours notice. I’m sure we’ll figure that out, but not today.  (Laughs)  L4LM:  Does that make you nervous at all, going in to a situation like that?GPJr.:  No, not really…I always depended on my ears as my greatest asset.  Y’know…I listen really well.  I’m not big headed enough to think I can play anything, but I’ll sure as hell try!L4LM:  Lettuce is hosting the Fools Paradise Festival.  They’re really doing a great job of helping carry the funk standard to the world.  Since you’re one of the originals, what do you think of where they’re taking their music?GPJr.:  I like what they’re doin’!  Absolutely!  I’ve played several times with them.  I sat in like every time there with them at Bear Creek, and a couple times on Jam Cruise.  Yeah, I like everybody in the band.  I love Adam. (Deitch) He’s a wonderful player.  And Kraz (Eric Krasno)…I like playin’ with Kraz a lot.  We were recording in New Orleans a couple of days ago, and we’re goin’ back in on Friday to do some more recordin’.L4LM:  What are you up to with Kraz, sir?GPJr.:  We’re actually working on a project with Cody Dickinson (of the North Mississippi All-Stars) That’s something we’re doing for ourselves.  We’ve been talking about it recording with Adam and Kraz for awhile now, but it’s hard together the way the everybody’s schedules are so busy.      L4LM:  You seem to love any chance to play.  Any chance of you joining Lettuce for a tune or three during the Paradise weekend?GPJr.:  I’m positive there’ll be some jammin’! (Laughs)   last_img read more

Read more →

Services Today and Death Notices for February 12

first_img Mary Theriot Breaux, 89, of Nederland died Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. Broussard’s, Nederland. Mary Wiggins, 56, of LaBelle died Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. Broussard’s, Nederland.Joyce Victoria Roche, 89, of Nederland died Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. Broussard’s, Nederland. Services todayAlbert Charles Odell, Westgate Memorial Baptist Church, Beaumont, 11 a.m.center_img Gerald Wayne Christopher, Broussard’s,  Major Drive, Beaumont. 5 p.m.Death noticeslast_img read more

Read more →

Huey Lewis & the News Musical Heart of Rock and Roll Is in Development

first_img Good news, indeed! Heart of Rock and Roll, a new musical inspired by the iconic songs of the band Huey Lewis & the News, is in the works, with Broadway director Gordon Greenberg (Holiday Inn) at the helm. The tuner with a book by Jonathan Abrams, based on an original story by Abrams and Tyler Mitchell, will include a score of chart-topping hits such as “The Power of Love,” “Stuck with You,” “If This Is It” and many more.Huey Lewis and the News achieved international fame in the early 1980s with the release of their smash album Sports, and went on to redefine rock-and-roll superstardom for the MTV generation. Their astonishing string of chart-toppers produced 19 Billboard Top Ten singles through the ’80s and ’90s, three of which went to #1, including the global smash “The Power of Love,” which was nominated for both an Academy and Grammy Award. All five albums released by the band between 1982 and 1991 are certified Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum. Huey Lewis & the News remains one of the most successful rock bands of all time.Lewis himself is no stranger to Broadway, having played a pair of engagements as Billy Flynn in the long-running hit Chicago in 2005 and 2006. The 2016 Broadway musical American Psycho featured Lewis’ hit song “Hip to Be Square.”Further details on Heart of Rock and Roll, including dates, venue and casting for an initial production, will be announced at a later time. Huey Lewis(Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images) View Commentslast_img read more

Read more →

Watch Emily Skinner & Alice Ripley’s Moving Rendition of ‘You Learn to Live Without’

first_imgEmily Skinner and Alice Ripley View Comments They will never leave you! Broadway favorites came together for Second Stage Theater’s virtual benefit celebrating Angela Sun and Tom Kitt on September 21. Hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ashley Park, the event featured dozens of sparkling performances, including a Side Show reunion Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley. The duo, who earned joint Tony nominations for their leading performance in the 1997 musical, came together to sing “You Learn to Live Without” from If/Then. Enjoy their emotional rendition below!last_img read more

Read more →

Entergy development funds aiding growth in Brattleboro area

first_imgby Mike Faher/The Commons, Brattleboro(link is external) Not long after announcing their intent to shut down Vermont Yankee, Entergy executives agreed to hand over $10 million to boost economic development in Windham County and ease the pain of the nuclear plant’s closure. At this point, the state has distributed or committed about half of what Entergy will pay to support what’s been dubbed the Windham County Economic Development Program. And officials say they’re seeing “a very positive impact” in spite of the program’s slow start.A new report from Brattleboro Development Credit Corp estimates that the projects that have been approved for Entergy’s economic development funding will retain 480 jobs and create 170 new positions. State officials are touting those numbers and others as evidence of success.Governor Peter Shumlin, center, participates in a December ribbon-cutting at a Brattleboro facility that is expected to serve as a new headquarters for The Ironwood Brands, a green building company. The project received money from the Windham County Economic Development Program. At right, holding the ribbon, is R.T. Brown, a local manager for the grant program. Mike Faher/Commons file photo“We’re really happy with the progress that we’re making with these loans and grants,” said Lucy Leriche, secretary of the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development.Tweaking as they goAt the same time, officials acknowledge that they’re still dealing with “negative sentiments and confusion” over the program’s intent and its limitations. “We are continually working to get better and refine,” said R.T. Brown, the program’s Brattleboro-based project manager.Entergy’s $10 million was part of a 2013 settlement agreement with state officials — a pact inked about a year before Vermont Yankee stopped producing power.The company committed to paying the state $2 million annually for five years “to promote economic development in Windham County.” That cash, the agreement said, can’t come from the nuclear plant’s decommissioning trust fund.Entergy’s first payment came in April 2014. Later that year, after the state received solicitations for grants and loans from the program, Gov. Peter Shumlin declined to award the full amount because he was unsatisfied with many of the proposed projects.Most of the applications didn’t call for “transformational new jobs and economic opportunity,” Shumlin said at the time. The governor ordered the program to be retooled.The resulting changes led to more local input and, officials say, more awareness of what the program does and doesn’t do. For example, those looking for a grant or loan first must submit a letter of intent to a local advisory council, which makes recommendations to the state on possible projects to be funded.Also, Brown was hired about a year ago to handle business and community outreach and to offer technical advice.’A rough start’“We had a rough start with the program, and I think it was in large part because the governor was really adamant that he wanted these dollars to be stretched as far as possible and have as much impact as possible,” Leriche said.“Through the reboot process, I think we did a lot better in communicating our priorities and the priorities for the funding to the community,” she added.Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. recently released a report on the economic development program’s status. Of the $6 million paid by Entergy so far, the report says $4.83 million has been awarded or is otherwise committed via “loan applications in the queue.”The economic development money has been distributed via competitive and noncompetitive grants; loans; and incentives. The latter category is defined as “funds that contribute to private-sector job retention and creation projects in the region that have significant economic impact.”A large portion of the program’s awards so far fall into the “incentives” category, because that’s what officials have labeled a $2 million loan given last year to Brattleboro’s G.S. Precision Inc.The maker of machined components was considering moving to New Hampshire as part of an expansion plan. Federal, state, and local officials put together a financing package of grants, loans, and tax credits to ensure that didn’t happen, and G.S. Precision in December broke ground for a $17 million expansion at Brattleboro’s Exit One Industrial Park.Significant impactThe G.S. Precision project took a big chunk out of the Windham County Economic Development Program. But Brown said it was well worth it.“The impact of that is significant,” he said. “That’s approximately 100 new jobs as well as retaining 300. The annual payroll impact of that is fairly significant, and that’s what the program is for.”Officials point out that there have been a variety of other projects funded. Recipients of grants and loans have included Brattleboro Development Credit Corp., Bellows Falls Area Development Corp., Strolling of the Heifers, United Way of Windham County, Vermed, Sustainable Timber Investment Exchange, and Vermont Small Business Development Center.Earlier this year, Vermont Council on Rural Development landed $40,000 from the program to conduct a “community visit” planning process in Vernon. That has led to in-depth discussions about community projects as well as economic development and the town’s energy-producing future.The program’s latest awards, according to state documents, are $350,000 for SchoolHack Solutions and $500,000 for Chroma Technology Corp.Chroma is planning a multimillion-dollar expansion in Bellows Falls. SchoolHack is based in Bristol, but the education-services company has expanded into Windham County. “They are establishing their development and support teams here,” Brown said.Brown’s report calculates that, based on the projects funded so far, 480 jobs will be retained and 170 new jobs added. He also calculates another 158 “indirect” jobs — positions supported by employers who are somehow related to funding recipients.He cautions that those numbers are five-year projections. And officials acknowledge that they cannot replace all of the high-paying jobs at Vermont Yankee, where a workforce that once topped 600 was cut to 136 after the latest round of cuts in early May.Still, Brown says, “there’s some good work happening, and there are some great projects that are benefitting the region.”Officials see ’good return’Leriche, who recently took over Commerce and Community Development’s top job from former Secretary Pat Moulton, said state officials believe the Windham County Economic Development Program has produced “a really good return for such a short period of time.”At the same time, Leriche acknowledged that “we have had to say ’no’ to a number of projects that we liked but didn’t really meet the high standards” of the program.In some cases, rejections have led to disappointment. Vernon officials were upset in late 2014 when their request for $225,950 for a business incubator was rejected in the program’s first round. State officials said the idea wasn’t fully formed or properly supported.Brown said he’s been working to ensure applicants have a better idea of the program’s goals. For example, he said nonprofits seeking grants should focus on initiatives that offer “sustained” economic development — not just the creation or retention of a few jobs within that organization.“The grants are designed to fund projects that develop economic infrastructure in the region,” Brown said.Developing that infrastructure — especially after the loss of a major employer — takes time, Leriche said.“This is economic development,” she said. “This is the long game, and we have to take the long view. This [program] helps the region stabilize.”Originally published in The Commons issue #377 (Wednesday, October 5, 2016). commonsnews.org(link is external).last_img read more

Read more →

Robinson’s legacy set in stone at Mets’ new Citi Field in New York

first_imgRobinson’s legacy set in stone at Mets’ new Citi Field in New YorkA celebration marked the 61st anniversary of Robinson’s first major league game.April 16, 2008Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrint>NEW YORK (AP) – Rachel Robinson walked past cheering construction workers and into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda for the first time, stood on a balcony above the 160-foot wide floor and was awed as she gazed at the 70-foot high arches.“It’s like walking into a cathedral in a way,” she said. “I love St. Peter’s in Rome, but I don’t know if I can compare this to St. Peter’s.”On the 61st anniversary of the day her husband broke major league baseball’s color barrier, more than 330 players, managers and coaches – including nine entire teams – wore Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 to celebrate the Hall of Famer’s accomplishments. The center of the celebration was at Citi Field, the New York Mets’ $800 million ballpark under construction adjacent to Shea Stadium.The Mets unveiled designs for the rotunda, which will contain eight huge pictures of Robinson and have an 8-foot statue of his number in Dodger blue. It will be the central entrance for the ballpark, which opens in 2009, and the Mets estimate 30,000 fans per game will pass through.“People will say: ‘I’ll meet you at 42.’ Everybody will know where that is,” Mets owner Fred Wilpon said, lovingly putting his hand on the back of Rachel Robinson, still spry at age 85.But even as her husband’s legacy was being memorialized in stone, brick and terrazzo, a study was released that said blacks made up only 8.2 percent of major league players last year, down from 8.4 percent in 2006 and the lowest level in more than two decades. The figure was 19 percent as recently as 1995 according to Richard Lapchick of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.“I’m very disappointed by that fact,” Robinson said. “Competition from other sports is certainly a big factor but there are many factors. We’ve got to work on it in terms of getting younger children playing, into the game, and getting communities behind the programs.”Robinson also announced the Jackie Robinson Foundation will open a Jackie Robinson Museum in the Tribeca section of Lower Manhattan and that half of the $25 million cost has been raised for the museum, projected to open in 2010. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time on April 15, 1947. His number was retired for all major league teams during ceremonies at Shea Stadium attended by President Clinton on the 50th anniversary. Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera is the only player remaining from then who still wears No. 42 throughout the season.Nine Jackie Robinson scholars read values that defined the player during a news conference at Shea Stadium before people moved over to the new ballpark. The Robinson Rotunda will have those values engraved into its floor and etched into its archways: “Courage. Excellence. Persistence. Justice. Teamwork. Commitment. Citizenship. Determination. Integrity.”“My father did not write them down, but very much he lived these values,” said Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter.The rotunda will be open to tours by appointment on days when the team isn’t playing, and Wilpon said he expected every schoolchild in New York to visit, some more than once. He dreamed of the rotunda as an homage – a much larger one – to the rotunda at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, where he attended games as a child.That rotunda was 80-feet wide and 27-feet high, with a brass chandelier that had 12 arms resembling bats, and bulbs resembling balls. To get the right material for the floor, Wilpon contacted Sandy Koufax, his old teammate from Lafayette High School. All Koufax remembered was the rotunda was dirty. At a Police Athletic League dinner, former Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca told Wilpon it was terrazzo.“This is an overwhelming experience,” Robinson said. “At my stage of life, you’re looking for permanence, you’re looking for things that are going to shore up the future. So many times developments don’t last, progress doesn’t last. What the rotunda means to me is we have evidence of the progress we’ve made in the past.”She stood next to Wilpon, a longtime family friend. When he was about 16, he was a Dodgers batting practice pitcher and became a baby sitter for the Robinsons. He’s long thought about creating this tribute.“When fans and families and children walk through that rotunda,” Robinson said, “I hope they’re going to reflect on not just what they see that Jackie Robinson accomplished, but also think about themselves and say, ‘What am I doing? How am I running my life? Who am I affecting? What am I doing in my community?’ I think they ask the question and ponder on that. And if people begin to reflect on that, they might want to join the struggle.”last_img read more

Read more →

Study links physical activity to greater mental flexibility in older adults

first_imgPinterest Email Share on Facebook Share One day soon, doctors may determine how physically active you are simply by imaging your brain. Physically fit people tend to have larger brain volumes and more intact white matter than their less-fit peers. Now a new study reveals that older adults who regularly engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity have more variable brain activity at rest than those who don’t. This variability is associated with better cognitive performance, researchers say.The new findings are reported in the journal PLOS ONE.“We looked at 100 adults between the ages of 60 and 80, and we used accelerometers to objectively measure their physical activity over a week,” said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Agnieszka Burzynska, who led the study with Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology director Art Kramer.center_img Share on Twitter LinkedIn The researchers also used functional MRI to observe how blood oxygen levels changed in the brain over time, reflecting each participant’s brain activity at rest. And they evaluated the microscopic integrity of each person’s white-matter fibers, which carry nerve impulses and interconnect the brain.“We found that spontaneous brain activity showed more moment-to-moment fluctuations in the more-active adults,” said Burzynska, who now is a professor at Colorado State University. “In a previous study, we showed that in some of the same regions of the brain, those people who have higher brain variability also performed better on complex cognitive tasks, especially on intelligence tasks and memory.”The researchers also found that, on average, older adults who were more active had better white-matter structure than their less-active peers.“Our study, when viewed in the context of previous studies that have examined behavioral variability in cognitive tasks, suggests that more-fit older adults are more flexible, both cognitively and in terms of brain function, than their less-fit peers,” Kramer said.The new research highlights yet another way to assess brain health in aging, Burzynska said.“We want to know how the brain relates to the body, and how physical health influences mental and brain health in aging,” she said. “Here, instead of a structural measure, we are taking a functional measure of brain health. And we are finding that tracking changes in blood-oxygenation levels over time is useful for predicting cognitive functioning and physical health in aging.”last_img read more

Read more →

Balancing act

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

Read more →

English Heritage begs for £64m for ‘basket cases’

first_imgThe list includes two London pumping stations, designed by the engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette in the 1860s, which are redundant, in poor condition, have no obvious future use and, together, need at least £5m to save them.The colossal cathedral-like aircraft hangar at RAF Cardington near Bedford, made from cast iron and corrugated iron, needs £5m, while the closed Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Stoke-on-Trent, a sprawling scheduled ancient monument that includes 15 scheduled structures and five listed buildings, requires a £25m lifeline.The 16 sites head English Heritage’s latest annual register of listed buildings at risk. This year the list contains 1,235 entries, 3•2% of all grade I- and grade II*-listed structures.Rising property prices are encouraging developers to restore listed buildings and bring them back into use, resulting in far more threatened sites being saved. Some could be turned into flats or offices in spite of their listed status.last_img read more

Read more →

Asian invasion

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

Read more →