Fest Quest – A guide to the First Weekend 2017 New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival

Fest Quest – A guide to the First Weekend – 2017

New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival

Jazzfest_girl_flyflagBy Rhonda K. Findley, co-owner of Pop City & Funrock’n stores, New Orleans

Quite frankly, I’ve never planned my own personal Jazzfest experience. But, I was inspired. Normally, I just get there, park the bike and let the track and the crowds take me where they may. This year is different.  I decided that I would make a plan. A plan that would allow me to go from A to B or should I say from Congo to Gentilly and back without missing anything. My business is to plan and plan around a theme. And, I must say, Jazzfest seems to have a few themes going on. Music. Food. Shopping. Socializing. The four things that make Jazzfest really special. A theme it is then. And, please,  feel free to make it your own and don’t forget to “Wave Your Fest Flag” . . . Hopefully, I’ll see ya at the Fairgrounds and remember . . . “Point me in the direction of New Orleans” or better yet, “Point me in the direction of Jazzfest.”

Friday, April 28, 2017- Festin’ with the Ladies

2017’s First Fest Friday is all out the ladies. It seems that woven in and out of an incredible first day, the ladies are taking over as individual “Ruler(s) of the Universe.” Of course, my shout out to Ms. Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans, is not so thinly veiled. But as our leading lady of the music scene, she sets the bar high.

So here’s how you can show the Fest ladies and yourself some real love on Friday.

Food First . . . Love me some Ms. Linda

Ms. Linda Green, The Ya-ka-Mein Lady         Food Area 1 Near the Jazz & Heritage Stage

Right out the gate, I’m heading over to see Ms. Linda Green at her world famous Ya-Ka-Mein booth. You see Ms. Linda is known the world over for her secret family recipe for the ubiquitous noodle soup that wraps you in warm goodness and will bring you back to life during the Fest. She also cooks up pork chop sandwiches and bread pudding. Ms. Linda is my first stop and it won’t be my only visit to her.

Tip: If it drizzles or the temperature drops, the Ya-Ka-Mein is a must. I’ve noticed around 3-4pm her lines thin out a bit. But all in all, always worth the wait.

Moyuba                                                           Lagnaippe Stage                                 11:30AM

Its Moyuba’s backup vocalists – always female that are a stellar attraction with Michael Skinkus’ authentic Cuban rythmn exploring the traditional drumming of Santeria melded with jazz compositions.  Being a personal fan of Margie Perez of the Honeypots this set should be a real treat if Margie is part of the ensemble and from all accounts I hear she is there.

Kristin Diable & The City                    Gentilly Stage                            12:30-1:20pm

Right now, Kristin is THE female singer/songwriter of the moment. She lives in New Orleans– I mean really lives here. Every once in a while, she does these open house parties which are sure legendary teaming up with other musicians. No regular rhyme or reason just old fashioned music loving. You may have not personally seen her perform or realized that her tunes have passed your ears. By that I mean, since 2015, her catalogue has garnered spots on locally and nationally produced television shows. NPR cited her 2015 release as one of the best albums of the year. So, you might have heard her but not know it’s her. With that said, head over and meet Kristin. You’ll be a fan, if not already one.

Betty Winn & the A-Chord                 Gospel Tent                                        1:55pm

Winn founded her gospel group in 1955 with her husband and has traveled the world delivering the unique sounds of New Orleans gospel. Winn melds incredible 3-part harmonies into a stunning delivery. If presenting any of Mahalia Jackson’s repertoire let’s just say musical salvation will happen.

 Helen Gillet                                        Lagnaippe Stage                                 1:50pm

I’ve been at a Gillet show, closed my eyes and could feel myself transported back 100 years to an old café on a Parisian street. Helen, a Belgium native, lives in the Musician’s Village and has embraced her craft while living and becoming a  true New Orleanian. With that being said, Gillet isn’t one to stay in her lane. Her weapon is the cello along with her vocals and she can be classical, electric and pop, it’s hard to know. This is as much a part of her charm as her massive talent.

Mishchya Lake & the Little Big Horns            Acura Stage                     2:10pm

I first saw Lake perform as a duo in the driveway of an art house years ago in the Marigny and then later at an underground speakeasy in the same neighborhood where she killed it delivering her rendition of Jolene. She is a powerhouse and a stunning vocalist. Many locals consider her a hometown lady now and it will be exciting to watch her and her formidable band members command the massive main stage.

Stephanie Jordan and Big Band         Jazz Tent                                             3pm-4pm

Another native son, Stephanie Jordan is known for her real deal Jazz vocals. She  is going to deliver an authentic Jazz experience. If she delves into the Lena Horn songbook, watch out my friends! Right now, she is our legacy in the making. I would say if you are coming to Jazz Fest then she is going to deliver what everyone says there needs to be more of – real jazz. So I suggest festers, pack her tent and get what you came for.

Kathy Taylor and Favor                      Gospel Tent                               3:55-4:55p

Another Gospel diva with chart topping records. Her vocals are driving and refreshing. And, an experience I’d say worth grabbing a chair and let her lift ya up.

Kim Carson & the Real Deal              Lagnaippe Stage                       4:20-5:20p

Could this be Kim’s 18th appearance at Jazzfest? I’d say that pretty much sums up this Honky Tonk darling who was voted best country artist by Offbeat Magazine eight times. Should be a fun moment where you can boot scoot around.

Blue Lu Baker Remembered Featuring

Meschiya Lake & Quiana Lynell      People’s Heath Economy Hall        5:30pm-6:45p

Lake & Lynell . . . These two ladies are simply going to tear it up. Lake is a mainstay in the New Orleans scene while Lynell, an LSU grad transplanted from Texas and a classically trained vocalist may be one of the most interesting pairings of all of the 2017 Fest line up.

Whomever was the brainchild behind this “tribute” deserves a pat on the back.

You may not know Ms. Barker was born in New Orleans and was married to the illustrious Danny Barker. Barker was best known for her 1938 recording, “Don’t Ya Feel My Leg.” But it was 10 years later she charted on Billboard reaching #4 with “A Little Bird Told Me.” Fun. Fabulous. I’m going to make a prediction if the Jazzfest gods smile this will be a pivotal moment in Fest history.

Big Shot Pick of the Day – See you there Girls . . .

It’s a draw between Harry Connick, Jr. at Acura or NAS featuring Soul Rebels. Two big names from New Orleans. Of late, Harry has been making love letters to NOLA as he makes his mark on the talk-show world . . . as for the Soul Rebels with their grinding tour schedule led by local talent manager Adam Shipley this could be a huge moment for them as they combine forces for NAS – Congo Square will be a rocking dance party for sure.

Saturday,April 29, 2017 –Brass or Bayou and Shopping Local

Saturday out the gate and I’m heading over for some ice tea and over to the craft market to do a bit of shopping. Who am I excited to see?

Niki Fisk Jewelry – Her three dimensional jewelry creations tell stories.

Kate Beck’s hand painted shibori textiles

Molly McGuire’s circus style banners

Karen Ocker’s NOLA culture paintings (she is the bomb!!!)

Tracy Thompson’s Kabuki Hat creations the ultimate wearable art.

All local New Orleanians – shop local my friends.

I really feel like today is either Brass or Bayou, literally.

New Birth at 12:25pm (Gentilly) and hopping over to The Dirty Dozen at 1:55pm (Acura) and then on to Rebirth Brass Band at 3:25pm (Congo Square).


Lost Bayou Ramblers 11:15am-12:05pm (Gentilly) then Marc Broussard 12:30pm-1:30pm (Acura) and Sunpie Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots 3:05p-4:05pm (Fais Do-Do)

Big Shot Pick of the Day

Tribute to Pete Fountain        Economy Hall     4:15pm-5:30pm

featuring Tim Laughlin, Evan Christopher, Wendell Brunious, Banu Gibson & Izzy Harrell

Sunday, April 30, 2017- Let’s Hear it for the Boys

If Friday was Ladies day then Sunday is all about the Boys . . Get up and get in the gate for opening and hustle on over to catch the Tin Men at 11:10am at the Blues Tent. Coffee with Alex, Matt and Washboard Chaz at the Fairgrounds – just might be the best part of wakin’ up!

And, if that’s the case and you setting down in the blues tent keep your seat my friend and send your compadres to bring back lunch and enjoy Little Freddie King at 12:10pm at The Blues Tent. Without moving a muscle, you will be the hippest thing around.

After parking it for the morning, venture out for a real out of the box experience at the Gentilly Stage for Boyfriend at 12:45pm. Sex-positive rap from a former conservative Christian that has yet to reveal her name. If not for anything else, go so you can say you were there. You won’t be sorry.

Post Boyfriend you might need to head over to the Gospel Tent for some Sunday PTL (Praise the Lord) and I highly recommend checking out Glen David Andrews and the Treme Choir at 1:55pm. The Andrews family is deeply embedded in the Treme culture and history and you might say they are in many ways the first family of music in the Treme. I think this is going to be high energy and simply just a fun way to get your Church on.

Shop Local at The Louisiana Marketplace

I’m going to carve out some time to check out The Louisiana Marketplace. This collection of Lousiana artist is so carefully curated that none disappoints. If there is a standout to me, I’d suggest definitely meeting Nurhan Gokturk. 2017 marks his first year as a Jazzfest artist and he is already a star around the City as his unique style captures its spirit. Meet this guy.  His star is on the rise.

Dr. John                                                                 Acura Stage           3:15pm

Right now is the best time to grab some food as I suspect people are heading over to claim a spot for Dr. John at 3:15pm where he commands. If you have never seen him live, I’d say this is a must this year.

While were talking classic New Orleans, John Boutte is our real deal. He starts at 4PM on the Zatarain’s WWOZ stage. Cool. Classic. John is always mind blowing and fun.

Big Shot Pick of the Day – Tom Petty Acura Stage

I would have to say that by this time and with the above schedule picks bounded by the fantastic overall lineup Waiting Is The Hardest Part? I’d say at this point. Nah. It’s jus that now its time for Tom Petty and he rocks, without a doubt. But then the whole weekend did truly.

Now go to bed because next weekend is four days of Festing and you are going to need to rest up.

— Rhonda Findley can be reached at popcitynola@gmail.com

Rhonda Findley is a national best-selling author and New Orleans entrepreneur, designer and retail expert. Ms. Findley was named by Gambit New Orleans as a top New Orleans Stylemaker in 2016 for her iconic stores Pop City and Funrock’n (French Quarter, Magazine Street). And her Nola Arrow design is paced to become one of the top iconic symbols of modern NOLA culture. Her national release as co-author with local PBS rising star Chef Kevin Belton, Kevin Belton’s Big Flavors of New Orleans, reached number one in 2016 and 2017 Amazon’s best sellers list for Cajun & Creole Cooking and Food & Wine. This national publication is in its 5th printing. She is also the author of the perennial 100 Top New Orleans Recipes and is often referred to as the “cookbook whisper” as she often works with chefs behind the scenes to bring their culinary visions to print. Ms. Findley resides in the historic Bywater neighborhood with her partner, Carlos Leon and rescue dogs Reni and Luna.


Color of the Year 2017 . . . and the winner is . . .


Green. Green is the winner for Spring 2017. And,  to be specific, the green of 2017 is officially called  “Greenery” aka Pantone 15-0343 – the color of the year.

From paint chips and cookie packaging to the fashion runway, either full blown or hints of it here and there, the color of the year colors more than 75 different industries. And the color is decided by a committee.

Oh my goodness – yes, a committee.

I’m here to tell you that a group of mere humans and not the gods of the fashion universe pick the colors –  2 YEARS AHEAD OF WHEN THEY WANT US TO KNOW.

 Who keeps this stuff under wraps?

. . . well that’s the point . . . it’s not under wraps. The word is actually out two years ahead and the color coordination begins around the globe.

Let’s go back two seasons to Spring 2015. That’s when the “experts” decided that all consumers worldwide would be into “Greenery.” Experts? Who are these people? Who decides what colors we love.

I was curious as to how this actually happened and to my surprise it’s actually no surprise.

Is Forever 21 really on the same page as Versace? How does West Elm and ABC Home and Carpet seem to have a similar vibe at different price points . . .

Year after year, season after season, the drill is the same. Industry experts organized by The Color Association of the United States, CAUS, gather and in tow bring their inspirations . . . toting anything from a visual idea and sunset photos to actual palm fronts from an exotic location or pebbles gathered from a stream located a short two day trek from Kathmandu. They gather ponder and collaborate until a consensus is reached. And from all indications, it is a fairly easy process.

Then CAUS hands the “industry” the color palate and pre-production begins around the globe and with gusto. Dominating industries from fashion and textiles to paints and home furnishings and everything in between start to produce the elements – fabrics, yarns, dyes etc. that will beget the trends of the season with unity and structure.

And the simple reason this is necessary … mass production. The color of the year and seasons enable producers from around the globe the ability to produce en masse and deliver.

With runway shows and catalog shoots coordinated months and evens years ahead, isn’t it fascinating that THE industry dominated by creative, free-thinkers seem to generally align on signature pieces that pop on a couch upholstered from the same palate and hues, literally dot the landscape from packaging and footwear to jewelry and lamp shades.

The Color Association of the United States, CAUS has selected the color of the year for almost a century and began this process in 1915. . Their primary goal was to come up with a cohesive color palate that manufacturers could coordinate around to produces products for the industry, mainly fashion at that time.  The ultimate goal was to increase manufacturing abilities that enabled mass production of textiles and other materials to supply the growing industry of the department store culture. After more than 100 years, the CAUS forecasts the color trends that industries from advertising and marketing to automotive, beauty and health use to entice consumers season to season and year to year.

“Founded in 1915, The Color Association of The United States creates and delivers global color intelligence across industries.” www.colorassociation.com

 So these “industry” experts just come together and “voila, viva le pantone!” Yeah. Pretty much.

The Pantone Color Institute is led by Leatrice Eiesman, author of more than nine books and countless articles on color. She is definitely not “off color.” She and her compadres develop brand strategy around color. Could she have been the inspiration for Chicago’s 1970’s hit, “Color My World”? Perhaps . . . but think more along the lines of continuity . . . the yellow used in Minon’s  (no accident). How ‘bout the iconic blue of Tiffany’s? That’s called 1837 Blue and was standardized for the retail giant in 2001 by the team at Pantone. Hey, Tiffany even has a copyright on the color.

I suggest checking out Pantone’s website. It is a curious world of color and history. The Pantone team even suggests the color of the day. For real. And, you can see how deep and wide the subject of color can be. And, it’s just another peek into the backend of the world of fashion and style. You know, literally, colorful.

So back to Greenery 15 – 0343. Personally, I love this color. It’s fresh and lively. It reminds me of spring and tea. A garden. It even has a retro vibe.  As I head out to make orders for Spring delivery, I’ll be much more hyper aware of green here there and everywhere.

Jazz It Up At The French Market

Headquartered in the heart of The French Market! Great live jazz education seminars and walking tours! A must see when in The French Quarter.

Headquartered in the heart of The French Market! Great live jazz education seminars and walking tours! A must see when in The French Quarter.

Jazz is the lifeblood of New Orleans and the soul of The French Market. So you might say, “Isn’t The French Market all about shopping and eating?” To that I guess you’d be surprised to know that the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park’s  office and performance space is located right in the heart of The French Market. Right there in Dutch Alley and everyday people from all over the world are treated to free jazz music and tours about the historical role of Jazz and New Orleans or vice versa.

On a recent visit to The French Market I came dressed in my yoga attire and toted my yoga mat right to the Jazz Park’s performance space for the weekly Jazz Yoga at The French Market. With the chairs pushed to the side in the performance space, the group of about 15 people all came with the same mantra in mind . . .  jazz up their restorative yoga practice with live jazz music. This easy intro class led by  Susan Landry starts at 10AM and features Peter Nu on piano – definitely jazzed up my yoga routine!

Plans are to continue to offer this complementary Saturday class through the end of the year and maybe beyond. Locals and visitors alike can try a little something new, and this class makes yoga available to anyone willing to join in. Can you really beat live Jazz music along with your yoga? When I tell you it was incredible – I really mean, well incredible and free to the public!

Afterwards, I lingered in the gift shop area and was thrilled with the offerings of jazz music and historical literature about Jazz and New Orleans. Park Rangers in uniform (think Smokey the Bear) are very informative and helpful. I picked up a schedule of the free, daily tours and concerts to pin up on my fridge. With so many out of town guests coming through I want to make sure to send them over to the Jazz Park headquarters to get a great start on their French Quarter experience. I did a double take when I saw a familiar face in a Park Ranger uniform – it was Bruce Barnes, known around the world as “Sunpie” Barnes, a famous New Orleans musician. Wow. Now that’s keeping it real!

The  New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, 916 N. Peters at Dutch Alley

Afterwards, with Jazz Yoga under my belt and feeling grounded, I decided to hit the ground running with my new shopping mission/mantra, “How can I jazz up my life with goodies from The French Market?” It turned out to be a “big easy” task.

Right next door to the Jazz Park is The Dutch Alley Artist Coop, home to more than 20 local artisans and their locally made wares. I was immediately greeted one of the friendly artist staff members Kimberly Parker. At this unique gallery the artists actually take turns manning the gallery and are especially informative and engaged. Just this alone makes visiting Dutch Alley Co-Op an extra special place to shop!

Hand made by Stefano Velacka at Dutch Alley Artist Co-Op

Hand made by Stefano Velacka at Dutch Alley Artist Co-Op

When I told Kimberly my mission was jazz themed items, she showed me a gorgeous hand-made lapel pin by Stefano Velascka. Stefano’s hand crafted jewelry is cleaver and incredibly detailed. This Chech native has been a mainstay at the flea market area since well before Hurricane Katrina. You can find him actually working and creating pieces in his booth space at the Flea Market. At the Dutch Alley Artist Coop, his groupings represent the array of the skill he possesses and genre he explores. In particular he works with found metal and inspirations from the sights and sounds of his beloved New Orleans.  I loved the Jazz broach – featuring a trumpet and the word JAZZ inscribed on the piece.

Gerald Gauss hand-made music notes at Dutch Alley Artis Co-op.

Gerald Haessig hand-made music notes at Dutch Alley Artis Co-op.

Kimberly also introduced me to the work of Gerald Haessig. His ceramic pieces are both functional and decorative. Gerald’s hand made music notes were music to my decorative ears. These hand-cut and glazed notes will look perfect hung on my Christmas tree with red ribbon. Hmmm. A necklace perhaps?  All three please!

Hand sculpted RAKU potter pieces by Joy Gauss features carved and relief accents.

Hand sculpted RAKU potter pieces by Joy Gauss features carved and relief accents.

And, I don’t even know where to begin to describe Joy Gauss’s RAKU pottery creations. Her sculpted and hand carved pieces and particularly her super jazzy, music inspired creations were not only charming but serious works of art. You can really tell that Joy puts her creative soul and heart in each of these pieces. I’ve long been a fan of her bone gang jars. But, am really in awe of these intricate pieces. Definitely check her out.

Dutch Alley Artist Coop, 912 Decatur Street at Dutch Alley

Cutest ever music themed ornaments and more . . there isn't an instrument they don't have at Merry Christmas and All That Jazz!

Cutest ever music themed ornaments and more . . there isn’t an instrument they don’t have at Merry Christmas and All That Jazz!

Oh, my. Really?  Christmas in July? How ‘bout Christmas all year ‘round at Christmas and All That Jazz? Maqbool Ibrahim, storekeeper extraordinaire has gone over-board (in a good way) with his ultimate collection of hundreds of holiday ornaments that line the walls and represent hundreds of genres. Truly if you can’t find an ornament representing whatever you fancy then it just doesn’t exist. My holiday spirit was captured by the extensive offerings of tiny music instruments. I admit it was hard to stay on my jazz mission when the cutest miniature carnival mask ornaments are close by and oh so tempting. Inside the shop is a huge listening station where the selection of New Orleans-centric music choices cover jazz and beyond. Jazz themed art and posters cover the walls floor to ceiling.  And, there is even the cutest cookie jar shaped like a cool jazz musician rounding out their jazz focused offerings.

Merry Christmas and All That Jazz, 820 Decatur Street at the Colonnade Shops

Putumayo World Music selections available in The French Market!

Putumayo World Music selections available in The French Market!

While the gift shop at The Jazz Park visitor center has quite a few books and music cd’s focusing on jazz, I also stumbled into A Tisket, A Tasket and found not only the Putumayo World Music’s compilation of Jazz but also another title they created, World Yoga. It turns out that one of the most accomplished yoga instructors in the world, Sean Johnson of Wild Lotus Studios in New Orleans is also a world-famous Kirtin musician and travels extensively with his Wild Lotus Band. Apparently, Dan Storper the owner of Putumayo World Music and a full-time Marigny resident (the cool neighborhood just on the other side of The French Quarter) pulled this compilation together from the company’s extensive catalog of recordings. Dan and crew at Putumayo even tested the compilation with Sean and his team to ensure the cd played in full creates an entire restorative yoga session.   So, not exactly jazz yoga but with this compilation you can jazz up your yoga practice wherever you are! Check out cut 11, Ramachandra, recorded by The Wild Lotus Band.

New Orlean's published Jazz Cats for your little jazz master!

New Orlean’s published Jazz Cats for your little jazz master!

Don’t forget to check out the book selections about jazz. Jazz Cats by David Davis and Illustrations by Chuck Galey is the cutest story about fun musician cats on the prowl in New Orleans. I love that Pelican Publishing locally publishes it.  Jazz Cats is a great intro to jazz instruments and the sights and sounds of The French Quarter.

A Tisket, A Tasket, 910 Decatur Street at the Colonnade Shops

If you are shopping for an aspiring musician in your family, then The Little Toy Shop offers a tremendous selection of children’s musical instruments. I particularly like the miniature trumpet. Reminds me of Louis Armstrong and the sound of the jazzy brass bands dominating the current music scene.  It is so cool that the selection of music toys is extensive. Many of the tiny instruments are made in the USA. I can’t help but think my little friend Max can channel his inner Louis Armstrong with the toy clarinet. It’s a given that Max’s Dad, “Double A”  will love these toys!  “Double A” is part of the Wednesday night  WWOZ broadcast team, Double A and AJ on  New Orleans’ beloved WWOZ (90.7 FM) community radio station. And, WWOZ’s headquarters is also, right in the heart of The French Market. I love their station mantra, “Go out and listen to some live, local music!”

The Little Toy Shop, 900 Decatur Street at the Colonnade Shops

Every Wednesday night at 10PM "Double A" and AJ team up for WWOZ's kitchen sink . . . tune in to 90.7FM or on the web and stay connected to New Orleans.

Every Wednesday night at 10PM “Double A” and AJ team up for WWOZ’s kitchen sink . . . tune in to 90.7FM or on the web and stay connected to New Orleans.

WWOZ, 90.7 FM, 1008 N. Peters, in The French Market office building

Speaking of live music and The French Market – live Jazz music is a mainstay at The Market Cafe everyday. You can sit out all day and all evening and listen to some of the greatest New Orleans musicians interpret Jazz standards while you enjoy some delicious food. The owners have made a real commitment to creating a festive atmosphere and it truly makes for a special treat.

Stylish fleur de lis yoga pants are sure to please!

Stylish fleur de lis yoga pants are sure to please from Pop City!

Before I can cross the street and grab a seat next to the band,  I’m lured inside Pop City when I notice the cutest pair of yoga pants embellished with the ubiquitous fleur de lis. Score! Actually, the girls have a whole section devoted to this casual style of pant. The ombre dyed yoga pants in orange, blue, red and mint are to dye for! They are so cute with a casual top and some stylish Reef Flip Flops (pst. Pop City is the only shop in The French Quarter authorized to sell Reef sandals!). They’ve really brought chic to casual style. Wait ‘til next Saturday! Jazz yoga here I come!

Unique printed shirts with New Orleans themes available at Pop City.

Unique printed shirts with New Orleans themes available at Pop City.

As I’m leaving i notice a poster for the Satchmo Festival and realize its that time of year nearing early August when the annual Louis Armstrong festival kicks off the beginning of August. Speaking of Louis Armstrong . . .also at Pop City, I spy a neat shirt featuring a trumpet blowing fleur de lis and the directive, “Keep Calm and Armstrong.” I grab one in my size knowing that I can sport it at the Satchmo Summerfest happening at the US Mint on August 1-4, 2013. Although on the grounds of the US Mint, the fun and music happens right next door to The French Market outdoor flea market bringing a festive, party and jazzy atmosphere to the entire French Market scene. I’m ready to pay homage to the master.

Pop City, 940 Decatur Street at the Colonnade Shops

As I wind up my afternoon at The French Market, I’m overcome by the diversity that makes The Market so special. The shop owners, mostly locals, add to the power of the experience. Like Jazz musician Herbie Hancock said, “Jazz is about being in the moment.” And, I recommend taking time to make a moment at The French Market soon.

Bon Achets!!! And Merci from Moi,

Stylish Stella

A special thanks to Kimberly Parker at Dutch Alley. She was super cool to show me art relevant to what I was writing about. Can’t wait to introduce you to Kimberly’s art. In the meantime you can get a sneak preview of her talent at http://www.dutchalleyartistco-op.com

Also, for all the details on Jazz Yoga visit www.thefrenchmarket.org for times and schedule. 

The 2013 Satchmo Summerfest dates are August 1-4. For a festival map and line-up, visit http://www.FQFI.org

“Storming” The French Market To Celebrate Bastille Day Festivities, Great Shopping and Grande Fun!

I’m not French. Just a serious wanna be.  With that being said and for the record, “soldes” (means sale en Française) happens to be one of my favorite words, shocking ‘eh?

Keeping all this in mind, 2013 Bastille Day Festivities at The French Market give me a perfect opportunity to exercise my inner Francophile! With so many fun fetes packed into the weekend, I’ve decided to take it all in, both days – just like we New Orleanians are so apt to do.  My plan goes something like this . . .

Pooches on Parade at the Annual French Dog Costume Contest!

Pooches on Parade at the Annual French Dog Costume Contest!

First order of business … pack “un chien”, head to Dutch Alley to enter the French Dog contest at 9AM (most shops open at 10AM so this is PERFECT!) Mister Big Stuff (or as he is known in France, Monsieur Grande) my tiny Chihuahua is no poodle but he loves shopping with me at The French Market.  Perched from his carrier and dressed in his tiny beret he will be channeling his inner French Bulldog on Saturday.

Nola Couture's specialty line of dog collars are tres jolie!

Nola Couture’s specialty line of dog collars are tres jolie!

If your doggie’s costume box is a bit lacking in the French themed costume department, then a quick jog to Nola Couture to pick up a collar featuring a fleur de lis print might just put you in the running for “best dressed!

Nola Couture, 542 St. Peter on Jackson Square

I expect plenty of poodles on parade along with other traditional French breeds and costumes representing the “joie de vive of the day.” It is tres, tres cute dog seeing all the pups and people getting into the spirit. The grand finale is a parade to Washington Artillery Park! Should be quite a site . . .

Papo figurines capture the imagination with medievel knights in the style of Joan of Arc!

Papo figurines capture the imagination with medievel knights in the style of Joan of Arc!

Of course shopping will be on my mind. So after exercising my inner kid in Dutch Alley, I’ll continue on to The Little Toy Shop to check out the wall-to-wall selection of neat toys for young and old. What have already caught my eye are the hundreds (literally) of Papo figures lining the windows and shelves. A division of this company based in France has modernized the collectible toy figurine focusing on the fantasy world of medieval knights and dragons. Very apropos, since I’m gearing up to pay homage to Joan of Arc on Sunday. The myriad of knights on horses looking very much like Joan herself have caught my fancy.  Papo also creates other genres of collectibles like farm animals, pirates and dinosaurs. And Bill and Nickie Gingrow have ensured a full compliment of these neat imagination-stirring toys.  A French poodle or a French bulldog might be just the perfect commemoration for a great morning with my pup!

Papo's French Bulldog figure - c'est magnifique!

Papo’s French Bulldog figure – c’est magnifique!

The Little Toy Shop, 900 Decatur at the Colonnade Shops

OMG, literally! This petite store features religious artifacts both vintage and contemporary. And loads of original art. The ambiance is completely warm. And the staff is incredible as well as knowledgeable. On a recent visit I explained that I was on the hunt for French themed items and before I knew it I was holding a 100-year-old vintage french holy water font. Unbelievable piece. Also on hand, a gorgeous acrylic painting of the landscape surrounding the Joan of Arc statue by local artist Jonathan Passage. Prices? Again, OMG. Incredible.

Vintage french holy water font cir. 1880-1900 at OMG.

Vintage french holy water font cir. 1880-1900 at OMG.

OMG, 912 Decatur Street at the Colonnade Shops

Popping in and out of the stores, I almost popped my shopping cork when I stumbled in Head To Toe and discovered the huge selection of men’s cuff links. What caught my eye were these adorable champagne bottle links, my beverage of choice. Salut! I also found a neat and affordable copper Eiffel Tower shaped cookie cutter. I guess I’ll fire up the oven, open the Cordon Bleu cookbook and start baking some petite gateau!

Champagne bottle cuff links . . . pop your cork for these cuties!

Champagne bottle cuff links . . . pop your cork for these cuties! Available at Head To Toe.

Tour Eiffel Cookie at Head To Toe!

Tour Eiffel Cookie at Head To Toe!

Head To Toe, 816 Decatur Street at The Colonnade Shops

Really? A breadboard inscribed with the directive, “lassez les bon temps rouler.” Definitely going home with me. Not only did I have to have this nola-centric planche du pain, I actually needed it. I’m a bread and cheese fanatic and a nola fanatic. How did they know?

"Lassez Les Bon Temp Rouler" the rallying cry for all good New Orleanians - on this gorgeous hand-crafted breadboard at What's New.

“Lassez Les Bon Temp Rouler” the rallying cry for all good New Orleanians – on this gorgeous hand-crafted breadboard at What’s New.

What’s New, 824 Decatur Street at The Colonnade Shops

An unexpected detour into Pop City yielded a hand-made feather headband by local artist Anne and Laura Guiccione founders of The Little Shop of Fantasy. Anne and Laura’s creations capture a vintage charm. With several different styles to choose, I pick a rather tall, flouncy number that transformed me instantly into a can-can girl from the Moulin Rouge. Chic! These feather creations seem to be extremely on trend. You can count on the girls at Pop City to stay current on styles. Merci mon amies!

I hope I look as good as Drew in my feather headband from Pop City!

I hope I look as good as Drew in my feather headband from Pop City!

Pop City, 940 Decatur Street at The Colonnade Shops

The finish line at the annual Waiter's Race! Check out the entire schedule of Bastille Day events this weekend at The French Market.

The finish line at the annual Waiter’s Race! Check out the entire schedule of Bastille Day events this weekend at The French Market.

I definitely will spread out my shopping over the weekend. Simply because there is so much to see and do at The French Market. I will be out Sunday morning for the wreath laying for Joan of Arc right where S. Peters and Decatur split.  I plan on fueling up with plenty of café au lait and beignets so I can cheer at the Waiter’s Race on Sunday. And, I will decamp to the Flea Market to enjoy Norbert Slama’s music which completely channels you back to post-war Paris where he spent time honing his talents on the accordian. You’ll find me there with my shopping bags in tow, eyes closed with my mind and soul transported to a quaint street in a great French city – oh, wait. I’m already there!

Bon Achets and Merci from Moi!

Stylish Stella

P.S. Please visit The French Market’s official website for a complete listing of the 2013 Bastille Day activities and start times.

P.P.S.S. My French is non-existant, but my enthusiasm is off the chart. Please, I already know about my grammar error! De Rien!

The Essence of The French Market


It’s definitely a rite of Summer in New Orleans . . .the beginning of July brings thousands of Essence Festival devotees to New Orleans. This year marks number 19, and the enthusiasm seems to be off the charts! So I was thinking . .. What is the Essence of The French Market? What speaks to the spirit of New Orleans and relates to the Essence Experience? A short walk through the crowds at The French Market and it didn’t take long to figure out The French Market is truly the Essence of New Orleans!

The Essence of Originality –Hand-Made Wearable Art by Oscar

Oscar's Originals - Truly New Orleans Original

Oscar’s Originals – Truly New Orleans Original

Oscar Donahue began creating his unique wearable art over 20 years ago. Since his tenure in the Flea Market, he has become not only a fixture on the scene but created a scene himself. Known simply as Oscar, he has a cadre of fans worldwide who make his booth a part of their yearly pilgrimage to The Market. Repeat customers are fanatical about adding to their collection. Oscar newbies soon follow suit.  His designs and technique (hand cut colored resin are assembled and melted to create the vibrant designs) are instantly recognizable! And, Oscar, himself, is cool and delightful. I think it is super cool that original jewelry art is so affordable too!

Oscar’s Original, The Flea Market at The French Market

The Essence of Fashion – Pop City’s Soul Series Shirts

Hey Sista, Soul Sista - Exclusively at Pop City

Hey Sista, Soul Sista – Exclusively at Pop City

Soul Sister, Soul Brother and the Bubble Girl speak to the design aesthetic Pop City’s team bring to the fashion scene at The French market. This original design created by owner Dave Gordin perfectly captures a retro vibe making this shirt an instant classic. The concept was created over 18 years ago and part of the unique New Orleans collection of fashion and wares. Forget the kitschy souvenir shirt and pick up a few to take home. The real essence of your trip!

Pop City, 940 Decatur Street in The Colonnade Shops at The French Market

The Essence of a Great Book – And, Still I Cook, by Leah Chase at A Tisket, A Tasket

And, Still I Cook

And Still I Cook by award-winning Creole Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase

Books are the way to go. And, you will find an extensive offering right here at A Tisket, A Tasket. The Jones Family is a keen example of the independent bookseller experience and luckily keeping it alive and well at The French Market. Pretty much any day of the week you will find Ms Lisa Jones in the store ready to recommend a great Creole cookbook or a myriad of other books relevant to not only the history of New Orleans but the region itself. The children’s book selections are abundant too. Local, regional and International authors are represented.  Add some spice literally to your purchase from one of their many mixes available and you can take a little bit of New Orleans flavor home with you.

A Tisket A Tasket, 910 Decatur Street in The Colonnade Shops at The French Market

The Essence of the Entrepreneur –  Soul Saturday presented by The Cupcake Fairies, July 6, 2013 at The Dutch Alley Performance Pavilion

Cupcake Magic cooked up by The Cupcake Fairies

Cupcake Magic cooked up by The Cupcake Fairies

A little fairy told me the The Cupcake Fairies continue to power up for their Fall opening in a sassy spot a the French Market adjacent to the super cool Dutch Alley Performance Pavilion.  This weekend in collaboration with The French Market, these savvy ladies will host Soul Saturday on July 6 at The Dutch Alley Pavilion. Cupcakes will be the main course to a side dish of free entertainment.

The Cupcake Fairies, Dutch Alley, The Colonnade at The French Market

Bon Achats & Merci from Me . . .


Made in New Orleans, USA – Home grown & Home Sewn Fashion to celebrate the Fourth of July in New Orleans

New Orleanians are definitely unique when it comes to style and creativity.  From clothing made right here in the Parish (instead of county for all of those reading from outside the NOLA borders!) to jewelry and wearable art, Louisiana fashionistas are setting off their own style fireworks pretty much everyday of the week not just saving it for celebrating our Nation’s birthday.

Strolling through the French Market District on a lazy day with a refreshing Organic Banana smoothie in hand, the cache of locally made wares is more dizzying than the annual Riverfront Dueling Barges Fireworks, one of the top 5 fireworks displays in the United States* happening at 9PM on Thursday, July 4th.

Below are a few of the fab finds discovered on a recent afternoon stroll in the colonnade shopping area and the Pontalba shops.

Chili Pepper glass bead necklaces by Carol Flannery.

Carolyn Rivers Designs at Dutch Alley

Carolyn Rivers Designs at Dutch Alley

These necklaces are hot, hot!!! And a great representation of the chili pepper flavors found in New Orleans cooking. Really, Carol’s jewelry is a mini-celebration around your neck or dangling from your ears. So fun knowing that Carol uses a special technique to create each mini glass pepper and beads in her New Orleans workshop. Her technique is called lampworking and if you can catch her at the Co-Op she is happy to explain her process. (Just ask when she is scheduled. She is great to visit with!)

Carolyn Rivers Designs at Dutch Alley Artist Co-op, 912 N. Peters, The French Market

The Lido Hat by Tracy Tomson, Kabuki Hats

You know them when you see them. Kabuki Hats are a work of art.  Tracy is essentially a treasure in the art and fashion scene in New Orleans keeping the art of millenary alive and well in her local studio. The Lido is just one of the many designs showcased in her ever evolving collection. Currently you can find her designs in red, white and blue and combinations of these and many other colors.

Kabuki Hats at Dutch Alley Artist Co-op, 912 Peters, The French Market

Seersucker at Muses

Seersucker at Muses

A New Orleans’ tailor made the first seersucker suit in 1907 and since the puckered fabric has been associated with Southern Chic.  Muses on the Pontalba has amassed a collection of seersucker jackets and slacks in reds, whites and blues – patriotic nationally and locally.

Muses, 532 St. Peter Street at the Pontalba Shops

Silk Bow Ties - Nola Couture

Silk Bow Ties – Nola Couture

Dash a few doors down to Nola Couture and pick up a locally made silk bow tie to go with the seersucker jacket. The bowties feature local theme custom silk fabrics – alligators, crowns, fleur de lis and such.

Nola Couture, 542 St. Peter Street at the Pontalba Shops


Retro is all the rage. And the New Orleans’ made Betty Dress by To The Nines is your fashion ticket on a balmy summer night. Wear a Betty Dress and stroll down the Riverfront waiting for the Dueling Barges to do their stuff may just have you setting off some fireworks of your own.

Pop City, 940 Decatur Street, The French Market

Bon Marche and Merci,

Stylish Stella