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

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“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 . . .

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