The Sousaphone Player To Be Named RIGHT NOW

May 14, 2010 by

“But you can’t get under the ground here.” – my husband

We interrupt any and all oil disaster news, in part ’cause God knows I need it, to bring you something completely different, something Humid City readers will get some amusement out of.

I must preface the following with a brief exploration of what it is to be hip… Granted, I am one of the least hip beings on the planet. I’ve never done any drugs beyond the legal ones, I’ve only shot a gun once in my life – and it wasn’t pointed at anybody, I’ve never even gotten my ears pierced, never had any tattoos (not even temporary ones), the only reason I’m wearing lots of black these days is to try to minimize a figure that has taken on the looks of the Venus of Willendorf, and – to top it all off with a crowning achievement of unhipness – I’m a mother. I’m everything the hip warn their fellow hepcats about.

But even I can now at least appreciate where the hip like to go when they are in New Orleans – Michael Patrick Welch’s New Orleans: The Underground Guide was just released and is in the stores now. It’s even at the indie bookstore I like to frequent, even though said bookstore is not mentioned in its pages (I warned you – I’m totally not with it) – but it’s not much of a shopping guide anyhow. True to its cover, it is much more of “a music and art focused guidebook” than anything else, and aside from a few hiccups I’ve detected, it mentions a great deal that is off the well-worn traditional jazz and brass band path folks tend to beat when they come here.

Yes, this book has an attitude – it’s a hazard of purporting to be a guide to all things underground in a town where even the corpses are entombed above the ground. Once you get past the judgments made on various musicians, joints, festivals, shops, hotels, art venues, and restaurants, you can get to some real gems. There are some “New Orleans Moment” blurbs studded through the text that make for great reading, including a good one on speakeasies that includes our own Lord David’s Skull Club, a New Orleans Bingo! Show write-up, a great chapter and write-ups on bounce and rap, and a few other interviews of locals nationally and locally known. The design of the book is beautiful. Many of the photos are culled from loads taken by the intrepid, excellent local photographer Zack Smith, and the text is careful to credit the other photographers such as Jonathan Traviesa, Dan Fox, Robin Walker, and others. In a lot of ways, this guide was clearly an offbeat labor of love…

But it could have used some more research and editing.

Two cases in point:

A tuba player? A TUBA PLAYER??? This is where a tad more research pays off…

Said “tuba player” is the incomparable Matt Perrine, who plays his sousaphone as though it’s a trumpet, who rocked an 11 AM slot at this past JazzFest the first Saturday with the rest of the Tin Men, and who deserved to be credited here.

Oh, but brace yourself for my favorite faux pas:

  • On looking up Perrine in the index to see if he’s mentioned elsewhere in the guide (he isn’t), I saw back there mentioned on two pages. I turned to the first mention (page 140) and beheld this: Recently Zack (Smith) and friend Blake Haney of the Humid City blog and artsy community web-portal opened the Canary Gallery on Julia St. in New Orleans’ most high-profile arts district.



I say that ’cause I think Welch was referring to this instead.

I ‘d get seriously ticked about this if it weren’t for the second mention on page 199, under New Orleans Websites: A smart, snarky blog of news-driven commentary and colorful musings that gives great context for this strange city and its goings-on.

Welcome, Underground Guide readers! Pleased to make your acquaintance. Come on back and check in with us anytime. We’ll be here, serving up even more colorful musings, commentary, and context for you. Don’t be shy, now. Give us a smile and a mention….and keep reading.


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