St. Helena HC Brandon Brown accepts job at East St. John; Northeast DC Johnny Felder rumored to replace Brown

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MOVING ON- After leading the St. Helena Hawks to a LHSAA 2A State Championship appearance in 2017, Brandon Brown will move on to become the head coach and athletic director of East St. John.

By Jesse Brooks

On April 20, St. Helena College and Career Academy Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Brandon Brown gave a farewell address to faculty, staff and students in which he announced that he has accepted the same positions at East St. John High School in LaPlace.

“The goal is for him to bring greatness back to East St. John,” St. John the Baptist Parish Schools Superintendent Kevin George said to The Advocate on April 18. “East St. John has one state championship (in 1980), but we are so accustomed to winning and going to the playoffs. We want to get back to the winning tradition.”

Brown’s Hawks showed clear benchmarks of improvement in each of his five years at St. Helena. In compiling a 36-25 record during his tenure, Brown provided structure and stability to a program in need.

Brown’s first year on the job resulted in a 2-9 season. Their dramatic improvement immediately after led to a championship appearance last season, eventually falling to Welsh 38-26, was the program’s first appearance in a title game since 2004.

The hire is a homecoming for Brown who was a standout player for East St. John. His performance on the field earned him a scholarship to Alcorn State.

Brown replaces Aldon Foster after three seasons. Before arriving to East St. John, Foster was head coach at Amite High.

During the development of this story, an unnamed source indicated that Northeast High Defensive Coordinator Johnny Felder has emerged as the likely candidate to replace Brown as the new head coach and athletic director of St. Helena.

 

 

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Hammond Regional Arts Center launches “Playing the Staircase” listening series

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Baton Rouge musicians Clay Parker and Jodi James will perform at the Hammond Regional Arts Center on July 27.

Hammond, LA, April 20, 2018 – The Hammond Regional Arts Center is pleased to announce the launch of its original listening room series, “Playing the Staircase.” This exciting new concept to Hammond, Louisiana will see the Hammond Regional Arts Center transform into an intimate listening room for original, acoustic music designed to expand the Arts Center’s mission into the audio arts.
“Playing the Staircase” will feature local and regional musicians playing on the landing of the HRAC staircase and give audiences an intimate listening room to enjoy original lyrics and music. Each session of “Playing the Staircase” will occur the last Friday of the month with musicians performing from 6-8 p.m. These events are B.Y.O.B.

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Hammond songwriter and musician Jess Kerber will open the “Playing the Staircase” Series on June 29. 

The HRAC is pleased to announce the first round of dates for “Playing the Staircase” shows: Jess Kerber (June 29), Clay Parker and Jodi James (July 27), Ameal Cameron (August 31), Denton Hatcher and Kristen Foster (September 28), Peter Simon (October 26), and Bill Robinson (November 30). Admission to each listening room is $5, and the entirety of the cover will go to the musicians.
The HRAC has had a long history of promoting and presenting original art, theatre, and storytelling. HRAC Executive Director Maureen Joyce is pleased to add original music and songwriting to that impressive list. She believes this will allow the Arts Center to be more versatile and open the door to new opportunities.

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Local songwriter Ameal Cameron. 

“Similar to the visual journey an artist takes us on, the musical journey, when we are truly present and listening takes us to those shared, connected memories and experiences that speak deeply into our joy, being and greater humanity,” Joyce said.

HRAC Media Coordinator Tara Bennett agrees. “The City of Hammond needs outlets for original, live music. People don’t just watch bands – they share an experience, and it’s our job to create the best possible environment to let such experiences happen. Our listening series is our attempt at doing just that.”
To have a taste of what “Playing the Staircase” will offer, visit the HRAC website at hammondarts.org/playing-the-staircase to listen to samples of music from the scheduled artists.

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ABOUT THE MUSICIANS

Jess Kerber Biography (Show on June 29)
Jess Kerber is a singer/songwriter taking influences from the 60s/70s era of folk. She has played at multiple local events and venues including the Three Rivers Art Festival in Covington, LA and The Ghost Light Theater, located in Hammond. This past summer, Jess was chosen to play at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston as part of the Top Ten Singer/Songwriter Showcase at Berklee College of Music’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program. With both parents being musicians, from an early age she was exposed to artists such as Joni Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones. Born in New Orleans, Jess has lived in Hammond for most of her life and will soon be attending Berklee College of Music on a three-quarter scholarship in the Fall of 2018.

Clay Parker and Jodi James Biography (Show on July 27)
Clay Parker and Jodi James are an acoustic duo from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The pair’s use of dense harmony-singing and subtle musical arrangements indelibly binds them to the tradition of singer-songwriters and positions them well in the folk roots and Americana strains of country music.

As solo performers, both Clay Parker and Jodi James have long been staples in the burgeoning capital area songwriter scene. With Parker’s releases “The Wind and The Warble” (2011), “Any Old Time” (2013), and “Queen City Blues” (2017), there surfaces a home-spun array of familiar melodies, blues, and folk-style picking matched with phrase turning poetics and old-timey wit. James’ recordings “This Fire” (2009), “Far Between and Fleeting” (2012), and “Things I Leave Behind” (2015) are a deep and weighted collection of personal stories, vulnerable feelings, hopeful beginnings, and tragic endings – sometimes set against a quiet, breathy guitar – sometimes joined with the whole force of rock and roll.

In late 2014, Parker and James began writing together and hit a prolific stride that yielded about a dozen songs in just a couple of weeks. “When we started arranging and singing these songs,” says Clay, “there was an immediate appreciation for how easily everything sort of melted together.” Already being enamored with the old, family-style way of singing, it became clear that they should embrace these duet songs in the purest sense of the word. Jodi remarks, “There wasn’t ever a lead or background vocal – it just became one thing. We began experimenting with that idea a lot.”

The duo released a self-titled EP in December 2015 to great local and international acclaim. Among the reviews, John Apice of No Depression wrote: “This is an album that will need to be listened to and not just played in the background. It has to marinate in your musical soul–It is for select tastes and for discriminating ears. It will make an impression…it will.” Similarly, Rob Dickens of Australia’s Addicted To Noise commented: “Clay Parker and Jodi James have put together a gentle, loving and alluring collection, all songs both sincere and sublime.”

Parker and James have since been tirelessly touring the U. S. in support of the EP. Just in the last year they have played cafes, theaters, house shows, pubs, etc. in 28 states and show no signs of stopping. “It’s a fast way of living trying to do something so slow,” Parker snarks. “We’ve always [independently and together] been interested in operating at a slow and steady pace. We want the stuff we make to last a while.” James confers, “We’re not the kind of people who live and rely on social media and such. But we are constantly working and building and framing what we do… and driving.” Independently and as a duo, Clay Parker and Jodi James have shared stages with the likes of John Fullbright, Slaid Cleaves, Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson, Chris Hillman, John Moreland, Carlene Carter, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Robert Ellis, Jimmy Webb, and many more. They also played a musical role in the upcoming Ethan Hawke film Blaze, a glaring look into the life of the late singer-songwriter Blaze Foley.

On the horizon, the pair are planning an early 2018 full-length album release. Clay notes, “We’re looking forward to putting out these songs that have resided on our live setlists for quite a while now. And we’ve got some of our favorite Baton Rouge musicians helping us fill out some of the sonic spaces.” Jodi continues the thought, “We are really proud of our music scene down here in Baton Rouge – some of the best songs here – and we feel fortunate to take a little piece of that with us everywhere we go.”

The Hammond Regional Arts Center (HRAC) supports, promotes, and coordinates visual, performing, and literary arts in Tangipahoa Parish and surrounding parishes. Our primary mission is to enrich lives through quality arts education, develop an appreciation of the arts within individuals, and introduce the public to professional exhibitions, performances and literature.

The Hammond Regional Arts Center is supported in part by a Decentralized Arts Funding Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge in cooperation with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and Louisiana State Arts Council.

Sources indicate Lafayette area episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is in production

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BOURDAIN IN CAJUN COUNTRY- Sources indicate television personality Anthony Bourdain was in the Lafayette area filming an episode of his CNN show ‘Parts Unknown’ during Mardi Gras. Photo: Screenshot of Bourdain in the Southwest Louisiana on the episode “Cajun Country” for his previous show ‘No Reservations’.

By Jesse Brooks 

Over last weekend and through Mardi Gras, sources online have indicated that production is underway for an Acadiana focused episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN. 

On Sunday, February 11, Madonna Broussard, owner of Cajun and Creole style restaurant Laura’s 2 in Lafayette, posted a photo of herself with Bourdain and explained that she hosted the renown chef for a segment of the show.

Bourdain, who is in production of his 11th season of his current show that first aired in 2013, is no stranger to South Louisiana. Bourdain has been known for his claims that New Orleans is one of the greatest food cities in the world, and featured the city on his previous television show No Reservations on Travel Channel. He returned to the Boot State on No Reservations a second time in the episode “Cajun Country” to film his first ever visit to the Lafayette area. In that episode, Bourdain participated in a traditional Cajun boucherie.

Herman Fuselier, a music and entertainment writer for The Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette, also confirmed that he participated in segments that were being filmed for the show this week with a Facebook post seen here.

Fuselier is a Opelousas native and has dedicated a strong portion of his career to preserving the history and culture of Cajun zydeco, blues and R&B music of the region. His book Ghosts of Good Times: Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present was released in October of 2016 and chronicles the stories of the venues that gave life to zydeco music.

Fuselier’s social media announcement indicates that the episode in production will feature Cajun Dance Halls like El Sido’s Zydeco & Blues Club and their fight to stay open through changing cultural landscapes.

Through social media, Bourdain himself confirmed that he was in Mamou, Louisiana on Tuesday to participate in Courir de Mardi Gras, a traditional Cajun version of the regional holiday. Here is a photo he posted of himself in full garb on Instagram.

A date for the premiere of Parts Unknown Season 11 has not yet been announced.

MUSIC CALENDAR – February 2017

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ARTIST OF THE MONTH- The Angry 88 are original Hammond City punk rock for bring a CBGB style noise to South Louisiana in modern times. Catch them at Mad Maiden’s in Ponchatoula on February 16. Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook.

HAMMOND

2/17 – Casey Saba @ Red White & Brew: 21+ 8 p.m.

PONCHATOULA 

2/16 – The Angry 88, Shadow Giant and McQueenery: 21+ 10 p.m.

2/24 – The Telegraph Salesman @ Mad Maiden’s: 21+ 10 p.m.

2/24 – Webbie w/ Sassy D @ 1111 SW Railroad Avenue: 21+ 8 p.m.

BATON ROUGE

2/23 – Cory Branan w/ The Weeping Willows @ Manship Theater: All Ages 7:30 p.m.

2/24 – Alejandro Escovedo @ Manship Theater: All Ages 7:30 p.m.

MADISONVILLE

** OPEN MIC EVERY FRIDAY @ Abita Roasting Co.: all ages 7 p.m.

MANDEVILLE

2/17 – Alex Bosworth w/ Hank Mackie @ The Lakehouse: 7 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS 

** Rebirth Brass Band @ The Maple Leaf EVERY TUESDAY: 21+ 10 p.m.

** Percy J @ The Maple Leaf EVERY WEDNESDAY: 21+ 10 p.m.

2/16 Green Mantles @ Checkpoint Charlie’s: 21+ 10 p.m.

2/16 – Lilli Lewis @ Little Gen Saloon: All ages 7:30 p.m.

2/16 – Noisewater @ Le Bon Temps Roule: 21+ 11 p.m.

2/16 – Struthers @ Maple Leaf: 21+ 11 p.m.

2/16 – Lenny Zenith @ Portside Lounge: 21+ 8:30 p.m.

2/16 – Vox and the Hound @ Three Keys: 21+ 9 p.m.

2/17 – Kermit Ruffins @ Little Gem Saloon: All Ages 9 p.m.

2/19 – St. Vincent @ Civic Theater: All Ages 8 p.m.

2/19 – The Porter Trio @ Maple Leaf: 21+ 10 p.m.

2/22 – The Revolution (Prince’s band) @ Joy Theater: 21+ 8 p.m.

2/24 – Tab Benoit @ House of Blues: 18+ 8 p.m.

2/25 – Cory Branan @ Portside Lounge: 21+ 8 p.m.

2/25 – Joywave @ Gasa Gasa: 8:30 p.m.

BILOXI

2/16 – Daughtry (acoustic evening) @ IP Casino: 21+ 8 p.m.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS

2/24 – The Underhill Family Orchestra @ Government Street Grocery: 21+ 7 p.m.

Orgeron hosts Sopsher family and other Tangi products for LSU visit

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CENTER OF ATTENTION- Amite Warrior Ishmael Sopsher, the No. 1 DT in the nation, visits LSU with his family last Saturday. His brother Rodney, far right, just finished a season at South Louisiana Community College. Photo submitted by Ishmael Sopsher.

By Jesse Brooks

On Saturday, January 27, LSU Coach Ed Orgeron hosted a double-digit group of recruits for junior day. Representing Tangipahoa Parish were defensive linemen Ishmael and Rodney Sopsher, wide receiver Devonta Lee and Kentwood wide receiver Trey Palmer.

While the evening was an impressive showing by LSU to several home grown prospects, it was the Sopsher family that spent significant time inside of Orgeron’s office after the event.

Sopsher, who is regarded by most as the second best player in the nation, can basically play for any program that he wants. However, he did acknowledge that playing for the Tigers would mean that his hometown of Amite would be just 45 minutes away. He is keeping his options open at the present, but did confirm that Orgeron believes a major upswing for the Tiger program could start with him and others from Tangipahoa Parish.

Sopsher’s former teammate Devonta Smith rocked the nation recently as the wide receiver that caught the game winning touchdown for the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship. Shyheim Carter, a top prospect from Kentwood’s 2015 LHSAA 1A State Championship, also plays for Alabama’s defensive secondary.

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HOME GROWN- (from left) Kentwood WR Trey Palmer, Amite DL Ismael Sopsher and Amite WR Devonta Lee. Photo submitted.

Another current Warrior with plenty of national attention is Lee who has the potential earn time on the field as a freshmen with any program. Lee is a physical receiver at 6’3 and 200 lbs., a contrast to Kentwood’s Palmer who run a 4.48 in the 40. If the trio of of Sopsher, Palmer and Lee all were to commit to the same program there is potential for Tangipahoa Parish to be placed on the highest stages of competition for years to come.