In his column in the most recent issue of 225 magazine, Julio Melara mentioned a trip he made to Richmond, Va., to see what makes that city tick, particularly how it keeps its young creative minds in the area. As one of those creative people who left Baton Rouge and came back, I offer this solution: Don't make it suck to live here.
There have been a couple close shaves to our cultural landscape, namely arts funding and the licensing woes at Chelsea's. Those critical of the biased outcries to maintain these institutions have a valid point: There are bigger problems in the world than the closing of a bar or a couple of art shows.
But those doing the protesting are precisely the population our city is looking to cultivate. I was talking with a friend at a post-Jazz Fest dinner at Delachaise, and the subject turned to what makes a city great. He said, "All New Orleans has going for it is charm. Without charm, the whole thing would fall apart."
On that late-night drive on I-10 back home, one I've made more times than I can count, I asked myself, "What does Baton Rouge have going for it?"
What we have is opportunity. We are quick to embrace things. We are hingey for things to embrace. Just as New Orleans exploits its charm, we need to exploit our opportunities. Do something. Check things out. Support the arts with your presence and participation.
And for those who for whatever reason are disinterested in culture and the wants of creative people, stay out of their way. I'm not asking you to become a latte-sipping liberal or a bike-riding hippie or anything. I'm not proposing some kind of "Keep Austin Weird" concept; this is not Austin and you have been quite clear on your stance against weird.
I'm asking you to look at what downtown Baton Rouge was like at night 10 years ago, or what the dining prospects on Sherwood Forest Boulevard were like then compared to now. I'm just asking that you help keep up that momentum or at least don't hinder it. Don't make it suck to live here. That's all.
And while I'm asking for things: Somebody please open a really good French bakery here. The revolution will be fueled on fresh baguettes.
Wednesday, May 6
Lucero at Spanish Moon
Drake at The Varsity
Thursday, May 7
Justin Hilbun and Kristen Diable at Chelsea's
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Framing Hanley at The Varsity
Research Turtles at North Gate Tavern
Friday, May 8
Slaid Cleaves at the Red Dragon
Blue Mountain at Chelsea's
Robert Earl Keen at The Varsity
Barghest, The Roller, Green and Wood, and Panthalassa (early show) at North Gate Tavern
Gregg Wright at Phil Brady's
The Circuitbreakers at Teddy's Juke Joint
Saturday, May 9
Kevin Devine, Sarah Jaffe, Miniature Tigers, Brian Bonz & the Dot
Hongs at Spanish Moon
6 Pack Deep at Chelsea's
Theory of a Deadman at The Varsity
Sky Chief at North Gate Tavern
Gregg Wright at Phil Brady's
Big Daddy Blue at Teddy's Juke Joint
Sunday, May 10
Bex Marshall and Selwyn Cooper at Teddy's Juke Joint