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Kenny Klein Explains It All


My newest Blog!!!

For anyone in the Chicago area, I'll be playing this Friday at the Life Force Arts Center.  Then back at Bristol Ren Faire this weekend, and next weekend, GenCon. Hope to see you there! And New Orleans, I'll be home in less than a month. I miss you...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life On The Levee

I have to apologize for not posting here for some time. I was being productive: I have a new CD coming out in just a few weeks, and a new book of my poetry, lyrics and photos has just been released, and is for sale as an e-book on Lulu dot com and on Smashwords. I'm getting ready to leave in just two days for my summer tour, a little torturous excercise I put myself through every year (see my schedule here, though my server is updating and it may be a day or two before you can access this site...be patient). With all of this going on, I just haven't had time to post until now. Sorry.

Last time we took a tour of the French Quarter, looking at some of the lesser known sights. Today I want to talk about an area that is essential to New Orleans life. We are constantly surrounded by it, constantly aware of its importance in our world. It stands guard over us, nurtures us, and gives us recreation, economy and beauty. The one time it failed, 11,000 of us died. I'm talking about the New Orleans Levee.

A levee is a dam that holds back a body of water that is higher in altitude than the land around it. The New Orleans Levee is part of a system of levees that runs pretty much the entire length of the lower Mississippi River. Here in NOLA we have levees around the river itself, and around the various canals that were dug in the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds to allow shipping from the river to enter Lake Pontchartrain.

I live just a few blocks from the levee (the part near my house held up during Katrina, thanks), and it is a pretty fascinating location: a combination of industry, recreation and wildlife, all functioning together in a sometimes uneasy partnership. It even contains a few mysteries...

Let's take a bike ride along the three or four miles of the levee closest to my house.  (here)

I have a brand new book of my poetry, some lyrics, and a few of my photos, published by Siento Sordida and available on Lulu. There is a lot of poetry, spanning over twenty years of my writing, and a few lyrics to songs you may know. Please take a look!! If you'll see me on tour this summer, I should have hard copy for sale. (see my tour dates at www.kennyklein.net/bio.htm) Thanks!!
(Advisdory: some poems are erotic (think of my goth girl song, Black Widow), and some of the photos are nudes).


I am currently booking my summer tour, and I am looking at filling in some open spaces. I am wondering if anyone would like to host a house concert. This would mean having a house or space, gathering anywhere from 10 to 1000 people interested in hearing me play (and paying some money for the privilege), and basking in the glory of a job well done... Also if you simply have space to put me up en route, please let me know!
Here are the dates I need to book:
July 1-7 in the NY/NJ area. I would love to do a show, and will also need to bunk somewhere if anyone has room. I have a gig on July 8 in NYC for Witchsfest, a one day event going on in Union Square. I leave for Starwood Festival in OH from there.
The last days of July (the 29-31) and beginning of August (the 1-4) I'll be driving from Brushwood (near Erie PA/Jamestown NY) to Chicago. Anywhere near that route...northern PA, northern/central OH, northern IN, or the greater Chicago area, would be awesome. I arrive in Chicago for Bristol Renaissance Faire August 4-5; I'm there for the week, playing at the Life force Arts Center August 10, and I'm back at the faire the 11-12. I then head to Indiana for GenCon starting Wednesday the 15, so anything along I-65 would be great.
If anyone can come up with anything for those dates, please e-mail me at kennyfiddler@aol.com, or call me at 323-369-2649. Thanks!!!!!!

UPDATES: Here is my summer tour schedule as it now stands:

April 12-15, Spring Gathering, Louisiana: May 5 and May 16, Kerry Irish Pub in the French Quarter. 5-8 PM; May 11-13, Mayfaire Gathering, NC: Still at Buffa's here in NOLA every Saturday evening with the Royal Rounders 8-11 PM through May (some wiggle room for Kerry dates).

June 2-3, 9-10, Virginia RenaissanceFaire; 15-16, Mystic Moon, Norfolk VA; 17-23 Wisteria Summer Solstice; 29-30, July 1, Pittsburg PA CUUPs, concert and workshop.

July 8, Witchsfest, NYC; 10-15, Starwood; 16-29, Brushwood;

August 4-5. 11-12, Bristol Renaissance Faire; 10, Life Force Arts Center, Chicago; 16-19, GenCon Indy.

Don't forget to check out my Blog as well, http://www.kenny-klein.blogspot.com/ . I'm about to post something new, I promise!

More Mardi Gras Pix

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today I woke up alone in my house for the first time in two weeks...all of our Mardi Gras guests have left, and all is quiet. By the way, this entailed a trip to the airport at four AM. And as you can imagine, there is a good deal of cleaning up to do!

The city sleeps for a few days, observing Lent, and waiting for Saint Patrick's Day and Saint Joseph's Day, both in less than a month, and both huge, festive days hereabouts. The Mardi Gras Indians will parade on Saint Joseph's day, and yours truly will make every attempt to be there!

For those still craving Mardi Gras revelry, here are a few more photos taken on Frenchmen Street and on Decatur Street.

See more here!

Mardi Gras!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today was the day. Mardi Gras.

Any fan of this Blog knows that our Mardi Gras started, as it does for most New Orleaneans, back at Twelfth Night, with the Saint Joan parade. Krewe duVieux, T-Rex, Muses, Barkus, all lead up to the big day for locals. Tourists have flooded the city over the last few days, making the larger parades crowded and annoying, but the local events are still a pleasure.

In tonight's post I wanted to show some of the amazing costumes locals don to celebrate the day. Lauren and I, along with our six out-of-town guests, headed downtown early this morning, and I photographed as many of the revelers as I could.

Our Mardi Gras morning started when we walked out the door at about 9 AM, and right there on our street, we saw a Mardi Gras Indian. He wore salmon-colored feathers, and shouted "Hey" when we bid him a happy Mardi Gras. I knew the day would be lucky. Even for locals, it is rare to spot an Indian outside of the traditional African American neighborhoods. For our guests it was a unique experience. Indians are a well kept New Orleans secret.

Then we headed to the Bywater for breakfast with our friend, Slow Burn burlesque dancer Ruby Rage.

Read more here!

Parades: The Bean Parade!!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Two blog posts in one day... yup. It's a record.

But I had to write a second time today because I went to the Mardi Gras Bean parade, and really, I am not going to have a lot of time to write tomorrow.

The Bean Parade is a small local parade that marches through The Marigny (a small neighborhood just past the French Quarter). All costumes are made with or of beans. Remember we eat a lot of beans down here (as in red beans and rice). In a bit of a parade reversal, viewers throw rice at the parade, providing the "other" key ingredient.

The parade began with a bean car...

Read more here!

Parades: Marching Bands!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yesterday was the Babylon parade, and it was such a huge, crowded frat party that no one saw the actual parade unless they were there holding a spot at six in the morning (kind of like busking on Royal Street these days). So today, which here in NOLA is Lundi Gras, I'm going to write about the marching bands of the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.

In smaller parades, the brass bands are "second line" bands, pro and semi-pro brass players who play for parties, parades and funerals in the city. They have a repertoire of Mardi Gras songs like Mardi Gras Mumbo, Mardi Gras March, and of course, When The Saints Go Marching In. But in our larger parades, the music is provided by New Orleans high school marching bands.

Now in most places, the words 'band geek' evoke snickers, pity, and jokes from a series of comedy movies. Visions of fat kids in glasses who wish they played football but instead play the tuba fill one's mind. Well here in New Orleans, it just ain't like that. As this superb Washington Post article on Mardi Gras myths and truths points out (PLEASE read it!!): "... the real stars of the parades are the marching bands. In New Orleans high schools, playing in band makes you one of the coolest kids in class. Seeing our school marching bands perform during Mardi Gras — something they train for all year — is a thrill."

During the parades, there is a bit of an informal competition among marching bands and their adjunct dancers, majors and majorettes, flag twirlers, baton twirlers, etc. to outshine each other. This is New Orleans, so these kids are some of the best budding musicians on Earth! If you ain't from here, you cannot imagine the elation one feels upon hearing these bands. And the dancers, majorettes and baton twirlers put on a huge show. In a city where gangs and crime are still fairly present to all of us, we take enormous pride in seeing these kids proudly displaying their talent, grace, beauty and hard work for huge parade crowds. Read more here!

Parades: Babylon, Chaos, and MUSES!!!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Muses Parade! This is one of the most anticipated parades of the season. An all female Krewe, Muses throws not only beads and small favors just like all of the other krewes: each woman in the krewe creates a custom Muses shoe, and each throws her shoe to one lucky woman in the crowd. Everyone wants to be the special person who gets a shoe!

On a beautiful Thursday evening, Lauren and I, and our friends (about eight in all) set our for Muses, each woman in the group reciting the mantra "I want a shoe! I want a shoe!"

The evening began (for us) with Indian food, followed by the first two parades, Knights of Babylon and Knights of Chaos. Both parades strode up Napoleon to Saint Charles. We stood for a while on the corner of Napoleon and Magazine, part of a huge crowd of parade goers. A few highlights...

The shoe knows all...

Shoes, shoes, shoes...remember that the Muses hand make one show each, so they pick one person in the crowd to throw that show at. Stephanie caught a shoe, but the Muse yelled at her "that's for HER!" wildly gesticulating at a woman next to Stephanie. Stephanie dutifully handed over the shoe... This happened frequently, with much heartache to the shoe losers, and elation for the shoe winners! But back to the parade...

Read more here!

Parades: Druids and Nyx

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's Mardi Gras, and my Blog entries, like the parades, will come fast and furious for a few days.

Wednesday evening was Krewe of Druids and the brand spankin' new Krewe of Nyx. These are both somewhat formal parades (unlike Krewe Du Vieux), featuring tractor pulled floats and some canned (recorded) music, as well as huge marching bands, either high school or military. I fact, I've seen more high school marching bands in the last few days than I can count, although you must remember this is New Orleans, so these kids are awesome musicians (unlike the high school bands in most other places I've been). These bands are an experience in themselves!

Funny story: Anna Hughes was getting out of work at her restaurant, which is on the parade route, so we picked her up to take in the parades with us. She was less than excited, saying "I guess I'll stay for a little bit of the parade." Once it started she was exhuberant. After three hours of intense excitement, she admitted the only parade she'd ever seen before was the Rose Bowl Parade, so she had no idea how awesome New Orleans parades would be. And she loved the marching bands.

The day had been rainy since morning, and there was fear among the gathering crowd that the parade would be called off. But within half an hour of start time .....

Read more here!

Mardi Gras Critters: Barkus and Beyond!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mardi Gras is fast approaching. It is the season of beads, masks, second lines, parades, liquor, lewdness, and...dogs?

Oh yes! In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras there are daily parades; two, three and four a day as we get closer to the final hours of all-out sin before the repentence of lent. I faithfully reported to you the chaos of Krewe Du Vieux, and I will surely keep you informed about about Krewe of Oak, Muses, Eris, and many others. And expect an exhilirating report next Tuesday, Mardi Gras itself!

But last Saturday was a special day in Mardi Gras lore, a day for the faithful, reveling hounds of the city; Krewe of Barkus!

It's name a pun on Bacchus, the God of wine and insanity who reigns over Mardi Gras, Barkus is a parade for dogs and their fans. Held in the French Quarter, this year Barkus passed through Bourbon Street, down Toulouse, and around Royal. It attracted a huge crowd of dog lovers and dog owners, as it does each year.

The crowd occupied Royal Street and Toulouse an hour beforehand. I was busking just a block or two down Royal, and I took a break to wait with everyone else in the tense, anticipating crowd of human and beast.

Dogs and owners lined the roads, waiting for the parade to pass by.

Read more here!

Katrina: Six Years Later

Friday, February 10, 2012

My friend Stephanie arrived in NOLA a couple of weeks ago, and began looking for an apartment. Of course I offered to drive her through what I consider the "good" neighborhoods to look for rentals.

As we drove through the Black Pearl, one of the nicest Uptown neighborhoods, Stephanie suddenly asked me "are you sure this is a good area?"

"Positive," I said. "It's beautiful here."

"But what about the graffiti?" Stephanie asked me.

I looked in the direction she seemed to be looking. "Graffiti?" I asked, not able to figure out what she was talking about.

"Right there, the X on those buildings!"

"Oh!" I said. "THAT graffiti."

We here in NOLA live with so much Katrina lore around us that we hardly notice it anymore. That conversation set me thinking:  just how much Katrina destruction is still evident in the city? This is something people ask me about all the time when I travel. So I set out with my camera to see just how much Katrina damage still exists today, February 2012, six (nearly seven) years later. (By the way, we'll get to those X graffiti marks in just a minute). 

Read the rest of the story here!

Krewe Du Vieux

Monday, February 6, 2012

Describing Krewe Du Vieux to someone who has never seen it is a challenge. Yes, it's a parade, but most people outside of New Orleans think of parades as orderly lines of people in uniforms marching down Main Street, or as Snoopy floating over Herald Square. Krewe Du Vieux is very unlike either. Really it's a quarter mile of moving chaos.

The first real parade of Mardi Gras season (the newly established Saint Joan parade actually comes first now, but it's more like a ren faire than a parade), Krewe Du Vieux is also the most squalid and noisy, the most lewd (one of the Krewes is actually called the Krewe of Lewd), and most exhilarating of the parades that follow for the next few weeks. The parade marches through the French Quarter, so it is popular among locals and tourists-in-the-know. People dress up in crazy costumes just to view it, and the audience is as much a spectacle as the parade itself, as you see below.

Lauren and I looking awesome...

The Krewe Du Vieux itself (each parade group is called a Krewe, and each has its own requirements for joining, often a yearly membership fee) is named for the Vieux Carre, or Old Square, the part of the French Quarter which stands today as it did two hundred years ago. The Krewe is made up of several “sub-Krewes,” Including the Krewe of Lewd and the Krewe Du Jieux (as in Jews).

“The Krewe du Vieux is perhaps simultaneously the most individualistic and the most traditional of all New Orleans parading krewes. It has no large tractor pulled floats like the larger krewes, using only old style small human or mule drawn floats interspersed with marchers on foot. It has no recorded music blaring from boom box trucks, for the Krewe du Vieux uses music only from live bands. The floats are hand made and decorated by members of the respective sub-krewes, often with themes satirizing local politics and customs, sometimes of a bawdy nature — in such aspects arguably closer to early 19th century Carnival traditions than any other Krewe currently parading. The Krewe du Vieux is the only Krewe still allowed to parade through the French Quarter (other than some small walking Krewes on Mardi Gras Day); krewes with larger floats have been prohibited in the narrow streets of the old town since the 1970s.”

The parade starts with the thematic float, which this year was “Crimes Against Nature.” (Some of the photos here were taken by Anna Gentry, whose camera phone was better than mine, I'm afraid).

See more here!

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