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A&E Feature

What to Know Before You Go

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WORDS

Rosemary James
6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18
Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St., 899-7323; www.octaviabooks.com

3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22
Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Room, 214 Royal St., 523-3341

Cofounder of The Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society and resident of Faulkner House has edited and published a book of ruminations, memories and love songs to the city of New Orleans. My New Orleans: Ballads to the Big Easy by Her Sons, Daughters, and Lovers is clearly a work of great love by Rosemary James. Her beautiful introduction tells how she came to be a daughter and lover of our great city, and why now more than ever, we must continue to be defiant and joyful protectors of our way and quality of life. James collected stories from writers, musicians, entertainers and chefs — some tinged with actual post-storm sentimentality, some written years before, but so thoughtfully and vividly that the reader can't help but feel sentimental — reeling from the tide that changed our lives and city, making us miss the things and people we have yet to recover, but happy to live in a place that calls out to uniqueness and always brings the ecclectics home. The accounts are portraits of places, people and times, native only to New Orleans. Contributors include Christopher Rice, James Nolan, Patty Friedmann, Wynton Marsalis, Roy F. Guste Jr., Andrei Codrescu, Rick Bragg, Robert Olen Butler and many others who are locals, transplants and frequent visitors alike. Reservations are required for the Hotel Monteleone book-launch party (faulkhouse@aol.com). Call Faulkner House Books (524-2940) to reserve a copy. James will sign the newly released collection. — Katie Walenter


MUSIC

Misha and Cipa Dichter
8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23
Tulane University, Dixon Hall, 895-0690; www.friendsofmusic.org

The all-volunteer New Orleans Friends of Music organization presents a concert by world-renowned husband and wife pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter, who met at Juilliard in the 1960s. This concert launches the 51st season for Friends, and marks the 50th anniversary of its first concert. The Dichters will celebrate Mozart's 250th birthday with special selections from Mozart: The Complete Piano Works for Four Hands, their recently released triple-CD album of works by Mozart, Busoni and Grieg, recorded for the Musical Heritage Society. They will also perform pieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Dmitri Shastakovich and Anton Arensky. Friends of Music's 2006 season features four benefit concerts by internationally known classical musicians — to ensure that chamber music continues in New Orleans — and a fifth concert by the displaced Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in March. A free pre-concert lecture will be given by Tulane musicologist James Joyce at 7 p.m. Tickets $18 general admission, $10 students. — Walenter


MUSIC

Magdalen Hsu-Li
8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17
Tulane University, McAlister Auditorium, 6823 St. Charles St., 865-5143; www.magdalenhsuli.com

Magdalen Hsu-Li is self-aware. She labels herself as a "bisexual musician, painter and cultural activist," and she sings songs that could be grouped with those of the political and passionate Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette. Hsu-Li's new album, however, is titled Smashing the Ceiling (Chickpop Records), which refers to her personal and spiritual evolution that occurred during the writing of the album as well as to the breaking of boundaries of what is traditionally sacred or taboo. Her song Mary Magdalene, for example, invites a positive reading of both her own life story and the life of one of the Bible's most controversial figures. The Seattle musician focuses on piano-based rock and pop, with a simultaneously feminine and edgy sound, and a message that is defiantly sentimental, self-assured and questioning. Hsu-Li will perform on opening day at Tulane with Dale Fanning on percussion and drums. Free and open to the public. — Walenter


EVENTS

"After the Storm: Four Nights of Conversation of Post-Katrina New Orleans"
7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19; through Feb. 16
Loyola University, Nunemaker Auditorium, 6363 St. Charles Ave., 865-3538

If Hurricane Katrina did nothing else positive for New Orleans, it showed how a sleeping city can wake up and take an account of itself. Through all the tragedy of the recent past and the uncertainty of the future, we have borne witness to a widespread search for answers to myriad questions facing our community and our culture. We've seen this manifested through benefits, community activism, literature and protest, but more than anything we've seen this in the form of a massive dialogue. The Loyola University New Orleans College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Forum and the Loyola First-Year Experience brings four nights of serious discussion, and the first one is the one most near and dear to this section of Gambit Weekly : "New Orleans Culture: How Can it Be Saved." The panel for this discussion is as talented as it is varied: author and Loyola professor John Biguenet, whose New York Times series "Back to New Orleans" was excerpted in these pages; musician Eddie Bo (pictured), whose knowledge and passion for the New Orleans R&B and funk legacies is unquantifiable; University of Kentucky cultural geography professor Michael Crutcher, who knows a thing or two about this city's African-American marching organizations; Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie, who often explores the connection between culture and food; author Kenneth Holditch, among other things one of the great scholars on Tennessee Williams; Alecia Long, author of The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans ; and Chef/restaurateur Susan Spicer of Bayona fame. Loyola associate history professor Mark Fernandez moderates. Future dates: Feb. 2, Feb. 9 and Feb. 16. Free admission. — David Lee Simmons

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