Pink Martini's Life After Mancini

Pink Martini didn’t become a lounge band for the reasons you might expect. No one watched Robin and the Seven Hoods and said That! I want to be cool like that! No one worked in a secondhand store, saw a few sharkskin suits and thought, Bands have started with less. No one lucked into a stash of exotica hi-fi albums and stereo test records in a Salvation Army and wondered, How can I make that sound? No, Pink Martini started when Thomas Lauderdale got political.

Mdou Moctar Takes Desert Blues Electric at Jazz Fest

In the land of the underdog story, Mdou Moctar is king. Born in the Tuareg commune village of Tchintabaraden, Niger, Moctar was raised in a strict Muslim household in which music was forbidden. He built his first guitar, a lefty five-string, from wood and bicycle brake cables and practiced it in secret, with no formal instruction. Now, he’s touring the U.S. behind his third studio album, Ilana (The Creator).

My Brightest Diamond Does Math on the Dance Floor on "A Million and One"

Shara Nova has made beautiful and haunting music under many names; My Brightest Diamond is the one that stuck. She started making “chamber pop” or “art pop” in the early 2000s under the name AwRY and went on to write music for orchestral productions and collaborated with indie star Sufjan Stevens. In 2006, she started to release music under the name My Brightest Diamond.

Dick Dale's Last Words (to Me)

On Saturday night, surf guitar legend Dick Dale died. He's best known for "Miserlou," which Quentin Tarantino used to great effect in 1994's Pulp Fiction. Dale played a number of memorable shows in New Orleans in the old Howlin' Wolf--where Republic is today--where he played surf with a punk edge. He played so hard that he would periodically show his picks to show how worn down they were, and one Sunday night he walked off the stage, through the crowd, out the door and into traffic, staring down cars and playing all the while.

Outlander's Diana Gabaldon Takes MSM to School

Novelists are usually in short supply at Wizard World Comic Con. Superheroes and pop culture stars are its top-line draws, but this year writer Diana Gabaldon--author of the "Outlander" series--attended the New Orleans convention, along with members of the cast of Outlander, the series on Starz adapted from her books.

My Spilt Milk Presents "The 12 Songs of Christmas"

Earlier this month, My Spilt Milk launched a new podcast, “The 12 Songs of Christmas.” My Spilt Milk founder Alex Rawls has been writing about Christmas since 2004, when he wrote a cover story on it for Gambit with interviews with people as different as American Idol contestants, Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder Paul O’Neill, filmmaker/artist John Waters, and sing

Kero Kero Bonito Searches for Sense in a Messy World

[Updated Kero Kero Bonito has undergone a sea change. Their sound, once radically cheerful, matured into angsty uncertainty with the release of Time ‘n’ Place in early October. The British pop project started as a simple synth trio, with Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled manning the boards, and Sarah Midori Perry singing and rapping, alternating enthusiastically between English and her native Japanese.

Travers Geoffray Disbands Mississippi Rail Co., Makes Solo Debut at Jazz Fest

Mississippi Rail Company took a game stab at classic New Orleans R&B along with a number of related southern, piano-driven R&B styles. The band got warm but never hot, so when I received an email announcing a new album by Travers Geoffray, the leader of Mississippi Rail Company, I wasn’t surprised.

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