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At Saenger Tuesday: John Mellencamp ‘trying to write for people my age’

Photo by CHRIS PIZZELLO/Invision/AP -- John Mellencamp

Heartland singer-songwriter John Mellencamp launched his 80-date “Plain Spoken” tour Jan. 21 in his home state of Indiana. The tour, featuring opening act Carlene Carter, reaches the Saenger Theatre on Tuesday. Mellencamp’s 2015 North American sojourn follows the September release of his new album, “Plain Spoken.” The New York Times praised “Plain… Continue reading →

Journey and Steve Miller carry the torch back to the Smoothie King Center

Steve Miller, right, and Kenny Lee Lewis

A classic rock, co-headlining bill featuring Journey and the Steve Miller Band hits the Smoothie King Center on Sunday. New Orleans apparently can’t get enough of Journey. The group previously played at the Smoothie King Center in 2009 and 2011 and, on a double bill with country group Rascal Flatts, The Sugar Mill in… Continue reading →

Glasgow art students’ recycling creates ‘Brilliant Solutions’

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Artwork made from coffee stirrers and plastic spoons hangs on the wall at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. Glasgow Middle student Desiree Berrett nails plasctic insects to the wall.

Who would have ever guessed that there’s a direct link between coffee and alligators? Glasgow Middle School’s Talented Art students made the connection in November. Now they’re sharing this discovery with visitors to the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in the installation, “Brilliant Solutions.” The installation takes a new look at the thousands of coffee stirrers… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge area calendar for March 6-12, 2015

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Chauncey Parker, left, plays Pinkerton in Opera Louisiane's 'Madama Butterfly'. Travis Richter, center, plays Goro and Gwendolyn Jones plays Butterfly's maid, Suzuki. The opera takes the stage at 3 p.m. Sunday at the River Center Theatre.

The Baton Rouge area calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from March 6-12, 2015. It covers music, plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

Annual Shell Show returns to Garden Center

Photo provided by Hugo Andricain -- A Thon Iarirus shell

They come from such exotic locales as Tahiti, Bora Bora, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Samoa, Palau, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. They’ve been collected, cleaned, transported and identified. Now these shoreline treasures are ready for display at the Louisiana Malacological Society’s annual Shell Show.… Continue reading →

Outlying areas calendar for March 6-12, 2015

Photo provided by Doc Voorhies -- From left, Mike LaBiche, Jessica Jouclard and David O'Quinn star in Iberia Performing Arts League's 'The Drowsy Chaperone.' The play opens Friday night.

GARDEN TOUR FRIDAYS: 10 a.m., Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, 12501 La. 10, St Francisville. Manager Patricia Aleshire will lead the monthly stroll through the historic gardens. (225) 342-8111 or FRIED FISH FUNDRAISER: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., St. Augustine Catholic Church, 809 New Roads St., New Roads. $8 per plate;… Continue reading →

Robert Earl Keen puts his own spin on iconic Bluegrass songs

Photo provided by Sereena Barga -- Robert Earl Keen

The Varsity Theatre is one of Robert Earl Keen’s favorite stops. Playing some 120 shows annually for the past 20 years, the Texas singer-songwriter has played the Highland Road music venue more than a dozen times. Keen’s other regular stops include the long-running Birchmire in Alexandria, Virginia, and The Variety Playhouse… Continue reading →

Red Robin at Mall of Louisiana offers lots of options

Advocate photo by Jill Arnold -- The California chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries was moist and juicy and the bacon provided a smoky crunch.

Our first trip to Red Robin was postponed due to the one hour minimum wait for a table. Apparently their advertising campaign — “Yum” — was effective. Our second trip behind the Mall of Louisiana, however, had us in out of the cold in no time and seated in a booth with leather seats in the bar… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for March 6-12, 2015

Photo provided by Green Frog Productions -- Luke Wade -- Texas singer Luke Wade finished in the Top 10 of NBC’s “The Voice,” season seven. He’ll perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Roux House.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from March 6-12, 2015. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

New Orleans area calendar for March 6-12, 2015

Photo provided by Newcomb Art Gallery -- 'Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist' contains drawings, prints, sculpture, and photographs from the holdings of a single private collection. The exhibit runs May 24 at Tulane University's Newcomb Art Gallery in Woldenberg Art Center on campus.

The New Orleans area calendar is a listing of events taking place in New Orleans and surrounding areas from March 6-12, 2015. It covers music, plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

Half a century in the making, The Zombies playing N.O.

Photo by ANDREW ECCLES -- The Zombies

As Colin Blunstone, lead singer of The Zombies sees it, it’s a very strange story. In 1967, The Zombies recorded a song and an album that would only belatedly achieve classic status. The Zombies, much less popular in their native England than The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and, of course, The Beatles, disbanded that same… Continue reading →

History runs deep, but fun comes first at the Tiki temple Latitude 29

Advocate photo by J.T. BLATTY--  Latitude 29 bartender Hadi Ktiri prepares a Lapu Lapu, a 'communal cocktail' based on a vintage recipe from Tiki pioneer 'Don the Beachcomber.'

Authenticity can be a fraught notion in the dining world, with so many different and subjective standards, but it can seem almost antithetical when applied to Tiki. An all-American, midcentury mash-up of South Seas imagery, souped-up Caribbean rum punches and quasi-Cantonese cooking, from the start Tiki had about as much reverence for cultural fidelity as a… Continue reading →

Kirby strikes gold in ‘Rainbow Curse’

Photo provided by Nintendo of America -- Kirby explores an underground level in a scene from the video game 'Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.'

Nintendo’s Kirby is just a pink sphere with feet, arms, eyes and a mouth. He doesn’t appear to pose much of a threat — instead, he looks like a wad of bubble gum that, at worst, you might have to peel off the sole of your shoe. And yet, he’s so flexible that his creators, Tokyo’s… Continue reading →

Counterculture icon John Sinclair brings his poetry, music back to local listening room

Photo provided by Carlo Ditta -- Poet and radio personality John Sinclair, left, on stage with Carlo Ditta. They will perform Thursday at Henry Turner Jr.'s Listening Room in Baton Rouge.

John Sinclair — poet, recording artist, radio personality, former New Orleans resident and the inspiration for John Lennon’s 1971 protest song “John Sinclair” — returns to Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room on Thursday. He’ll perform with his frequent musical partner, guitarist Carlo Ditta. The show, which starts a 9 p.m., will also feature The Rakers and Henry Turner… Continue reading →

Abbeville teen joins four other Louisianians on 'The Voice'

Koryn Hawthorne

Koryn Hawthorne, a 16-year old from Abbeville, won a spot on “The Voice” Tuesday night, joining four other Louisianians to so far make it on to the hit NBC show. Continue reading →

New Orleanian Quentin Alexander still in race for ‘Idol’ position

Fox photo by JEFF NEIRA -- Quentin Alexander takes the stage in the 'Top 12 Boys Perform' episode of 'American Idol' last week.

When “American Idol’s” Hollywood Week was over, New Orleanian Quentin Alexander was the lone Louisiana contestant still in the competition. Out of the thousands who auditioned for Season 14 across the country last year, Alexander is one of a dozen guys and a dozen girls in the Top 24. As the well-known New Orleans tune goes, he’s… Continue reading →

Lafayette native wows judges, joins Team Pharrell on ‘The Voice’

Travis Ewing

Lafayette native Travis Ewing got three chairs to turn when he hit the stage on NBC’s “The Voice” Monday night, wowing judges with his own version of Destiny Child’s “Say My Name.” The 23-year-old LSU graduate chose to work with producer Pharrell Williams over Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton, who tried to woo Ewing with a shout… Continue reading →

La. Film Society to screen “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

Photo by LAURIE SPARHAM -- From left to right, Celia Imrie as Madge Hardcastle, Ronald Pickup as Norman Cousins, Diana Hardcastle as Carol, Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade, Maggie Smith as Muriel Donnely and Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.'

The Louisiana International Film Festival and Louisiana Film Society are presenting an advance screening of “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Cinemark Perkins Rowe. Admission is free, based on a first come first serve basis, but reservations are required. Registration for the screening is available at… Continue reading →

Was the parody of a Baton Rouge native's Super Bowl ad 'appalling' or 'hilarious'?

Baton Rouge native Louis Herthum stars in the 'A Bold Dad' commercial for Toyota that first aired during Super Bowl XLIX.

The Baton Rouge native Louis Herthum-starring Toyota commercial, which first aired during the 2015 Super Bowl, got a controversial parody on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” The original, feel-good television ad, opening with the words “Being a dad is more that being a father,” shows actor Herthum ever-present for his young on-screen daughter during poignant moments… Continue reading →

Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ tops box office with $19.1 million

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Will Smith, center, and Margot Robbie, right, appear in a scene from the film,

NEW YORK — Will Smith’s con-man caper “Focus” disrobed “Fifty Shades of Grey” at the box office, but the film’s modest $19.1 million opening still left questions about the drawing power of the once unstoppable star. According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.’ “Focus” easily topped all competitors on a weekend with little competition at North… Continue reading →

Review: Like a con artist, ‘Focus’ charms and deceives you, in a good way

Warner Bros. photo by FRANK MASI -- Margot Robbie plays Jess and Will Smith is Nicky in the new heist film, 'Focus,' shot in New Orleans and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

If the mark of a good con artist is that he or she makes you think you know exactly what’s going on — when of course you haven’t a clue — that’s also the mark of a good con-artist movie, isn’t it? To make you feel like you totally get what’s about to happen — “Oh yeah,… Continue reading →

The Zombies to make New Orleans debut

Photo by ANDREW ECCLES -- The Zombies

Classic British invasion band The Zombies will play the first New Orleans show in the band’s history March 12 at House of Blues. The Zombies released the hits “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season” in the 1960s. The group’s 1967 album, “Odessey and Oracle,” is considered a classic now,… Continue reading →

Second City troupe brings improvisation, live comedy show to Lafayette’s Acadiana Center for the Arts

Photo provided by Second City -- From left, areJo Feldman, Chucho Perez, Lisa Barber, Nick Rees, Rachel LaForce and Adam Schreck of Second City.

What do Bill Murray, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert have in common? They got their start at the nation’s original improv theater group, Second City. No comedy joint in the world has produced so many superstars over the years, and to celebrate that legacy and its 55th anniversary, one of Second City’s many troupes is… Continue reading →

Manship Theatre celebrates 10th anniversary

Photo by RICHARD TERMINE -- 'Pinkalicious' opens the Manship's Theatre's week-long 10th anniversary celebration at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. a Pink-a-boo Cupcake Party precedes the performances, at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

In 2005, a huge part of the Downtown Development District’s “Baton Rouge 2000” plan came into fruition with the opening of the Shaw Center for the Arts. Inside, the curtain opened on the dome-shaped Manship Theatre. This year the now well-established and esteemed theater is celebrating in a way that only a theater can, with its… Continue reading →

Billy Joe Shaver returns to writing with another autobiographical album

Photo by JIM MCGUIRE -- Billy Joe Shaver

In August, Texas singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver released “Long in the Tooth,” his first album since 2008. Shaver, who hit a landmark birthday on Aug. 16, really loves his new batch of songs. As usual, they’re autobiographical. “To be honest, you almost have to write about yourself,” Shaver said from Waco, his home in the heart… Continue reading →

An evening with Diana Ross at the Saenger

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Diana Ross performs in the River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts in 2013.

Diana Ross is making her third Louisiana appearance in recent years at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans Saturday. The queen of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records empire in the 1960s, Ross previously performed at the Saenger and the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre in 2013. Ross, of course, led Motown’s most successful act,… Continue reading →

Grammy-winner Ryan Bingham cherishes freedom of the West

Photo by Anna Axster -- Ryan Bingham

In 2010, Americana singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, with co-writer T Bone Burnett, won the Grammy for Best Original Song for “The Weary Kind,” the theme song for the Jeff Bridges film “Crazy Heart.” He doesn’t know where the trophy is, nor does he know what it did for him.… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge area calendar from Feb. 27-March 5, 2015

Photo provided by Maddgame Entertainment -- Myesha McGarner plays Catherine Green and Telisha Diaz plays Grace Dunbar in UpStage Theatre's production of 'The Nacirema Society. The show runs this weekend.

The Baton Rouge area calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Feb. 27 - March 4, 2015. It covers music, plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

The Gibson Brothers bring concept album, ‘Brotherhood,’ to life

Photo by JIM MCGUIRE -- The Gibson Brothers

“Brotherhood” is the album Eric and Leigh Gibson wanted to make for years. Usually, The Gibson Brothers write their own songs, but with “Brotherhood,” they interpret songs by bluegrass greats the Stanley Brothers, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, The Monroe Brothers and the Louvin Brothers. “We talked about it for maybe 10… Continue reading →

Outlying areas calendar for Feb. 27-March 5, 2015

Photo provided by SLU Public Information Office -- Ivan Rutherford will perform at a benefit concert Friday for the SLU Wind Symphony in Hammond. Among songs on the program are 'Something's Coming' from 'West Side Story;' 'Music of the Night' from 'Phantom of the Opera;' 'The Impossible Dream' from 'Man of La Mancha;' 'She's Got a Way' by Billy Joel; and 'Bring Him Home,' Jean Valjean's signature song from 'Les Miserables.'

FRIED FISH FUNDRAISER: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., St. Augustine Catholic Church, 809 New Roads St., New Roads. $8 per plate; $1 for drinks. Orders of five or more can be delivered. (225) 638-2947. Every Friday during Lent.… Continue reading →

Taco Chops Cantina in Baton Rouge offers mainly tacos...will it work?

Advocate photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- Slaw and beans accompany a fish taco and buffalo chicken taco.

Baton Rouge seems to be big and Tex-Mexy enough to support at least one taco truck. What about a taco restaurant? Looks like we’re going to find out. There is more to the Taco Chops Cantina menu than tacos, but not by a whole lot. Its owners, who grew up in Mexico, are betting the ranch… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch calendar for Feb. 27-March 5, 2015

File photo -- The Lost Bayou Ramblers and their musical friend Gordon Gamo (of Violent Femmes fame) are performing three upcoming shows in Louisiana: Friday at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans; Saturday at the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge and Sunday at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Feb. 27-March 5, 2015. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

New Orleans area calendar for Feb. 27-March 5, 2015

Photo provided by NOBA -- New Zealand premier contemporary dance company Black Grace performs Saturday at Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans. The company's appearance is presented by the New Orleans Ballet Association.

The New Orleans area calendar is a listing of events taking place in New Orleans and surrounding areas from Feb. 27 - March 5, 2015. It covers music, plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

Eagle Expo celebrates Bald Eagle in Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The return of the American Bald Eagle will be celebrated at this weekend's Eagle Expo and More in Morgan City.

This weekend’s Eagle Expo and More in Morgan City again celebrates the return of the American Bald Eagle to Louisiana. The eagle was removed from the endangered species list in June 2007. Laws banning the use of harmful pesticides such as DDT and greater public awareness and education have increased the bald eagle population throughout Louisiana and… Continue reading →

N.O.'s Shaya mines chef’s roots, blending crossroads cuisine with family ties

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - Chef Alon Shaya opened the Uptown restaurant Shaya with the Besh Restaurant Group.

As an Israeli restaurant, the newly-opened Shaya doesn’t have much precedent in New Orleans. But it does have plenty of familiar touchstones. Meals start with pita bread, hot from the wood-fired oven in the dining room. And the menu offers falafel, lamb kebabs and hummus (in four varieties) before any potentially new vocabulary comes your… Continue reading →

LPB encourages filmmakers to enter PBS Film Festival

Wanted: local short films. Louisiana Public Broadcasting is seeking the work of budding filmmakers for the 2015 PBS Online Film Festival. The national online festival encourages independent filmmakers to submit their unique, thought-provoking creations for possible entry to the festival. The only restrictions are that the films must be between… Continue reading →

Knights of ‘The Order’ battle Victorian monsters

Photo provided by Sony Computer Entertainment -- Sir Galahad's the star of the new video game, 'The Order: 1886,' for PlayStation 4.

When a game has “1886” in the title, you expect to see a few familiar characters: Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, or Jack the Ripper, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You don’t expect the lead to be Sir Galahad. And yet, here the crusty old geezer is starring in “The Order: 1886” (Sony, for the PlayStation 4,… Continue reading →

‘Modern Family’ producer on episode shot with iPhone: The story still drives everything

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2012 file photo, director Steven Levitan, winner of the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series award for

NEW YORK (AP) — For this week’s “Modern Family,” producers put down their expensive professional cameras and shot the episode with iPhones and other Apple devices. Seen through the eyes of character Claire Dunphy as she uses a Mac laptop, characters only appear on her computer’s FaceTime video-calling app. The Associated Press spoke with series co-creator and… Continue reading →

‘McFarland, USA’ runs an inspirational race

Photo by RON PHILLIPS -- From left, David Diaz (Rafael Martinez), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz) and Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran) are featured in a scene from 'McFarland USA.'

“McFarland, USA” tells a heartwarming story about underdogs who, to the surprise of everyone, including themselves, establish a sports dynasty. The all-Latino cross-country Cougar teammates at McFarland High School, residents of California’s farm-heavy Central Valley, aren’t the story’s only underdogs. Their coach, Jim White, a non-Latino newcomer to the McFarland community, is, in the… Continue reading →

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ stays on top of weekend box office

In this image released by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, Dakota Johnson, left, and Jamie Dornan appear in a scene from the film,

LOS ANGELES — “Fifty Shades of Grey” didn’t relinquish control of the box office. Universal’s erotic drama starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan earned $23.2 million at No. 1 in its second weekend at the box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. Despite the victory, “Fifty Shades of Grey” plummeted a steep 75 percent from… Continue reading →

‘Hot Tub’ recreates humor, chaos of original

Photo by STEVE DIETL -- From left, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson star in the New Orleans-filmed 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2.'

“Hot Tub Time Machine 1” turned up the comic crudeness and 1980s color palette to a glaring 10. In the 2010 farce, a trio of middle-aged losers time trip to the happiest weekend of their lives. Adam, Lou and Nick return to the Kodiak Valley ski resort during Winterfest 86. Their shocking second chance changes their… Continue reading →

Teen comedy ‘DUFF’ gives genre a social media spin

CBS Films photo by GUY D ALEMA -- Mae Whitman, left, and Bella Thorne star in 'The DUFF,' opening in theaters Friday.

All teen comedies owe some debt to John Hughes and Amy Heckerling. The milieu of suburban teenage life that they explored decades ago has defined the genre since. The social divisions, the boredom, the dances, the irrepressible awkwardness and the irrational dreaminess of high school students never before seemed so accessible, and so neatly packaged with… Continue reading →

Weekend shows to benefit Red Dragon Listening Room

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Chris and Liz Maxwell are the founders of the Red Dragon Listening Room.

Music lover Chris Maxwell opened the original Red Dragon Listening Room location in 2003. He wanted to fill the void left by the closing of Marian Pickett’s M’s Fine and Mellow Café in 2002. Pickett’s Third Street music venue and restaurant was a listening room. If patrons were too loud during performances, Pickett shushed them herself.… Continue reading →

Former pro player scores spot on beloved Globetrotters squad

Photo provided by the Harlem Globetrotters -- Julian 'Zeus' McClurkin

The Harlem Globetrotters have had more famous players than Julian “Zeus” McClurkin. The famous team of basketball barnstormers has had taller players, faster players, niftier ballhandlers and better shooters. But they may have never had anyone who wanted to play basketball more than this rookie forward. McClurkin, 28, will be part of the hoops and hilarity… Continue reading →

Restaurant review: Spice Bistro has lots of potential

Advocate staff photo by Beth Colvin -- The smothered chicken ($13) came with a choice of two sides. We recommend the jambalaya for one of them.

Normally, I’m a big fan of a limited menu. A restaurant that tries to be all things to all people usually ends up being nothing to anyone, and a reasonably small menu often means that everything on there is done well. Spice Bistro and Bar’s Southern-fried menu has one more thing going for it. It’s full… Continue reading →