On previous years at Grambling homecoming, there had been something of an impromptu car show up and down Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones Drive, but this year, local authorities had managed to prevent that, and the street was nearly empty. Instead, there was a block party featuring DJ Jubilee outside the Favrot Student Union, and the custom cars were cruising through the campus on Main Street instead. With the weather was warm as it was, the party drew a huge crowd of people, but eventually the campus police and parish sheriffs moved to stop the cruising loop of cars. The resulting gridlock actually made it hard for me to make it off the campus and out of town.
Holly Grove (or Hollygrove) is a neighborhood of New Orleans to the west of the intersection of Earhart Boulevard and Carrollton Avenue, in the historic 17th Ward of New Orleans. It’s not a neighborhood I knew much about, aside from mentions in New Orleans rap songs, so after breakfast at Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe, I headed into the area to see what I could see. Like many other neighborhoods of New Orleans, the main thing I noticed was little neighborhood bars, grills and lounges on street corners. These places are everywhere in New Orleans, and often are headquarters for various social aid and pleasure clubs, or for the gangs of Black Indians that parade during Mardi Gras season. But I also came upon an historic old theatre called the Ashton, and several nearby historic business buildings in need of restoration. Altogether, while most of the houses seem to be in good condition, it appears that commercial buildings in Holly Grove haven’t fared as well.
Running a record store was never easy, and Gary Holzenthal’s Odyssey Records on Canal Street has seen more than its share of adversity, from the transition from albums to cassettes to CD’s, to Hurricane Katrina,to the closure of the Iberville projects where many of the store’s loyalest customers lived. Somehow, through it all, the iconic store has survived the ravages of time and a particularly-nasty hurricane and is still in its rightful place on Canal Street. This is one of a handful of stores in New Orleans that helped incubate and develop the bounce music and New Orleans rap scenes, and to walk in is to step into history. Besides compact discs, the store offers vinyl, official Bob Marley clothing and headphones. Visit them on Canal Street, or at http://www.odysseyrecordsneworleans.com/.
New Orleans bounce veteran DJ Jubilee was in the Treme before the Dumaine Street Gang parade. He’s still active in the bounce scene and has gained more awareness since Hurricane Katrina and the academic interest in bounce reflected in a flurry of post-Katrina exhibits, films and books. Like him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DJJubilee to keep up with that he’s doing.
Sess 4-5’s legendary record shop in the Seventh Ward (at Nuthin But Fire)
New Orleans bounce/rap veteran DJ Jubilee performs at the closing party of the Where They At bounce music exhibit in East Austin during SXSW 2010.
Ms. Tee performing at the Where They At museum exhibit closing party in East Austin during SXSW 2010.
New Orleans veteran female rapper Ms. Tee performs at the closing party of the Where They At bounce music museum exhibit in East Austin during SXSW 2010.