Lyndsey Beaulieu was born and raised in New Orleans but moved away to attend the University of Virginia. After college she lived in Los Angeles where she became part of the HBO family as an assistant at the HBO offices, then as a Writers' Assistant on ‘Big Love.’ She has been with ‘Treme’ since the pilot and currently works as the Writers' Office Coordinator.

 

Monday
May162011

Talking to Shawn Colvin

By Lolis Eric Elie

I’ve been hearing “I’m Gone” in my head ever since my first listen. 

On her record ‘These Four Walls,’ Shawn plays the song accompanied by drums, bass and a subtle baritone saxophone. Onstage in Episode 204, it’s just guitar, voice and violin. With either configuration, the singer and song shine with a haunting clarity and beautiful sadness.

There are things I will do
For a hatchet job too
Ante up
There’s a new kid in town.

I caught up with Shawn by phone recently to talk about the song, the performance and her most recent television credit.

Q: Why did you choose this particular song to perform in your scene with Annie at House of Blues? Judging by YouTube covers, this is your most popular song.
SC: I didn’t choose it, honestly. I’m very happy that it was chosen. I gave you guys four and [Blake Leyh and Eric Overmyer] went with “I’m Gone,” which I was really glad about. [The other possibilities were “Tuff Kid,” “Cinnamon Road” and “That Don’t Worry Me Now.”] It was kind of a darker song, and I thought it would be really well suited to the violin and to Annie. It’s not a most-requested song. Not to my knowledge. People aren’t asking for it.

Q: As a former guitar player, I have to ask you about what kind of guitar you play.
SC: On the episode I played a Martin guitar, a signature model of my own. They asked me if I wanted to have a signature model guitar. Of course I did. So I helped design it. I asked for it to be a smaller body and a smaller neck. I’d played Martin Dreadnoughts up until then. I basically wanted it to be very simple in design. I had other people advise me as far as the woods go.

Q: You’ve had other television experience. For example, you were on ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ What was that like?
SC: I also voiced a character on ‘The Simpsons’ for two episodes. I did a guest spot in a show called ‘Suddenly Susan.’ But I played myself in all these things, so I don’t think it counts as acting. I admire actors. Acting inspires me. I’d like to think I could act, but I know better. I’m not a trained actor.

Q: You are a singer-songwriter. Our character, Annie, is moving in that direction. Any advice for her?
SC: Writing didn’t come very easy to me. I always tried to write a little bit. The thing that helped me the most was trying to understand what I was best at. My strength is that I can play and sing by myself and do a good job of it. That’s the quintessence of a singer-songwriter, I guess. Just play and play and play and play. Keep playing, even if it’s on the street.

Q: Have you played much on the street?
SC: I just played in clubs and bars.

Q: How do you handle it when people are not listening?
SC: When people aren’t listening, you can use it as an opportunity to play things you don’t know as well, or just try something outrageous and see if you can get their attention. I wasn’t really bothered that much if people weren’t listening because I just liked playing and it gave me a chance to really mess around.

Friday
May132011

Kitchen Design: Cooking with Gas at Brulard’s

By Lolis Eric Elie

Unlike Desautel’s which was filmed at Patois, a real life restaurant, the kitchen at Restaurant Brulard was constructed on a sound stage. But it is a working kitchen. Some of the “refrigerators” are merely dummy doors, since we have no need for refrigeration on set. The sinks are attached to running water, though they drain into buckets. The gas stoves are attached to real gas lines and there is real steam and smoke from actual pots of boiling water and pans of sautéing food.

For our chefs, the one drawback might have been that the kitchen was a bit too good to be true.

“The kitchen set was amazing!” said Alon Shaya, the chef at Domenica in New Orleans and the grill man who failed to let his duck breasts rest before slicing them during Episode 201 of ‘Treme.’ “I have worked in kitchens like that in Vegas, where no expense is spared. Typically in cities like Philly, New York, New Orleans, rent is high so most of the square footage in restaurants is devoted to dining rooms where you can make revenue.”

"The first and most amazing thing you notice when walking into Brulard's kitchen is that there isn't a restaurant attached!” Adrienne Eiser, the sous chef at St. James Cheese Co., wrote in an email.

“Every detail is so meticulously accounted for, it is amazingly hard to believe that you are on a set,” wrote Eiser, who played Brulard’s saucier on the show. “It reminded me, in many ways, of the hangar-sized kitchens they work out of at Eleven Madison Park and Bymark Toronto. Every station has a full range, ample prep space and a full row of low-boy reach-ins.”

Chester Kaczenski, our production designer, provided these pictures of the kitchen at rest, no chefs or actors on hand to disturb its peace.

Wednesday
May112011

Eric Overmyer’s Music Crypt – Part 1  

When I asked Eric Overmyer for a list of songs deserving of wider recognition, I expected a mere list. What I received was a dissertation. We’ll break the list into a few smaller posts. But, taken together, it brings to mind a radio program hosted by Billy Delle on WWOZ called, Records from the Crypt. Every now and then Billy will talk about how he has gone way back in to the annals of the crypt to retrieve some particularly special sonic gem. Most folks don’t have music crypts as deep as Billy’s and Eric’s. The quest for these obscure gems may send you searching online and through stores specializing in old vinyl. Consider Jim Russell’s Records in New Orleans for your rare record needs. 

--Lolis

My list of semi-obscure/not-quite forgotten New Orleans/South Louisiana albums/songs/performers/artists.  Off the top:

Let's start with the oldest.  Danny Barker and The Baby Dodds Trio recorded (possibly) the first versions of Mardi Gras Indian songs, and set what had been plain percussion and chant to instrumentation.  Danny was a seminal figure. He was born in the French Quarter, a member of the Barbarin family, founder of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band, which nurtured several generations of musicians, including Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Leroy Jones, Dr. Michael White, Joseph Torregano and many others, and gave birth to the Dirty Brass Band and thus the whole modern brass band movement. Barker's version of "Indian Red" was heard in Season 1.  My favorite tune from those sessions is "Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing," which will also certainly appear on my list of Favorite Carnival and Indian Songs.  The current incarnation of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band does a monster version of  "Tootie Ma," with Clint Maedgen and Charlie Gabriel honking dueling tenors -- a perfect example of how New Orleans music is transmitted and transmuted down the decades.

As long as we're talking Indian music, how about Champion Jack Dupree and his version of "Yella Pocahontas," which was heard over a car radio in Season 1's Mardi Gras episode.  Dupree was orphaned at an early age, his parents killed in a house fire -- which according to local lore was set by the Klan.  He was sent to the Colored Waif's Home (Louis Armstrong's alma mater), was a Spy Boy for the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indians, and left New Orleans for good in 1930 at the age of 20, for Chicago, and later Europe, becoming like many black musicians an ex-pat refugee from racism.  There are a number of versions of "Yella Pocahontas" -- my favorite is the Rounder Records version on ‘The Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday Showdown’ anthology, which features John Mooney on slide guitar, Walter Payton on bass, and Lil Crip and Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias on backing vocals.

And speaking of the Wild Magnolias, their ground-breaking records from the Seventies, ‘The Wild Magnolias’ and ‘They Call Us Wild,’ done with Willie Tee and his brother Earl Turbinton, which married nasty New Orleans funk and Mardi Gras Indian songs, sound as fresh as ever.  We tried to get "New Suit" from ‘They Call Us Wild’ into Season 1's Mardi Gras episode but it was recorded on a French label, Barclay, and we couldn't get the rights -- the French never responded.  Check it out -- it'll knock your feathers off.

--Eric Overmyer