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Prospect New Orleans: Levee Stream

Prospect New Orleans: Levee Stream


PROSPECT 4: “Levee Stream,” Prospect New Orleans. The legendary Houston arts collective, Otabenga Jones and Associates, and Peabody Award-winning NPR producers, The Kitchen Sisters, and the acclaimed international arts organization, Project& come together on Bayou Road in New Orleans on November 19th. “Levee Stream” is a day of close listening, unusual encounters, neighborhood revelation and food. Of course food.

On Sunday, November 19th, opening weekend of Prospect.4, the legendary Houston arts collective, Otabenga Jones and Associates, Peabody Award-winning NPR producers, The Kitchen Sisters, and the acclaimed arts organization, Project& come together on Bayou Road in New Orleans to present “Levee Stream,” a site specific-street corner-pop-up Cadillac radio station-installation.  

Part block part, part soapbox, “Levee Stream” is live from noon til five, broadcasting at the confluence of Bayou Road, Desoto and N.Dorgenois — a mix of live conversation and interviews with an array of international artists in town for Prospect.4, Bayou Road neighborhood regulars, entrepreneurs and visionaries, New Orleans artists and activists, DJs, live music, and a five hour “sonic prayer flag that will unfurl across the afternoon and the neighborhood full of New Orleans voices, shards of sound and archival audio. Levee Stream is a day of close listening, unusual encounters, neighborhood revelation and food. Of course food. Meet us on the corner. Hear the stories, voices, visions, issues and music coming live at the “station.” Record your own story in the tiny shotgun shack on wheels (built by six high school students from UnCommon Construction) on the street next to Caddy.

A few of the people and performances appearing live on Sunday afternoon include: Chicken Violins — Rebecca Crenshaw came to New Orleans right after Katrina. A musician and music teacher she signed up with ArtistCorp who were bringing music teachers back in to New Orleans public school after the flood. Robert King and Albert Woodfox of the Angola Three — Robert King spent 29 years in solitary confinement in Angola Penitentiary. Since his release, after being found not guilty, he has worked ceaselessly, on behalf of prisoners rights and for justice and for political prisoners around the world.

A multitude of artists from Prospect.4 will talk of their new works at the corner cadillac station including Kara Walker, Hank Willis Thomas, Monique Verdin, John Akomfrah, Xaviera Simmons and more. Gia Hamilton from the Joan Mitchell Center will also be part of the mix. DJ Flash Gordon Parks — Ethnomusicologist, collector, documentarian and DJ. Like Otabenga Jones & Associates, Flash comes from Houston with his crates and his big mind and mouth to spin some music and the stories behind it. Plessy & Ferguson — On June 7,1892 Homer Plessy, a shoemaker and light-skinned, free man of color bought a first class ticket, boarded a train and sat in the whites-only railway car of a New Orleans train in an effort to challenge the segregation laws of the era. Judge John H. Ferguson did the ruling that held in place the Jim Crow “separate but equal” laws that stood in the south, and went to the Supreme Court under the name Plessy vs Ferguson, til the Brown vs Board of Education decision upended it in 1954.

The Sonic Prayer Flag  Voices, stories and shards of sound and music from The Kitchen Sisters haunting and evocative New Orleans sound and storyscape will be part of the live mix of the day. The Jones Sisters — Four New Orleans sisters, age 12-18 who have been singing together for nine years and sing knock-out gospel and organ, and won the Rhythm of Gospel Award for Youth/ Young Adult Artist of the year, will power the station-installation on air at noon on Sunday. Solitary Gardens Artist and social activist, Jackie Sumell, who with Herman Wallace of the Angola Three created the powerful project, “Herman’s House” has ignited a new vision “Solitary Gardens” a project at the intersection of public art, alternative land-use and social sculpture, planting gardens designed after 6×9 solitary confinement cells throughout the city of New Orleans to make graphic the issues of justice, incarceration and solitary confinement and propel and provoke a dialogue with the community and with prisoners. Floating Cities David Waggoner, water visionary and architect with the firm Waggoner & Ball has been at the forefront of designing innovative, sustainable stormwater management plan systems in post-Katrina New Orleans. He speaks his vision, floating streets and water gardens.

Voices and stories from the neighborhood including Dr. Dwight McKenna & Beverly Stanton McKenna, founders of the New Orleans Tribune; creators of Le Musée de Free People of Color; Mama Vera from the Community Book Center, one of the hubs of black culture on Bayou Road in the 7th Ward; and neighborhood stalwart, healer, soapmaker and singer, Sister Andaiye Alimaya of The King and Queen Emporium, whose corner will host the Cadillac. Domino Sound, the mighty vintage record store in the neighborhood will also DJ the day.

Skylar Fein & Skaters from the Parisite Skateboard Park — In the wake of Katrina, after their illegal, unofficial DIY skateboard park was torn down by the city, a group of skateboarders, spearheaded by P.1 artist Skylar Fein, created a nonprofit called Transitional Spaces. In partnership with a construction firm, the city, and Tulane they created Parisite Skate Park, an 18,000 square foot space under Interstate 610 Overpass in Gentilly, the first public skatepark in the New Orleans history

Food will come from the neighborhood and beyond — and will change with the day.  

For more information about Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp visit


KSP #80 – Thad Vogler: A Short History of Spirits

KSP #80 – Thad Vogler: A Short History of Spirits

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Thad Vogler, creator of San Francisco’s Bar Agricole and Trou Normand, travels the world in search of hand made spirits — rum, scotch, cognac, mescal — and the hidden stories of the people and places behind these spirits. His bar is like a library, each bottle rich with story. “Any bottle of rum you take off of the shelf, you have to think about the Caribbean, about the African diaspora, the indigenous culture, the merchant cultures, the colonizing European country, the sugar plantations controlled by the French…”

Thad has just come out with a new book — By the Smoke & the Smell: My Search for the Rare & Sublime on the Spirits Trail. It’s a beautiful book — part travelogue, part memoir. We talk with Thad about his life and philosophy, about the impact of prohibition, alcohol as agriculture, tracing ingredients to their source, and the bar as a kitchen.

We also talk to Russell Moore, chef and owner of Camino in Oakland. Russell worked for more than 20 years at Chez Panisse and when he opened Camino he asked Thad Vogler to create a locally sourced, non-GMO bar that reflected his kitchen.


Episode 79: Pati’s Mexican Jewish Table

Episode 79: Pati’s Mexican Jewish Table

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A walk through Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden with chef and cookbook author Pati Jinich, host of the Emmy and James Beard nominated PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC. Pati talks about her Jewish heritage, growing up in Mexico, immigration, life choices and how she found her way into the kitchen.

Podcast Episode #78: The Galveston Hurricane of 1900: No Tongue Can Tell

Podcast Episode #78: The Galveston Hurricane of 1900: No Tongue Can Tell

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The Great Galveston Hurricane arrived on a Saturday, September 8, 1900 — almost without warning. Galveston, the grand dame of Texas, a vibrant port city sitting haughtily on a sand bar facing the Gulf, was reduced to a splintered wasteland. Some 6,000 people perished on the island and at least 4000-6000 on the mainland. Survivors struggled to save themselves amid the towering waves, rocking debris, and floating wreckage of their city.

As part of our Lost & Found Sound series, producer John Burnett revisits the deadliest natural disaster in US history with recorded oral histories and memoirs from the children, the lovers – the survivors of the 1900 storm.

New Orleans Visions – King’s Candy & Living with Water

New Orleans Visions – King’s Candy & Living with Water


Robert King Wilkerson (aka Robert Hillary King) was imprisoned at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana for 31 years. Twenty-nine of those years he was in solitary confinement. During that time he created a clandestine kitchen in his 6×9 cell where he made pralines, heating the the butter and sugar he saved from his food tray over a tiny burner concocted from a Coke can and a toilet paper roll. King’s case was overturned in 2001 and he was released. He was living in New Orleans during Katrina, refused to leave his dog, and weathered the storm in his apartment. Today he lectures around the world and makes candy — which he calls Freelines — to bring attention to issues of prison reform and the story of his comrades and The Angola Three.

king makes candy

In “Living with Water” Julia Kumari Drapkin, director of ISeeChange, a community weather and climate journal project, takes us on a tour of her flooded neighborhood in New Orleans after a recent storm. She talks about the vision of creating water gardens, floating streets and other water projects that look towards living with water in New Orleans rather than continuing to completely drain and sink the land.


Podcast Episode #76 – Liberace & the Trinidad Tripoli Steelband

Podcast Episode #76 – Liberace & the Trinidad Tripoli Steelband

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In 1967 thirty men left Trinidad with 97 steel drums to represent their country at the World’s Fair in Montreal. None of them had ever been off their island before. They were members of the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, all playing “pan,” the steel drums of Calypso, hammered from the leftover oil drums of World War II.

The band took Expo ’67 by storm. And their sound and performance caught the ear of one of the most popular entertainers of the day: Liberace. The glittery piano virtuoso hired the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band to go on the road with him for the next two years — traveling to cities large and small around the world including towns in George Wallace’s segregated south. One flamboyant rhinestoned white piano player and 30 black steel drummers from Trinidad playing Flight of the Bumblebee.

We travel to Trinidad and trace the history of the steel drum and follow the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band from the streets of Port of Spain to the Ed Sullivan Show.

Steel pan was born on the island of Trinidad in the late 1930s. It began as an outlaw instrument, hammered from milk tins, biscuit boxes, brake drums, garbage cans — and later, the oil barrels that were scattered across the oil-rich island after World War II.

When the bands first started, anything metal that could be scavenged was “tuned” and played to make a sound, a note. Pan began as the music of the island’s poor, before Trinidad’s independence from Britain. For the native Trinidadians under British rule, the beating of drums and marching in Carnival was often forbidden.

As the oil drums evolved, dozens of pan bands — some more than 100 members strong — sprang up in neighborhoods across the island. Casablanca, Destination Tokyo, Desperadoes, Tripoli… they named themselves after the American war movies and Westerns of the day. Come Carnival, the steel bands would battle one another for the championship, marching across Port of Spain waging musical war — a tradition that continues today.

When the island gained its independence in the 1960s, the foreign companies that controlled the oil resources of Trinidad worried about nationalization of their businesses. The island’s prime minister declared steel pan music an important, vital expression of the Trinidadian people. British Petroleum, Esso and other oil companies looking to sway public opinion began sponsoring neighborhood oil drum orchestras, supplying instruments, uniforms and the money to tour outside Trinidad.

In 1967, the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band (named after the World War II movie Shores of Tripoli) was sent by the government and the Esso oil company to represent Trinidad and the nation’s musical heritage at the Montreal Expo World’s Fair.

Interviewing & Recording Workshop in Marfa, TX

Interviewing & Recording Workshop in Marfa, TX

This three-hour session is designed for those who want to acquire and hone their skills for an array of audio projects — radio, podcasts, online stories, storytelling, oral histories, audio slideshows, family histories, news, documentaries, and other multimedia platforms.

In the workshop, The Kitchen Sisters will cover interviewing and miking techniques, sound gathering, storytelling, use of archival audio, field recording techniques, recording equipment, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame evocative questions that make for compelling storytelling, how to build a story, and how to listen (which is harder than it looks).

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are Peabody Award winning independent producers and the creators of hundreds of stories for public broadcast about the lives, histories, art and rituals of people who have shaped our diverse cultural heritage. Their NPR Morning Edition series, Hidden Kitchens, just received a James Beard Award, and their podcast, The Kitchen Sisters Present…, was just awarded a Webby for best documentary podcast.

Date: Friday, September 29, 2017

Time: 10am-1pm

For Tickets and More Info

The Making Of… a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck and More Stories

The Making Of… a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck and More Stories

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Stories of creativity and invention— the making of a jar of jam, the making of a fashionable 3-D printed covering for an artificial limb, the making of Muttville – a foster care rescue center for senior dogs, a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck, the arrangements for a father’s funeral, the un-making of the Typewriter, and more stories from The Making Of… What People Make in the Bay Area and Why. Produced with KQED and AIR.




Read about Frances Gabe, the creator of the self-cleaning house here.

Episode #74: What is it About Men and Meat and Midnight and a Pit?

Episode #74: What is it About Men and Meat and Midnight and a Pit?

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backyard bbq nevada

Barbecue, burgoo, mopping the mutton, the fellowship of stirring. Hidden Kitchens stories of conflict, competition and resolution in the backyards and fire pits of our nation. From the all night communal roasting rituals in Owensboro, Kentucky, to the cotton fields, German meat markets, and chuckwagons of west Texas. We hear from men’s cooking teams, African American Trail Riders, Willie Nelson and his bass player Bee Spears, Stubb Stubblefield… And we contemplate David Klose’s BBQ pit on the moon.

2006 hlsr - bb wfrank, klose, k sis

BURGOO 02_mopMutton

bbQ_road sign

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #73: The Sheepherder’s Ball

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #73: The Sheepherder’s Ball

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In the 1930s and 40s, hundreds of Basques were brought to the western United States to do the desolate work that no one else would do—herding sheep. Alone for months at a time with hundreds of sheep the Basque’s improvised songs, baked bread in underground ovens, carved poetry and drawings into the Aspen trees, and listened to the Basque Radio Hour beaming to Idaho, Washington, Colorado, California, traditional music and messages between the herders out in the isolated countryside.


“You say Basque to a Westerner and you think sheepherder,” said Mark Kurlansky, author of The Basque History of the World. “In Basque country very few people were shepherds. The seven provinces of Basque country are about the size of New Hampshire. No one has huge expanses of land there.”

“Teenagers were ripped up out of their communities back home, brought to a foreign land, with a foreign language, put up on top of a mountain … crying themselves to sleep at night during the first year on the range,” says William Douglass, Former director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada.

Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who repressively ruled the country for nearly 40 years, made life miserable for the Basque people, suppressing their language, culture and possibilities. The result was a massive exodus, and the only way to come to the United States for many Basques was to contract as sheepherders. There was a shortage of shepherds in the American West, and legislation was crafted in 1950 that allowed Basque men to take up this lonely and difficult job.


Francisco and Joaquin Lasarte came to America in 1964 from Basque country in northern Spain. Each Lasarte brother had his own flock, and they rarely saw each other or anyone else for months on end. Mostly they ate lamb and bread cooked in a Dutch oven in a hole they dug in the ground.

Hotels like the Noriega in Bakersfield, CA were home in the winter months for these isolated men. They piled into these Basque boarding houses that sprung up in Elko and Winnemucca, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho. The men ate family style — big bottles of red wine, accordion music, conversation and card games.

For 25 years, the voice of the Basque was Espe Alegria. Every Sunday night, sheepherders across the mountains of the American West would tune in to listen to her radio show on KBOI in Boise. Dedications, birthday greetings, suggestions of where to find good pasture, the soccer scores that her husband got off the shortwave from Spain, and the hit tunes from Spain and the Basque region. She would help the sheepherders with immigration issues, with buying plane tickets home, with doctor’s appointments. She did her show for free, but once or twice a year the owners of the sheep camps would give her a lamb. The family would take it home, throw it on the kitchen table, cut it up and put in the freezer.

The Sheepherder’s Ball was the highlight of the year in Boise. The men wore denim, the women wore simple house dresses. Lambs were auctioned off and proceeds given to a charity. Huge platters of chorizo and stew and pork sandwiches were served. The ball continues to this day every December at the Euzkaldunak Club’s Basque Center.