Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bouchercon 2016: A break from Beef Wellington

Bouchercon is about socializing, too, a rare chance for writers and other bookish sorts to get together and talk about something other than recipes for Beef Wellington, as Ali Karim likes to put it.

And we don't talk just about books. One day over lunch at Mena's Palace, just around the corner from the convention hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans, for example, I talked Quebec politics and history with a tableful of people that included my Montreal homeboys John McFetridge and Jacques Filippi.

Jacques Filippi and palm trees on Canal Street.
Photos by Peter Rozovsky
John McFetridge
Jacques doesn't post on Facebook much (What does that man do with his life?), but John, like Benjamin Whitmer and Benoit Lelievre (yet another Montrealer), is one of the sanest, smartest, most articulate people on social media. Quite apart from the perspective afforded by time and by our somewhat different backgrounds, the discussion of René Lévesque's legacy was an invigorating break from the social, political, and professional Beef Wellington of everyday life.

Christa Faust
Over on the book side, a lot of neo-noir writers seem to think meth, violence, and trailer parks are enough for a good story. This decidedly does not apply to Christa Faust, John Rector, Martyn Waites, Johnny Shaw, and some of the other folks who read at Wednesday's pre-Bouchercon Noir at the Bar. That lot has big heart, big laughs, or both. And they all have big chops. The atmospheric Voodoo Lounge on Rampart Street was a fine venue for the best Noir at the Bar I've attended since I created Noir at the Bar eight years ago.

A girl playing guitar in Chris Acker
and the Growing Boys.
And the music in New Orleans! I attended no shows, but I heard more good live music in more varieties in one night just walking down the street in some delightful company and looking in at bars for a gin and tonic than I'll hear in a year where I am now. Suffice it to say that having heard a sidewalk full of people, including an 89-year-old woman, sing "Your Cheatin' Heart" along with Chris Acker and the Growing Boys, I now understand the appeal of Hank Williams much better than I used to.

But nothing beats Cajun music, which can incorporate country and blues. Nothing I've heard so abounds with joy even if one does not understand the French lyrics. This music can express joy and yearning at the same time, and that's even before the singing starts. It's one of the most beautiful things I've experienced in my life

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Blogger seana graham said...

I agree with everything I know about here, which doesn't unfortunately extend to Canadian politics.

September 30, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You might have found the discussion interesting, if only for its novelty. That was part of the appeal for me, too, to be honest.

September 30, 2016  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Music. Food. Art. Everywhere. No wonder the place captures the hearts of so many people! All of the important stuff is right there. Thanks for the peek back.

September 30, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I told someone who lamented having had to miss this Bouchercon that I'd carry a bit of Louisiana with me everywhere, even if I had to bring a Cajun band to Toronto. I am even trying to figure out some of the simpler songs' rhythms on my guitar and also refreshing my French by paying attention to and trying to figure out lyrics. A lot of these lyrics in French seem to be unavailable online. Once I learn them, I will next have to get my voice good and hoarse so I can fool people into thinking it has character.

And I'm pleased you liked the peek.

September 30, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linda: I had a long, stimulating chat on Facebook last night after work with a couple of people about Cajun music, about its similarities with other kinds of folk music and such. I even made a new "friend" out it. Everyone want to talk about Louisiana!

I also have been bending the ear of one of my colleagues who grew up in New Orleans. She was happy to hear from me, and she let me in on some of the secrets of New Orleans cookery, what spices to get, and the like. She said she has been cooking since she was 6 years old, when she would watch Louisiana cooking shows on local television.

September 30, 2016  
Blogger Clea Simon said...

yeah, you got the taste now... may I recommend New Orleans Jazz Fest (last weekend in April/first in May) - 11 stages, from gospel to zydeco? Or the Festival Acadienne in Lafayette?

September 30, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You may recommend both! And thanks.

September 30, 2016  

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