New Orleans Travel Photography

My New Orleans Travel Guide

New Orleans continues to be my favorite city in the world. It’s vibrant unique culture and diverse tolerant population of characters continues to draw me back, again and again.  It’s impossible not to fall in love with the people, the food, and the music of this incredible city.  After a few years away, I returned to New Orleans this time for Jazz Fest, which I hadn’t been to since before Katrina. Although some of my New Orleans Travel Guide remains the same, there’s a few new haunts I fell in love with listed below the photos.

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STAY:  Every neighborhood in New Orleans has it’s own unique feel and vibe, but I always encourage you to think outside the French Quarter when staying in this city so that you really get a feel for the varied cultures and differing architecture of the city.  While hotels and bed and breakfast’s abound, there’s also a great selection of rooms and entire homes on Airbnb and VRBO to choose from when visiting my favorite city in the world.

  • The Garden District: up river from the French Quarter, St Charles winds it’s way along the river bank into a neighborhood filled with colossal columned porches, lush overgrown green gardens, and wrought iron gates.  Magazine Street offers hip new restaurants, small independently owned boutiques and now, a trendy but delicious donut store.  Stay here if you want to really embrace that southern gentility and envision yourself drinking champs on a porch while the streetcar rolls by.
  • The Marigny used to be a secret, but it’s proximity to Frenchman Street and it’s laundry list of amazing nooks and crannies to explore has made it more popular.  The Marigny’s eclectic mix of late-Georgian, one-story Creole cottages and shotguns that are vibrantly colored make you want to wander down a different street every day on your way through town.  Stay here if you want to be close to the nightlife, but just out of the way of the French Quarter drunkards.
  • Mid-City is perfect if you’re coming to New Orleans for a festival.  It’s proximity to the fairgrounds means that you can walk to the fest while you’re feeling sparky during the day, but taxi and LYFT around to the nightlife at night when your feet are feeling the pressure.  From grand mansions, to shotgun doubles, to Victorian style homes, you’ll see a varied mix of architecture here, but none lacking in charm.  Make sure you head to the Parkway Tavern on your way home from the fest one day.  It’s one of the best po-boys in the city.

EAT: this list gets longer every time I return to New Orleans.  It’s been over a decade since Katrina and the restaurant scene here has really flourished in recent years.  There are a few of my stand-out favorites on this list, and some new ones that I discovered this trip around.

  • Elizabeth’s in the Bywater (don’t skip the Praline bacon), Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District, and The Ruby Slipper Cafe are breakfast standouts.  The Ruby Slipper now has locations all over the city.  Cake Cafe and Bakery in the Marigny is also a great breakfast stop-off, where breakfast is served six days a week all day.
  • Jacques-Imo’s is still one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  It’s raucous atmosphere, incredible menu and alternative vibe have me returning again and again.  Expect a bit of a wait, but you can always head next door to the Maple Leaf for a drink.  For a real experience, come here on Tuesday night for dinner and then head on over to the Maple Leaf to see Rebirth Brass Band play their weekly show.
  • The list of restaurants on this page with James Beard awards is astounding and La Petite Grocery is part of that club for good reason.  The turtle bolognese was incredible and it didn’t hurt that I made new friends while dining at the bar.
  • Our meal at Shaya was a stand-out: modern Isreali cuisine prepared fresh, prepared fresh with a huge side of warm, brick fired pita.  You must order the hummus!
  • There are certain dishes that I spend my life dreaming and replaying over and over and over again in my head and Cochon‘s wood fired oysters are now on that list.  I’ve always maintained that I’d want my last meal on earth to be the mushroom strogonoff that I once had at South Congress Cafe in Austin, TX, but these oysters may be claiming that top spot.

DRINK:

  • Enjoying a Pimm’s Cup at the historic Napoleon House is a must-do.
  • If you can get in, Bacchanal is a wonderful way to while away the evening.  Part retail wine store, part patio, this Bywater haunt has become incredibly popular in the past few years and there is now usually a line around the corner to get in.  Skip it on the weekend and on festival weeks but if you are around in the off season, you might be able to score a seat on their deck and listen to music mid-week.
  • If you can’t score a seat at Bacchanal, the Tasting Room offers an eclectic dining menu and boutique wines from around the world.  It’s dark, cozy and just what you want a wine bar to be.  It’s perfect for lounging on the couch, reading a book and sipping wine in the event of poor weather.
  • Sitting on the deck of the Columns Hotel in the Garden district and whiling away the afternoon with a bottle of champagne will never lose it’s charm with me.

EXPLORE

  • Get lost on foot: the New Orleans Tours at Your Feet walking app offers guided tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Haunted Homes, and Cemeteries in the area.
  • If it’s your first trip to New Orleans, the World War II Museum is a must-visit.  It’s grown considerably in the past few years, but it remains informative and the exhibits are related to local history and people.
  • The Presbytere in the French Quarter houses a New Orleans cultural exhibit on mardi gras and it’s customs, along with an exceptional exhibit about Katrina and it’s aftermath.
  • Fest it up: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Voodoo Festival and Mardi Gras continue to be huge draws to this city.  They are all amazing, but there’s also something to be said for just going for the shrimp and grits no reason at all.
G-Eazy

Snowglobe 2015 Photos | Day 3

There may have been frigid temps in Tahoe South this year, but you couldn’t put a freeze on Snowglobe attendees spirits.  Regardless of the weather, the crowds braved the bone-chilling cold to dance the night away and ring in the New Year under fireworks and our beautiful mountain sky.  My third day at Snowglobe was elevated by Ghostland Observatory, hometown favorites of mine who recently came off a long hiatus.   Northern CA favorite G-Eazy certainly warmed up the crowd with a high energy enthusiastic set.  Thanks to his energy, he was one of my favorites to photograph all week!

Here’s a few photos from our last day at Snowglobe 2015.  We hope you enjoyed your stay in Tahoe and Happy New Year!  See you next year!!

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Tahoe Concert Photographer | Gary Clark JR

I’ve been a huge fan of Gary Clark JR every since we stumbled upon him at Voodoo Music Festival a few years ago in New Orleans.   Clark’s blend of bluesy fuzzy guitar mixed with smooth vocals is simply amazing.  I’m surprised I hadn’t ever come across him while living in Austin, as he was born and raised there, honing his musical chops in iconic locations like Antone’s.  His recent album Black and Blu is an absolute delight and I highly recommend it.

Clark came through Tahoe South a few months (okay 6) ago while on tour opening for Dave Matthews Band.   It was nice to have a bit of my hometown in my [new] hometown.

SXSW 2014 Preview

I’m back in Texas to photograph for SXSW for the 2nd year in a row.  I know what’s coming for me: loads of amazing new music, beer, and very little sleep.  It’s an awesome time and it all starts this Saturday.

I’ve been attempting to prepare myself by drinking a lot and pre-listening to the SXSW “Four on the Floor” Preview Lists.  Here are a couple of acts I discovered on there that I’m super excited to see:

  • I became super obsessed with Juliette Ashby’s voice the moment I heard the first song.  Her blend of R&B, Reggae and Neo-Soul isn’t something I would have ever pegged myself for being attracted to, but I’m hooked.

  • The Mighty Oaks may be confused since they are playing Americana-Folk but hail from Berlin, Germany but I’m not confused about how awesome their music is.

  • Ski Lodge: pop fun for a bluebird powder day.  Right up my alley.

  • Pompeya is a pop blend of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

  • Shakey Graves has been making headlines outside of his hometown of Austin, TX: headlines loud enough that his reputation precedes him and he’s now on my must-see list for the week.

  • Elle King mades waves last year at SXSW but I unfortunately missed catching one of her shows.  I will not make the same mistake again this year!

Tahoe Concert Photographer | Dave Matthews Band

When I was in high school, my good friend James bequeathed to me a copy of Dave Matthews Band‘s first studio album.   Under the Table and Dreaming completely changed the way I listened to music.  I was a typical music listener for a teen: radio obsessed and repetitive.  With my introduction to this album, I was ushered into a world of complexities and layers like I hadn’t heard before.  It was my start of musical appreciation.   Under the Table and Dreaming remains, to this day, one of my favorite albums of all time, book-ended by Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Ryan Adam’s Gold, and LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut.

After that, I spent a good portion of my high school summers touring DMB shows, from city to city, where every night they would play completely different sets and completely different songs, all the while managing to sound like an orchestra was on stage.  I can say with 100% confidence that I have seen more DMB concerts than any other band in the short history of my life.

I loved their shows and while I hadn’t seen one in over ten years, the moment Dave started playing and tapping his toes, I was transported back in time.  I had briefly doubted if the DMB I heralded in my head after all this time would live up to the musical memories of my nostalgic mind and instantaneously this idea was proved totally baseless.

Dave Matthews Band was an impeccable gorgeous spirited show when I was young and he is the same today.  While no album of his may live up to the aggressive complicated ambitiousness of Under the Table and Dreaming, his catalog of music remains impressive, varied and filled with everything crowd pleasing jingles to southern rock ballads.

After this experience, I’m not sure if any band I photograph for the rest of my life will live up to Dave Matthews Band.  The unparalleled excitement I felt in that photo pit was fueled by awe and devotion.

Dave Matthews was and clearly still remains the King of my Satellite Castle.  I may not purchase all his music anymore, but he proved his place on a pedestal in my musical library.

Thank you Tahoe South for the opportunity to photograph my musical legend.

Snowglobe Music Festival – Day 3 Picks

Snowglobe Music Festival is returning to Tahoe for it’s third year and it’s not too late to join in on the fun.  Three day passes and single day tickets are still on sale.

LAUREN’S PICKS – DAY 3 – Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Welcome to Snowglobe Music Festival! New Year’s Eve at Snowglobe brings the day with the line up I am personally the most excited about, mostly because Cut Copy is definitely in my list of the top five bands of all time.

  • Vokab Company: Main Stage, 5:30-6:15.  Vokab Company is  no stranger to Tahoe and these MCs from San Diego have built up quite a following here with their special blend of electronic, hip-hop, soul and funk.  Their super dynamic sound has garnered them the title of “best hip-hop group” at the San Diego Music Awards for three years in a row now.   For fans of: Gift of Gab, Timbuktu, Hoodie Allen.

  • Beats Antique: Main Stage, 8:00-9:00.  The energy, excitement and mesmerizing beauty of a Beats Antique show is a completely unique, provocative and dazzling experience. Check out our interview with Beats Antique from last year for more. For fans of: STS9, Les Claypool, Pentaphobe.
  • Steffi Graf: Igloo Tent, 9:00-10:15.  This house and disco loving DJ duo was one of my surprise finds and favorites at last year’s event.   For fans of: James Murphy DJ sets, Prince, and Danny Tenaglia.
  • Cut Copy: Main Stage, 11:15-12:30.  Cut Copy’s freshman album Bright Like Neon Love remains to this day in frequent listening rotation.  This band’s dreamy love-laden and 80s flavored pop songs will have the field dancing into the night.  They are currently on tour to support their new album, Free Your Mind and I caught their show recently in Reno, NV where they played a sing-a-long inducing mix of old and new songs.  For fans of: Two Door Cinema Club, Empire of the Sun, and Phoenix.

COMING UP in our coverage of Snowglobe:
  • Reviews and photos! See you there!

Snowglobe Music Festival: Lauren’s Picks Day 1

Snowglobe Music Festival is returning to Tahoe for it’s third year and it’s not too late to join in on the fun.  Three day passes and single day tickets are still on sale.

Poolside’s brand of Daytime Disco warmed up the Sierra Tent at Snowglobe 2012.

LAUREN’S PICKS – DAY 1 – Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Welcome to Snowglobe! Festivals are my favorite way to discover new music, so be sure to catch a few of these lesser known acts on Day 1 of the festival.

  • EXMAG: Sierra Tent, 3:45-4:45.  EXMAG is a downtempo and groovy four piece electronic/live instrument hybrid that should get you properly warmed up for the day.  They use Gramatik’s guitar player and are signed to his record label, Lowtemp.    For fans of: Gramaktik, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic.
  • Holy Ghost!: Main Stage, 5:00-6:15.  Signed to DFA, Holy Ghost is best described as deep dark disco meets pop.   They make self-described songs “that you want to dance to at home.”  For fans of: James Murphy, MGMT, Cut Copy.
  • Syd Gris: Igloo Tent, 6:15-7:30.  Gris is well known in the San Francisco edm scene for his blend of breaks and tech funk.  He is a founding member of the  Opulent Temple collective, best known for their premiere sound stage at Burning Man and a founding organizer of San Franciscso’s LoveFest & Love Parade.   For fans of: Lee Coombs, Plump DJs.
  • Star Slinger: Sierra Tent, 7:45-9:00.   Darren Williams studied music technology at Leeds Metropolitan University before starting this one man project that caught critics eyes for his remix of Deerhunter.  For fans of: J Dilla, Gramatik.
  • Justin Martin: Igloo Tent, 9:00-10:45.  Dirtybird Group member Justin Martin’s in-your-face bold spirited bass-lines grew out of the San Francisco underground sound and are sure to get the Igloo Tent raucous late into the night.    Justin is now known equally as well as half of the hip-hop influenced hit producing duo “The Martin Brothers,” which he shares with his brother Christian.  For fans of: Claude VonStroke, Steve Lawler, Loco Dice.

Nobody Beats the Drum in the Igloo Tent at Snowglobe 2012.

COMING UP in our coverage of Snowglobe:

  • Lauren’s Picks for Day 2 and 3 of the fest
  • Reviews and photos! See you there!

The crowd in the Sierra Tent at Snowglobe 2012.

Best Music of 2013

I listened to a LOT of music this year.  I photographed a lot of amazing bands.  I had a lot of fun and I drank a lot of beer while I did it.  In short, my year was a whirlwind of awesome, but damn, it was exhausting.  From SXSW to running two businesses to training for a marathon, my calendar was full up.   Reflecting back on it, I’m both proud and shocked at how much I managed to pack in.   I’m even more shocked that I’m able to get this list out before the year 2014 rings in!

So, without further adieu, here’s my list of the Best Music of 2013.  I have too hard of a time actually listing things in number, so a few years ago I started using my friend Jason’s REALLY AWESOME rating system, which is as follows:

!!! at SXSW 2013

Super awesome and by far my favorite
!!! – Thriller
Classixx – Hanging Gardens
Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
HAIM – Days Are Gone
Phoenix – Bankrupt!
Savages – Silence Yourself
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Foxygen at SXSW 2013

Still pretty awesome
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
Chvrches – The Bones of What you Believe
Clinic – Free Reign II
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady
Kanye West – Yeezus
Mikal Cronin – MCII
The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Vampire Weekend at SXSW 2013

Kind of awesome
Deerhunter – Monomania
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

Enjoyable for a listen, but otherwise just okay
Paul McCartney – New

Albums that music critics adore and I am totally not into, save a track or two here and there
Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Albums that I haven’t listened to yet but everyone loves
The Flaming Lips – The Terror

At the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Show, SXSW 2013

Previous best of lists
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008

Squaw Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest

The Squaw Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest is one of my most treasured summer weekends in Tahoe.  The event is held at the Squaw Village over two days every August and benefits the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.  It always boasts a massive array of micro-breweries and an incredible line-up blues, funk and brass bands.  This year was no exception and I was particularly anxious for the weekend to come when they announced that Trombone Shorty was going to headline.

Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, is incredible and if he ever comes to your city, you absolutely must go see him.  A trumpet and trombone player since the age of six, Andrews grew up in the Tremè and was a member in his teens of one of New Orlean’s best brass bands: Stooges Brass Band.   Boyfriend and I had the good fortune of seeing the Stooges play last year in New Orleans at d.b.a. and although I’m extremely thrilled they are coming to Tahoe to do a show in September at the Crystal Bay Casino, I’m devastated that I’m going to miss it because I’ll be in Dallas running a half marathon with K’s for Keegan.

Since 2009, Andrews has been performing with the Orleans Avenue.  Their 2009 album Backatown was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in Best Contemporary Jazz Album.  Trombone Shorty also makes frequent appearances on one of my favorite tv shows.

I spent the weeks before the Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest gushing over how excited I was and how BOSS Trombone Shorty is to my friends.  I’m sure they were sick of listening to me.  He brought the business at Squaw and the show was incredible.

After the show, I picked up two of his albums for the 3 year old I babysit for that I’ve given a broad appreciation of brass bands and jazz to.  When we went to New Orleans, I returned with a Kermit Ruffins CD and much to his mother’s chagrin, Kermit very quickly replaced his previous favorite musician D.Y. [Dwight Yokum].

On Sunday, the Marching Fourth Marching Band headlined.  The band hails from Portland, OR and while they call themselves Jazz Fusion and it’s a bit like traditional New Orleans parade music, just souped up and twisted.  The massive band sports mismatched circus like marching band uniforms and members perform acrobatics on stilts during some of the songs.  Boyfriend and I are fairly certain we saw them perform in the lobby of the Primus show we went to see in Portland.

These are all my favorite photos from the two shows at the 2013 Brews, Jazz and Funk fest but you can view the entire album via this link.

Flashback!  Previous years at the Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest:

2011

2010

2006