Inaugural Event of the New Atlantis 2020 Series with Special Musical Guest Andy J. Forest
A Lecture, Performance, and Party hosted by John Swenson, author of New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans
Date: Saturday, July 23rd
Time: 8:00 PM
Night One of the New Atlantis 2020 Series
•• Books will be available for sale and signing
“In New Orleans, it was the culture of the city—its musicians, its second-liners and Mardi Gras Indians, its chefs and trumpeters and sissy bounce rappers—who asserted for the future more than any political leadership or economic imperative. It was the refusal of the artists to let go of the idea of New Orleans that saved the city. NEW ATLANTIS tells this remarkable story and does so clearly, with considerable detail and affection.”
—David Simon, Producer of HBO’s Treme
New Orleans is under siege from a lethal combination of natural and man-made disasters. The effects of the flood following hurricane Katrina in 2005 are still being felt throughout New Orleans, while the rapid destruction of the south Louisiana wetlands that protect the city from hurricane surges brings the threat of future inundations.
Musicians have been in the forefront of efforts to educate the public about how to combat this threat even before Katrina; they have also led the economic recovery of New Orleans after the flood by returning quickly to restore the city’s cultural identity. Award winning author John Swenson’s book New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans (Oxford University Press) details the struggle musicians have undertaken to rebuild New Orleans and speak out for its future.
Tonight, join us for the inaugural event of the new Observatory series New Atlantis 2020; this series, curated and moderated by John Swenson, will feature live performances, readings and discussions that will explore the relationship between the musicians of New Orleans and the rebuilding of the city after Katrina. Tonight’s event will will begin with a lavishly illustrated introductory lecture by Swenson, introducing us to the key themes and characters of the book. Next, award-winning New Orleans based musician and songwriter Andy J. Forest–who figures prominently in the book–will perform live at Observatory on guitar and harmonica. Following this performance, Swenson will moderate a Q and A with the musician, after which he will DJ a rich variety of New Orleans music while we enjoy some beer and wine.
John Swenson has been writing about popular music since 1967. He edited the award-winning website jazze.com for Knit Media and has worked as an editor at Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, Circus, Rock World, OffBeat magazine and been published in virtually every popular music magazine of note over that time. He was a syndicated music columnist for more than 20 years at United Press International and Reuters. Swenson has written 14 published books including biographies of Bill Haley, the Who, Stevie Wonder and the Eagles and co-edited the original Rolling Stone Record Guide with Dave Marsh. He is also the editor of The Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide. In another role Swenson is a veteran sports writer who covered the New York Rangers for 30 years, writing pieces for outlets from Rolling Stone to the Associated Press. Swenson is also a veteran horseracing columnist and handicapper who covered the New York racing scene as a columnist for the New York Post and the New Orleans Fair Grounds meet for The Daily Racing Form. His profile on jockey Steve Cauthen, “Rise To Stardom, Fall From Grace” in Spur magazine was nominated for an Eclipse Award.
Swenson’s account of musicians returning to New Orleans after Katrina, The Bands Played On, appeared in Da Capo’s Best Music Writing 2007. His Every Accordionist a King won the 2008 Best Entertainment Feature award from the Press Club of New Orleans. Swenson’s latest book, New Atlantis chronicles how musicians battled to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.