Tuesday, 29 May 2012

How Montrose and New Orleans are almost the same...

So, the grown-ups in this house are deep into the first season of the U.S. TV series “Treme” (pronounced "Tremay"). It's about post-Katrina New Orleans and the series was first shown in 2010 but we're just getting to it now. Named after an area of New Orleans and made by the makers of “The Wire”, “Treme” is every bit as good as the epic series set in Baltimore and, also like "The Wire", it stars Wendell Pierce (Bunk in "The Wire", pictured above in "Treme" mode) and Clarke Peters ("The Wire"'s Lester). Other “Wire” faces pop up in "Treme" too.

As you might expect for a show set in Louisiana's fine city the music in “Treme” is phenomenal with lots of real musos featured and a great theme tune (see below). You can read about Wendell Pierce and the series (and how he learned to play trombone for “Treme”) here. After reading that piece I love Pierce even more than I did when he was just Bunk (and I loved him quite a lot then... no-one was sick behind a car quite like Bunk...).

And whilst this might seem like an odd jump I am starting to think that, after a music-packed weekend here in Montrose (for the annual largely pub-based Music Festival), our little Scottish toon has more than a few things in common with the Big Easy we fell in love with so much last year. Before you mock me consider these points:


New Orleans - Nola/Big Easy/Nawlins.
Montrose - The Mo.

On the coast?

Nola – Lake Ponchartrain to the north, not far to the Gulf of Mexico in the south.  
The Mo – North Sea (brrr!) to the east.


Nola – over 300,000.  
The Mo – approx. 12,000

Tourist attractions?

Nola – beautiful French Quarter, beautiful Garden District, streetcars, Mississippi river boats, amazing Audubon zoo, art galleries...  
The Mo – lovely beaches (most of the time), lighthouse, elegant high street, Montrose Basin for birdwatching...


Nola – traditional and modern, jambalaya, gumbo, Po' boys, a lot of oysters and crawfish and much, much more.
The Mo – quite a lot of fish, plenty of pies (beef is big here...), a good curry house, cakes...

Visitors from out of town?

Nola – top tourist destination (8.75 million visitors in 2011).
The Mo – quite busy this weekend (for the festival). And some people head here for the fishing, so I'm told...

TV series potential?

Nola - “Treme” is excellent.
The Mo – I believe “Borrowfield – the miniseries” is currently in production. A drama series “Hillside Housewives” was in development but producers felt it was just too freakin' dull.

Theme tune?

Nola - “Treme” has a great theme tune by John Boutté:

and there are plenty of other songs about New Orleans.
The Mo... still undecided... maybe something by AC/DC (well, Bon Scott was from Kirriemuir... not so far away... and there is "Highway to Hell"...) or maybe there's the song that Jim Reid made from the poem by Montrose writer Violet Jacob:

Or maybe someone can come up with something new? Any suggestions?

Loads of venues playing all kinds of music?

Nola – pretty much all year (with special attention to jazz).
The Mo – hell, yes, especially at the end of May (special attention to rock, blues, traditional - though all styles are covered).


Nola – hot, damned hot.
The Mo – in May (every year!) surprisingly hot. I think voodoo may be involved.

Street music?

Nola – amazing buskers.
The Mo – pretty good music on the high street stage this weekend, a few lassies singing outside the Little Mermaid chipper too...

Outrageous scenes of public drunkenness?

Nola – undoubtedly (we saw at least a couple of people sitting in some kind of their own waste on or near Bourbon Street).
The Mo – a respectable showing at this year's festival with reports of outrageous heckling, throwing things, bare arses etc. all coming in thick and fast.

Public profanity?

Nola – certainly the language on “Treme” is pretty x-rated.
The Mo – f words have been heard in the town (used creatively of course). Indeed Scottish swearing is a long-established artform (witness Malcolm Tucker from “The Thick of it”, Billy Connolly...).

Famous locals?

Nola – Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Randy Newman, Anne Rice, Wendell Pierce, Ellen deGeneres, John Goodman...
The Mo – well, fame's relative, isn't it? Lots of musicians (young and old) around just now who might well make it big...if they want to. But then a quiet life in a small town can be good too...

Now, roll on the Mo Fest next year... Montrose's Mardi Gras/Jazz Fest etc. etc..



Anonymous said...

I've really been enjoying Treme. We've just finished up with Season 2 here. The music has been outstanding. But oh, what havoc Katrina wreaked. It really offers an important perspective. Great show!

Rachel Fox said...

We're a bit behind... mainly because I suppose it's been on Sky first and we don't do Murdoch. Season 1 is on a thing called BT Vision over here now though so we're catching up.

We went to an exhibition about Katrina when we were in N.O. last year. Came out sobbing I have to say. I think it was the people being stuck in hospital and the staff who stayed with them who got me the most. Plus all the stuff about the government/FEMA.


The Bug said...

I can totally see the resemblance - especially if I squint. I really like the Montrose song - I actually like that style of music better than most jazz :)

P.S. One of my word verif. words is "connecting"!

Rachel Fox said...

I've listened to a lot of folk in the past few years... and I do love a lot of it. I tend to slide into other genres every now and then though and certainly I'm enjoying the dance/soulful side of jazz right now. Still can't get as excited about Miles Davis as some in this house though!

The Weaver of Grass said...

You have tried to be as convincing as possible Rachel!

Rachel Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel Fox said...

Perhaps trying to convince myself! We did love New Orleans... and even though we were only there a few days the TV series is somehow making me almost homesick.

But... I know... there is good and bad (and in between) about living almost everywhere. And certainly a sunny weekend full of music (like last weekend) can make a person appreciate their home!

Marion McCready said...

Yes, I've been wondering whether to try out Treme, I've exhausted all the crime series (well, Brit ones anyway). Loved this post, Hillside Housewives Lol!

Rachel Fox said...

I watch very few crime shows... I just can't take all the murdering! Saying that I did get drawn into "The Bridge" as Mark watched it. I got a bit drawn into "Homeland" too (crimes of a different kind) but I found that about 40% good and about 60% cheese. I know drama is going to manipulate the viewer but I want to at least feel manipulated in a new or interesting way!

We are loving "Treme" so far - great acting, interesting storylines, comedy, tragedy, everyday life... and most of all the music!

Marion McCready said...

haven't heard of Homeland, must google it! I really liked The Bridge though it was a bit like a spoof at times! The Killing was fantastic and then there's Wallander and I've just discovered Bergman! love those Scandanavians, love the houses - all those bookcases and minimal decor!!

Rachel Fox said...

Homeland was on C4 - political drama/thriller of a sort. It's like '24' in places and it was quite a hit (Obama watched it apparently). I liked little bits of it (the acting was good especially) but it had its cheesey moments and in the end I would say it was a B- or a C rather than an A like "Treme" (for me). It was well-made but a bit shallow/glossy considering the subject matter.