Real Life Rock Top 10: 2019 KAJS-T Edition

So this is a riff on a Marcus Greil column I loved when it was in The Believer, and it's apparently been other places too. It's sort of, in my version, a "cultural/art experiences" top ten? I had notes for one last year, but sadly never wound up posting it! So here it goes for 2019. Sorry, 12/31, for excluding you from the possibility of being included in this, in case I have an amazing cultural/art experience tomorrow.

10. PRESERVATION ALLIANCE OF LAFAYETTE ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING, MAY 2019 :: I am definitely a bit biased here, but Geoff did a lot of great work this year, and it was really amazing to hear him talk as a professional in front of a group of interested people about what he was doing on the Roy House on campus. I know that he knows a lot, but the nitty gritty details of it aren't often something we discuss, so hearing him talk about it in a setting like this made me so proud.

9. EAGLES VICTORY @ THE CHICAGO AIRPORT, JANUARY 2019 :: This is a weird one on this list, for sure, but I got to watch the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Chicago Bears at the Chicago airport for the Wildcard game in the playoffs, and it was just a joy. Not only did I win a bet that involved two Chicago deep disk frozen pizzas arriving to our home in Louisiana via mail, but the game itself was intense until the last double doink, and the Eagles fans and I who were watching until the last second sang out song and chanted our chant as we boarded the plane.

8. FUGUE: A MILENA THEATER PRODUCTION, APRIL 2019 :: I've been to every Milena Theatre Production that has been put on since my time at UL Lafayette began, and was even in one. Fugue was my favorite. It felt raw and honest--and that wasn't just because of where I was sitting, so close to the "stage," a space carved out in Achilles Print Studio. I felt like I got to know the playwright better, which--after working with her to be in her play Revision, didn't necessarily feel possible until I saw this play--but I also feel like I learned something about my own relationship to art, not just hers.

7. TANK & THE BANGAS @ FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL, APRIL 2019 :: I wish I'd known this totally freaking amazing group before the Festival--they were likely on a playlist I made of musicians leading up to Festival International that I under-listened to. Anyway, Tank is... a presence and a true performer. Her stage presence is commanding, and the music they make fun and unique and I'm so glad I got to see them in their home state of Louisiana. I wish I'd known how much I'd grow to love them sooner so that I could have caught their whole set and really appreciated it-- I was paying attention for sure, but I don't think we were there from the beginning and maybe chatted with a friend during part of it. Anyway, I'm just glad I saw them--her outfit was killer, and they had a real rotary phone on stage as a part of one of the songs, which was just great.

6. QUEER SYLLABUS IN PORTLAND @ AWP, MARCH 2019 :: This has been on my RLRTT radar since earlier this year--a very memorable reading one of the last nights (maybe THE last night?) of AWP, wherein every reader knocked my socks off. The host, Baruch Porras-Hernandez was an expert at keeping the room hooked and invested in the event, plus great at getting laughs out of us. Claire Rudy Foster & Chen Chen's readings particular stand out to me, though truly everyone who read was phenomenal. It didn't matter that I spent most of the event sitting on the floor or a partition walling off the foyer from the rest of the bar or how packed it was, I enjoyed every minute of this.

5. RHIANNON GIDDENS @ ARTMOSPHERE, AUGUST 2019 :: Geoff had this one on his radar since early summer, and I was so glad we made it out. The way she celebrated the other musicians on stage was so welcoming, and everyone who sang or strummed or harmonized--everyone was so talented it really was an honor to be in the presence of such great music. We swayed, we stomped, and we danced. I remember getting chills at her Patsy Cline cover, and I was so glad we went. It was kind of wild to me that she played such a small venue and that we had the privilege of seeing her there.

4. CELEBRATION OF MARTHE REED @ THE HILLIARD MUSEUM, APRIL 2019 :: This was my introduction to what probably was my top read of 2019, Marthe Reed's ARK HIVE: A Memoir of South Louisiana. Reed passed away earlier this year rather quickly, right before the release of that 2019 title, a memoir that utilizes hybridity of poetry, maps, personal essay, photographs, and more to tell of what it was like being an outsider coming into and really feeling like Louisiana was her home. A variety of different people who knew Reed and/or were passionate about her work chose to read excepts from it or introduce parts of it to the museum audience, and I left the event truly glad to have my hands on a copy of the book and truly sad she wasn't around anymore for me to tell her how important I knew the book was before I even read it after just listening to others talk about it.

3. BEFORE I GROW TOO OLD: A BOBBY CHARLES TRIBUTE, DECEMBER 2019 :: Maybe this is a recency bias or something for this to be ranked so high, but Geoff and I were gifted tickets to this show at the ACA in Downtown Lafayette earlier this month--we didn't know what to expect. Geoff had heard of Bobby Charles, but I didn't know anything about him. It was such a great night--so many different performers graced the stage and we learned about the late musician and his music from people whose lives were truly touched by it--and all of the music was fantastic. I was really blown away, and this may have been because my expectations weren't super high or... I just didn't know what to expect?

2. HOSTING TNRS, SPRING 2019 :: Martin Fulmer & I had the joy of hosting the Thursday Night Reading Series, which we ran for the UL Lafayette English Department last Fall and this Spring semester. He was so great to work with--we really worked well together--and our stage saw so many awesome acts. We had the event at Dat Dog in Downtown Lafayette, and the space was really great. I feel honored that we got to be a part of this tradition and really make it our own.

1. "POETRY WEEK," JULY 2019 :: This summer, there was a week where I was involved in three poetry events, nearly back to back. Emily O'Neill came into town and she & I read at the Until Then Poetry Hour & Open Mic at Basin Arts in Downtown Lafayette. Then, we drove over to New Orleans where Josie Scanlan & I hosted her, Cate Root, & Elizabeth Green in a new (occasional) reading series we called The Big Yell. The next day, I read at the wonderful Dogfish Reading Series, also in New Orleans. It was a great week, wherein I felt really immersed in poetry & lit.


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