The Loose Marbles at Fritzel's - (image by Brian L Butler)

The Jazz Singer: Discovering Meschiya Lake

The first time I experienced the Loose Marbles was a couple of years ago while walking around the Quarter with my good friend Eddie. An excellent experience it was.

The Loose Marbles are a loose band of throwback musicians who bring 20′s and 30′s style jazz roaring back in the streets of New Orleans (and New York) and occasionally play in local clubs. Members float in and out depending on the day and the place and they have a fashion sense that could be affectionately described as vintage-vagrant. But the music and the swing dancing that surrounds it is outstanding. We saw them busking during the day and then playing at Fritzel’s that night. The photo above is one I took that evening. Still love what they do but they are not the point of this post.

When I got home from that trip, I was craving some more so I Googled and YouTubed and found some videos of the group. Mostly just hand-held street shots but there was one video that changed the focus of my search. It was the band playing on Royal with a female singer. A singer that blew me away. This is that video. We’ll pick up the story after you watch.

So after I saw that, I had to find out who she was. More Googling turned up the name Meschiya Lake (pronounced ma-shee’-ya). I couldn’t find out much about her at the time but I was fascinated and decided I would try to see her sing in person the next time I was in NOLA. In the street. In a club. Wherever.

That was two years ago. I’ve been back to the city a couple of times but circumstances and schedules didn’t cooperate so we never crossed paths. In that time though, Meschiya’s career  started to take off. I found her Facebook fan page a while back and started following her. She released an album last year called Lucky Devil and sings with a band called The Little Big Horns, which I’m sure has connections to the Marbles. But they seem a little more polished as you can see in this video from a few months ago. Lovely, powerful and passionate music.

I’m not sure if she still plays the streets but she’s always playing local clubs when she’s in town. And she travels the country and the world playing but I’m not sure you’d say she’s “made it” yet. Which gets me closer to the point of this post. But first, something cool happened a few days ago.

Meschiya Lake at the Spotted Cat - (image by Brian L Butler)

I finally got to see her perform live. Julie and I spent a wonderful long weekend in the Big Easy and Saturday night spent the entire evening wandering in and out of clubs up and down Frenchmen Street topped off by Mescheiya Lake and the Little Big Horns at The Spotted Cat. The place was packed but fortune and Julie flirting with the bouncer got us right next to the stage. Loved the show, bought the album and thought that was that.

But once again, when I got home I was craving some more so I Googled and YouTubed and among other things, here’s what I found. There’s a documentary in the works about Meschiya. True Family: The voice of Meschiya Lake is in post production. Oh hell yes. The trailer looks so good I can’t wait. Check it out.

But it looks like I will have to wait for a little while. Which finally brings me to the point. The movie is being made by a Danish filmmaker for the love of the music and the subject. The money is coming from a very cool newish way to raise cash for projects like this; crowd-funding. Tens, hundreds or thousands of people giving whatever they can to projects they believe in to get them off the ground. Films, music, charity etc. $5, $20, $100 at a time. Adding up until it’s large enough to light the fuse and launch a dream.

The Meschiya fundraising is run by IndieGogo but there are several other companies doing it. My friend Brian Meece is a co-founder of RocketHub in NYC and they’re getting a lot of press and praise. (He’s also part of the über cool group Brian and Silbin) It’s just such a great way to kickstart a project (Kickstarter is another) and give it a chance to be seen and picked up by a larger audience.

The Meschiya movie is short of its goal but the project is still moving along. I’ll be putting some of my money in the pot because I think it will be a great story and I think the more people who are exposed to her music, the more people will fall for her and she will “make it”. That may make it harder for Julie and I to get a spot next to the stage in the future, but that’s a risk I’ll take.

For more on Meschiya:

For more about the movie: True Family: The Voice of Meschiya Lake

 I started playing with Google+ a couple of days ago. It’s hard to tell until I build things up a bit but so far I like what I see.

The coolest thing so far is hooking back up with some photoblog friends from a few years ago. This, that and the other has gotten me far away from regular posting on the old Panhandlin’ photoblog so I had lost touch with some really great people. I learned so much and made new friends from around the world with that blog and I didn’t really appreciate it until it was gone. (original huh:)

But maybe it’s not gone. I’m forming a circle of photography friends on G+ and I quickly remembered why I loved them so much. I don’t know what will happen with this new toy but I’ve already gotten something pretty cool out of it.

iStock_000001823485XSmallI’ve been watching a lot of basketball during the playoffs. A lot. So much so it’s invading my dreams.

My number one fantasy dream has always been about basketball. In the dream, I glide across the floor and I make the sweetest, thread the needle, no look passes you’ve ever seen. I leap toward the rim and at the point in the real world where I surrender to gravity, in the dream I continue to rise. It feels incredible.

I haven’t had the dream in a while. I guess since I don’t play anymore and I’m no longer completely obsessed by the game. But I’ve been watching so much lately and the games have been so edge of your seat intense it triggered something. The dream came back. And this time I have competition.

I’m going back and forth with this guy. He’s about six inches shorter than I am and is running his mouth non-stop. Every play. Now, I don’t mind a little yacking. Good smack is the trumpet section of the hardwood symphony. But that said, this little punk is getting on my nerves.

Suddenly there was a tie up. He and I wrestling for the ball. Ref calls a jump ball. And of course little man starts poppin off about how he’s going to out jump me. Bring it. Jump circle. Ref lofts the ball. Little man somehow DOES out jump me and tips it to his man. What the… Whose dream is this?

While I’m in a “what the…” daze, I lose track of little man and he slides under the basket. His man sees him wide open and flips him the ball. Here’s where it gets fun.

Everything slows down. Little man doesn’t see me and thinks he has a free and easy layup. I know different. I can feel it. As he shoots I leave the floor and he’s mine. I go up and keep going up. I could probably just grab the shot out of the air but I’m about to teach big mouth a thing or two. So I rare back and prepare to send this shot into the stands. The ball floats. I swing as hard as I can and SMACK!!!

Julie bolts straight up out of bed in a groggy half sleep and whisper yells, “What was that!” I heard something too but I’m not sure what. I try to wake up and clear my head. Is someone breaking in the house?

Julie flips on the light and we see the noise maker. There’s a vanity next to our bed on my side. Perfumes, gels and god knows what else. I had rared back and SMACKED Julie’s hairspray bottle across the room in my sleep. Tumbled some other stuff on the vanity too. “What did you do?”

The explanation brought out a sleepy laugh and an eye roll. Julie wasn’t impressed with my defensive prowess. She was, as you may have guessed, glad I wasn’t facing toward her in bed when I enacted my revenge on little big mouth. Maybe it’s best if I sleep on the couch during the Finals.



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