Monday, October 20, 2008

UBM in NOLA

I suppose it’s time to share a piece of news. My old buddy David Simon – creator of “The Wire” – is working on a new project for HBO, a drama series called “Tremé.” It’s about post-Katrina New Orleans, with a focus on the music culture.

I will be one of the writers (along with series co-creator Eric Overmyer and novelist George Pelecanos).

HBO has greenlit a pilot episode and ordered a few more scripts, but we won’t know until next year whether “Tremé” goes all the way to series.

Simon, a huge music fan, knows New Orleans well, and Overmyer lives in the city for part of the year. But I never even visited New Orleans before arriving yesterday with Simon for a weeklong excursion. (Overmyer will join us today.)

In my first day, I got an eyeful and an earful. We marched for two hours alongside a second line parade as a young brass band funked it up.

From September thru December, a Sunday parade is almost a weekly occurrence in black New Orleans. Yesterday’s was organized by the Men of Class Social Aid & Pleasure Club.

Simon and I were rolling with Davis Rogan, a pianist, teacher, raconteur, gadfly and all-around funky white boy.

During the parade, local rap star Cheeky Blakk stepped up to dance with him and then meet the out-of-towners.

(Click here to hear a track that Cheeky recorded with Davis.)

We also stopped and chatted along the parade route with trombonist and bandleader Glen David Andrews, who was more than happy to meet a TV producer doing a show about New Orleans music.

Later, I tagged along as Simon hit Sidney’s Saloon – a.k.a. Kermit’s Lounge – to say hey to Kermit Ruffins, trumpet player extraordinaire. (Kermit was wearing an Obama-Biden button on his chocolate-brown pinstripe suit.)

After that, we went to the Bywater neighborhood to see Davis Rogan and his band play a set at a wine lounge.

Topped it all off with a stroll down Bourbon Street, where rowdy tourists go to vomit.

Fascinating town, New Orleans.

36 comments:

Jeff said...

My first trip to New Orleans was just a couple of weeks ago - it was a working trip, but I had time to hit the Presevation Hall jazz show and experience the insanity of Bourbon Street on a Saturday night when LSU, Georgia and Alabama were all playing.

There's a really good record store on Decatur Street near Canal, if you have time. Tons of New Orleans music that you probably wouldn't find anywhere else.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Cool. Thanks for that, Jeff.

eeaster said...

Unfortunately, you guys missed the very best of New Orleans. Have to remember that you only have about 40% of the crowd that was there before. Taco stands? Did not even exist before two years ago.

So David, while there check out Lolis Eric Elie and his dad - also Lolis. The son is a Picayune columnist. Dad was a judge and the lawyer for New Orleans' version of the Woolworth counter incident. My friend Rudy Lombard was one of those sit-in protesters. The streets won't feel the same unless you know that history.

maria said...

excellent news and mighty congrats!

here's hoping you get a series. miss the mills-simon writing much.

Kellybelle said...

Yay you! Um...will you still be able to blog a lot?

blackink said...

Congrats on the new gig! That sounds like a blast.

eeaster is right: Lots of things have changed in New Orleans but, regardless, it's still one of the most unique places on Earth. I don't know how someone could visit there and not be affected by the soul of the city.

Also, make sure to stop and get a po-boy at Mother's.

Undercover Black Man said...

Taco stands? Did not even exist before two years ago.

Yep, Eric... lots of Latinos. Lots and lots. I'm told they're mostly Hondurans.

Francisco said...

David is back writing TV scripts! Lord, thank you for the feast you are about to provide to us!

Invisible Hand said...

Was just there a few weeks ago and ate the best turtle soup and roast duck I've ever had at a restaurant in the Garden District -- Upperline. Just fantastic.

Great news about the show. Even those like myself, who are on the comedy side of the biz, acknowledge that Mr. Simon and Company set the bar for our medium. Can't wait to see what's next.

Susie said...

Yay - you guys are the perfect storytellers for that amazing city. I'm know it's changed since I was there pre-Katrina, but the soul of the city lives in those people, never been to a place and met people quite like that.

Can't wait to read/hear your stories.

Russ said...

Congrats on the gig-I'm very excited about the possibility of a full blown series.

Anonymous said...

I've read that Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters are slated to act in the series. true?

Also will Pierce be protraying Mr. Ruffins or a person based on him?

just curious. if you don't get to respond, no problem. thanks for posting the news. greatly appreciated.

Undercover Black Man said...

I've read that Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters are slated to act in the series. true?

True. Khandi Alexander is the other actor who has already been cast. She'll play a bar owner.

Wendell will play a trombone player (not based on any real person).

Clarke will play the "big chief" of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. (Also not based on a real person.)

Kermit Ruffins has been hired as a consultant for the series, as has jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison and Davis Rogan.

jknola said...

Make sure to hit the Maple Leaf Tuesday night for the Rebirth Brass Band. Not sure off the top of my head what else is going on around here this week, but you can stumble into any number of places on Frenchman Street and catch a good time. I'd love to stake you for a beverage at the Leaf, but I teach high school and don't have a lot of late nights during the week. Drop my name and the bartender will hook it up.

Davis said...

eeaster, no worries, Lolis is in the mix

Davis said...

and the taco stands are some good eatin'

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Davis, welcome.

fishesalot said...

Congrats on the new gig, we'll be waiting for the first episode. Now I know you're gonna hear some great music, but don't forget to tear up some crawdads, catfish creole, and spicy gumbo.

Peace

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I've been eating myself crazy already.

Mona said...

Congrats, UBM! And it's so great to see Khandi Alexander getting another role. I just love her.

Don't forget the coffee at Cafe Du Monde.

SJ said...

Amazing. Can't wait.

RP said...

Fantastic news, David. Cannot wait to see what you all cook up!

Vince Spence said...

David,
I hope to see Tremé on HBO for a good, long run. If you and David Simon are involved, it will be a quality product. Good luck...

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks for all the good wishes, y'all.

Anonymous said...

Anything that brings some money and exposure to NO is great. Guess they won't get their bailout from the US.

Invisible Woman said...

Congrats on your new project UBM...I hope it works out :-)

Thembi said...

I am sooooo excited for this. And congratulations on the new project. YAY again because I get to brag about knowing you!

Invisible Woman said...

oh, just read the comments and saw that Khandi is in it...yay!

eclectique916 said...

I'm gonna share your news, UBM on my blog. Tell George I said "hey!" and I bought his DC Noir 2. I was down in NOLA last year for Mardi Gras. My first trip too. I've gotta cut my video and post it. I was travelling with a suit case of pound cakes. That's another story. I know us first-timers "post Katrina" missed the New Orleans that will probably never be seen again, but I still found the city fascinating, and met some great people, mostly artists. I'll never forget the food including the grape flavored local brew called Purple Haze(beer) I had...on the go of course.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I look forward to seeing your video, Michon.

This city is incredibly charming. I see why people fall in love with it.

Undercover Black Man said...

Um...will you still be able to blog a lot?

I forgot to answer you, Kellybelle. When time comes to write, I'll have to put this blog on hiatus.

dez said...

Khandi Alexander is the other actor who has already been cast. She'll play a bar owner.

YAY!!

Congrats on the new gig, UBM! Looking forward to seeing what y'all and Simon have in store.

Andrew said...

So will this be a full-time writing gig, production duties and whatnot, or one of them freelance jobs like those couple of episodes you wrote for The Wire?

Geneva Girl said...

Wonderful news! I hope that a British station picks it up so I can check it out on satellite. Also, glad to hear that Khandi Alexander got a job there too. I really liked her on CSI Miami.

When does it start?

Undercover Black Man said...

When does it start?

If the show does move forward, it wouldn't be ready for broadcast until 2010.

Marilyn said...

NOLA is one of my all-time favorite places and one of our country's true treasures. Haven't been in a long time, but have wonderful memories from my trips there. If it was your first time there, just a shame you couldn't have seen it pre-Katrina. Then again, I haven't seen it post-Katrina yet...but have heard from several who have. SO much great music there...though so sad that so many of its best players have moved away.

"Treme" sounds great. Congrats. Will be sorry to see your blog go on hiatus...it's become of one my favorite reads.

See these guys are gigging in town...that's a show I'd definitely catch...
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