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Music Makes the World Go Round by Mindy Piontek

In October of 2015, James Fogle and Adam Planche, friends for twenty years since they were 15, opened the Baton Rouge Music Exchange on Perkins Road between Acadian and College.  Before that time, the building tucked behind Black Torch Tatoos served as their rehearsal space for their bands and solo acts.  Fogle had recognized a need for a music store on the south side of town, a need created when Bebop Music Shop on Government closed a few years back.

“We’ve had a need for a small Mom and Pop music store on this side of town,” says Fogle.

The need was so pressing, that although only open for a few months, the pair are already searching for a bigger location in the area.  With amps and guitars lining the walls, and additional stock of drum heads, effects pedals, guitar picks and strings, not to mention sheet music, the current shop only has room for a couple of chairs.  “It becomes really crowded if more than four people are in here,” says Fogle.

Fogle envisions the new space as somewhere for people to hang out and both perform and appreciate music.  He plans to offer locally produced artwork with no consignment fee, merchandise such as CD’s and T shirts from local bands, and he is looking forward to getting the rest of his inventory out of his house and into the larger space.  “People bring me a lot of cool stuff and I keep it,” says Fogle.

Fogle’s Myrtle Street home is a music haven, thanks to his “very supportive and cool” wife, Anna, daughter, Margaret, and a piano and guitar playing son, Elliot, who shares his dad’s love of music.  “We have a jam room on the third floor.  It looks like a hurricane went through the place after my son and his friends have been up there,” says Fogle.

Like his son, Fogle developed his interest in music early.  “My parents got me a toy drum set with paper heads when I was 3 or 4, and I just destroyed it,” says Fogle.  When he turned 5, his parents sprung for a real drum set, and he now enjoys playing guitar and piano, and singing, as well.

Fogle’s day job should serve him well as he searches for the perfect space to buy or rent, since he’s a fourteen-year veteran real estate agent with Century 21.  Fogle calls South Baton Rouge his stomping grounds, and he plans to keep stomping and playing music in this part of town that he calls home.

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John WilliamsMusic Makes the World Go Round by Mindy Piontek
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A “Miracle” at Wisteria Street by Carmen Del Rio

Around the middle of August, 2015, I had to have a huge Golden Rain tree cut and removed from the front of my house because it was determined that it was dying.  While removing the tree, the bucket truck the company used broke the cement walk from the sidewalk in front of the house to the street.  The tree company assured me that they would send their cement man to repair it as soon as possible.  On September the second I got a call alerting me that the cement man was coming the next morning to fix the walk, and that it would be good if I could be home.  I agreed.

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In the early morning of September the third I was awakened around 7:30am by the loud noise of big trucks on the corner of Wisteria and St. Rose St.  I got up and saw two big trucks across the street on St Rose.  I realized these were sewer/water line trucks that had started working on the lines across my house on the corner.  I went ahead and had my coffee, got dressed and proceeded to wait for the cement man, who, as promised, arrived around 8:45am.  When I saw him I went outside to speak with him.  As I was discussing with him what he needed, a man who had been with the sewer/water trucks came up to both of us, looked at me, and extending his hand, where he was holding something, asked me:  “Do you recognize this?”   showing me  a still shinny gold medal.  I was literally speechless…

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On October of 1985 my mother had come to visit me for a couple of months.  She always wore a medal of Saint Barbara her family had given her in Cuba knowing that she was a devotee of the popular Saint who, in Cuba, as well as in the Spanish Caribbean, was known by two names:  St. Barbara, the Roman Catholic martyr and Chango, the Afro-Cuban name of an African deity.  By the end of October, one day as I came home from teaching at LSU, I found my mother frantically looking for her medal which seemed to have broken off from the gold chain around her neck.  We turned the house up-side-down; looked outside; looked in the car, yard, everywhere to no avail.  We never found St. Barbara.  That December 8, l985, my mother died in my arms of a heart attack.

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Almost 30 years later a man, working in the sewer/water lines had found her medal and, coincidentally (?) I happened to be standing outside in front of my house, and he thought he would ask me if I recognized the shinny object.  As I held the medal in my hand, after all these years, I looked in the back of the medal where it was inscribed with my mother’s name, and a dedication from the family, and dated December 4, l958 (St. Barbara’s feast day).

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All I could do was go inside my house, with tears running down my eyes and saying, as I went around inside, “Mami, I found your medal!”  Today, I am wearing my mother’s medal, cleaned and restored by a jeweler, hoping it will also protect me as it protected her most of her life.

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John WilliamsA “Miracle” at Wisteria Street by Carmen Del Rio
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Ursin de Roche teaches rock legend’s daughter to “Strum This Way”

When Ursin de Roche first picked up a guitar at age eleven, he had no idea that one day he would teach guitar to the movie star daughter of a rock legend. As a sixth grader at Redemptorist Middle School in North Baton Rouge, Ursin started group guitar lessons instead of Spanish or any of the other electives, with his mother’s blessing. Group lessons led to private lessons through his teens, and before long, he was majoring in music at South Eastern University and then at the University of La Verne in California.\r\n\r\nAlthough he returned to Baton Rouge without a degree, his lack of matriculation didn’t interfere with his employment. “If you take, say, the flute,” says Ursin, “your instructor will probably have a music degree. Guitar isn’t like that.”\r\n\r\nSoon after moving back, Ursin answered an ad posted on Craigslist. “A guy running a local music studio on the east side of town was looking to expand his business on this side of town,” says Ursin. “At the time, he didn’t have any solid teachers on this side of town.”\r\n\r\nOnce hired, Ursin began teaching lessons out of what is now Mid-City Bikes on Government Street next to the Garden District Nursery. Ursin’s boss was approached by his high school friend and movie producer, who was looking for someone to teach Liv Tyler how to play the guitar for the movie “The Ledge,” that was filming in downtown Baton Rouge. Ursin’s name came up, and the producer contacted him about teaching Ms. Tyler.\r\n\r\n“Then there were two weeks of conference calls–definitely a vetting process,” says Ursin. During the calls, sometimes with a group of people and sometimes one on one, Ursin answered a variety of questions.\r\n\r\n“They asked me wild stuff—what did I have for breakfast, do I drink a lot, how often do I go on the internet, how many hours of TV do I watch a week. They wanted to know if I knew who Liv Tyler was, and I said, ‘Yeah, Steven Tyler’s daughter.’”\r\n\r\nOnce the production team had determined that Ursin wasn’t a secret Liv Tyler stalker, and they had approved his guitar skills courtesy of YouTube videos, it was time for Ms. Tyler to make the final call.\r\n\r\n“They asked me to come down to the set to meet her,” says Ursin. “They were filming above Lucy’s in a really old apartment.” After a brief introduction—“Hey, Liv, this is Ursin deRoche”—Liv asked him if he smoked. Ursin replied, “Yeah,” and she said, “Let’s go have a cigarette on the balcony.”\r\n\r\nThe two smoked and chatted for a while—“She was just like a regular girl, like my sister”—until Ms. Tyler decided that Ursin would do just fine.\r\n\r\nUrsin’s assignment was to teach Ms. Tyler to play a rendition of Ave Maria arranged for solo guitar. “The director told me to get her to the point where she could have been playing, with her hands in the right places, but that they’d dub in a professional when they got to editing.” Ms. Tyler had other ideas and insisted, with language inappropriate for a community publication, that she really be able to play it.\r\n\r\nFor the next few weeks, Ursin says, “I was on call 24/7. They’d call me at 8 AM or 2AM and ask me to come down to her trailer. Sometimes she’d show, and sometimes she wouldn’t and they’d pay me to sit in her trailer, watching TV and eating free catering.”\r\n\r\nWhen Ms. Tyler realized she wasn’t making much progress in the brief bits of time squeezed in between takes, she called Ursin to make other arrangements.\r\n\r\n“She asked if I minded coming down to her hotel,” says Ursin. “She was staying at the Hilton.” When he arrived, she asked if he wanted something to eat or drink, and despite his answer to the negative, she insisted, picked up the room service menu and ordered most of the items listed.\r\n\r\n“You know how it usually takes half an hour, forty-five minutes to get your room service order?” asked Ursin. “In five minutes there was a knock on the door, and the hall outside was lined with waiters pushing silver serving carts.” For the next few hours, Ursin worked with Ms. Tyler, until she was satisfied with her progress. When the movie was released in 2011, it was Liv Tyler playing Ave Maria for solo guitar.\r\n\r\nAs is so often the case, one great opportunity led to many more. “It was like dominoes falling,” says Ursin. He was featured in 225, was given the cover of the Baton Rouge Business Report, appeared on Liv Tyler fan web sites, had stories in The Sound guitar magazine and on a French guitar web site. He also garnered endorsement deals from Ernie Ball guitar strings, Intex cables, and Music Man guitars. The band he was with was able to play all over the South, due to his fat stack of press clippings.\r\n\r\nEventually, as Ursin says, “that all ran its course.”\r\n\r\nToday, he’s self-employed, teaching anyone, famous or not, how to play the guitar.

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John WilliamsUrsin de Roche teaches rock legend’s daughter to “Strum This Way”
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Art-O-Mat to dispense small works of art by BR artists

Did you know that within walking distance of the Garden District you can purchase original artwork for just $5? The Baton Rouge Gallery at City Park is home to the Art-O-Mat, a refurbished cigarette machine that now dispenses miniature works of art by local artists.\r\n\r\nJust purchase a token from the gallery office, slip it in the coin slot, and pull the knob beneath the artist who’s work catches your eye. Current artists whose work is available from the machine are Scott Blake, Karen Waiksnis DiSorbo, Pam Brekas, Dennis Wells, Zach Rhodes, and Alex Wilson.\r\n\r\nSome of the art is printed on metal, some is decoupaged onto a block of wood, and some is wearable, like Rachel O’s Fabulous Whimsy Fabric Button Earrings.\r\n\r\nAs the machine says, “Purchasing Art is not illegal for children of any age.”

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John WilliamsArt-O-Mat to dispense small works of art by BR artists
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Some Like it CrossFit Hot

When Red Stick CrossFit first opened, it was conveniently located in the original owner’s back yard. When Andrew and Melissa Chicoine took over the operation at it’s current location in the Ogden Place Shopping Center on Government Street, it was very far from their backyard.\r\n\r\n“It took me 40 minutes to go seven miles,” said Andrew Chicoine of the commute to the gym when he and his wife lived in an apartment off of Bluebonnet. Their current Garden District location on Tulip Street near 18th is much better. “It takes us three minutes now,” says Melissa Chicoine.\r\n\r\nThe couple first became associated with Red Stick Cross Fit when they moved to Baton Rouge from San Antonio, Texas. Both had been involved in the fitness industry while in San Antonio—Andrew managed a large commercial gym, and Melissa had experience in “just about all management positions” in the gym where she was employed.\r\n\r\nAlthough both consider themselves native to San Antonio, they wanted to move to Louisiana after Andrew’s assignment to New Orleans as a member of the Coast Guard. “We really loved New Orleans,” said Andrew, and they were sad to leave when ousted by Hurricane Katrina.\r\n\r\nAfter finishing Andrew’s four years with the Coast Guard, the couple planned to move to Baton Rouge to attend LSU, but the opportunity to buy out the original owner of Red Stick CrossFit postponed Andrew’s graduation. “I couldn’t do this,” he said, indicating the gym, “and that.”\r\n\r\n“He actually has all the hours he needs to graduate,” said Melissa, which Andrew plans to do once he meets with his LSU advisor.\r\n\r\nThe Red Stick CrossFit opportunity arose from Andrew’s year of volunteer coaching at the gym between when they moved from Texas in 2011 and when they acquired it in 2012. Although the couple’s previous experiences weren’t in CrossFit programs, they both have enjoyed the regimen.\r\n\r\n“We like the community aspect of it. We help each other out,” said Melissa, “and make each other better.”\r\n\r\n“We have members who move here from out of town and don’t know anyone. They come here and meet their best friend,” adds Andrew.\r\n\r\nUnlike most gyms, CrossFit concentrates on a series of nine basic moves that form the core of the workout. Each day, they post the WOD, or workout of the day, which spotlights several of the basic moves performed usually for the maximum number of repetitions in a given time. As Andrew said, “It’s great for exercise ADD, because each day is a different workout.” The workouts are also quick and can be completed in an hour, including time to warm-up and cool down.\r\n\r\nFor Melissa, one of the great advantages of the workouts is their relevance to daily life. “We have similar moves to life,” Melissa said. “It’s like bending down to pick up a 40 pound bag of dog food.”\r\n\r\nAndrew adds, “We don’t use machines. We don’t run on treadmills, we run outside.” The workouts rely on more old-school equipment like kettle bells, or natural elements like crepe myrtle trunks, which have figured into past workouts.\r\n\r\nWhile half of the space is dedicated to CrossFit, the other side is geared toward weight lifting. “One of legendary weight lifting coach Gayle Hatch’s protégés, Matt Bruce, coaches out of there,” said Andrew. Bruce was an alternate on the 2012 US Olympic weight lifting team, and he is two time champion of the PanAmerican Games.\r\n\r\nMelissa and Andrew see a natural connection between weightlifting and CrossFit. “Weight lifting moves are really technical,” said Andrew, which dovetails with CrossFit’s emphasis on form. “A lot of really good CrossFitters got into weight lifting through CrossFit, and weight lifters get into CrossFit.”\r\n\r\nWith over 200 members, the gym has been successful enough to warrant a second branch, Red Stick CrossFit South at Essen and Anselmo, behind It’s Your Party. “We’re always trying to improve the gym,” said Andrew.\r\n\r\nOne of the benefits of the primary location is its proximity to LSU. “We have a lot of students who work out here during the school year,” Melissa said. Some of the students bring their parents to the gym to meet Melissa and Andrew, and the parents end up thanking the couple for their good influence.\r\n\r\n“Yeah,” said Andrew, “They are glad their kids spend their time here instead of black-out drunk.”\r\n\r\n“A lot of them spend four, five hours here with their friends and then go eat at a healthy restaurant,” adds Melissa.\r\n\r\nFor the last few months, the gym has taken a decidedly family friendly turn, since the arrival of son Peyton Chicoine seven months ago. Whether he goes into his parents’ business remains to be seen, but in the meantime, he does a mean dead clean with his kettle bell teething ring.

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John WilliamsSome Like it CrossFit Hot
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From History to Art to Accidental Publisher

Kara Casanova didn’t intend to become a publisher. She started out in marketing after taking a hodge podge of courses in college from history to art to marketing and design. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, her meandering course work was the perfect preparation for the life she has ended up leading.\r\n\r\nAfter working at Chick-fil-A for a time, where she went far beyond mentoring a couple of teens to becoming a mother to them, in 2004 she was dragged into spearheading a project at Westdale Middle Magnet, which her other two children attended, to raise funds to finance the construction of the biggest playground in Baton Rouge. When the person originally hired to lead the project dropped the ball, Kara picked it up and ran with it. Under her leadership, she raised $65,000 in a handful of months.\r\n\r\nThere was then a natural lull in the project around Christmas time, while the school waited for the playground to be constructed and then delivered. Not one to remain idle, Kara told her committee, “Don’t call me for a few weeks. I’m going to be baking cookies.” She planned to make three shapes of cookies for her kids to take to school for their friends. She baked polar bears, snowflakes and penguins.\r\n\r\nSurrounded by cooling sugar cookies that covered every surface of her kitchen, Kara and her daughter began the long process of frosting them. “I saved the penguins for last,” Kara said, “because the black frosting can be tricky.”\r\n\r\nIt was late at night and into the next morning when Kara began frosting the penguins. “Every time I frosted the penguins, the icing flipped up. It was 2 a.m., and I was laughing hysterically, because the penguins looked like Elvis.”\r\n\r\nOver the next few weeks, the image of those pompadour-ed penguin cookies kept Kara amused, and a story began to coalesce around their image. Then in January, with her kids back in school, she realized, “I should just write it down and get it out of my system.”\r\n\r\nIn no time, she had most of the story written down. “I had it pretty much composed in my head,” Kara said.\r\n\r\nWhile she might have had the story of Elvis the Penguin down, it was not about to get out of her system. Friends who read the story encouraged her to publish it. So, after clearing the idea and the use of lyrics with Elvis Presley Enterprises, and working with LSU art student, Anne Lipscomb, on the illustrations, she shopped the manuscript to several traditional publishers, none of whom were willing to move forward.\r\n\r\nUndaunted, Kara took matters into her own competent hands by self-publishing with WingSpan Press.\r\n\r\n“The book broke records,” said Kara, from the moment it came out. Usually, according to Kara, at Barnes and Nobles book readings, they sell about 24 books. “Mine sold 72.” She has had two book tours, appeared at the Tupello, Mississippi, Elvis festival, and this spring she will be in Las Vegas to promote the second edition.\r\n\r\nElvis the Penguin has more work to do, though. He will appear as part of ICare’s anti-bullying campaign in local schools. They have developed curricula featuring Elvis and the bullying he receives in the book for being different from the other penguins. The curricula targets different age groups and moves from simple coloring sheets to discussions about social diversity. Elvis the Penguin mania will culminate April 20-24, when schools celebrate Elvis the Penguin week, complete with costumes, readings and penguin themed activities.\r\n\r\nThere will be more Elvis the Penguin coming in the future, too, which has led to a shift in goals for Kara. “My whole goal was to promote the book myself for two years and get the attention of the big boys of publishing,” said Kara, “but another business person helped me realize that I don’t need them.” Instead, Kara has restructured the business, bringing on investors to help her move forward. She has almost completed the process of becoming licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, since a second product, whether a book or a stuffed animal, would trigger copyright infringement.\r\n\r\nHer next problem to address is more mundane—where to store 4,000 copies of Elvis the Penguin in the small house on Oleander that she currently rents. Although she doesn’t plan to rent forever, Kara has no plans to leave the Garden District. She, her four kids, and a small penguin with funny hair are home.

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John WilliamsFrom History to Art to Accidental Publisher
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Capital Area Transit System’s Garden District trolley is rolling for the first time today in Baton Rouge

Editor’s Note: Never miss the trolley! Click here with your mobile phone or any web-connected device to see real-time movement of the cab. Select #15 for the Garden District Shuttle. Fare is $1.75 each way but Saturdays $2 will let you ride all day.\r\n\r\n


\r\n\r\nThe Capital Area Transit System’s Garden District trolley is rolling for the first time today, looping between downtown and the tree-lined neighborhood as CATS continues to try to attract different types of riders.\r\n\r\nThe trolley runs every half hour on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturdays, riders can hop on and off throughout the day and the trolley will run hourly from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.\r\n\r\nCATS Chief Executive Officer Bob Mirabito said he does not expect the first day to indicate how successful the trolley will be, but he said he has heard excitement and interest from people living in the Garden District. He said he hopes demand will soar on Friday, when the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge hosts its street party Laurel Street Palooza.\r\n\r\nThe Garden District Trolley is part of a $1 million expansion in which CATS officials tried to reach out to new kinds of riders — not just those who are dependent on the bus system. Service has not started yet on the two other routes approved with the Garden District trolley, a bus running between the CATS terminal to the university campus and another running back-and-forth from Tigerland and downtown.\r\n\r\nView Source Article Here

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John WilliamsCapital Area Transit System’s Garden District trolley is rolling for the first time today in Baton Rouge

Westmoreland Piccadilly is Gone but Not Forgotten

As most of you know, the nearby Piccadilly Cafeteria on Government St., which was located in the Westmoreland Shopping Center for 55 years, closed this past summer on June 29, 2014. A lot of people who grew up in BR (like me) have many fond memories of this particular Piccadilly. So, I thought as a parting gesture to that culinary institution I would share a few of my memories of the place, and I asked other folks (via the GDCA E-mail list) to share their memories, too, and a couple of neighbors obliged.\r\n\r\n”As a little kid, I just loved putting my tray on the moving conveyor belt and watching as it progressed all along the wall towards the mysterious, hidden dishwashing area! This was absolutely mesmerizing for a little kid! I also liked watching my parents’ change roll down from the special old, giant, heavy, metal cash register they had until a few years ago. My siblings and I were raised on Piccadilly buttery green beans, crispy corn bread sticks, meat patties and mashed potatoes with gravy, and for dessert, cubes of green, blue, and red jello! That jello was cubes of pure happiness for a little kid!\r\n\r\n”As an adult, it became my husband’s and my “go to” restaurant when our son Dean was a toddler, because it was one of the most kid-friendly restaurants in Baton Rouge, and of course they offered those discounted kids’ meals. No one there seemed to mind if your 3-year old child ran up and down the long carpeted area laughing maniacally, or if there were cornbread crumbs all over the floor when we were finished (we always tipped especially heavily when this happened!). It was especially fun when we, by chance, met up with other Garden District parents with their young kids on kids’ night; I think I will probably miss that part the most!”\r\n- Carolyn Schwarzoff\r\n\r\n”Aaah, the conveyor belt! Many happy memories. My older brothers regularly threatened to stuff me on it and send me to the jungles of South America (that’s where it goes, apparently). Then, when I was old enough to walk, I used to put things on it that were totally not supposed to be there–stuffed animals, mainly, but I think Barbie might have gone on a ride, too, seeking to broaden her horizons from her day job as an animal activist. I’d love to know what kinds of “presents” the dishwashers received from adoring, local children. I say ‘local’ because you’d have to be a regular to scheme and masterfully execute your drop without a whiff of parental interference.”\r\n- Jeannie Smith\r\n\r\n”This was my mother’s favorite place to eat. Her grandkids never understood why when they want to take her out to eat the only place she wanted to go was Piccadilly. One even “kidnapped” her one time and took her someplace else. They never did that again!\r\n\r\n”Secondly, I always lived and worked in close proximity to Piccadilly and when my work group of over 30 years was outsourced we made a pact to meet once a month for lunch at, you guessed it, Piccadilly. We would catch up with each other’s lives, information share, laugh so loud I thought they were going to ask us to leave, but most importantly listen to Henry Gray play the piano and sing.\r\n\r\n”Kinda like Cheers minus the booze.\r\n\r\n”There was one waitress, Michelle, who always had our table set and waiting for us. Now I feel like I’ve lost a member of the family. Oh by the way, they had the best food of all the Piccadillys.”\r\n- Marlene Little

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John WilliamsWestmoreland Piccadilly is Gone but Not Forgotten
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Garden District Pair Opens Comfortable New Bar

Garden District residents and owners of the bar, Brandolyn Tabor and Arthur Lauck.\r\n\r\nWhen you enter Lock and Key, you seem to leave the North College Dr. strip mall be- hind for New Orleans or New York, which is just what Garden District residents and owners of the bar, Arthur Lauck and Bran- dolyn Tabor, had in mind when they decid- ed to open a bar. With comfortable, clubby furniture, exposed brick, paintings in gilt frames, and a wall of artfully lit bottles of whiskey glowing amber behind the bar, the ambience is far from that of the establish- ment on the other side of the wall.\r\n\r\nFor Arthur, owning Lock and Key is a kind of homecoming, since his parents owned a bar by the same name in Lafay- ette during the seventies. He had thought about opening a bar for years–“It’s in his blood,” says Brandi– but a twenty-one year career as a photojournalist, the last fifteen at the Advocate, left little time to pursue the thought. After receiving an opportu- nity to retire early when the Advocate was reorganized, Arthur found himself looking for a new career.\r\n\r\n“We had a conversation on the front porch of our house on Cherokee,” says Brandi, “and decided that it was just too stressful wondering where his next job was going to come from.” With those thoughts, the idea of owning a bar turned from vague notion to a dream worth pursuing.\r\n\r\nAlthough the couple had no previous experience owning a service industry, Arthur sees a connection with his work as a photojournalist.\r\n\r\n“At the Advocate, I was trying to serve my community in my work. Now I’m just serving them in a different way.”\r\n\r\nAlthough short on practical experience, the couple had trained for their new career for years. “When we travel, we always en- joy going to bars,” says Brandi. “We like going to a new spot and figuring out what works, what we would want to do,” adds Arthur.\r\n\r\nThe couple is also lucky to have a pair of silent partners who allow them to focus on operations rather than financing. “That just doesn’t happen in this industry,” says Brandi.\r\n\r\nWhen, in September, Arthur heard of the available space while waiting in line at Garden District Coffee on Perkins. He hur- ried home, grabbed Brandi, still in her pa- jamas, and brought her to see the site of their future bar. By December, the space was open for business.\r\n\r\n“We would never be where we are with- out our staff,” says Brandi, and she attri- butes their ability to open with such success to the number of fantastic bartenders in Baton Rouge whom they already knew. Although they rely on the excellence of their staff, both Brandi and Arthur put in plenty of time working at or for the bar, usually sixteen or so hours a day. “Owning a small business is not a nine to five gig,” says Arthur. “If we’re awake, we’re working on the bar.”\r\n\r\nThe couple hopes to expand on their success by adding a menu of small plates in the next few weeks and building their Whis- key and Women events. They also plan to continue supporting the Food Bank with food drives, evident in the bin of non-perishable goods near the front door, and Tri- umph Kitchen, which gives high-risk teens life skills in the hospitality industry.\r\n\r\nCurrently, the bar offers happy hour from 4:30-7:00, with select cocktails half priced as well as wine and beer specials. Wednesday is “pianoke,” an open mike night for aspiring singers and musicians, who may choose to be accompanied by the house pianist. Thursdays and Fridays feature live piano from 9 to midnight, and Saturday showcases a jazz trio that occa- sionally expands to an octet.\r\n\r\nOn the last Saturday of May, the couple was at Lock and Key, of course, enjoying cocktails while listening to the jazz trio who had been joined by Wes “Warm Daddy” Anderson and a couple of friends from New Orleans.\r\n\r\n“We looked at each other and knew,” says Arthur, “what’s happening now is just perfect.”

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John WilliamsGarden District Pair Opens Comfortable New Bar
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JCW Productions’ John Williams Specializes in Weddings and Commercials

John Williams is in the process of renovating the building at the corner of Terrace Avenue and Perkins Road, across from the Garden District Animal Hospital. The building, which once housed the monthly art show, Stabbed in the Art, now is home to JCW Productions, a videography business that specializes in weddings and commercials but also offers still photography in the studio.\r\n\r\nThe reception area just inside the doors features three flat screen televisions, which loop a selection of commercials and videos the production company has created. Once the renovation is complete, the space will include a sound studio as well as the photography studio, space for editing, and offices.\r\n\r\nAt first glance, all of this seems like an unusual accomplishment for a twenty-year old recent LSU graduate, but John’s experience and determination belie his age, since he began video taping weddings when he was just thirteen years old.\r\n\r\n“One summer, I decided to mow lawns so I could save up money to buy a camera. I knew that if I had a camera, I could always make money,” says John.\r\n\r\nJohn attended a small high school, St. George’s Independent School, in Memphis, and one day brought his camera to school and had it out during his math class. The math teacher, Jeff Ruffin, asked if John would like to video the school basketball games, which eventually led to opportunities to video football and soccer games, too. Soon, John was broadcasting games on line, garnering a regular audience of 500 viewers and a chat room.\r\n\r\nThe math teacher was also instrumental in setting John on the path to video taping weddings, since Mr. Ruffin was the first groom to hire him. After that first wedding “my name got passed around, rippling through school, and [my business] blew up,” says John.\r\n\r\nAlthough St. George’s was small, they had a strong basketball program. “We had an amazing player and had the chance to play in a tournament in Boston,” says John. After that trip, he received a call from a Sports Illustrated writer who wrote an article about John’s work as a high school videographer. When in his senior year the basketball team won state, John received a championship ring along with the team.\r\n\r\nWith his high school experience behind him, there was only one place John wanted to go for college. “I wanted to go to LSU to film football,” says John. His high school’s athletic director placed a call for him, and John then spent 3 ½ years filming all football practices and games here at LSU.\r\n\r\nAlthough John spent 30 hours a week filming football games, he wanted to maintain his wedding videography business, but the move from Memphis cost him the contacts he had made during high school. 
“I received $100 worth of free advertising when I signed up to advertise on Google, which led to $5000 worth of bookings,” says John.\r\n\r\nJohn quickly replaced and multiplied his high school wedding contacts. “You can’t film football for LSU and not meet tons of people and make connections,” he says.\r\n\r\nBetween his sophomore and junior years at LSU, John realized that he wanted to stay in Louisiana, as so many visitors do, for the culture. “I hated paying rent,” he says, so although only twenty, he was looking to buy a house, quickly settling on the Garden District as his preferred neighborhood. As he says, “I wasn’t going to buy anywhere else.”\r\n\r\nThe same week he bought his house on Camelia, John drove by the building at the corner of Perkins and Terrace. “I told myself if that building ever goes for sale, I’m buying it.” And, not surprisingly, he did.

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John WilliamsJCW Productions’ John Williams Specializes in Weddings and Commercials