Down on Julia Street in New Orleans, fine artist Alex Beard has a gallery where his gorgeous nature-inspired paintings and drawings are on display.
Elephants, birds of paradise, and flowery fish are among the colorful creatures drawn out by Alex’s hand. Some are portraits, and some are whimsical landscapes of these exotic creatures interacting with the familiar street scenes of New Orleans. Imagine giraffes, tigers and peacocks strutting among streetcars, Mardi Gras floats and French Quarter balconies!
There are also fine art children’s books and jigsaw puzzles for sale at 608 Julia, geared toward the young and the young at heart, for Alex is an artist with a mission. He wants to educate children about the importance of preserving the Earth’s wilderness and saving endangered wildlife.
His first children’s book, The Jungle Grapevine, debuted in 2009. (Listen to Alex narrate this story.) It’s a comedic game of telephone between animals in the savannah….. “When Bird mixes up something Turtle says, he accidentally starts a rumor about the watering hole drying up. One misunderstanding leads to another, with animals making their own hilarious assumptions.” There are two more books in the Watering Hole Trilogy: Monkey See, Monkey Draw, and Crocodile’s Tears.
In 2012, Alex established The Watering Hole Foundation. The first project of the foundation was centered on protecting the Wild African Elephant in Northern Kenya. Today, the foundation funds conservation efforts locally in Louisiana, nationally, and internationally.
Enjoy this interview on Confetti Park, where Alex shares the secret of how he first landed a children’s book publishing deal. Other aspiring writers—and anyone with a dream, really—will enjoy his advice.
“There’s no single path,” admits Alex, “But I try to make it so that whatever meeting I go into, for whatever goal I have, I try to figure out…how do I make it that I have checked every box that they require to get it through the corporate structure? I’m trying to give ammunition to the people who would like to sign me up, so that they can sell it to the people they work with, who will have never met me.”
Confetti Park is a community radio program out of New Orleans. We feature local storytellers and songs that kids love, songs created for kids, or created by kids, right here in Louisiana.
This medley of kids music shows the diversity of Louisiana musical styles. Songs featured in this episode, in order:
The Confetti Parkhosted by Katy Hobgood Ray, features music and stories spun in Louisiana. It showcases songs that kids love, songs created for kids, and songs created by kids. Sparkling interviews, in-studio performances, delightful music medleys, jokes, local author storytime, and a little surprise lagniappe make for an entertaining show!
Current broadcast schedule:
Community radio stations, interested in carrying Confetti Park? Contact Katy Ray.
Emily Estrella is a singer who has spent the last several years singing traditional jazz and original tunes around the French Quarter and Marigny music clubs. You can even catch her busking on the streets of New Orleans on occasion.
She “has an ‘old soul' voice evoking the Dixie ghosts of a previous century. Charismatic & joyous, she heads in to share her contagious repertoire of traditional acoustic folk-jazz.” Visit her Band Camp page for some sound samples: http://emilyestrella.bandcamp.com
In this music memory shared with Confetti Park, Emily fondly discusses the impression her grandmother made on her when she was growing up.
“People ask me a lot, 'What record did you learn those old songs from?' My reply usually is, ‘A record, what do you mean a record? My grandma sang me these songs!’” laughs Emily. “She taught me to dance, she sang with me a lot, and she told me about this magical place called New Orleans.”
In this episode of Confetti Park, we hear a childhood music memory from Leonard Service of Shreveport, Louisiana.
Leonard plays mandolin and guitar regularly with different groups such as Slydell and the Slipery Slope, the New Levee Serenaders, Trashcan Jinga and more. He’s also a member of the Friends of Lead Belly.
Leonard grew up in Lafayette and as a kid, he listened regularly to an evening radio show called “Night Rock” on KPEL. One night, he heard Jeff Beck’s cover of Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”
“I was just amazed. I’d never heard anything so moving, so beautiful," recalls Leonard. "I saved up my money, and jumped on my bicycle, and went across town to Raccoon Records as soon as I could to buy me a copy of Jeff Beck Wired. I still have it.”
Leonard also shares a fond memory of his grandmother’s singing in a little church in Vivian.
“She sang so awful that it was just wonderful…. She loved the singing, and I loved listening to her.”
In this episode of Confetti Park, we hear a wonderful and true childhood story from the Louisiana-born storyteller Ms. Chocolate.
This is a story about when she attended her first Lord’s Supper at the Galilee Baptist Church in Alexandria, Louisiana. Ms. Chocolate was only four years old, but she was looking forward to the supper at the little country church.
“Now, I didn’t know who the Lord was, but I knew what supper was! Supper meant fried chicken and cornbread and collard greens and pound cake! Well, I wanted to go to that supper.
When I walked inside the door, they had a table sitting up front, and it had a white sheet over it, and I’m trying to figure out, what could be under that sheet? Must be a whole ham or a turkey or something!
I sat on the front pew and I kept watching… I was wondering when are we going to eat? When are we gonna eat?”
The story continues in Ms. Chocolate’s wonderful voice. When she and the other children are left alone in the church house, they go up front to investigate what’s under the sheet.
Ms. Chocolate, also known as Gwen Williams, lives in Picayune, Mississippi today. She left New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She tells stories all around the Gulf area. http://chocolatestoryteller.blogspot.com/