On Backporch Revolution

New Orleans, perhaps more than any other American city, is a tottering coat rack of clichés. We hang all manner of cultural labels on the same rickety skeleton, some of them old and tobacco-stained, with holes in the elbows, others sleek and luxuriant, speaking to oily, Uptown affluence. Others still are flamboyant and rowdy, exploding with mismatched color. Jambalaya and Mardi Gras, jazz brunch and pirates, beignets and etouffée: there is no shortage of imagery the mere name of the place can conjure.

Well, I’m here to tell you that that rack of clichés is a lot like the coat check at a hot club. Sure, it holds a part of what’s happening inside, but it’s the least interesting, supervised part. In New Orleans, anyone with good sense scoots past the rack and penetrates the dark corners to find real action — they escape Bourbon’s lurid neon for the malt and miasma of Bywater dives and soul sets at Mimi’s. They leave Emeril be and slurp turtle soup at Mandina’s. They ditch downtown casinos for an oyster loaf, dressed, at Domilice’s. And maybe, just maybe, they forego “When the Saints” at Preservation Hall for sounds uncoiling in the shadows of the underground. Maybe, if they’re brave and clever, they flee the tired labels and find Backporch Revolution — a label, for true!

Backporch Revolutionaries don’t play standards: they filet them. Geisterfahrer’s ethereal drones and Archipelago’s swampy idylls bloom like toxic gas, sweet and vagrant as Binx Bolling’s malaise. Potpie splinters classic rock and then braids the strands into fugal loops, like a cannibal weaving jump rope from his supper’s locks. Other artists on the label record within beer distillery tanks, their bedrooms, and dilapidated studios. The lot of these weird experiments are then released on CD-R and occasionally spun on college radio. It’s all decidedly post-coat rack.

So whether you make a pilgrimage for the Gras a fortnight hence or remain cloistered on campus, I’m telling you: don’t get stuck fingering the coat rack’s glut. Stumble (or click) your way to the back porch. That’s where the revolution awaits.

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