Monday, April 25, 2011

Tremè – The 2nd Season is Finally Here!

Sometimes when you have been looking forward to something for a while the actual event does not measure up to expectations. However, last night’s debut on HBO of the 2nd season of Tremè did not disappoint. There may have been a few nits about which some might quibble (see, for example, the very good review by Matt Zoller Seitz in Salon), but overall in my view it was an excellent start to the new season.

A challenge with Tremè is that since the story lines and characters are so well-developed and inter-related, I think it would be impossible to jump into Season Two without investing the time to watch Season One first (and maybe even visit the Crescent City, which
we were able to do in March, to get your bearings) – there would just be too much one would miss. Also, even if you have watched Season One (in my case, three times for most of the episodes), you really need to concentrate on the program to keep track of all of the threads. This is not a program you can just have on while doing something else and expect to keep up.

Happily, last night’s episode is already on Comcast On-Demand and I expect to watch it a second time this evening to try and catch at least a few of the things I missed the first time through. There are also a couple of sites I have come across which I would recommend checking out for some useful background AFTER you have watched an episode. First, Dave Walker, who writes for The Times-Picayune, has a very helpful weekly Tremè Explained” column which, as the title suggests, provides a in-depth explanation of many of the subjects, places, food, music, etc. appearing in that week’s episode. Here’s just one tidbit from his column about last night’s episode:

“The youngster practicing the trumpet is Jaron "Bear" Williams, who is a member of The Roots of Music marching band, and will be featured in Richard Barber's upcoming documentary about the recovery of school music programs in New Orleans, ‘The Whole Gritty City.’”

One thing I love about Tremè is that it so full of detail that it provides a platform from which you can jump off to pursue threads running in many directions, as well as to identify NOLA organizations which deserve continuing support.

The second site I have come across is the
Watching Tremè blog which also includes a great deal of information and links to other sites.

The third site is the
Inside Tremè blog of Lolis Eric Elie, a NOLA native and friend who, among other related accomplishments, has written for the Tremè series and produced the excellent “Faubourg Tremè” documentary which provides yet further insight into the city and series.

Finally, like many others, I have found the music from the series captivating and it has led me to explore some genres and performers with which I previously had little experience (I even downloaded last night “From the Corner to the Block” performed by Galactic and the Dirty Dozen Brass band (also featuring Juvenile) after watching their Episode 1 performance filmed at Tipitina’s).

iTunes is also now offering a series of music videos featuring performers who have appeared on the series – my favorites so far have been John Boutté’s "At the Foot of Canal Street" and “Homage A Poullard” performed by the Pine Leaf Boys with Lucia Micarelli (who plays Annie Tee in the series).

Music of Tremè site is one of the best I found which provides detailed information about all music (even the many fragments) heard on the series. For the moment it just covers the episodes in the 1st season, although I assume they will keep it up for Season Two as well.

Finally, for your daily music NOLA music fix, there is nothing like
WWOZ – a really entertaining station which you can stream on your computer either directly or via iTunes. Also, if you have some time, Jazz Fest in NOLA is just starting.

If there are any other Tremè fans out there, I would welcome any suggestions of resources you may have found to enhance your viewing experience. In the meantime, laissez les bons temps rouler.

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