Sunday, November 29, 2015

Popular Austin singer/songwriter Julieann Banks returns home to North Louisiana to release new album!

Julieann Banks is coming home to Shreveport after scoring big in Austin -
and YOU can help her launch her new album!

A well-known musician among musicians, Julieann Banks has worked professionally as a bassist and vocalist for popular Austin bands including The Austin Lounge Lizards, The Cosmic Americans (with Earl Poole Ball and Casper Rawls), and with notable performers like Leeann Atherton, Patterson Barrett and more.  She has toured nationally with show bands Rotel & the Hot Tomatoes and The Big Time, and performed with her own award-winning bands, Apaches of Paris and The Activates.

"Julieann Banks’ alternative country musical stylings include songwriting, singing and guitar-playing in a blend of Texas Americana, folk, rock and country, with a streak of blues and gospel for good measure. The edgy, electric emotion of her songs and singing are probably what earns her awards such as Austin Music Magazine’s “Best Female Vocalist Rock,” one of the Top Ten in South by Southwest Austin Chronicle Music Awards’ “Best Songwriter,” and Austin’s Local Flavor Music Magazine’s “Best Pipes,” among many others."

Her new album is the next step in Julieann's career.

She writes:

"I’d like to start playing more nationally, with an eye toward international touring to promote the new (album).  So many people have expressed interest in my new songs when I perform them, but I have no product to sell.  I want to let new and old fans know I’m still at it and I want them to hear my new works.

So much of what we hear and are exposed to (in) media, on television, and radio – is multi-track trickery.  It’s impersonal and digitally “created” and enhanced to the point where it has no human connection. 

I’d like to return to an acoustic “warts and all” method of live recording, like the way Neil Young recordings sound.  Like the Cowboy Junkies recording where they are all gathered at certain distances around one, or very few, mics in a large church.  I’m very excited about staying true to a minimalist approach on this recording..."

How much does Julieann need to complete her project?

Studio rental, engineering, mixing - $2250.00
Musicians' fees - $1500.00
Album artwork + reproduction costs - $1464.00

Works In Progress Louisiana investment - $4000.00
Presales of album + artist's contribution- $1214.00

Total cost of project - $5214.00
How can I help?

Julieann submitted a written request for $4000.00 to Works In Progress Louisiana for this project.  Our Board of Directors met with her, performed our due diligence, and approved her request for funding.

Artists, musicians, designers and writers can't visit the local bank to apply for a loan for a creative concept.  This can be a career-ending problem for creative professionals.

A recent article in The Times featured Julieann, and pointed out the many challenges faced by North Louisiana musicians - including finding funding for new projects, and sustaining a creative career in a region that doesn't understand that musicians are also serious businesspeople.

Now, thanks to Works In Progress Louisiana, YOU have the opportunity to engage with creative workers like Julieann at the onset of new projects - supporting work that is fresh and experimental in nature, and for which other funding is not available.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Disposable People - A Poem

We are the disposable people.

We hold no elected office – we can’t afford the filing fees.

We are not the wealthy elite – we do not stand behind the curtain, pulling the strings.

We don’t belong to the club.

Our children don’t attend exclusive schools.

We can’t afford to make a donation, and we don’t serve on your board.

Our families are middle class, or lower-middle class, or lower-lower class, based on your system of democracy. 

Every four years, you seek us out.
You clamor for the common man to serve on your campaign committee. You know, to reach the masses. 

You tell us we are influential.

You buy us lunch.

You answer our questions in a manner that is palatable to our sort.

We believe that you care about our lot, if only for a moment. Long enough to champion your cause.

Then you disappear – win or lose.  You disappear.  We were never meant to associate, after all. It’s understood. It’s called ‘strategy.’

We wake up and punch in at 8AM.

You vacation in Cabo to detox from the campaign. 

Your wife returns to her book club and the PTA.

Our spouses return to being the receptionist at the clinic or the retired professor or the equal rights activist facing taunts and editorials from your campaign donors.

Our shoes will cushion our tired feet as we canvas for another candidate during the next cycle.

We will create art that protests your votes in the legislature, and we will sit uncomfortably in the teachers’ lounge while we discuss our disappointment with your latest vote.

Then comes the call – “How are you? How’s the family? Election season is upon us – can I count on your support again?”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New ‘Creative Marketplace’ aims at stimulating economic development

Aug 28, 2015

Shreveport-based nonprofits Works In Progress Louisiana and North Louisiana Art Gallery have partnered to create an online Creative Marketplace.!creative-marketplace/c244t

The Creative Marketplace is a free to the public, and provides three beneficial services designed to stimulate the cultural economy in North Louisiana:
  • an extensive directory of creative professionals for hire throughout North Louisiana,
  • sample contract templates for use by employers and creative professionals, and
  • an easy-to-use application process for creative people seeking employment in the fields of design, performing arts, music, film, entertainment, literary arts and humanities, visual and culinary arts.

Developers, investors, hospitals, schools, universities, and government agencies often purchase goods and services in Dallas, Austin, and New Orleans because they are unfamiliar with local professionals who are qualified to meet their creative needs. The Creative Marketplace solves this problem by providing direct access to regional graphic designers, musicians, writers, filmmakers, painters, performers, and chefs.

Debbie Hollis, Director at Works In Progress Louisiana, said, “Buying from local creative workers is more than an investment in the economy and community—it demonstrates the buyer’s commitment to his community, and his dedication to local artisans and craftspeople.” Incorporated in May 2014, Works In Progress Louisiana provides financial, educational and business resources directly to creative professionals who live/work in North Louisiana.
Creative Marketplace co-founder Michael G.
Moore curates the Northwest Louisiana Art Gallery – the region’s oldest online arts directory. Moore changed the directory’s name to North Louisiana Art Gallery to reflect the recent expansion of the gallery’s geographical reach.

A widely-collected painter and arts activist, Moore says, “We are thrilled to expand the scope of our website to include creative people from 26 parishes!  We are also adding links to regional arts publications, creative resources, and other tools for arts consumers to browse and enjoy.”

The Creative Marketplace is available online at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Finding guidance online through artworld jungle

The Times
Neil Johnson 11:08 p.m. CDT September 2, 2015

There are your artists and there are your arts patrons.

Different kinds of people. But don’t they, when you really think about it, need each other, depend on each other?

Getting these people together is a job. Sometimes it seems like these two kinds of people wander around in the dark and, every once in a while, bump into each other. These encounters can become good and healthy relationships, but there’s got to be a better way.

To use another metaphor, it’s a jungle out there in the art-world. I’ve been in it for a few decades, but sometimes even I need a hand to hold in both my wanderings and my more definite journeys. I hit dead-ends and get lost sometimes and have to backtrack to find another path to where I would like to go.

In this jungle, artists and arts patrons both need navigation guidance. The GoogleNet is a good place to start. There is a solid veteran place of assistance in the intertubes of northwest Louisiana and I have also found a new source of guidance, or at least a good place to find advice and support in this sometimes-confusing world.

Today, we are so spoiled by the Internet. No, that’s not the right word. We have been both freed and enslaved.

The Internet is even more revolutionary than the printing press. But I digress. Let’s get back to the arts in northwest Louisiana and the artists and arts patrons wandering around bumping into each other. There are helpers who can lend us a compass and a map to guide us through the jungle.

First, there are the Shreveport Regional Arts Council and the Bossier Arts Council and their tools for arts hand-holding and guidance. Go. Visit their websites. If you never have, you may be surprised, even astounded, about how much information you can find there.

The names of their two sites are easy to remember: and Shreve. Bossier. Arts. Organizations. Shrevearts and Bossierarts have founts of information from and about these two organizations.

The SRAC website used to have a listing of a wide array of area artists and samples of their work. I thought it was gone, but found that it is only gone from the SRAC site. SRAC has given it its own address: So. Many. Artists. Note that it has a page where artists can apply to be included.

If that is not enough, there is another source of information for both artists and arts patrons on line. It’s called “Works In Progress” and its website is This is largely the year-old child and an ambitious venture of artist and community activist, Debbie Lynn Hollis. It’s stated mission is to provide financial, educational and business resources directly to creative professionals who live/work in north Louisiana

Hollis said, “This site is the ultimate culmination of business, economic development and the cultural economy in north Louisiana.”

One of the really cool things residing within the above website is something called the “Creative Marketplace.” It is a pilot program co-sponsored by Works In Progress Louisiana and the North Louisiana Art Gallery. Its stated purpose is “to encourage greater collaboration between the creative industries and the wider business community in north Louisiana.” Whoa! That’s what I’m talking about!

Here’s a crucial factor in this whole thing. Artist Michael Moore has been patiently building a website for artists for years. He called it the Northwest Louisiana Artist Gallery. He has now done two things with it. He has put it under the umbrella of the Works In Progress/Creative Marketplace and he has also decided to broaden the range to all of north Louisiana, the step-sibling of south Louisiana that south Louisiana avoids learning about or even talking about most of the time. So we must toot our own horn. Louder.

Dig into the Creative Marketplace site and click on the link to the “North Louisiana Art Gallery.” There, you will find a way-cool presentation to learn about north Louisiana (mostly northwest Louisiana, but heading east) artists along with samples of their work. It’s actually fun to explore. There is also a sign-up page for artists wanting to be included.

Websites are complex things, especially these sites. Building sites like these are not for the faint-of-heart. They are very difficult and extremely time-consuming to make them effective. But the hardest part is maintaining them so they stay relevant. It is far too easy to let a website go for too long to where visitors wonder why they are still up. But these sites are so important because they put artists and patrons a click or two away from each other.

Another difficult factor with websites is driving visitors to them. That, dear readers, is what I am trying to do with this column. So you now have an assignment:

Go. Log on. Visit them. The addresses are right there in the paragraphs above.

Arts patrons, these sites are extremely brief introductions to the many fine visual artists working hard in the piney woods of Louisiana. If you are looking for visual art and something punches your buttons, by all means, I strongly encourage you to follow up. Contact the artist and arrange a portfolio viewing or studio tour.

Artists, note who does their artist page right and who does not. If your portfolio is years out of date, update it. If you want to be in the artist site, contact the web master. And artists, be polite to your visiting patrons. Offer them a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. They may have brought a checkbook.

Neil Johnson is a photographer and host at Booth #62/64 at the upcoming Red River Revel. He can be reached at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wire Road Studios recording session - August 2015

Shreveport-based singer/songwriter Alan Dyson records songs for a new collaborative music project - Stray Dogs by the Highway - at Wire Road Studios in Houston, Texas.  

Stray Dogs is scheduled for release in September 2015.

Engineer Andy Bradley
Dyson at Wire Road Studios
Click on image to view entire session
 Artistic collaborators include:
Thank you to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation for their assistance in funding this project.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crisis Pregnancy Center lies debunked by medical professionals

"In 2003, the National Cancer Institute concluded after extensive research that having an abortion or a miscarriage in no way increases one’s breast cancer risk. Despite this, more than 15 states have considered laws that would require doctors to give this inaccurate information to women seeking abortions.

The American Psychological Association also released a statement saying there is no credible evidence that abortion causes mental illness, but that the stigma and lack of social support surrounding abortion can have a negative effect on mental health.

These lies are exposed time and again, but continue to influence legislation and public opinion."

Read more: