Bastille Day look at Benard de La Harpe

Today is Bastille Day, or as they say in France, la Fête nationale.  It commemorates both the 1789 storming of the Bastille as well as the 1790 Fête de la Fédération.   

At the time both events occurred, the land today known as Little Rock, like the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, was under Spanish control. (A fact overlooked in the operetta The New Moon which is set in New Orleans during the French Revolution.)

However, since this area was “owned” by the French from 1699 to 1762 and again from 1800 to 1804, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the French heritage of the area on this day.

Even though Arkansas was explored by the French in 1722, no official settlement of the area now known as Little Rock took place until 1812.  There was no permanent settlement until 1820 (though by 1818 settlement was eminent as evidenced by the Quapaw Treaty).

Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe was the lead French explorer who first came to Little Rock in 1722.

From 1718 through 1723, he spent time exploring various areas of the southern sections of North America.  His 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers was at least his third such expedition along a river in the area.  From 1718 to 1719, he explored part of what is now Oklahoma up from the Red River.  Next, he explored part of what is now the eastern section of Texas.

After a trip back to France in 1720, he came back to the New World in 1721.  After his February to May 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, he then went to transfer Pensacola to the Spanish on behalf of the French. In 1723 he went back to France and remained there until his 1765 death.

A Bastille Day look at Benard de La Harpe

Today is Bastille Day, or as they say in France, la Fête nationale.  It commemorates both the 1789 storming of the Bastille as well as the 1790 Fête de la Fédération.   

At the time both events occurred, the land today known as Little Rock, like the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, was under Spanish control. (A fact overlooked in the operetta The New Moon which is set in New Orleans during the French Revolution.)

However, since this area was “owned” by the French from 1699 to 1762 and again from 1800 to 1804, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the French heritage of the area on this day.

Even though Arkansas was explored by the French in 1722, no official settlement of the area now known as Little Rock took place until 1812.  There was no permanent settlement until 1820 (though by 1818 settlement was eminent as evidenced by the Quapaw Treaty).

Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe was the lead French explorer who first came to Little Rock in 1722.

From 1718 through 1723, he spent time exploring various areas of the southern sections of North America.  His 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers was at least his third such expedition along a river in the area.  From 1718 to 1719, he explored part of what is now Oklahoma up from the Red River.  Next, he explored part of what is now the eastern section of Texas.

After a trip back to France in 1720, he came back to the New World in 1721.  After his February to May 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, he then went to transfer Pensacola to the Spanish on behalf of the French. In 1723 he went back to France and remained there until his 1765 death.

Oxford American Music Issue!

14th Annual Music IssueThe Oxford American’s holiday gift to readers and music lovers is the annual music issue.  This year (the 14th edition) is dedicated to Louisiana.  Reading this and listening to the cd is the perfect way to unwind after shopping or holiday parties — or the perfect escape from pesky relatives.

Little Rock is fortunate to have the Oxford American located here.  Kudos to publisher Warwick Sabin and the OA staff and board for creating another great issue and cultural experience.

The Oxford American’s 2012 Southern Music Issue showcases the rich musical heritage of the state of Louisiana, where sounds emanating from the swamps of Acadiana, the cotton fields of North Louisiana, and the streets and barrelhouses of New Orleans percolated into America’s national consciousness and left a profound mark on modern music.

As always, the issue includes a CD featuring an exciting mix of music and artists. Handpicked by the staff of The Oxford American and guest editor Alex Rawls, creator of Myspiltmilk.com and a longtime fixture of the Louisiana music scene, this year’s 21-track compilation showcases the great variety of styles and genres that have emerged from the creole state—from Cajun to funk, country, jazz, New Orleans bounce, zydeco, r&b, gospel, blues, rock & roll, and everything in between.

In 152 pages of insightful writing and stunning artwork,The Oxford American delves deep into Louisiana’s musical landscape—its past, present, and future.

Highlights include:

  • Jason Berry, author of Up From the Cradle of Jazz, on the life and legacy of Professor Longhair, the “Bach of Rock”
  • Jazz critic Stanley Crouch with a definitive exposition on the jazz aesthetic and the fundamental innovations of New Orleans’s greatest jazz artists
  • Three new poems by Louisiana’s own Yusef Komunyakaa, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who evokes the region’s blues and jazz traditions in his verse and vernacular
  • Amanda Petrusich on the emotional power of the singing and playing of Amédé Ardoin, the great Creole accordionist
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Rose on Louisiana’s role as the cradle of American music
  • Duncan Murrell explores the paradoxes of the quest for authenticity and originality in American roots music and the conflicts that have arisen between New Orleans’s musical communities and political authorities

PLUS: Interviews, profiles, remembrances, and special features devoted to an array of artists and institutions, including Johnny AdamsRev. Utah SmithMargaret LewisMeschiya Lake and the Little Big HornsRobert Pete WilliamsThe MetersBarbara Reid, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Shreveport’s Louisiana HayrideTerrance Simien, New Orleans brass bands, Bourbon Street, Tony Joe White, Zydeco hip-hop, and more.