Nattie in Nouvelle Orleans; Nueva Orleans; New Orleans, Louisiana

Two months into my World Tour and already it has taken an unexpected shape of its own. Primarily a photographic road trip, I also want to incorporate the music side of my artwork - my one woman band called Nattie.  (For the newbies, the band  "Nattie" consists of myself (Natasha), my guitar (Miss Delta Blue) and the witties ditties we create - I simply use "Nattie" as a stage or band name ) I figured I would play an occasional open mic in cities near my tour route, as neither Transylvania nor Liverpool, Louisiana has an open mic to my knowledge....(Though I might have had some luck in  (the)  Vatican..who knows...)

Tilben's Lounge  

That plan hasn't happened,  as I've been more into being contemplative with a camera than witty with a guitar during my road trips. However, I did appropriately kick off the music portion of the World Tour in July at the Old Point Bar inAlgiers, Louisiana after completing the first of my many World Tour photographic treks.

Musically, I've toured the world - without ever leaving the city of Nouvelle Orleans.  The plethora of open mics this city offers had me playing music almost every night.  I've since settled into three open mics, when tour and time allow,  that I really enjoy and seem best suited for my style.  These evenings are a great way to sharpen skills, share with others, and connect with new faces.    Since this blog is dedicated to the ditties, I thought I'd dust off the ol' Holga for some  imperfect and  old-timey NOLA shots... Buffas, on the edge of the French Quarter, okay -  on the Marigny side of Esplanade, I just wanted to use the word "French". I was pleased to be the Inaugural Performer for their first open mic night! It has since become one of my favorites.  Wednesdays at 8pm

Parasols in the Irish Channel Mondays at 8

and the Fair Grinds Coffeehouse in Faubourg St. John 2nd Thursdays @ 7

 I am currently in the process of putting together a show of  the International Louisiana towns I've traveled to, featuring my songs, stories, and photographs.    In December, Buffas will host, as part of PhotoNOLA,  the first of what I hope is many World Tour performance pieces.  More info to come, but  see details on the Buffas show here.

So yes, the World Tour has taken its own form.  I've had several people ask me, since I haven't had a blog post in recent weeks, if the tour is over.  My response?  No, the World Tour is not over - far from it.    It's only just beginning...

See ya around the world!  

- Natasha

On Tour in the French Quarter -

 Royal Street Aug 2011

photo M. Byrne

all content (c) Natasha Sanchez


** A shout out to all the awesome people I have met along my open mic journey including (but not limited to...) - DR, Owen aka Big Daddy O, Michael H, Stefan, Mike D, Maria aka Lady K, Vincent, Gina, Robert @  Fair Grinds, Dan, Toby, the ladies who support me but whose names I don't know...and all the people I've  chatted and shared with...I'm loving this trip!  

Existential Revelations in - Bristol, Louisiana

So.  Last trip.  China.  Ended up in (the) Vatican.  You know the story. (if you don't you can read about it here) But here's the thing.  After my Vatican mission, I decided to visit a friend in Sunset, Louisiana because after all, there are sunsets all over the world.  As an added plus, it's a pretty ride...

Oh, look - I found a church:

And an incredibly awesome barn:

Truth is, I find most drives to be pretty.  It's hard not to find beauty in the scenery and the ever-changing light.  One of the reasons I chose photography as a medium was just that - light. It makes sense, considering that is the basis for all of photography.  Even still, capturing something in one light, then seeing it look completely different at another time, or at another angle, never ceases to amaze me.  And of course, I tend to apply that philosophy to my life...

I made it to my friends house, and enjoyed the surroundings, company, and the lovely blueberry wine....

I like this part of the world, things are peaceful, quiet, though not without concerns..

Country Livin'  - Rocking the Can of Raid...

 Imagine my surprise when I was told, while enjoying those surroundings, the company, and the blueberry wine, that I wasn't in Sunset, Louisiana after all.  I was actually in Bristol, Louisiana.  Wait.  Wha...?? How could I be in Bristol, when my friends address clearly said "Sunset"?  It was quite simple, she said - there is a debate over where the town line is, but to complicate things, the sign that marks the boundary of the town - keeps moving.

  I was quite fascinated by this idea, of existing in two places at once, but also not knowing where in the world you are when you are planted quite firmly at home. Just as light changes the existence of a photographic subject, a town sign can change our human existence, and where we thought we were becomes something else entirely.

As I left, my friends gave me exact instructions as to where I could find the sign (on that particular day) to photograph it.  I got sidetracked, of course, by the pretty light and this run-down building:

Many miles down the road, it registered that I had forgotten to photograph the sign...but then I realized - I hadn't seen it. It was probably in transit...

Bristol Sunset

**When I am not out traveling the world, or playing a witty ditty somewhere, I lead photographic workshops in the  French Quarter in New Orleans.  We discuss compositional and technical techniques, including exploring the ever-changing light, to create interesting photographs.  If interested in signing up for a workshop and talking and taking photos...visit  American Photo Safari

Mysticism and Mounds - in and near Transylvania, Louisiana

 Years ago,  I got chills when I passed the Zocalo (once the site of the Aztec capitalTenochtitlan) in Mexico City. My first stop in L.A.?  The La Brea Tar Pits.  NYC?  Headed straight for the Museum of Natural History.  I guess you could say I enjoy learning about previous cultures and civilizations. Louisiana has a rich history of ancient civilizations and mound builders.  The mounds at Watson Brake, near Monroe, and the mounds at LSU in Baton Rouge were built  around 5,400 years ago - long before the Egyptian Pyramids.  And it just so happens that Poverty Point,  the site of  Louisiana's 3,500 year old Indian Mounds, is located just a stone's throw from Delhi AND Transylvania. So off I went...

  Poverty Point was built around 1600 B.C.  It contains 6 concentric ridges, a plaza and several large mounds. The largest being Mound A, also known as the "Bird Mound" as its unusual shape gives it the appearance of a bird effigy.  

I apparently decided to visit on the hottest day of the year...the tram wasn't running, so I did my own solo driving tour.  This worked out well as I could climb the steps up the 72 ft mound, (the original height of 100 ft. has been lowered due to natural erosion) not once, but twice (I forgot Betty the Bullhorn in the car...)

The path to the top of the Bird Mound

View from the top, looking over one of the 'wings'

Bird's eye view of the sky

The trees have been cut down from this mound in order to preserve it from further erosion.  But plenty remain on the grounds.

The exact purposes of the mounds are not known.  The Bird Mound is thought to be a temple mound.  It certainly is impressive given the fact that only baskets were used to transport the dirt to create this large structure.  It speaks to the strength and spirit of the culture.  I thoroughly enjoyed this site and look forward to returning if only just to soak in a little more of its spirit...but now off to more enchanting places...

The view from the road to Transylvania pretty much looks like this:

LOTS of corn fields.

 I did have a photographic angle for Transylvania - the famed (yes, famed) water tower, with the bat on it..

The Post Office:

and anything with the town name on it:

(Okay, the school was kinda creepy and cliche - i could sooo see Dracula going to school here as a youngster.)

But I nearly slammed on my questionable brakes when I saw this:

Ancient Mounds?  In Transylvania?  Of course there are.  They were built around 1400 A.D. according to the marker.  I shouldn't be surprised, Louisiana has nearly 700 mound sites, most of which sit on private land, like the ones here in Transylvania.  It was more of a pleasant surprise.    One that, in keeping with the theme of this trip, keeps me inspired.

I could tell more stories of Transylvania, like how I kept getting chased off the road by this giant tractor-bat thing, but I think some stories are meant to be sung....


**The few facts I list here about Poverty Point come from its Welcome Center which houses artifacts such as stone tools, earthen cookware, and beads. It also illustrates the speculations and facts of its history.  Well worth a visit! **

Nattie Concepts World Tour 2011

That’s right, I’m taking my nattie concepts on the Road!   My songs, stories, and photographs will find new inspiration in far away placeslike Paris TX and Moscow TN.  This is a photographic tour - an occasional road trip over the next coming months,  as well as a musical journey. I'll be snapping photographs and collecting stories for future ditties, while stopping off for the occasional open mike when/where cities permit. It’s only fitting that the first stop on my World Tour is the exotic locale of Algiers LA! In the months before I was born at Southern Baptist Hospital,  my parents and sister moved from the Irish Channel to Algiers, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, so it appears I have been a World Traveler from birth. 

(I am unsure of how long we lived there, but the street we lived on reminds me of Covington, the town where we later moved and where my sister, brother, and I were raised.)

The fact that it was my first home, and its close proximity to my current home, made Algiers a natural choice for the first photographic stop on my World Tour.  I expected to drive across the river, find my old street, cruise around the point, maybe snap some pics of the skyline, and be done with it.  But instead, I found a whole other unique and interesting world.

There were markets....

..and religious centers...

and even enthralling ancient hieroglyphics!

As a neighborhood in one of the countries most fascinating cities, Algiers retains its small town feel.  

And that could possibly be what I am after, finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary small towns.  Or maybe it's to confirm that the world is as only as big as our perspectives, and the extraordinary can be found right in our own backyards - if only we are open to seeing it.  Or maybe not. Maybe it's just a road trip. I suppose I will find out along the way.