I know some awesome people

Let me clarify: I know some awesome people who are doing some extraordinary things. And quite frankly, I kind of want to brag about them. Because what they are doing is, in very different ways, making a difference, and (in keeping with my ethos) is making the world an incrementally better place. Today, I'll introduce you to three of these people, and the wonderful things they're doing.  I hope you're marginally as excited about their achievements as I am. 

Carsie Blanton, Songstress Extraordinaire

Photo by  Ben Hejkal

Photo by Ben Hejkal

Carsie makes music for people. She's a skilled singer and even more skilled songwriter, having gained recognition from artists such as Paul Simon (who she regularly opens for), John Oates, Amanda Palmer, and the Wood Brothers (who she tours with). Peter Mulvey says: "Carsie's lyrics are an iron fist in the velvet glove of her voice." And I would have to agree. She's earnest without being naive, in turns flirty, sassy and edgy, and above all, her lyrics make you listen twice. 

But what is currently most astonishing about Carsie's journey as a musician is the tremendous success she's had with her most recent project: kickstarting the recording of a new album that's not even in her style.  She's making a record of jazz covers, and she'll be the first to admit that she's not a jazz singer. She is, however, a self-proclaimed jazz geek, and has been mourning the slow decay of jazz as a popular music genre. In her eyes, jazz shouldn't just be for old people, or for people with fancy music degrees. Jazz is for everybody, and Carsie's here to prove it. In her words:

What I can and will do is sing the sh*t out of each song, like I mean it. Like I have something important to tell you, and I want you to understand it. I’ll do my very best to get out of the way of these beautiful songs, and let them smack you around themselves.

So take a look at one of her music videos below (filmed in my lovely city of New Orleans), and head over to her Kickstarter page to help her get to her goal of being able to tour the entire US with a full band. She's so close (less than $4,000 away), and has less than two days left. Go, Carsie, go!!! 

Micheal (Boedi) Boedigheimer, Cinematographer

Last night I had the distinct pleasure to attend a screening at the Civic Center of Micheal's documentary, Land of Opportunity. Direct from their website:  

LAND OF OPPORTUNITY captures the struggle to rebuild one of America’s most beloved and emblematic cities. Feauturing multiple protagonists, all from different walks of life, the filmreveals how the story of post-Katrina New Orleans is also the story of urban America.

Land of Opportunity is pretty much everything I look for in a documentary; it tells a compelling story, engages me emotionally, makes me think, challenges my assumptions, and leaves me feeling partially uplifted and partially frustrated, wanting to somehow make a difference. And more specifically, this film kindly reminded me that I am still an outsider in New Orleans. As much as I love this city and as much as it embraces me, the long struggle to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina is something that's still somewhat distant to me. 

The amount of work that went into this film is a little mind-blowing. Overall, the documentary spans 5 years, and Boedi sifted through more than 1500 hours of footage to tell an incredibly compelling story. His attention to detail and his sense of how to create a narrative come through clearly - I was fully captivated from beginning to end. And I can't wait to see what he'll do next. Check out the trailer for Land of Opportunity below, or visit their website.  

Weston McWhorter, Founder of Rouler

Photo by  Bjarne Kris Haug

It's hard to believe that Rouler just recently hit its one year anniversary - in some ways it feels like Wes and Rouler are permanent fixtures on the New Orleans cycling scene and have been around for much longer. In a nutshell:

Rouler believes in the power of the bicycle to support and nurture the physical, emotional and mental health of our clients.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But to carry an idea like that into reality gracefully takes unbelievable amounts of patience and hard work. Wes' design background has helped him turn out a stellar kit and accessory collection in true Roulandrian style, but that's just the beginning. Within its first year+ of existence, Rouler has opened its online shop, is operating a seamless (and unbelievably convenient) mobile bike shop, is organizing the Delta States Grand Prix of Cyclocross, and sponsoring its first race team. Makes you wonder what comes next...

But really, the reason Wes is awesome is his dedication to give back, both through Rouler and through Pablove, a foundation raising money to combat child cancer. Cause kids get cancer too, and really, how messed up is that? To raise money, participants will ride 500 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. You can donate to Wes and Pablove at his page, and check out his kickoff video below.