>, Ovations Offstage, Pre-Performance Lectures>Get Ready for Mardi Gras: Celebrating Maine’s Acadian Connections to New Orleans, and the Birth of Jazz Free conversation and lecture before New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
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Show Times:

February 20, 2020 • 5:00 pm

Merrill Auditorium, Portland

5 pm – 7 pm

Box Office:




Or call 207.842.0800

Join Portland Ovations for 1 or both of these exciting events ahead of the performance of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Both events take place in the Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall.

A Conversation and Demonstration: Celebrating Acadian Culture, Where Maine and Louisiana Meet: Food, Conversation, History and Music with Robert Sylvain and Friends

Acadian morphed into Cajun music in its southern migration, and links the culture of Maine’s first French settlers to Louisiana folk traditions–including those being celebrated with tonight’s Mainstage performance by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra in The Music of Congo Square. Join us for a conversation and demonstration of these Acadian traditions — and some pre-Mardi Gras celebration, with special food by Po’ Boys & Pickles — with noted Maine Acadian musician Robert Sylvain. Sylvain will talk with Atiim Boykin, Ovations Offstage Co-Director of Engagement, about the musical history of the Acadians — and join with band mates Steve Musie on fiddle and Junior Stevens on accordian to provide some rousing demonstrations. This music is meant for dancing and partying, so the more the merrier! We hope you will join us.

6:15 – 7PM
Pre-Performance LectureA Most Extraordinary Noise: New Orleans and the Birth of Jazz

Jazz, a musical form native to the United States, was born in New Orleans’ rich cultural mix of traditions. In preparation for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s tribute to jazz master Allen Toussaint and the Music of Congo Square, Dr. Ashley Towle, whose scholarship focuses on the experience of African Americans in the South during the transition from enslavement to emancipation, delivers a pre-performance lecture exploring the history of this unique American city and the social, political, and cultural influences that gave birth to jazz.

About Dr. Ashley Towle

Dr. Ashley Towle recently received her Ph.D. from the History Department at the University of Maryland with her dissertation entitled, “Dying Free: African Americans, Death, and the New Birth of Freedom, 1863-1877.” Her scholarship focuses on the experience of African Americans in the South during the transition from enslavement to emancipation. Her research and teaching interests include 19th Century United States history, the history of the American South, the history of race in the United States, and the history of gender and sexuality.


The event takes place at Merrill Auditorium


For more information about Offstage activities, please call 207.773.3150 or email offstage@portlandovations.org.


Merrill Auditorium, Portland
20 Myrtle Street
Portland, ME 04101 United States
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A beautifully restored 1,900-seat performance venue, this majestic hall is one of the gems of Portland’s downtown Arts District and is located near many excellent restaurants.

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Parking: Parking is available for a nominal fee at “Central Parking Services” on the corner of Congress and Pearl Streets (this lot offers some accessible parking spaces) and at the “Top of the Old Port” on Pearl Street (off of Congress).