In August, the New Orleans Public Library teamed up with Fish in a Tree to host a 4-part Sensory Storytime series.
Marina Orchestra: Crescent City Sounds Spotlight
Justin Powers first started Marina Orchestra 12 years ago in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 2015, the Chicago native moved to New Orleans, keeping the project alive with locally-based musicians. Seven years and a rotating cast later, Powers is still going strong with Marina Orchestra among the first class of local artists featured on Crescent City Sounds –– the only online streaming platform to exclusively showcase New Orleans artists.
Powers describes Marina Orchestra’s sound as “beach rock,” but noted that it’s not easy for the ever-evolving group to define themselves by genre.
“Hopefully [we] evoke some kind of tropical locale with a bit of a rock n’ roll edge going,” Power said. “There have been over 30 members involved in the band over the past 12 years, but my aim has always been to get people dancing and bring joy to this crazy world.”
When their album Night Life was selected to be on New Orleans Public Library’s locally curated streaming platform, Powers said he was honored “to be chosen amongst the very talented and historic music scene here.”
“We saw something about [Crescent City Sounds] on nola.com and it sounded like a great opportunity to get more involved with our local community,” he said. “I was drawn to live here based on my love of New Orleans music, so to be included in a unique project such as this just warmed my heart.”
The platform went live in early October with a music library picked by a team of curators made up of staff and established players in New Orleans’ music community.
The curators included music journalist and WWOZ DJ Alison Fensterstock, Jazz Museum Curator David Kunian, music consultant and ethnomusicology expert Holly Hobbs, co-founder of New Orleans-based management company MidCitizen Entertainment Tavia Osbey, and award-winning local rapper Alfred Banks.
Aside from being selected from a pool of respected and talented local musicians, Powers said being recognized by the Library was equally important to him and his fellow bandmates.
“The Library was a saving grace during the pandemic and we constantly checked out e-books to read on the go. We’ve also been a big fan of the events the Algiers branch has hosted throughout the year,” he said.
“There are so many local bands here in town, I hear about a new act pretty much every week. We have an embarrassment of riches in this city, but it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to discovering them. [Crescent City Sounds] is a great space for giving local acts a place to be discovered among the plethora of national/international acts that are lifted by the algorithms of other streaming platforms,” Powers said. “Here we have a homegrown place for homegrown music.”
Two months in, Powers said it’s hard to gauge the impact being on Crescent City Sounds has had on their fanbase. But, he’s hopeful it will help them reach new listeners who aren’t in their everyday spheres.
“I think our sound is pretty accessible, our fanbase is already quite broad –– from old timers at festivals to kids in classrooms. But, I’m hoping that this opportunity allows us to reach new fans who may have otherwise never heard of Marina Orchestra,” Powers said.
He said he’s also looking forward to watching Crescent City Sounds grow as the Library adds to the platform’s collection of local music.
Josh Smith –– the Library staffer who started this project and who also sits on the curating team –– said he hopes to open the next submission round early next year.
While Crescent City Sounds is a great place to stream Marina Orchestra’s Night Life album, the band encourages listeners to check their website, marinaorchestra.com, for their latest music and upcoming shows.
“We’ve got some exciting shows coming up on December 10 at Santos bar and December 17 at Carrollton Station with Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots. We’re also available to book private events, our contact info is on our website,” Powers said.
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