Twenty young women made their debut Dec. 8 at the Baton Rouge Symphony League’s annual Bal de la Symphonie at the Crowne Plaza.
In white dresses, carrying silver mussie tussies filled with roses, the senior Les Juenes Amies were recognized for their volunteer service to the symphony.
Welcoming guests were ball co-chairwomen Jessica Wood and Janay Giblin, and the night’s emcee John Davis, who introduced the coterie.
Presented were Katherine Grace Ashy, daughter of Shelia and Kevin Ashy; Holly Anne Belleau, daughter of Erin and Chris Belleau; Abby Frances Blaize, daughter of Marci and Charles Blaize; Mary Katherine Bolton, daughter of Karen and Matthew Bolton; Lillian Grace Bourgeois, daughter of Megan Flynn Bourgeois and Curtis A. Bourgeois; Anna Katherine Carriere, daughter of Kristy and Michael M. Carriere II; Victoria Claire Collier, daughter of Lisa and Scott Collier; Leanne Adams Livingston, daughter of Sarah and Craig Livingston; Katherine Claire McCullen, daughter of Karen Nezat McCullen and Michael Troy McCullen; and Gracie Joy Poe, daughter of Jennifer and Jason Poe.
Also, Ava Shelley Reinecke, daughter of Shelley and Tommy Reinecke; Greer Louise Rice, daughter of Cindy and Jeff Rice; Brenley Claire Rinaudo, daughter of Brandi and Chris Rinaudo; Grace Olivia Sceroler, daughter of Allison and Craig Sceroler; Kate Ashton Stanford, daughter of Sheila and Geoff Stanford; Jenny Clare Stauss, daughter of Jennifer and Edward Stauss; Camille Ellaina Johnson Taylor, daughter of Drs. Yolunda and Jonathan Taylor; Katharine Jane Trussell, daughter of Anita and Scott Trussell; Emily Elizabeth White, daughter of Susan and Otey White; and Judith Ursula Williams, daughter of Kelly and Chris Williams.
A BRSO ensemble provided music for the presentation, which included the traditional waltz to "Moon River," choreographed by Tranane Lissard, for the debs and their fathers. Following dinner and the presentation, guests danced to the music of the V-Tones.
On Dec. 7, I joined a great group of guests at John Turner’s and Jerry Fischer’s “Tiki Lounge.” The singing invitations called for us to “spend Christmas on Christmas Island,” so lots of us added an island-inspired touch to our attire. I think the winner may have been Jerry, who welcomed us at the door in an exquisite silk robe adorned with palm trees. John, sporting a floral-print T-shirt under his white dinner jacket, didn't do so bad either.
These two are consummate hosts and the decorations, food and libations were all top notch. Among the guests were John's mom, Sue Turner, who held court in the keeping room; siblings Thomas Turner, Susan Turner and Moo and Martin Svendson; and niece Amanda Standish, husband Rhein and adorable daughter Eloise.
Aside from the Turner clan, I chatted with George Bayhi, Matt Edwards, Gracella Simmons, BeBe Facundus, Barbara Ann Eaton, Christel Slaughter, Paula and Jack de la Bretonne, Barbara and Camp Matens, Deborah Todd and sister Jamie, Bettsie Miller, Fran and Leroy Harvey, Janie and Chet Coles, Ann Keogh, Ann and Rob Guercio, Ashley and James Fox-Smith, Joe Possa and Chad Kenny Possa, Jim Gershey and Dan Guntner, Scottie McKnight, Margaret Lawhon, Brandon Parlange and sister Angelle, Andrea Clesi and Wally McMakin, Ann Wilkinson, Kelly and Enrique Hurtado, Mary Ann Sternberg, Sonny Mayhall West and hubby Hampton, Whitney Vann and Robert Schneckenburger, Cammie and David Norwood, Marilyn O’Brien, René and Jonathan Greer and the Rev. Cleo Milano.
That day started off with the gracious ladies of Campus Club, who were celebrating the holidays with a brunch at the Woman’s Club. One of the highlights of the day was getting to meet this year’s scholarship recipients, who included Michael Focht, grandson of club member Mary Groves; and Anna Claire Brock and Michael Joseph LeBas, grandchildren of club member Linda Hammond.
From Campus Club I headed out to LSU, where blues legend Buddy Guy was taking part in the news conference on the eve of the unveiling of his Mississippi Blues Trial Marker in Guy’s hometown of Lettsworth and the naming of La. 418 as Buddy Guy Way. One of Guy’s first jobs was at LSU. From there, he traveled to Chicago and began the journey that would take him to the top of the blues mountain. As if we needed additional proof, earlier that morning his latest CD, “The Blues is Alive and Well,” featuring guest appearances by Guy fans Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, of the Rolling Stones, and Jeff Beck, was nominated for a Grammy.
Guy told us how his mom always said he should give her flowers while she was alive so she could smell them. “When they told me I was getting this honor, I said give it to me now so I can see it,” said Guy.
Blues rock guitarist Jimmie Vaughn, founder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and brother of the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, was at the news conference and shared his own tale of discovering Guy’s music.
Lip Sync Battle
The Varsity was rocking on Dec. 4 for the fourth annual Lip Sync BR Battle, benefiting the American Cancer Society. The Republic Finance team of Ryan Deschamp and Austin Mayland brought all their fellow employees for the final round to win the People’s Choice Award.
Ty Hingle and Leo Verde, who opened as the most infamous of lip syncers Milli Vanilli (see the video of this and more at theadvocate.com), raised a whopping $25,000 for the ACS — half of the night’s total.
Stephanie and Erick Sanchez brought down the house with their Ike & Tina Turner “Proud Mary” routine. She started things off in great style, but when Erick’s “Ike” stripped off his shirt and slacks to show off his matching version of Stephanie’s gold shimmy dress, the place went wild!
As for WAFB's Jacques Doucet and former LSU star quarterback Rohan Davey, their performance to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” had to be seen to be believed.
The other contestants included the Thomas Brothers, Terrance and Thurman; Kelly Furr and Katie Barnett; and GymFit’s Joshua Roberts and Stephanie Lee. The judges panel also included Graham Ulkins, Brittney Lorio, David St. Romain and last year’s winners, the GingerSnap team of Dana Cassidy and Cathy Rosenfeld. Emcees for the night were NBC 33’s morning team of Carly Laing and Gerron Jordan.
Before heading to The Varsity, I popped in at the Baton Rouge Gallery for the BREC Foundation’s LEAF (Leadership, Excellence, Activism and Fellowship) Award presentation. This year’s recipient is real estate developer David Vey, who with former partner Rick Hartley, provided financial support to several BREC parks.
The night also saw the election of new board members Will Chadwick, Blane Clark, James Dutschke, James Gilmore, John Grinton, Melvin Hardnett, Roy Heidelberg and Mary-Patricia Wray.
CASA open house
My first stop of the night was to CASA’s holiday open house. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recruits volunteers who speak up for children as they go through the court system. It was that dedicated group who were specially thanked at the event, which was also attended by Family Court Judge Adam Haney.
While there, I also got to chat with Executive Director Liz Betz, René Craft, Mary Jane Dillenberger and Lisa Bailey Prater.
Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco received the Robert B. Hamm Award for Distinguished Service at the Council for a Better Louisiana’s annual luncheon meeting on Dec. 5. Presented by Tyron Picard, of Lafayette, son of the late former Education Secretary Cecil Picard, the award particularly mentions Blanco’s efforts in securing funding for education while she was in office.
Keynote speaker for the luncheon was Louisiana native Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report. He shared his thoughts on the recent midterm elections, suggesting Republicans might want to seriously study where they fell short, as well as the state’s 2020 governor’s race.
Later that day, I dropped by the Time Out Lounge where buddy S.J. Montalbano was signing copies of his debut autobiography, “I’m Leaving it Up to Me.” The title is a take on the Dale & Grace No. 1 hit, “I’m Leaving It Up to You,” which was produced by Sam Montel, as S.J. was known in the music biz. Grace Broussard, of Dale & Grace, was sitting beside him as he signed the books, several of which she autographed, as well. I just know S.J.'s brother, Mickey, was smiling down from heaven and wishing he could be part of the celebration.
Other music industry folks at the celebration were Luther Kent, Johnny Palazzotto and Dr. Tommy Guillot, as well as S.J.'s daughter Michelle Montalbano, “adopted daughter” Merle Francis, David Manship, Diane and Stan Guidry, “Fast Eddie” Elkins and Louise and Don "Doc" Dryer.
The week started off with a visit to the Governor’s Mansion, where Gov. John Bel and Donna Edwards welcomed guests to tour the holiday decorations, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus for photos and enjoy a musical performance by the Kids’ Orchestra. This year’s theme is a celebration of New Orleans Tricentennial, with seven Christmas trees in the mansion as well as three outside featuring ornaments of St. Louis Cathedral and the fleur-de-lis that were hand-painted by art students from around the state.
Among the guests were Department of Children Family Service Secretary Marketa Garner Walters, husband Jimmy and their grandson; Peggy Wooley, daughter Anna Stevens and grandson Jack; former Gov. Edwin Edwards, wife Trina and son Eli; and a host of the governor's and Donna's extended family.