Cover Stories with Chess Life #30: Michael Tisserand

Michael Tisserand has written a lovely profile of 88 year old Charlie Gabriel, a long-time member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Collective in New Orleans and one of the most well-traveled musicians alive today. As it turns out, Gabriel is obsessed with chess. His instagram account, @chess_with_charlie, chronicles both his musical exploits and his chess encounters, and we borrowed heavily from it (with permission, of course) for the art for our story.

Tisserand is the author of three excellent books:

  • The Kingdom of Zydeco, a history of Zydeco music in southwest Louisiana;
  • Sugarcane Academy, a recounting of the months after Katrina for him and his family, and how, together with others exiled by the story, the Sugarcane Academy came to anchor the lives of some New Orleans children, and
  • Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White, a vibrant biography of one of the most creative and influential cartoonists in American history.

In his journalist work Tisserand has interviewed the likes of Jude Acers, Danny Barker, John Boutte, and Big Chief Tootie Montana, and his writings are diverse. One of his most recent articles, “Letter from New Orleans” in the Washington Spectator, is a poignant reckoning with the effects of COVID-19 on New Orleans culture and our country writ large. It’s well worth your time.

We spoke to Michael from his home in New Orleans, which has just survived a near miss from Hurricane Laura, days before the 15th anniversary (so to speak) of Hurricane Katrina.

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