Axios New Orleans

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🎧 Sounds like: "Crawfish Song" by Buckwheat Zydeco.

Today's newsletter is 893 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: 🦞 Tough year for crawfish

Farmer Chad Hanks walks by dry, cracked earth on his farm where he usually grows crawfish on Oct. 10, 2023, in Kaplan. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Louisiana's crawfish industry is feeling the pinch after months of drought, extreme heat and then a deep freeze.

Why it matters: The crawfish industry contributes more than $300 million to the state's economy annually.

The big picture: The Small Business Administration is offering businesses up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help make ends meet.

  • They are available to anyone who touches the crawfish from the water to the point of sale, Democratic Congressman Troy Carter tells Axios. That includes restaurants, grocery stores, farmers and corner stores.
  • Carter is helping coordinate workshops this week across south Louisiana to help businesses fill out the loan paperwork.

By the numbers: Louisiana is the country's No. 1 crawfish producer, according to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

  • It has 1,000+ crawfish fishermen, 1,300+ crawfish farmers and thousands of businesses boiling and serving crawdads.

Catch up quick: 2023 was one of Louisiana's hottest and driest summers on record.

Threat level: LSU AgCenter's preliminary estimates say the potential losses to the state's crawfish industry could be nearly $140 million.

Meanwhile, crawfish is more expensive and harder to find for consumers.

How it works: Businesses need to show economic injury in order to qualify for a loan, SBA spokesman Susheel Kumar tells Axios.

  • There's an event today in Reserve, tomorrow in New Orleans and Thursday in Baton Rouge where people can meet with SBA staffers. (Details)

Go deeper for more information about applying

2. 🐝 Mama Louisiana

Beyoncé gave a hint of her new country direction as she and Jay-Z attended the Grammys in February. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

One of the best parts of a new Beyoncé release is finding out who she collaborated with to make it happen.

Why it matters: Beyoncé worked with some Louisiana talent to make "Cowboy Carter" come to life.

The big picture: The star's newest album takes a twangy turn into country, which as Beyoncé clarifies in the epic construction of the album, has always been a part of Black America.

  • Listeners don't have to dig deep to find what NPR described as "a well of discovery, full of samples [and] sonic Easter eggs."
  • That's where we find a few examples among the liner notes and sounds of the Louisiana connections to "Cowboy Carter."

In the very first track, Beyoncé brought in New Orleans multi-instrumentalist Jon Batiste as producer.

  • Batiste called the experience of working on "American Requiem" "an extraordinary alignment" as collaborators worked to "dismantle the genre machine."

On "Just For Fun," Beyoncé taps Shreveport's own Willie Jones as a guest vocalist.

  • The artist got his break after performing on "X Factor" over a decade ago.
  • But lately, the New York Times says, he's become known for "a savvy blend of radio-ready country and the swagger of Southern rap."

Go deeper for the story behind "Oh Louisiana"

3. Fully Dressed: LA Times apologizes to LSU

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

✍🏼 The LA Times apologized to LSU for a column calling the women's basketball players "dirty debutantes." The phrase was removed, and an apology added. (CNN)

  • The columnist issued a longer apology last night. (X)

🙏🏽 WWOZ host Valerie "The Problem Child" Kacprzak died over the weekend. She was known for her "Blues Breakdown" show. (WWOZ)

👀 LSU reached a settlement with 10 former students who sued the university in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct and domestic violence by LSU football players. (The Advocate 🔒)

🐭 Chuck E. Cheese opened a new location in Metairie, and it has trampolines. (Facebook)

🤣 April Fools' pranksters were trying to get you yesterday. These four made us laugh. (Axios New Orleans)

4. 💔 Elite 8 heartbreak

Kim Mulkey puts her head in her hands during the Iowa v. LSU matchup in the NCAA women's basketball Elite Eight on April 1. Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

A rough week for Kim Mulkey got harder as the LSU women's basketball team's hunt for a repeat national championship win ended Monday night in a 87-94 loss to Iowa.

The big picture: The game was a rematch for LSU and Iowa, which met last year when LSU won its first championship.

  • That pairing, and the matchup between star players Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, promised fireworks Monday — and the athletes delivered.

Between the lines: The Tigers were stunned in the final two minutes of the game when Angel Reese fouled for a fifth time, booting her from the court.

  • But Iowa was propelled onward by its star guard Caitlin Clark, whose 3-pointers dazzled, especially after returning from a halftime break that saw both teams enter the locker-room tied at 45-45.

What we're watching: It could have been the final game for star player Angel Reese, who has yet to declare for the draft.

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5. 🥐 Bake with Ayu

Chelsea made croissants exactly once, and it took three days, so a baking class is probably a good idea for her. Photo: Courtesy of Ayu Bakehouse

Ayu Bakehouse will start offering baking classes next month.

Why it matters: The first one is May 11, and just in time for Mother's Day. (Hint, hint!)

The big picture: The Frenchmen Street bakery has only been open since 2022, but it's already a local and national favorite.

If you go: The class will focus on using Ayu's croissant dough.

  • Translation: Butter!
  • Students will prepare and proof sweet and savory pastries so they're ready to bake for Mother's Day morning. Plus, everyone will get extra dough to take home to freeze.

Meanwhile: Ayu now has a tasting box for national delivery, too.

⚔️ Chelsea is reading Sarah Maas' Crescent City series and having trouble focusing because it's that good.

❤️ Carlie is celebrating her workaversary at Axios and still can't believe it's been a full year at this dream job.

Tell Coach Kim Mulkey to subscribe.

Thanks to our editor Fadel Allassan and copy editor Carlin Becker.