Sept. 14, 2016 02:02 PM

Tonight, Saint Street Inn will play host to an evening of dirty laundry aired, no doubt, by the rapturous recantations of some of Lafayette's most exciting eccentrics.

And then there's Caroline Helm. The mastermind behind the live storytelling event called Listen To This! has a longstanding reputation for kicking local artistes and their ilk out onto the cold curb of public scrutiny. She founded and MC'd several editions of the rave-reviewed Nue Moon Review which debuted as-yet unheralded local songwriters.

Maybe it's her keen interest in building a more public arts community. Maybe it's part of her mission as a social worker. It does smack of exposure therapy.

Foisting locals into an unlikely spotlight is a podcast staple these days, which fans of The Moth can attest. Baring all but their naked bodies, unless SSI's famous cocktail menu goes correctly awry, will be David Cheramie, James Hebert, John Oliver and Kara St. Clair. Joining their regalia will be Helm herself. After all, as she once sung, it's all about her.

Get to know Caroline below via a transcription of an IND email interrogation that bordered on lysergic harassment.

IND: I hear story telling; I think of Garrison Keillor. If you’re like me, listening to him talk is like getting gently boxed in the ear by a bag of sand. Thoughts?

CH: So, when I saw this first question, I thought, “S*#t! I don’t know who that is.” But I do. Hmm... Honestly, I feel kind of bored. I used to listen to the music and I love the set up of the show. But for some reason, I just don’t care. I am a terrible audience member; it takes extreme entertainment to grab my attention.

IND: While we’re talking NPR, have you considered a career in public radio? You had a band once called Caroline at the Helm. I could see that working well as audio travel diary.

CH: It was called, At the Helm. And yes, I have considered it, but I am terrible with maintenance and radio requires a lot of maintenance. Until I have a secretary, I am a “one show at a time” kind of gal.

IND: I stand corrected. I was thinking of another Caroline At The Helm: A jam band I saw at Willie Nelson's Birthday Picnic in 2010.

IND: I just can’t get over this NPR thing. I got a bunch of egg on my face the other day for suggesting that no one listens to "Selected Shorts." I got about two dozen replies from people essentially telling me to delete my account. Should I count you in that number?

CH: It takes a lot to entertain me, so honestly I get bored listening to people read. I have so much to say about this, but I don’t have enough time right now to collect my thoughts and write it out intelligently. Let's talk about it sometime!

Photo by Denny Culbert

IND: Do you know what a meme is?

CH: Grrr. Yes, I do.

IND: Will there be any at Listen To This?

CH: You have hit an angry spot in me.

IND: By the way, “delete your account” is pretty much a meme. I learned that on a "podcast."

CH: I don’t know what you meme.

IND: Let’s talk current events. They tried to spray for Zika in South Carolina and killed like 6 trillion bees. Do you prefer tea with honey or sugar?

CH: Honey.

IND: Sweet.

IND: You taught French for a time. How many times do you reckon you’ve said "voila?"

CH: I would say that I didn’t say voila a lot. Keeping your personality while speaking another language is an interesting challenge. I’m just not a voila kind of gal. I realize I didn’t answer the question. Probably 300 times in my life.

IND: Stand up tell-alls like Listen To This! can be visited with some High Drama. Can we agree that it would not be successful unless somebody faints?

CH: That would make the show more legit.

Listen To This! starts at 9 p.m. tonight at Saint Street Inn. Admission is free.


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