The Last Hurrah – Hoff’s Food Blog

 The farmer went to the merchant, says: “I want meat an’ meal,” Lordie mama! The merchant screamed: “Lord no, the bo weevil’s in your field.” —Sam Butler, “Devil And My Brown Blues,” 1926

Thursday, April 27th         

 New Orleans Day 1

Another early start to drop off the rental car …. Touch wood no issues, great job Bernie, he is well relieved to be done with driving. Time for coffee…… This is Rob’s town, he has appointed himself captain, which makes it all the more interesting when he starts us off completely n the wrong direction on Canal St in pouring rain!!!! This is the third strike, Rob.

A long time later, Crescent Counter serves up a good coffee – I have a macchiato and a cortado to be on the safe side, pastries look good too.

There is a decision to book Dooky Chase for lunch. A good choice too, good enough for Obama, good enough for us. At the bar, it’s a rum cocktail for the boys, tasty and dangerous.  A variety of meals centred on fried chicken and Cajun seafood, all excellent. Yes please, another one of those rum cocktails. Bernie pushes through for the Praline Pudding, Rob the Peach Cobbler. Rob, getting friendly with the staff again!

Leah Chase, known as the Queen of Creole cooking, established this place and worked here well into old age, still greeting guests and helping out as was her way. She passed in 2019 at age 96. Her spirit lives on, from the greeting on entry to the dining room to the friendliness of the staff, this feels like a warm place.

Friday, April 28th          

New Orleans Day 2

Well, it’s day one of Jazz Fest, lining up with the punters for the mass crush to get in …… we have WWOZ Brass Passes, it gets us a little leeway. WWOZ is the local radio station…..” the guardians of the groove”, if you’re a music fan, you can pick it up on the internet – they broadcast live from the festival. The Brass Pass allows us entry to a hospitality tent with as much fresh fruit as you can eat and as much iced coffee as you can drink. It also has seating where you can take a well-earned rest, misting fans to cool you down and clean portaloos…… do not underestimate this last point, as the day wears on, the public punters loo’s have large queues and are just a tad ‘festival’ in cleanliness.

It’s taken 1 and ¾ hours to get home, but what the heck, bands play in’ in the streets, the punters in good spirits and it’s not raining! We are hungry and thankfully we are just a stone’s throw from Freret St., bars and food stops a plenty. We walk straight to the nearest burger place and order takeout….Company Burger, it is good!

Saturday, April 29th         

 New Orleans Day 3

What a great day at Jazz Fest today, I managed to get to all types of music …… before the rains came. It poured for several hours, I had a good seat in the Jazz tent and stayed put. Later it calmed enough to shift to the BluesTent ……some gospel blues and the believers were up on their feet … a bit full on for my liking. Still ‘ Kingfish’ is everything you want from a blues guitar gun …. But even at 24, health concerns may impact his career and life expectancy.

Pizza tonight on Freret, after a speedy transit home via Uber, thanks to last night’s Uber driver advice on a good pick-up point. Freret is an urban, trendy spot – good pizza’s on offer at Midway, Bernie orders for us and the starving millions of New Orleans and seems mighty impressed with his chalice of porter.

Sunday, April 30th         

New Orleans Day 4

A big day at Jazz Fest, everybody buggered ……we finish off last night’s pizza, with some accompanying beers and some of Rob’s guacamole dip … it has a kick!  It’s going to be wine and cheese to finish the night – well that was the plan before we all skulk off to bed.

Remember this guy with the hat ….. he has his own wine label!

Monday, May 1st          

 New Orleans Day 5

Thank God it’s the first of 3 lay days …… we need a break. A first-up coffee at Rook, but the apprentice is on and the supervision lacking, unsatisfactory. After a bit of shopping and pow-wow and we try Mojo Coffee and it delivers. A lot of youngin’s just hang in’ with their computers – not a good business model.

Straight off to Dat Dog for lunch…… full of promise but underwhelming.

An outing to catch up with Skye, Wendy’s niece, and her crew, also travelling the Americana. We meet at Bacchanal – a trendy wine dive in the Bywater. Their group is well entrenched on the Rose,  but we try the Chenin blend from South Africa and a much better White Grenache from Espania. Pat, Wendy’s New Orleans friend, is chauffeuring us and we opt for a speakeasy bar for dinner, at Buffa’s. A local young jazz foursome, with Mum doing a wind-up song and a funky duo see us get some local vibe. The dinner is another bratwurst, this one betterer.

Tuesday, May 2nd           

 New Orleans Day 6

Lay day number 2; Rob & Wendy are touristing with Pat to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco. Been & I opt for a quiet day – a walk along the Mississippi waterfront, a little music at the Music Factory record store, and a great coffee and cake at Envie.

Lunch will be at Clesi, a southern seafood restaurant on recommendation from a local barista. Well, perhaps it won’t! Whilst we arrive on time for the booking, we are ushered to an outside table next to a noisy boiler fan ……and left waiting for service. We check inside and there are other tables, but everyone is eating crawfish. ……. I check with the staff to find their listed menu is only available on weekends and that is available is ….. yes you guessed it crawfish. Bernie is less than impressed with the prospect of a lot of work for little return.  Bernie knows the area from his 2018 visit with Al and we are soon diverting to the Blue Oak BBQ …… apparently one of the reasons why Al would return here. In fairness, it’s a casual but solid option, the brisket and beans are great ….. Bernie’s bbq Brussels is good but repeat. Now it’s off to Chickie Wah Wahs for Johnny Sansone, John Fohl, and Anders Osbourne.

Wednesday, May 3rd            

 New Orleans Day 7

Our last lay day, a coffee and relaxation, then head in for a little browse at the music factory and a casual lunch at Envie. We return to the Music Factory for the John Lisi and Delta Funk gig ….. they are all in spacesuits and either John has aged and weathered or has a hairstyle to match the way-out costume – probably both are true.

Time to get to our cooking class whilst Rob and Wendy prepare for a fancy dinner with their daughter and niece and their entourage.

The cooking class is at Casa Pelican with chef Karen, a Canadian chef, classically trained and developed an interest in Cajun and Creole cooking. The interest turned to fascination and technical training with renowned experts. There are another 4 people on the course, a couple from the UK and a young couple from Perth, of all places. The preamble is all about the history of Louisiana food – the Cajun, coming from the Arcadians, immigrants from Canada having to make huge adjustments coming from a shot to a cold climate. These were poor people that would pretty much eat whatever they could get their hands on ……  animal or vegetable, still try today if you get yourself into real Cajun backwaters.  On the other hand, the Creoles were Louisiana’s free people of colour – these people needed to underscore their importance in society and in a way show off their wealth and good fortune. Their take on food is literally more French-based, rich, creamy, and making a statement. So you mustn’t confuse the two, they are completely different foods.

We do all the preparation and the cooking, this is truly hands-on, in pairs making the roux and gumbo, the jambalaya, the roux, and shrimp etouffee – we all muck in for the dessert, bread pudding.

Karen is precise, a stickler for patience, and slowly adds spices to make sure the flavours are rich and full. She understands the physics of food, how molecules of moisture need to be expelled, and how the molecules of the vegetables will and need to interact to quiet down the cooking processor to bind the other ingredients. We really needed to videotape her knowledgeable input.

Her insurance agent has paved the way for wine to flow once the knives are no longer needed, we prep, The it’s into the Italian Grigio or American Merlot. As the food we cook will have big and bold flavours, the wine has to blend in and not compete.

Thursday, May 4th             

New Orleans Day 7

Back to Jazz Fest today, a relatively good lineup finishing with Santana. We are also booked into Tipitina’s to see the North Mississippi Allstars tonight. In between we just plan to shower, have a beer, and some bikkies and cheese. There is one surprise though, we brought back some of the leftovers from cooking class last night. I think the team was quite impressed!

Friday, May 5th              

New Orleans Day 8

Back to the future ….. after another long, humid day, it’s straight back to Midway Pizza on Freret for a couple of pitchers of porter, spicy wings, pigs in blankets, and pizza. Our favourite waitress is on – she is delightful and plays the game with our banter. We have a glass of aged Pinot when we get home – had worse, had better, but at the A$45 price point expect more, the colour is on the turn…

Saturday, May 6th               

New Orleans Day 9

Thunder and rain delay the start but do not dampen the spirits. We get out as soon as the grounds are cleared for opening ….. of course, the place has turned to mud. Being a race course ….. the mud is a little pongy. Having said that, the Blues, Jazz, and Gospel Tents are in full swing ….. I do Jazz today.

 Bernie is a bit rough in the throat but still in, Wendy is a bit sore in the leg after a new tattoo. Wendy taps out and has a lay day with her friend Pat. The upside is that they have put together some great salads and bought in fried chicken from Pat’s favourite place for an easy tea at home…… and it’s good. We wash it down with some Oregon Pinot Gris that’s quite passable.

Sunday, May 7th                

 New Orleans Day 10

Last day of the marathon, the rain departs and the humidity sets in ….. 95% today. Our Uber man points out that all these cars parked on the median strip, are highly illegal, however, they are part of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club They are untouchable by the law. They have their own little Jazz Fest shopping centre of food, drinks, and merch all setup.

 Still, it’s festival time for the locals and in the surrounding streets, from impromptu ‘bars’set up in homes, to the lemonade kids, to the THC (cannabis active ingredient) selzers, to the street bands and the $2 pee offer – cause you never know when you’ll get the next opportunity. The police are there for traffic control only, there is no attempt to shut down any of these illegal activities – perhaps it’s a bond they have with the locale, allowing them to ‘ make hay whilst the sun shines’.

The fairgrounds are quite muddy and much less pleasant for the punters who set up their chairs at one stage for the entire day. The constant smell of cooked shrimp abounds regardless, the food queues are still long as the whole festival is cashless.

It’s still a busy day to get around the acts but nothing prepares you for the closing act ….. it’s a crush whichever act you wish to see – I’m up for Herbie Hancock and I just manage to get standing room in the Jazz Tent – it is unpleasant, the crowd edgy and just a hint of frustration from the ushers trying to keep emergency exit aisles clear ….. enough agro to attract more burly security.

The hoards are on the move, it’s done for 2023. We have prearranged to get back to the Blue Oak BBQ. We snag a table and have a quick beer before joining the food queue, it’s long and out the door, we wait patiently for 30+ minutes to order but have a nice chat with a couple from California.

We attack ‘ death by meat’ again but can see we are meat weary. It’s a “Last Hurrah” feast.

The large plate of BBQ is what Cara ordered for the four of us!

Monday, May 8th                 

New Orleans Day 11

A lay day, although my comrades all head into town to meet up for brunch with one of Rob’s local contacts. I take the opportunity to relax at home, away from the heat and the smoke. The amount of people who smoke ciggies and cigars is staggering, making for constant passive smoking in outdoor areas.

It’s a good day to rest up, a sore throat and some heat rash can do with a break. Surprise, surprise it will be leftovers again for dinner –  brisket, fried chicken, pizza, cheeses, dips. After a day, The Pinot Noir is shot, In fact on the second tasting it may have been corked.

Tuesday, May 9th                 

New Orleans Day 12

The last free day has come around, time to ride the St Charles line Trolley Car through the garden district to admire the grander homes of this area, it’s a very leafy and well-to-do area, lined by magnificent old oak trees. It is a great way to ride out the rainstorms that have come through.

We are heading toward the Cabildo Museum near Jackson Square when some very loud and near thunder sounds a warning, we seek refuge as this storm is close and do not want to be out with lightning around. Whilst the café Pontalba is a bit touristy, it has a table for 2, so it will have to do. Bernie is with the Gumbo and Caesar, I the Crab Cakes. Bernie describes it as hot & salty, mine is oily. Still, it is a respite from the storm ……. We get pretty direct warning messages on our phones. We use a lot of mints to strip the taste of lunch from our palates.

Bernie and Hoff are scardy cats!

As a finish point for the trip, Bernie and I select a more serious wine bar, Pluck, just a hop and a step out of the CBD. We try a Chardonnay and a Verdicciho, the former good and the latter interesting. We decide on a red and give the Somm a brief and price range ……. It is difficult as the range is Grenache to Pinot Noir. We try a couple by the glass, a Grenache and a Beaujolais and still can’t decide. The staff confer and brings a Cab Franc with punch and a higher altitude Italian Nebbiolo – a Nebb is decided and we thoroughly enjoy the wine over charcuterie. It is a fitting bookend of the trip.

 Wednesday, May 10th

  New Orleans Day 13

All aboard we are going home today ……. We will lose a day and get home Friday. But no wait, there’s more. …. We are having a farewell lunch with Pat – Wendy’s friend. She has been a very busy person with shunting us around town, she also picked up our bags from the Airbnb as she and her husband, Bob, will ferry us to the airport. We are heading to Algiers, on the West Bank, to a place called ‘Da Wabbit’. I’m ordering the meatloaf, peas and mash as a means to end on a high, it is pretty good. Pat drives us to Charlie’s garage, it was his house, where on the first night in New Orleans, we had the crawfish boil. Somehow, unsurprisingly, Ronny, the guy who did the boil was also there and others – including Crazy Cliff….. it seems that the boys meet for lunch each day.

Then off to the airport, Bon Voyage to New Orleans, “The Big Easy”.

Bernie decides to eat healthy on the last day with a salad!

Day 35 – Home & Bonus Content

Show me the way to go home,
I’m tired and I want to go to bed,
I had a little drink about an hour ago,
And it’s gone right to my head,

So today we begin the long trek home. Some good news is that we don’t need to be out of our Airbnb until 11 o’clock. Our first flight, from New Orleans to L.A. is not until after 5 this afternoon. Of course, we have the dilemma of what to do with our luggage until we can get to the airport. And to the rescue again comes our dear Pat. Pat arrives at 10 AM to take all our luggage back to her home in Riverside. Pat and my great-mate Gentiily Jnr. will use both of their cars to ferry us to Louis Armstrong Airport later today.

Once Pat heads home we go to our regular caffeine shop on Freret St., Rook. The owner seems sad to see us for the last time. We are going to hang out here until Pat comes back around 11:30 to take us all for a final meal over on the West Bank (Algiers). Da Wabbit is a well-known soul food restaurant that the locals have been hanging out here since 1949. We had to wait about ten minutes for a table and we all ordered our last authentic New Orleans meal. Bernie received some lagniappe, he ordered a cup of gumbo as an appetizer and got the entree size instead. Don’t be fooled you Aussies, an entree in the States is what we call a main. The food was fantastic and as with all food in this part of the world, the portions were more than generous. We had our last photo taken and got photobombed by some workers on the next table over.

Photo Bombed @ Da Wabbit

After our meal, we are heading back to Pat and Bob ‘Gentilly Jnr’ home. First off though we take a route back so we can cross the Huey P Long Bridge. Huey Long was one of the most corrupt Governors of the state of Louisiana and that is saying something. He was known as the Kingfisher. I read a book about his ‘colorful’ life a few years back. He was assassinated back in 1935.

We then called in at Charlie’s Auto Repair in Harahan. Why you may ask? It was at Charlie’s home on our first night in New Orleans that we enjoyed a neighborhood crawfish boil. Charlie’s Auto Repair is an old-fashioned hands-on repair shop. We caught up with a lot of Charlie’s mates all characters in their own way. Check out this new report from a few years back to see what I mean.

We made it back to Riverside at about 2:30 and caught up with Bob. Bernie and Hoff were very interested in Bob’s music room. Bob spends up to 9 hours preparing for his radio show on WWOZ. You can hear Bob’s show via WWOZ’s website. It plays here mid-morning on a Tuesday. I can tell you it is the most knowledgeable and researched music show you will ever listen to. Check it out here:

And just like that we are heading to the airport. I will not bore you with the flight details. In wrapping up I just want to thank Bernie and Hoff for making the “Last Hurrah’ the most awesome of trips. Wendy for helping me make it through each day. Cara and Taylah for joining us for the second week of Jazz Fest. Our beautiful New Orleans friends, Pat, Bob, and Jeff. Your friendships are something that Wendy and I value so much. Pat, you were amazing, driving us to and fro, and taking us to places we could never have imagined. We want to see y’all in Australia ASAP. I may never see New Orleans again but be assured I will never forget my ten visits to the best city in the world. Bon Ton Roulet!

So that is all for me, but wait there is more. I am just about to post Hoff’s food blog, it is a great read. I can’t believe we ate so much food and lost weight! Can you believe that? I also had some observations from Bernie to post as well but I can’t find them at the moment.

Day 33 and 34 – The Last Hurrah

I believe, I believe, I’m on my last go-round Lord all-a my money gone, I feel myself sinkin’ down. —Roosevelt Sykes, “All My Money Gone Blues,” 1929

I think I can safely say that all of us are feeling tired after the last 4 days of Jazz Fest. It is a happy tired not a sad one. This morning we are meeting up with a truly great friend of mine. David ‘Jeff’ Jefferson. I first met Jeff when I lived in New Orleans for three months. Jeff is the Stage Manager for the main stage at the French Quarter festival. He has always looked after me and allowed me to go into the artist’s area. I have met so many great people because of Jeff’s kindness. His wife Pat is also a lovely person but is unable to meet us for a late breakfast due to work commitments. Jeff would dearly love to come to Australia and go ‘outback’. I picked out a cafe in the Quarter, Jimmy J’s on Chartres Street. Wendy, Bernie, Cara, and Taylah are all coming and Hoff is going to explore more of the city. It was so good to see Jeff again. He is a most giving person. He had a bag of goodies for me. In the bag was a 40th anniversary FQF t-shirt, some music, and a few odds and ends. Bernie and I presented Jeff with a signed 20th-anniversary WOW book. He told us, ‘I will treasure the book forever’. We had a delightful brunch and caught up on all the news. As we said our goodbyes Wendy and I made a point of telling Jeff that if he ever does get down under he and Pat will have a bed at our place. Before we parted Jeff rang his wife and we had a good chat on the phone.

David “Jeff” Jefferson

Cara went to the police station on Royal Street and after showing her badge is now the proud owner of a New Orleans Police cloth badge.

Bernie has let me know of the best t-shirt slogan he has seen to date. ‘I didn’t crawl up the food chain to eat vegetables’.

Bernie has gone off to buy some new sneakers. We then did a few tourist things and I took the girls to the St Louis Cathedral, Pirates Alley, Ursuline Convent, and the infamous LaLaurie mansion. Taylah wanted to see the mansion as she had watched a T.V. show about its tragic history.

St. Louis Cathedral – Jackson Square

The girls got an Uber home and we then caught up with Bernie at the French Market for some last-minute gift buying. Tonight we dined once again at Midway Pizza on Freret St. We had learned our lesson and only ordered two large pizzas. Oh and Buffalo wings and pigs in a blanket!

Our final full day in New Orleans was Tuesday. Cara and Taylah are flying out late this afternoon for Los Vegas. Pat has gone way above anything that could be expected by saying she will take the girls to the airport. Before they leave we are going to have a final meal with Pat at Mandina’s Italian restaurant on Canal St. I have eaten there on previous trips and I know the food is very good. There is however a sad recent story about the restaurant. There was a gang-related murder there on April 28th. Unfortunately, a German tourist in town for Jazz Fest was also wounded in this senseless act of violence. The good news is that the shooter has now been arrested. When we arrived at Mandina’s there was a floral tribute out front. Also, two armed security guards were at the entrance. The atmosphere inside was a little subdued as could be expected. However, I am glad we came as the restaurant needs continued support.

Day 32 – Last Day of Jazz Fest

My rider’s got a mojo, she’s tryin’ to keep it hid But papa’s got somethin’ for to find that mojo with. —Blind Lemon Jefferson, “Low Down Mojo Blues,” 1928

What a change in the weather. Partly cloudy, with NO RAIN but 90% humidity. Pat picked us up and we made our way to the festival site. I have mixed emotions today, as well as being extremely tired. This will probably be my last time at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. No use being sad: just enjoy the day.

As I ate a very delicious serving of Vietnamese egg rolls, I listened to the UNO Jazz Allstars. We have organized to meet up with the ‘Boss Man Krewe’ for a team photo. Photos were taken and we say goodbye to Skye, Scott, Jamie, Simon, and Rachel. They are all flying out tomorrow. Skye and Scott are heading to the Bahamas for a week.

I stayed in the Blues Tent for Ernie Vincent and the Top Notes. Ernie had a regional hit some years back with ‘Dap Walk’. I have always enjoyed Ernie’s playing. Pat has provided me and the girls with a pass to the Millers Beer hospitality tent, which also allows for three free drinks. We head over to take advantage of the ‘hospitality’. It is a great space with plenty of seating and couches available under shade. Large screens are broadcasting the music from the main stage. It would be very easy to settle in for the afternoon. We chatted with a couple of guys. They are both locals and we spent a lot of time laughing at what each of us said. As they left they said in typical Southern vernacular, ‘It was great visiting with y’all, y’all have a great time.’

With all the rain we had yesterday the grounds are nowhere near as muddy as I had imagined.

Back to the Blues Tent for Martha Redbone. Martha is a blues and soul singer. She is part Choctaw, European, and African American. Her music is a mix of RnB and soul fused with elements of Native American music. I had only just discovered her music a few months back and was greatly impressed. She sang a killer version of the Beatles’ Blackbird. I also was impressed with the Johnny Cash song, Drums, which was originally recorded in 1964. If you don’t know what the ‘Trail of Tears’ is then you really do need to find out. ‘In your winning you found shame.’

From the Indian reservation to the governmental school
Well they’re goin’ to educate me to the white men’s Golden Rule
And I’m learning very quickly for I’ve learned to be ashamed
And I come when they call Billy though I’ve got an Indian name
And there are drums beyond the mountain Indian drums that you can’t hear
There are drums beyond the mountain and they’re getting mighty near
And when they think that they’d changed me cut my hair to meet their needs
Will they think I’m white or Indian quarter blood or just half breed
Let me tell you Mr teacher when you say you’ll make me right
In five hundred years of fighting not one Indian turned white
And there are drums…
Well you thought that I knew nothing when you brought me here to school
Just another empty Indian just America’s first fool
But now I can tell you stories that are burnt and dried and old
But in the shadow of their telling walks the thunder proud and bold
And there are drums…
Long Pine and Sequoia Handsome Lake and Sitting Bull
There’s Magnus Colorado with his sleeves so red and full
Crazy Horse the legend those who bit off Custer’s soul
They are dead yet they are living with the great Geronimo
And there are drums…
Well you may teach me this land’s hist’ry but we taught it to you first
We broke your hearts and bent your journeys broken treaties left us cursed
Even now you have to cheat us even though you this us tame
In our losing we found proudness in your winning you found shame
And there are drums…

Martha Redbone

I said thanks to one of the ushers as I left the tent and told him this was my tenth and last visit. He looked at me with a smile and said, ‘We will be here next year’. In fact, he said it twice. I felt like Sinbad the Sailor being serenaded by the mythical sirens with their hypnotic singing.

Back to the Lagniappe Stage for another favorite band, the Deslondes. I spotted Bernie and we listened to the set.

I wanted to meet up with Wendy and Pat in the Blues Tent for Tab Benoit but I could not get in as the crowd was so big.

Tab Benoit

I grabbed a Peach Beer and sat outside to listen to the music and watch the world go by. Here are my observations on the passing crowd:

Tattoos, compression socks, hats of all types, baseball caps, slow walking, fast walking, scooters, wheelchairs, white, high yellow, brown, black, sunburn, smiles, Europeans, Aussies, Kiwis, locals, drinks in hand, prams, kids, band t-shirts, NOLA colors, plates of food, musos with instruments, flag carriers, gum boots, shrimp boots, Doc Martins, flip-flops, beer, frozen daiquiris, tie-dyes, old and young, cut off jeans, very unfit police officers, pith helmets, walking sticks, white legs, tanned bodies, backpacks, fat bellies, WWOZ tags, a continual passing parade of people heading to different stages. All with one thing in common – a love of music.

I caught the end of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas at the Fais Do Do. I am setting up early for the Flatlanders. Bernie found me and we waited for the band to commence. The Flatlanders are Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Each of the three singers/songwriters is legendary in the Alt-Country genre. Fantastic songs and playing. I am torn now as I have to leave the Flatlanders to catch a little of Tom Jones.

The Flatlanders

At 83 years of age, Tom sure can still sing well. I can now say I have heard ‘Delilah’ sung live and, as a bonus, he also sang Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower of Song’.

Tom Jones

Pat dropped us off at the nearby Blue Oak BBQ where we met up with Hoff and Bernie. It took about half an hour to line up to order the food as the restaurant is packed with hungry festival people. The food did not take long to be delivered to our table. Cara ordered a family meal for the four of us to share (Wendy, Cara, Taylah, and me). We have no way of eating the amount of food that was delivered to our table! I hear the distinctive Aussie accent on the table next to us. Very interesting guy who is from Freemantle but has lived in Santiago for the last 20 years where he owns and operates an Airbnb

BBQ at the Blue Oak

All in all, another memorable Jazz Fest.

Day 31 – Jazz Fest (6)

She’s hot as mustard, sly as a fox And she likes plenty of meat, in her ice box. —Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie, “She Shakes A Mean Ash Can,” 1931

We wake to torrential rain. If you have ever been to New Orleans then you know what I mean. Today’s opening has been delayed by an hour and a quarter. Pat arrived to take us, diehards, to the fest. The official photographer for the Last Hurrah tour has pulled the pin.

We head out to the fest with Cara in “The Way Back” of the car. We lined up in the rain, only serious music fans are out today. The rain is forecast to continue until late afternoon. As this will be my last Jazz Fest I am determined to savor every moment.

What Rain?

As soon as I get in I head for the Lagniappe Stage for the shelter. Oh no, I have left my writing journal back at the apartment. This blog is all from memory! I got a crawfish salad Po’ Boy and sat at a table, I was shortly joined by a couple of ladies who introduced themselves. Bettina is a Native New Orleanien and her friend is from up north. I learned that Bettina’s husband is a Bass player with the New Orleans Jazz Ensemble. He had the honor of playing with Stevie Wonder a few years back. Somehow the conversation turned to politics. Both women detest Trump. Sadly, the lady whose name I forget told me that her brother has not spoken to her for years because he is a MAGA nutter butter.

I headed to the Blues Tent and managed to snare a seat for Deacon John’s big band. A great set of music from some of New Orleans’ finest. Born in 1941, the singer-songwriter has a long history in music including leading bands at debutante balls. performing at the Dew Drop Inn and playing on such classics as Aaron Neville’s ‘Tell It Like It Is’ and, Ernie K Doe’s ‘Mother-In-Law.’

Deacon John

I went and got a drink and then found that I was unable to get back into the Blues Tent. The crowd is overflowing for the Robert Randolph band. I found a spot just outside the tent and listened to the set. Luckily the rain is letting up. Another fine set of music from this pedal steel genius.

Robert Randolph

The last act for me will be John Hiatt and the Goners. I had earmarked this show as a ‘must see’ while back in Melbourne. Bernie found where I was sitting and we enjoyed the show immensely. Bernie’s favorite guitarist, Sonny Landreth, is a member of the Goners. What a bonus.

Pat has gone way above what anyone could expect and will pick us up from the Fest. I walked past a street vendor hawking her wares. “Pre-rolled joints, magic mushrooms, and edibles”!

When we got back to the apartment a feast awaited us. Fried chicken, Mac and Cheese, and fresh salads.

Day 30 – Jazz Fest (5)

They’re some men you know they’re straight Some crooked as a barrel of snakes —Bo Carter, “Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me,” 1936

A warm day today and our luck has run out. The humidity is back.

A very different morning is on the agenda. Our good friend Bryce has invited us to the spreading of his mother’s ashes at Louis Armstrong Park. A few years back Bryce had done the same thing for his late father. They were both huge ‘Pops’ fans and it is time to reunite his parents. We met at the allocated spot (Louis Armstrong Statue) and Bryce spoke lovingly of his mum and dad. Also in attendance was the legendary New Orleans singer, Paul Sanchez, who sang two beautiful songs. ‘A Kiss To Build A Dream On, and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. We all then partook in a shot of vodka! What an honor it was to be there.

Give me a kiss to build a dream on
And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss
Sweetheart, I ask no more than this
A kiss to build a dream on

Give me a kiss before you leave me
And my imagination will feed my hungry heart
Leave me one thing before we part
A kiss to build a dream on

And when I’m alone with my fancies, I’ll be with you
Weaving romances, making believe they’re true

Oh, give me your lips for just a moment
And my imagination will make that moment live
Give me what you alone can give
A kiss to build a dream on

When I’m alone with my fancies, I’ll be with you
Weaving romances, making believe they’re true

Oh, give me lips for just a moment
And my imagination will make that moment live
Oh, give me what you alone can give
A kiss to build a dream on

Off we went into the Quarter to get some breakfast before heading to the Fest. We finished up on Royal Street at a cafe that I had not seen before, Cafe Vampire. I talked Wendy and Bernie into giving it a crack. Our waitress had implanted vampire teeth! The food was great and the decor fitted the name. Our napkins were folded in the shape of bat wings and the knives and forks were crossed.

We were at the Fest at 11:30. Word is on the street that the crowd will be down due to the forecast of dodgy weather and no big-name acts. I started off at the Lagniappe Stage for Ingrid Lucia. Ingrid could be described as a Cabaret-type singer. What was eye-opening is she had the most outrageous and scantily clad fan dancer on stage. Of course, I was there for the music.

I decided to stay at the same stage for the next band. Sam Price and the True Believers. I know Sam as the bass player from the Honey Island Swamp Band. His band did not disappoint. Funky and Groovy all at the same time. They have a debut CD coming out and I will definitely buy it.

Sam Price and the True Believers

As we headed to the Blues Tent a guy walked past us wearing a Western Bulldogs T-shirt. My immediate reaction was to call out ‘Go Doggies’. He looked a little quizzical at me. As soon as he spoke I knew he was an American. He explained that his brother works in Melbourne and he had sent him the shirt after the 2016 Grand Final.

We made the Blues Tent and saw Sue Foley in action. WOW, what a set of Texas-style blues and boogie. The crowd went wild as she rocked the house. Bernie was high-fiving people he had never met. I have to now say that Sue Foley has taken the baton as Best of the Fest.

Sue Foley

I headed over to the Fais Do Do to listen to Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway. Molly is a young performer playing a very traditional style of Bluegrass. Another great set of music.

The last act back at the Blues Tent is Eric Gales. A very gifted left-handed guitarist and singer who is often compared to Jimi Hendrix. He fuses Blues and Rock. He is wearing more gold than Tutankhamun and his gold wristwatch is massive. He has a serious attitude. The Blues Tent for some reason is not full. He tells us, “Tell all the people you know who are not in the Blues tent that they f*cked up”. An interesting dude who sort of lectured us a little too much on why we white people can’t really understand the blues! I still enjoyed the show.

Eric Gales

Our Uber driver was an interesting guy to talk to. He is recently retired from the New Orleans Police Force (29 years). He was a mounted officer who worked Bourbon Street. I told him Cara was in the force. He said ‘God Bless You’ and then told her to take her badge to the station on Royal st where they will give her a cloth patch.

We got home and had Hoff and Bernie’s food they had made at yesterday’s cooking class. Very tasty indeed. Cara and Taylah are off to meet up with Skye to explore the music clubs on Frenchman Street.

We head out to Midway Pizza for the second time. Same waitress who greets us as regulars

Day 29 – Jazz Fest (4)

My name is Piggly-Wiggly, and I swear you can help yourself And I’ve got to have your greenback, and it don’t take nothin’ else. —Lucille Bogan, “Groceries On The Shelf,” 1933

It is going to be a long day. Week two of Jazz Fest starts on a Thursday. The weather is hot and sunny and, still, luckily no humidity.

Pat picked us up around 10:15 for the drive out to the fairgrounds. Today is locals’ day which is a terrific innovation. If you live in the area you can buy a discounted ticket. Cara and Taylah are off to get their weekend wristbands.

In the years I have been coming over to New Orleans I have often frequented a Middle Eastern restaurant, Monas. They had a presence on Frenchman St. The building they were in has been condemned. Luckily they have a concession food outlet at the festival. I enjoyed a plate of shawarma, hummus, fresh salad, and pita bread.

Today’s music fare starts with an unknown (to me) Bluesman, D.K. Harrell. He was fantastic and worked very hard to get the crowd involved. Check him out as he is well worth a listen. It is always a pleasure to hear a new artist plying their trade

Next up is a long-time favorite, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. Her music takes you back to a bygone era. Dan Braum of the New Yorker said – “Meschiya Lake rocks back on her heels, lifts her chest, and opens her throat like an air raid siren to croon in a thrilling pre-microphone style that…can make you feel by turns as though you were shivering around a campfire in a railroad yard or drinking in a Budapest nightclub in 1938”.

The Blues Tent has a good enough line-up to keep me there for most of the day. Next on the bill is John Mooney a hard-working traditionalist who moved to New Orleans in 1976. As with many older bluesmen, he has had his share of past addiction issues. He is looking road weary but does not let the crowd down.

The Johnny Sansone band is next up. The sound for the first song was way too loud but the sound techs eventually got it right. The crowd is with Johnny all the way. Another great set of music.

Cara and Taylah are off to the main stage to see the legendary Buddy Guy. See what happens when you have a positive influence on your children!

We headed off to the Allison Monor stage to see a band that was new to me. Loose Cattle, described as Americana Cowpunks! Very enjoyable.

As I headed back to the Blues Tent I ran into Johnny Sansone and his partner Michelle. We talked for a while. Johnny told me how proud he was to be featured in our 20th anniversary WOW book. He also said he is working very hard to come back to tour Australia. While we were chatting it was amazing to see how many people said to Johnny. “awesome set” as they passed him by.

I caught the end of the tribute to Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington. Walter was an institution in the music scene of New Orleans. He sadly died Dec of 2022. His photo now adorns the Blues Tent along with many other past legends. He was so revered in this town that a park is being renamed in his honor.

When the Jazz Fest line-up was first announced I had earmarked a “must-see” as Larkin Poe. Two very talented sisters. “Rebecca & Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe are Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist sisters creating their own brand of Roots Rock ‘n’ Roll: gritty, soulful, and flavored by their southern heritage. Originally from Atlanta and currently living in Nashville, they are self-producers of an electrifying, critically acclaimed body of work and are known for constantly touring across the globe with a fiery vitality.” Indeed they were a featured act at this year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival. I thought their show was great, full of energy and the enthusiasm of youth. I even put them at the top of the ‘best of the fest’ to date. When I caught up with Bernie, Hoff, and Wendy they were not so enamored with their performance. Oh well, we all have different tastes in music I guess.

Before we left for the ‘Last Hurrah’, Bernie had booked our tickets to see the Mississippi All Stars at the iconic Tippatinas. I sadly am just too tired to go to the show which starts at 9 PM. A full day at Jazz Fest is all I can manage these days.

Day 28 – Compere Lapin

She’s a kitchen mechanic that’s her regular trade She got the best brown Betties that ever was made. —Blind Blake, “I Was Afraid Of That.”

We went down to Frenchman Street to browse the Louisiana Music Factory. I got myself a Slim Harpo T-shirt and three C.Ds by artists, the Flatlanders, Tommy McLain, and Dave Thompson.

Bernie and Hoff have discovered a new coffee spot on Decatur Street, Cafe Envie. It just so happens that I have been a regular customer of that particular cafe since for most of my trips to New Orleans. We all had a late breakfast. Cara and Tahlay met us at the Cafe.

The Louisiana Music Factory has free 45-minute gigs during the off days of Jazz Fest. Bernie is the self-appointed President of the Australian chapter of the John Lisi fan club. I am a big fan as well. We headed back over to “The Factory” for the John Lisi and Delta Funk’s performance. John is a very good musician and songwriter with a kind of Frank Zappaish sense of humor. The band is resplendent in astronaut suites. It was a fun set of songs, mostly about drinking and overindulgence. For example, one song title off his new album is “Too Much Blood In My Alcohol Stream”. The final song in the set was “John Lee Hooker Song”, with that very familiar Hooker boogie and the band adlibbing some hilarious lyrics.

John Lisi and Delta Funk

Wendy has wandered off to get another tattoo! Please don’t tell her mother. I just hung around for a while in the Quarter to soak up the atmosphere then headed back home at 3:30.

Tonight Skye has booked us in for a special dinner at the very classy Compere Lapin. Skye dined at this restaurant the last time she was in town and has raved about the food ever since. Pat had joined us for the special occasion, and she told us that she has always wanted to dine here. What a fabulous experience. The service, the decor, and most importantly the food was first-class. As there was a large group of us we had a set menu. Sometimes set menus can be hit or miss. Let me tell you, everything we ate on the night was delectable. A very memorable night of fine dining was had by all. Here is our menu. By the way, the fish of the day was Red Schnapper:

The Boss Man Krewe Minus Photographer

Day 27 – Avery Island

Down in Lake County, in that gumbo mud Where the mosquito bills, keep a-biting through her tub. —Sleepy John Estes, “Mary Come On Home,” 1940

You would think that, after all the driving we have done, another road trip would not be on the agenda. However, I have always wanted to go to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Hot Sauce.

Our lovely friend, Pat (the best-looking Uber driver in NOLA), picked us up at 8:30 for the two-hour drive to Avery Island and the nearby town of New Iberia. Firstly, we stopped off for breakfast at La Boulanger, a trendy coffee/wine bar. The fantastic smell of freshly baked bread and pastries greets us as we open the door. Hoff and Bernie are off doing their own thing today. We will meet up at Chickie Wah Wah tonight as we have tickets to see Johnny Sansone with guests John Fohl and Anders Osborne. It will be a long day but well worth it. Also today Cara and Taylah will be flying in from their stop-over in Hawaii and they will land around midnight.

Pat said that the scenery may be a bit boring as we drive toward our destination, all swamp and bayous. It is not boring to me as it is not the sort of landscape you see in Victoria.

We arrived at Avery Island around 11:30 and were shown the process to make Tabasco Sauce from go to woe. It is a great set-up and the surrounding grounds are beautiful. We walked a couple of the tracks and found ourselves at a Bamboo Grove. There is a lot of old equipment and vehicles to view. That is after we passed a sign warning us to beware of Black Bears! There are eight buildings to walk through in total.

  1. A history museum that explains how the McIlhenny family got started making the most famous hot sauce in the world. There have been five generations of McIlhennu in all. 2. The hot pepper greenhouse. 3. Barrel warehouse, tabasco is brewed in oak barrels that are made by in-house Coopers. 4. Blending, a huge warehouse where the fermenting takes place. What a smell, I have no nose hairs left. The fermenting process takes three to five years. 5. The Avery experience. 6. A Salt mine diorama (salt is mined at Avery Island). 7. Bottling. 8. Branding. And then on to the mandatory Gift Shop (I now own a Tabasco t-shirt). We tried a sample of Tabasco ice cream and it was surprisingly good.

Avery Island is a huge tract of land. We drive around the tracks of the Jungle Garden. Bayous and huge old oaks abound. Signs saying beware of alligators.

Spot Pat and Rob

The township of New Iberia is 10 minutes away. One of my favorite crime authors is James Lee Burke. His fictional crime fighter Dave Robicheaux lives in the area of New Iberia. I have always wanted to visit the town but it was not as cool as I thought it would be.

We head back toward New Orleans taking a slightly different route which will take us to the Cajun town of Thibodeaux. Pat has been told of an excellent Seafood Restaurant (Saphr’s Seafood – Where Catfish is King) where we will stop for a late lunch. I had the Crawfish Pepper Jack Fettuccine and have declared it the best meal I have had on the trip.

We hit Chickie Wah Wahs at about 6:60 PM, as doors open at 7 PM with the show from 8 PM. There is already a line to get in. We wanted to be early as I know there is not a lot of seating at the venue. I went to the bar to get a drink. No Apple Cider but they do have a Seltzer. The bar lady leaned over to me and said that the drink I ordered was the marijuana version. I looked more carefully at the name of the drink and did spot THC in the description!

Johnny Sansone

We saw Johnny Sansone come in and said our hellos and presented him with the WOW 20th anniversary book. The show started a little late but it was worth the wait. Absolutely fantastic show. Each of the three performers sang two songs and then handed over the microphone to the next guy. They obviously enjoy each other’s company and musicianship. Anders and John Fohl have differently styled approaches to playing, but each is a master of their craft. What a great night. I am tired and thrilled at the same time. I ran into Roberto Luti a master guitarist in his own write. I have seen him play many times over the years. He seemed chuffed when I said goodbye and told him how much I enjoyed his playing. If you have ever watched any of the sensational “Playing for Change” music videos you will have surely seen Roberto.

Rob and Roberto

Day 25 – Rest Day (sort of)

“Give me half a bottle of moonshine, two-three bottles of beer; We gonna pitch a boogie right here.” —Will Ezell, “Pitchin’ Boogie,” 1929

We are not getting any younger and the three days of Jazz Fest have left us all a little tired. A lazy morning is the order of the day. Hoff and Bernie walk around to the nearby Rousses Market for a few supplies. Another great day in ‘the City that Care Forgot,’ with clear skies and no humidity to speak of.

Coffee at 11:30 and then we walk another block on Freret St to Dat Dog. A franchise diner that specializes in all sorts of humble hotdogs/sausages, all loaded with whatever topping takes your fancy. I had the ‘Son of a Saint Dog.’

Today we are catching up with Skye and Scott and their traveling compadres at the popular Bacchanal wine bar. For those not au fait with the Roman God, Bacchus then here is a little history for y’all. The bacchanal in art describes any small group of revellers, often including satyrs and perhaps Bacchus or Silenus, usually in a landscape setting. The subject was popular from the Renaissance onwards and usually included a large degree of nudity among the figures. We are going to be in for a great afternoon. Pat is coming with us as well and she will be the foreigner in a bunch of Aussies. Before I hand over to Bernie for his summary of the afternoon’s frivolity you should check out the wine bar here:

Junior correspondent Bernie takes over – Bacchanal is the ultimate cool wine bar located in a pretty dodgy neighborhood. It is always busy. We arrive around four, and, for the first time, we actually snaffle a seat on the lawn. That is thanks to Skye, Scott, and their crew, who arrived before us and have started on the Spanish Rose. We are joined by Pat, Rob, and Wendy’s friend from NOLA. We take a little time in the wine shop to peruse the selection. Pretty diverse and no shortage of choices. We start with a South African Chein Blanc blend and Wendy goes for a Californian Chardonnay. Rob finds a very good dry Apple Cider. With a cheese platter, it’s a good way to spend an afternoon. We chat with Skye’s crew. They have really packed a lot in on their travels and it is good to swap notes.

Bacchanal – Let The Party Begin

Two bottles down, we realize that it could be a long evening unless we grab some food and slow down on the wine. So, Pat plays chauffeur and we look for an eating place. We end up at a club/bar called Buffas. There is a great little jazz outfit, the Doyle Cooper trio playing traditional tunes. Doyle is a fine trumpeter and has a great voice, so it is easy to listen to.

A little later, guitarist Alex McMurray and pianist, Bill Malchow, take over the stage. They are great and obviously seasoned performers. Alex has the laconic style and dry wit of Randy Newman with a little Leon Redbone thrown in as well. The food is good bar food and we hang in for most of the first set. Although we don’t know these performers, Google informs us that Alex has recorded a dozen albums. No wonder he is such a polished performer. On the drive home with Pat, we tune into husband Bob’s radio show on WWOZ. A real treat.

Why we love New Orleans!