Day Six

Sunday – April 13th.


 Little Freddie King

 ‘We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once’ – Friedrich Nietzche


It is our wedding anniversary today. I left a present with Kate to give to Wendy. Kate and Wendy are in Canberra visiting my cousin Brain and his lovely wife Judith. Brian and Judith are very generous and giving people and we are close friends as much as being relatives. I know that the girls will be well looked after. Cara has had to stay home as she is working at Baker’s Delight.

I was up early even though I found sleep hard to come by last night. The temperature is predicted to be at a maximum of 29 degrees Celsius with a strong breeze.

I got down the festival site around 10:30 and grabbed some food from Mona’s food stall. I have eaten at their Lebanese restaurant on Frenchman Street and the food is very good. In fact if you fancy any sort of lamb to eat then the few Lebanese places around town are your best chance. There is not a lot of lamb eaten down south apart from Easter celebrations.

I got to the Abita Stage just as the music started. I really do feel like part of the stage crew now as everyone says to me ‘morning baby, where yat’

Lillian Boutté and Gumbo Zaire are just commencing their set and they have Detroit Brooks on guitar so I know I am going to enjoy the show. Real nice way to start the morning music wise with some New Orleans Jazz and it being a Sunday a little Gospel on the side. It is only just past 11 and the crowd are already clapping and dancing. I am not a religious person but I do enjoy Gospel Music. It moves your soul. I may need more than a few Gospel tunes though to save me from the City of Sin.

Next up are the 9 piece Bucktown Allstars with guest dancer Miss Joyce (who happens to be 87 years old). The Allstars are well known to me from my last visit. This time last year Wendy was up on stage with them taking photos. A couple of the band recognized me and came over to welcome me back. They hit the stage running and the next 75 minutes is not stop classic New Orleans R’n’B’. The crowd was asked to stick out their tongues to see if they had been drinking the classic ‘awlins fire water from Paddy O’Brien’s known as the Hurricane. A drink guaranteed to knock your socks off and turn your tongue bright red. I know first- hand that the drink can be potent and that is why I do not wear socks to the festival.

I went and got some crawfish bread as it has been highly recommended. For those not accustomed to the local food a crawfish is similar in some ways to our yabbies. They are farmed six months of the year and then the fields are used to grow rice for the next six months. There are many ways to eat crawfish and I am lucky to be here during the season of suckin’ dem heads. The bread is like a big fat pastie stuffed with crawfish and spice and the whole thing is then deep fried. Delicious.

Big Chief Donald Harrison Jnr is up next. His lineage goes back generations and it is worth checking out a little history at the chief’s father was also a Big Chief and I read a fascinating book written about him. If you have any interest in the history of black Mardi Gras Indians then it is worth sourcing the book Big Chief Harrison and the Mardi Gras Indians Author Al Kennedy. I know it is available through Amazon. New Orleans and its music goes back generation after generation. It is handed down to keep the flame burning. A lot of well known and established musicians start foundations to get kids off the street and learn how to play music as well as to understand their heritage. Lillian Boutté who opened the first set had a very young and nervous girl up singing some harmony. Donald Harrison has founded the Tipitina Foundation which educates young musicians both black and white. Donald got 6 of these young boys up on stage to play with him. A 13 year old drummer, a 13 year old piano player and a 15 year old trumpeter. The other boys were much older at 16. They accompanied Donald on two songs and were excellent. Donald got his own band back up (Detroit Brooks was sitting in again on guitar) as well as four elaborately dressed Mardi Gras Indians and they rounded off the set with classic Indians songs including a favourite ‘Hey Pocky Way’. This song has been recorded by many band including the Meters, the Grateful Dead & the Neville Brothers and is a staple of New Orleans Mardi Gras.

While all that was happening Stew introduced me to Little Freddie King. I was indeed excited to meet the man. I have seen him at Jazz Fest every time I have come over. He is the king of the slow groove boogie and has to be the snappiest dresser in town. I have a photo of Freddie to be signed. He was delighted with Wendy’s photo and his drummer/manager so liked it that he has asked for a copy to be sent to him. If they use the photo in an official capacity then Wendy will get a credit.

The sun has slipped behind the high rise Sheraton Hotel and the heat of the day disappears far quicker here than home.

Only one band to go and that is ‘Raw Oyster Cult’ which have three original members of the classic New Orleans band the Radiators. The Radiators were the equivalent of a southern Grateful Dead and you can see many older hippie types wearing cult t-shirts. Dave Malone is the lead singer/guitarist and his is the last photo I have to get signed. He is happy to do so adding ‘Man, not even a mother would love that face’. I did not hang around for their set as the last four days of sun, standing, drinking (but not a lot) and eating have knackered me.

Day Five

Saturday – April 12th


Irene Sage

‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything’. – Plato


There was a bit of a disturbance last night in front of my apartment at around 4:30 A.M. I was awoken by loud shouting and swearing but I went back to sleep pretty quickly. When I went to leave this morning my neighbour and Mickey were talking on our balcony about the fracas. There is a security camera on the front of the apartment and Mickey can watch the area out front including his car parked on the street. He said that he was thinking of getting dressed and coming out to see what the fight was all about. My neighbour said that might not have been a good idea as you might have got drawn into the trouble, ‘I don’t think so’, said Mickey. ‘I would have had my shotgun with me’. That makes me feel nice and safe having my own armed security guard.

I got down to the Abita stage just as the Irene Sage band were starting their second song of the bracket. I have seen Irene a number of times both as the front-lady of her own band and as a back-up singer in a couple of other local bands. She is good, damn good and very sexy to boot. For more information go to I have just downloaded my photos for the day and was eagerly awaiting to see what the photo of Irene and myself looked like, something spooky as happened as I can’t find it.

While Irene was performing I was chatting to Joey Joia who is A New Orleans policeman (22 years’ service). He is a very friendly guy and he was happy to give me some information from a law enforcement perspective of New Orleans. What he said certainly was not through rose coloured glasses. He said in some ways Katrina was a cleansing storm as a lot of the gang members moved to different location around the country. In some areas of New Orleans the police classed some areas as was zones and he said it was not even safe to drive through those areas. Of course he said that the many, many deaths were heart breaking. He also asked a lot of questions about back home. He was interested in our political system, education, welfare and law and order. He told me a lot of eye-opening information about Hurricane Katrina and it was very confronting. I learned more about this city in the 4 hours I spent back-stage with Joey than I have by reading news articles from the local newspaper the Times Picayune (means small Spanish coin). Joey said he had a friend that lives in Freemantle who wants him to go visit. Joey is not very keen as he has read about our White Pointers. Because I spent close up time with Joey I was able to view the belt he wore. It made Batman’s utility belt look innocuous. Gun, taser, truncheon, handcuffs, mace, walkie talkie and a few other things I was unsure of. We then spoke about the football back home. At first Joey thought I was talking about rugby. I explained further and then he cottoned on. ‘Oh yeah, those crazy mother f*****s who tackle and wear no padding.

Bruce ‘Sunpine’ Barnes is back stage in his Rangers uniform. He works at the Old Mint as well as being a world class performer. He has just spent 2 months on tour with Paul Simon. I knew Sunpie from seeing him around town last year and he remembered me and Wendy as well. There is a very large African American taking photos near me. He asks ‘were you from baby’. Even the Joey the policeman called me baby on a number of occasions. No I have not turned, it is just that no matter what gender or age you are, over here you are ‘baby. ’I told him I was from down under and he has invited me to his camera club.

I have another 3 photos of Wendy’s to get signed. Brother Tyrone Powell, Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington, and the Dixie Cups (who are celebrating 50 years in the music business). Stew took me down to the artist’s tent to meet the girls of the Dixie Cups. They were very taken with the photo I had and they all graciously signed it. They also want me to send them a copy. I did explain that I did not take the shot but it must have been misinterpreted with my accent. The incredible outcome of that is that they have asked me to be on stage with them to take photos. I spent their entire set up on the major stage of the French Quarter Music Festival like a professional snapper! I have not the heart to tell them that what I know about my Cannon camera was learned from the ‘Idiots Guide to the Cannon EOS Rebel’. Have you ever read any of those Idiot Books? They are not so easy to understand!

After that excitement I headed to the food area to get some lunch. I spoke to a guy about my age seated at one of the tables. He grew up deep in Cajun country (Lafayette). He was in the Air Force for 20 years through the 70’s and 80’s and spent some time based in Darwin. He reminisced about being taken out to herd kangaroos.

Another artist on my list of must see is Tommy Malone who also happens to be the lead-singer of the seminal New Orleans band the Subdudes. He ends up standing next to me and he started chatting. Most locals are very friendly and go out of their way to strike up a conversation. He told me hi is very anxious to get to Australia and he has taken one of my cards. It just keep getting better as I am now being passed free beer from the V.I.P sponsors area.

Tommy’s band played a memorable set and he finished up with one of Phoebe Giles favourite songs (and mine for that matter) ‘I’ve Got All the Time In the World’.

The sun has just dropped below the CBD buildings and it is surprising on how quickly the temperature cools off. I walked the 10 minutes back to my apartment a very satisfied man with all the day’s events.