Lafayette Square

Wednesday – April 16th


 ‘I like beautiful melodies, that tell me terrible things’ – Tom Waites

Well the sun is out today but there is still a chill in the air. Not sure when the weather is going to turn into a normal New Orleans spring. They are still getting snow in places up north.

Mickey was telling me about his movie adventure. He has had a number of bit parts in a few horror movies. This time he has a small role in the new Will Farrell movie being filmed in New Orleans at the moment. Mickey was in a scene being filmed last Monday at the old Gretna jail. The scene involves him sharing a cell with Will and getting pushed around by the guards. He told me that Will is a nice guy and he takes the time to talk to the extras unlike a lot of other ‘stars’.

I went back to the Magnolia Grill for breakfast. A young guy looked after my order and he spoke with me for a good 10 minutes. His name is Anthony and he is working at the grill during spring break. He attends LSU (Louisiana State University). Nice young man, he told me that I have to come to at least one Mardi Gras. He even wrote a note in my journal ‘I have ordered you to come to Mardi Gras’! Signed – Anthony. Not sure if that will get me another leave pass but you never know.

I went and picked up some postcards to send back home. If you don’t get one it must have went astray in the mail.

It has turned into a real nice sunny afternoon and I passed away a few hours’ people watching from my balcony. I wish I had a dollar for every person who stops and takes a photo of the apartment. It must have something to do with all the disco balls hanging from the rafters. William came back from walking the dogs. He told me that if I even wanted a semi-permanent place to live in New Orleans then he would happily do a deal for me with regards to the apartment I stay in.

The free music at Lafayette Square starts at 5 P.M., I am a little hungry so it being only 4 P.M. I called into Felix’s Oyster Bar off Bourbon. I know this is a very popular place to eat oysters because I have walked past Felix’s at night and there is always a line of people on the sidewalk waiting to get in. I was able to get a place at the bar not far from where the oysters where being freshly shucked. I ordered a dozen char-grilled oysters and a voodoo pale-ale. The oysters were excellent, plump and larger than those we get back home. No needs to worry about being attacked by any vampires that frequent the Quarter tonight as I thing I have just eaten 6 cloves of garlic.

Billy Iuso’s band is just firing up as I meet up with Stew and Carol. I bought two of Billy’s albums home with me last year. I recognized a few pf the punters, a man with an Ian Fraser moustache dyed bright green (may suggest that to Ian), the old free hugs man. He is at must concerts around town. I spoke to him last year, he is well into his 80’s. Dressed in shorts and his trademark Hawaiian shirt and always with bright coloured socks (of a different colour). He has a sign on his shirt ‘free hugs’ and he always seems to be dancing with pretty ladies. Rob Steinberg (Treme actor) said g’day as well as the festival staff. Anders Osborne is also back stage and I got a photo with him. Andres has a very interesting story. He came to New Orleans form Sweden many years ago and has never left. He is now one of ‘awlins finest guitarists/singers/songwriters and he is always on the Jazz Fest bill. He has fought some demons and come through in one piece. As I have read many times about New Orleans, all is here for the taking (and has been since the 1700’s) and it is easy to go along for the ride either with drugs, alcohol, debauchery or whatever else may take your fancy. Anders is one of the strong ones who has got his life back on track.

Also back stage is a lady I have seen many times up on stage interviewing guest and introducing artists. She works for the local Fox T.V. network and shares the stage every Wednesday night with the Saints football cheer leaders and an ex Saints football player. The Saints are the major sponsors of the concert series. I told her I was on my fourth visit to the Crescent City. Anyway next thing I know she is doing her mid bracket spiel when I hear her telling the crowd that she wanted to welcome Rob from Australia to New Orleans and the Saints footballer is calling out ‘mate, can you give us a who dat in an Australian accent’?  The crowd cheered. Stew and Carol both came over to me laughing and Stew said ‘what the fuck just happened, how come you are getting named from the stage’! As the old saying goes ‘it’s who you know’. Over to you Mr. Smith!

The Honey Island Swamp Band are the main act for the night. Although I only saw them a few days ago at French Quarter Fest I am very pleased to see them again. Anders got up for a tune as well

I went and had dinner with Stew and Carol after the show and then went back to their home for a cup of tea and a catch up. Stew dropped me back at my apartment around 11 and another great night was enjoyed in ‘awlins

the Spotted Cat

Tuesday – April 15th



We all know that Real Estate Agents tell fibs!


‘The only truth is music’ – Jack Kerouac


I left the apartment around 9:30 and immediately went back for my Stax jacket. I can’t believe it. Mid April and it is only 11 degrees! It is oh so cold. Beanies, scarves, jackets and gloves that’s what the locals are wearing. The poor tourists in the mule buggies are draped in blankets. It is easy to spot the unprepared visitors in shorts and t-shirts shivering like dogs shitting razor blades. The wind is blowing hard and is bitterly cold.

None the less I headed down to the river-front promenade to once again take in the view of the mighty Mississippi. I never get tired of watching the barges being pushed by the tugs, the container ships turning nearly at right angles as they follow the river course. Today the barges are plowing into the wind and the waves are breaking over their bows as if they were out in the middle of the ocean. The promenade is nearly devoid of walkers but I love it just the same.

I wandered down Canal and spotted a café that I had not seen before. It is called Ruby Slipper. I ordered the Spanish omelet. Spicy chorizo sausage, red onions, bell peppers, pepper jack cheese, red roasted peppers with a side of potato. Coffee and toast. All for the princely sum of $13.44. As with most places in this part of the woods the coffee is bottomless. I was right is saying that this is a new café, the waiter confirmed that it has only been open 3 months. I will come back as it is one of the better breakfasts that I have had in my 4 visits. I must tell Brian Wise. The waiter asked me where I was from and you know the answer. He said I thought so but I saw you writing in your journal and it sure does not look like English! What can I say, most people tell me that I write like a Doctor. As I leave the café I laughed at the sign above the doorway – Eggs-It-HereI

I browsed a few of the clothing stores. So many good things to buy but I am on a tight budget and I will wait until near the end of my trip to see if I can afford a splurge. It was good to walk around and reacquaint myself with the streets. Although the temperature is brisk it suits me fine and I much prefer it to the high humidity that is just around the corner. I have been told that a storm will hit some time in the next couple of weeks and the humidity will roll-in and stay for the rest of spring and summer.

I spoke to Stew on the phone and we will meet up again tomorrow at the music in the park series (Lafayette Square) and then I will go back with Stew and Carol to have dinner at their home. Stew told me that he has tried the vegemite I bought over for him describing it as ‘tasty’. I have also been in touch with Bob Gentilly Jnr. and I will meet up with Bob and Pat on Good Friday night. I know I will be in for a fun night of music and amber and will most likely have one big hangover come Saturday morning.

I called into the Louisiana Music Factory on the way to the Spotted Cat Music Club. You may be shocked to read that I did not buy and C.D’s although I have noted a few that will make my suitcase on my trip home.

The Spotted Cat is one of 6 or so little music clubs on Frenchman Street. Frenchman starts just outside the French Quarter and is only a 5 minute walk from my place. It is a world apart from the music venues on Bourbon who tend to cater for a drunken tourist audience wanting to hear classic rock. Having said that you can still find some establishments on Bourbon that have some music taste. Frenchman Street is more of a local’s hangout with the some of the more informed music tourists also coming out of the Quarter to get their fix. Most of the clubs would only hold 100-150 people.

The Spotted Cat is a little music bar that puts on great music. No cover charge but there is a stipulation noted on the door that you have to purchase at least one drink. I easily qualify to stay. I have come early to get a front seat at the bar in front of the band stand. Andy Forrest is playing acoustic blues and he is not bad at all. I grabbed a seat and the guy next to me introduced himself and his girlfriend. He is not much taller than me but he is built like a brick shit-house. They come from Edmonton, Canada and he is the General Manager of an Auto shop that pimps up cars and trucks. They are very friendly and the next thing you know I am in a shout with them.

 I am here to see Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns. We saw Meschiya a few times last year and she has a magnificent voice. Her band are old school 20’s Jazz. The kind I like. Meschiya is very pretty and is covered in tattoos. Even her eyebrows are tattooed. She would only be in her late 20’s and she and her band are keeping the tradition of this form of music alive and viable to a new audience. I also met up with a couple from Chicago who were interested to hear a little about Australia. My new drinking buddy has had a fair amount to drink and someone in the crowd has upset him. I get the feeling that Canadians and Americans are not the best of friends. At one stage he was ready to take on three f****n Yankees but my diplomacy skills came to the fore and we turned the conversation around.

I chatted to Meschiya between sets. I told her how I had been interviewed by Helen Jennings of PBS last year. Helen asked about my trip and what artist had taken my fancy and that I got to pick some tunes for airplay. Helen was very taken with Meschiya’s C.D. and the phone line up with Melbournians ringing through to get details of the album. Meschiya seemed mighty pleased and she told me that she has always wanted to come to Oz. She gave me her personal contact details and I will contact Helen to see if she wants to do a phone interview.

I called in to Electric Ladyland after leaving the club. I got my tattoo at this parlour last year. My tattoo artist has left town so I could not show him how the ink looks a year later.

Tea was from a great pizza place called the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. No Aussies on this menu.

Day 7 – Rest Day

Monday – 14th April



“Storms come, and are so personal, they seem to know your address and have the key to your house.”  – Reverend Jesse Jackson



Woke up pretty tired after way too much fun over the last 4 days. This will have to be a slow day for me. The weather is changing with high humidity and a heavy storm brewing for later in the afternoon.

My main mission this morning is to head down to the Island of Salvation Botanica to visit Sallie Anne Glassman who is a highly regarded New Orleans Mambo (Voodoo Doctor). Our own Kerri Simpson is very close friends with Sallie and Kerri has given me a copy of her incredible new C.D. 4 A.M. to present to Sallie as a gift. Last year when I was in town I had a crystal ball reading as well as a Gris Gris bag made for me by Sallie. It is only a 15 minute walk from where I am staying and I can cut through Frenchman St to get there. I will fill you in on Frenchman St. in my next post. Alas when I got there I was told that Sallie was out of town for a couple of weeks. I will still be in ‘awlins when she gets back so I will catch up then.

I went back to Frenchman and decided to call into the Louisiana Music Factory. LMF is just about the best record store on the planet. It has only just relocated to Frenchman and I will be hard pressed not to spend many a dollar there. Alas it was not opening for another half hour.

It is getting close to 11 and I have not yet had breakfast. I know of a cheap place to eat near the French Market. The Magnolia Grill has good food and I can relax and write down a few notes. I am not overly hungry and I guess my body clock is still all astray. I opted for pancakes with bacon and maple syrup washed down with a Barg’s Root Beer. The waiter is a cool guy and he said he recognized me from last year. It is good to feel like a local although he maybe tells that to everyone?

I heard my name being called and looked up to see my neighbour having breakfast with his young daughter. Maybe I am a local!

I wondered off after eating to head back to the apartment and I ran into one of the local characters who goes by the name of Anzie. Last year when Wendy was in town we had a chat about all sorts of things. He is a 60 something hippie and he sounds like a throw- back to Woodstock. In fact last year he told us all about his hilarious adventures at the said music festival. There were a group of tourists eating gumbo and having their tour guide tell them about this delicious New Orleans staple. I overheard the tour guide ask the group if any of them knew what file was? I waited a few minutes as there was no answer forthcoming. I put up my hand and the tour guide said ‘yes sir, what is your answer’. I said file comes from the Sassafras tree. The tourists who were by the way American were a little stunned when I answered correctly in a strange accent. I’m the man!

I gave up with the Internet connection back at the apartment and went to the Radio Shack on Canal and purchased a mobile Wi-Fi. The store person was very good as she set it up for me. It works a treat. It is 4G that is real 4G not like the Telstra shit you get back home that says it is 4G but operates all the time at 3G. You sure notice a difference with the speed.

As I started typing up the blog an almighty crack of thunder heralded the start of a very heavy storm. Time was around 3P.M. and the rain continued through for the next 6 hours. Thunder and lightning incessantly. If ya’ll are a first time visitor to New Orleans and one of these storms rolls in then you think you may think you are an extra in Russell Crow’s Noah but the locals just take it in their stride. I was going to have a quiet night anyway. At least I had some left over Dirty Rice in the fridge from last night’s tea. Dirty rice.

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.

Day Four

Friday April 11th


So close, but so far away!

‘If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician, I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music’ – Albert Einstein

The Internet connection has not been great hence the delay in the posts. First thing this morning I was able to upload two posts.

On the way down to the second day of the festival I ran into a parade heading down St. Anne St. to Jackson Square. New Orleans loves a parade and any reason to put one on is acceptable. The parade had brass bands, miniature ponies, knights on horseback and people dressed in all sorts of costumes sashaying in that unmistakable New Orleans dance step. Throw beads and smiles were the order of the day.

I finally picked up a local phone which costs next to nothing and includes $40 of texts and calls which will see me through the time I am here. I need to be able to call the friends I have here in town to see what bar I am supposed to be at on any given day.

Breakfast today (11:30) was from the Desire Oyster Inn food stall. Fried Oyster Rockefeller with penne pasta and hot garlic sauce. Now that should cleanse the system. I think I am becoming immune to hot sauce!

The sun has just broken through and I can feel the heat on the back of my neck. I must remember to put on some sun-screen. I missed applying the sun-screen to my ears yesterday and my right ear looks like a slice of red tomato.

The first band today at the Abita Stage is called Sweet Crude, they are pretty good, quirky and a lot of fun.

My main aim today was to see the Honey Island Swamp Band. I know that some of you reading this blog are fans of this New Orleans group. I would describe them as Louisiana Southern Rock. They are a mighty fine band and I have most of their albums. It is great being at the side of stage as I can get to talk to the musicians before they go on to play. I had a chat with Aaron Wilkinson the lead-singer and he gave me his email address. He is real keen to get to Australia and I told him about our club. Aaron asked me to keep in touch he even gave me a couple of C.D’s to spread the word back home.

It is real cool being back stage, the Production Crew have all said hello and I fell like one of the gang.

One of the people I befriended last year was Jimmy Carpenter an incredible saxophone man. Jimmy plays with many bands around town and I was thrilled when he came up to say hello and welcome me back to New Orleans. Jimmy is playing with the Honey Island. I got to enjoy another mighty fine set of music.

I went and lined up for a beer and a guy in front of me asked if I was a Chicago Cubs fan (I was wearing a Cubs cap). He was surprised to hear my accent and I explained why indeed I was wearing the cap. My brother Herbie and I attended a game in Chicago in 2012 the Cubs v the White Sox. He was pretty impressed as he was also a Cubs fan. We had a good chat about baseball and the state of the game in Australia.

Kermit Ruffins and band are next on stage. Stew got Kermit and his daughter to sign one of Wendy’s magnificent photos. I have taken with me about 20 blown up prints of shots Wendy took in 2103 .

The crowd is starting to get to the enormous stage. Next up is Dr. John and the Nite Tripper. I have been hanging out for this. Fancy being side of stage for the good Doctor. He has to walk past me to get on stage. Well was I disappointed or what. Stew came up and apologized and told me that everyone needed to leave the area, Dr. John is a very demanding and private man and we all had to clear the side of stage. Stew said go and get in the photography area, which I did. We had about 30 minutes to wait. I could hear a lot of the press photographers talking about us only being able to stay for three songs before leaving. That is ok as I am dead centre of his piano. Stew came down the line and reiterated we could only stay for three songs. O.K. Then with about 15 minutes to go all the V.I.P guest were told to leave as well as all us ‘professional’ photographers. Many of the press guys around me were none too happy. Apparently there would only be three sanctioned photographers allowed. Well that is a bummer as now I have no chance of getting even remotely close to the stage. Stuff Dr. John I cracked the shits and went over to the Zydeco stage to listen to Chubby Carrier.

Even though I was disappointed in not getting to see Dr. John I still had a fantastic day.

I wandered home and picked up a take-out (take-away) of meat loaf, mashed potato and beans. I also bought some salt as there was none back at the apartment. As with all things you buy food wise in New Orleans the salt container was super- sized. The smallest salt container I could buy was a 737 gram monster. I guarantee it will still be half full when we make the trip back next year. The good thing is that it only cost $1.39

Now as I said I am running a day behind, I have already lived Saturday and I can tell you it has been the most exciting and enjoyable day I have had in the Crescent City. You will have to wait 24 hours for the next post.

P.S. Go the Bulldogs

Day Three – French Quarter Fest

Thursday – April 10th


Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washinton & Groupie

‘Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music’ – George Carlin

I was up at 9:30 feeling a little dusty. We are in for another sunny day with the temperature to be around 24 degrees

One of Wendy and my favorite places for breakfast last year was Envies on Decatur St. It is a bit out of the way for the tourists and you see a lot more locals eating there. Bruce ‘Sunpie’ Barnes called in for a coffee. Wendy took some great shots of Bruce at a performance at the Old Mint. I just read in one of the local papers that he has been on tour for the last two months with Paul Simon. I opted for the French toast and an iced coffee.

I got down to the start of the French Quarter Festival and Stew gave me a wrist band that gets me into side of stage. The first day of the festival is called locals day and it is the most comfortable crowd wise. The next three days will see huge crowds. The festival is into its 31st year and is the biggest free music festival in the United States. The musicians who are on the bill are all locals. The festivals site is set throughout the French Quarter. I am at the Abita stage which is the largest stage and tends to attract most of the headline acts. The pass that Stew has kindly given me also allows me access to the professional photographer’s area front of stage. I will be the only snapper that has set the dial of his camera to automatic. The pressure will be on to get some good shots.

I have the body of a God, unfortunately it’s Buddha’

I just had a chat to Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington. Walter is a 72 year old living New Orleans legend who has played guitar with the likes of Ernie K Doe. He is a true gentleman and is always dressed immaculately. He told me that he is trying to get a tour over to Australia late this year. Let’s hope we can get him to Way Out West. He is keen

Lunch was from the Bubba Gump food stand. Bubba Gump shrimp and two shrimp cakes. Look out gout here I come again.

Had a chat to the drummer of the Bucktown Allstars. They will be playing on the last day of the fest. Wendy was up on stage with them last year taking photos for them to use on their Facebook page. He remembered us both. This must be the only festival in the world where as a back-drop you can see a 100 year old paddle steamer (the Natchez) plow down the mighty Mississippi.

The Soul Queen of New Orleans Ms. Irma Thomas performed superbly as could be expected. She is also in her 70’s but once she is on stage the years just melt away. Her voice is as powerful as ever. She is loved by the people of New Orleans and she never disappoints them. Songs included in her set were her classic ‘You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don’t Mess with My Man’, ‘Hip Shaking Momma’, ‘Proud Mary’ and a spine tingling version of ‘Forever Young’.

Here is a turn up. A lady behind the barricade has asked to take a photo of me. She has never met an Australian before. I celebrated with my first Abita Amber at 3:30

Next up was a younger R’n’B performer P J Morton who was nominated for a Grammy this year. He grew on me and by the end of his set I must say that I enjoyed his performance. The girls at work will be proud of me listening to some modern black R’n’B.

I hung around for the last band of the day Bonerama. The band are darlings of New Orleans and play a funked up set of great music.



Day One and Two

Wednesday – 9th April



‘Mean’ Willie Green (ex Neville Brothers)

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain’ – Bob Marley

Woke up at not sure what time, showered and went out to get some breakfast before checking out. The Camilla Grill is just a few doors down from the hotel. I had to show a northern couple where the door to the grill is. I forgot to wear pack my watch and as yet I don’t have a phone so I asked the Yankee (that’s what us Southerners call those Northerners) who couldn’t find the door what the time is. It’s 11:15 man. Oops I was supposed to check out at 11.

I went quickly back to the hotel to pack up and check out. Carrying the suitcase down the two flights of stairs was only marginally better than carrying them up the stairs some 11 hours ago.

It took me about 10 minutes to walk over to my apartment. Mickey who lives in the same apartment as my landlord William had just finished cleaning my digs (1123 Bourbon St.) Go on put that address into Google maps for a bird’s eye view of where I will be living for the next 4 weeks. Mickey told me that William is off to his AA meeting. “What, I said, is he off the booze’? “No” Mickey said with a grin – in fact he was up drinking wine with the previous guests of your apartment until 5:30 A.M. Now the New Orleans chapter of A.A. sounds like an interesting organisation!

I walked down to the French Market to see if one of my friends from last year Sunshine was still working at the Cajun Café. Looks like she has got the travel bug again and moved on. Leslie the lady behind the jump was just as friendly. She has a radio show on WWOZ Tuesday mornings and knows another couple of friends of Wendy and mine in Bob Gentilly Jnr and his wife Pat. I will be catching up with Bob and Pat sometime soon. Bob also has a show on WWOZ. In fact Bob has presented his blues show on Monday nights for 30 years.

I opted for a Gumbo and I must say my home-made version of chicken and sausage gumbo stands up to the taste test. Although I may be making my roux a little too thick. While I enjoy my meal I listen to Leslie talking to the tourists (I am not a tourist!) … it feels like I have never left.

Now I would not normally talk about having to take a dump however I had to let you in on this bit of graffiti I read on the dunny door. ‘Don’t beam me up Scotty, I’m taking a shi’

I called in to my favourite cloths shop ‘Wicked Awlins’. The owner Robert is an interesting character and we had a chat for about 10 minutes. He membered me from last year. I spotted the perfect t- shirt for Kate.

William was back from his meeting when I returned and we had a long chat. He is very pleased to see me back and he said that Wendy and I are welcome to stay any time.

I headed out around 3 and called into the Café Maspero which is also a great bar. The in-house juke box is blaring out of all things ‘Thunderstruck’ very unlike New Orleans music. I didn’t travel for more than 24 hours to listen to AC/DC! Oh well a couple of icy Abita Ambers help make up for the classic rock music being belted out.

It is another 15 minute walk to Lafayette Park where my music fix is for tonight. Free music in the park is held every Wednesday through the spring months. On the walk over I spotted a work van that took my fancy. ‘Rooter Man – When Your Drains Don’t Work We Do’

When I got to the park I ran straight into our great friends Stew and Carol. We exchanged hugs and news and Stew gave me a side of stage pass which comes with free beer. The Funk Monkeys are up on stage and sounding pretty good. Saw some other friends from last year, Kym who is a professional photographer and her partner Chris. Spotted another cool t-shirt ‘If You Don’t Sin, Jesus died for nothing.’ Albright I don’t want to let the messiah down so I filled up my cup with another Abita.

Not sure why but my right knee is giving me hell again. Same as last year when I was in ‘awlins. Maybe it is a humidity thing. I wonder if they recommend taking my anti-inflammatory pills washed down with amber. I guess I will know in an hour or so.

Stew introduced me to many people back stage including an actor that appears in the third season of the HBO series Treme.

The New Orleans Suspects are the main band of the night. A band featuring many of New Orleans finest including ‘Mean’ Willie Green who was the drummer for the Neville Brothers. Great music and I enjoyed the set immensely. The night finished with a second-line down the road..

I followed the second-line for a while. Here are a couple more great t-shirt moments. One for my vegetarian friends. ‘You Don’t Win Friends with Salad’ and for the Way Out West committee ‘Beer Is the Reason I Get Up In The Afternoon’.

The last thing I want to leave you with is a bit of sage advice. It is not a good look for older men to wear jeans that have been dry-cleaned that leaves a pleat mark down the middle of those said jeans.


On the Road

Tuesday 9th April – Travel Day

Travel day has finally arrived. Wendy and Kate made the trip to the airport with me. I am not looking forward to 18 hours in a plane however the effort will be worth it. I am travelling with V Australia this time as their planes are a little more spacious as well as giving you your own screen to view movies.

The line to get through customs at Tullamarine was very much on the long side. Round and round you go as you wind your way to the scanning area. I heard someone call out my name and was surprised to see Lauren from the Williamstown RSL in the line beside me. She is off to New Zealand for a wedding. I was pulled out of the line after the scan and was asked if I was carrying any explosives. The only combustible I am carrying is last night’s Mexicana pizza sitting low in the gut.

I was pleased to see that Flight Centre had come true with their promise to get me an aisle seat. I am a bit too unsteady on my feet to be climbing over passengers. Bonus also as the seat next to me is occupied by a young boy. I dreaded that a guy I saw at check- In would be sitting next to me. He was a very big hunk of a man and I would have finished up with many rolls of fat on my arm rest.

Once we were in the air the pilot gave us the news that we would have a tail wind all the way across the Pacific and travelling time would be cut by near on an hour. Great news although it means my 8 hour stopover at L.A. airport will blow out to 9 hours. Gotta say the service was very good and the food was very unlike airplane food.

Some six hours into the flight and my Lynx deodorant has let me down. 12 hour protection is bullshit.

We landed in L.A. around 7:30 A.M. and this time getting through border patrol was very quick. So much better than last year when it took 3 hours due to a customs strike. I was asked what food I was carrying. I had ticked the entry form for food. I said 4 tubes of Vegemite (gifts). The customs guy said I don’t class that as food and waved me through.

I got my checked luggage from the carousal and then checked it in for the 4 hour domestic trip down to New Orleans with Delta airlines. I have about 8 hours to waste. I decided to go through the domestic check in and sit it out in the lounge. The security checks for domestic flights in the U.S. are more stringent than International flights. L.A. airport is undergoing renovations and unluckily for me this effected the number of points of entry.

What should I eat? Hmm… Red Miso Beef and rice was an excellent choice.

Eight hours of people watching, reading and checking my emails on my Galaxy Tablet (free Wi-Fi at the airport). I have such a long wait head of me that my flight is not even listed on the departure board. Finally after an eternity of trying not to nod off our flight is ready to board. I know I must be in the correct departure lounge as there is a women in her mid -twenties very drunk waiting to board the plane. Well she is going to New Orleans so she may as well get a head start.

We got into New Orleans just before 11P.M. and I am dog tired. It is always a great relief when you see your luggage on the carousal. Until you can spot your suitcase you always think the worst. I.E. my suitcase has gone to Alaska.

I got a cab and asked the driver to take me to the St Helen hotel on Chatres St in the French Quarter. I will be staying at the same apartment on Bourbon that I had spent 3 months in last year. However seeing I stuffed up my leaving date the apartment still has guests and I can’t get in until Wednesday morning. I booked the hotel via Expedia as it was the cheapest I could find. I thought I must have stuffed up as my cab driver keept saying to me ‘I aint never heard of no St. Helen hotel. I showed him my handwritten address. ‘”Oh man, you mean St Helene”

I got to the hotel at 5 minutes to midnight. Check- in was painless until the concierge said that I was on the third floor. The problem was as he said “This is a very old hotel sir. We do not have an elevator. You will need to carry your suitcase up two flights of stairs.’ I can tell you I was puffing like an old steam train when I finally made the third floor.

Sorry for the delay with the posts, I have had some connection problems

New Orleans 2014 Road Trip



the very talented Mr. Eric Lindell with the very untalented Rob Rowe

 Sunday 6th April

Two days to go before I head back to my second home – the City that Care Forgot – New Orleans. 

My trip will be shorter this time (4 weeks) and I will be cramming as much music as I possibly can into that time frame. I will be staying in the same apartment on the 1100 block of Bourbon Street. 

I am currently half way through reading a fascinating book ‘A History – Bourbon Street’ author Richard Campanella. Many of us only know the Bourbon St of the last few years. The sleazy Canal Street end with its strip joints, gaudy souvenir shops and victuallers of ‘big ass’ beers and hand grenades. This book is a fascinating read beginning with the early years of 1682-1722 right up to the present. A must read for anyone who has stumbled down Bourbon at 3 o’clock in the morning… 

My landlord William kindly booked the dates for my 2014 stay last year. He likes having an Aussie ‘Koala Bear’ as a tenant. I will take over 4 tubes of our national spread, Vegemite. William has taken a liking to the taste. The other tubes will be for Bob Gentilly Jnr. and his lovely wife Pat and Stu and his equally as lovely wife Carol. They are great friends of both mine and Wendy’s. 

I know Wendy is very disappointed she is not making the trip this year. It is entirely my fault for not asking her to accompany me. I know Wendy would love to catch up with our new buddies as mentioned above. Now you may ask why did I not invite Wendy. Well I remember when I came back home last year and I caught up with friends for the debriefing session and some people asked Wendy would she go back to New Orleans. I am sure I heard her say on a number of occasions “probably not, I liked being there but I would sooner have travelled more around the States”. “It was interesting but a bit dirty and 24 hours of music a day is a bit tough.” However over the ensuing months I heard Wendy raving about New Orleans to all and sundry. Wendy is now Facebook© friends with some of ‘Awlins finest musicians due to some fantastic photos of hers that she has posted on-line. Now you see this is exactly what happens when you visit New Orleans. 

It gets under your skin, not like an itchy rash that irritates but more like an intravenous drip that feeds you life giving goodness. New Orleans beguiles, courts, amazes and scares you all at the same time. It can be badass, crass and intoxicating. It can leave you drained and invigorated within a short space of time. It is not for everyone but if you make the time to go there to research its history and have an open mind then it welcomes you with open arms. 

All is not lost with Wendy’s disappointment this time around. In 2015 there are plans afoot for Wendy and Kate to make the trip down South. Kate has always been keen to go to New Orleans but she wanted to ensure that she had turned 21 before venturing away with me. It is no coincidence that the legal drinking age in the States is 21years of age. It always amazes me that the most-wicked city in the U.S.A. requires you to be an adult before imbibing! I am already looking forward to showing the girls around the City that I can’t stop thinking about. 

I am due to land in New Orleans late on Wednesday night (9th April). Hopefully I will be able to get some sleep as I need to be up and ready to get down for the start of the French Quarter festival which runs from Thursday to Sunday. The festival showcases the best of the best of local musicians and is free to attend. Wendy and I had a great time there last year apart from the first day’s torrential rain and electrifying thunderstorm. 

If I get over those four days of awesome music then I will go to the free music sessions held each Wednesday night through  the spring season (12 weeks) at Lafayette Square

Then on Thursday I can wander over to Armstrong Park (Congo Square) for the free Jazz in the park series


Friday the 18th April is Good Friday and that means the start of the New Orleans Easter Parades including the must see Sunday Gay Easter Parade. This parade goes right past my apartment and last year I sat out on the balcony with my Landlord and the local neighbours to watch the parade go by. It is compulsory to wear a hand-made Easter Bonnet. William has already emailed me to say he has made a bonnet for me to wear! 

I will still have to make time somewhere in this hectic schedule to catch up with friends and also visit some of the music clubs on Frenchman Street as I will not have a lot of time until Jazz Fest is upon me. 

So if I have whetted your appetite and you want to know what I get up to on a day to day basis then stay tuned


Update: April 2nd 7 A.M. Wendy checked my flight ticket last night and then told me this morning that my flight is Tuesday the 8th April and not Wednesday the 9th. Whew that would have been a disaster as I am in the habit of not checking those sorts of things until the night before. Better wish me luck when I do get to New Orleans as I will be on my own.