Day Sixteen – French Quarter Fest

Day Sixteen – French Quarter Festival

Blues idiom lesson two – ‘Balling the Jack’ when a conductor got a locomotion steaming at full speed, he was said to be balling the jack. The train was the jack short for “the jackass carrying the load.” The blues made it into an all out effort, from dancing to sex to gamblers risking all.

Overcast looking day with rain predicted in the afternoon. The bad news for me is I have Kate’s cold. We called in to see Robert at ‘Wicked Awlins’ my favorite clothing shop in the quarter. We had a chat. Kate remarked when we left that Robert and his two friends were very polite. Southerners are in general. ‘Yes Ma’mm, Yes Sir always asking where you are from and welcoming you to their city.

We walked around to Frenchman Street. A block of music clubs and restaurants and of course my tattoo parlor ‘Electric Ladyland.’ The receptionist even recognized my past tattoo as one of theirs. Kate has booked in for this coming Monday to get a small Fleur De lis behind her ear.
Next we called into the Louisiana Music Store where radio station WWOZ has a presence. We have purchased our ‘brass passes’ for Jazz Fest which is a couple of weeks away. The cost of the pass gets you into the festival for all seven days as well as giving you access to the WWOZ hospitality tent. You can sit and take a load off your feet and avail yourself to the mountains of fresh fruit salad and a cold iced coffee.

We sat in the French Market area for a fruit smoothie while watching some dance lessons being conducted at the Trad Jazz Stage.

Back to the Abita stage for the commencement of Little Freddie King and his band. One of my favourite bluesman in ‘awlins. The 75 year old gets a beautiful groove going and you just never want it to stop,dressed resplendently  as always, in bright blues pants, blue shirt with white polka dots, white cuffs and collar, orange tie and white fedora and of course cool shades. Thanks to Carol and Stew we are allowed to sit in front of stage. Kate was getting into Little Freddie’s groove although I was unhappy to learn that while I was taking a leak before the set-up that Stew introduced Kate as his granddaughter to the maestro and she got her photo taken. Look like I have competition in the groupie photos.

I spotted Rob Steinberg being ushered in to our area by Stew. I met Rob last year. He is an actor and had a part in the HBO series ‘Treme.’ We shook hands and Stew also told us that Rob has a part in the excellent new film, ‘Twelve Years a Slave.’ In fact Wendy watched the movie on the flight over. Next you know Kate is sitting on his knee for a photo with me lurking in the background. At least Rob gave me his business card and said ‘welcome back.’
We then took a short walk over to the Cajun/Zydeco stage to catch Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Heel Raisers. Kate’s first Zydeco experience and I am sure she was impressed. It is a modern twist on this traditional style of music. Dwayne was out in the crowd by the third song getting a second line going. Back up on stage he is laying on his back playing his accordion like a man possessed. ‘Somebody scream’ that familiar refrain you hear all the time from New Orleans musos, and we all do.

It is about 4:30 and the rain is rolling in again. You feel the temperature drop and know a down poor is imminent. We headed to the casino for cover (oh yeah) and Kate and I lost $20 each. The curse of the Rowes.

We made it over to the Riverwalk Factory Outlet and walked the undercover two story mall. Sat down for a bite to eat. I ordered Wendy and I  a Chinese meal and large coke. Cost for three types of chicken and fried rice plus the drink $8.90. Neither of us could finish the large meal and we took home the rest in a take away container.

We walked home in the rain. Down Royal Street. Although only one street back from Bourbon they are worlds apart. Art galleries, antique stores and quality clothing stores. Kate wants to go back to explore this street when more time permits. It is ok to walk in the rain here, much like a warm shower really. We spoke to a couple of cockney poms and they also were enjoying New Orleans even in the rain. As the husband said ‘if it was raining like this in London I would be freezing…

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Stanton Moore

Rob Rowe

Day Fifteen – Miami to New Orleans

Day Fifteen – Miami to New Orleans
For the next few weeks I willl give you a lesson (for those that need it) in Blues speak. All the informationis taken from the excellent book ‘The Language of the Blues from Alcorub to Zuzu’ author Debra Devi
Canned Heat is obtained from the extraction of alchol from Sterno, Canned Heat cooking fuel. Listen to old blues songs such as ‘Canned Heat Blues’ also the name of course of blues boogie band ‘Canned Heat’

We caught a cab at 11 for the 15 minute drive to the Miami International Airport. It will be good to put down rots for the next three weeks and not have to repack the suitcase. The Miami Airport is huge, clean and looks real good with the sea life wall murals. We checked our bgs and then caught the sky train to our departure terminal. Kate is happy as we have found a cafe that has penne and bolognaise sauce.

The flight is a little over two hours although it was a little disconcerting when the pilot announced to buckle up early as the decent will be a little bumpy. We were to expect mild to severe turbulence due to thunderstorm activity over New Orleans. That description mild to severe leaves a lot in the middle. I glanced out the window and the cloud formation reminded me of big bags of fairy floss they were so thick. Luckily the said turbulence was on the mild side.
Once in the cab the heavens opened up with some very heavy rain. I had already told Kate to expect rain like this sometime during our stay but so early was a bummer. I am not confident that the French Quarter Music Festival will still be going. We are hoping to just drop our bags and head out to the music. The Festival is free with a dozen or so stages scattered throughout the French Quarter. Four days of music which started on Thursday (today being Friday) with start times around 11 and finish around 8:30.

We arrived out our apartment around 4:30. 1123 Bourbon St will be our home for the next 3 weeks. I have stayed here on two other occasions We are close to all the good thing the quarter has to offer and away from the debauchery of the top end of Bourbon St.
William our landlord greeted us like long lost friends as it was still raining we caught up on all the news. Fifteen minutes later with the rain all but stopped we headed out.

We headed to the big outdoor main stage on the banks of the Mississippi. We wanted to catch up with our friends Stew and Carol Sadowsky. Stew and Carol head the security crew. We are in look twofold. The stage crew are setting up the gear for the Irving Mayfield New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and we spotted our good friends. Hugs and kisses and introduction of Kate. It was good catching up. I also ran into Joey a New Orleans Police Officer while I was off getting us some drinks. He said he would come over and say hello to the girls.

The band started off with some Jazz numbers and throughout their performance bought up special guests. Joey came over and chatted for over an hour. Kate was excited to meet him and they talked about Tasers and guns and police enforcement in the States. He seemed impressed with her knowledge. ‘How do you ķnow much about Tasers’, he asked. Kate replied. ‘I watch a lot of real drama American cop shows.’ One of the special guests that Irving got up was the incredible drummer Stanton Moore from the band Galactic. I had my first groupie photo taken with Stanton when he came off stage. Stew has also allowed Wendy to go into the photography pit front of stage to take some great shots.

Time for another drink run. When I came back Kate was missing. I thought she had gone off somewhere by herself. Not to worry though as Wendy told me that Stew had taken her up on stage for a close up view. Stew then beckoned me up on stage and here was Kate sitting on a stool nearly close enough to touch the tuba player. For the last three songs Irving got up some members of a local rock band to sit in with the brass orchestra. Pretty cool to hear Led Zepplin songs with a full brass backing.
The last band for the night were New Orleans stalwarts Bonerama. They also invited up a special guest on trombone. A young boy of maybe ten who nailed his solo. They start ’em young in ‘awlins.

We wandered off to Canal Street. The French Quarter is locked in by Canal St (uptown), the Esplanade (downtown), Rampart St (back of town) and the Mississippi (front of town). It is important to know these descriptions as that is how the locals give directions.
I wanted to walk Kate down Bourbon St from Canal st to our apartment in the 11 hundred block. Again that is how you know where you are by the block description.  I.E. if the address on Bourbon is 953 then you are in the 9 hundred block. I think Kate got an idea of what Bourbon Street has to offer if you are in a party mood.

We were about to go past the Funky Pirate Tavern when I thought I heard a familiar voice. Yep. Bluesman ‘Big’ Al Carson was playing. We went in for a seat and sat up side of stage. Now I know that ‘Big’ Al likes to involve young pretty girls in his act. Sure enough just before the end of the set he pointed and winked at Kate and asked if she would help him out by taking the tip barrel around during thr break. She was too embarrassed to do so. He said ‘Come on ya’ll ya daddy will let ya.’ I offered up Wendy’s services but he politely moved on to another young woman.

We have only been in town a few hours and we are up and running. Sure is good to be back at my second home, ya’ll

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New Orleans law enforcement and new recruit

Rob Rowe