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…