Day Three – April 8th

Day Three – April 8th

French Quarter Fest

Now baby please don’t go, now baby please don’t go
Baby please don’t go back to New Orleans, and get your cold ice cream
I believe there’s a man done gone, I believe there’s a man done gone
I believe there’s a man done gone to the county farm, with a long chain on – Big Joe Williams

Pretty slow getting going today. It looks like another fine day weather wise. Very different to last year where two days of the festival were all but washed out.

We got to the French Market at noon having completely missed breakfast. Kate has a chocolate and strawberry crepe. The market is packed today with tourists in town for the music festival. We grabbed a table and then I went and got a crab cake and poached egg for breakfast/lunch (I refuse to write brunch as I believe that to be a wanky word)
We strolled along the river heading to the festival site. Wendy and Kate stopped at the Abita Stage to catch Irma Thomas and hopefully get Irma to sign one of Wendy’s photos. I kept on going to the GE Stage. Caught up with Stew and Carol and their son Darren. Went and found a shady spot to sit and listen to the Irene Sage band. First Abita at 1:15 which is well past the yard-arm. Wendy and Kate are back and are pretty pleased that Irma did indeed sign the photo, ‘to Wendy’ if you don’t mind.

Chris Mule & the Perpetrators are cranking out some very tasty Southern Rock. Stew waved me over to meet Irene Sage and she gave me a couple of free c.d’s. What do you reckon Mr. Smith? It has taken me into the second day to score a freebie. Stew also has moved us into the sponsors area front of stage to sit at a table for the remainder of Chris’s excellent set. I went and got another Abita and this time I tried a different style the Purple Haze. Raspberry infusion no less. Not sure if I would like it but after one sip it was declared a winner. I gave a salute to the craft beer Kings and Queens back home. Rob & Ange, Terry. Phoebe and Ted Bear and Joanne.
Chris threw in a tribute to Merle Haggard who has just past away (on his birth date). We all sang along to ‘An Okie from Muskogee’
I have just realised who Chris is. He is one of the front men for the Honey Island Swamp Band, no wonder the Perpetrators are so damn good.

Robin Barnes is up next and Robin is a lady. New style R ‘n’ B and Wendy is impressed enough to go and buy a C.D. We had a taste of a snack Stew was munching on. Sourdough Nibblies. A taste sensation and perfect with a cold beer
I moved over to the River Walk stage while the girls went back to the apartment to drop off Wendy’s cameras. Tonight we are heading to the House of Blues for the Allen Toussaint tribute show and the venue has a strict no camera policy and especially so for professional cameras. Hey, Terry just spotted a drink for you – a Bacon Bloody Mary!
I was a little hungry again and went  and got some ‘Dirty Mac & Cheese’ oh so good – crawfish, turkey tasso (ham), gouda and garlic with spices.

I then went over to the Voodoo Lounge at the House of Blues The girls will meet me out front at 7:45 and I still have 45 minutes to kill. Got to hear a set of the Cajun band ‘Michot’s Melody Makers’ while drinking a Redd’s Apple Ale. As they say an ‘apple a day, keeps the doctor away’.

I met the girls out front at 7:45 as planned. There is already a long line snaking down the side-walk for door opening time. We found out shortly after that the line we were in was for an electronic band, no wonder everyone looked so young.
We got a good soot to stand and we grabbed a couple of bar snacks. Mine was sensational. Cheesy garlic fries with pulled pork and jalapenos all glued together.

The show started around 9:15 and I am so glad that I had booked tickets online two weeks ago. Ninety minutes of classic Toussaint songs with a galaxy of stars. The Allen Toussaint band with Leo Nocentelli (the Meters), ‘Big’ Sam Williams, James Andrews, Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington, Robin Barnes (who we saw today) and Davell Crawford. What a fun night. I got talking to the barman and he told me he had lived in Clifton Hill for a time back in the 90’s. Kate got talking to a guy who turns out to be ‘Big’ Sam Williams manager. We exchanged business cards (note again Mr. Taxman) and he has invited back-stage tomorrow night t catch ‘Big’ Sam’s set on the Abita stage at French Quarter Fest.
It was along walk home but the whole day had been most enjoyable

Day Two

Day 2 – April 7

French Quarter Fest

Now, won’t you batter down by Baton Rouge, River Queen, roll it on.
Take that woman on down to New Orleans, New Orleans.
Go on, I’ve had enough; dump my blues down in the gulf.
She loves you, Big River, more than me. – Big River Johnny Cash

Slept ok and woke at 8:45. The house we are staying in is not bad. Feels a bit like a frat house as there are another 3 guests in another room. They are 3 young girls from New York on their first visit to New Orleans. We finally met the owner Devin and he is very friendly and ready to help in any way he can.

We are about a five minute walk from the Quarter. In fact our street turns into Bourbon once we cross Esplanade. We walked past 1123 Bourbon where we will be staying from next Monday. This is my normal place of residence when in New Orleans. Mickey is hanging out the front with some current guests who I happen to know from past visits. We all caught up like old friends. Mickey does bit part acting and he was keen to tell Kate about some of the NCIS New Orleans episodes he has been in. In fact today he is heading off to another shoot.

The weather is fine and hot. Late breakfast at the Coffee Place. Croissant, eggs and bacon and iced coffee. Picked up the latest Offbeat street mag and started planning which bands to see today.
We got down toward the GE Stage and we ran into Joey a New Orleans police officer who we met last year. We took time to have a chat and Joey welcomed us back to town and then introduced to his Lieutenant

Carol and Stew normally work at the Abita Stage but this year they are at the GE Stage. We got there in time to catch some of the Charlie Wooten Project. Charlie is the bass player with Royal Southern Brotherhood. He is one mighty fine funky player. Enjoyed my first Abita Amber at 1:10. Kate is ahead of me as she hit the Daiquiri stand at 1:10! Wendy is already off taking band photos. Got to speak to Charlie after his set. He told me that James Southwell will be coming to N.O. (New Orleans) mid year to record with him. Charlie will then tour Oz in January with James. I gave Charlie a WOW Business card (please note Mr Taxman that this is a business trip)

Next up is the Tin Men (trio) with Washboard Chaz. Good old timey blues.

Lunch time – 12 hour roast beef po-boy with horse radish cream and pickled red onions. Finger drippin’ and lickin’ good.
We went to Harrah’s Casino for a sit down and a cool down. Kate got a baked potato last year from one of the in-house cafes and she recalled that it was good and very filling.

We got back in time for the Mardi Gras Indians Cha Wa. Mighty fine funky grooves. Said it before and say it again – if you want an education in friendliness and fun then you come to N.O. Right here we have  a music stage next to the mighty Mississippi, watching ships, paddle steamers, ferries and barges either fighting the river or letting the river propel them along.

Wendy and Kate are talking to a guy making elaborate balloon hats. Turns out he spent some time at Latrobe Uni and he played a bit of Aussie Rules. Cara, Kate looks fetching in her balloon hat.
At five we headed to the Abita Stage to catch Fred LeBlanc and Cowboy Mouth. Never a dull moment with this band. Fred always gets the crowd yelling and screaming as he implores the crowd.. he screams ‘and the name of the band is?’ and we scream back COWBOY MOUTH. As he said we are in the greatest city in the world listening to the greatest music in the world. We are alive at the greatest moment in time and god damn we are gunna enjoy ourselves, ya’ll. Oh and I just ate a Cajun meat pie which also fired me up.

At the front of each stage there is a fenced off area for the sponsors. Very nice space with table and chairs and waiter service. Well the people sitting for Cowboy Mouth are in for a surprise. Think our own Chris Wilson and what he says to people who sit at one of his shows but treble that recollection. Fred came off-stage with mic in hand and proceeded to make everyone of them stand up. He told them ‘this ain’t no recording of American Voice, this is a COWBOY MOUTH show. You will dance and scream. He then added that don’t think you are gunna sit back down when I get back up on stage. To prove that point he tipped over all the tables and chairs. He does this with good humour and for the rest of the show those sponsors and guests did indeed perform.

The band finished at 6:45 and we are all dog tired. Not to tired of course to call into Cafe DuMonde for some beignets.
I guess we wanted to pretty much hit bed when we got back but Devin and the three girl guests all came out for a chat which was good. I gave them my recommendations for tomorrow’s must see bands and I think they were impressed with my knowledge of local bands (some may call it showing off). What was really good for us was Devin giving us the heads up on local eating places. Devin himself is an interesting person. Maybe late 20’s? He was in sales but is now renovating a property not far from where we are. He bought the place a few years back as part of a forced possession auction. What happens here is that if you don’t pay your land taxes and keep your place habitable then you rack up stacks of fines. After a period of time the city will compulsory auction the property. The lady that owned the property had 37k in fines. She accepted a 40k offer from Devin to clear her debt. He has ben renovating and showed us some impressive before and after shots. The property in now valued close to 600K.