Day Six – April 11
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I’m not wrong this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy Mississippi hurryin’ into spring – Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans – Satchmo
Up and at ‘em at 9 A.M.
We met the new tenants that came in last night. Alex and his mother from Tampa. They are driving to California where Alex has a new job. His mum is keeping him company on the drive and she will fly back. The mother is originally from Columbia and although she has lived in Tampa for over 30 years she still has a strong accent. Alex told us that he has a mate that lives in Melbourne and he will be travelling to Australia in the near future.
We walked around to 1123 Bourbon St just after 11 A.M. to check in to our accommodation for the next 3 weeks. The apartment is not yet ready but we were able to dump our bags and head off for a late breakfast. We called into the Belle Diner (just across from the French Market) and for me it was waffles with strawberries/blackberries and pecans and a bottomless coffee.
The girls want to buy some supplies or as we say here in New Orleans we are ‘making groceries’ and the best place to do that is Rousses on Royal. While the girls were ‘making groceries’ I went into a high end hat shop to browse, one of the staff called out to me ‘I’ll have to watch you as you are wearing an Iggy’s T-shirt. Turns out he knows the owners of our favourite neighbourhood bar, Big Dave and Little Dave.
We settled into our apartment at 1P.M. and it finally felt like being home.
We caught up with Alex and his mum at the recently opened BB King diner. We are going to have an early dinner. Kate purchased tickets for us back home for the last NBA home game of the New Orleans Pelicans v’s the Chicago Bulls. Kate and I shared the half chicken and ribs, baked beans and cheesy mac. Good soul food. The game is due to start at 7 P.M. over at the Smoothie Centre which is right next to the Superdome. To walk it would be just over half an hour but we have decided to get an Uber. Kate uses Uber all the time back home but I have yet to be convinced. We had time to have a beer at Jean Laffite’s on Bourbon and I was able to fill in our new friends about the history of the bar.
Kate used her Uber app to call in and the car arrived within a few minutes.
We got to the stadium with 10 minutes to spare. As usual there are security lines to go through. I had my shoulder bag. When I got to the front for checking they measured my bag and told me that it was over 14 inches long and that I could not go in with it. We told them where we had travelled from and where we had purchased the tickets all to no avail. They were even refusing entry to ladies whose handbags were over the limit. Security said if we wanted to complain to talk to the Pelicans Management. I lost my cool a bit as this was ridiculous. Anyway another security person said I could try and check my bag at the nearby Hyatt. We went over there and how ironic when I asked the first assistant I came across that she was from Perth and had been living in New Orleans for a year.
Finally got our seats at the game with 5 minutes left of the first quarter. The stadium is far from full with it being the last home game of the season and with the Pelicans out of the play-offs. It was still an enjoyable night with all the crowd participation and the on court entertainment. In fact Amanda Shaw was the half time performer which was cool. The Pelicans were leading at half-time 62 – 53 but got over run in the last quarter to go down 116 – 121
We walked a block from the stadium as Kate kept checking her Uber app to see what the surcharges were. Kate advised that now was a good time to call in a Uber. You can see how far the car is and who the driver is as well as knowing what the charge will be. The driver a young lady was very friendly and gave us some local discount cards for places around the quarter. I am know convinced that the service from Uber is far superior to our crap cabs back home. The cars are clean. The drivers know where they are going and they are not wearing the same shirt that they have for the last five days. Maybe Uber can get the cab companies to lift their standard of service which can’t be a bad thing.
Day Five – April 10
Last Day of French Quarter Fest
I’m a country boy down in New Orleans
I’m a country boy down in New Orleans
Can’t find nowhere to get no greasy greens
Creole girl, turn your damper down
Creole girl, turn your damper down
The pots is boiling, spilling on the ground – (I’m a) Country Boy Down In New Orleans- Snooks Eaglin
I am up early (that is for N.O. time) at 10 AM. Feeling good and rested and fired up for the last day of the French Quarter Fest. It is another fine day but a little bit more breezy. Devin is off sailing this morning on Lake Pontchatrain. He told us that he couldn’t get the engine started yesterday so today he is going to just try and use sail power to get away from his mooring. We could have went along with him if we had wanted.
We headed a short distance to Ruby’s Slipper for breakfast. There are three of these fine diners in New Orleans and they are very popular. So popular this morning that there is a line waiting to get in. Change of plan and we steered our way to Frenchman Street. Now that I am semi-local I know that there is a nice little cafe called Cafe Rosa Nicaud that serves an excellent breakfast. We got a seat without any worries and I ordered breakfast (scrambled eggs, cheddar, pico de gallo and sour cream in a flour tortilla). Great food as can be observed by the number of locals eating. Pretty easey to spot those damn tourists!
A short distance to walk to one of two stages at the Old Mint. We are going to see the Creole String Beans which I make sure I see each time I am in town. Good old swamp pop/rock. The stage is set in a nice little grassed area and is crowded but not uncomfortably so. I gave an Aussie souvenir pin to the bass player Rob and he was most grateful.
First Abita at 1:05 and I tried out the IPA – see you beer snobs back home I am trying to broaden my horizons. The couple sitting next to me introduced themselves. They are locals and they welcomed us to New Orleans. The lady is a Realtor (Real Estate Agent) and when she heard that I dream of living here maybe six months of the year she gave me her business card and said she could find me a nice apartment in the Warehouse district. Hmm….
We got down the Abita (main) Stage for the Raw Oyster Cult. Saw Dave (one of the stage crew) who I have promised a tube of vegemite. He too was rapt when I gave him a souvenir pin. He was so pleased with this small act of kindness that he has given us musician passes for front of stage. I told him we didn’t want to impose but he said ‘ya’ll ain’t imposing and you are welcome back stage anytime ya’ll want), How nice. Also gave a pin to the main stage supervisor and MC. He also knew me from past years and was very welcoming.
Next performer up is the legendary Zydeco man Buckwheat Zydeco. I am really looking forward to this set. In my first blog a wrote about a movie I watched on the plane and Buckwheat feature heavily in it.
Buckwheat looks a little sore and slow when he came on stage. He explained that he has broken ribs and had collapsed lungs two weeks ago. His Doctor had warned him not to perform at the festival. ‘Hell no’ was his reply. I ain’t missing the show for nothin’. You can see he is in pain but that did not stop him from ripping the place apart. When he needed a rest from standing and playing his piano accordion he just took himself over to the Hammond and cut loose there. A couple of luxury cruise ships sailed past and they were a sight to behold as they navigated the bend in the Mississippi. It was a terrific set from Buckwheat and his awesome band and I am real glad that I have finally got to see him play.
We then headed to the House of Blues Voodoo Lounge to catch the end of Kent Burnside’s set. As could be expected of anyone with the name Burnside he knows how to play North Mississippi Hills style blues.
Next on the bill is Kent’s cousin Cedric Burnside (Project) This small Lounge is now chockers but we haver a good viewing position. Cedric started with 3 acoustic numbers then went back to his drums and introduced his guitarist. Right from the first note the blues and boogies had the crowd in a dancing frenzy. Real good set of music ably assisted by the Founders IPA I have been drinking.
We called into Cafe Maspero on our way home for a bite to eat. I went for the hot sausage sandwich Wendy had the roast beef sandwich and Kate wasn’t hungry after devouring her cheesy mac at the House of Blues.
We continued on down Decatur heading for home. Sometimes I tend to portray New Orleans in an overly rosy way. I know that it has its bad side and tonight unfortunately we witnessed a real bad thing. As we got close to a cross street where there appeared to be a fight in play. Looked like a couple of rough looking dudes. One of the guys was already on his knees (sitting up) having already been knocked down. Then all of a sudden the second party to the fight took a running start and full on kicked this poor guy right under the jaw. You know when you are at the football and one of the players gets on to a mighty torpedo and you hear that kicking sound. Well that is what it sounded like. The guy was immediately knocked cold onto his back and concerned passers by rushed to his aid. I really thought that he may have been killed instantly. The cowardly kicker was a big scary looking guy and in the hyped up state he was in people stayed away from him. I know the girls felt sickened as did I.
At the next block there was a guy dressed in a beaded g-string dancing to his boom box. When I mean dancing he was skipping 5 metres in each direction then bending over to bare his buttocks in a most provocative (if you are that way inclined) manner. Kate said after we had passed him ‘that was the most insane five minutes I have ever see’. It did put a damper on a most enjoyable day. Yes you need to be careful but in the six times I have been over here that is the first time I have witnessed violence like that and I am 100% sure that the two involved in the fight were not locals at all.
Anyway we got back home safely and are looking forwarded to moving house tomorrow although our stay here has been very nice.
When I’m feeling the weight of the water
Lord I know that there’s blues in the Quarter
If I could hold back my tears and make it there, I’d be alright
But I might need you, New Orleans, every night – When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues – Tab
Didn’t get up until 11. Getting later every day. Had a rough night and it took 5 anti-inflamatories to help get me off to sleep.
We got to one of my favourite breakfast hang-outs at noon. Envies has the best French Toast ever. Comes with a side of fresh fruit which included a strawberry the size of a mandarin.
We walked down to Canal St and the town is buzzing. Even more people around today (Saturday). People are spilling out on to the streets form cafes and restaurants after eating a late breakfast. Although the time of day is of no significance here. Street musicians are on every corner and all are worth stopping and listening to. Big band of young people performing old time mountain music, another band playing techno middle eastern, solo blues artists and a trio of traditional jazz musicians playing from a second level balcony.
Wendy and Kate are going to continue on to see if she can get one of her photos printed.
I headed to the GE stage to sit and catch up with the blog and have a listen to Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Review. No prizes for guessing the style of music, pardoners.
Wendy had no luck with getting her photo printed but she is back in time to get to talk to Big Chief Bo Dollis Jnr who will be performing shortly. Wendy has one of her photos of Bo and he gladly signed it and asked for Wendy to send him a copy. He also asked a friend of his to take a photo of him and Wendy with Bo holding the photo. Charmaine Neville is also around and she also gladly signed her photo and asked for a copy also. Pretty cool that both Bo and Charmaine want copies of Wendy’s photos. Wendy told Charmaine that she has a great photo of her dad the legendary Charles Neville. Charmaine told Wendy that Charles is in hospital and asked her to pray for him.
As mentioned yesterday we have been invited by Big Sam Williams manager (Stephen Klein) to go back stage for his set at the Abita Stage. True to his word we got our wristbands (Saturday Musicians Abita) and we are set up away from the big crowd. One of the stage crew (Dave) came over to say hello as he recognised me from years past. He welcomed me and then introduced me to one of the official photographers. Dave then asked his photographer friend to take our picture (maybe I am getting famous!) I promised Dave that I would drop in a tube of vegemite for him tomorrow.
It is 7:15 and Big Sam is kicking butt but surprise, surprise it is getting a little cold. Once the sun drops and you are near the river then there is a noticeable drop in temperature. The band performed a wicked version of ‘Purple Haze’. Yes sir, ‘Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky.’
So ends another great day. A beer free day as well! Time for an early night