Day Twelve

Day 12 – April 17

Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well,
But he could play a guitar just like a ringing a bell.- Johnny Be Good – Chuck Berry

Hurricane Time

Another overcast day and again on the cool side. The weather suits me but I know that it will soon be hot and humid and uncomfortable. Just hope that the change to more New Orleans like weather is later rather than sooner.
There are four new guests next door. One of the ladies asked me where in Australia I was from. When I said Melbourne she was pleased. She had been a high school exchange student and spent a few months living in Canterbury. Said she cried when she had to leave Melbourne. I told her that it was the reverse for me as I shed a tear when I have to leave New Orleans.

Breakfast is getting later each day. We headed down on Decatur and I picked a place that I have never eaten in before. Monty’s. Nice looking establishment and a little more upmarket than a diner. I went for the house speciality omelette (the Jackson Square) – cheese, shrimp, lump crabmeat, crawfish tails, red peppers, caramelised red onion all topped with the house made creole sauce and a side of hash browns and 2 anti gout pills. Now that is a big breakfast and I will not have to eat again until later tonight.

We made groceries at Rousse’s and tonight we have planned for a home cooked meal.

Got back to sitting on my balcony and watching the world go by. Some people come by half carrying a girl who is as drunk as a skunk. It is only 3:45 but I can see what the problem is as they all carrying Pat O’Brien’s to – go cups. Looks like she is another victim of the infamous cocktail called the Hurricane. That reminded me that I had promised to have myself a Hurricane in honour of the fantastic Kerri Simpson. I poked me head into the apartment to tell the girls to get ready to go to Pat O’Brien’s’

We got to the establishment around 5. Kate got aged checked at the door and then the guy asked for Wendy’s age verification. She was pretty happy with that until the guy burst into a big smile!
We ordered our hurricanes, one for me and one for the girls to share and moved into the courtyard to enjoy.
Pat O’Brien’s: The historical building that is home to Pat O’Brien’s was built in 1791 as a private home that became the first Spanish Theatre in the United States. It was later purchased by the Deflechie family as their residence until the building was purchased by Pat O’Brien.

Pat O’Brien ran a speakeasy on St. Peter street until the repeal of Prohibition. He officially opened Pat O’Brien’s bar on December 3, 1933, located on the corner of Royal and St. Peters Streets. In 1942, after Charlie Cantrell joined O’Brien, the business moved to the present location at 718 St. Peter Street.

The famed Hurricane Drink originated at Pat O’Brien’s in the early 1940’s. The name was chosen because the drink was, and still is, served in a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp. Word spread quickly about the potent beverage and Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane was an instant success. How did the Hurricane come about? In the early 1940’s there was a short supply of distilled spirits because the grains and sugars necessary to produce spirits went to the troops abroad during World War Two. There was, however, a large supply of Rum coming into the Port of New Orleans from the Caribbean. Bar owners were forced to buy large amounts of rum, 50 cases or so, in order to get one case of scotch or whiskey, for example. The experts at Pat O’Brian’s began experimenting, and the fruity potent concoction was finally perfected. So what is in a Hurricane? 4 oz. Of rum blended with 4 oz. of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix.

We finished our drinks then headed into the main bar. The ceiling is adorned with hundreds of beer steins there is an extra large T.V. screen that has on the NBA play-offs with Miami Hat taking on Charlotte Hornets. The Heat are Kate’s favourite team so we propped at the bar. I had a Strawberry Abita and the girls shared another cocktail. This time the aptly named Rainbow. A colourful drink of Grenadine, Vodka, Blue Curacao and Pat O’Brien’s Sweet & Sour Mix, layered to perfection.

We got back to the apartment and Wendy (with Kate’s help) cooked us a simple Aussie meal of steak, mashed spuds and peas. The steak we got from Rousse’s was very tender.

Day Eleven

Day 11 – April 16

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans, I can see it in my dreams,
Arm-in-arm down Burgundy, a bottle and my friends and me

Hoist up a few tall cool ones, play some pool and listen
To that tenor saxophone calling me home
And I can hear the band begin “When the Saints Go Marching In”,
And by the whiskers on my chin, New Orleans, I’ll be there – Tom Waites – I Wish I Was In New Orleans

We IS Riding

We are up at 8 to get ready for today. Feeling a little dusty after my session with Gentilly last night but I can’t miss today. We need to leave around 9 to get to Iggy’s bar for  our lift. I was ready first and waited out on our balcony for Wendy and Kate to get ready. I guy stopped to ask a question. He looked pretty dishevelled after a big night. I recognised the accent as Australian. Yep he was. He wanted to know if I knew the name of the cross Streets that ran off Bourbon. I rattled off those I could remember. Asked him why, and he said he got to N.O.yesterday and had been drinking at a Bourbon Street bar all night. His friend (who has an apartment somewhere off Bourbon) left him with a girl. He kept telling me he thought he was doing all right which I guessed meant that he thought he might get his pecker wet. Anyway he now is standing in front of me having had his IPhone and wallet lifted and he does not know where he is staying. I sought of felt sorry for him. What is it with Australian tourists and Bourbon Street bars. Do they not know that for 150 years this street has been known for hookers and pickpockets that will prey on unsuspecting suckers every day of the week.

We got to Iggy’s right on time and meet Bonnie who is giving up a lift. She is an elderly lady who is very friendly and chatted the whole time it took us to get down to Chalmette (about a 12 minute drive). It is raining pretty heavy and we all hope it will clear. Today (drum-roll) we are riding on a float for the annual Chalmette Parade which celebrates the Irish and Italian settlors. It is very rare for an out of towner to be invited to ride. Our float is one of 45 floats and the parade features dancing teams, riders on horse-back and all kinds of interesting people. Our float has a roof and on board porter potty which is handy as the parade takes over 3 hours. We have our own on board band called the Jukebox Heroes and Ed plays bass with the band. Kate and Wendy help with the decorations and all who are riding with us are very friendly and inviting. It is still raining but hopefully it will clear up by the time we roll (around noon). Refreshments and food is stowed away and Bonnie gave us a huge bag of throw beads plus a big bag of carrots and 3 bags of potatoes. I also receive a large supply of plastic flowers which I get to hand out to the ladies and girls in return for a kiss. Kate has on her green and white tutu and Wendy a crazy headdress. We get ready in a large Walmart car-park and just across from us are many horse floats. One group of riders are called the New Orleans cowboys.
As the rain looks persistent we headed to the Walmart to get me a rain jacket .It is the biggest store we have ever seen. Think Bunnings and then some.

We start rolling just after noon and thankfully the rain has stopped. The course takes us out of town and then we do a U-turn for the return journey. The road is more a highway with a wide neutral ground (median strip) and people are lined up on both sided of the out and back course. It was so much fun throwing out beads, handing out flowers to the ladies as well as our stash of potatoes and carrots. Why the potatoes and carrots you may ask. Well this is an Irish Parade and you should gather enough stuff to be able to have an Irish Stew. Some floats are also giving out cabbages, bananas and pineapples. Our float is thumping out great r ‘n’ b tunes. It is so good to see all the smiling faces as you throw out some beads. Some of the crowd barbequing some have couches to sit on and plenty of libations are being taken. The parade took over 3 hours to complete and by the time we got back I was exhausted. It is very tiring having this much fun.

We got back to Iggy’s around 5 for a relaxing drink. I went back with Ed and the girls with Johnny (the singer in the band). Ed told me about his Katrina experience. As we drove back he told me that the area was under sixteen feet of water and if you go back a few streets off the main drag you will still see (after 11 years) abandoned homes. Ed and his wife evacuated the day before the hurricane hit. Their home has major wind damaged and some flood damage as well. He did not return until two months after the storm. There was still no electricity and he told me that it was eerily scary to see N.O. completely black at night. No birds, no dogs all life blown away. The first thing that came back to town were the rats!
Mark Jackson an ex-pat Aussie who we meet last year at his bar down in the Parish for his annual crawfish boil called into Iggy’s for a drink. He told us that he just recently sold the bar. We told him we had a big jar of vegemite for him and he was so excited. Told us that the two tubes of vegemite we gave him last year only lasted a week!
Ed told us some stories about some of the crazy locals that used to call into Iggy’s One such was called ‘Danny the Tranny’ who loved to play pool in stilettos and a mini-skirt. Danny was apparently (in Australian lingo) built like a brick shit-house and was very able to look after his/herself. We met another guy at the bar who had written two hit songs for Willie Nelson and one for Merle Haggard.

We left Iggy’s around 6:30. I am exhausted and my feet are aching real bad but this is one day I will remember for a very long time. New Orleans people are very special and they will go out of their way to make you trip unforgettable. Well this sure was an unforgettable day

Day Ten

Day 10 – April 16

High black water – a devil’s daughter
She’s hard and she’s cold and she’s mean
But nobody’s taught her that it takes
A lot of water to wash away New Orleans – Hurricane – Levon Helm

Johnny White’s and Evil Bob

Another sleep in – Pat is coming over around lunch time to pick up the girls as they have to pick up a few things for tomorrow’s adventure (it is still a secret). Pat is so nice to do this in her lunch hour and she sure does go out of her way to make our trip so enjoyable. I headed to Envie’s for the delectable French toast and fresh fruit. Still some rain about and on the cool side as well.

The girls were back around 12:45 and they headed off for a late breakfast.

When the girls were back we took a walk down to Canal St via Bourbon. It is only 2:30 and the street is already pumping. We walked past a strip club and the bouncer out front invited Wendy and me in for a ‘good’ time. He said, ‘I will babysit for you, meaning Kate’. I thought that was a mighty kind offer but Kate told him she was old enough not to be baby sat! We stopped for a smoothie and Froyo on Canal St.

We walked back down Bourbon and at the same strip joint as before the bouncer apologised to Kate for thinking she was under age. There is a young brass band playing on the corner near Toulouse Street and they have a big crowd. There is a Congo line of all African Americans doing these real cool step that only people born with natural rhythm can do. Us white guys just can’t dance.

We have arranged to meet up with Pat and Gentilly Jnr around 8:30 at Johnny White’s bar. I walked right past the bar and Kate had to stop me. We went in and Pat and Gentilly had not yet arrived but I thought to myself that the bar did not seem right. I had been to Johnny White’s a few times and even have one of the bar’s t shirts. There is a promotion going on. If you buy a shot of Jamison’s then you get a free Jameson’s t shirt. Had to do it as the t shirt is green and that will come in handy for tomorrows adventure (that is a hint). It got to 9 o’clock and Pat and Gentilly had still not arrived. Wendy decided to text Pat and we found out we were at the wrong Johnny White’s! I knew it didn’t feel right. We need to go another block and turn left.

Gentilly saw us straight away but Pat had gone looking for us. We must have passed her on Bourbon which was easy as the street is packed with revellers. The barman is called Evil Bob. A big man that looks intimidating but is a real nice man. Evil Bob welcomed us back and we settled in for a great night of talking and drinking with two real good friends.

We headed home just after midnight as we have to be up early (early for N.O. time) to be at Iggy’s bar by 9:30. Ed has arranged a lift for us down to Saint Bernard Parish (Chalmette) for what is going to be the adventure of a life-time.

Day Nine

Day Nine – April 14

Good Morning New Orleans; we love you New Orleans
It’s such a lovely day, to love New Orleans,
when people come they never leave
because we’re swinging that way. – Hello New Orleans – Robert
Earl Keen

Return to Iggy’s

Down to the French Market at 10:30 for a banana crepe and coffee. More heavy rain last night and more expected today  Kate had had an issue withe her ATM card. Now ya’ll know who I work for and as much as it pains me I have to say what has occurred with her banking is really poor and when I get back to my work someone is going to feel my wrath.

We sort of lounged around at home for most of the arvo. I bit he bullet and phoned my place of work and finally got some satisfaction re Kate’s bank account. Still gunna lodge an official complaint when I get back and hopefully I can get the wheels in motion to ensure that the service in this particular area of banking is improved for the future.

Wendy and I have decided to walk around to our neighbourhood bar (Iggy’s) at 4ish. We had such good times with the Iggy’s crew last year and hopefully we will see some familiar faces. We were in luck as Big Dave and Ed were sitting at the bar and Judy was behind the jump. It was great catching up with our friends and sharing some stories and drinking more beer than originally intended. We got introduced to another local Chris and he joined us for drinks. Ed has invited us do something very special this coming Saturday. I am going to keep you in suspense. Enough to say that this is a real unique opportunity to be a local for a day and it is not a privilege that often gets afforded to out of towners. Stay tuned!

We then headed down to the casino to win our fortune (that didn’t happen) but we had a lot of fun playing the 60’S Batman themed slot machine. This slot machine is enormous, maybe 3 times the size of a normal slot. It sure sucks you in but what the heck.

Day Eight

Day Eight – April 13

While you stroll in New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
If you go to New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
When you see the Mardi Gras
Somebody’ll tell you what’s Carnival for – Go to the Mardi Gras – Proffesor Longhair

Wedding Anniversary

Well we sure had some heavy thunderstorms last night, or so they tell me as I heard nothing. Wendy said one thunderbolt sounded like a bowling ball hitting and the then rolling down the roof.
Just read that last week’s French Quarter Fest attracted a record crowd over the 4 days – 760,000 people. Also which is disappointing for us is that the free music at Lafayette Park has been cancelled tonight due to the weather.
I made a reservation for lunch at Muriel’s Restaurant for 12:30 to celebrate our anniversary. Muriel’s is an upmarket establishment just across from Jackson Square. We arrived right on time and got a nice table near a window. Lots to look at as the decor is first class. I ordered a Bloody Mary and as I have not had anything to eat to date I should get a little buzz. I had budgeted for a fairly hefty bill but was real surprised at how relatively cheap the lunch menu was. Wendy and I went for the lunch special of soup and a main. The soup was a roasted sweet potato bisque which was sensational. I also (as did Kate) have the wood grilled pork chop swimming in red beans with popcorn rice. Kate did not have the red beans but instead had a side of roast potato. Wendy went for the blackened catfish. The meal was excellent. Kate is drinking coke and has already had a free refill (she finished up with 3 cokes all up)
I had made our reservation from back home and had the option of noting if it was for a special occasion. Just as we were finishing our main course the head honcho came over to our table with a gift of a Muriel’s own label hot sauce and a ribbon and card. Real nice gesture. We are all very full but still went ahead and ordered sweets. Pecan pie and caramel sauce for me and vanilla bean sorbet to share for the girls. All in all a fine dining experience for a remarkably small outlay given the class of the restaurant. Before we left I took the girls upstairs to have a look at the decadent séance room. On the way we walked past a table that is set permanently for the resident ghost!
Back home and it was time for me to go down to Sud Dem Duds and do the washing.
Late afternoon was spent sitting out with Mickey and William just shooting the breeze.
I read on the WWOZ web site that a favourite band of mine the Deslondes were at the Cafe Istanbul on St Claude starting at 8. We left around 7:15 as it is a good 20 minute walk to the venue. We got there just as the doors opened. Real cool room. Seats and a couches plus a bar to the side. There is a band setup right of stage. Can’t figure out why there is a couch and desk and chair set up middle of the stage plus a lectern to the left. The band started playing the Beatle’s Norwegian Wood and followed up with a couple of other tunes. Then I guy came out dressed in a suit and tie and did a bit of a comedy monologue. There was also another guy at the lectern adding comments. We finally figured out we were at the taping of the T.V. show ‘Spotlight New Orleans hosted by John Calhoun’ and the night was going to run like a late night Letterman show. It was a real hoot. The sponsors adds were all acted out by comedians. There was a guest interview with an incredible lady Deon Haywood who helps out the marginalised women of New Orleans. A painting was auctioned to raise funds. Then a great young black comedian by the name of Kamari Stevens had everyone laughing. To round out the night the Deslondes performed two songs. It was not what I envisaged as I thought we were going to a Deslondes show but it turned out to be, as my good friend Mick Newington often says ‘one out of the box’ meaning a great unexpected night out.
It is not a good idea to walk around this area at night so Kate used her Uber app. While we were waiting the comedian Kamari Stevens came over and unlocked his push bike for his ride home to the Ninth Ward. He was cool and had a chat with us. We got picked up in one of those huge American utes you see on T.V. Our driver was Raymond and he was very funny. Said he did Uber work after his full time day job to get away from his wife’s Honey Do’s. I looked a little incredulous and he filled us in by saying ‘you know, honey do the dishes, honey put out the garbage’ and he rattled off a few more honey do’s
We were back in our apartment just after 10 and feeling a little hungry. I took a quick trip to Verti Mart and got a take-out lasagne, red beans, corn and fries.

Day Seven

Day 7 April 12

Good Morning New Orleans; we love you New Orleans
It’s such a lovely day, to love New Orleans,
when people come they never leave
because we’re swinging that way. – Good Morning New Orleans – Kermitt Ruffins

Camellia Grill

Kate has stained her jeans with fake tan and we need to try a drycleaners/laundry to see if they are able to be de-stained. A couple of blocks down from us is a dry cleaners and the girls went into to see what could be done. I hung out the front. They seemed to take ages and when they did come our the told me they had been helped out by a little old, very friendly lady. She must be in her 80’s but she was ever so helpful. The laundry will call us when they have (hopefully removed) the stains.
We got to the Camellia Grill for the first meal of the day. Our waitress was very sassy and gave you a mischievous look when you asked a question. I went for the Mexican omelette with hash browns and a root beer.
The girls continued on to the River walk Mall to do some shopping and I went off to try and buy a mobile hot-spot device. We do have wireless at the apartment but it is not a strong signal and it also drops out a lot. Found a little phone store and was able to get a T- Mobile device with 7 G’s of data which hopefully will see us through the next 3 weeks.
I got back to the apartment just as my landlord William was taking his two dogs for a walk. William invited me for a beer and we headed down to a local bar. Met some people from Ohio and they were pretty chatty. Had a couple with William and then headed back to the apartment to catch up on the blog
Our friend Pat is coming to the apartment around 5:45 to drop off an inflatable mattress for Kate which is real nice of her. Last year Kate slept on the pull-out couch but it is not real comfortable. Pat arrived right on time and not only does she have the mattress but she has also brought over some linen as well.
Pat then drove us to a real nice Italian/Seafood restaurant by the name of Mandina’s. Sebastian Mandino emigrated from Palermo, Italy in 1898 and opened a grocery store on this very same spot (3800 Canal St.) For a Tuesday night the restaurant is pretty full with what looks like more locals that tourists. I had the fried oyster salad. Wendy has a BBQ shrimp Po Boy and Kate had the spaghetti and meat balls. Kate had no hope of eating ll the food that was delivered. Only two meat balls but the are the size of a large orange. She ate for half an hour and still had one and a half meatballs left. Looks kike another doggy bag.
It was great catching up with Pat and all the local news. We will met up again this time with her partner Bob Gentilly Jnr at Johnny White’s bar on Friday night.

Day Six

Day Six – April 11

Moving Day

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

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.

Day Four April 10

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

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