New Orleans – 2017

Day 6 -April 9th.

Up at 7 this morning. Not going to get caught this morning trying to get down to FQF

I finished up at Stanley’s on Jackson Square for banana pancakes. It is a busy cafe even for this early in the morning. Another fine day is looming. Very unlike previous years when at least on day of the festival has been impacted by inclement weather.

I sat near the Abita Stage at 10 and watched as the food stalls got ready for their days trade. Everyone seems to be moving a little slow. Understandable as this is the fourth straight day of very tiring work being on your feet all the time.

The music starts at 11 and I listen to the set from the Irene Sage Band. The band members of the Bucktown Allstars are rolling as they are next on stage. One of the band is drinking from a large can of Foster’s beer. The fool!

It is just past Noon and time for a Purple Haze. No I am not dropping acid. This is the name of Abita’s raspberry infused beer. It is very refreshing on a warm day. Next for eatin’ is a Cajun Meat Pie and a Crawfish Pie.

Jeff (Stage Crew) told me that if I wanted I could go and sit up under cover on the side of stage for a while. You bet, I took advantage to got up and watch Little Freddie King. Fantastic. Jeff also told me that he will be working the Fais (Fey) Do Do Stage at Jazz Fest and that I should come and see him. We have has many chats and he is keen to come to Australia. Said, he wants to go to the outback. I told him that he is welcome to stay at our place for a while and he was real taken with that. Better tell Wendy I guess!

All in all another great (FREE) music festival. I finished off the day with a dozen chargrilled oysters.

New Orleans – 2017

Day 5 April 8th.

Did not wake up until after Noon!

Quick shower the a dash down to St. Charles to get the street car. I know they street cars will be packed this time of the day. The Garden District is a must see for tourists. Well I was right. Three Street Cars have gone by without stopping, packed to the rafters. I decided to try the Uber app and offered a couple from Mississippi a ride as well.

As soon as I got down the festival I went to the food stalls and got me a Crawfish Pasta. Just the right amount of spice. It is going to be another fine day. Sweet Crude are playing the Abita Stage

Had a walk around to see Stu and Carol at the Jack Daniels Stage and the Dukes of Dixieland were playing. The did a great jazzy version of the Doobie Bothers ‘Black Water’. They were so good that I stayed for the whole set.

Walking down Decatur and a guy on a three wheeler push bike road passes me with dirty big python draped around his shoulders.

Today being Saturday and the whole of the French Quarter is packed. There are many stages around the whole area and the locals come out to party as it is a non working day. Walking down Royal toward Esplanade, so many fine buskers on the street that if you stopped to listen to them all you would never make your destination.

As you know my normal abode whilst in town is at 1123 Bourbon. I decided to walk past to see if Micky was out front. He was and we caught up on the news. He has a movie part in a new film, the remake of Jeepers Creepers. Micky gets a lot of bit parts in movies and T.V. series such as NCIS New Orleans. He was very excited as this is his first speaking role and he also got acknowledgment in the promos. William (owner) of my apartment came out to have a chat. He looks real healthy and again we caught up with the news. He told me he has purchased a new blow up mattress for when ‘Princess’ Kate arrives.

I went and caught a little of Eric Lindell at one of the Mint Stages but it is just to crammed full to enjoy.

Went and had a couple of beers at Iggy’s. Little Dave the owner is there but he is so drunk he does not recall who I am. Mike came in to the bar and he knew who I was and we chatted for a while. I think Mike is here to take Dave home (hopefully).

Decided to head one block down to Horn’s. Ordered the Oyster’s St John, eggplant wrapped oysters in a rich and spicy tomato sauce. Sensational. Oh and I also had an Abita Amber. Funny that the same beer was $4 at Iggy’s and one block away $4.50.

Then a called into Buffa’s which was a further two blocks down on (Esplanade). Now I have told you before you have gotta pronounce this as EsplanAID or they gunna know you ain’t a local.

The Abita (in the front bar) is $5 here. The closer you get to the Quarter the higher the price!

I mentioned that I like reading signs. Well here is a couple that took my fancy:

‘Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company’, yeah I can relate to that

Then there is this ‘Bar Phone Fee’ if you ask the Bar Person to lie for you.

$1 – On his way out

$2 – Just left

$3 – He’s not here

$4 – Haven’t seen him all day

$5 – Who?

New Orleans – 2017

Day Four – April 7th

I am up at 7A.M. and head down to St Charles for the Street Car ride to Canal Street. Café Maspero is a familiar café/bar on Decatur and the food is good so this is my breakfast stop. Omlette with cheese, mushrooms, bell pepper and a side of hash browns. Looks like it is going to be a fine day. A couple of the last FQF have had some bad weather.

I like reading signs around these here parts as they tend to be on the humorous side. I just saw a sewerage truck cleaning out a street porta loo. On the back it read ‘within this little tank lies a lot of political promises.’ Spot on I’d say for politicians the world over.

Had a wander through the French Market. One stall was selling deep fried peanuts. Yep, the whole peanut has been deep fried, you eat the shell and all!

Walked passed Kate’s favourite place, Cafe Du Monde. The line to get into the place must be over 100 people. Bloody tourists are everywhere. Not only is the FQF a big draw card it is also Spring Break.

I saw the head crew member at the main Abita Stage and said hello. Jeff knows me from all the years I have been coming and he very kindly gave me a musicians pass to back stage (something he would do for each day of the festival). He is a real nice guy and introduces me to a lot of people as his Down Under friend.

I headed to another stage (GE Digital) to sit in the shade and listen to the Organic Trio. Jazz Fusion and great players. My head is spinning out a little, I think I took to many anti-inflamatories. It pisses me off no end that after I have been walking for 10 minutes and my right knee aches like buggery again.

There is a new stage at this year’s FQF at the bottom of Toulouse Street. I wanted to see a little of Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. To my surprise I saw Stu and Carol working security there and it was great to catch up. Then back to the Abita stage for some of Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles. The great New Orleans guitarist ‘Detroit’ Brooks came over to welcome me back to ‘awlins which was nice.

I then headed to the House of Blues to catch Jonathon ‘Boogie’ Long and got talking to a David Jefferson. David is a veterinarian and a blues tragic. He will be at Jazz Fest and asked me to keep in touch so we can meet up. Bought my first C.D. of this trip and had Jonathon sign it for me. He gave me his card as he is real keen to get to Melbourne.

I moved from where I was standing at the House of Blues as some young college types just wanted to talk the whole time the music was on. Why do people got to a gig to talk!! Finished off having a few drinks with a couple from Dallas. They were fun to talk to. The had been to Sydney so know a little about Oz.

Then took a long walk down to the Mint where there is a music stage either side of the historic building. Saw a little of Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes. Bad Ass New Orleans funkin’ rock.

New Orleans – 2017

Day Three – 6th April

I am up at 5:45 A.M. Rather proud of myself as I used the Uber App for the first time. I like this Uber thing as the fare was $20 cheaper that the cab I got from the airport.

I am on a roll, I used the self check-in. Another rare good LAX experience. There is a fair bit of fog around the airport but I hope there in no delay with my scheduled 9:45 departure. Poor old Cara has had problems with her flight to Vancouver with not realizing she needed a Canadian Visa. The lady at the airport has helped her out but she will not be able to fly out until tomorrow.

Bugger, my flight has been delayed an hour and not only that I have a very long walk to a different terminal. Many flights have been delayed and LAX is jammed with people missing their flights.

I went off looking for Terminal 50A and found it after 10 minutes. Alas is was a Delta terminal and I am flying American. Back I go, I am starting to limp. Only 10 minutes walking and my right knee gives up the ghost. Luckily I have my walking cane. There is a shuttle car not far from the escalator I need to use to check the departure board for American. The elderly lady sees I am limping and said to me, ‘can I help you honey.’ Yeah I said I need to go to 50A American, she said, ‘ I been working here a long time and I ain’t heard of that terminal.’ ‘Give me your boarding pass and I will check it for you.’ She came back after 5 minutes and said, ‘Honey you mean 50A as for apple not 50i.’ I may have to start talking in Alpha, Bravo language.

We finally boarded at 10:45 and then sat on the tarmac for another hour due to something (not important) we were assured breaking off the nose of the plane. The little hook that is used to pull the plane along.

Finally in the air. Not far out of New Orleans and I needed to pee. As I was lining up a little old lady tapped me on the back. I thought she just wanted to pass so I moved as far aside as I could. No she wanted to collapse. I held onto her until the flight attendants could take over. A call came over from the pilot asking if there was a doctor onboard who could help a fellow passenger in need. Luckily there was.

Once we landed in New Orleans we had to remain seated until the ambulance crew could attend to the lady.

I jumped in a cab and headed to my accommodation at 1705 South Rampart in the Lower Garden District. We went past a Mouse Lane which ran off Dickory Road which amused me.

Arrived around 7:15 at a very nice house and was greeted by the owner Daryl. Very welcoming smile and he gave me the lay of the land. What with the travel delays and also the fact that New Orleans is 3 hours in front of L.A. time wise then I will not get to see any music of the first day of the (free) French Quarter Music Festival (FQF)

New Orleans 2017

Day Two – 5th. April

I am up at the crack of dawn, yeah right, 11:30 was the time I managed to drag myself from bed.

I left a message for Cara to ring me. Then called my friend’s Cheryl and Peter who live close by. Cheryl will pick me up late afternoon for a quick local tour and dinner.

It is a beautiful day in down town Santa Monica. Main Street is teeming with young hipsters. There are many healthy eating and vego restaurants in this part of town. I kept on walking down to the beach promenade. There are so many people out exercising from the novices to the super fit looking. Dotted along the beach are training stations, beach volleyball courts. Seems to be that every second person is biking. As I was walking along I got hit in the head by a flying pigeon. Scared the shit out of me.

I decided to grab a bite to eat on the pier and finished up at Rusty’s Surf Ranch for a Crab Cake sandwich, the food was good and the music playing on the juke box was the Ramones. Now time for a bit of people watching, which is the best pastime for sitting and mulling.

Santa Monica is a beautiful looking place, no doubt, chalk and cheese compared to New Orleans. However New Orleans to me is beautiful in a different sort of way. Santa Monica to me feels like a holiday destination, whereas NOLA to me is, well you should know as I am always talking about it.

There are a lot of homeless people around. Most of which do not bother you. Although one guy told me I was a mother fucker! I don’t think he liked my alligator head walking cane. Got me to thinking. Is it more depressing to be homeless in such a rich, awesome looking part of the world. Do you feel even more destitute with so much wealth on show? I doubt it. If you are hungry, I guess you are hungry no matter what the place looks like.

I went for a walk through a very upmarket shopping mall, then back to Palisades Park on the beach front to chill. There is a book sitting on the park bench that someone has forgotten. ‘Hanna  Kowalewska’ author Julita I Hustawki, interesting looking cover – will have to learn Spanish if I am going to read it!

My vista is a wide expanse of beach as far as the eye can see, a clear blue sky with cris cross markings of airplane jet streams. The L.A. airport is only 15 minutes drive from here. The ocean is calm and a couple of yachts seek some much needed breeze to fill their  sails. There is a light on shore breeze which is very welcoming. I am sitting near and old Spanish era cannon which acts as a magnet for young kids to climb whilst their parents get the happy snap.

I wondered off to get a drink and came back to sit under a tree with a plaque stating that it was planted 22/4/83 as a children’s tree of life celebrating peace. Not that I am into trees as such but it is a New Zealand Christmas tree which I thought was kinda cool. I have noticed that many of the park benches have a small plaque beneath them. For instance the bench I am sitting on is in memorial to Zelman King 1941-2012. A nice way to be remembered.

I knew this would happen, I just checked Facebook and it is awash with comments about the article in the local paper regarding Way Out Wests new home at the Newport Bowls Club. The photo of me sitting at the drums has created some mirth. Someone even called me Ringo Star, no my friends I am more of a Ginger Baker. 

The question now on my mind is this ‘Is pot legal in California?’ There are three guys close by and one is holding a sign saying ‘I am a cannabis professional.’ The other side of the sign, ‘The need for weed $5.’ They seem to be smoking a joint and the sweet smell confirms that. I could not help myself and I went over for a chat. Yep, it is legal. The guy said he has some available for ‘medical reasons’ if I wanted to try. No Mr. Smith I did not partake. I then got talking to a guy from Iran. He has lived in the area for 15 years. Nice guy and we talked about politics. He is very free thinking and thinks religion is a load of shit.

The time is 3:30 and Cheryl is yet to call so I decided to go off for a walk. I passed another British style pub. The 3rd such one I have seen in the last two days. This one has a U.K. gift shop attached. Santa Monica must be a tourist destination for poms.

Cheryl called at 4:30 and her and her partner Peter are on their way to pick me up. We drove down to the Venice Canals and then parked at Marino Del Ray. Real nice time chatting and watching also sorts of water craft heading out of the marina to the open ocean. The homes around here are sensational and expensive. A couple of seals are cruising the marina. It was starting to get a little chilly now that the sun is setting. We headed back to Cheryl and Peter’s neighborhood for an Italian meal at a well know restaurant. One on the walls has photos of some of the past diners. Very impressive group of photos from Dean Martin, Alan Alda and many other Hollywood stars. Kate, there is even a photo of that Jenner person that once was a guy!

I knew that Cheryl has been very involved with the music industry, but wow, the people she told me she has worked with is mind blowing. Neil Young, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel to name just a few. She said that the three I have just mentioned have all been very nice and humble people. She has worked extensively in the U.K. for E.M.I. Cheryl and Peter will be heading down to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and will be staying in the apartment next to mine. I meet them some 4 years ago and they have been very kind to me. Even paid for  my dinner which was nice. The food by the way was excellent.

New Orleans Trip 2017

Day One – April 4th
Up at 5 AM for a 9:15 flight to L.A.

Kate was coming to see me off as well but she has gone off that idea now!

Wendy and I left home at 5:30, traffic is light on the Ring road arrived way to early.

Must say that I have had the quickest ever experience of firstly getting my boarding pass (already pre-booked an aisle seat) and then a walk-up to border control – no waiting at all. Time for a coffee and await the announcement for boarding. I just hope that getting through border control in L.A. is a quick – yeah right, as if that is going to happen.

I decided to travel light this time around. Last Sunday we went over to the Sth. Melbourne market to pick up some hemp pants and a shirt. Hemp is a great material for clothing, light and breezy and perfect for the heat and humidity of New Orleans.

On the plane and ready for take-off. The seat I pre-booked has paid off. I have no-one sitting in the two seats next to me. I have also pre-ordered my meal (Cajun chicken salad) and got my meal first. 

Great flight, very smooth. Wow, what a difference a year has made to LAX. Because Australia has a Visa waiver agreement with the U.S.A. you are able to use a self serve booth to verify your passport. I was through border control in 15 minutes! I had braced myself for the normal one to two hour slog I have encountered on my previous trips. The down side of getting through the entry procedures is that it is only 8 o’clock and I am not able to check-into my accommodation until 3 P.M. Although my Air BnB host will allow me to dump my suitcase.

The taxi driver was a nice fellow. Originally from Ethiopia he has lived in the States for 20 years. The conversation turned to politics and Trump. I got the feeling Trump is not very popular with my driver, I wonder why!

Dropped my case off at my home for the next two nights. There is an old hippie lady living in the front house. Out back are two bungalows. The owner of these if Jeff (my host) who is a muso. The bungalow is old but clean but the big advantage is I am only three block from the beach.

Off for a walk down Main Street, passed a shop called the Fork-In an Aussie pie kitchen. The pies looked good but not sure about the mushy peas.

I realised after a very long walk down Main Street that I was going the wrong way from my destination (the Santa Monica Pier) and I was now at Venice Beach. You know, Venice Beach from the photos that abound of very muscly men lifting weights.

It has turned into a magnificent morning. There are lots of joggers, bikers and roller bladders out getting some exercise. I sign told me it was 1.5 to Santa Monica Pier. Unfortunately that is miles not kilometers. The walk is tiring me out but it is so nice. The beaches here are so wide and clean and the ocean is flat calm.

I sure earned my coke and a sit down at the pier. I have no idea what the time is but I have picked up a free map of the area.
Feeling hungry, time check is 11:15 and I am at the 3rd. Street Promenade. Lot of funky shops and dining places. Decided to try out Bruxie the Original and ordered a fried Chicken Waffle sandwich. Very tasty. 

My accommodation is on 2nd. Street which is, you guessed it, one street from 3rd. Street. I walked back and was able to check-in an hour earlier. Oh how good does a shower feel after a 14 hour flight.

I had picked up a U.S. Sim card and phoned Cara. She is still working in Orlando at Disney World and it was good to hear her voice.

Although I am dog tired I am going to force myself to stay up and adjust to the local hour. What better way to do that than a cold refreshing ale. I found a British pub that was offering a happy hour from 3-7 with $4 craft beers. Went for a pint of ‘Fat Tire’ and then a Santa Monica XPA. The bar is starting to fill with Poms. One of the new comers was telling the barmaid in no uncertain a manner what she should be pouring for her. I loved the barmaids reply, ‘It’s not my first day.’ A very unsubtle dig to say I know what I am doing. Time to move on, the music is shit and there are way too many Poms.

Moved around the corner to 4th Street. and found a craft beer/gastro pub called West 4th. Street & Jane. They have Abita’s Purple Haze on tap.

It is only 5:30 and I am ready for bed. Gotta eat though and went to a Mexican place on Ocean Blvd. Had a small plate (no such thing in America) of corn chips, guacamole, salsa with a side of beans. Seriously good salsa and I had to get another cup of it.

Finally back at the bungalow and it was lights out and ‘Good Night Irene’ vey quickly.