New Orleans

Day 4 – April 12th

Awake at 11 (barely). I went straight down for the start of the 35th French Quarter Festival (FQF) First thing is to get some food and I could not go passed the Crawfish Pasta. Gunna be a long day so I need to carbo load. I ran into Joey our policeman friend and he asked how Kate was. Kate met Joey a few years back and they hit it off.

I headed straight to the Abita Stage (the largest at the festival). I immediately caught sight of David Jeffersen (Jeff) who is the main Stage Manager. Jeff always looks after me by giving me an artists-pass which allows me to sit on stage if I want. He is very keen to get to Australia one day with his wife. I gave him a Lonely Planet book on Australian culture and slang and he was very appreciative.

Irene Sage is playing and even though I have seen her several times she is so good that I stayed for her set. Jeff introduced us after her set. She took my email address as she is keen to do an Australian tour one day. She even gave me three C.D.’s which was nice.

I listened to half the set of the New Breed Brass Band (again very good) and then headed off to the Jack Daniels stage to say hello to our friends Stew and Carol Sadowsky. We will meet up with them on Monday for dinner at the Middle Eastern Restaurant Mona’s on Frenchman.

Then I wandered over to the Jackson Square stage for some traditional New Orleans Jazz with Banu Gibson. Found a food concession selling my favourite Yaka Mein

I have made this soup at home, it is not too hard to make and is super delicious. I washed it down with a French Market Cold Brew (iced coffee). I think I may have put too much hot Crystal Sauce in my Yaka Mein!

I headed back to the Abita Stage for the young band Sweet Crude. I took advantage of being able to sit up on the side of the stage. I really like this band and they are getting better and better over the years I have seen them. Ah, life is good in New Orleans. You may have noticed while reading that I have not mentioned Abita Amber today? I am having an alcohol-free day which is very hard to do in this city.

I kept my spot on the stage for Irma Thomas (the Soul Queen of New Orleans). What a privilege to be up this close and personal to Irma, a Grammy Award winner and Blues Hall of Fame inductee. Marcia Ball (another mighty fine singer/pianist) came on to the side of stage to listen to Irma. When Irma spotted her, she asked her to come on stage and sing a song with her. Pretty special indeed. I got talking to one of the crew who asked what we Australians thought of their their ‘dumb ass President’. I told him to rest assured as he is hated all over the world.

Jeff asked me to come down and meet a guy he was talking too. The well-dressed gentleman he is talking with gave me his card. Albert J Moten Jnr. is a Producer/Director for Film and Television. He told me that he is doing a couple of documentaries. One with Irma Thomas and one on the upcoming New Orleans Jazz Fest. Jeff must have told him that this was my 8th visit. Albert wants to film an interview with me next week! That is cool.

I left before the festival closed for the night (7 PM) and went home to catch up with the blog writing. Please forward your congratulations via Word Press for achieving a no booze day.

New Orleans

Day Three – April 11th.

This is crazy, here I am up at 7 AM to meet up with Paul Murphy. I ain’t ever been up this early whilst staying in New Orleans. I stuck my head outside to see if there is anyone about. I am pretty sure that the only people I see are those COMING home from a big night out.

You will not believe this. Paul just called me at 8 AM, his bus was diverted to Mobile, Alabama and so he will not make our breakfast date. He was in a bit of a panic as he has been told that Greyhound Bus Services will not be able to get him to New Orleans in time for his Amtrak train connection. He said that they were very understanding and have promised that they will be able to get him to Jackson where he will hook up with his train.

So, what am I to do so early in the morning, being a little tired and emotional still from last night. I headed down to my favourite breakfast place (Envies) for a croissant and a coffee. The Times-Picayune had a little article on a new craft beer being released here in Louisiana. The Hemperor IPA made with hops and hemp. Now that is a craft beer I may take up. It solves the age-old problem of getting too drunk to roll a joint.

Back at the apartment by 9:30 and I promptly had a little (morning) Nanna nap.

Noon arrives as I open the front door. William, my landlord is back from Costa Rica and Scott my neighbour is with him. Scott and his wife Cherie are here at the same time every year and we have become good friends. They are off for a cocktail and have invited me along.

I managed to get myself to Lafayette Square for some free Wednesday music (5 PM to 8 PM). I purchased some tickets for both food and beer. Found a place to lean and then spotted a guy next to me with a baseball cap with the name Ray Wylie. I said, ‘Is that the Ray Wylie Hubbard’? He seemed very surprised that a guy with such a funny accent knew who Ray Wylie Hubbard was. I told him I was a big fan. He is from Virginia and is with his wife and a buddy. Real nice people and we spent the whole time chatting and buying each other a beer. He is a cattle rancher and both of us have to repeat ourselves to understand each other. I rattle off a couple of American artists in the same vein as Ray Wylie and he was stunned a little. Anyway, his wife has given me her phone number as they want to meet up with me and Wendy next week for breakfast.

Guess what? I got home at midnight again. At this rate, I will not make the weekend.


New Orleans – 2018

Day Two – April 10th.

I had a great sleep and didn’t wake up until Noon.

It’s a nice day in New Orleans, not hot at all. I went down to Belle’s Diner for a Seafood Omelette (Shrimp & Crawfish).

Saw my friend Dinah who owns my local laundry (Suds ‘dem Duds) and she welcomed me back to New Orleans as did the workers at the Quarter Master.

I then wandered down to get a SIM card for my phone. Jackson Square is closed as the stage in being prepared for the French Quarter Festival. I did see one of the security guys (Fess Security) I know (Sherman) and he also said, ‘welcome back man’.

Paul Murphy a friend of Way Out West phoned me. He was in Florida for a Blues Festival and is coming by Greyhound Bus tomorrow to link up with an Amtrak train to Chicago. His bus is due in at 8 AM and his train leaves at 1 PM. We have planned to meet up for breakfast.

Thought I would head over to Frenchman Street around 7.30 for a bite to eat and a couple of beers. The Spotted Cat was packed to overflowing so I tried Café Negril. Got me a bar seat. The band playing is called ‘The Four Sidemen of the Apocalypse’, and they are very good. Old/New styles of Jazz. Drums, guitar, bass and sax/vocals. I got myself and Abita Amber, telling myself that I would stay for just an hour. A woman came up and ordered a stubby of Guinness and then proceeded to pour it into a plastic cup. I could hear a groan all the way from Erin.

There is a young guy sitting next to me who introduced himself as Lew. He was down from Jersey for Wrestle mania which was at the Super Dome over the weekend.

A trombone player walked in and just joined in with the band. He was introduced as Dr Dave. He sat in for a couple of songs and then packed up to go off to his gig. He and the Sax player had some very good banter with each of them having a shot at the respective worth of Sax Players and Trombone players. I think the Sax Player won as he asked the audience what the difference was between a Trombone player and a dead snake in the road. The answer he said was that the snake had been on his way to a gig. Boom, boom.

There is an old Hippie dude up dancing by himself. He sure has got some cool moves. As they say, you gotta dance like no one is watching. Our own Jack the Hat would be hard pressed to match this guy’s moves.

Lew is a nice guy and he has lots of questions about Australia. He has plans one day to come down under but when I told him that it takes thirteen and a half hours flying from L.A. to Melbourne he said, ‘man I can’t even sleep that long’. I just heard an Aussie accent in the bar. A family from Sydney.

I am enjoying the front man of the band immensely. He reminds me a little of Jimi Hocking in looks and for his humour. They play here every Tuesday night so I will bring Wendy along next week. Here is a YouTube of the band at Café Negril.

Lew left as he has a plane to catch home tomorrow morning. I have just noticed that the band on at 10 PM is John Lisi and Delta Funk. I have a couple of C. D’s of theirs. There goes the planned early night.

Two older couples have taken up residence at the bar with me. The engaged in conversation once they heard my accent. They are all from New York. The guy is a retired N.Y. fireman and the other was a Special Investigator with the F.B.I. They all had visited Sydney but had not been to Melbourne.

John Lisi is as good live as he is on C.D. The drummer is incredible not the least being because he has at some stage been horrifically burnt to his face and he has no fingers just little stumps. How the hell he manages to hold drumsticks has me buggered.

I finally got myself home at midnight, a little puffed I must say.