New Orleans

Day 28 – May 5th


The weather is threatening today with rain to come after 1 PM. The good news is there will not be a lot of rain and there should be no thunder and lightning.

Went over to the Lagniappe Stage to have a look at Em Sunshine. She is a young slip of a girl aged 14 but has a huge voice and is an exceptional talent. Keep an eye on this young lady as she is going places.

Light rain set in at 12:45 and we sought the shelter of the Blues Tent with Laurie Bell. A great set of Chicago Blues classics and originals.

I saw a t-shirt I liked. ‘There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better’ – Bob Dylan. That is now my new motto.

The rain let up very quickly. In fact, for New Orleans, you could not even call it rain. Over to the Gentilly Stage for New Orleans rock outfit ‘Better Than Ezra’. The band is celebrating its thirty-year anniversary. They are a crowd favourite. The band’s drummer is Michael Jerome who tours regularly with the legendary guitarist/singer/songwriter Richard Thompson. A couple of years back I had the privilege of showing Richard around Williamstown.

I headed over to the Acura Stage around 3 for the end of Dumstaphunk in anticipation of the next band Cowboy Mouth. Fred LeBlanc always puts on a great show and he and the band did not disappoint. The sun is now peeking out and there should be no more rain for the rest of the day. As Fred said, ‘It is a great day to be alive, in the greatest city in the world, New Orleans Louisiana’. Amen to that.

Seen a flag flying out on the grass area of Acura, Slicky-Palooza. My niece Skye would like that.

I normally choose Abita Amber as my preferred beer, but it is not sold at the Festival. I am starting to get a taste for Coors Banquet. Brewed with Rocky Mountain water since 1873.

I was hanging out to have a listen to Delbert McClinton, he was ok but not as good as I expected.

I headed over to have a listen to the band ‘Cage the Elephant’. They are now one of my new favourite bands. I was very impressed and am glad I took the time to check them out.

I took a tumble off my chair, going back onto the race track sand. Gotta say I did pretty good as I never spilt one drop of beer. A nice looking New Orleanians yummy mummy came to my rescue.

New Orleans


Lazy Lester and Kenny Neal

Day 27 – May 4th.

Today I am getting interviewed at the apartment for a documentary about New Orleans music/Jazz Fest. It will be centered around Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint’s son (Reginald) and Robin Barnes and ask the question about the changing music scene in New Orleans. The Director/Producer is Albert Molten Jnr. I was introduced to Albert at the FQF and for some reason, he thought that I could give an outsider view as to how people on the other side of the world perceive New Orleans and its music. Exciting for me to be involved in a small way. The interview is booked for 3 o’clock which means that I will miss most of day 2 of the festival.

Wendy hitched a ride to the festival with Cheryl and her crew and I did the boring but essential laundry. The weather has become overcast and sticky with rain predicted for Saturday.

I think the interview went o.k. Al posed some tough questions for an hour or so. They may need to add sub-titles when it is aired!

I got an Uber to the festival. It would have been easy to abandon the whole day, but I was determined to see Ruthie Foster close out the day in the Blues Tent. So glad I went as she was fantastic. What a voice.

Pat has been hanging with Wendy and I found them at the end of the day. Cara and Dowie were shell-shocked from yesterday’s bus episode and left early. Wendy has managed to get Aaron Neville to sign a photo as well as Glen David Andrews. She can relax now as ‘mission accomplished’ with all the artist photos that she brought over.

Pat suggested we get a meal at the Red Chinese Bar/Restaurant of St. Claude. We shared the Pork Belly Buns, a Shrimp Fried Rice and a spicy Eggplant dish. On the drive back, we passed a venue that must be hosting some sort of girly show. I spotted a very long-legged young stunning girl in bunny ears and a G-string. Now the meal we just had was tasty and filling but suddenly, I fancied some rabbit.

We were back at the apartment early. A couple of guys out front looking at our boxing kangaroo flag. One guy asked in a distinctive U.K. accent if this apartment was an Australian Community House. I told him it was the Australian New Orleans Consulate. He said he was married to an Aussie from Tassie.

New Orleans

Day 25 – May 3rd.

Going to be hot again for the start of week two of Jazz Fest. Four days of great music and memories coming up. We got an Uber to the Festival. The bus service (or lack of) has got the better of us.

Tried something different food wise today. Shrimp Yakisoba, Japanese in origin with a New Orleans twist. I am going to research the recipe for back home. Then over to WWOZ for fresh fruit and an iced brew. We finally caught up Jewels (Jewels Blues Explosion and Pearl Janis Joplin show) and Bill who are both in the Melbourne music scene and are a good friend of Elly Mantzaris. We talked for a good half hour about music. Jewels has a lot of music/production friends here in New Orleans.

At 1:30 we headed to the Blues Tent for Toronzo Cannon. I have a couple of his C. D’s and am looking forward to seeing him play live. Cara and Dowie have gone off to do their own music exploring. To my disappointment, it was revealed that Toronzo’s flight was cancelled due to severe weather. He will not be playing. A late replacement is New Orleans Mem Shannon and the Membership. Mem is a mighty fine replacement. Seen him a few times and he put on a great show. Bernie was very impressed.

We headed over to the Fais Do Do to catch up with Stew and Carol. I am feeling really tired today and it is good to find a bit of shade. The Zydeco band the Revellers are playing up a storm. Got me an Indian Taco from the United Houma Nation food stall.

My must-see band today is the Old Crow Medicine Show on the Gentilly Stage. I am prepared to take a hit with the blazing sun to see this fantastic band. They did not disappoint. Sensational. Loved every minute of the show.

I then wanted to wait at the same stage for the Lyle Lovett Big Band. The crowd was getting a little annoyed as for some reason his big band came on stage at 5:35 (start time) but Lyle did not come on until 20 minutes later. Once they finally started it was good. Spoke to a few of the Aussie group who were not that impressed, but I have always loved the big band sound.

Went over and caught the last few songs of the Blind Boys of Alabama. Al came out with tears in his eyes!

The bus trip home was a debacle. No bus for about half an hour so you can imagine how many people were lined up. When the bus did come it was followed immediately by another two. We finally got on board for the snail-paced drive down Esplanade. Today being Thursday was not an overly bust day Jazz Fest wise. Not sure how the RTA will cope Saturday and Sunday.

We got off at Rampart and got an Uber over to the Artisan Bar on Saint Claude. Finally got to meet up with Big Dave (the owner). He was happy to see us which was nice. I went for the Crawfish Alfredo. Now you would think I would have had enough Crawfish yesterday? No there is never enough Crawfish. Must remember to take a handful of gout tablets when I get back to the apartment.

New Orleans


Willy Tech Boys 

Day 24 – May 2nd.

Cara and Dowie got an Uber over to us around 11:30. Both hungry. We headed to Envies’ where I had a bowl of cheesy grits and sausage gravy. Sort of like porridge on steroids,

We took Dowie for a walk along the river and then called into Café Du Monde for beignets.

Today is the third day of the Central City BBQ Crawfish Festival. We have tickets and got there for the opening at 3 o’clock. Everyone that enters the festival gets an over 21 wristband. I came to the festival last year. The outdoor area has had a lot of work done with more decking, seating and umbrellas. The WOW crew arrived shortly after and so did more and more Aussies. In the end, there was about fifteen of us in own shaded enclave. The music today is the Honey Island Swamp Band and Tab Benoit. Crawfish was on the menu for those enough willing to have a crack. If you did not fancy these extra spicy morsels there were all sorts of BBQ to pick from. I finished up eating two serves or Crawfish over the day. Each serve comes with a big piece of corn and a potato all cooked together with the crawfish and hot spices. It is a very messy eating experience but worth the perseverance.

Wendy has been wanting to get one of her Tab Benoit photos signed which she finally managed to do.

We all had a great time. Music, beer, food and good weather. What else is there to make a perfect day?

New Orleans

Day 23 – May 1st

We are all meeting at Dooky Chase (est. 1941) in the Treme for lunch. Take the time to read about this legendary restaurant where Presidents, celebrities and locals dine as one. This down-home restaurant always rates in the top ten for its Fried Chicken.

The girls and I will walk (under my recommendation and guidance) to Dooky’s as I convinced them it was only a fifteen-minute walk. Oops, that should have been fifteen minutes times two. We got there around 12:15 but was told the first sitting was full and that there would be an hour wait for the next sitting. That’s fine as the food is worth waiting for. In any case, the other WOW crew have not yet arrived. Bernie and Trish arrived as we were sitting in the bar having an icy cold Dixie Beer in a long glass. Al arrived about 10 minutes later looking hot and sweaty from his long walk. He said that an old hooker tried to pick him up on the way. She must have been desperate. We shared another beer and got called into the dining room just after 1. The menu is buffet style. Twenty bucks for a veggie soup, salad and as much red beans and rice, mustard greens, veal grillades, hot sausage, baked macaroni and of course fried chicken as you can eat and followed by a dessert of peach cobbler. I think everyone was impressed with their food.

Cara’s boyfriend (Dowie)is not far out of landing at Louis Armstrong Airport. They have booked an Air ‘n’ B in the Bywater. I just want to check out the location as it is close to the 7th Ward. It looks like an area that is on the up. People are friendly, but I told Cara that I would prefer them not to walk around after dark.

I received a very sad email from a long-term WOW member and good friend that his beautiful wife Jill had passed overnight. Jill had been battling cancer in such a brave and non-complaining manner. Her immune system had been weakened by Chemo and she succumbed quickly to pneumonia. I know that our committee and all our dear members and friends pass on their sincere condolences to Geoff and his family. We may not be able to attend the funeral being on the other side of the world but our thoughts will be there.

Cara messaged us from their apartment to say Dowie has arrived, safe but tired as could be expected.

The WOW boys have decided to meet up at Café Negril at 9 for John Lisi and Delta Funk. We got there in time to watch the last hour of the Four Sidemen of the Apocalypse. You may recall that I have seen the band before and it struck me as how much the sax player and singer (Uncle Bernie) reminded me of Jimi Hocking in looks and his on stage zany banter. I did not mention my observation to anyone else, but Al leaned over and said the same thing. Of course, the band is encouraging people to throw a dollar in the tip bucket. Funny times, as when a dollar was put in the bucket the giver got his/her own fanfare with the promise that the next tipper would get the same fanfare in a different key. The crowd join in on the fun and we went through all twelve keys.

John Lisi came on just after 10. This time he had a different drummer and a crazy guy playing harp and singing going by the name of Moondog. Moondog had various chemical enhancements in his harp case and got crazier as the night went on. John plays to the crowd that is in attendance and at the start of one song I said to Fras that it sounded like a Black Sabbath song. It was (War Pigs) and what a version it turned out to be. Wicked sax and harp playing and some amazing guitar shredding.

A large group of girls came in looking to party. Turns out that one of the girls (Molly) was celebrating her 21st. The legal drinking age here in Louisiana. Well, the band got hold of that fact and burst into a Beatles, New Orleans style ‘You Say It’s Your Birthday’. John and the band worked really hard to keep the music rocking and to ensure that the party girls stayed put and drinking.

The bous insisted on walking me back to my apartment. Maybe under Wendy’s instructions as I do tend to goy walkabout when out on my own. Once we got back it was decided we needed another beer before they called an Uber to go Uptown. Cheryl and Peter were out on the stoop having a red wine. I finished up getting to bed after 2.

New Orleans

Day 22 – April 30th


William and I salute the raising of the flag

No breakfast today, up late after three days of music and heat.

We headed down to Café Maspero on Decatur for lunch at 12:30. I ordered up a serve of Cajun White Beans and Southern Fried Fish. Very tasty. The weather is also fine again.

I then spent most of the day trying to catch up on my blog posts. Glad I write things down as I would have no hope of remembering what we did one day ago yet along three.

At 5 o’clock William and Mickey waited on the stoop for a guy to come and put up a flag. We have given William a Boxing Kangaroo flag that Bernie had brought over. William was taking down the Costa Rican flag to put ours up. I said to William laughingly that the flag may attract undesirables!

At 5:30 we headed to Frenchman and the Louisiana Music Factory for a live in-house performance with Johnny Sansone and his band. Johnny was able to play the whole of his new release ‘Homeland’. Fantastic sound and the new album is a must-have.We got a WOW and Johnny photo out front of the shop when he had finished.

We then headed down to the Spotted Cat for a few beers and to listen in to the Jazz Band.

We tried to get a table for eight at the Praline Connection for some down-home soul-food. The front of house staff was unfriendly and in no way helpful.

No matter. We moved on to BB King’s Club and after a few attempts by Alan to rearrange the furniture we settled in for a not too bad meal.

I had to take the crew down to Bourbon to have at least one beer at the famous Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop. On the way over I did my best impersonation of a Ghost Tour leader by giving the crew the history of the old Ursuline Convent and the LaLaurie Mansion. Sadly, I was not tipped for my efforts. Stingy Aussie tourist their all the same.

We had a bit of a walk further down Bourbon Street so the crew could get an idea of the nighttime debauchery. It is a Monday night and there are a few around but nothing like the weekends.

The crew headed back to our apartment with the plan of calling an Uber. Al decided to get a six-pack and a bottle of red from the Quarter Master. Ian, Al and I sat out on the stoop with a drink. I told the guys that all sorts of people will stop and talk to us. The first well-dressed guy asked us if we had any weed for sale. Must be my long hair. Then a young rough sleeper from Seattle wanted directions to Bourbon St. We told him he was already on it and pointed him down to the bars. Next, a group of young males came walking by. One of them spotted the kangaroo flag and wanted to know if ‘us bastards’ were from Australia. He was from Echuca and seemed delighted to see our flag. Took us a while to get rid of him. I told William early that this might happen.

The crew got an Uber around 11:45.


New Orleans



John Mayall – Blues Tent

Day 21 – April 29th

No cloud cover today and it will be a little hotter than the first two days of the festival. I am anticipating that the crowd will be bigger today as Jimmy Buffet’s Parrot Heads will be swarming.

We waited for the bus at our usual spot but ‘no appearance your worship’. Brian Wise, his son (Rob) and his partner are waiting with us. We decided to get an Uber instead.

Today’s late breakfast is Crawfish Monica. I headed to the Gentilly Stage for a band called ‘Imagination Movers’, I soon worked out that they were a kids-band. Much better than the Wiggles.

Went and purchased ‘The Last Bandoleros’ extended CD and then we went for some fresh fruit at WWOZ. The girls headed to the Blues Tent and I decided to sit in the outdoor Grandstand seats for a rest and do some people watching. I saw Bernie and called him over and we talked music for half an hour.

We got to the Blues Tent in time for Kenny Neal and his extended family band members. In fact, an old lady sitting next to me proudly told that she was Kenny’s Aunt. Kenny also had a few legendary guest performers. He called up the 94-year-old Henry Grey to sit in on the piano. Henry was the piano player for Howlin’ Wolf band for many years. He was great, and his smile told everyone how much he still loves to perform. Next guest was the much younger (84) Lazy Lester who was a major Excello recording artist. Lazy Lester had a major hit with the classic ‘Sugar Coated Love’, which is still played and recorded by today’s Blues artists. It was just so good to watch both these legends on stage

Sitting next to me is a lady who started gesturing to me in sign language. I soon figured that she was French and could not speak English. She got the message across that she would like me to type into her phone the name of the old piano player (Henry Gray) and the harmonica player (Lazy Lester). Music the international language!

I wandered over to Gentilly to catch Jon Batiste and the Dap Kings. Jon was one of the guests at the Fats Domino tribute. He impressed me then and I wanted to see him with a band. Pretty sure that the Dap-Kings are the band that backed the sadly deceased Sharon Jones. Jon is a younger guy who can play the piano exquisitely and also sing like a bird. Amazing performance. I learned that he is the band leader for the ‘Tonight Show’. The Batiste family have a long music legacy in Louisiana.

Went over to have a look at Doug Kershaw and friends. Sat down with a beer and a packet of Glazed Pecans. Doug also is in the legend category. He has a young band of excellent musicians who warmed up the crowd with two swamp classics. Doug bounded on stage and launched into the classic ‘Diggy Liggy Lo’. I might be wrong, but Doug seemed a little the worst for wear. I hung in for about 5 songs. I was talking to Johnny Sansone and said that I thought Doug had been a little out of it. Johnny said, ‘Hell no, I saw him in the 70’s and he was just the same’!

My must go to gig for the day was David Byrne on the Gentilly Stage. From the first song to the last I was enthralled. The highlight of the Festival so far from me. Man, what a show.

Here is the review from the Times-Picayune –

Ask anyone: Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne’s show on the first Sunday (April 29) of Jazz Fest was a trip.

Byrne became the focus of popular attention in the early 1980s besides Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Sting and a few other artists/musicians who blended unemotional personas with poetic lyrics to help wrestle the world out of the clutches of disco.

Byrne could seem utterly cool or, like his contemporary Elvis Costello, a nerd who somehow accidentally stumbled into rock stardom. People who listened to Byrne dabbled in sushi, drank Stolichnaya with cranberry juice and loved the movie “Dune.” Lots of them went to art school.

Older versions of those same people were thrilled Sunday when Byrne appeared onstage, took a seat at a small table and began calmly pointing out the regions of the human brain on a pink plastic facsimile as he sang a song titled, “Here.” He was, as always, a weird, hip, cunning version of Mr Rogers.

Byrne fans were also thrilled when he was joined by 10 musicians, who were rigged with portable instruments and wireless mics, so they could travel freely and join him in stiff, robotic choreography.

Naturally, everyone in the ensemble wore identical pale grey suits (imagine something in the austerity continuum between Pierre Cardin and Devo). All wore pale brown shoes, except for Byrne, who was inexplicably barefoot. (He should be careful appearing without shoes and socks. When Paul McCartney did that, a generation of Beatle freaks thought he’d mysteriously died).

Byrne calculatedly added a few compelling new compositions and collaborations to his setlist amidst the crowd-pleasing Talking Heads tunes his fans pined to hear, such as “Slippery People,” “This Must Be the Place” (my personal fave, not that you asked) and “Burning Down the House.” All songs were executed with surgical precision, crystalline clarity and controlled verve (we’re talking about David Byrne after all).

He closed the show politically with a rendition of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” which included the recital of the names of victims of police violence.

Considering the snappy new songs, the radical free-range band, Byrne’s obvious fitness and the overt activism at the end, the show didn’t have the nostalgic feel of some of the Jazz Fest headline acts this year, despite the fact that Byrne is a silver-haired 65-year-old.

The WOW crew met at the Blues Tent to plan for that night. We decided to have a couple of beers near the Festival site to allow the crowd to thin out. We were sitting on the footpath out front of a restaurant having a cold one. Suddenly, we heard (sirens blaring) then saw two motor bike cops escorting a black limousine. Hanging out the window giving a royal queen salute to the cheering crowd was Jimmy Buffet.

New Orleans

Day 20 – April 28th


Blues Tent

It is going to be warmer today than yesterday. The temperature (around 29C) is bearable as there is no humidity which is always the draining factor for me.

As soon as we got inside the Festival I got me a Crawfish and Sausage Po-Boy. That will keep me going for a while. Next to the WWOZ hospitality tent for fresh fruit and an iced coffee. We caught up with the WOW crew also enjoying some fruit. Went and said hello to Jeff and he gave me a Bobby Rush t-shirt.

We all then went to the Blues tent for Eddie Cotton. WOW. Eddie was tremendous, he sure knows how to put on a show and engage the audience.

Next, we went over to the Acura Stage for a Fats Domino tribute. Fats passed in October 2017 and was, of course, a New Orleanian all throughout his life.  He was a major influence on so many rock stars that followed him. His back catalogue of music is extensive and unique. We had to sit in the bleachers way up back as the grassed area is packed. The sound is still good back here and there are large screens scattered around the site. The band on stage consists of many originals from Fat’s Big Band. The first guest singer was Deacon John followed by singer/pianist Davell Crawford. Then came Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary and Bonnie Rait, Jon Batiste and lastly Lil’ Fats Jackson. Each guest sang a couple of songs and every song chosen was a hit. The crowd danced and sang, and it was a fitting way to respect the music legacy of Fats Domino. As an aside, I should mention that Dr John is not on the bill at Jazz Fest. He has not played live since before Christmas. His health is not good, and I have been told by a local that Dr John has said himself that he is in a transition period which is very sad. We stuck in for the full hour plus of the tribute even though the heat was sapping out in the open. It was worth it.

Next back under the Grandstand for a breather. We have an Artist Pass from Jeff. He said to come back to the Green Room (which is the Jockey’s Room as after all this is a Race Track). I got to meet Stanton More and Joe Krown two of New Orleans finest musicians.

We must go back out into the sun again to see John Sansone on the Gentilly Stage with the Voices of the Wetlands. It is totally surreal to see him up there and to think it was only a few short months ago that he played at WOW. Here he is in a band of New Orleans Super Stars in front of thousands. It is a strange world. We had a quick word to Johnny after the set and he told that he will be at the Bombay Club in the Quarter around 8:30 playing in a trio.

Cara and Wendy have gone off to see Rod Stewart at the Acura Stage. No way am I going to see Rod who I think has morphed into Barry Manilow. I loved him when he was with the Faces

I went to the smaller Fais Do Do Stage to see The Last Bandolero’s. They were the band that backed Sting yesterday. All young guys from San Antonio. Another great find for me loved them. So enthusiastic and playing Texas alt Country Rock with harmonies that to me sounded like the Beatles. I must buy a C.D. Also hope they are playing somewhere in San Antonio when we get there early next month.

I saw a guy wearing a Southern Cross t-shirt and he was an Aussie from the Sunshine Coast and he stopped for a chat.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson are closing out the Blues Stage and I waited over there to meet up with the girls. Glad I got to hear a few of the Thunderbirds classics. I have seen them a few times before. This festival I have vowed to myself to try and see as many different bands as I can.

I have been vindicated, the girls said that Rod Stewart was crap.

I don’t normally go out on a Jazz Fest night, just too damn tired. But the Bombay Club is only a short walk from our apartment. We found the club without any worries. It is upmarket with a more dressed up type of clientele. We found a spot at the bar and settled in for the show. Most of the crowd were there for the famous cocktails offered by the Bombay Club. That is until a steady stream of Aussies started to arrive, all to listen to Johnny. In the end, there must have been a dozen of us enjoying the show. We got talking to Wes who was in for a Medical Convention. He is a Neuro Surgeon, real nice man, he shouted us a few drinks. He sure liked his red wine. The Aussies are up dancing and Johnny seemed to like our presence as we were there for him. Finished up to be a great day/night of music.

Check out the décor of the Bombay Club and its history