Day Five

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. Dave Barry

I am getting frustrated with all things technological. I can’t get photos off my phone. The WI-Fi is so slow that getting the blog uploaded is taking for ever and my Uber app does not work.

There was a knock at my door mid-morning. I neighbor who I have not met called in to see who was flying the Australia Flag. Turns out she is an ex-pat Aussie who is living a few doors down. She must have been here a considerable time as I did not pick her accent. She introduced me to some other neighbors and has invited me over to her drinking den, the Golden Lantern, which I am sure is a Gay Bar. I asked her where she was originally from? Footscray! Do you believe it. What a small world. When I told her I lived in Spotswood she told me that she has a sister living in Spotswood, off the Avenue!

William came out and we sat on the stoop chatting. As I had not yet eaten I asked William if he wanted to join me for lunch. He suggested we go down to his local bar MRB – Mississippi River Bar on St Philips (the right Saint this time)). William insisted on buying me lunch (Beef Quesadilla) washed down with a coldie. As we walked the streets back home he introduced to some passing people that he knew.

This afternoon, I am off the Tipitinas, one of the best music venues in New Orleans. Every Sunday from 5:30 there is a Fais Do Do featuring the legendary Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band. As is my won’t I got to the venue at 4:30 only to find out that the doors open at 5 (sound familiar Mr. Smith?) I was quickly informed that there was a drinking hole called Bar 45 exactly ‘290 steps’ from Tipitinas. Off I went for an Abita.

I was back at the venue just after 5 and got me a seat that was close to the bar. Seats were available around the sides walls and down back. Tonight is all about dancing. It is an old crowd and many people seemed to know each other. A guy sat next to me (Bill) he is from Minnesota, and it is his first time in NOLA. Very interesting dude, 54 years of age and retired. He was a programmer with IBM and spent 3 months in war-torn Afghanistan. As he said ‘ I got enough money to travel and do what I want, if I get short of cash I can always go back to programming’. Not sure how, but the conversation got around to Trump. Bill despises him and felt embarrassed that his current President is the laughing stock of the world, a liar, a bigamist, a racist and a narcissist. I couldn’t agree more but then again we have a couple of shit-heads representing Australia on the world stage as well.

A soon as the music started the dance floor was jumping. The dancers never let up. By the way, the first set went for 90 minutes. There was then a short break to allow the dancers to buy some BBQ which was being cooked out on the street. Bill and I spoke for a long-time. He sure has lived an exciting life.

I spotted a guy wearing a red bandanna and he seemed to be showing some of the younger punters how to dance Cajun style. He sort of looked familiar. Then I remembered a few years back when Wendy and I were at the Cajun/Zydeco stage at the French Quarter Fest. I guy with a red bandanna insisted that Wendy get up to dance. When she said, ‘I don’t know who to dance like a Cajun,’ He said, ‘I will teach you.’ Anyway curiosity got the better of me and I spoke to him to see if they could be one in the same? Yep, it was the same dude.

Time to leave, guess what it is pissing down again. The Uber app is still not connecting. Being the forward planner that I am I have saved the number for United Cabs. The cab only took 5 minutes to reach me and I was on my way home after another music night in the Crescent City.

Freret Street Festival

Day Four

There is nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation. John Ciardi

Valerie Sassyfrass (Mandolin)

First off, two apologies for mistakes in yesterday’s blog. I was lying awake and had this flash of ‘how stupid am I?’ It should of course be Meerkats sticking their heads up not Marmosets. What would David Attenborough think of me for such a dumb analogy?

Also I got my Saints mixed up when talking about Johnny Whites’ location. The bar is on St. Peter’s not St. Philips. I will go to St Charles Cathedral to confess my sins. So many good damn Saints in this city.

Sure did wake up a little foggy headed after last night’s fun and games at Johnny Whites. Evil Bob is aptly named.

The Freret St neighborhood festival kicks off at noon. I can’t get my Uber app to work so I am out in the Quarter looking to pick up a cab. It didn’t take long as a cab pulled over for me. The cab driver wound down the window, he looked like he was from a 70’s rock band. ‘Where ya going man?’ ‘Freret St,’ ‘Well then hop in as ya ain’t gunna get there standing on the sidewalk.’

Overcast and humid, as I got dropped off at Napoleon and Freret. The festival runs down 7 blocks of the main street and each side of the road is lined with arts/craft stalls, food and of course booze vendors. My craft beer loving Nazis back home would be happy as I counted off four specialist brewing houses.

Got to satisfy the hunger pangs so I got a feed of pulled pork and cheesy mac. I wandered around for a while. By the look of it I am one of very few tourists. This is a true neighbor festival which is largely patronized by the locals. Freret St took a mighty hit during Hurricane Katrina and it is a true testament to the locals who banded together to breath new life into a troubled neighborhood.

I found myself a spot to sit at the Alder House Stage and settled in for the performance of Valerie Sassyfrass. The main lady is like nothing I have every seen. I must admit though that her two dancing ladies were very easy on the eye. The photo above really does paint a picture of a thousand words. I can’t even begin to describe what genre of music they were playing. She couldn’t sing or play her mandolin or squeeze box. They were so bad that they were good. So entertaining and the smiles on everyones face as they joined in with the choruses and followed the crazy dance moves were enough for me to hang in for the whole set.

Had my first Abita 2:20. Next up on stage were J & The Causeways. Enjoyable set of funky R ‘n’ B. I also caught a little of Where Y’acht!, who were channeling some great Doobie Brothers vibes.

I left around 5ish to walk the 8 blocks down Napoleon to St Charles for the Street Car back to the Quarter. All in all another good day.

Check out more photos from the festival :

FRERET: William Freret was a native New Orleanian who owned a two-block cotton press in the American Sector with his brother James.

He served as mayor of the city from 1840 to 1842 and again from 1843 to 1844. Freret was considered a very “hands-on” mayor and made surprise visits to public institutions for inspections.272 Freret is best known for 1841’s Ordinance No. 159, establishing and organizing public schools, considered the birth certificate for public education in the city.

Despite Freret’s general benevolence, he was met with scorn after supposedly attempting to thwart charivari in June 1843. Charivari, common during this time, was a cacophonous “serenade” (often with pots, pans and cowbells) directed at individuals or couples disapproved of by the community: a widow remarrying too quickly, a couple with a vast age (or class) difference, an unwed couple and so on. Allegedly, Freret interfered and “spoiled the sport,” and months later, the Times-Picayune ran reports on the “death blows” to charivari, claiming that it was a cherished custom and that if they were not careful, the next thing they knew, philanthropists would add orangutans to Parliament or, worse, teach women to be blacksmiths.

Freret died in 1864, and the city soon honored him with a street. Today, it is home to Freret Market, a food, art and flea market occurring on the first Saturday of every month (except July and August) and featuring musical acts of all sorts. Even those resembling charivari are welcome. – Sally Asher – Hope And New Orleans.