French Quarter Fest – Day Four

Day Twelve

Never lend books; no one ever returns them. The only books I have in my library are books other people have lent me. Anatole France. (not to mention C. D’s!!)

Jeff, Rick & LJ – Day Four FQF

There was a brief overnight thunderstorm, a bit of heavy rain for 10 minutes or so.

Reports back from The Way Out West gig are saying that the Lachy Doley Band put on a great show. Also that there were a couple of special punters in the house, including the legendary Mr Ross ‘the Boss.’ Wilson.

You may recall from previous blogs, that this time last year, I was interviewed by the Producer/Writer (Al Molten) of an upcoming Allen Toussaint documentary. I had been wondering if I had got left on the cutting room floor. After all what would an Aussie be able to add to a story about one of the greatest writers/producers this city has ever known. Turns out that Al thought the interview was OK, and to have a person from the other-side of the world speak about why New Orleans music is important worked well. Al said in his phone call that production is all but finished with an August screening in the pipe-line. I may get to see the finished work before I go. If I get my hands on a copy then y’all can expect an invitation to the Australian screening at our place. I may even get a Red Carpet to walk!

Today, (Sunday) is the last day of the FQF. I leave around 11 to head down for some more New Orleans music. That’s what makes this festival special, nearly all the musicians performing are from the great state of Louisiana and more particularly, New Orleans. It is cold out today. Cold, for New Orleans weather that is. People have on sweaters and hoodies!

Breakfast this morning is Crawfish Pasta and Fried Fish.

I headed straight to the Abita Stage to catch the last fifteen minutes of the Irene Sage Band and then hung around for the Bucktown Allstars. I caught up with Jeff and LJ and then headed to the GE Stage for a young band, Mainline. They were very good. If you can get out of the strong breeze then there is some warmth in the sun. Not a lot mind you. I have for the first time seen folks walking around with goosebumps, that is unheard for New Orleans approaching mid-April. A local told me that a Northern weather front has come in.

Not sure why, but I got me some more food. Now this is something that needs to be done in Melbourne. Garlic Parmesan Fries. Oh my, how good are they.

Got myself the first beer I have had for four days. I tasted an Amber, the Boot and a Hop-On. I worked out that the Hop-On is the best value at 6%.

I headed back to the Abita Stage. Rickey Gros is one of the Stage Production crew who I have met on previous trips. Real nice guy, but always busy, and it is hard to have a long conversation. Well today I hit pay-dirt. I said to Rick that he must have seen some amazing band over the years. He then proceeded to tell me a little of his music work history. Rick is the same age as me (64) and we are only a month apart in birth months but centuries apart in music experiences. Rick did his first (unpaid) gig when he was seventeen. How is this for your debut back-stage experience. Sha Na Na, Foghat and the Allman Brothers! He had a break from the industry when he joined the Marines. After discharge he joined the Bernard Production company and has been with them for some thirty-one years. He also told me of a piano performance he worked on. Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. Jerry Lee got up to his old tricks and busted the piano seat just before Ray Charles was due on stage. Rick had to gaffer tape the seat back together. I could have listened to his stories all day. Music history, right there.

Jeff also has so many great music stories to tell, Jeff worked on the floating venue, the steamship, River President. He recalled one gig with George Clinton where he thought the steamship was in danger of sinking due to the power of the music. Jeff also worked with Stevie Ray Vaughan and a very young Robert Cray. That steamship was then turned into a floating casino.

Wendy brought me a cool seat to take with me. In fact it was stored at Pat’s home for my return. Numerous people have asked where I got the seat from as they want to purchase one.

The only bonus that can be had from having to go to one of the Porta-Loos (they can be a little gross) at the festival is to follow someone that has just smoked some weed. Go in for a piss and come out buzzing.

It was time to leave the festival. I said my goodbyes to Jeff and LJ. They have both made me feel so wlecome as has Stew and carol around on the Jack Daniels stage. Great friends indeed.

So another FQF is done and dusted. To top off the day I had a feed of a dozen Char Broiled Oysters, or as we say in New Orleans, ersters.

French Quarter Fest – Day Three

Day Eleven

If I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back as a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything. William Faulkner

Although Faulkner is identified with Mississippi, he was residing in, New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers’ Payland, After being directly influenced by Sherwood Anderson he made his first attempt at fiction writing. Anderson assisted in the publication of Soldiers’ Payland and Mosquitoes Faulkner’s second novel, set in New Orleans, by recommending them to his publisher.

The miniature house at 624 Pirate’s Alley, just around the corner from St Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, is now the site of Faulkner House Books, where it also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.

David Jefferson (Jeff) & Lara Jean (LJ)

Surprise y’all, I an up early, that is 9 am. The blog is up to date(for now).

I am out the door at 10:30. There are more people about the streets than yesterday. The normal weekend tourists plus the FQF crowd heading off to their preferred music stage. The cafes/restaurants are doing a roaring trade, lines of people at the more popular eating houses. The line for Cafe Du Monde must be 100 feet long. That’s a long wait for what is essentially deep fried dough with a decadent amount of icing sugar on top.

I managed to get a seat at Cafe Maspero on Decatur and ordered the Banana Fosters Buttermilk Pancake Stack. I can hear the music starting up over on the Jack Daniels Stage which is adjacent to the old Jazz Brewery.

I might stay at the Abita Stage today as the crowds will be tough going. I don’t want to be dodging people all day. It is overcast and windy (very windy) with the possibility of some thunder storm action later in the evening.

As I left Cafe Maspero, the music coming from the Jack Daniels Stage took my fancy so I headed there, instead of straight to the Abita. It was a good chance anyway to say hello to Stew and Carol. Andrew Duhon is performing in a trio. I would describe him as a singer/songwriter, real nice voice and a great guitar player. I remained for the rest of his set and was so impressed with his performance that I purchased my first CD of this trip. ‘False River’ was released in 2018. Can’t wait to have a listen.

While I waiting in line to buy the album a young Police Officer was standing behind me. He introduced himself as Rico. He was also impressed by Andrew’s set and was going to buy an album as well. A random guy came over to us, as we were awaiting for Andrew to come off-stage to sign our purchases. He repaid Rico the cost of his CD, saying ‘thank you for your service to the City of New Orleans!’

I got to the Abita Stage around 12:30. The band Louisiana’s Le Roux were playing some good ‘ol Country Rock, and playing it very well. Cyril Neville’s Swamp Funk are due up next and I told Jeff that, if allowed, I would go sit up on stage for the Swamp Funk’s set. He suggested I go up on stage now as it may be hard to grab a spot when Cyril’s family and friends get up there. Sure was good advice.

I have taken out the big camera today and think I have taken a few decent photos. They will not be as good as Wendy’s, of that I can be sure.

The Swamp Funk started a little late, understandable as it was a large band to set-up. Drums, trumpet, sax, two guitars and unbelievably two bass players. Man, there sure was some bottom to the music. A fantastic set of high-energy funkadelic magic. The trumpet guy did the best dance steps I have seen in a long while.

It sure is now blowing a gale.

I decided to head off to get something to eat. I wandered down Exchange Place (Alley) to a little Vietnamese restaurant that I know from previous trips. Although the service is not the friendliest, the food is good. Two Egg Rolls and a (delicious) Beef Pho and I am feeling full.,

Walking down Royal Street is not as easy as yesterday. There are now three music stages set up along the Street. Today, being Saturday, is traditionally the busiest for the FQF. I was lucky enough to catch the end of Tom McDermott and His Jazz Hellions featuring Detroit Brooks on guitar. Just to give you an idea of how good (and it is free) the FQF is, there are some 23 stages scattered throughout the Quarter. Something for every music taste to enjoy.

EXCHANGE PLACE: Although its official name is Exchange Place, most New Orleanians call this small (three-block) street in the upper French Quarter Exchange Alley. In 1831, a group of businessmen wanted an alley cutting from Canal to Conti that was free from horses or carriages and was allocated for commerce and pedestrian traffic. The city council approved its plan, and J.N.B. Depouilly was commissioned to design a cast-iron rail for each end of the alley to guarantee that it would remain exclusively pedestrian. Its biggest early business, though, was not trade or finance but fencing. The 300 block of Exchange Place was lined with fencing academies where, as a matter of pride and often necessity, young Creole men flocked to become proficient in the art of the sword.

Duels were commonplace at the time, and the newspapers later estimated that from the early 1800s to the 1870s, three to four duels were fought daily. And while many chose the picturesque oaks of Louis Allard’s plantation (modern-day City Park) or the Fortin property (now the Fair Grounds), numerous men learned and executed their skills in Exchange Alley from such masters as Marcel Dauphin (who was eventually killed in a shotgun duel), Pepe Llulla (who was proficient in pistols, swords and knives and owned his own cemetery, which he quickly filled), Gilbert “Titi” Rosiere (a lawyer who realized he could make more money teaching army officers how to fence) and Bastile Croquere (a mulatto gentleman with whom many dared not cross swords—not out of prejudice but out of fear).

Exchange Place was the hub of Creole culture in the nineteenth century, but in the early to mid-twentieth century, it became known as the city’s “Skid Row.” Today, the first block is a back alley given over to vehicles, but the other two blocks are still pedestrian-only and lined with restaurants and shops (but usually no swordplay).

Asher, Sally. Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (Landmarks). The History Press. Kindle Edition.

French Quarter Fest – Day Two

Day Ten

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’ Charles M. Schultz

Little Freddie and Stalker

I had another sleep in and got out for the second day of FQF around eleven.

I stopped off at the Tropical Isle Stage to listen to ‘The Nation of Gumbollia,’ who are one of the newer Indian Mardi Gras tribes. I was only going to stay for a song or two, however, they were so good that I stayed for the whole set. I even contemplated buying a CD (first for this trip), until the singer mentioned that it was their first live performance and they had not recorded yet.

Weather wise, it is perfect for me, overcast with a cooling breeze. There is a lot of traffic on the Mississippi today. Cargo ship after Oil tanker and the usual long barges being pushed by tugs.

Over to the Jack Daniels’ stage to see Stew and Carol and watch the Lena Prima band. Lena is the daughter of the legendary New Orleanian, Louis Prima. Fantastic swinging jazz with a hot band backing her up. She sang hit after hit of her famous father’s recorded legacy as well as some of her own

recordings. What an enjoyable show it was. I have a large collection of Louis Prima’s recorded output and I will have to revisit it again when I get back home. Louis’ was held in such high esteem in New Orleans that after Hurricane Katrina, the first song that radio WWOZ played was Louis’

I walked down to the Abita stage to wait for Little Freddie King to grace the stage. On the way I had a feed of Fried Chicken Strips, Potato Salad and Iced Coffee. Jeff gave me my artist’s pass and I went up

On the stage to watch the performance. I just love listening to Freddie’s unique take of the blues. Age is not slowing this immaculate trouper down one bit.

I got to say hello to Freddie after his set and have a phone photo taken. He and his Manager (also his drummer), ‘Wacko’ Wade are keen to get to Australia. ‘Wacko’ told me that he has applied to our Byron Bay Blues Festival a number of times with no success. He does not like Peter Noble (Promoter) at all. I told him he is not alone there as many Aussie musicians have told me that he is not a nice guy. I haven’t been to the Byron Fest for a number of years now, and have no intention of ever going again. In my opinion it is a bloated behemoth of a production.

It’s still overcast with a cooling breeze coming off the river, the locals may not be happy about the lack of sun but I sure am. I haven’t been taking out the big camera as it is heavy to carry around all day. Not sure how Wendy manages to do it. I am planning to get out next week and walk around the French Quarter’s residential area and take some snaps of the Easter decorations.

I stayed at the Abita stage for a few songs from Iguana’s set and then left for the GE Stage to hear Tricia Boutté and Nordic Swing. I am pretty proud of myself, I just learned how to insert that little mark above the ‘e’ in Boutté. The Boutté family are music royalty in this town.

I headed off around 5:30 today. I walked back via Royal St to avoid the crowds on Decatur and Bourbon streets. Also proud to report in that it was another alcohol free day.

ROYAL: Of all the streets in the French Quarter, the name of ROYAL STREET is most befitting. The street was originally called Royalle-Bourbon to honor the royal family and dynasty, but Governor Bienville ordered it changed to Rue Royale, which it remains to this day. Although Royal parallels Bourbon, the two streets could not be more different. While Bourbon is known for its bars with three-for-one drink specials, strip clubs and T-shirt shops, Royal is known for its art galleries, posh hotels and antique stores. Rock music, jazz and the sounds of off-key karaoke enthusiasts blare out from clubs on Bourbon, while Royal hosts street musicians such as Dixieland jazz bands, bluegrass pickers or the odd solo songstress armed with a banjo and sleeping hound dog that occasionally adds his baritone backup vocals. A section of Royal closes to vehicular traffic daily from 11:00 am. until late afternoon, transforming it into a pedestrian mall to allow people to leisurely cross the street back and forth to peer in the windows of their favorite stores. Bourbon, meanwhile, takes the opposite approach, closing to cars nightly at 7:00 pm. to allow people to match their gait with Bourbon’s neon pulse. Bourbon and Royal are the quintessential alter egos of New Orleans, prompting Walt Disney to once remark of the two streets, “Where else can you find iniquity and antiquity so close together?”

Asher, Sally. Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (Landmarks) . The History Press. Kindle Edition.

French Quarter Fest (FQF)

Day Nine

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made of artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. Alfred E. Neuman

Bit of a struggle getting out of bed today. I gotta get myself moving as it is the first day of the French Quarter Fest (FQF).

As I walked down to the FQF it is hot, overcast and windy.

First stop is the Tropical Isle Stage, it is good to see that ‘Big’ Al Carson is well again and singing as good as ever. Breakfast this morning is two Crawfish pies. My hands are stuffed with inflammation and I had to ask a random guy to take the top off my Pepsi.

At 12.30, I hit the main stage at FQF, the Abita stage. Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers are doing their stuff. My good friend David Jefferson (Jeff) one of the Stage Managers spotted me and waved me over. He gave me a big hug and let me have an artist’s wrist band for side of stage. Jeff’s, Stage Manager partner Laura Jean (L.J.) also came over to catch up. She told me that she visited Australia nine months ago and fell in love with an Australian (from Melbourne) and they have since been married. He is now living in New Orleans having never been here before. L.J. said that they are planning a visit back to Melbourne around Christmas. We may be able to catch up.

I have been wanting to see a newish band on the New Orleans scene (Cha Wa) for some time now. Cha Wa have just returned from a tour of New Zealand. They sure were worth the wait. Fantastic band. I spoke to one of the band members who told me that they are keen to tour Australia. If that happens, I recommend that you go and see them. Check out some info here:

I guy tapped me on the shoulder, Chris is his name. Said he saw me at the Johnny Sansone gig last night. We worked out that we are neighbours. He lives in the 1200 block of Bourbon, one street over from me.

I stayed for a few songs from the exceptional Galactic. The heat and lack of sleep last night have got the better of me and so I headed back home around five.

Big news for today, it was alcohol free.

Apologies for the lack of photos. I can’t transfer them to my tablet from my phone. I have however finally been able to work out why photos taken on my Canon won’t upload to WordPress. Mr Goggle told me the maximum size allowed. You might see a few more photos going forward.

Lafayette Square & Chickee Wah Wah

Day Eight

Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy. George Carlin

John Fohl and Johnny Sansone at Chickee Wah Wah

My apologies for being a few days late with the blog. One thing I have learned here in New Orleans is that things get done, when they get done. You just can’t hurry.

Before I start on today’s ramblings I need to finish off yesterday’ blog. I forgot to let y’all know what I was eating at 10:30 last night. The Verti Mart, as you know, is a frequented place I go to for food. Last night, instead of getting a main with a couple of sides I went for a sandwich. ‘OK’, I hear you say, what’s so special about a sandwich? You be the judge. I went for ‘Ernie’s Power House’ Grilled Shredded Pork, Grilled Shrimp, Bacon, Provolone Cheese, Pepper Cheese, Grilled Mushrooms, Olive Salad, and original WOW sauce. The guy serving, said ‘going for the big boy sandwich.’ The bread roll was a feed by itself. Suffice to say I only ate half of it, and even that was a struggle.

Reading the Picayune this morning and there is a prediction of Thunder Storms for French Quarter Fest. Nothing new in that news! The Festival will go on rain or shine, unless there is lightning about. I am prepared with my poncho and waterproof-booties.

Marsha Owen sent me a message from Virginia. I meet Martha and her husband Ton and their friend (Stacey)last year at Lafayette Square. We had some good times and have become Facebook friends. Marsha is not coming down this year however Tom and Stacey are on their way and we will meet up tonight for the free music in the park series (every Weds through Spring from 5 pm). Could be another musical night as I am also going to Chickie Wah Wahs’ at 8 pm to see Johnny Sansone and John Fohl perform.

At around eleven I wandered down to the French Market for and Egg Salad sandwich and a Bargs’ Root Beer. It is a beautiful day, little cloud cover and bright blue skies. The temperature is on the rise but thankfully there is not much humidity.

It is always sad to see people doing it tough, rifling through rubbish bins for discarded food. It is a sad state of affairs the world over that a civilized society cannot manage to look after their own.

I have cracked the shits with the Internet access at my crib. I think that even Australia’s pathetic N..B.N would be quicker that what I can get here. A good excuse to go around to Envies (2:30) and avail myself to the super quick and free internet as well as partake in a large Iced Latte.

I lady just came into Envies’ and asked the gut behind the counter, ‘how fresh is your carrot cake,? “not very,’ he replied. So she left! Gotta like his honesty.

I have been sitting out front on the porch chatting to Mickey and watching the passing parade. It has got hot this mid-afternoon.

I left at 4 pm for the trip down to Lafayette Square for the music in the park series. From my crib, it is eleven blocks to Canal St, and then a further four blocks to the park. I have always walked in previous years, but this year I am limping badly, and it is still pretty hot. I walked down to the Dumaine Street Car station. The Street Car runs along the river and then turns left onto Canal.

As I strolled to the park a homeless guy asked, ‘have ya got a light’? ‘Nope, sorry, I don’t smoke’. ‘Well ya should,’ he said, ‘it’s good for ya.’

I got to the Square just before five. Just walking those few blocks is so painful. I go alright for a little while, then get a sharp stabbing pain lowdown in my right calf. Buggered if know what I have done.

I got myself a feed of Jambalaya and an Abita and settled in for the first band of the night, Deltaphonic. They are just OK.

I heard my name being called out and turned around to see Stacey and Tom, the friends from Virginia I told y’all about earlier. Well that was the start of a drinking session. Stacey kept buying beers.

The main act tonight is a favourite of Wendy and mine. Eric Lindell. Great music as always. I convinced Stacey and Tom to come to Chickee Wah Wah’s on Canal St, after Eric had finished his set. We caught an Uber and were there just before show time. I said hello to Johnny and his lovely partner Michelle. They both welcomed me back. Johnny has his band with him, including the very talented John Fohl on guitar. After the second song, Johnny started telling the audience how good a place Australia was although he didn’t have any thing good to say about Vegemite. The barman asked me if I knew Brian Wise of RRR.

The Virginians left around 9:30 pm, a little tired and pissed. To be fair they had been up from 2:30 am yesterday for the trip to New Orleans. I wasn’t about to leave as Johnny and the band were ripping the place up. Another couple made acquaintance and told me they were from Boston. He is Captain Tom Broderick and runs a Charter Boat. Tom said. ‘can I buy you a beer’? You can guess my answer.

I got home late and had trouble sleeping again. The last time I looked at my watch it was 3:30 am. It might be a long day tomorrow.

DUMAINE STREET: Louis-Auguste de Bourbon was the illegitimate son of King Louis XIV and his mistress Madame de Montespan. Born in 1670, he was rumored to be the king’s favorite. Beautiful and precocious, he also had one leg shorter than the other. When he was three years old, the king legitimized him by giving him the title Duc du Maine. When it came time for him to marry, many royal families were appalled at the idea of marrying their daughter to a “crippled bastard.” Du Maine married Louise Benedicte, Mademoiselle de Charolais. Their marriage was unhappy; although intelligent, du Maine was considered a weakling, especially compared with his wife’s domineering ways and expensive tastes. The king tried to intervene but deemed it useless and opted “to keep silent and let him wallow in his blindness and foolishness.”

As the king’s bastard son, du Maine was always on the fringe of respectability and acceptance. Although he was one of the original French Quarter streets, New Orleans “bastardized” him a second time, linking the preposition with the noun, forming Dumaine.

Asher, Sally. Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (Landmarks) . The History Press. Kindle Edition.

Spotted Cat

Day Seven

It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts. Bill Vaughan

Up at 8:15 today, While eating breakfast and reading the Picayune I spotted an interesting article for the inaugural Cannabis Festival (April 20th at Washington Square. Free entry, or $20 for a VIP pass, which allows you to join an express line for booze and you get a show-bag of goodies. Sounds interesting:

Today is my washing day, so down to Suds ‘dem Duds, Diana is still running the business and she welcomed me back to NOLA.

A quick walk down to Decatur to get some essential from CV Pharmacy. I like the idea of calling into a Chemist that has a couple of rows of things such as deodorant, shampoo, pain killers, you know, all the things a chemist sells back home. But being in New Orleans right next to the hair-products is an aisle of vodka, bourbon, liquor etc, you know all the essential alternative health products.

Jackson Square is a hive of activity with workmen putting up the scaffolding for the music stage for the French Quarter Festival (FQF).

DECATUR: Stephen Decatur was a commodore who helped establish the U.S. Navy as a rising global power. Decatur served in the First and Second Barbary Wars in North Africa, the Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812. In 1807, fellow commodore James Barron was acting commander of the frigate USS Chesapeake when it was pursued and captured by the British ship HMS Leopard. Barron surrendered after firing only one shot and was later court-martialed and suspended; he went abroad to enter the merchant service.

Decatur was a former subordinate of Barron’s and one of the judges at the trial. After the War of 1812, Barron sought reinstatement, but Decatur was one of his most outspoken opponents. The two men exchanged a series of letters, with Barron accusing Decatur of insulting him with impunity. Decatur denied making any specific insult but refused to hide his contemptuous feelings toward Barron in his often sarcastic letters. Instead of coming to an understanding, they agreed to a risky duel. The terms of the duel were pistols at eight paces, directed at each other and fired not before the word one and not after the word three.

Typically, duelists’ arms remained cocked or at their sides, but since they were already aimed, some argue that the odds were tilted in Barron’s favor because he was notoriously nearsighted. Both men were shot; Barron was crippled for life, while Decatur died in agony that night. Having survived multiple wars, he perished violently during a time of peace. Newspapers across the country mourned Decatur’s death, noting that he was the one who gave that “additional lustre to the star-spangled banner.” He was buried with the highest military honors. Still, rumors swirled about what had occurred between the two commodores. So, shortly after Decatur’s death, his friends released their correspondence, and the letters were a sensation. Fifty years later, a newspaper stated that Decatur’s death provoked the same outcry and attention as President Lincoln’s assassination.
Asher, Sally. Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (Landmarks) . The History Press. Kindle Edition.

I was back at my crib by noon when there was another knock at the door. Two more Aussies, husband and wife who have just got into town. They both work for Qantas. They are from Sydney and picked my brain for places to visit together with any restaurants that I could recommend. Nice couple. They will be visiting the Mornington Peninsula in a few months and will call in to Way Out West.

I went out around 3:30, realizing that I had not eaten lunch. Just standing on the corner of Decatur Governor Nicholls when a tall white dude gave me a fist pump. I could see that in his clenched hand was a bag of green matter. ‘You need some weed man?’ ‘Nah, I’m OK.’ Not sure if he was an undercover cop or a freelance pharmaceutical vendor. In my old age, answer me this, do I look like an ex-banker or an old stoner?

Against better judgment I called into B.B.King’s for some food. The band is playing a mixture of classic blues numbers, competent without much enthusiasm. I order a meal of BBQ Chicken, Collard Greens and Potato Salad. The chicken was a little tough, the BBQ sauce very tasty.

I then wandered around to Frenchman St (no explanation needed for its naming) to the Spotted Cat. Andy J Frost and band are playing and I settled in with an Abita. Andy is a good story teller, singer and guitarist. He sang a song called ‘Motel New Orleans’, which I will try and find on CD. at the Louisiana Music Factory. I like the sign above the piano (which sits off stage). ‘No Drinks or Drunks on the Pianee’. All in all, an enjoyable set of country style blues.

Andy finished his set just on 6 and another band was up and playing by 6:20. Not sure of the band’s name but as would be expected in New Orleans, they were good. A different style of music from Andy. Various styles of South American jazzy classics. A very small and very old black lady came in, bent over with the aid of a walker. Now, she is a local and she made her way to the bar while telling off a tourist for putting her drink on the aforementioned ‘pianee’. She immediately started talking to a younger white woman at the end of the bar. She then moved off to sit side of stage and began accompanying the band with her tambourine. I heard the lady at the end of the bar order a shot of something, she laughed with the barman and pointed out the old black lady. I heard the barman saying with a big grin,’she ain’t never paid for a drink in here for 40 years!.

I left the club around 7:30 as I have arranged to meet up with William for a free Comedy Night at MRB.

William had not arrived when I got there so I ordered an Abita which at $5 was cheaper that the $6 charge at the Spotted Cat. Some dude at the bar, who I learned later also worked there offered me a sip of a drink he said was awesome. He had the bottle in a brown paper bag and poured me a taste. Said it was his favourite tipple, Tequila, Cucumber, Chili and Lime. Must admit it was very tasty. Sort of hot and cold all at once.

William arrived and the bar-lady, of course, knew him by name. I order another beer and a vodka and lime for William. Because I was now with a local and also treated as a local the cost of the drinks dropped sharply.

The comedy started around 8:25. Five different styles of comedians. Some good, some not so good. We headed home around 10ish. Just a mere ten minute walk from my crib. That’s what staying at the French Quarter is all about. You are always just a few minutes walk from food, drink. entertainment and debauchery

Making Groceries

Day Six

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me. Hunter S. Thompson

Today is a designated rest day. Three days on one day off is the plan going forward.

First thing on the agenda is to make groceries (that’s New Orleans speak for shopping for food) at Matassa’s on Dauphine Street, just a few minutes walk from my crib. I also picked up a take-out lunch, a deviled egg salad.

News came through that Fleetwood Mac, the replacement for the Stones, have now also canceled. Stevie Nicks has the flu, seeing as the gig date is some three weeks away, that is some flu! The festival organizers have been quick in naming a replacement, the Athens, Georgia, jam band, Widespread Panic. Still won’t change me from seeing Mavis Staples in the Blues Tent.

I had a bit of a laugh reading in the Picayune that a Rhino Poacher had been killed by an elephant and then the body was eaten by lions. A win for the good guys I’d say.

I have had a very frustrating computer day yet again. Such a slow Internet service and the damn Uber app is driving me crazy.

Mid afternoon and I finally got to do my favorite thing in New Orleans. That is just sitting out on my porch and watching the passing parade of Bourbon Street tourists together with a cast of eccentric locals. Mickey knows everyone that lives in our block. I told y’all earlier that Pat had given me some welcome back snacks. I can tell you now that Jalapeno Cashew’s are very moorish.

My friend, Tony Wood from Footscray messaged me to say he is now in Memphis. Tony was the man that put together the Gary Vincent tour. WOW punters will remember that Gary played a magnificent show with Fiona Boyes a short while back. For those that do not know, Gary suffered a heart-attack not long after our gig. He is fine now and back home in Clarkesdale, Mississippi. Gary did say that he was glad he had the heart attack while in Australia, He would never have got the medical assistance (stent) so quickly and cheaply if he had suffered the attack in the U.S.A. Poor Tony told me that a couple of days after Gary’s attack, that he himself has ended up in Western General Hospital. He had fallen over and fractured three ribs. When Tony and his lovely partner get to NOLA we will catch up.

DAUPHINE: Louis of France was the eldest son and legitimate heir of King Louis XIV of France and Marie-Thérèse of Spain. While his mother was in labor in 1661, Spanish actors and musicians performed beneath her window, which did not distract from the pain of childbirth, as she yelled out, “I don’t want to give birth. I want to die.”

But the queen and her child survived, and he became the Dauphin, or heir apparent. Although affable and popular, Dauphin was also considered lazy and frequently relied on his father to pay his gambling debts. He married twice, once to his second cousin, who died ten years later, and once to his lover. After his son Louis was born, he became known as Le Grand Dauphin (while young Louis was called Le Petit Dauphin). He died suddenly at the age of fifty from smallpox, predeceasing his father, who lost the only legitimate heir among his six children who lived past childhood. In 1852, New Orleans named a street after him. Many historians argue about how Dauphin became Dauphine, but historian Jas. S. Zacharie argued that since rue is feminine, the name became Dauphine for the sake of euphony. If it were actually the feminine Dauphine after the king’s wife, as some suspect, then it would have been translated to Dauphiness.

Asher, Sally. Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (Landmarks) . The History Press. Kindle Edition.


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.

Johnny Whites – Jepson’s Malwort

Day Three

I am up at 6:30 that is in the AM!

Early morning breakfast at a favourite cafe, Envies on Decatur, fresh fruit, french toast and coffee. There is a light misty rain and a feeling of humidity on the rise. Yesterday’s wild thunderstorms and heavy rain has blown’ over. The newspaper had reports of flash-flooding throughout the area. Not that I would have known.

The first thing for me today is to get a SIM card for my cell. I know a place on Decatur that has ripped me off before but hey we are beats of habit. Just for something different, it is now pissing down again. April showers bugger off.

The young guy (Jay) at the phone shop tried for an hour to get the SIM to work. He finally called the Simple Mobile customer service area and was told that due to the heavy rain their systems has crashed. Jay informed me that the SIM card was set up to go and I should be on the network by mid-afternoon.

Decided to rest up and watch a Baseball game. Got a text message from Jay to say the phone should now be working, and it is. I sent a text message to all my New Orleans buddies to let them know the number. Johnny Sansone sent back a welcome and we will hook up at Chickie Wah Wah’s this Wednesday.

I am due to meet Gentilly Jnr. And Pat at 9 PM at Johnny Whites on St Philip St.

St. Philip was originally called Rue de Clermont (after Robert, Count of Clermont, who was the sixth son of Louis IX and the head of the Bourbon line). By 1750, it was called Rue St. Philippe, after the first name of the Duke of Orleans, who was regent of France when New Orleans was founded and after whom the city is named. Additionally, St. Philippe was a patron saint of the royal House of Orléans, although to be a saint in New Orleans (as well as a street) means to suffer its misspellings and mispronunciations. ST. PHILIP STREET is no exception, and it lost its original spelling over time. Like most streets in the French Quarter, at first it only ran six or seven blocks from the river to the “back of town,” but as the city grew, so did St. Philip. Today, it extends through Tremé and ends at Bayou St. John. PHILIP: St. Philip was originally called Rue de Clermont (after Robert, Count of Clermont, who was the sixth son of Louis IX and the head of the Bourbon line). By 1750, it was called Rue St. Philippe, after the first name of the Duke of Orleans, who was regent of France when New Orleans was founded and after whom the city is named. Additionally, St. Philippe was a patron saint of the royal House of Orléans, although to be a saint in New Orleans (as well as a street) means to suffer its misspellings and mispronunciations. ST. PHILIP STREET is no exception, and it lost its original spelling over time. Like most streets in the French Quarter, at first it only ran six or seven blocks from the river to the “back of town,” but as the city grew, so did St. Philip. Today, it extends through Tremé and ends at Bayou St. John. Asher, Sally. Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (Landmarks) . The History Press. Kindle Edition.

I decided to have an early dinner and went to Evangeline on Decatur. I had read some food reviews. I got in just before the end of happy hour (lucky hey) and got me a three dollar Abita Amber. I ordered a serve of Acadia Crawfish sauteed in garlic over a bowl of creamy grits and accompanied by the Holy Trinity (Bell Pepper, Celery and Onion). The Food Network TV show featured this dish a while back. It was good, real good. Just enough spice to warrant another beer and the grits where very tasty, I will try and cook some grits the same way back home. The last time I cooked grits it was like eating sand.

It is still only 7 PM and I have another two hours to kill. What better way to while away the hours than to sit down on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. The rain has cleared and the atmosphere is heavy. There is a trail of mist hanging over the river and it seems to move in a snake like fashion. One minute obscuring the Algiers ferry and then whiting out the Paddle Steamer, Natchez as it prepares for it’s nightly Jazz Dinner cruise. I can almost imagine Mark Twain strolling through the mist, pen in hand. Oh, what a sight this river must have been 200 yeas or so ago, The bustle on the wharves as dock workers unloaded bales off hundreds of boats tied up to the muddy banks. The noise, the smells, the colour would have been overwhelming. A time-traveller is what I want to be. With the mist hanging low it feels otherworldly. Tourists are easy to pick with their beads and expensive cameras. I have not seen the river put on a display like this before. I imagine it to be like an old London Fog without the bitter chill.

As the night closes in and the West Bank disappears I made my way to Old Absinthe House, off Pirate’s Lane. As Jim Morrison sang, ‘I got myself a beer.’ and sat outside watching one of the many ghost tours that make this spot a go to location. There was an almighty bang, and then another and people heads shot up like marmosets. It took a few seconds for us to realise that there was a fire-works display over the river. That’s the trouble I guess when carrying weapons is common place. Everyone can be a little gun-shy.

I got to Johnny Whites right on 9 PM. Evil Bob the barman was just setting up for his 6 hour shift. He welcomed me back like an old friend and made a place to sit at the end of the bar. Gentilly Jnr. And Pat arrived a few short minutes later. What a night we had. Just talking and laughing and catching up. Evil Bob is a very patient barman and he chats quietly to some very loud party girls. Bloody tourists, y’all only wear beads at Mardi Gras.

Evil Bob asked me if I wanted to share a shot with him. Pat sort of shook he head to indicate that may not be a good idea. Me, ‘why not’. I was told it was the most horrible tasting drink available. The name of this foul concoction – Jeppson’s Malort. When in Rome I guess. About an hour later I felt a little different and had to call it a night around 1 AM

I slept fitfully and was still tossing and turning at 5. Pat sent through a message to detail what exactly Jeppson’s Malort is:

The only flavor ingredient in Jeppson’s Malort is wormwood, a bitter herb known for its ability to kill stomach worms and other parasites. It’s also the main ingredient in Absinthe, a liqueur known for its mythical psychedelic effects’.