Countdown to Jazz Fest

Days Twenty and Twenty-One

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The People You Meet!

The next couple of days will definitely be rest days for me. I have to get myself ready for Jazz Fest.

Not sure if you call it breakfast, if your first meal of the day is 1:10 pm. Also the choice of meal (Pizza) may not be a breakfast meal. I sat outside at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, across from the Old Mint and the French Market. I ordered the Hangover Pizza and told my waiter that I was not really hungover. He gave me that New Orleans look to say ‘yeah sure, I believe ya.’ The pizza was delicious, 2 yard eggs, bell pepper, red onion, jalapenos, bacon and prosciutto, all on a super thin a crispy crust. If I did indeed have a hangover then I have been cured.

The newspaper is reporting good weather until Thursday (first day of Jazz Fest). Thunderstorms are predicted.

I have been getting updates from Al and Trish through What’s App detailing their trip down to Patagonia and then on to a road trip through Argentina. Fantastic photos and once in a life-time adventures are being had.


Took a walk down to St Louis St to get me a Po Boy at Johnny’s Po Boy. On the way over I heard a group of people trying to work out who wrote ‘A Street Car Named Desire?’ One of them commented to look it up on Google. As I passed I said. ‘it was Tennessee Williams.’ One of them said, thank you, do you live here?’ The were somewhat bemused when they recognized my accent was a long way from New Orleans, although they seemed impressed with my knowledge of Tennessee Williams.

There must be a Cruise Ship in town as Royal Street is chockers with groups of tourists wearing name tags.

Johnny’s Po Boys was established in 1950. I don’t think the decor has been changed since their opening. I have been trying a few Po Boy places as recommended by a New Orleans Survey of the best places to eat the said Po Boy. I really wanted to get to Parkways Bakery (nominated the best) but it is not open on a Tuesday. There was a line of people waiting to be served. I finally got to order a Veal Parmesan Po Boy. Took about 10 minutes to prepare. Lucky that I arrived when I did as one of the Cruise Ship groups just came in and the line to be served now stretches to the door.

I must now confess that I have weakened. No, not the alcohol backslide. I have visited the Louisiana Music Factory for the first time this trip. I now have a Blaze Foley CD, two Grayson Capps and another Andrew Duhon. I asked if the had the DVD Blaze but alas no.

I waited out on the stoop for the arrival of Cheryl and Peter who are coming in from L.A. for the two weeks of Jazz Fest. Wendy and I have become very good friends with them over the years. They arrived just after four.

I went out around 7 pm to go down to the Verti-Mart for a take-out. Cheryl and Peter had the same idea and we both opened our doors to leave at the same time. After getting our food they invited me into their apartment to share the meal. It was great to catch up with all the news. From previous blogs you may recall that Cheryl has worked in the music industry for all of her working life. She told me a great story of meeting Keith Richards when she was just 22 years old. Said he was real nice and down to earth.

Easter Sunday

Day Nineteen

The Big Bad Wolf – Chris Owen Parade

A man is a success if if gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to. Bob Dylan

Today is Parade Day in NOLA. Three parades in all, celebrating Easter.

What a mighty fine day and night I had yesterday. Will need a sleep-in. But alas that was not to be. Around 8:30 I was woken by a Brass Band playing some religious tunes right out front of my crib. Not sure if it was an intentional attempt to save my soul?

Back down to Envie for a breakfast sandwich accompanied with cheesy grits.

So many people wearing Easter Bonnets and that is just the guys! Read that the Bulldogs were beaten by the bottom side Carlton. After a promising start to the season all things are now back to normal.

The first Parade of the day is orientated toward the kids and is on early. I will go to the second Parade (Chris Owens) which kicks off at one.

Mickey and I sat out front and watched very smartly dressed people going about their Easter Sunday rituals. New Orleans is still very much a Catholic city.

A group of young party girls are out celebrating a Hen’s Party. They stopped because of the Australian flag flying from the roof. The bride to be is Australian as is another of the party.

The streets are already lined with people. The Parade will run down Bourbon and take a left on St Philip before turning right on Royal. There are marching bands, tricked up cars, floats, dancers and Elvis impersonators on mini-bikes. The Chris Owens float went by and she was smiling and waving but I am sure she is hurting from the loss of her long-term partner a few weeks ago. As with all Parades in New Orleans there are lots of beads and stuffed animals being thrown to the crowds. The serious collectors bring baskets to carry their booty. I scored a Zebra patterned hat and a large carrot! I have learned from previous trips to not collect dozens of beads as they way a ton when being carried back home in your suitcase.

The next Parade (Gay Easter Parade) starts at 4:30 and will go right past our place. As it is a beautiful day yet again, I got myself a six-pack of Bud’s from the Quarter Master, price $7.77 plus tax. People start lining the street from 4 o’clock. The Parade makes our place just after five. As you can imagine it is a most interesting spectacle. Lots of laughter. Wendy also got to watch the Parade from William’s security camera. Our L.A. friend Cheryl who will taking the apartment next door to me this Tuesday sent a link to access the street view.

I have taken a hundred photos of the participants. I will upload a few over the next few days and provide a link for enjoyment.

Ah, Easter in NOLA. If you want religion you can have it, if you want debauchery then that is available as well. One may get you to heaven but the other is a hell of a lot more fun.


Days Seventeen and Eighteen

Don’t do drugs because if you do drugs you’ll go to prison, and drugs are really expensive in prison. John Hardwick

Crawfish Boil

Good Friday

I am combining two days of blogging into one. Honestly, I did nothing much on Good Friday. I’m even too tired to go to church (just kidding.)

I was real slow getting moving, after a big night at Chickee Wah Wah.

Got me a Preston Patty Melt and Root Beer at Belle’s Diner. The Easter holiday weekend has brought a lot of visitors to town. The weather forecast for the three days is looking very good. Pretty much just hung out on the balcony and chilled the whole afternoon.

Easter Saturday

I am going to make up for yesterday’s lazy day with a full-on one today. Went down to Café Envie. I have now been informed after nine visits to New Orleans that I am pronouncing Envie incorrectly. Nothing new there for New Orleans. It should be OnVee, a French pronunciation.

I had a read of the newspaper while eating my Danish and drinking a Café Latte. It never ceases to amaze, that the same news can be reported with different outcomes. I am talking about the release of the Mueller report into Trump’s campaign win. The left shouts long and hard that he has not been exonerated while the right has a completely opposite view. We will have to wait until (if it happens) the report is released without being heavily redacted. I got talking to a couple of New Zealanders. Interesting, as one works in London and the other in Madrid. They must have had a big day, yesterday as they are both drinking a beer while eating breakfast. One of the guys made a common novice mistake. He order chips instead of fries and got a handful of potato chips with his omelet.

I also read one of the street press publications (Antigravity.) There is an extensive review on the 20th anniversary of the incredible Lucinda Williams album ‘Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.’ One of my favorite songs on the album is ‘Drunken Angel.’ A song written in dedication to Blaze Foley. Funny how things happen. Here I was two days ago watching Ben Dickey who played Blaze in a movie. I did not know (my ignorance) that ‘Drunken Angel’ was about Blaze. ‘Why’d you have to let go of your guitar?’ ‘Why’d you have to let it go that far?’ Blaze was tragically shot dead at the age of 38.

The Aussie neighbor I have told you about (Nerolie) has invited me to a Crawfish Boil over in Broodmoor. A fifteen minute drive. One of her work colleagues has invited her and extended the invitation to me. The house is on Sth. Prieur. Sue and Pat (the owners) welcomed me with open arms. The first boil is underway. Neighbors, friends and family are dropping in. Most houses in New Orleans do not have front fences which lends to a more welcoming scene. There is a long trestle table, covered with brown pap set up for the cooked mud-bugs. Seats are set up on the front lawn. I meet everyone that came to the boil. The first sitting was piled onto the table, together with the mud-bugs were whole red potatoes, corn cobs and whole garlic cloves.

I was again shown how to suck the head and slide out the tail meat with my teeth. The locals can eat ten to my one. The food was magnificent, very spicy. There was another two boils of food to eat. The second sitting included Brussel Sprouts. Best ever way I have eaten sprouts.

So privileged to have been invited.

I was back at my crib by 4:30 to rest and prepare for a 7 o’clock pick-up. Pat and Gentilly Jnr are coming to get me to go over to Big Dave’s Artisan bar and restaurant on St. Claude. Big Dave has become a good friend of Wendy and mine. I sat out on the stoop to await my good friends arrival. There are many people (somewhat inebriated) walking in both directions of Bourbon. A group of young African Americans waved at us and to my surprise one of the plump girls lifted up her top to flash her bra-less titty. A couple of pirates in full regalia sauntered past. Many of the strollers are drinking those damn awful, sickly handgrenades. Then a young guy with a well groomed beard and proudly standing breasts, t-shirt pulled up to reveal his/her ripped stomach. The inscription on the shirt ‘It’s None Of Your Business.’ Indeed it isn’t.

We got to the bar just after seven. Kevin the barman said g’day. Big Dave came in a short time later. He had a booth selling food and boozed at the inaugural 420 Festival over on Washington Square. I would have gone to that Festival if not for the invite to the Crawfish Boil. Now what you say is a 420 Festival. It is a marijuana festival (without the actual weed), music, food and speeches about the benefits of medical marijuana. Check it out here

You may also ask why 420?

In 1971, five high school students – Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich – in San Rafael, California, calling themselves the Waldos because “their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school”, used the term in connection with a 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about, based on a treasure map made by the grower. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 pm. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase “4:20 Louis”. After several failed attempts to find the crop, the group eventually shortened their phrase to simply “4:20”, which ultimately evolved into a code-word that the teens used to mean consuming cannabis.

Mike Edison says that Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to “mind-boggling, cult-like extremes” and “suppressing” all other stories about the origin of the term. Hager wrote “Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?”, in which he attributed the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers – after Reddix became a roadie for the Dead’s bassist, Phil Lesh – and called for 4:20 pm. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis.Urban Dictionary

It was great catching up with Big Dave. A cool looking black dude came in and set-up his music player and started accompanying the recorded music with his brilliant trumpet playing. It took me a few minutes before I remembered where I had seen him before. He was a member of Cyril Neville’s band at the FQF. He played for half an hour or so.

Later in the night the smoke-alarm went off for a brief period in the kitchen, Dave said, ‘I hope the Fire Brigade don’t respond, it can be costly.’ As the words left his lips, we could hear a fire-siren and the truck pulled up out front. Bummer.

After many Blue Moon beers we called it a night. The next morning I saw in my journal that Pat had written the following: ‘Not my fault, I promised to get you home early – 12:52am.’ Oh well, what does early mean in New Orleans anyway?

PRIEUR: Denis Prieur became mayor of New Orleans in 1828 and served the city for ten years, elected nearly unanimously each term. During his mayoralty, he approved the taxing of gambling houses, prohibited the exhibition of slaves for sale in the more frequented parts of the city and battled deadly cholera outbreaks. But Prieur is better known for what occurred after he left office.

On March 28, 1843, Prieur fought a duel with Louisiana senator George A. Waggaman. The former senator and former mayor fought over a “family affair of long standing” that could not be “settled” any other way.324 Prieur shot Waggaman through “the front part of the legs of his pantaloons, between the knee and the ankle,” forcing Waggaman to have his leg amputated. One northern newspaper commented, “It is not the least of the ridiculous notions that make humanity to be laughed at, the wounds of the honor are only to be healed by wounds in the body.”325 Unfortunately, Waggaman died from his wounds a few days later. Prieur died in 1857, and less than twenty years later, the city named a street after the dueling mayor.

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


Blaze Foley

Day Sixteen

Why should we take any sex advice from the Pope? If he knows anything about it. He shouldn’t. George Bernard Shaw

St Louis Cathedral (rear view)

William is waiting for me on the stoop just after 8 am. Thursday is his shopping day. There is a Rouses’ Market here in the Quarter but it nothing like the size of the Supermarkets we are used to back home. We drove over to Mid-City to shop at a Win Dixie, which is similar to Coles New World or Safeway. Lots of fresh produce and many two for one items.

We were done and dusted just after 9 and back home at 9:20. The streets of the French Quarter are washed down each morning, firstly, by a sweeper truck and then another truck spraying a high pressured water spray and some sort of disinfectant that helps clean up the previous night’s excesses. This happens every morning on the left-hand side of the streets. Because of the narrow streets in the Quarter there is no parking allowed on the left-hand side of streets for either locals or tourists. However on Thursdays there is no parking allowed on the right hand side of the streets. Even the locals must not park on the street that morning. What a great pain in the butt this is for people with parking permits. They all keep an eye out for the cleaning trucks and quickly more their cars to another street. The parking officers are ruthless on Thursdays. I watched with amusement as a truck makes its way down the street and the driver spots an illegal parker. He stops, gets on the radio and a few minutes later a tow truck is on the scene. Within another few minutes the offending cart is off to the pound. The two cleaning vehicles follow and sweep and wash the right side of the street. Two cars were towed from our block this morning.

Kate has sent through a Facebook message warning me of the Tornado alert for this afternoon. I don’t think the family back home have any confidence in my ability to stay safe.

I headed out to Envie’s for a Cranberry Scone and Iced Latte. There are many familiar faces in the café. Envies’ is a hangout for aging gray-haired ponetailed hippies.

John, the delivery guy from the corner Quarter Master told me that he anticipates the storm coming in around 2:30-3 pm. Although he did say not to be surprised if the storm is not as bad as is being anticipated. Storms such as this often hit the North Shore and then miss New Orleans proper. We will wait and see.

By Noon it is a little dark with a few spots of rain. By 4 o’clock it is evident that John was correct in his assessment. The rain is heavy with a little distant thunder but it is nothing to write home about (even though I am, I guess!)

The Aussie neighbor I told you about earlier knocked on the door. She has invited me to an afternoon Easter Crawfish boil with her friends in Uptown this Saturday. I will have to take it easy as I am meeting up with Pat and Gentilly Jnr that same night. I though she told me her name was Narelle, however she gave me her Business Card and it is Nerolie. She works as an Annual Fund Manager with the University of New Orleans. She said she had won a ten year working Green Card in a lottery. Her dog even made the trip from Australia to call New Orleans home.

I am off to Chickie Wah Wah to meet up with Johnny Sansone and his partner Michelle. The music club opens at 5 with the support act staring at 6:30. I hailed a cab from my stoop at 5:15. I said to the cab driver, ‘what happened to the storm?’ He said, ‘you don’t never listen to the weather man in New Orleans.’ ‘ You gotta listen to the man that makes the weather!’

I got to Chickee Wah Wah’s just after 5:30. I am the only one in the bar. Even the support act (Phil DeGruy) is not in yet. The barman introduced himself (Murf), he has a show on WWOZ called the ‘New Orleans Music Show.’ The owner of the club, Dale Triguero, came over and sat and talked to me for ages. He knew Melbourne well as back in 1991 he did an East Coast motorbike tour of Australia. He was recently at the Americana Festival in Nashville ads showed me a photo on his phone of two Australian artists he liked. Suzannah Espie and C W Stoneking. Small world eh?

Phil came in to set-up for his support slot. At the moment I am the audience along with Murf and Dale. By the time Phil started the audience has swelled to four. Phil, to say the best thing I can, was interesting. On another planet, yes for sure, hilarious at times as well. He was funny but continually stuffed up his guitar work and forgot lines from his own songs. I want to like him but he it is hard work.

The main man tonight is the singer/songwriter/guitarist Ben Dickey. Ben starred in the Ethan Hawke biopic about the legendary Blaze Foley. The movie was well received at the Sundance Film Festival. Dale also told me a fair amount of the history of Ben. He is the man that was almost famous both as an actor and musician but life had been tough for him. Dale gave me the password for the WiFi. Here it is if you ever need to log in at Chickie Wah Wah. Fuckum0r0n. I kid you not. Check out Blaze Foley on a Google search and if you can, have a look at the movie. I guess that there was maybe forty people in the house for Ben’s set including (I was told) some of the actors from the Blaze Foley movie. He certainly deserved a much bigger crowd. And here I am worrying about the WOW gigs. Dale told me that unfortunately a lot of New Orleanians are a bit blasé about the music presented in their own town.

Ben is a mighty fine performer and I picked up his latest CD for fifteen bucks. As I was leaving for the night, Dale came over to thank me for coming in early and hanging out for both artists. He told me of some upcoming gigs at his club. Dan Penn is a must see. Dale said that the gig would be packed but he will guarantee me a bar-stool. That was nice.

Washing Day

Day Fifteen

It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

It’s the washing day blues for me today.

There are reports in the paper of a real bad storm coming in to annoy us tomorrow. Tornado warning included.

Being Wednesday, there is free music at Lafayette Square tonight. Pat messaged to say she might meet me there. Also, I have an invitation from Pat and Gentilly Jnr to meet up at Big Dave’s bar (the Artisan) on St. Claude this Saturday night.

Around mid-afternoon I was feeling so damn tired. I might be coming down with a cold. I messaged Pat to make my apologies as I have decided to stay in tonight. Pat messaged back, somewhat bemused, she had said she would be at the Square next Wednesday, not today. That’s good as now I don’t feel so guilty for standing her up.

I had a bit of a Nanna nap and woke up hungry. Off to the Verti Mart for a fried oyster Po Boy.

Not exciting reading for today, I am afraid. Sure don’t have the stamina of thirty years ago.

City Park

Day Fourteen

An economist is someone who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today. Lawrence J. Peter

Easter in the Quarter

I told you yesterday that I was determined to get out early and stroll the residential streets of New Orleans. I did just that. The residential area of the Vieux Carré (Old Square) is in direct contrast to the few blocks of the top end of Bourbon Street. Beautiful day here in New Orleans and I took an hour or so to wander around acting very much like a tourist, camera in hand. I thought there may have been more Easter decorations, but not to be.

After a quick visit back to my crib, I then took myself off to get the bus to City Park. The (91) bus runs all the was down Esplanade (EsplanAID), say it proper like a New Orleanian. It is the same bus-route that I use to go each day to Jazz Fest. Today’s trip is a lot more comfortable, not standing room only.

I got off at the wrong stop and had about a quarter mile walk to the park. City Park is a must visit for any new comer to the city. The old forest trees are hauntingly spectacular with their Irish Moss hanging like ancient dreadlocks. Kate, you would be scared here. Squirrels are out on the hunt.

Cafe DuMonde has a food truck selling their famous beingets. I sat down for three beingets and an iced Café Au Lait. Not sure what the guy next to me was trying to achieve as he washed down his heavily sugared, fried dough with a Diet Coke.

The Sculpture Park within City Park is excellent. I tool a good hour to walk around and take some photos of the sculptures. Check out a little history of City Park here:

I found my way out of the park around 12:30, a little disorientated as to where I was. I asked a young guy where the closest bus/street car was. By more luck than good management I was just a few minutes walk away from the stops. The (91) bus came along and on I went. We only drove a couple of blocks and I found out I was at the Cemeteries Transit stop. The bus driver was very helpful. He gave me a transit ticket and pointed me to the Street Car that would take me all the was down Canal and back to the Quarter.

I was back in the Quarter at 1:45 and for some reason was craving some red meat. The Turtle Bar is on Decatur and I have walked past it dozens of times over the years. Why not give it a try,’ I thought. I went for the 10oz Rib-eye served with a Creamy Stuffed Potato Skin and Garlic Bread. Medium Rare, of course. There are not many people at the bar. Very friendly barman and the cook also came out to have a chat. The cook picked my accent straight away and without prompting told me how he was only one of a handful of Americans that likes Vegemite. I will drop a tube of the said Vegemite around to him. I am very tired from all the walking. I was not going to have a drink until Little Dave from Iggy’s Bar came in. We chatted for a while and I asked him how all the local Iggy’s patrons were going. I decided to take a NOLA 7th Street Wheat Beer. Very tasty. So was the next couple as well.

I spotted a sign over the bar that would make a good slogan for Way Out West, with one little addition:

Friendship must be built on a foundation of alcohol, sarcasm, inappropriateness and shenanigans.’I would then add in, ‘live music.’

At around 3:45, I called into the Golden Lantern to see if the Aussie neighbour was there. She wasn’t. Must say the clientele are very interesting. There are two Xmas Trees on the bar decorated with Easter Bunnies. Do you believe it, Little Dave just walked in. I only stayed for one beer. A single guy (even an ugly one like me), drinking by himself may attract one of those interesting clientele. Another sign that took my fancy, ‘You Can’t Pee For Free.’

I had no intention of starting a bar-hopping session. However, in New Orleans, things just happen. I found myself at The American Sports Bar. The bar person (Michelle) recommended that I try a Canebrake beer. There are three guys and a lady having a jovial conversation in a foreign language. They are Dutch and they soon asked me to join them. One of the guys, Theo, is a world traveller and knows his music well. He asked me if I had ever been to the Espy in St. Kilda!

We chatted about bands, and he seemed impressed that I knew who Focus, Golden Earring and Cuby and the Blizzards were. Even more impressed, I think, when I raised a toast and said, ‘’Prost.’’ Theo recommended that I check out another older Dutch blues band by the name of ‘Living Blues.’

Michelle told me she was working an eleven hour shift today. ELEVEN HOURS. She gets a one off $30 bar shift allowance and then relies on tips to make her day worthwhile.

By six o’clock my internal battery was running flat and I headed home.

Rest Day

Day Thirteen

Andrew Duhon at FQF – my new favourite singer/songwriter

Actually, it only takes me one drink to get loaded. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or fourteenth. George Burns

The reports in the paper details the Northern Front that hit New Orleans yesterday, and made it unseasonably cold. The state of Mississippi copped the brunt of the front, many tornadoes hit the area. Tragically two young children sitting with their parents in a car where killed when a tree hit them. Even the Aussie flag flying from my crib’s flag-pole and to be rescued.

It was back to Envies’ for me for breakfast. Eggs Envie: Brie and Ham Omelet style eggs inside a Croissant with Potato Hash. No need for me to eat now for another eight hours.

Johnny Sansone sent through a message. He will be at Chickee Wah Wahs this Thursday, opening for Ben Dickey. Should be an interesting gig going by the bio:

Musician who stars as singer Blaze Foley in Ethan Hawke’s biopic on how a lifetime of playing in bands helped him fill some larger-than-life boots.   He’s not widely known, but to a small but fervent group of followers, Ben Dickey is one of Arkansas’s great musical exports. He was a vocalist and guitarist in Shake Ray Turbine, a beloved post-hardcore band that had its heyday in the late ’90s, in the last days of Little Rock’s Towncraft era. A decade later, in Philadelphia, he co-starred in Blood Feathers, a rock ‘n’ roll band with a vintage sound and a knack for melody that released three albums and always seemed on the verge of breaking out, but never did….’

It was nice to have a bit of a rest today. Perfect weather again (for me, that is). It is comfortable sitting out on the porch watching the world go by. Another neighbor from the next block stopped for a chat. She moved to New Orleans over twenty year ago. I told you about the Aussie living in the next block, Narelle.

I decided to treat myself to dinner and went down to Landry’s Seafood House on Decatur. Had an appetizer of Shrimp and Corn Bisque. For the entrée I went for the snapper, creole green beans and dirty rice. For the Aussies, reading this, the appetiser is our entrée and the entrée is our main. Just to confuse y’all. The food was excellent but a little pricey.

So that’s it for my rest day. Tomorrow I am determined to get up early and go out and photograph some of the homes around the residential area of the Quarter.

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.