Friday 28th. June 2013
Southwest 3297 – Nashville to New Orleans
Zip – I’m there. The ride from the airport seemed fairly normal but once I got in the hood of my new abode, things started looking innarestin’. Got the key from the secret hiding place in the letterbox, dumped the pack and headed straight out to Bourbon Street – no, only joking. Waddya think I am – a tourist or something? Nah, that’s for those other people who don’t have a clue about the really cool shit. It’s like rifling through somebody’s vinyl collection looking for the rare early stuff, when you get to a new city. The last thing we all want to be is just like everybody else.
So I walk into the first bar that blocks my way – Kajun Bar. On the down side ‘a town. Way cool. No, but seriously I’m dying for a feed and the kitchen won’t be open for an hour so I moderately imbibe some local refreshments and strike up animated conversation based on the fact that I’m interesting ‘cos I come from Australia. These guys have never met an Australian before – right? Actually Aussies are all over the place, so I resort to the “Darwin” option….”Dar Where?”.
Luckily the opening of the kitchen interrupts my experimentation with regional drinking products and I begin to realise that this new fangled low cholesterol vegan oriented hydroponic yin yang organic anti-stress diet that I’m supposed to be on is about to take a nose-dive. The chalkboard list is comprised entirely of variations on a theme based around SAUSAGE. Vegetables don’t even get a bit part in this intense and focused script.
After satisfying my primal urges I head back to the shotgun shack that has become my new place of rest. Rest? Yeh sorry – just kiddin’ again. I meet the hosts Brandon & Megan who are just straight up friendly folk and they introduce me to a few muso types hangin’ around like they always do, doing nothing constructive at all except yabber on about art, music, gigs and rare instruments. Who’d be a muso? I’d much rather be a rocket surgeon. Turns out Brandon’s dad is former Preservation Hall band leader and world-famous trumpet player Wendell Brunious. You can read all about it on their Air BnB profile but they both play a bunch of instruments and are in a variety of bands.
Bit of a kip and I head on out to the French Quarter which is only a few blocks away. It’s the low season because it’s hot & humid, so the weather feels comfortable to me. The place is jumpin’ and I figure it would be just too much in the high season. I check out bands in Vaso, Mojitos, the Spotted Cat, Bar Negrille and all the rest along Frenchmen Street.
For what is to be the first of at least 3 times, I watch 21st. Century Brass at Vaso with a white rapper that looks about 16 but sounds 47. Or 48. This band turn out to be the highlight for me. About a dozen guys on horns including a Sousaphone and just a bass drummer and a snare drummer for percussion. More about them later.
At Mojito’s I am seduced by the passionate Latin rhythms and hit the dance floor like Jim Carey in The Mask. See I can say anything I like and you’ll just believe me. We all know that white men can’t dance and we’ve all seen the posters that say BEER is what has been making white men dance for hundreds of years. Well somebody has to take the blame for this. It’s a cruel and manipulative mind that ever suggested this combination of elements. It’s also a public health and safety issue, not to mention the visual effrontery.
Luckily this is all going on in my mind. I’m just leaning on the bar with a dash of urbane indifference. Secretly I’m being entertained by the guest percussionists and the two svelte local dudes next to me who’ve got enough moves to start a landslide and smiles wider than a wide thing. Two Latino ladies nearby tune in and are making overt communication via the time honoured tradition of dancing in a subtly sensual manner while staring blatantly with your mouth hanging open. They’re elbowing each other with reckless abandon. The guys are having so much fun they don’t even notice, so I elbow them. They demurely demur. “How cute” I think. How totally uncontrived they are. It’s a joy to behold. What’s happening to me? Distant emotions begin to stir. Am I actually having fun yet?