Thursday, March 22, 2012

NOLA trip update - the music

Okay ... I'm already forgetting some of what's happened over the first two weeks that I've been in this very fascinating environment. It's hard to know where to start to give you a snapshot of what I've explored, experienced, and felt ... and it might take a really long time to write. So maybe this becomes a couple of shorter posts ... we'll see as I the words come out (or don't) ...

There's music here. Oh yeah. And I haven't been out every night to two or three shows, no matter what anyone might fantasize about my motivation and energy level. Between working and simply settling into being here, there's much more to do and explore. That said, if I wanted to attend three or four performances in an evening, it's actually pretty easy to do ... and on foot. That's one of the beautiful things about music here - there are so many venues within walking distance of each other - especially in the French Quarter and the Marigny.

Probably the best stretch of clubs is on Frenchman Street, where there are close to a dozen clubs serving up music - from late afternoon until way into the wee hours - d.b.a., Spotted Cat, Snug Harbor, Masion, Blue Nile, Three Muses, Mojito's, Apple Barrel, and more are just steps away - it's a fantastically tasty musical buffet - and you can go from one to another, often with drink in hand.
Stand outside or go in - stay for a song or two, a set, or all evening ... many places/shows have no cover (or it's minimal)... so buy a drink, feed the tip jar (musicians are also getting paid by the venue), and listen to world-class music. Pretty much nothing like it anywhere. To date, I've only been there once, but plan to be there a lot more (and probably later today, as I definitely want to catch Jon Cleary at d.b.a.).

I was lucky the first weekend I was here to attend two shows at Tipitina's - a great venue that has consistently excellent shows. I got the chance to see former Portlander, Colin Lake and band open for Papa Mali. Altogether a killer show.

Colin has received a lot of recognition in a relatively short time (barely two years) here. His hard work, continually improving craft as a guitarist and songwriter, and willingness to integrate himself gracefully into a very crowded and competitive music scene, has gained him a growing fan-base (including folks at THE New Orleans radio station, WWOZ). Not only playing in various solo, duo and band configurations, Colin plays regularly with the Mardi Gras Indian band, Cha Wa, and often with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.

Speaking of Monk, the second night at Tip's was the reunion show of The Wild Magnolia's featuring Big Chief Bo Dollis (his son now leads the band) with Monk as special guest. Though Bo Dollis has been ailing, he was in good voice and led this spirited version of Professor Longhair's Hey Now Baby ....

Even without completely understanding all of the history that infused this performance, it was a real honor to be able to be there and feel the spirit that moved the performance and audience.

Then, there's the fact that I've ended up here, not only in probably one of the best weather periods - it kinda feels like summer in Portland - not too warm or humid yet (that hot, wet blanket will descend soon enough) ... but also in festival season. And Louisiana and New Orleans seem to have a festival (or three) every weekend - not always music festivals, but music always seems to be part of them.  This weekend there are four in NOLA - the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, the New Orleans Road Food Festival, and a benefit music fest/cookoff on Saturday in City Park - Hogs For The Cause will feature music from Marcia Ball, The Gourds, Voice of the Wetland All-stars, and Trombone Shorty.

So how do you choose what to do here? Just pick something and don't worry what you're not doing, cause whatever you're doing will be amazing ...

Okay, maybe more later ... particularly about attending the Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday gathering last weekend ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jim, you are off to great start. I love that you know, not to
worry about too many choices, just pick something it will be amazing! Have fun, eat well, and often. Yeah U Rite, Paul