The quintessential hub of culture, music, cuisine, ecology, history, spirits, social stratification, and the allowance of the good times to roll, NOLA leads the world in many categories, including nicknames:
- The Big Easy
- The Crescent City
- The Birthplace of Jazz
- Mardi Gras City
- The City that Care Forgot
- The Northernmost Caribbean City
- America's Most Interesting City
- Queen City of the Inland Sea
- The Gateway to the Mississippi Valley
- Home of Igors
|Igor at Igors|
My most recent trip to my favorite city on the planet was last week. I saw Ned, I took in some more spirits, and I spent indefensible amounts of time in Igors. Not much changes down there. The multitude of bodily aches I felt as I left town last Thursday included some in my face from smiling and laughing for seven straight days. God, I love that town.
|This monkey could dance|
This was my 17th visit to this fair city and my 10th JazzFest. There was a stretch from 2009 until 2015 when I never got back there. Terrible idea. I am always reminded of how much I love the place, and that I need annual sojourns there for peace-of-mind purposes. Join me in the years ahead, won't you?
The last night I was in town (after Fest and conference were over), Ned got us tickets for a show at Preservation Hall. For the uninformed, I'll let the PresHall website explain:
New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture. Situated in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, the Preservation Hall venue presents intimate, acoustic New Orleans Jazz concerts over 350 nights a year featuring ensembles from a current collective of 100+ local master practitioners. On any given night, audiences bear joyful witness to the evolution of this venerable and living tradition.On this night a few Preservation Hall Jazz Band players welcomed some musical guests into the fold for a one-set tribute to the late, great native son Lee Dorsey. I hadn't realized how amazing the dilapidated Hall is, how tiny a venue it is, or that Ned had landed us front-row seats. Close enough that I seriously needed to dodge the trombone (not a euphemism) on many an occasion.
The players were all as fantastic as the backdrop was. Well-known in musical circles but not thoroughly recognized beyond the region, they were each incredibly skilled; full of smiles, jokes, and stage presence; and in love with Lee Dorsey's gumbo-soaked tunes.
Eric "Benny" Bloom: trumpet
Jon Cleary: piano
Jamison Ross: drums
Roland Guerin: bass
Clint Maedgen: saxophone
Ronell Johnson: trombone
Additional guests stepped in for songs here and there, including a be-wigged Angelo Moore of Fishbone who showed up out of nowhere to sing and play sax on "Get Out of My Life Woman." So good.
Other songs (many written by old fave Allen Toussaint, RIP) they played to perfection: "Yes We Can," "Ya Ya," "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On)," "Holy Cow," "Ride Your Pony," "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," and my all-time favorite... "Working in the Coalmine."
There are concerts that are the perfect length, those that you are ready to exit early, and those that you just hope will keep going on and on. This fell under that final category. I knew I was amid greatness, I was so close I felt like I was trespassing (or should've picked up a tambourine), and I knew it would leave a mark.
"New Orleans ain't a city, it's a scar." -- Old 97's, "504"
This city leaves marks on me inside and out. Seems like a fleur-de-lis tattoo might have to happen.
Pics from the show... that's me in the blue shirt and Jagermeister ballcap looking like a tourist. But with a stellar vantage point.