Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The City Of New Orleans

The thing about New Orleans is that it's so musical. And literary. And culinary. But first and foremost, musical. You can hardly go anywhere without hearing music: A saxophone/tuba/snare trio in Jackson Square; a brass band across the street from the French Market; a violin/guitar duo outside of Cafe du Monde; an in-store performance by jazz singer John Boutte at the Louisiana Music Factory. And make no mistake about it: They're all very good at what they do.

I could have and would have spent the morning at the Louisiana Music Factory were the store not stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with patrons waiting for Boutte's in-store appearance. Luckily for my sons' education, the crowd minimized my hopes of ransacking my bank account. Nonetheless, I was able to inflict significant damage to the bottom line.

You may ask, how do I know what to buy? Well, I don't know, usually. This trip, I've relied on local reviews, bands we happened to see, and knowledge of an act whose work will not be easily available in Seattle. It helps that the reviewers in Offbeat refrain from boosterism and have a commitment to critical integrity. Plus, the musical standards, not to mention the talent level, in New Orleans are so exalted that it's worth taking a chance or two. The musicians have a command of a variety of genres unequalled in any other city I know of. My finds are as indicative of this as anything else:  

Big Sam's Funky Nation: Peace, Love & Understanding (funk)
John Boutte: Good Neighbor (jazz)
Smoky Greenwell and the Blues Gnus: Between Iraq and a Hard Place (blues)
Donald Harrison Jr., Indian Blues (jazz)
Hot 8 Brass Band, Rock With The Hot 8 (jazz)
Sonny Landreth, Blues Attack (blues)
Lost Bayou Ramblers: A la Blue Moon (zydeco/country)
Mother Tongue: Cafe Sessions (jazz/folk)
Zachary Richard: Bayou des Mysteres, High Time: The Elektra Recordings, Live in Montreal (Acadian folk/zydeco)
Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars: The La Louisiane Sessions (Cajun rock -- the Los Lobos of Louisiana)
Adonis Rose And The N. O. Vaders, Untouchable (jazz)
Ann Savoy and Her Sleepless Knights: If Dreams Come True (jazz a la Paris cafes)
Paul Sanchez: Exit to Mystery Street (singer-songwriter/rock)
Cedric Watson: Cedric Watson (zydeco)

Mother Tongue I had never heard of in my life until we stopped in at Cafe du Monde this afternoon for beignets and cafe au lait. The strains of a melancholy violin and guitar swirled around the mounds of confectioner's sugar, infusing the day with a pleasing sense of longing as they segued from Bizet to Bob Marley as naturally as the sun rises. Taken with the perfect spring day and the pleasant buzz of a Pat O'Brien's Hurricane, and the loving constancy of Premium T., Mother Tongue offered a soundtrack for the ineffable. Listening to their CD will ever transport me back to that wonderful New Orleans afternoon of April 28, 2o08.


Scrumpy's Baker said...

You have a beautiful way with words. I always feel like I'm missing out on something when I read your blog. :)

Foxessa said...

It's somehow difficult to believe that you hadn't previously experienced New Orleans, considering who you are!

Love, C.

Renegade Eye said...

New Orleans used to in the 1920s have a big Afro-American turnout for opera. It's from the aria, came the jazz solo.