You might have noticed that its been quite hot here in England for the last few days, New Orleans was hotter. As we stepped of the air conditioned plane we were hit by a wall of heat. To make sure we knew where we were as we walked through the airport we walked by two different jazz bands, i started to get quite excited. We ordered an Uber, making sure we were definitely getting in the right one this time, and went in search of our Airbnb.
After the towering skyscrapers of New York and Chicago New Orleans offered quite a change in scenery, Smaller two story houses with wooden fronts painted in all sorts of bright colours: green, pink,yellow, blue… name a colour and there is probably a house in New Orleans painted it. We arrived at our destination and were given some helpful information about the transport system and the best ways to get to the french quarter. There was no metro system in New Orleans like our previous Cities but it does have a street car (tram) system and we were able to buy the wonderfully named Jazzypass for the bargain price of $3 which gave us unlimited use of the streetcars and buses for 24 hours.
We found a walking tour of one of New Orleans most famous cemeteries which was yet another bargain at $2 each. It started at 9.30 in the morning with the idea that it would avoid the hottest part of the day… that may have been true but the sun was still beating down and by eleven O’clock it had reached 30C. The tour guide was a slightly odd chap at the start i thought he seamed a tad socially awkward which is an odd trait for a tour guide to have, however once we were in the cemetery he became ALOT more enthusiastic, at times it was verging on amateur dramatics. He did know his stuff about the cemetery and New Orleans history, and showed us loads of stuff. The highlights of the tour being the several tombs related to Marie Laveau who was the Voodoo queen in New Orleans in the 1800’s
And this incredibly out of place tomb
Which is owned by Nicholas Cage, according to the tour guide Mr. Cage doesn’t have the best reputation in New Orleans and has been arrested twice for being drunk and disorderly which takes quite a lot of doing in this city.
Jazzy Jazz Jazz
New Orleans did not disappoint on the jazz front to point that you could hear some form of brass instrument being played nearby pretty much all of the time. We were recommended a local dive bar that had a funk jazz band on every Thursday night at 10.30 so we planned our evening around it. We went to a nearby BBQ place called the Joint and shared a selection of BBQ meat it was awesome. Now while the food was great
my method of randomly picking new beers to drink ran into its biggest mistake as i accidentally chose a sour beer otherwise known as horrible beer, not only was it a rather unpleasant drink it cost $9 making it the most expense beer of the entire trip.
After struggling through my beer (at $9 i was going to finish it regardless of its taste) we headed to the recommended dive bar, after a short walk we arrived but couldn’t seem to find the way in there were two doors but neither seamed to be open as we began to worry that the place was closed a helpful man in a big white hat appeared and led us to the door, there was a door bell/buzzer that you had to ring from outside and then the bar staff would to press a button to open the door… it was pretty odd. It was only 9.30 when we arrived so we got some drinks (ridiculously strong rum/vodka and cokes) and settled in.
We had been warned that everything ran on New Orleans time which basically meant everything in New Orleans usually ran a bit late so when 10.30 came and the band were not set up we were not that surprised, however then came 11.00,11.15,11.30 still no band. At 11.45 they finally assembled and began playing, they were worth the wait.
There were about ten musicians and it was glorious, a drum an electric guitar a ridiculous 7 sting bass, two trumpets, two saxophones and at some points three trombones. It was EPIC.
The next evening we headed to Frenchmen street in the french quarter for some jazz, as we walked down this street there were bands playing in pretty much every bar and we stooped into a few to grab a drink and have a listen. We encountered a rather large ensemble outside on the street corner who managed to gather quite an impressive crowd, and later found ourselves in a bar whose band ended with a rousing rendition of Proud Mary followed by When The Saints Go Marching In which transported me back to being 18 years old on the night bus back home after a night out in Southampton, singing football chants with loads of Saints fans.
New Orleans is a bloody cool place with so much character and history i am so pleased we decided to add this part onto our trip as originally we were going to come home after Chicago. It was so much fun and has opened my ears a bit more to jazz, i definitely need more live jazz in my life.
Right then that’s it, end of the trip and end of the blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings and found it at least somewhat entertaining. Thanks for reading and putting up with the terrible spelling, grammar, writing… you know the stuff that you usually expect to be good when your reading something.