New Orleans: the musical

As some of you may recall, I recently had a trip to New Orleans . As a lover of jazz, blues and cajun/zydeco, this has been on my wishlist for years, and I was not disappointed (thanks for the research, ejaydee). I can see why Ray Davies chose to live there (until getting shot, and health problems, drove him back into the arms of the NHS). My yen to visit was piqued by the TV series ‘Treme’ (from The Wire’s David Simon, on Sky this Spring – highly recommended). Given the eclectic tastes of most spillers, N’Awlins is a music lovers heaven. Music oozes out of every pore. Buskers, bars, clubs & parades mean you are almost always in earshot of some aural pleasure or other (tho’ like everywhere else, some buskers are clearly trainees). And it’s ‘all the day, and all of the night’, as Ray would say. If that wasn’t enough, the place itself is such a treat. This is a US city where walking never died out as a mode of transport, and when your feet are tired there’s the streetcars and – for tourists – the mule carriages and Mississippi steamboats. Katrina remains an ongoing and shocking scar on the American dream. The population has halved, whole districts have been pulled down as health hazards and left as wasteland. Black families who had lived there for decades have seen their land revert to the city, if they couldn’t prove title. Others have had to downsize as the insurance and Government aid wouldn’t pay to rebuild what they had. But on the surface the place has been resuscitated, the French Quarter and Garden District are as gorgeous as ever, the joint is jumpin’, and the food to die for, despite BP’s best efforts (don’t miss catfish; bread pudding). We had a whale of a time there, and can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve spliced together a few musical moments off my camera, to give a little taster. If you’ve not been, add it to your list.

We were there for haloween, which as you can imagine is a big thing in Voodoo city. And the Saints were playing the Steelers. And there was an amazing annual 3 day music festival in City Park, which sadly I didn’t make. The Irish community had a parade. And the sun shone. ‘Party atmosphere’ just doesn’t do it justice. And at the end of the trip, you can take some of it home, via a credit card binge at the top record store, Louisiana Music Factory…