Listening Journal, Southern Journey, March 24

We usually wake up to ‘OZ when in NOLA, but got the morning off in the precisely correct spirit with a series of Anita O’Day tunes leading off with “Let Me Off Uptown,” a duet with Roy Eldridge. We were already “uptown,” but we were taking the trolley (one of the simple pleasures of being here), and Anita’s daring duet with a black performer ran parallel with the choices of Hettie Cohen, who chronicles her love affair and life and times with the late LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) in the book I am currently reading, BECOMING HETTIE JONES.

We soon found ourselves on Frenchmen Street in The Marigny, the new location of Louisiana Music Factory, a treasure trove we never miss. I snagged a recent book on NOLA R&B by I HEAR YOU KNOCKIN’ author Jeff Hannusch and a documentary about Mardi Gras Indians, Nicole a new Basin Street Records rekkid by Jason Marsalis, the family’s vibes man. Also, we had to listen to shit music at Pat O’Brien’s (we asked for that), and took the ferry to Algiers, home of great jazzmen like Henry “Red” Allen. The locals at the Dry Dock treated us great.

The real entertainment for the day was a free performance by David Doucet (to my ear, the Cajun Doc Watson), Beausoleil’s guitarist, at the famous Columns Hotel. He and his fiddling partner played a set of traditional Cajun classics including one by the legendary Dennis McGee, as well as some pieces outside the genre, like “Rosalee McFall” and–brilliantly, surprisingly–Dock Boggs’ “Country Blues.” Doucet also hefted an accordian and sounded a LOT like Iry LeJeune.  Here’s some footage from a 2013 show in the same locale that conveys some of the show’s brilliance.

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The only downside is that I did not have the intelligence to get up and dance like the music and spirit required, even though Nicole beckoned me to and was forced to cut a great rug alone. Perhaps my head was too full of Sazeracs  and Old Fashioneds (and my ankles too full of beer), but she deserved my partnership after making my brief bout with rapid heartbeat go away back at the ‘otel with an application of Lee Dorsey. That man is always good for what ails you.

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