Listening Journal, Southern Journey, March 26

For us, it was a slow music day. To wit:

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We sat in Johnny White’s on St. Peters for the second consecutive day, a bar made famous in ONE DEAD IN ATTIC and THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL: SURVIVING KATRINA for staying open throughout Katrina and providing multiple sustenances. The place knows the music it likes: Allmans, Stones, Aerosmith. Tough, blues-based white boy rock, and no NOLA stuff…but, when the local news came on, the music went off, and all six of us–the barmaid, possibly the owner, two obvious regulars, and Nicole and I–watched it and DISCUSSED IT. When’s the last time you did that in a bar? We also praised Pope Francis’ stinging of the Bishop of Bling, as well as cupcake ATMs. That’s right.

Later, peering out of The Cabildo and watching a street band trombonist play AT a street denizen’s dog and taking in his group’s ragged sound, I realized that two years of listening hard to Rebirth, Hot 8, Lil’ Rascals, Soul Rebels, TBC, and The Stooges have enabled me to discern the difference between street and pro. I love ’em both, but, not being a musician, I feel a homely pride in recognizing such distinctions. Also, the other side of the Louisiana History Museum, separated from The Cabildo by St. Louis Cathedral, holds the Katrina and Mardi Gras exhibits. The Mardi Gras exhibit was interesting, but missing Mardi Gras Indian regalia–you have to go to the Backstreet History Museum and Ronald Lewis’ for that. The Katrina exhibit opened with this moving, music-related image: Fats Domino’s flood-ravaged Steinway.

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 Finally, at the sillily named Smoothie King Center, we saw the Pelicans beat the Clippers 98-96 behind Tyreke Evans’ bull-in-a-china-closet drives, Darius Miller’s clutch jumpers, The Brow’s six blocks and double-figure boards, and Blake Griffin’s bonked free throws. What’s that have to do with music? Prize-bearing half-time trivia question: Name the performer of this song. (The original version of “Layla” is played.) Dude gives up. Answer flashed on Jumbotron: ERIC CLAPTON!

Wah-WAH.

Oh wait: I did go back to Louisiana Music Factory and buy Bo Dollis‘ kid’s new CD, a DVD of rare performances by Bunk Johnson and other old-time NOLA jazz masters (ahhh…American Music: the label), and Ann Savoy’s rare book on Cajun music.

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