Listening Journal, Southern Journey, March 28

Today would have been a wonderful day to report on music. The plan, among other things, like eating at legendary soul food haven Dooky Chase’s and exploring the Irish Channel, was to have included seeing one of our favorite musicians, Alvin Youngblood Hart. Hart was playing in power trio mode at dba’s on Frenchmen; besides being a stellar guitarist and singer, he has a  phenomenal musical comfort range: from Charley Patton to Black Oak Arkansas, from Western swing to Beefheart. We could not wait–the perfect capper to a transcendent trip. Not to mention that troubled trombonist/activist/traditional-gospel man about NOLA Glen David Andrews, another favorite of ours we were introduced to through the great documentary SHAKE THE DEVIL OFF! and The True/False Film Festival, was playing at The Three Muses, also on Frenchmen. Woah!

Then, already a little bugged by what I thought were allergies, I came down with a full-blown case of respiratory hacking and general fatigue–not helped by BUCKETS of rain dumped on me in 60-degree weather in the late morning. I ended up back at the hotel, down for a three-hour count while Nicole explored the Oak Street area via trolley.

By 7:45 pm, I just didn’t think I could hack it. But Nicole had nabbed me some ultra-Sudafed, and in a half-hour I felt game at least for a ride-walk out to Frenchmen to eat and stroll. Hart didn’t go on til 11, and Andrews would have already been through his set by the time we got there. Still, it would be a nice “so long” to The City That Care Forgot.

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We ate at The Praline Connection, from within which we could hear a great high school brass band blowin’ for tips; “That’s how they ALL get started,” our waitress explained. From our window seat we saw the mix of tourists, bohemians, and musicians (including a solitary, somber Mr. Andrews) that is characteristic of a Marigny Friday file by. The site seemed to me like a MUCH looser, less swinging but more varied version of 1930s KC, with a seeming 15 music venues in a two-block area. After dinner, we walked past several, hearing Washboard Chaz and what looked like his eclectic unit Tin Men rabble-rousing at The Spotted Cat. Really, there’s somethin’ for everyone on Frenchmen Street.

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I didn’t have the stamina or health to hang for AYH’s show. We rode two trolleys back to St. Charles, this time the music solely in my head.

Well, I take that back: at The Praline Connection one of the waiters kept singing the chorus of “Gin and Juice”–I think the brass band had just knocked it out. An hour later, waiting for the St. Charles trolley at the corner of Canal and Carondelet, two enterprising young hustlers pulled their ride to the curb and serenaded a gaggle of young blondes with–you guessed it–“Gin and Juice.” Come to think of it, the song does have NOLA written all over it….

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