What I miss most about New Orleans is definitely the music. Most cities in the world view music as a semi-interesting sidebar to the more important stuff. Venues are rare and expensive, outdoors festivals feature beer gardens and security scrutiny, and the occasional major band blows through like traders in the desert, selling $300 coliseum seats to the middle-aged fans who can afford it.
Then there’s New Orleans, where music is considered an expected part of the week, something that just sort of exists and permeates the air, a given inclination. Avoiding music in New Orleans becomes the hard part, for any extended period of time. You’ll be riding your bike through the neighborhood and encounter a hundred-person strong second line with a marching band, and then you’ll stop and look because everyone stops and looks. Also, all the shows are bar shows, or just about. This is eminently more reasonable.
I went to Frenchmen Street on a cloudy day and walked into the Spotted Cat to encounter Rev. Sarah McCoy and the Oopsie Daisies. I guess she sounds like the natural conjunction of Amanda Palmer and Big Mama Thornton. They are excellent.
This is Sal in the Oopsie Daisies, who I remember from Hare Krishna free dinners, which were a real college institution when we didn’t feel like paying for Indian food. He’s a good singer and musician and I’m glad he’s doing this.
Buskers on Frenchmen Street. Isn’t the word “busker” sort of pleasant? Regardless. They’re another fixture here, and some people just sort of come down to New Orleans to spend their vacations engaged in a bit of busking and sight-seeing. I think this is a nice point-counterpoint way of handling things.
One of the many youthful brass bands that hang out in the Quarter. Sure, some are better than others. But these guys were good, and I’ll always appreciate the youthful enthusiasm. Here is my friend Blake, who studies music at Loyola University and plays the trumpet, sometimes in front of psychedelic backdrops but usually not. He is in a band called Sycamore Soldier, which is just starting out, and you can read about them here.