Groove Notes, Live From New Orleans, Day 1

Our weekly “1,000” and “Clash” posts will be taking a weeklong hiatus, but for good reason.

This week I will be posting live from New Orleans. It is my first visit here, and there is so much to soak up and talk about, especially musically.

I will start by saying that I am making a pact with myself to only post entries while eating beignets and drinking cafe au lait from Cafe Du Monde. Of the 30 or so emails I received ahead of time from listeners and readers about what I should do while in New Orleans, Cafe Du Monde was on almost every single list. Delicious.

For jazz fans, you know you are home when you get off the airplane in New Orleans and are almost immediately greeted by a giant statue of Louis Armstrong, and the few shops and restaurants in the airport almost all have the word “Jazz” in their name.

While day one was only a half-day, and half of that was taken up by a nap, I wasn’t going to waste my first night. New Orleans is a city that will take advantage of any reason to celebrate, and with the Saints playing for the NFC Championship today, the crowds were out at night. There is music of all forms everywhere, but my first night I decided to head to Frenchman Street.

One restaurant had live reggae, and across the street was live blues at a small bar. A dixieland band was playing on the street for donations, but I wasn’t stopping until I made it to Snug Harbor, self described as New Orleans premier jazz club. I had a fried chicken sandwich, a Hurricane, and enjoyed a wonderful night of tribute to Django Reinhardt.

The social scene at these jazz clubs, restaurants, and bars is completely different than what I have previously been familiar with. It is a party, not just a show. I made reservations for Tuesday night, when Terrance Blanchard is going to be playing. After Snug Harbor, I went across the street to a place called the Spotted Cat music club, where a band called the Frenchman Street All-Stars were playing. This was high energy, high intensity jazz, the way I always imagined jazz being played in a small New Orleans club. Crowded, a little greasy, but standing room only, loud, and with a quintet that tore the roof off of the place. People cheered for solos like solos are supposed to be cheered for.

This was Day 1. As previously mentioned, I plan on seeing Terrence Blanchard on Tuesday, as well as a visit to the Musician’s Villiage, among many other music related activities. I’ll keep ya posted.