At long last, John and I were able to take a little break and head out to New Orleans, our favorite city. It's our happy place--it makes me feel that this is life as it should be. New Orleans is such a magical city, I encourage everyone to visit and experience all it has to offer. It really has something for everyone! It doesn't feel like you're even in the US--if you've visited Europe or Latin America, you're right on track. It feels like you're walking through the colonial part of Havana with the wrought-iron balconnades and tall louvred windows. The city really has bounced back from Katrina 5 years ago: the business owners that were flooded have invested so much effort into refurbishing the historic restaurants and hotels. Thankfully the major tourist area wasn't ever flooded, which helps. This city is focused on showing you a good time, which fortunately goes hand in hand with showcasing the wonderful historic buildings, world-class unique food, and unbelievable music. There is a spirit of "we're all in this together" there that is real. People are really friendly and are happy that you're there.
We had intended on visiting for the Ponderosa Stomp, which I highly highly recommend if you're into classic rock and roll, soul, blues, garage, swamp pop, and country. Check out the info on the Stomp here. In my eyes, this puts Viva Las Vegas to shame. The lineup featured Huelynn Duvall, The Trashmen, Thee Midnighters, Barbara Lynn, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Duane Eddy, etc etc. This concert is a showcase for these fantastic under-represented heroes of rock and roll, and it also raises funds for older musician's healthcare and housing. This is a feel-good town that supports their local arts. The music was beyond amazing: 30 acts in all. We missed the first night because I of course double-booked myself and scheduled 3 wedding cakes to deliver Sat morning; so we delivered them in the AM and hopped a plane to catch the last day. We arrived, changed, and were greeted by our fabulous local friends Susan and Rob, who took us to the fabulous Green Goddess restaurant. We feasted on the sublime cochon (pulled roast pork), wild mushroom and huitlacoche crepes, filo-wrapped spicy shrimp, and a wonderful Vietnamese stuffed rice crepe.
The House of Blues in NOLA actually has a mellow, friendly vibe which catches me off guard every time. The HOB in Chicago and LA makes you feel like a criminal, looking through your bags, patting you down and making you remove your belt before entering. Not here. They didn't even ID me. Or maybe I look that old now? We were greeted with friendliness and a nice welcome to the city by the doormen. I almost fainted. Oh, and the beers here are $4, whereas we're used to paying double that in LA.
Barbara Lynn rocked the house with one of the best soul voices we've ever heard (and she plays a mean guitar too) Listen to Barbara's YoullLoseaGoodThing and the JAM Oh Baby We Got a Good Thing Going. Then Sugar Pie DeSanto stole the show. She had opened for James Brown back in the day, and it showed. She came out at a tiny 4'11" and had the whole House of Blues in the palm of her hand. Check these out, I dare you not to get chills!! Sugar Pie's Rock Me Baby, Soulful dress, Do the Whoop-ee and her amazing performance at the 2008 R&B Awards awards. She had the band on their tippy toes, cuing each and every musician as they held their breath. We'd never seen anything like it. She jumped into the audience and was swinging upside down around the handrail like she was on the playground. Then she grabbed a fellow out of the audience, pulled him onstage and jumped into his arms, wrapped her legs around him and did backbends--and not missing a note of the song. And she's 75 years old people!!!
Lil' Buck Senegal, the premier guitarist of the South, backed up almost every act, playing for over 7 hours straight with no sign of letting up (then handed over the reins to our old friend Deke Dickerson, who is always such a great guitar man). Buck's in his 70s also, and legend has it that his song Monkey in a Sack inspired the Meters to create their influential sound. The Beastie Boys' biggest influence was the Meters, just as an example of their reach. Here's another Lil' Buck jam Cat Scream. The Relatives supposedly tore it up as the highlight of Friday night, a gospel/funk band from TX "Let's Rap" 1974. Sorry we missed it! Last Stomp's highlight was Little Wille Littlefield, a ridiculously talented boogie woogie piano player, probably the best alive. Watch as he plays with a spoon that fell on the piano Little Wille Littlefield. He now lives in the Netherlands, where apparently they appreciate talent! Duane Eddy was fabulous, Guitar Lightnin' tore it up with his blues guitar on the outside stage, Joe Clay peeked his head out for a few rockers, I could go on and on, you really have to go! I'd pay for everyone's ticket if I could.
This is the place to be, in one of the greatest music cities in the world. Yes, there were more white gym shoes than pompadours, but this is the real deal! The only thing that matters in this town is having a good time. You can still wear your vintage, it's ok!! They love fancy things in the South!