Monday, April 23, 2012

French Quarter Fest Part Deux

Saturday morning we decided to do some museum exhibits which led us to the old U.S. Mint on the east end of the Quarter. It houses an exhibit on the early days of ore smelting/coin making and a jazz museum. We did a quick spin through a photo exhibit commemorating 50 years of Preservation Hall (Traditional Requests $1, Others, $2, The Saints $5) and then wandered into a third floor performance studio for a musical bit of lagniappe (something extra) that deserves its own post.

In the afternoon, we rendezvoused with friends on Bourbon Street for traditional New Orleans music with Jimmy LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band. It merits the “original” title because it was founded in 1917 by Jimmy’s father Nick LaRocca, the tumpeter and composer of “Tiger Rag.” The original ODJB is reputed to have made the first jazz recording in 1917 and its version of “Darktown Strutters Ball” earned a slot in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

On this afternoon, they were as hot as sun on a sidewalk with “Momma’s In The Kitchen” and “War Cloud” then slowed down for a take on “It’s A Wonderful World.”

Around the corner in the courtyard of the Historic New Orleans Collection we came across another find: Andrew Duhon and The Lonesome Crows. He writes like a young Jackson Browne and has a voice reminiscent of Jim Croce. His ballads are about endless decisions on leaving or staying (I think it’s time to fit my life in my backseat/Got a girl I know that I can’t take with me) and the cover of his new CD has an open suitcase with a rope made of clothes with two hands hanging on.
His canvas is New Orleans but his characters are universal. “Coming Down Over Here”
captures the weather and a lover’s dilemma. (Babe, it’s been storming, at least it has so far. I seen the clouds forming but I didn’t think it'd be this hard.)

We stayed around for a set by Kristin Diable, a dead ringer for a young Joni Mitchell, but our group gave her mixed reviews; interesting songwriter but not much variety in her singing and playing.

After refueling at the Gumbo Shop, we caught the tail end of the Battle of the Bands on the steps of the old Courthouse, three traditional jazz bands who combined for a rousing version of “The Saints Go Marching In.” Among those dancing in front were two of the stars of FX’s Justified, Joelle Carter and Walter Goggins…two of those Crowders.

Then it was back to the waterfront for a final round of Zydeco with Donna Agnelle & the Zydeco Posse (“Aint no party like a Donna Party”) and Roddie Romero & The Hub City All Stars with a hot cover of a Fats Domino tune.

French Quarter Fest bills itself as the “ World’s Biggest Jazz Brunch,” with164 menu options from the Quarter's finest restaurants. We tried crawfish pies, shrimp cakes, lamb sliders, fish tacos seafood crepes and sweet potato fries, washed down with Abita Amber and Abita Jocamo (didn't try Purple Haze). We avoided Hurricanes and those college-kid drinks from Tropical Isle: The Hand Grenade, Skinny Hand Grenade, Tropical Itch and Happy Gator. Our restaurant tips include Acme Oyster House (barbecued oysters), Upperline (fried green oysters with shrimp remoulade), Mena’s Palace (best grits) Broussards (grilled red fish) and the Stage Door Canteen at the WWII museum (gumbo).

Next: The Sunpie Story

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