Monday, April 14, 2008

New Orleans and All that Jazz

New Orleans and All that Jazz

My first trip to N O was a real eye opener. The two things that stood out to me were

1 Bourbon St was not what it is cracked up to be.

2 The devastation is far worse then shown on TV and the print media.

If you go to New Orleans then one walk down Bourbon St is a must, after that I would suggest you go down towards the river, that is where the quality music and goods are, plus some wonderful buildings. On the other hand if you like cover bands you may like Bourbon St.

Three musicians stood out for me, a street performer named Grampa who was mustard on the blues harp and a slide player who I have no idea what his name was but he could play.

The real treat was found on the last night at Margarita Ville down by the river. A place owned by Jimmy Buffet that had one of the best acoustic blues players I have had the pleasure to listen to.

Brint Anderson has one of the most authentic blues sounds I have come across in many a year. His fingers are like little maggots zipping along the fret board and he has a blues voice to thrill anyone. Go here no acoustic I could only find electric, but still good. just listen to that voice.

Notes From Clarksdale is a CD out at the moment on Toulouse Records, it is live with a band. There is a solo CD planned and one I will certainly get.

If you are anywhere where Brint is playing I would suggest a listen, he does a selection of his own work and covers.

it was the best night I had in New Orleans, it beat the ride down the Mississippi on a river boat with dinner and a very good jazz band into second place.

New Orleans Storytelling
My main reason for going to N O was Storytelling. I was not sure where I would be and a phone call on the Sunday evening told me I would be in schools / libraries in the lower 9th Ward and in Little Vietnam. The libraries were totally destroyed and have been re constituted in local schools.

Librarian Mary Ann Marx was my contact and what wonderful person she turned out to be. Because of a shortage of staff she is required to run two branches and that is not easy. My second contact was Rachel Schultz who was full of life and enthusiasm for her job.

On the way to the lower 9th Ward Mary Ann showed me the devastation, it was good to be with someone who had experienced the storm and its aftermath and who gave me the kind of information you do not get in the media. That journey will forever be in my memory.

They have thousands of books, but no staff to get them library ready. What they need is money so they can purchase library ready books. This may seem strange, but with the shortage of staff it is all they can do just to keep open.

We arrived at the Martin Luther King school for Science and Math and I was shown where the water came up to inside the building. It was around ten feet. I lot of work has been done to get this school and library up and running again and credit to the people involved.

There I was faced with around sixty children and we had a great time. We were all singing and shouting and they listened intently to my storytelling. The best part for me was at the end when I sat amongst the children for a photo shoot. I will post the photo's when I have them.

I was then taken by Rachael to the Einstein Charter School where we did it all over again. There is something about children having a good time that can make your day. This was a smaller group, but very vocal, they had been singing while they were waiting for me to arrive so I think there vocal chords were ready. Once again more photo's and it will be fun to see them.

I want to thank everyone for making me welcome and wish you the best of luck for the future. If any of you, librarians or teachers, think you are not appreciated I can tell you, you are wrong. I for one have nothing but admiration for you.

The Areopagitica Bookshop

I performed along with Isaiah Jackson at the bookshop on Saturday 12 April. There was a full house and a good night had by all. The main contribution being the wonderful voice of Isaiah. I think we are going be seeing a lot more of this young man. I certainly will be encouraging him to get out to the various venues.
Thank you to friends who made the long journey from the deep south of the state to support me.

Do not forget to visit Youtube and put englishmanjohn in the search box to hear some of the fun stuff at Papa Joe's.
See you Thursday at Papa Joe's.


Howard said...

Great travelogue, John. I think you should travel to the far flung corners of this great Republic and render your impressions with the written word; it would both noble and entertaining as hell.

Howard Graves

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Howard wants you to get outta town, John!

No, I'm sure not...but he was right, keep blogging about your travels, eh? It's very interesting to get a fresh interpretation on things....