Saturday, June 1, 2013

Adventures in New Orleans – Memorial Day Weekend 2013

How does one accurately portray the allure and charm of a celebrated world class city like New Orleans after only one first-time visit? The years of history and volumes already written alone create a daunting and humbling task for anyone other than the most experienced. What follows here then is far from any attempt at a comprehensive overview, but simply one person’s photo blog of a whirlwind three-day holiday weekend in one of America’s greatest cities.

Arrving at Louis Armstrong International Airport, the jazz tradition this city is so well known for is prominently on display.

A relatively quick cab ride whips past well known locations like LSU Medical Center and the Superdome (home of the NFL's Saints - here shot from moving vehicle).

First stop - The Royal Barracks Guest House - not coincidentally located on Barrracks street (by Royal) in The French Quarter.

Directly across the street, and equally charming view.

And looking down the street.

A look inside - attractive and ornate.

The architecture is truly beautiful here, with one building after another presenting it's own unique structural qualities.

As we headed out on this Saturday night to check out some of the world famous music that is the centerpiece of this city’s culture, I asked the lovely Sissy Jean to snap a shot of me in front of some particularly appealing iron gatework. The desire to capture a moment and put yourself in it is difficult to resist – especially in a city as captivating as this one.

Strolling the streets of the French Quarter is a wonderful way to soak in the ambiance all around you.  As a coffee aficionado, I made note of all the places I wanted to stop in a some point during this sojourn.

Soon enough we were raging off to a good time club called The Rock'n'Bowl to catch Dave Ferrato and his Tchoupazine all star funk, R&B and blues band!

Serious musicians

Check 'em out:

After their killer set we went outside and met the nicest, chatty and friendly people.

We relaxed a bit, joked around and took a photo or two as well.

But like the best of party nights and the attempt to see and do as much as possible, we high-tailed it over to another venue to catch a very special event.

The big show this evening was a very special 30th Anniversary Celebration of Grammy winners the Rebirth Brass Band being held at Howlin Wolf.

The bands longevity and award winning status is a testament to the incredible high quality jazz and funk hybrid they play.

Opening the show was a duo combination I had yet to experience elsewhere.  While one member had the current DJ setup you see quite frequently (and it sounded like he had his own unique mixes, which were for the most part very good) - the other half of this duo was an electric violinist in the Jean Luc Ponty Jazz-Fusion mode.  What was even more surprising was how this bizarre combination actually worked!  They had the place jumpin' and the sound blended together very well.

Soon it was time for the evenings main event.

The large ensemble were working their way onto stage and getting everything set.

Hoping to experience one of the great New Orleans brass bands, it's hard to imagine doing any better than this.

In addition to their amazing sound, the band had a dedicated dancer on board (on the right there) who entertained the crowd with his high energy and moves!

He wore a dapper suit and hat, as well as a sash with the band's name on it - and waved around a huge feathered fan.

Dancin' man came out into the audience and the party revelers lapped it up.

Although a very diverse audience (much like the city itself) the partiers leaned towards the fratboy and bachelorette set - though there appeared to be plenty of locals there too.

The band played at a relentless pace and in this photo it almost seems like the member on the right there is reaching up and holding a magical orb in his hand.

Check out how they sound:

Performing "Big Chief" at their regular gig at The Maple Leaf Bar

Needing just a few temporary moments of a calmer environment, we headed just out and just up the street to a local establishment called the Corporation bar.  They had a great jukebox in there.

Heading back out and towards the Howlin Wolf, the Rebirth Brass Band was now out on the street in front, entertaining a large crowd.

One more clip from them, here performing on the wonderful
HBO dramatic series 'Treme

Find out more about them here:

At this point it was suggested I "needed" to experience the gauntlet that is Bourbon Street on a teeming Saturday night. 

It was as crowded and rowdy as anything I have ever experienced.  The closest that came to this previously was Saturday night on 6th street in Austin during SXSW.

However this seemed even more alcohol soaked (and puke splattered).  It was a hell of an experience, but I was glad to get through it unscathed.


Sunday morning brought a refreshing sense of newness to the proceedings and the lure of a quality New Orleans breakfast.

Such fine appointments and details

Amazing Cappuccino

a lovely atmosphere

Sooo delicious

Newspaper headlines of the day

What is in the tiles outfront of Croissant D'or.
Remants of another time.

Seeing the sights and visiting recommended places

Ornate tilework

And more signage of past times

On a stroll, stopping at Pirates Alley

The great church in the square commemorates a previous visit by The Pope.

And on this day a Bishop was there.

We decided to go on a trolly car ride and see things outside of The French Quarter

First destination

The Creole Creamery.  Again, with signage remaining from days gone by.

Incredible flavors

The next stop, Three Brothers Lounge

Back on the trolley again

Street sign views

Neighborhoods just outside of the French Quarter

So many wonderful architectural details can be see.  I loved this banner plaque hanging from a spear or arrow.  It reminded me of the Lannister Lion sigil.

Strolling through the public spaces, we experienced many wonderful street musicians

and famous clubs on Frenchman street

 The decision was made to check out this great band The Palmetto Bug Stompers at club dba

Not only did the band swing, but the floor was filled with many elegant dance couples

The swirl of activity served to enchance an already great sound

Ghostly images merge with soundwaves

Soon it was time for dinner, and we would be dining at Emeril Lagasse's world famous restaurant NOLA

I loved this "autographed" carving knife

The meal.   Every bit as good as advertised.

The room.  Relaxed and inviting.

Back out on the street, we strolled past cafe's

As well as a pilgramage of sorts to St. Peter's Guest House - to pay respect to
Johnny Thunders final residence

The Inn on St. Peter's from across the street

The night's final image shows a full moon rising over the shadow of Jesus


 Monday the 27th - Memorial Day

Starting the final day of this adventure off just right - with breakfast (and delicious coffee) at Cafe Beignet

The much recommended and very worth it Beignet

My buddy David Fransen who I got to know when he lived in Brooklyn enjoyed them as well.  David is born and raised in Louisiana - it was great catching up with him.

My breakfast.  Soooo good.

Out on the street - Croms and Frans

We caught a wonderful acapella group singing and I captured a bit of it.

Ornate rooms with lovely detail

And cool friends to hang with

Getting a Po Boy for the road.

If it isn't obvious by now, I would not hesitate recommending a trip to New Orleans to anyone considering it.

Just go - you'll be happy you did.



Misty said...

wow. this looks like such a fantastic trip! my fave bit is that ice cream shop you visited. i want to know what flavor you had! :)

DaveCromwell said...

I ordered a combination of flavors, Misty. One was cookies-and-cream! It was delicious. The whole trip was.

Patricia Mena said...

What a wonderful experience you had there Dave! Cool photos, tasty food, so sweet place! Very nice vids, i liked so much the great acapella group!

DaveCromwell said...

Oh, the food was exceptional, Patricia. The music - the architecture - the atmosphere - everything about the place was awesome.

Unknown said...

Looks like a great trip. Rich in musical heritage with a great vibe.

Maybe one day ;)

DaveCromwell said...

If you can ever swing it, VP - I heartily recommend it. Might as well go - you've already done New York!

Older Wiser Harder said...

wonderful write-up, Dave, New Orleans has just gone to the top of our list of places to go

William said...

Love New Orleans, next time im in USA i will definitely be going there!! Looks like you had an awesome time

DaveCromwell said...

I know both of you travel quite a bit Richard and Will - so without a doubt you should make this one of your must see stops here in the U S of A. One of America's truly great cities.

The Grim Reefer said...

To say i vividly remember my first trip to the Big Easy would be to overstate things just a wee bit. Nawlins in '72 (Mardi Gras) was an eye opening experience for me.....a whole new thing.
.....of course the food....and the music.....made me want to stay but dear old uncle sugar had other ideas....such is life.
.....I enjoyed your write-up Dave, as usual your enthusiasm and love for what you're doing shine through, and your photos are first rate.

DaveCromwell said...

Hey Reefer - good to know you had your own "Nawlins" point of reference to share. Yeah, for me it was definitely the food and music that captured (and held) my attention. That and (of course) the good company of knowledgeable people to entertain and guide the way.

The Midnite Rambler said...

I've been there a few times in the past. I saw the French Quarter, waterfront, garden district, cemeteries & zoo. Your photos brought back a lot of memories. The food was amazing & they have the best coffee. It is a nice place to visit but I don't think I'd want to live there. It has a lot of charm but it does have a dark side which I witnessed personally - I was randomly assaulted without provocation. You picked a good time to go - I think Mardi Gras would be overwhelming. I'm glad you had a good time.

DaveCromwell said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this as well, Midnite Rambler. Yeah, I was well aware of the "dark side" potential as well. It's always all over the news. But - living in the New York metro area (like we both do) - those risks are here as well. Sorry to hear about the assault. I made sure I kept my eyes open and was always aware of my surrounding situation. It's a shame a few bad element types can ruin what is otherwise a great experience. I'd still recommend a visit there, though.

Mr Smork said...

vool city, sweet music and i see you met some awesome people there as well.
and i bet you were charmed by those jazz sounds. :)

DaveCromwell said...

So much great music and food to sample - and the great people to hang with make it all worthwhile. There's a lot to charm you.

Anonymous said...

Looks like an interesting city

Ivanka said...

wow!!! Now that's a beautiful place to visit for sure!! Amazing photos of the city and gigs. Looks like you had super great time! Sweet music, sweet places that's definitely an amazing way to spend time! Thank you for taking us with you on this journey, through photos and videos and of course - words!! It is indeed beautiful review!!!!

DaveCromwell said...

I'm glad you like. I always hope to convey a sense of 'being there' in this type of feature. I'm happy to know you felt that experience.

Mirror said...

I think this fits perfectly here,