Bonjour, Frenchman Street

On a corner of Frenchman Street is the reason I keep coming back to New Orleans. A live jazz band is in full swing, drawing a large crowd and generally blocking the traffic. But the cab drivers don’t react by honking their horns or shouting at them to get out the way. This is everyday stuff, a group of local musicians playing for tips. This photo taken on my phone doesn’t really do it justice, but it give you an idea of the spontaneity of the place.

Across the road at Bamboula’s they’ve got the blues.

The musical style is in stark contrast to what I’ve just seen. To quote the band : “we’ll just carry on playing stuff in they key of D.” D could be for diversity – the crowd here are of all ages and backgrounds.

“Are you one of those fecking lefties?” asks Colin. He’s several Long Island Iced Teas down by the time I meet him and his son Gavin, and the political banter is only partly in jest. Colin left Kent 40 years ago and now lives in South Africa. He grew up with the Beatles and, in his words, “our generation never went to war. How good is that?” Despite the alcohol flowing, Colin makes a good point. He’s of the generation that had a good life, and in retirement he’s living it well.

It’s getting late, at least for a Monday night. But there’s no such thing as an early night in New Orleans, and although Bourbon Street is winding down by its own raucous standards, there’s still plenty of live music on offer. And if you can’t beat them, you join them – at the Cats Meow karaoke bar. As with any joint like this, there are those who can and those who can’t. These guys knock out a mean version of Sexual Healing.

Him : Man, I got it on tonight.

Her : This could go either way.

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