Most cities would struggle to persuade a couple of thousand people to show up after work midweek for what is essentially a fundraiser. Even with the incentive of live music and food. But most cities aren’t New Orleans. In Lafyette Square, a series of Wednesday gigs are put on by the Young Leadership Council, a group of junior business professionals. And tonight they’ve got a local hero performing.
Marc Broussard’s music is described as Bayou Soul – a mix of funk, blues and country. He’s been recording for more than a decade and although he’s had limited chart success, he has a faithful following. The event is helped along with a significant collection of street food stalls, paid for by tokens with proceeds going to the YLC. It’s a warm, dry evening and everyone goes home happy.
Or, they head back into the French Quarter to the Spotted Cat Music Bar. It’s arguably one of the best live music venues in the whole city. That’s a pretty big claim – but it’s a squeeze to find any room at all, let alone one with a decent view. Perhaps it’s something to do with Jesus playing a gig.
His real name is Antoine Diel and, like many around here, he’s just another gigging musician who you really hope could make it big someday. The main problem, in my opinion, is that the talent scouts from the big labels don’t view New Orleans in the same was as they do, say Nashville. This is a city for performing, rather than recording. The brass band on the corner of Frenchman Street will probably never make the big time either, but the crowds who see them will never forget the experience.
When the sun shines, New Orleans is a hot, sticky melting pot of all great things. But when it rains, you know about it. My final day here is marred by heavy thunderstorms, with the Mississippi River shrouded in cloud. Though the weather doesn’t stop the trade, or the tourists. Just out of shot here, the Creole Queen sets sail, one of two paddle boat steamers still giving visitors and old time experience.
It’s impossible to be disappointed with just one wet day in three. Later, the storms clear and there’s time for another streetcar trip to this historic, quirky district of Carrollton. Like the Garden District, this place knows how to put on a show with immaculately kept houses. But on Oak Street there’s a different feel – with independent hops and bars serving the local community – and the tourists who can be bothered to make the journey. Admittedly, by day it’s a little quiet. But you get the impression that an evening here would have a lot of potential.