There’s absolutely nothing like New Orleans, the city or its music. On that I hope we can all agree. At times I think I could write exclusively about New Orleans music, and its unmeasurable impact as the genesis of so many different bedrock genres that one must assume the history of popular music wouldn’t have been, couldn’t have been, anything remotely the same without it.
Fans of New Orleans, and lovers of music the world over, took a big hit recently. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – Jazzfest – which had been rescheduled for October, was cancelled. Again. The springs of 2020 and 2021, and now the fall of 2021, too.
For the hundreds of thousands of New Orleans worshippers who’d planned and re-planned their pilgrimage back to The Fairgrounds, like my friend Redman, for one, it was a devastating kick in the red beans and rice. Despite the seductive feeling that the live music industry (and with it the rest of conventional civilization) was at last easing back to normal, thanks to the Delta variant – and what I’d consider to be some people’s quite peculiar ideas about personal freedom as it relates to public health – we are most definitely not there.
Jazzfest is now next a possibility, back in its customary spring position, on Apr. 29, 2022. Let’s hope that happens. On the heavenly souls of Louis Armstrong, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Louis Prima, Professor Longhair, and a Mardi Gras float’s worth of others, I really pray that it does.
So instead, for now, I hope you’ll sit back and listen to this song. But wait, don’t play it just yet. Do me a couple small favors. For starters, you really must have a drink in front of you – of course, preferably a Hurricane, Sazerac, or Abita (a Dixie for you old-timers) – but if those aren’t feasible anything containing alcohol will surely do. And, if at all possible, choose your listening session for a steaming, suffocatingly sticky, clammy day (or at least put on some heavy clothes and really crank up your heat). If it doesn’t feel too weird, maybe you could leave a few drops of Louisiana hot sauce on your tongue. That’ll get the slow-boiling sweat going.
Now, close your eyes and picture yourself sitting on a rickety old wooden bench inside Preservation Hall – or, if you’ve never been to that tiny, iconic venue itself, visualize being crammed into Tipitina’s or the Maple Leaf, or even strolling through Jackson Square, along Frenchmen Street, or any other melodious music-filled Crescent City landmark. Pause to breathe in the salty swelter. Take a healthy swig of your adult beverage of choice. Exhale, and try hard to forget all your cares. And then…hit play. Welcome back to New Orleans. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler.
P.S. Don’t be concerned with the apparent incongruity of choosing ‘Georgia’ to celebrate New Orleans; it’s a borderless classic, and this traditional but modern rendition really seemed to capture the sultry City That Care Forgot vibe. It’s not all puking on Bourbon Street, you know.