Baby please don't go, down to New Orleans
Oh I love you so
Baby please don't go....
Against all advice...we went down to New Orleans or as the locals call it NOLA. And baby, we loved it so.
By Big Joe Williams, and immortalised by Van Morrison in the 60's. But if you want to hear another version Muddy Waters & the Rolling Stones also play together (start from around 6 min in as the Stones crash his concert!).
Musical Highlights were having a couple of nights out on Frenchman Street. We saw old blues, standards and then the awesome funk band YOJIMBO! They are NOLA natives so be sure to check them out if you come to New Orleans.
Strangers in bars, and passing musicians recommended us to see gigs giving a place and day and we'd seek it out eager to find musical gold....like when we met two aussies in a fantastic Bar Tonique drinking their fantastic cocktails with white suited over intoxicated and therefore friendly southerners. We mentioned we'd been told a day and place (young black pianist came up to us and said "You like jazz? Go to Hotel Sonestra, Monday night.") and our new aussie friends knew the place. So we decided to go together.
The jazz was the BEST I've seen, they were all older guys, really tight as a band, amazing players and all played their solos like demons on speed! Even the double bassist, Richard who started his career as a jazz man quite late in life - I think he was around 65 yrs old. Richard told me afterwards he lost his bow in Katrina and never able to get a replacement, so he has to work hard at finger picking that double bass!
Traditional jazz and blues by the ORIGINAL TUXEDO JAZZ BAND at Irving Mayfields Playhouse in the hotel.
You can see my short takes here to attest to the awesome-ness of these guys. Serious jazz.
In the 18th century, the slaves were allowed to have Sundays off from work and they would gather in the Place des Negres, to sing, play music, dance, set up markets, and get together etc. Because of the constant drumming and music (sometimes due to voodoo rituals) it became informally known as Congo Square.
One sunday afternoon we passed by and saw them sweating it out in the heat, drumming furiously and the ladies were dancing. We stopped to listen and were somehow roped into joining!!!!
Greg jumped onto the african drums whilst I tried to keep up with the ladies, dancing and stamping on the ground. It was hot and hard work but what a great experience!
Marie Laveau was Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. A free woman of colour she
Voodoo was brought to New Orleans during the early 18th century by slaves who came from what is now Benin in West Africa. Louisiana Voodoo practioners believe in the existence of one god, below which powerful spirits operate and exert influence on daily life events concerning family, love, money, happiness, and revenge.
During the 19th century, voodoo queens became central figures in New Orleans. The most revered was Marie Laveau. She acted as an oracle, conducted rituals, performed exorcisms, and offered sacrifices to spirits from behind her cottage on St. Anne Street in the French Quarter. (From Wiki)
We visited the Voodoo Museum and were able to be taken on a Voodoo Tour by a practioner. We got to see Marie Laveau's place of practice and her tomb as well. A lot has been said about her but so much is hearsay. All we do know is that she lived from 1801-1881 and was a practioner of Voodoo who ended up very famous and influential for her work....
All the graveyards here have above ground tomb stones as you can see from the pics above.
Creepy? Yes but with a purpose.
The early protestants buried their dead in normal graves, but with the high water table here in NOLA and the rainy season, the nearby houses could hear knocking on the tombstones, like the dead were trying to get out.... In reality the water rose and so did the bodies which made them knock against the top of the caskets in the ground.
So what they did was create above ground crypts, where they'd place the body.
After one year they reopen the tomb and find the body is now ashes (the summer is sweltering here), then sweep up the ashes and pile them into a urn. They keep doing this until all the family members are buried in the same crypt.
But legend says some tombs were opened to find no body inside at all....which gave rise to the myths of zombies and vampires....
We stared our New Orleans culinary journey with the PoBoy originally known as the Poor Boy. Interestingly it's history came from when the tram car drivers were striking in 1929 (just before the Great Depression) the cafe offered free sandwiches to the strikers. As they saw them coming they'd say "here comes another poor boy".
To keep costs low instead of using French bread which has rounded edges they created 15inch square loaves. So that they didn't waste any bread and their Poor Boys became famous throughout the country. Stuffed full of delicious fillings like, shrimp and grits, catfish, - and we can attest they are fantastic something like a manwich. Huge.
We then proceeded to eat Catfish, lobster, shrimp, oysters throughout our time here.
Try the salads too, they are HUGE.
On our last day I finally got to sample the Beignet!
A NOLA twist on the donut.....deep fried pastry. Yes it was delicious!!!
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