The Big Easy
“…A come on everybody take a trip with me, well
Down the Mississippi down to New Orleans…”
We crossed theState line into Louisiana and prepared to give ourselves over to the Gods of Jazz and Dixieland. We got a great southern welcome at the visitor centre on the 31st parallel, where we got free coffee and some maps to guide us.
Our entry to the city was nothing short of spectacular. Taking the causeway that spans the vast Lake Pontchartrain, we travelled over the water for over 21 miles – it is the longest bridge in the world. The far shoreline was invisible. It was like we were heading into a new world. Then suddenly, out of the mists, we saw the skyline of the city appearing. It was amazing. It truly felt like we were leaving the United States proper. This incredible causeway withstood the worst that Katrina could throw at it, and proved a vital supply line for emergency crews in the wake of the Hurricane.
We were eager to check in and chill for a couple of hours so wew could get on out and explore a little of the city that night. As we drove down Esplanade which borders the French Quarter and parked up, we happened upon the filming of a new movie starring Goldie Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, called Earthbound. The entire movie is being filmed on location here and the streets are full of film gear, lighting trucks and catering wagons. We watched for a while off camera while the two principals filmed a scene outside a club. We’ll be looking for the movie when it comes out!
We headed into Frenchmen street where our friend, New Orleans artist Ted Hebbler had recommended us to visit. He’ll be flying over from Spain and will meet up with us one day this week. We called into the Apple Barrel, a cool little bar/music venue run by his friend Liz, who was actually born in Sheffield, England! There was an authentic sounding blues dude on slide guitar keeping us entertained while we sank a couple of draft beers, and Liz introduced us to a guy called Jack Fine, a fine old chap who’d been playing New Orleans jazz on his trumpet all his life. He’d lived for a time in France, and delighted Miki with his French. He’d played with British jazz legend Chris Barber, and told us he was playing with his bands The Jazz Vipers two doors down at The Spotted Cat. We promised to join him later.
Walking into the Spotted Cat, we were glad we’d taken him up on the invitation. The Jazz Vipers, were authentic, entertaining, and spectacular. True N’awlins jazz, served up hot with no embellishments. They were superb, each indiviually gifted, and each given his chance to shine, we adored them. They play every monday, and make no mistake we’ll be back next week to do it all again. Our first night in New Orleans was all we could have hoped for. -and we still had Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl to go!