A Cloudy, muggy day in June 1994
Every now and again you visit a city that you instantly feel could be home; for me, New Orleans is one of those cities. I found some of the best bars – and beers – anywhere in the USA here. I found some of the best music venues I have ever visited. The architecture, the food, the people, the cultural mix… everything about it is right.
I must apologise for these pictures; they were pretty poor quality to start with and have not weathered well sine 1994. I suspect the city has changed a great deal since then; perhaps I might get back one day?
The beer was so good I even brought some of it back to London with me, and in fact one bottle of Voodoo Black – an excellent dark stout/porter-type beer – ended up on a shelf in my favourite landlords pub in south Devon. I seem to recall a Swamp Water beer that tasted very good indeed – with thankfully no hint of swamp! I would love to go back one day to see how the craft beer industry is doing these days.
Okay, the ‘stop here’ sign was too good to resist! I found this on an obscure wall next to the Streetcar tracks.
Left: Rena on the Cajun Queen.
My partner loved seafood of any description; she was much braver than me. One day walking down a street in the French Quarter we came across a large seafood outlet with nothing to sell – but with a growing crowd of people gathering to be first in line – for what? Then with an almighty crash of shell on steel our answer came – seemingly by the thousand: oysters! Rena eat well that afternoon. I think I just had a bowl of gumbo.
Later that day we walked pretty much the full length of Bourbon Street to the quiet end, not that any part of New Orleans is really quiet you understand. It had been quite a long walk at the end of quite a long day so we stopped off for a beer at what appeared to be the last bar on the drag. Inside were only about a dozen people, and three of those assembled at the end of the bar with drums, bass and guitar to pound out some excellent blues – but Chicago blues. Nothing wrong with that, and when I got talking to the band during their beer break it turned out they were in fact a Chicago blues band on holiday! I wish I could remember their name…
Unfortunately I took no photographs in New Orleans itself – another reason to return one day. I think I was too busy soaking up the jazz, blues and beer. Rena bought a Billie Holiday t-shirt and I bought a matching Sonny Rollins shirt. This was heaven for us.
One day we did, of course venture out onto the Mississippi (I have to look at the screen every time I type that – and I always get it wrong!) on a paddle steamer. It was a grey and heavily overcast day so the snaps did not come out too well, but hopefully they catch something of the flavour of the river – at least as it was in 1990.
New Orleans never leaves me of course. I love music, and in particular New Orleans Funk as well as the many other sounds of the city. The Nevilles, Dr.John, The Gaturs, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Betty Harris, Eddie Bo, Professor Longhair, Lee Dorsey – the list is just too long and all of them nothing less than excellent. What a heritage!