Irma last Wednesday

Enjoyed my weekly free concert in Lafayette Square, but I missed the first half and I didn’t get to have my nice long walk into town since I was running so late. I ended up missing the Threadhead Players, who I’ve enjoyed and mentioned many times before. All of that said, it was one of the most packed weeks and I’m so glad I made the effort to get there because Irma Thomas, local favorite since the 60’s, was wonderful.

As I was walking from my parked car, I passed a man and his dog walking in the same direction. He smiled and said, “Happy Wednesday.” Indeed. It might have been the most crowded week yet. I found out later that several of my friends were there that I never saw though we were all in the same general area of the Square.

Louisiana Music Hall of Fame artist, Irma Thomas, is known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans. She won her first Grammy in 2007 after several nominations in a career spanning 50 years thus far.

She sang 60’s doo-wop, contemporary blues, New Orleans standards like “Pocky Way,” and bump-n-grind tunes like “Hip Shakin’ Mama.” People danced their butts off and waved hankies in a faux second line. One guy danced himself so silly that Ms. Thomas had to point him out and the band onstage couldn’t help laughing at his antics.

There was a 9 year old girl who’d drawn a picture of Irma while standing on the fence-line at the front row. Ms. Thomas, who apparently doesn’t usually give autographs, took the sketch pad and signed the drawing. What a treasure for that girl. Then Irma made a joke about hoping she had a better waistline than the rectangular figure in the drawing.

Though I’d missed the Threadhead show, I did catch up with Margie Perez afterward. She performed at the Square along with Threadhead Records artists, Paul Sanchez, Alex McMurray, Glen David Andrews and others.

Threadhead Records, for those not in the know, began as an effort to help musicians who were victims of Katrina to help themselves. It is run by volunteers and funded by fans. Threadhead loans artists money to produce a CD and in turn, the artist agrees to pay back the loan within six months along with a 10% donation to the Threadhead Records Foundation or other recognized charities benefitting local musicians. The loan money is then returned to the investor-fans. Sounds like a great way to help local musicians help themselves.

During the show, I noticed a handsome man in his late 40’s – 50’s with a small child on his shoulders. He was wearing a tunic embroidered with ohm symbols and a nice straw hat (a favorite accessory among men here). After 17 1/2 years in Los Angeles, I just assumed the tiny child was his. Later, we spoke and I found out he was a pediatric surgeon and that was his grandchild. Of course. He’s a pawpaw. Of course. And damn proud of it.

I don’t guess I’m in any position to judge when people have their children. I myself, have none and I have a couple of friends who had their children in their 40’s. I say it only because this blog is an opportunity for me to compare L.A. with LA and childbirth is an area where I’ve noticed L.A. is not in sync with the norm. The Travoltas (John, 56, and Kelly Preston, 47), are expecting again and that’s fairly normal in L.A. It’s at least not abnormal. I have gotten used to seeing grey haired people (though grey hair is rare in L.A.) pushing strollers and assuming it’s their kid so as not to insult them with any other assumptions. And, yes, I got the sense that mistaking them for grandparents would have been insulting. It’s none of my business when people have their children, but I’ll be honest and say, things make more sense to me here and I like the pride people in their 40’s take in their grown children and their grandbabies. And, as a child who got to play with my pawpaw, I like seeing grandparents young enough to lift their grandbabies on their shoulders for a concert.

Only three more Wednesdays remain in this year’s program, sponsored by our world champion New Orleans Saints. Geaux Saints!

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Filed under Charity, Concerts, Culture, festival, free events and lagniappe, moving

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