The heartbeat of New Orleans is music. Between the music clubs, parades, second lines, festivals and buskers, it’s nearly impossible to go a whole day in the French Quarter without hearing live music. For everyone from Trombone Shorty, who’s played in the White House twice, to Grammy winners Rebirth Brass Band, their journey started in the streets of the French Quarter. They stood on corners performing behind a pail, an upturned hat or an open guitar case hoping for some financial gratitude. One of my most popular posts of all time is about violinist and guitarist, Tanya and Dorise. Another of the city’s most beloved street performers is Doreen Ketchens and her band, Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans.
Often found in front of Rouses Market at the corner of Royal and St. Peter, I’ve been loving the band so long, I’ve watched Doreen’s daughter, Miss Dorian, go from a napping tot to the band’s drummer. It’s a true family affair as Doreen’s husband Lawrence plays tuba, valve trombone and piano.
Ketchens has been called “The female Louis Armstrong,” “Lady Louie” and “Queen Clarinet.” She’s played with people as varied as Ellis Marsalis, Trombone Shorty and The Black Crowes. Along with traveling around the world, the band has performed for Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Anyone who’s seen this band can believe that. What’s unbelievable is that I get to see them for pocket change while I’m buying groceries (making groceries – for locals). The people of Lake Charles, LA will be treated to a concert on Nov. 6, 2016 at 6pm at the Lake Charles Governor’s Mansion, 1025 Broad Street.
Like so many of our citizens, Doreen is multi-talented and apparently expresses her passion through cooking as well, having worked her way through college as a chef. She offers a “Dinner & Music” experience that includes a personal concert and a menu including yummy dishes like Shrimp and Corn Soup, Jambalaya, Stewed Mirliton w/Shrimp & Ham and Banana’s Foster. The “Dinner & Music” experience can be casual with disposable plates and flatware, or fancy with a four-course sit-down meal and table service.
In addition Doreen and her husband Lawrence perform in schools throughout the country and even the world. Workshops includes a demonstration of a Jazz Funeral, Mardi Gras Indian chants and a discussion of the origins of our music. They also offer programs for special needs children, adults and the elderly.
I enjoy watching talent shows like America’s Got Talent and American Idol. But one of the side effects of living here is becoming SO spoiled that a performer could be amazing and have the whole TV audience on their feel and I’ll be thinking, “Eh, I’ve seen better on Royal.” It’s a wonderful side effect to have.
Enjoy these photos taken mostly from the band’s website. I’ve attached a video after the photos. At the end of the video, Miss Doreen holds a note for :28 seconds.