There are New Orleans traditions that belong mostly to our visitors (Bourbon Street) and those that belong uniquely to locals, but there are a few traditions we all share. We all eat beignets, we all love Mardi Gras (though often for different reasons) and we all love the Tuesday night tradition of Rebirth Brass Band playing the Maple Leaf. Rebirth is the first brass band to ever win a Grammy. The world has heard them in many soundtracks dating back to Reginald Hudlin’s Boomerang starring Eddie Murphy in 1992. Last years’s hit Girls Trip included the band’s original, Do Watcha Wanna – practically a city anthem.
I’d been to the Maple Leaf in the 90’s during a location scout for a film and not much has changed. The service was fantastic – a winning balance of fast and friendly. Continue reading
Because people have jobs, Thursday can be the least crowded day of the entire Jazz Fest schedule. Add a cold rain until after lunchtime and things got off to a very slow start. I volunteered to work in the Kiwanis beer booth to raise money for local children’s activities and got to spend the day remembering everything I love about Jazz Fest. The “shoe forecast” called for boots owing to the rains the night before – todays showers weren’t predicted. But I loved seeing all the fashion fun “boot weather” brings out (favorite pictured below). My friend, Wendy, and I ended up wearing the exact same pair – extra funny since we met when she dressed my character in The Loft years ago.
We set up the booth, got a requisite Crawfish Monica, then wandered to the nearby Acura Stage to watch Cha Wa. Continue reading
We were still in our formal wear at midnight when we got to the airport to pick up my niece and her 2 friends from college. We’d been dancing and dining at the annual Raintree Gala benefitting foster children and the families who care for them. We dropped the kids in the French Quarter and hoped they didn’t get in too much trouble on their Spring Break’s first night. We all enjoyed a tasty brunch at Wink’s Bakery the next morning, finishing our meal with super-tasty donuts and their famous Buttermilk Drops.
As Pelicans season ticket holders, we were invited to their annual appreciation day so we left the kids to the Quarter and headed to the Arena for a day of tours, games, lots of freebies and Pelicans players everywhere. Continue reading
Friday marked the start of the 15th annual Satchmo Fest celebrating jazz and the life of New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong, with 2 stages of live music, seminars and local food. There were some changes made this year. The most obvious is that the festival is no longer free to the public. I’m sure there are people for whom the $5/day charge might prove too much. I’m thinking especially of large families. That said, you certainly get your money’s worth and if the money went for the new giant tents making it possible to be in the shade all day, it was money well spent. Continue reading
Saturday was the third wonderful day of the 32nd annual French Quarter Fest. Crowds were lighter for rumors of rain but the day started beautifully with the talented and highly disciplined kids of The Roots of Music. Founded by Derrick Tabb, the snare drummer for the Grammy Award winning Rebirth Brass Band, the Roots program provides at-risk youths 9 to 14 year olds with instruction in music history, music theory and an instrument as well as ensemble performance preparation. Additionally, they provide academic tutoring, homework assistance, mentoring, round-trip transportation and a hot meal 5 days a week, 12 months a year. Plus, they’re AWESOME! In a city where we could have had our pick of oodles of ridiculously talented bands, we hired a baker’s dozen of the Roots of Music kids to play our wedding second line. Continue reading
It’s been 9 years today since Katrina made landfall on the Gulf’s coast. By the time it reached New Orleans, winds were estimated to have been Category 1 or 2 but then the levees failed and all hell broke loose. And then the world watched on TV as Americans stood on rooftops for days begging for water and worse and worse and worse. The Superdome became a symbol for loss, despair and failures at every level. It only took 4 1/2 years to change the Superdome into a house of triumph and a symbol of rebirth, renewal and rebuilding. The Dome, and all it represents, have become part of this city’s story and what better way to celebrate how far we’ve come than to go to a Saints game with the Rebirth Brass Band kicking things off in Champions Square. Continue reading