Activity: Free Jazz and Heritage tour
Difficulty Rating: waking up early
My Aussie friends are in town!! This means an action packed week of sympathetic tourism mode. It’s nice experiencing the city a little more urgently, breaks you out of the “that beignet will be here tomorrow” mentality and into “all the beignets in the world must be eaten by me right now!!!” mode. And it’s fun to see the stuff you walk by every day through a historical context. Everything was once a brothel!
The hardest part of this tour was getting into town by 11am. Before you scoff, we are typically up till 1am entertaining the drunkest, least personal-space-respecting humans, and we can’t get to bed before about 3am. That’s if we don’t get cornered by someone who wants to list every flute concerto they played in high school so they can get into the green room. American Husband didn’t make it to out of the house, but he begged me to go on without him, like a wounded soldier with a doona and a Netflix account.
Turns out there were plenty of people late to the tour, including myself and my Aussie friends, but it was easy to locate because it was a huge crowd of people buzzing around a park ranger in a cool hat. The tour moved from the French Market to the Mississippi. Ranger Karen told us all about the history of the French Quarter, including the relationship between the French and Spanish colonists, the cultural integration of noble folk and slaves and the colourful prostitution scene. All these things influenced the musical development of the city and Ranger Karen demonstrated how with a little Bluetooth speaker she’d hold up from time to time when making a point. It was totes adorbs.
The tour concluded at the visitor centre where local virtuoso pianist Richard Scott was giving a talk about his favourite New Orleans music and playing examples as he went. He was funny and passionate and his playing was off the charts. This guy called Dave reckons Richard Scott is the best piano player in the world. You go, Dave. He played just about every song about the Mississippi River, then threw in one of his own compositions to prove that New Orleans music is still alive and growing. History is all around us! And only most of it is brothels!
Here’s our piano friend being charming and excellent.