Saturday it rained hard, and I got some house chores done. The weather broke in the afternoon, and I headed across town hoping to beat the rain and see Luna Fete, a light and music show that brings artists from around the world to Lafayette Square in the CBD. The lights are projected onto Gallier Hall, a municipal building with Greek columns and an impressive facade. The light show is mapped onto the buildings of the square, taking advantage of the architectural detail to emphasize the art. An example is a turning the columns into moving candy canes as dancers play between the columns. I arrived 25 minutes into a 30 minute show, my camera battery died, and it started to rain as the 30 minute wait for the next show started. I got a good five minute show and headed back into the Quarter, leaving the park to the little girls in tutus dancing in the mud.
I stopped by the Chart Room and was chatting with the bartender who turned out to be the owner of the condo next to mine who I had had been corresponding with via email. I had not recognized him or put two and two together, but it was another of those small town moments in New Orleans.
I stopped at Tujague’s for an excellent old fashioned at the bar, and a woman told me about the Christmas concert series at the St. Louis Cathedral and St. Augustine Church in the Treme. They are free short concerts put on through the weeks before Christmas, and some are by artists who don’t often perform in the close-by venues. I walked by Coops, but there was a line waiting outside in the rain, and ducked into the Turtle Bay. I had a passable cochon au lait po-boy, and was told I mis-ordered. One goes to Turtle Bay for pizza or hamburgers, apparently. The odd-sounding cheeseburger pizza is a specialty. It is good to have another neighborhood joint scoped out. I walked through Frenchmen Street and listened to the street band, but was between the early and late sets at the music clubs. I did have a successful Christmas run through the art market.
Sunday got off to a slow start, and I went over to Chris and Cecile’s for football. The weather called for it to be colder than it was, and the Touro posse was split between those willing to sit outside and watch on the neighbor’s porch, and the others who watched the game inside. I was an inside guy this time. Cecile’s son Will was there, and it was good to meet him and watch those two play off each other. Teenage life must have been fun in that house. Chris brought out the smoked salmon which was a big hit. And the Saints won, the Bears won, beating the Rams, which sets the Saints up for a home field advantage and the inside track for the Super Bowl. They just have to win a couple of football games.
I took advantage of the intel gained at Tujague’s about the Cathedral concerts, and went to a free show by Shannon Powell at the St. Louis Cathedral. He is a drummer and band leader at the Preservation Hall, an expert on Afro-Cuban influence on New Orleans music, a member of the Treme Brass Band, and is known as the King of Treme. The show was a short set of New Orleans Christmas music and some gospel with a great vocalist. The sound was a little muddy, but it is a big room. The highlight was a modern jazz rendition of “My Favorite Things” that did not reference the John Coltrane variations. That would seem hard to do—the same song in the same genre with similar instrumentation, with a new set of improvisations.
Monday was a yard work day, and I cleaned out the side alley of a couple of years of debris. I was pleasantly surprised to find no critters other than extremely active worms in the piles of decaying leaves and dirt. I watched half the Seattle football game at Buffa’s over red beans, and moved to the back room for a music set. There was a piano/vocalist duo sitting in for the regular players. They played a mix of Christmas music and some originals. There were about 8 people in the room, and it is nice to have an alternate living room where a guy plays piano for you.
A sunny morning, and the Iguanas play at the Cathedral this evening. I’ve been wanting to see these guys for years, if not in a church.