Red Beans

I’m generally pleased with the house projects, but still chasing a small leak in the lavatory drain. I should have replaced the gasket instead of using the old one, and I am not quite sure how to disassemble without breaking stuff. I’ll continue to check and tighten, hoping that the gasket seals.

I decided to give Alexis and the Samurai another chance at dba. I had listened to them last spring, and wasn’t enthused, but some days you are just not in the mood or the performance is below par. Dba was quiet, but there were 20-somethings dancing enthusiastically, and I was greeted warmly by the doorman and staff. Alexis and the Samurai is a duo, a woman vocalist who plays violin and percussion and a man on the keys. I don’t know enough to say what he plays but he has at least three keyboards in front of him, none of which is a piano or Hammond organ. Alexis has an excellent voice, and sings originals in that semi-operatic show tunes style favored by Andrew Lloyd Webber fans. I, unfortunately, am not one of them. She is accompanied by what sounds like experimental rhythms and electronic music from the keyboardist. I listened to most of a set before confirming that it was really not for me.

I found a ham hock, and cooked a real meal for the first time in the condo. It was fun to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking up red beans, but it does seem a little silly to cook 50 servings of red beans for one guy. Okay, maybe 25, but it is still not the kind of dish one serves to friends here-everyone serves it as a kind of throw-away dish although it seems exotic to us denizens of the Far North. It is nice to have four Louisiana basics-red beans, gumbo, jambalaya, and etouffee-in the skill set, even if every corner store has a perfectly acceptable version of each around here. I might be able to get away with serving halibut etouffee to folks, with the fish being unusual enough to catch people’s attention. I won’t be making the next jump to fried food-I’ll leave that to the experts.

I puttered around the house cooking most of the evening and decided to go to the late Kermit Ruffins show at the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile is kind of a weird joint. It is a late night spot, with the usual show starting at 11, and they have a dance club upstairs open until 5. Kermit plays Louis Armstrong style trumpet, with clear New Orleans flourishes and adaptations, with very talented backup players. He is an evil pied piper, a do watcha wanna evangelist, who tells corny jokes, plays the old music with a great sense of fun, and drinks and smokes weed on stage.

The show was scheduled to start at 11, which in musician time means 11:40 or so, and I arrived about 10:30. The club was pumping the DJ music from upstairs into the downstairs music room, playing modern pop dance music, about as far in genre from the scheduled performer as you can get. It was a very different crowd than many of the places I have been going to, younger and non-local. My new-found southern manners were stretched to the limit, but I did keep myself in check, when, as I was seated on a stool in the back corner nursing a whiskey, waiting for the band to arrive and listening to awful pop music, I was approached by a pair of apparent sorority girls who informed me that I would have to leave as they were saving that corner for a bachelorette party. I watched as they took a chair away from an obviously disabled woman in her 60s, saying they needed it for the 21 year old bride to be, apparently so she could be seated as she did shots. It was a bit flabbergasting, but I probably didn’t want to be close to that nonsense anyway. Some people’s children. I did not see their reaction when the dance music turned off and Kermit played “Wonderful World” and “I’ve got the world on a string”. I imagine it was not what they were expecting.

The band arrived, and played wonderfully, but the musical experience was diminished by the loud bass from the dance club upstairs audible in the main room. I had to move around the room to find a spot where I could hear the very good bass player I had come to hear. This was the first club I have been to in a long time where the few obvious locals were visibly uncomfortable just being there. The crowd could not sing along to Iko-Iko, probably a New Orleans first. Next time I want to see Kermit I will go to the Mother-in-Law Lounge in the Treme. Kermit did kill it by asking if there were Eagles fans in the house(about half the crowd), welcoming them to New Orleans, and telling them they would be crushed by the Saints, all as an intro to “St. James Infirmary”-so cold, so pale, so fair.

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