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Published: July 12th 2015
THE BLUES HIGHWAY: Come in here girl...and bring your daddy with you.
Talk about sleazy...barely legal...topless, bottomless...white slick guy beckoning us...big buxom black girl wearing string nickers and bra slouching behind him checking the caterpillar of humanity dawdling past her...ride on.
All down the Blues Highway folks waxing lyrical of the delights of New Orleans as if it was the best place for jazz and blues on the planet...giving us lists of places to go in the French Quarter...and all of them mentioned Bourbon Street.
So we stayed just around the corner at the Prince Conti...19th century digs that didn't quite match the atmosphere of Memphis, Clarksdale or Natchez.
Could hardly wait to drop our gear and get into Bourbon Street.
But no one told us that dropping our gear was actually getting our gear off.
Bluesfest meets Fleshfest...getting down and dirty was just this.
Funky 544 Club for some cool soul...dancing away...hot young chicks giving us high 5s...surprised these old rockers still got it.
Pat O'Briens for Gumbo, Jambalaya and Beans with rice.
Then a young hunk tries chatting up my dance partner.
"Come in here girl...and bring
your daddy with you'' beckoning us into a male strip club.
"No thanks...I ain't no sucker. I've been crazy all my life...but I still ain't a fool."
Boy holding up "Hot Male Strippers" sign...another calling us in for a Drag Show.
Lasting memories of Bourbon Street.
We left Natchez on Highway 61...exiting Mississippi...entering Louisiana...Baton Rouge...RHT off to a lonely town for lunch.
Like an end of the road stop...sort of place you'd expect to buy cheeses.
But the cafe for lunch had a meeting...women's club...maybe Founding Mothers.
One telling us she'd lived down the road all her life...inviting us home for tea...listing her ancestors as if we knew them.
Had to drag herself away...all rising for them singing Star Spangled Banner...then other patriotic songs.
Only excusing us from joining in when we pleaded ignorance 'cos we's from Oz.
God bless America as we drove away.
Traversing the Louisiana swamplands...definitely the longest bridge we've ever seen.
Entering New Orleans...Nola to her friends...goodbye to our Caddie SRX.
Its mizzling this morning so head to the
famous French Markets...only about 13 blocks down Decatur past a golden Joan of Arc...markets closed...nothing happening here.
The streetscapes with their colourful buildings from by-gone glory truly inspiring...imagining the buzz of top hats, long dresses and parasols of ages past.
Stanleys for breakfast next to the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral.
A brass band busking in the rain...Den dancing with them.
Young guys & gals with dogs...can't remember the name of this social group.
Students from rich families bumming around...begging or singing for their supper...guitars on their backs...ripped clothes...dogs on chains.
All heading same way as us...heading to Frenchmen's Road.
'Cos we's hunting for blues...and we ain't leaving Nola 'til we wash in some.
Frenchmen's is not really open yet so into a Middle Eastern cafe for coffee, baklava and mint tea.
Stayed there for hours chatting to an Egyptian guy who was super excited to meet us 'cos we could talk World Music...reliving band fests from Zanzibar to Konso to Bamako to Ping An...his tales even more exotic.
But our newest buddy was our Scottish waiter from Glasgow...and didn't he have a yarn
He arrived in USA with only the clothes on his back and a suitcase of LPs.
Told U.S. Border Protection he was a DJ...hoping to pick up some gigs...just travel around.
But they had a problem with that.
It was not that he might do a a spot of DJing here or sell some LPs there that worried them.
It was that he had no spare clothes.
And that really worried them...gotta be up to something!
Hell of a job getting into the USA.
But now he is in here...talk about lucky.
Got a job in Frenchmen's as a waiter...talk about lucky...getting $2 an hour...surely make a fortune doing that!!!
It's 5pm...dusk and chill descending on Frenchmen's...bodies stirring...time to warm up with some hot blues.
There's still very little open but the Spotted Cat Music Club is.
Hitting pay dirt straight away.
A grungy long haired guy on guitar, a smooth cat in cap on double bass, a hippy girl on xylophone , a drummer, a rasta hair guy on woodwinds this and that, a girl with her
back to us on piano.
Then suddenly the girl on piano starts to sing.
The crowd stirs...the vibe in the house gets intense...you'd think Janis Joplin had come back from the dead.
Sarah McCoy & the Oopsie Daisies.
Dazzling us with her powerful voice...jumping original tunes...did I say dazzling us?
This gig made our trip to Nola worthwhile.
This is why we travel in search of the blues...listening to her CD now.
Remember the name...Sarah McCoy.
If she can get the breaks she'll be a big name...prodigious talent.
Gotta get some fresh air...can't expect the next band to match that...checking out what else the street has on...just cruisin'.
Then I saw it.
Reminded me of the scratchy sign outside Red's Blues Club in Clarksdale...gotta be a "Sherlock Sharp Eyes" to find the best gigs sometimes.
"Sherlock Sharp Eyes"...the nickname given to me as a kid when I carried golf bags or pulled golf buggies for businessmen...$1 or $1.20 if I was lucky for 4 hours work enough for a bag of lollies or two.
They gave me that nickname 'cause
I had an uncanny skill of finding their golf balls hit into the rough.
And here in Frenchmen's...Sherlock Sharp Eyes is back!!!
A blackboard at Checkpoint Charley's with a list of gigs in white chalk...the one scrawled at the end...flashing at me is an exaggeration.
"11pm Troy Turner"
Ambling along...stopped me in my tracks...belting inside asking..."Is that THE Troy Turner?"
Turning...biting her lip..."Yeh".
Bingo...only 6pm...but we'll be back.
When you've gotta be up at 6 am to get to the Airport...an 11 pm gig is a guaranteed little sleep night...but there's some things you've just gotta do.
And seeing Troy Turner to close our Blues Highway Tour...far out...couldn't think of a better way to say "be do".
Five more hours to kill.
Angelique Matthews in the BMC until 7.30 pm...great blues but only a handful of patrons to rock on by.
Praline Connection for dinner...big reputation...stretching out the meal til 9.
But what's that sound?
Paying the bill and racing outside.
New Orleans Dixie filling the street...crowd building around.
A travelling street band of a dozen black and
white musos with trumpets, trombones and a giant tuba...boogieing mighty fine we say.
Someone grabs Denise's hand...and they're off...twirling the night away.
High energy highlight of Nola...the chill might be settling...but no better way to while away time but by dancing this way.
At 9.30 we enter the bar for the waiting game.
The band playing is a girl on accoustic with two older guys on cello and percussion...XXX & the Rogues.
And wow...can they play!!!
The guy on cello was insane.
At 10 pm a black guy in black hat, black jeans and red brocade fancy black shirt with gold chains rocks in.
The sort of entry that makes you take notice.
"Hi Troy" I venture.
So his entourage joins our table for a night of hot blues...definitely pleased we are in Nola tonight.
His gig kicks off at 11:10...guitar, keyboards, bass & drums...a young buck on sax joining in for guest tracks.
Troy's fiance...a pretty white woman.
But like a lioness her head flicks up...surveying the room.
His previous girlfriend has arrived she tells us...another pretty white
Muscles in on the next table...and the talk is she's trying to get him back!!!
Nothing like a maestro playing the blues...with the women hanging off every note...every smile...every track.
I've got two of his CDs at home in Oz...not autographed though.
But there's one I don't have so he signs that...photos...asking if I can help score him gigs in Oz.
Some of the benefits of touring the world for blues...meeting all sorts of people...and hoping you can help them back.
Troy drinking more beer...smoking more fags...smiling at us...and playing his heart out.
Gotta fly...great night...gotta plane to catch.
Gotta meet those darn Binkleys.
'Cause we are gonna cruise the Caribbean...with hot blues to match.
Relax & Enjoy,
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