New Orleans

fall fieldwork weekend in nola

I’m just returning from a productive weekend of fieldwork in New Orleans. I have several of these short weekends planned in the next few months – an unfortunate necessity that would be much better served if I could just spend a week straight on the streets. Shocker here – I can’t.  The ten years I did spend walking them is certainly an advantage, and I’m now realizing how much access and information I have that’s allowing me to complete this project – I’m grateful.

Saturday was highly productive. My partner and I systematically roamed throughout the quarter for several hours so I could make recordings, take photos, and note locations on my map.  I won’t write too much here (you’ll have to read the thesis to find out more), but suffice it to say that I’m surprised at how stationary these musicians are. The busking locations never deviate. It’s as if there are fifteen designated spots for these musicians to plant their feet and they come back to these spots, day after day (often switching between them) – of course, a lot of it is based on foot traffic.

Sunday was less productive, but I learned a lesson. It’s an odd thing to return to the city you call home and think of it as a research project. I never noticed before that during a Saints [football] game, the streets are empty – probably because I was always on a bar stool during the games. A game started at noon yesterday, so by eleven the streets were clearing out. For street musicians this means less foot traffic, less money, and less overall exposure. There’s no reason for them to be out there. As I was seeking them out, they were packing up to find a bar stool in front of a TV. The musicians that were out and about (such as Doreen’s band) were plastered in Saints regalia. My lesson? For future fieldwork trips, I need to consider game times (or at least talk about the game time phenomenon in my work).

In place of hanging with the musicians, I went down to the Louisiana Music Factory and Beckham’s bookshop on Decatur and spent a stupid amount of money on books and albums related to my work. I was slightly disappointed at the response from LA Music Factory when I asked “Do y’all carry any Bounce titles?” (The answer was no)…

Below are some photos from the weekend. I spent the majority of my time with two specific groups of musicians, as is evident in the photos:

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Cheers! To an amazing weekend in New Orleans!

the new ink on my left forearm - my Katrina tat. Thanks to Jason @ Electric Ladyland!

This past weekend, I took two friends to New Orleans, and as a whole  it is forever on my top list as one of my favorite NOLA experiences.

  • Jazz Fest: Glen David Andrews is my religion. I saw him twice this weekend – once at Jazz Fest, and later at DBA. Both experiences are unparalleled, and I’m pretty sure my friends and I made it into some national media shots during the jazz fest show. I’ll search around.  Amanda Shaw and Trombone Shorty hopped on stage with him, followed by Irvin. The Radiators’ last Fest appearance – amazing show, but of course even more amazing because Camile’s a friend (I worked for his wife for several years). Kid Rock & Cowboy Mouth – both excellent. Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Seeger jumped on stage with them and there was a second line throughout the tent. What else can I say? Saw Mardi Gras Indians (incl. Bo Dollis Jr. – Wild Magnolias), saw an amazing Haitian arts/voodoo ceremony, Jesse McBride, Ellis & Jason Marsalis, and a bit of NOJO…
  • Friday night: Big Freedia‘s CD Release Party w/ Katey Red, Sissy Nobby, & more.. amazing Bounce show w/ amazing friends.
  • Saturday night: G-String Orchestra, Slow Danger Brass Band, Zydepunks. All amazing.
  • Sunday night (post-jazz fest): lots of Frenchmen wandering & random musical artists
  • Monday night: Threadhead Records party w/ Paul Sanchez & new solo artists from the Radiators… Glen David Andrews later on.. then Karaoke @ Checkpoint Charlies..

Needless to say, it was an action-packed weekend without much sleep and not a single day of getting in before 4am. Throw in a new tattoo, a trip the aquarium (penguins!!), lots of amazing food, perhaps a wee bit of absinthe & St. Germaine, watching the Kentucky Derby, a wind ensemble concert, lunch with an ex professor, lots of hugs from previous colleagues/professors/students, a few small parades, a pretty nifty job offer, picking up my last diploma, watching a string quartet  of 12-yr-olds on a street corner, and about a million laughs… time well spent. My soul is rejuvenated for a bit.  Now to plan for this monster drum workshop at Bonnaroo…