New Orleans, LA
April 30 - May 4, 2014
My boyfriend & I are frequent visitors to this mecca of music, festivities, free-spirits, grunge & magic. Nola is one big party, usually taking all these things + some and twisting it all together, breathing life in to some of the best experiences you could hope for in a city. There’s a special kind of spirit that graces the dirty, decrepit streets of New Orleans – a spirit that is very much alive, and overcoming, and completely contagious!! Once you taste it, you have to come back. It’s just something that stays with you, even long after you leave . . . which, knowing all of this, made it the most obvious decision for the first destination on our epic journey.
New Orleans is home to a good mutual friend of ours from college, Trent Bower. An amazing musician that, since college, has had the honor of living, drumming, and mastering the art of jazz in this musical haven. His band, Loose Willis, consisting of his roommate, Miles (a mad-scientist on the bass) and a few other true musical gems he’s discovered while playing there, put on one of the best, liveliest, most infectious shows I’ve seen while wandering the French Quarter. Their music alone was a force that compelled my body to move – I couldn’t stop. And I mean, I was getting DOWN. Raging for hours upon hours, deep in to the early morning, I still can’t figure out how they were coming up with this stuff!! All so amazing!! It’s gotta have something to do with that spirit I was talking about.
Miles in his hat & mumu
Our good friend, Trent Bower
When we were configuring our timeline, we semi-planned (but not really) the fact that we happened to be in New Orleans at one of the most magical times possible: Jazz Fest. Basically, any musician who’s got a passionate soul and mad rhythm congregates here for Jazz Fest to play their hearts out for about 10 days straight. There must be some kind of supernatural sorcery hidden deep in this city, a fountain of enchantment that draws everyone in and inspires this celebration – it’s mysterious and mystical and forms a montage of funky, jazzy, music lovers. The first night we arrived (after the 10 hour drive), we ran straight into the madness, which I’m so happy we did because we discovered our new favorite band: The Nth Power. Please, do yourself a favor and check them out. Smooth, sensual, savory tunes for the soul. They will ~take you away~ with just one listen.
Had the pleasure of seeing my girl Carla and her boy Adam, also veterans of NOLA’s jazz and funk scene. We all couldn’t have been any more in our element. We caught “The Royal Family Ball ‘Masquerage,'” a massive jam session, comprising the acts of Lettuce, Soulive, Dr. Klaw, and others, including Adam – some serious masters of funk. If you’ve never heard of any of this music, check them out!! Joyful, playful, funkadelic music for the soul that you can’t help but feel deep down in your bones, no matter what you’re into. (If you like what you hear, consider checking out Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, because that takes it all to a whole other level. You’re welcome.)
Brad & I typically flee to New Orleans solely for our music (& cajun) fix, but since it was a major city along our journey, we decided to play tourist and venture around the city as if we had never been there before. Fueled with Po-boys & Bloody Mary's, we biked up and down the streets gawking at Creole style cottages decked out with year long Mardi Gras beads and decorations, got lost in swirling wrought-iron creations, and soaked up all the magnificent colors and characters and yummy smells. I mean, dressing up in your craziest, funkiest ensembles just to go for a bike ride is normal and heavily encouraged in a place like this – and it’s for reasons like these that I LOVE NEW ORLEANS!!!
MAN OF MY DREAMS!
CITY OF MAGIC
Our first full day in the city we headed downtown and adventured around Canal Street, Bourbon Street, and the French Quarter by day. We hit up the infamous Acme Oyster House and filled our bellies with cajun crawfish, gravy fries, and the most delicious Oysters I’ve ever had – that also happened to be the size of my whole hand. Delish!! That night we caught the Masquerage Ball, Loose Willis, and even stumbled upon Toubab Krewe playing next door to the Maison where Trent’s band played in the French Quarter. How’d they know to be right there at that moment!! So we got a little tribal with them for their last couple songs. By then it was 4 A.M., and that was just day one.
Our second day, we biked from Trent’s house down Magazine Street which is lined with dive bars, local eateries, vintage shops and just about everything in between. We cruised down Napoleon and toured all the fanciest houses in the area – big and old and historic with a haunting kind of charm. I got a flat tire due to the never-ending construction lining the streets, but low and behold there was a bike shop at the end of the street! How lucky is that? I swear, the stars were really on our side, even from the very beginning. From there we enjoyed some delicious Bloody Mary’s (with extra olives) on a rooftop balcony and spent the afternoon people watching and playing around and giggling a lot. Caught Trent’s gig down at the French Market Cafe later that evening, which is a pretty touristy area – but still cool – with all kinds of souvenir shops and memorabilia like Mardi Gras masks and beads and feather boas galore. Ran into some friends of ours from Orlando that have a band called Buster Keaton. (They play Thursdays at Tanqueray’s in Downtown Orlando – go check ’em out!) They were in New Orleans to play for Jazz Fest, so we bopped around the French Quarter with them and stumbled upon some of the truly amazing local talent hidden in the many venues.
We woke up to our third and final day in NOLA and ventured out to get Iced Coffee at CC’s Coffee (which was the best Iced Coffee I’ve ever had. We went back before skipping town 3 hours later for another cup!) We strolled around the neighborhood before meeting back up with Trent & his friends from yet another band, Naughty Professor (check them out too, they come to Orlando here and there. They’re naughty!) After DESTROYING some massive shrimp Po-boys, we finally had to bid farewell to this place that we find so much life and love and liberation. We were sad to leave, but we knew we’d be back soon enough. From there we hopped back on I-10 which is the point we began covering uncharted territory – en route to see my best friend and her lover in AUSTIN, TX!
To our dear friend Trent: we can’t thank you enough for letting us sleep in your living room and for showing us an amazing, music-filled time (as usual), and for letting me wear your Mom’s floppy red hat everywhere. It made my weekend!! We love you, best of luck buddy! We hope to see you soon.
Til next time, stay fresh Nola ~
xoxo, Tent Girl