Friday, May 15, 2009

Jackson Square in New Orleans

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

One of the most notable and recognizable places in New Orleans is Jackson Square. Around the perimeter of the park, artists hang their paintings during the day.

Even better are the fortune tellers who congregate a night. Sitting in front of St. Louis Cathedral, the fortune tellers are lined up in a row with the flickering candles illuminating their tarot cards and casting shadows against their faces.

On every trip I have ever taken to New Orleans, I always make it a point to go to Cafe Du Monde to get coffee and a beignet, then eat it at on one of the benches around Jackson Square.

Aside from my normal rituals, it is also some great people watching.

Washboard Chaz at DBA

Washboard Chaz at DBA

I have been posting a lot of pictures from ChazFest over the past few weeks.Noticablly absent has been Chaz himself. The festival was named after Washboard Chaz.

In New Orleans, Chaz is a local music icon. He plays at Jazz Fest and sits in with a few other bands. During this trip, I managed to catch him with the Tin Men.

The show was super fun. People had their shoes off and were dancing up a storm. That's what you get when a washboard, sousaphone and guitar player get together I guess.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Patty Griffin at JazzFest

Patty Griffin playing on the Fais Do Do stage at JazzFest

One of my favorite musicians is Patty Griffin. It was an incredible treat to see her at Jazz Fest. She did an amazing set and added some Acadian songs as well.

Since she was playing at the Fais Do Do stage, we were able to get really close to the stage. Her set was incredible. The combination of her voice, lyrics and overall passion is astounding.

The best part of is when she sang "Heavenly Day" because it couldn't have been more true. Sun shining, no clouds, great music and all my siblings (and their spouses) with me. Amazing!

Napping in the Blues Tent at Jazz Fest

Woman Napping in the Blues Tent at Jazz Fest

Jazz Fest is an amazing event. There is a ton of music to hear, a lot of food to eat and more things to see that you can every hope to get around to. With the sun, the dancing and the cocktails, it can take its toll on you.

In the Gospel and Blues tents, you often see people taking a quick refresher nap. This women, with her requisite Jazz Fest straw hat, looked exhausted when she sat down. It wasn't much later that I noticed she was napping and snapped this photo.

Dancing at the Fais Do Do Stage

Dancing at the Fais Do Do Stage

One of the great things about Jazz Fest in New Orleans is that the people are great. Yes, the music is great, however, I think the crowd of people makes it that much more enjoyable. With more than 400,000 people over a period of 7 days, you would think people would get into the occasional squabble.

I have never seen it happen - or even come close. Everyone is enjoying the music and just having a good time.

The Fais Do Do stage is a great example. Everyone is dancing and having enjoying the music. Mostly, they are dancing with friends, but a fair amount are dancing with total strangers - like the couple in the photo. He just walked up and asked her to dance, and away they went.

As you can see from the photo, they are both having a great time. Gotta love Fest!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Luke Allen takes stage at ChazFest

Luke Allen on the stage at ChazFest

Luke Allen from the Happy Talk Band played on the Bayou Juke Joint stage at ChazFest. I like this picture because it shows this tiny little stage with people gathered around. The performance area was near a grove of trees and forced people to huddle around and listen.

Being under the trees that were casting a lovely shade and listening to Luke was an incredible experience. He isn't just a singer, but a story teller. He definitely has a style that jives with the whole laid back ChazFest scene.

Aqua Fresca and Vodka at ChazFest

At ChazFest, there are a lot of interesting vendors. You have your normal southern fare, but there are things that are a bit different and worth a try. At this drink booth - that I was told had the most amazing crawfish bread in the world - they served some great drinks. The watermelon juice with vodka was a rare combination.

I liked this photo because I think it shows the nature of the festival. You can see the garden planter in the foreground. Since this stand is in the someone's back yard, the booth get integrated with the yard.

The great thing is that everyone at the festival is so laid back, no one bothers it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Napoleon House in the French Quarter

Napoleon House in the French Quarter

Napoleon House in the French Quarter is one of my favorite places. Its gets that name form a popular local tale that it was built to be a residence for Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile and part of a plot to bring Napoleon to Louisiana. However, Napoleon was killed before the plot was hatched.

The interior looks like it hasn't been touched since the days of Napoleon. The atmosphere is great. It is a place were the bar tender's fathers work ... a long tradition. There is nothing like settling up to the bar or sitting in the courtyard and having a Pimm's Cup.

It is just another one of those things in New Orleans that has so much character.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Biking to Bars on Bourbon

Johnny White's Bar on Bourbon Street with bike out front

While I was in New Orleans for Jazz Festival and ChazFest last week, I spent some time in the French Quarter during the morning taking photo. Yes, this photo was taken in the morning. There are bars that have never closed in that city since there is no 'official' last call.

One of the things that I realized during this trip is how many people were on bike. For most artist or locals, they find that they only need a bike to get around. Finding a parking spot in the quarter is a like an act of magic, so it is not a bad idea to just be able to lock your bike up.

Local probably spend more money on their locks (as my Brother Bill pointed out) than on the bikes. Hey man, you need to keep your ride safe. Even the pigeons in this photo look like they might take off with the bike if it wasn't locked.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Herringbone Orchestra kicks off ChazFest

The Herringbone Orchestra kicks off ChazFest

The first band to kick off Chaz Festival was The Herringbone Orchestra. The group was an eclectic group of musicians with a very unique sound. Sitting in the verdant stage area made their smooth grooves a great way to start ChazFest.

The lead singer has a petite and skillful voice that really matched the throwback 1920s vibe of the band.

Personally, how could you not love a band that has a barefooted harp player?

ChazFest Sign Post

Sign post at ChazFest in New Orleans

This sign post reminds me of the Hopper Farm sign that I shot last summer. I think it really shows the very folk art nature of the ChazFest.

I think it was really cool how many local food and drink booths that were at the festival. The sign really shows all of the variety that was there.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Manicures at ChazFest

Little Girls wait in line for manicures at ChazFest

As I mentioned in my other post about ChazFest, it really is a local festival. All the neighbors in the Bywater area participate with making food and in this case, opening a manicure booth. Actually, she spelled it manaqueres. Maybe that was the Cajun version of the word?

I loved how she was super patient and all the little girls were waiting patiently for the $1 manicures.

Hard Liquor Stand at ChazFest

Hard Liquor Stand at ChazFest

At ChazFest, there is more than local music, there is local flavor. In this case, the local flavor is the "Hard Liquor" stand - one of the mottos of ChazFest.

I really loved the folk art aspect of all of the food and beverage stands. It is not that is seemed authentic. It just was authentic.

French Quarter Door

Shabby French Quarter Door

One of the great things about the French Quarter in New Orleans is that the shabby is not thrown away. It is simply left to enjoy and show its age.

As I was walking down the street, I noticed this door and thought it really encompassed that thinking. I also love that it is 1/2 in the number - like they had to squeeze it on the block between two existing houses.