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I got the blues March 30, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Jazz Vipers, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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No matter that I could not get to sleep after last night’s final shift of weekend work. An eye mask of supreme comfort and impenetrability to light cannot make up for the fact that the circus has come to town. The horsey people are still fighting their once-a-year hangovers and the fancy hats reserved for Opening and Derby Day have not yet been put back in their boxes, but the mechanical elephants of grinding diesel are dropping the piles of steel struts that will soon be assembled by roustabouts with their own roaring machinery and directed by megaphone into the Blues Tent.

My shotgun neighbor Jimmy has been counting the days like an excited child marking off a calendar for Christmas for two weeks now, anxious for the days when Fortin Street (you know it, you just never knew its name) becomes for two weekends something like upper Royal Street on Carnival Day but with a circus twist. The coozy on a neck strap man will start-up his sing-song pitch before too long: “How’r you gonna clap with your hands full!”, the man begging for donations to his home for trouble veterans will arrive with his bucket and handbills to repeat his spiel a dozen times to the people lined up to hit the Fest the moment they open the gates.

We love those days here on Fortin Street, although work will be hard over the noise but not everyone gets to live across from the Blues Tent, can walk two blocks to park themselves in hearing distance of the Jazz Tent, or take a stroll to the secret back fence spot that puts you closer to the Accura Stage than most of the people inside.

It is coming, weekends of no rest and too much beer, of Jimmy cooking for “donations”, of trying to drive for some errand through the ambling crowds going just a hair slower than my cars idle. I was just unprepared this groggy just past ten a.m. for the bang and crash, the mechanical bump and grind that means it is Jazz Fest time.

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Sax in the City June 19, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 8-29, Federal Flood, Hurricane Katrina, Jazz Vipers, New Orleans, NOLA.
8 comments

Americans will probably continue to use economists’ numbers to measure recovery from the current recession. But as we debate what to do for the millions of homeowners who are “under water” — owing more on their homes than the homes are worth — we could learn from a city that knows a thing or two about being under water. New Orleans can teach us that the life we build with our neighbors deserves at least as much attention as our endless thrust towards newer and bigger.
–Dan Baum, The Way of the Bayou , New York Times

Yeah, you right.

Except, Dan, “the Bayou” to a lot of folks is a place you get to be crossing over to the West Bank and heading down Highway 90: Cajun Country. You’ve been down here long enough to know that, but I guess Big Apple headline writers are too busy rudely shoving people out of the way to snatch their cabs to whisk them to Tavern on the Green for lunch, or some such goofy stereotype.

Hell, forget about Irvin Mayfield running for mayor. I nominate Joe Braun of the Jazz Vipers. He may be the my generation’s equivalent of a trustafarian, but then he doesn’t really need so steal anything. He’d make sure the important things–music, food, the real life down here–were put first. Joe doesn’t strike me as the political type, but he did make a fine speech at Jazz Fest in favor of reopening Charity Hospital “where so many jazz musicians were born”.

And Dan: you can’t honestly say people down here don’t want change. It’s just that we don’t want change on the terms of a lot of carpetbagging architects from up north who only know how to build a movie facade retail “towne”, or bulgy eyed school reformers looking to start the Ayn Rand Charter Academy of Applied Objectivism.

We want the things most people want. We just want them on our own terms because frankly we’ve figured out what everyone else in our neighbor to the north only dreams about: not how to work and get ahead, not how to pay for it all, but how to live. Sure, things change. The Spotted Cat is no more and I hear there’s been some falling out with Bruce the clarinet player and frankly, a band like that needs a clarinet player (paging Dr. Micheal White, paging Dr. Micheal White). But usually that vanished clarinet player or chef just shows up down the street, and life goes on.

So be sure to come back and visit us. Maybe you can stop by Rising Tide IV this August 22nd. We’ll try to have some bagels and “Northern Coffee” for you.

The other side December 1, 2007

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Doors, Jazz Vipers, jim morrison, Toulouse Street.
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Somewhere on the other side of the first set of the Jazz Vipers on Friday night is The Other Side. Once I knew the way there, the road to dawn, but now I’m just an observer. I see my self 20 or 30 years ago passing in front of me on my way to the bathroom or the fresh air outside. I wonder when I lost the key to that door.

Once I knew the way:

‘Twilight is the door between worlds.’
Who spoke those words?
I knew this once.
Now all my lore’s forgotten,
the incantations hidden in a pile of bills,
among the undone lists of mundane tasks,
the litter of responsibility.

Perhaps when I am old enough to not care anymore I will recover the secret key. Until then, I will be that old man in the corner who rejoices vicariously in dance of the young. Someday, I will remember how to break on through.

Hope You’re Coming Back (to New Orleans) May 6, 2007

Posted by The Typist in Debrisville, Jazz, Jazz Vipers, New Orleans, NOLA, Rebirth, Toulouse Street.
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New Orleans Jazz Viper’s saxaphonist and signature gravel-GARGLING Joe Braun says it all, better than every one of the 100,000 words I’ve blogged out about coming home, in this excerpt of their performance at, um, a large local festival with strict recording rules that I won’t mention.

You can hear the entire song here, and on their home page is photo of them in their open (as in free–tip well and buy a CD) shows at the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street in the Marigny.

These guys are the real deal, Heirs to the great trad jazz tradition of New Orleans. My wife was anxious to see Pete Fountain marching on Mardi Gras for fear next year might be too late. Well, you may not find jazz on Bourbon Street any longer (last I checked the Famous Door was a karaoke bar; don’t get me started), but the music lives for an enthusiastic audience.

If you’re coming to visit, get thee to the Cat on Friday night around 10:00 for a taste of the New Orleans that was and the one that lives on today.

P.S. — I tried to get a good close up of the bass player all of the women in the audience were oohing over, but I was sitting at a bad angle. Sorry, ladies.

The New Orleans Jazz Vipers April 18, 2007

Posted by The Typist in French Quarter, Jazz, Jazz Vipers, New Orleans, NOLA, Rebirth, Recovery, Toulouse Street.
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Ok, well, the video sucks. Bad camera holding and you can’t see them on stage. Too dark. And the wind noise on the camera and the bad sound board work, well. Screw it. I had fun. If you don’t know the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, get thyself down to the Spotted Cat some Friday night and discover the best time in New Orleans. No cover. Tip well.

These cats were one of two traditional jazz bands we caught on Sunday at French Quarter Festival. The other was the Andrew Hall Society Marching Band, who are a living diorama of a pre-Rebirth, traditional brass marching and concert band. They are Living National Treasures. I keep meaning to ask them if they are the same outfit as the Andrew Hall Society Jazz Band that used to play the Maple Leaf long, long ago on Saturday nights. Those guys were already old in the 1970s.

Anyway, just take a peek at the scene, then close your eyes and let the music carry you away to The day before yesterday and well into the distant decades at the other end of the 20th century. The Vipers are keeping the traditional jazz alive in New Orleans for the future.