NEW ORLEANS: MUSIC
If you're a foodie who loves wine, you'll enjoy our take on the Big Easy—especially if you're curious—or if you're going back.
Reason #1 to go:
No need to battle the crowds at Jazzfest—the trumpets and fiddles play all year long.
Here's what we found:
Think of a Carnival cruise: karaoke, "Margaritaville," "YMCA," and the like. Blaring. We heard some jazz, but if it were food it would be the Burger King verison of jazz. We wanted better.
A mother and father playing violins in Jackson Square with their beautiful (oblivious) young daughter.
SECOND LINE PARADES
Apparently anyone can hire NOPD to block a street and escort the parade, which is led by a performer, followed by a band (mostly brass instruments). Since the band is always second, they call it a second line parade. We saw parades celebrating weddings, and we saw parades celebrating people who were doing it just for the hell of it.
These guys were just marching on their own. Advertising, perhaps?
This talented, unflappable saxophonist-vocalist performed in front of a mostly hostile dominionist Christians.
Handsome young men playing big brass instruments in the Spotted Cat. Standing room only. Vibrant energy.
A band led by a wild fiddle player, visible from the deck of Dat Dog at one in the morning.
Imagine a Hindu multi-armed Chewbacca overlooking a bright bar in a two-story hot dog joint. You can't, right?
Guess you'll have to visit.
Frenchmen Street, by the way, requires an easy cab ride because it lies to the east outside the French Quarter. Walkable by day, probably a mile away.
Talk about better! This was the find of the trip.
Twas recommended by Arnaud's maître d' Lyn—thank goodness—or else we'd have missed it.
Bacchanal bills itself New Orleans's "backyard party," and we can attest to the tagline's accuracy. It's a wine store. It's a wine bar. It's a booze bar. It's a restaurant. And it's a music venue. A wonderful, dreamy music venue.
First, take a taxi to Bywater, by the river. It's not walkable from the French Quarter, especially at night.
Then, you walk into a dreamland of artisanal wine. You can buy and take it home, like in any wine shop.
OR, you can buy a bottle, grab some glasses, grab an ice bucket if you need, and find a table out back in the gorgeous courtyard and listen to live music.
OR, you can go upstairs to the full bar.
AND, you can order delicious food. We enjoyed the chocolate bark sprinkled with pieces of marcona almonds and drizzled with olive oil. When I die, I want to go end up at Bacchanal.
The performer on the night we visited? Jazz-punk cellist—you read that right—Helen Gillet! What an unbelievable treat.
Here's the video overview of the entire trip!