New Orleans, 8 years after Katrina. I spent a few days there after Christmas this year, which turned out to be a fitting respite from the hustle of New York City. We stayed on the top floor of an old hotel, in a room with high, dark ceilings, just outside the French Quarter, across Canal Street, which at first blush reminded me of Broadway around Herald Square - big hotels, lots of signage for little tourist shops. The vibe there is down tempo and prideful. On our last night we waited in line for the traditional Dixieland jazz haunt Preservation Hall, while my dad sipped on a Hurricane in a plastic cup from Pat O'Brien's. The legacy of jazz there hasn't been lost. A friend, then a student, lost his home in the hurricane and soon after relocated to New York, where he now teaches and improvises. His hustle back then was klezmer, 4 nights a week, in 45 minutes on-15 minutes off shifts. Musicians, including the dueling pianists at Pat O'Brien's, work hard.
One place that fascinated me was Reverend Zombie's Voodoo Shop, which holds true to the 19th century Louisiana Creole traditions of Marie Laveau. Most Zombie/graveyard tours - kitsch at its best, or perhaps worst - depart from there, but the environment in the shop is quiet and mystical. I'm not a believer in much of anything, but I appreciate the importance of faith to survival. The cashier at Rev. Zombie's told me that Laveau was largely responsible for the halting of lynching of slaves in the mid-1800s.
My dad asked me, over New Years Eve dinner, if I had any specific musical goals for 2014. It's been interesting, this last year, trying to balance my work and creative life. I'm ready for change, that's for sure, but I'm unclear as to how that will manifest itself. Here's to it.
© 2017 Martha Cargo