Ok, maybe not a whole weekend, but Friday and Saturday anyway. It was a fun trip. Had time to play, shop for shoes and see a kick-ass show and a legendary club in the Big Easy, so it was all good.
My drummer Leesa and I headed out about 11:30am on Friday and made good time to Gonzales, Louisiana which is about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge and about 55 miles west of New Orleans. We actually made it to the lovely Supreme Inn and Suites before the rest of the band.
After some dinner at the Cracker Barrell (mmmm…barrel of crackers…), we picked up a New Orleans paper with the intent of seeing if there were any good shows that night. We were totally in luck.
Kermit Ruffins, a legendary jazz trumpeter and frontman, was having his CD release party at Tipitina’s, one of the most well-known blues and jazz clubs in all of New Orleans. If that weren’t enough, he was also making his reunion that night with the Rebirth Brass Band, one of New Orleans’ most well-respected traditional brass bands. Ruffins founded the group but hadn’t played with them in 12 years.
The club is terrific – think Rockefellar’s in Houston but with more space. Leesa and I managed to find a killer spot upstairs straight back from the stage. I took loads of pictures (check the photo section soon for them!). Ruffins and his band were fantastic doing a bunch of jazz standards, originals and even a version of Low Rider. He reminded me a lot of Louis Armstrong in the way he handled himself.
Rebirth was phenomenal. They had one drummer standing up playing snare and cymbals and another playing marching bass drum. They had a tuba for the bass and a line of trumpeters and trombonists across the front. That was some seriously funk stuff. What a killer show.
We got back about 2:30am and crashed. The next morning, we were up early for our first set at 10am. The Celtic fest was right around the corner from the hotel.
We played an abbreviated set as the whole thing got started a little late. After that and some brunch at Shoney’s, Leesa went back to the hotel to sleep while Amy (my violinist) and I headed to the local outlet mall to shop. She picked up some shoes for her wedding and I grabbed a killer pair of Sketchers and a cool shirt from the Levi’s store.
When I got back to the room, I watched Revenge of the Nerds interrupted by word of the death of Pope John Paul II. It was a little surreal to have them go back to the movie after that somber news and some footage from the Vatican with the, “We now return you to Revenge of the Nerds…”
We did our second set at 3pm following a cool Celtic singer from New Orleans named Beth Patterson. We did a nice set, watched some bagpipers and some River Dancers and then got on the road back.
The trip was fun. We got to play music, buy some shoes and see a kick ass band in New Orleans. You can’t ask for much more than that.