Thursday, August 26, 2010

The New Orleans that I Know

It's the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and I would love to take this opportunity to talk about New Orleans. I had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans for my 30th birthday this year. It was my first visit, so I don't know the area pre-Katrina, but I loved so much about that city. I would go back in a heartbeat. The food is amazing, the architecture is beautiful, the people are friendly and are a huge family ... and the music! The music....
I don't think I can even explain what the music is like.
I'll try to describe it with stories.
Once we found this amazing group, we made sure to find them every day. They were so talented and were a joy to listen to. It was a cacophony that just made beautiful music. That's what New Orleans was: a triumphant blast of different kinds of music, coming together to form a roaring melody.

One night, while my brother and I were eating an early dinner on the balcony of a restaurant, a saxophone player swooned with music on the street below. A few buildings away, a couple came out on their balcony to dance. When the music and dancing ended, the crowd on the street (and in balconies lined along the street) applauded both the musician and the romantic couple.
I loved this group, who we caught a couple of times on the best street for music: Frenchmen Street. One of them is playing the washboard. Yes.
In a bar on Frenchmen Street, open mic night means "bring your instrument, jump up on stage with everyone else, and pour out your heart!" I felt like I was in a movie when the band (sometimes with up to 10 people in it!) would begin to play and people would jump up from their chairs and begin to swing dance. Don't know how to swing dance? Then stop by Frenchmen Street earlier in the night for free lessons at one of the bars.
Of course, my brother and I took the opportunity to visit the 9th ward, where some of the worst flooding happened. It's been five years and progress has surely been made, but it was still devastating to see the damage to people's homes and schools. I can't even imagine what it must have been like.
Here are some other great memories from the incredible city.
If you have the opportunity, visit New Orleans. If you love music, you must.

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