New Orleans Music Is World Music

As my regular readers know, I lived in New Orleans for nearly 10 years from the mid ’70s to mid ’80s and, of course, fell in love with the music. I mean who wouldn’t? In my travels since leaving the Big Sleazy, I mean Big Easy, I’ve run across New Orleans music many places.

When I was living on the French Riviera the Neville Brothers, who were once upon a time a $5 cover charge at Tipitina’s on a Saturday night, were featured at the Juan les Pins Jazz Festival. Unfortunately for the Nevilles an acapella group of young girls from London opened the show and blew the audience away. They were called the Mint Juleps and though I posted a couple of videos of the group before I’ll post one to either jog your memory or introduce you to them. This was the song they opened their set with…

Now you understand why the Nevilles didn’t stand a chance after the girls left the stage.

A few years later when I was on my single-handed trip through Mexico, Belize and up into the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, I pulled into the small town of Placencia, Belize. After getting anchored and securing everything on board I hopped into the dinghy and headed to a funky bar built out over the water, and who should be wafting out over the water from the juke box? One of my all-time favorites, Marcia Ball.

A few days later as I was walking down the sidewalk in Placencia (there was no road or streets in Placencia when I was there, just this half mile-long “sidewalk” down the center of town) I heard another New Orleans music legend coming out of someone’s house.  It stopped me dead in my tracks and I just had to stand there in the broiling afternoon sun until Johnny Adams, also known as the “Tan Canary,” finished singing this famous song…

I only saw Johnny Adams live once, but it was something I’ll never forget. Now, hearing Marcia Ball and Johnny Adams, each within a week, tells you that Placencia, Belize is one VERY cool little town.

Last Friday I was down the hill a little way helping a gringo friend saw up some lumber. David, who also lived in New Orleans for a while, streams music into his shop from some feed in the States and there was an “I can name that tune in three notes” moment when this famous piano pounder from the Ninth Ward started to drift over the sound of the circular saw.

I sort of give that one a pass since I know it was beamed in from north of the Rio Grande and shouldn’t count but it’s MY blog and I LOVE the good Doctor.

But this next selection DOES count. I got onto my bus at the terminal in downtown David to head back up the hill this morning. People like to get on it as soon as the bus pulls into its berth because the air conditioning is on in the bus and it’s HOT in David this time of the year at noon. The buses all play music, mostly the “Tipica” rhytms of Panama which I really love, but you could have knocked me over with a feather when the local “Tipica” station aired THIS song…

You can travel all over the world, but if I keep my ears open New Orleans music will creep up on me and say, “Hey, Richard, WHERE Y’AT?”


Filed under cruising, New Orleans, Piano Players, sailing

2 responses to “New Orleans Music Is World Music

  1. What a wonderful post. I like Dr. John, and really enjoy Marcia Ball, but Aaron Neville is just the best. You’re right – the music of NOLA just keeps spreading out into the world.

    I discovered one of my favorite songs in the world, Neville’s version of La Vie Dasante, is back on Youtube. I can’t listen to it without getting nostalgic, happy and restless to travel all at the same time. 😉

    “La Vie Dansante” is one of my favorite songs, too, though I’ve always been partial to Jimmy Buffet’s version. After all, he wrote it. What a talented guy Buffet is. Songs and books. I first saw Jimmy when he played at the awards ceremony for the second Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. It was the year before he hit it big and then he was just one of the local guys playing in the Duval Street Dives. I’ve read all his books and when I was driving for a limo service company in south Florida I read his book “Where In The World Is Joe Merchant” COMPLETELY at stop lights.

    I always marveled at Aaron Neville’s voice. Can you believe he’s 70 years old now? Of course we were all introduced to Aaron with “Tell It Like It Is” back in 1966. I never thought he’d be one of the musical acts I’d see over and over again when I lived in NOLA. I talked to Aaron once. I saw him at the Sears & Roebucks down in the CBD (Central Business District) one afternoon and approached him to tell him how much I enjoyed his music. He was very gracious and introduced me to his wife who was with him. I also got to know, slightly, his brother Charles (sax) and Art on piano.

    The Nevilles are one of several multi-generational musical families in New Orleans. The Marsalis’s for one. Grandfather Ellis, Sr. his son Ellis, Jr. and grandsons Wynton and Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason.

    I remember wonderful nights at Tipitina’s watching the Neville’s and there was a young, teenage kid who used to play keyboards and guitar, Aaron’s son Ivan. Ivan’s 52 now and has played with Bonnie Raite’s band, the Rolling Stones and others. Another of Aaron’s kids to be notable in the New Orleans music scene is his daughter Charmaine. You’ll like this song:

  2. Hi Linda & Richard:

    Normally I don’t listen to this genre of music. Maybe because I wasn’t exposed to it here in Panama. But let me tell you that after hearing Marcia Ball, I started shaking like a loose leaf in a Tropical storm.

    Thanks you for sharing,


    They don’t get much better than Marcia Ball, Omar. I rarely missed her when she came to play in New Orleans when I was living there. It was such a sure thing that one time an friend who had moved away came back for a visit and when he couldn’t connect with me on the phone he looked in the paper, saw Marcia was playing at Tipitina’s so he drove there and, as they say in Antibes, VOILA!

    I caught her three times when she came to the Fort Lauderdale area to play, the last time was about four years ago on Mardi Gras day at the beach in Hollywood, Florida not far from Fort Lauderdale. Naturally I dragged all my friends along and they instantly became big fans, too.

    Marcia played at the White House when Bubba Clinton was Prez. She was also in Clint Eastwood’s film “Piano Blues.”