May 2011

“Walkin’ to New Orleans”
“On the Road” with Big City Blues Magazine:

I head south for NO Jazzfest first stop to p/u up the Silver Dream at Jackson Center—“Home of the Airstreams!” Torrential wind & rains so I spent the night at White House (Nashville). Next day drove through Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi where I met downtown Peggy Brown to visit the site of the Subway Lounge.

Saw the remains of Farish Street and tried to find the remains of Malaco Records but it was too dark and late and I pressed on toward the Crescent City. From Jackson to New Orleans it was an half of a lane so half of me was on the shoulder but so glad I left Mississippi where deadly tornadoes were at the door, just missing some heavy “rock and roll” weather. Arrived in Westwego at the Bayou Segnette and Sugar arranged for an early check-in at #20. After dropping the Silver Dream and setup, I thought I would consider an unheard thought that had crossed my mind, drop myself down and take a nap! As WWOZ filled the Airstream and I listened to Jack - the past president of the Voodoo Blues Krewe inviting all media to stop by their studio as he began interviewing James Andrews (on our new Apr/May cover –“All Jazz fest Treme” issue) and one of my eyes opened. As the show progressed, I realized I should be there. I raced to the French Market location of WWOZ and with a handful of new magazines I was happily and enthusiastically welcomed in the studio where Jumpin’ Johnnie was talking about his new CD. The family was back together at home, with VOW Wetlands Ruben Williams in the house. When a microphone was thrust in my face, I explained that Sugar was one day behind me and we would be spreading our love and magazines at all the right spots in NOLA. After WWOZ, I joined Ruben Williams at a very dark corner of the French Quarter –The Abbey for a couple of Guinness’s (I thought you had to have leather on to get into the Abbey!).

Second lining on Esplanade (Photo/Robert Jr Whitall)

Then I rolled up Esplanade, across from Lil Dizzy’s, to St. Anna’s Episcopal Church for a memorials mass for a beloved street musician, Slewfoot. The church was packed and I ran into old friends, Sally Stevens, Washboard Chaz, J’Monque D, and Roselyn & David. After mass, a second line with the Treme Brass Band led by Uncle Lionel started down Esplanade to the Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street. What would be next on my first hours in New Orleans? It has to involve oysters? I finally got to my computer and wrote this blog to go with my first days of being “On the Road” with Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine. Bon temp roulle! Good night! –Robert Jr. Whitall

Treme Brass band at Slewfoot's funeral, St Anna's
(Photo/Robert Jr Whitall)

Robert Jr.’s New Orleans blog #2:
After picking Sugar Mae up at the airport we saw J. Monque D. sitting at a bus stop on Highway 61 and gave him a ride home to Laurel St. where Sugar surprised “J” with a Gimme 5! Then we motored to Oak St. and got on a two-hour waiting list at Jacque I-mo’s. So we headed to Whole Foods to get supplies. Back to Jacque’s and after a few more minutes and a glass of wine, we were seated and immediately ordered our “muse” food: a carpet bagger steak!

Little Red & Big Bad at Old Point Bar, Algiers (Photo/Robert Jr Whitall)

Next we drove to Canal St. to ride the ferry over to Algiers Point to deliver magazines to the Old Point Bar. Jimmy Carpenter and his saxophone greeted Junior at the door and the band was Lil Red and Big Bad the Voodoo Blues Krewe’s entry in last year’s IBCs. I took an exhausted Sugar back to our Silver Dream Airstream at the Bayou Segnette.


Sugar & Junior at N.O. Museum Of Art


Friday, Day 1 of Jazzfest 2011:
At 10 am we drove to CC’s on Esplanade for coffee and papers then continued until Esplanade dead ends in to the New Orleans Museum of Art where we park for the day and attend a pre-Jazzfest workshop—Sync Up inside the museum. On display was Junior’s Big Chief design that was a finalist in the Sync Up art contest. On stage was Mystical talking about the music business. We walked a few blocks and entered at the Savage St. entrance and immediately went to the Blues Tent to see Coco Robicheaux, Henry Gray, Joe Krown, John Mooney, Jon Cleary, Jeff Beck, Justin Townes Earle, The Avett brothers, Wyclef Jean, Keb Mo and Tab Benoit.

After the fest we drove around to a variety of music venues delivering magazines.

Jeff Beck and Justin Townes Earle (Photos/Robert Jr Whitall)

Keb Mo and Bob Seger (Photos/Robert Jr Whitall)

Robert Cray Band (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Saturday, Day 2 of Jazzfest 2011:
Drove to CC’s then to the museum for Sync Up with a panel of festival promoters then off to Jazzfest. We enjoyed J Monque D, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Irma Thomas, Amos Lee, Sunpie Barnes, Robert Cray Band (Tony B and Happy Jesus Gaylord), Terrance Simeon and an Herman Ernest Tribute with Dr. John and moderator Ben Sandoval. At the Mayor’s Office VIP trailer behind Congo Square, we listened to a cultural economy exchange panel about seafood safety; why it is safe to eat oysters, and how many generations and their families have kept this unique culture alive. After Jazzfest we stopped by Big Al’s Deck for a Voodoo Blues Krewe meeting and gave out complimentary magazines. Next it was a perfect timing and no line at the Camellia Grill for chili cheese omelets and a mocha freeze. Then we did a drive by at the Riverside Hilton to present Tony Braunagel with his “Happy to Have the Blues Award” and went by One Eyed Jack’s to see Little Freddie King that had a line down the sidewalk so we stood outside to listen. “Home Junior,” said Sugar.

Gallery showing of Junior's Big Chief

Sunday, Day 3 of Jazzfest 2011:
For the first day of May, it was another beautiful New Orleans day as we drove over to Cosimo’s for a NY Times and Junior brought Sugar by St. Anna’s Church. At 11 am we immediately entered the Jazzfest’s Gospel Tent to see Jo Cool Davis with Sugar Boy Crawford, Joe Krown, Charles Moore, Jimmy Carpenter and Tom Fitzpatrick on horns. Over at the Blues Tent was Sugar’s old friend—Washboard Chaz. Also checked out Mitch Woods & The Rockin 88’s that got the Blues Tent audience dancin’. Anders Osborne, John Fohl & Jumpin’ Johnnie Sansone we’re hot! Then back over to Congo Square we saw Alejandro Sanz and John Legend. Dr. John & the Lower 911 performed on Acura stage and on the other side of the racetrack we saw Tom “no photos” Jones and John “no photos” Mellencamp. Enjoyed seeing the Decemberists and Arlo Guthrie. It was a beautiful sunset as we made our way to Marigny to St. Roch and Royal St. to watch the new Treme episode at the Love Lost Lounge and had spring rolls and played bingo too. Nearby is Mimi’s in the Marigny that does live blues. “Home Junior!”

Monday, May 2, 2011: We slept late, did laundry and had a late brunch at Stanley’s by Jackson Square before going to 1205 N. Rampart St. for Junior’s Big Chief painting opening with other artists who entered the Sync Up art contest. It was early to bed to get up early the next morning for a Treme Music Fest filming for the last 2011 Treme episode.

We don't get paid for acting we get paid for waiting around

Tuesday, May 3, 2011: At 8 am we were driven by bus from City Park into Jazzfest where we quickly became part of the background in front of the the Jazz & Heritage Fest while Wanda Rouzan performed and Wendell Pierce acted.

Next set we were standing in line at the Crawfish Monica food booth with Trombone Shorty who was in the scene. We did over 8 resets and got our fill of Crawfish Monica. It was exciting to give the director Dave Simon and Wendell Pierce a copy of our new Treme issue and to be part of the action.
Later that evening we photographed Bob Seger at the New Orleans Arena. (We spotted Rockie Dopsie JR in the 5th row!)

Still looking for James Andrews we glided into the warehouse district and found Don Bartholomew SR who got us into James Andrews CD release party at the Republic, where we saw Cyril & Gaynielle Neville, brothers Troy (Trumbone Shorty) and James Andrews..What a blow OUT! I’m IN! back to the Airdream!

Junior showing of Treme issue to producer David Simon & star Wendell Pierce

(Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Sugar Mae, Mayor Mitch and Robert Jr (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Mid Week Blog "We’re in!"
Wed. May 4, 2011 – Off to the Louisiana Music Factory to hook up with cast of Treme. A block long line down St. Peters greeted us that first discouraged us, but after seeing many friendly faces and the wonderful Treme staff and our friend Little Freddie King, we fell in line. Little Freddie surprised us arriving on his two-wheeled “Cadillac.” We ushered Little Freddie in to meet the cast and introduced him to director David Simon. Then we went to WWOZ to distribute magazines and got some out on Frenchmen Street. Next to Royal & St. Roch’s coffee-house. (Junior was cut off after 6 shots!) Home to the Airdream to r&r!

Little Freddie King Band (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Thursday, May 5, 2011 – First day of second Jazzfest weekend was absolutely beautiful weather starting off at the Blues Tent with Little Freddie King dressed to kill in a white satin suit and a beautiful guitar. Great set! Charlie & Henri Musselwhite arrived and said, “Who dat!” Junior & Sugar introduced Little Freddie to the Musselwhite’s backstage. Then we watched a little bit of Lucinda Williams and back for Charlie Musselwhite’s set: fabulous! The crowd gave him a standing ovation! Yeah! Afterwards we left for Galactic, Michelle Shocked and Cyndi “no photos” Lauper. We next got to shoot Maceo Parker, Spencer Bohren and Ruthie Foster. We headed to the Sync Up at the art museum with young filmmakers of New Orleans. We are taking a breaking now at CC’s on Magazine and waiting for the Blind Boys show at Tipitinas Uptown. Later gator!

JR, Little Freddie and Charlie Musselwhite (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

The Church Of New Orleans “We’re In The Choir Now!”
We ran into Charles Drebe outside at uptown Tipitina’s and hooked us up with VIP tickets. In the upper balcony overlooking the stage we saw The Blind Boys of Alabama and they brought up Charlie Musselwhite, Jamey Johnson and Gal Holiday to harmonize. After a roof raising show we tried to go with the Musselwhite gang for some grub. Rats! Camellia Grill just closed! So we took off for the swamps for a good nites’s sleep. The next morning we stopped by Sync Up at the NO Art Museum then walked to Jazzfest to check out Mrs. Paul Simon—Edie Brickell, Kermit Ruffins, Big Sam, Eric “The Surf’ Up” Lindell, Jamey Johnson (bringing the Blind Boys to sing!), Arcade Fire, Willie Nelson and Lupe Fiasco. After fest we distributed Big City Magazines on Carllton, Magazine, Tchoupitlas and then, “Home, Jr!”

Jr & Sugar in Mayor's hospitality trailer (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Saturday, May 7th, 2011: Back to Sync Up at 11 am to catch up with Jamaicanian native, the great Island Records founder—Chris Blackwell who discovered and recorded Bob Marley. Entering Jazzfest mellowly late we checked out the Mayor’s hospitality and headed for Acura Stage to see VOW – Voice of the Wetlands. Rueben Williams was waiting for us and ushered us in to backstage where we immediately ran into our friends—Charlie & Henri Musselwhite. Also the Marcia Ball Band, Allen Toussaint & his band and all the VOW’s celebrities we mingled with by their backstage trailers. It was a delight to see Trombone Shorty at Congo Square then race to see James Andrews at the Blues Tent. Allen Toussaint and The Strokes’s sets were great! As the Strokes were stroking nearby, Ms. Lauren Hill hit the stage nervous and jittery in a long winter coat and hat on a 90 degree day! The day ended with a who’s who of New Orleans’ music legends to (super!) legend – Bobby Blue Bland! And we met Bobby Womack too! Gave Jack Link and his finance—Lisa to their beautiful timeshare and champagne cocktails. For dinner we tried Clancy’s – 6100 Annunciation with Ann Arbor attorney Dennis Hayes and his wife Mary Ellen. It was delicious!0

Grandpa Elliott (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Jazzfest ends with a bump in the pit: Nevilles & Radiators.
Detroit’s Kid Rock was an unusual but surprisingly entertaining choice for Jazzfest. Ran into the blues engergizing bunny Mr. Vasti Jackson performing with Henry Butler. Seeing Grandpa Elliot and the his Pips on the Gentilly stage was a treat. And we could not leave New Orleans without seeing and hearing the Treme Brass Band (Sug & Jr’s pick of the day!) who had the tent hopping, dancing and sweating with extra special second lines. On a footnote it was wonderful to see Bo Dollis out of his wheelchair on stage with Bo Jr. and the lovely Queen Rita. See ya next year Jazzfest!

Treme BB had the Tent SPINING! (Photo/Shirley Mae Owens)

Bobby Bland with baby
Junior & James Andrews (Photos/Shirley Mae Owens)

Kid Rock (Photo/Robert Jr Whitall)

Blind Boys at Tipitina's (Photo/Robert Jr Whitall)

BigChief Bo Dollis (Photo/Robert Jr Whitall)

April 2011 Blues Blogs


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