Why you should care
Because New Orleans is back.
Ten years removed from the break of the levees, the beautiful city on the bayou is more dynamic than ever. The food, music and art scenes are red-hot, with top chefs and music artists holding local permanent residences and internationally-renowned events celebrating them going up each month. You didn’t really think a little natural disaster would put down a city as historically gritty and animated as New Orleans did you?
Anyone who steps into the Cajun capital knows it is exempt from the normal expectations of society. Moral judgments are different here. You can legally drink on the street and converse with voodoo peddlers off the alleys. And the culture seeps of so much sweat, passion and excess you can feel it on your skin. Then there are the people. You won’t find so many interesting characters in a single place anywhere else, all with crazy back-stories and wonderful vocal cadences. You’d think this place would be outlawed if it also wasn’t so much fun.
Need any more enticing reasons to make a sojourn to Bourbon street? Check out OZY’s coverage of some of the top things to do and people to see in New Orleans. Enjoy!
Le Bon Temps Roulé is the divey corner bar where one of the hottest brass bands in the world plays every week. If you’re anywhere near New Orleans and like a little funk and brass, you owe it to yourself to go there and listen. The Soul Rebels Brass Band, with its eight young members, have combined the old-school style of funk with new genres like hip-hop.
”The real genius of the band’s cover songs is in the way they lure in the brass nonbeliever. “I get the crowd to recognize that cover,’ says Williams, ’”and then I’m going to hit you with this song that you don’t know — an original song.” Original songs like “504,” a smooth ode to their city, intertwined with hits to ”crank that party atmosphere.’”
There are a lot of bars in this town but none like the Country Club. A cabana bar, pool, restaurant and lounge located in a 19th-century mansion two miles away from the French Quarter, this place has an outdoor saltwater pool, sauna and hot tub where you can relax just like your momma made you. Naked.
“We know what you are thinking: nudity, New Orleans, alcohol. What’s so shocking? If you think it means the Country Club is a spring break, Girls Gone Wild situation, think again. The vibe at the bar is relaxed, inviting and respectful. It is very civilized,” says Katy Tackett, a local resident who’s visited the Country Club a few times. “I really love it; I thought it was great.”’
The 610 Stompers are ordinary men with moves so extraordinary that they were voted last year’s Best Mardi Gras Walking/Dance Group. They run the gamut from 23 to 66, and are a mix of native and non-native New Orleanians from a variety of professions, although they skew thick, white and hairy. Asked if they perform sober, their executive director responds, “Rarely.”
”The Stompers receive a steady flow of four or five requests per week to work local events, but turn down many. “The dancers are all volunteers with 9-to-5 jobs,” Creamer says, “so even if we get the best event in the world, if it’s at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday, we can’t do it.” Still, those sweatbands and tube socks act as a siren song for the members. “We have a hard time saying no,” he confessed to OZY.”
Puppy Picasso allows dog owners to make art with their dog by putting lovable canines on top of a canvas, dousing their paws with paint and letting them go nuts. The resulting artwork is usually splotches of colorful paint splattered on the canvas, Jackson Pollock-style.
“Dozens of people have come to her to get their dogs’ paws on canvases. They like the idea of having artwork made by their beloved pet, and Fisher says they see it as much more exciting than a photograph of their dog.”
Stone is known for his fusion of modern and traditional blues, soul and funk — a sound he calls “roots in the present tense.” Stone’s knowledge of the blues is deep, and he shares it with a global audience every week during his blues show on New Orleans’ legendary jazz and heritage station, WWOZ 90.7 FM. You can also catch his live show at different locations around the Crecent City.
If you want to be a part of a fun and useful community news project, you should head over to the Listening Post. The project consists of a handful of digital recording sculptures placed in strategic locations around the city, along with a text messaging response system that disseminates neighborhood news. Coordinators pose a group of questions on one topic every week and cull the answers they get via text and recordings. They publish responses online and on a weekly NPR affiliate and share it with the community.
”The responses people leave, via texts and audio, are thoughtful and poignant. Sometimes the Listening Post asks residents what topics they would like to see covered in the news. The project has covered subjects like increased rental housing prices and the role of arts in the city, both topics requested by residents.”
One of the top artists in New Orleans is Trombone Shorty and everyone loves him. The Academy Award and multiple Grammy nominee grew up in small New Orleans neighborhood with dreams of making it big in music and beat everyone’s expectations – including his own.
“Out of all the instruments you’d expect a superstar to play, the trombone is probably pretty low on the list, down there with timpani or flugelhorn. Sure, “Seventy-Six Trombones” from the musical The Music Man was a noteworthy break, and we all bow down to jazz greats Slide Hampton , Kai Winding and Tommy Dorsey. But a 21st century superstar with a trombone? Not likely. That was until 6-year old Troy Andrews picked one up.”