After four days in Louisiana I learned one of many things–When in the south, go light on breakfast. The food is amazing. Gumbo (both Shrimp & Okra and Chicken & Sausage), Boudin, Fried Catfish, Crawfish Étouffée, Shrimp Remoulade, Jambalaya and Oyster Po-Boys to name just a few. My favorite? Boudin, hands down one of the best things i’ve ever eaten. Think Irish White Pudding but with some rice, a little pork liver and cajun spices added and bingo – the perfect breakfast. All washed down with a beer. I ate mine by the side of the road from a small store somewhere between Lafayette and Eunice just off the I-10.
I was there because Half Full (Joe and I playing songs from The Amygdaloids) had a show at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette on Saturday as part of the SMART Festival. We flew into New Orleans Thursday and after driving over the Henderson swamp I ate my first Gumbo at Pat’s Wharf. Although Joe said it was far from the best I could have tasted, it was still delicious. Friday morning we drove to some local music stores and played a selection of guitars. Joe turned out to be quite handy with an oversized Mexican guitar the size of a victorian bath tub. I fell in love with an old Martin. Surprise, surprise.
Saturday morning we drove to The Savoy Music Center in Joe’s hometown of Eunice to watch the Savoy Family Cajun Band and friends jam out for a couple of hours. It was on the way there where I had my first taste of Boudin (See above pics). The music was excellent, real Cajun players in a perfect setting. One fiddle player I spoke to afterwards had travelled all the way from Alaska to sit in with the band. As a musician it was interesting to see how the older guitar players, some well into their seventies used such economy of movement when strumming. I guess when you’ve been playing that long you know all the shortcuts. It was an amazing experience and I even got to meet Marc Savoy and his wife Ann.
After a local dinner we returned to the hotel for a short rehearsal and then onto the Blue Moon Saloon. The show went really well and we had a pretty sizable crowd. Colleagues, family and old friends of Joe turned out but there were also a few locals that stuck around for the tunes.
Bill Boelens of Dirty Rice KRVS 88.7 (NPR) told us that if we could get to the studio in less than fifteen minutes we could play live on air. It was the first time I ever left a full beer behind at a bar. Strangely enough, I was remarkably calm playing live on air to the good folk of Louisiana on a Saturday night. Maybe it was because I didn’t have time to think about it or that I was still on a high from the gig we just done. Probably a little of both. You can hear one of the songs we played HERE.
The following morning we packed up and spent a few hours in New Orleans before returning to New York. While walking around the French Quarter I got a chance to taste some more of the local food and coffee. The architecture in particular was incredible. Think about it, New Orleans during Halloween! Everything looked haunted, even some of the buildings without the decorations.
The musical adventures continue with several more shows on the horizon. Stay tuned.