I read much today about the movement to BOYCOTT all things North Carolina. Daily Kos asks you to boycott all NC businesses (Ameritrust, Bank of America, Belk, Coastal Federal Credit Union, Coventor, Dex Media, Duke Energy, Family Dollar Stores, Goodrich Corporation, Lowe’s, Nortel Networks, Open Software Solutions, Reynolds American, and Sealy (mattresses)). They also ask you to boycott travel and tourism and punish the state by not spending money there on vacation. Roseanne Barr, who is running for President as a member of the Green Party, called for Hollywood production companies to boycott the entire state of NC, as reported by twitchy.com. Democraticunderground.com asks everyone to not spend vacations in NC.
REALLY? Is this how we now work as a society? If a group of people doesn’t agree with YOUR political views or social agenda, punish them?
Think about this rationally for a moment, people. This is America. It is the land of free speech, freedom of worship and, last I checked, a country founded on the idea that all people are welcome to, no…have the RIGHT to their own set of values and beliefs as long as they fall within the limits of the laws.
It is NOT your place to tell others what to believe and/or threaten their livelihoods because they don’t agree with you. If you don’t like the way the folks in NC think, don’t live there. Oh, wait, you live in NYC, NJ, CA, PA, AZ, MA, and other states already? Then why are your panties in a twist about how the folks in NC feel about what their state does?
LIVE AND LET LIVE, people. Show some tolerance…the same tolerance you DEMAND for the oppressed YOU support. Your actions, threats and bad behavior toward your fellow countrymen and women is no better that the radical jihadists who punish, maim and kill others for their beliefs. You may not agree but look at the path you’re on. Remove the blinders and see the hate mongering you do.
Be joyful for the progress made on important issues such as same sex marriage (oh, and for the record, I SUPPORT IT) but DO NOT attempt to tell me or any other American what to believe and how to act. Shame on you.
Mr. Cromie was one of my teachers during my years at Pequannock Township High School. He was one of the school’s music teachers. He led the choir, directed the school musicals and the senior play each year and was an assistant band director. He was also the voice of the Pequannock Panthers football home games, perched in the press box at the top of the bleachers every Saturday for 47 years. However, beyond all that, he was more than just a teacher. Many teachers came and went during the course of my school years. He, however, changed the course of my life. Literally.
When I moved to Pequannock from Vernon in 1977, he shouted to me one morning after early morning marching band practice, “Hey new guy. What are you doing 2nd period?” I looked at him sideways and said, “study hall.” “Nope. Not any more. You’re going to audition for my choir” he said matter-of-factly. “Not me,” I said. “I don’t sing.”
Apparently, and as usual, he knew better than I did how the script would play out. I ended up in his choir. I sang in three musicals he directed, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Godspell and Oklahoma. With his “encouragement” (“you WILL try out…”) I auditioned for and made regional choir, all-state choir and all-eastern choir. He gave me my most precious memories of those four years of my life. I also remember vividly the day we were smoking at his Christmas party and he told me, “Ed, do as I say, not as I do…don’t smoke.” While I dabbled with cigarettes for years, every time I would light up, I would oddly recall that exchange. I believe it kept me from becoming a regular smoker.
I then went on to college for theater and acted in numerous shows and musicals post-college through today. And now I count many of the people who are my best friends from those I met in all of the endeavors that would never have happened if it weren’t for “Cromie” and that fateful morning exchange.
Even my son came to me through connections I made while doing musical theater.
Cromie, you are one of the true heroes. Especially to me. Of the three major male role models in my life, only my father occupies the seat above yours. While I can no longer say this to you in person, I know you are still with us so I want to share the lyrics of a song from the musical, “Wicked.” They sum up my feelings for you, my former teacher, mentor and friend:
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from it’s mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
God bless you. And whatever happens from here, I know His face will shine upon you always.
Many of my friends often travel to New Orleans and ask where to go. With JazzFest 2012 in full swing and with many work colleagues heading to New Orleans for PRSA Counselors Academy starting this Sunday night, I’ve posted a few recommendations I’ve compiled over the years. It only represents a small sampling of what that amazing city offers so don’t rely on it as your sole source. Ask the locals. Speak with other guests. It’s that kinda place and you’ll find your own favorites that you can share back with me. Thanks and enjoy!
New Orleans Recommendations
March 2012 article on great NOLA restaurants:
Food/Restaurants (mostly for lunch/snacks/late-night munchies):
Clover Grill – Corner of Dumaine and Bourbon Sts.
1950’s style hamburger/fries/coke restaurant that is great for munchies late at nights or for quick breakfast in the AM.
Mona Lisa Restaurant – 1212 Royal Street
Good neighborhood Italian. Very casual.
Maximo’s Italian Grill – 1117 Decatur Street – http://maximosgrill.com
Best fresh grilled seafood in New Orleans! Italian with a New Orleans twist and fresh grilled specials served daily. The duck pasta dish is amazing. Chef Thomas Woods. Ask to be seated in Clayton’s section. Tell him I sent you. J
French Market Restaurant & Bar – 1001 Decatur Street
Twelve years before Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans, The French Market Restaurant & Bar began serving outstanding seafood and ice-cold drinks to visitors and natives alike. Today the ambience remains the same. Hot spicy crawfish, jumbo gulf shrimp, authentic Creole gumbo, red beans and rice as well as real Louisiana specialties are enjoyed with world-famous hurricanes, Cajun bloody Mary’s, margaritas and our ice-cold local beer. This is the place to go if you want to try heaping plates of broiled crawfish or fresh Gulf oysters.
Johnny’s Po Boys – 511 St. Louis Street
Johnny’s Po-boys is the oldest family owned po-boy restaurant in New Orleans, Serving everything from breakfast to their famous warm bun po-boys. They have received Accolades from some of the finest institutions in the country, ranging from Good Housekeeping’s top 100 value restaurants in the United States, to Rand McNally’s Best of the Road. Try the alligator, catfish, oyster or crawfish po boys for an authentic NOLA food experience.
“13” Restaurant & Bar – 517 Frenchmen Street
Irish pub/bar in the heart of Frenchmen Street district. Another GREAT late night local joints for “tots” (tater tots done plain, as “tachos” with cheese, jalapenos, etc.) and Abita Beer on tap. I’ve spent more hours on their bar stools than Norm did at Cheers…
Coop’s Place – 1109 Decatur Street (just a few doors from Pravda Bar (see below)
Dive bar and restaurant. Some of the best seafood gumbo in town. Also, amazing rabbit and sausage jambalaya. Great cajun fried chicken.
Central Grocery — 923 Decatur Street
There isn’t much seating space so if you’re in the mood of having a picnic lunch in Jackson Square this is definitely where you want to get your sandwich. Awesome muffaletta sandwiches.
Café Du Monde – 800 Decatur Street
The original French Market coffee stand. They feature Café Au Lait and Beignets. A must do.
Mother’s – 401 Poydras Street (just a few blocks past Canal Street at the edge of the Quarter)
Possibly THE BEST breakfast spot in NOLA. Incredible baked ham, eggs, grits, and other “southern foods.” May have to wait in line but worth it.
Favorite Drinkin’ Bars (no live music):
Bar Tonique – 820 North Rampart Street
Friendly and clean “local” hotspot with exposed brick walls, two fireplaces and bar. They do amazing mixed drinks including mojitos, mint juleps, cosmos, etc.
Pravda – 1113 Decatur Street
The drink menu includes one of the largest absinthe selections around and more than 50 types of vodka. Soviet speakeasy décor. Great place. Barkeep is Michelle.
“13” Restaurant & Bar – 517 Frenchmen Street
Irish pub/bar in the heart of Frenchmen Street district. Another GREAT late night local joints for “tots” (tater tots done plain, as “tachos” with cheese, jalapenos, etc.) and Abita Beer on tap. I’ve spent more hours on their bar stools than Norm did at Cheers.
Music Bars (much live drinkin’):
Suggested acts to catch. Generally speaking, you’ll find the absolute best music on Frenchmen Street every night. We avoid Bourbon Street for music since it’s mostly crap cover bands playing AC/DC but sometimes a dose of that is just what everyone wants. I strongly suggest double-checking the Livewire Music Calendar at www.wwoz.org on the day you’re going out since acts and venues occasionally change last minute. New Orleans musicians are not always reliable… Another way to see what bands are playing at which clubs is to pick up a free copy of Offbeat Magazine, generally available at most bars and/or stores around the Quarter.
Here are a few venues that usually have the best music nightly:
Frenchmen Street area:
A complete list of music clubs can be found here: http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/fq/fqmusicclubs.html
My favorites include:
Apple Barrel Frenchmen St – 609 Frenchmen Street
The small and quaint “Barrel” is a mainstay for the blues and R&B. It presents great musicians and bands nightly including Mike Hood and Andre Bouvier. You’ll find your bartender a typical laid back New Orleanian: talented and laid back.
The Blue Nile Nightclub 532 Frenchmen St
The “Nile” is colorful on the outside and its colorful on the inside. The club features great music and cocktails. Some of the bands that perform here are well known in the Crescent City: Kermit Ruffins, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, The Soul Rebels, Trombone Shorty. National and international artists also frequent the stage.
Cafe Negril – 606 Frenchmen St
Bands perform Reggae and the blues nightly. One the menu is good Jamaican cuisine and Caribbean beverages. They also feature numerous local acts and many a night I’ve been surprised to find acts I’ve never heard of but whose CD I have purchased by the time I leave.
Check Point Charlie’s – 501 Esplanade Avenue
This popular spot in the Faubourg Marigny is open very late for the locals and offers an incredibly diverse lineup of live local music. There’s a laundromat in the back, so can do your laundry while you drink and listen. A local magazine reporter described the place as so casual that he walked around in his boxers while his laundry was drying.
D.B.A. 618 Frenchmen Street
In the heart of the Frenchmen Street “music district,” this hip-but-not-trendy bar offers music geared towards local music lovers. The list of beers they offered is as big as any in the City and the staff is always helpful and friendly. Musicians praise the acoustics; on a Sunday night from 6-9 pm the popular Palmetto Bug Stompers host a bunch of incredible swing dancers. This is also John Boutte’s regular club and if he’s playing, try not to miss him.
La Maison de la Musique 508 Frenchmen St.
This room was the former Ray’s Boom Boom Room. Enjoy traditional jazz, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and whatever.
Mimi’s in the Marigny 2601 Royal St
Voted best bar In New Orleans by Gambit Magazine, Mimi’s is a local watering hole where you will find young hippies from Iowa and locals from around the corner. The Tappas are to die for and the live music upstairs goes on nightly. It’s in the Fauborge Marigny just minutes from Frenchmen St.
Snug Harbor 626 Frenchmen St.
Ellis Marsalis is on stage most Fridays and Charmaine Neville sings most Mondays. A nice restaurant with great burgers and steaks is also on the premises. There are two shows nightly at 9 pm. and 11 pm.
Spotted Cat 623 Frenchmen
You’ll find “The Cat” is a great little dive where good New Orleans jazz can be found. It is a small club, but has great acoustics. Bands that play there read like a Who’s Who In New Orleans, i.e. St. Louis Slim, Washboard Chaz, The Panorama Jazz Band, The Rites of Swing, The Phister Sisters, Gypsy Swing, as well as up and coming jazz musician Bassist Nathan Kirk and many others. The great New Orleans Cotton Mouth Kings play each week.
Bourbon Street Area:
Funky Pirate 727 Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street’s premier blues club. Featuring Big Al Carson, the 495 pound International blues star and the Blues Masters. Great drinks at local prices.
Howl at the Moon 125 Bourbon Street
“Dueling piano” bar where everyone gets in on the act.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar 941 Bourbon Street
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – built between 1722 and 1732 by Nicolas Touze, is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. The structure and fence are in the old French Provincial Louis XV or Briquette-Entre-Poteauxe style used in French Louisiana. The building escaped two great fires at the turn of the 19th Century, due to slate roofing. Such slates are presently used by artists as canvases. Between 1772 and 1791, the property is believed to have been used by the Lafitte Brothers, Jean and Pierre as a New Orleans base for their Barataria smuggling operation. The legend is based on the fact that the property was owned by the family of Simon Duroche a.k.a. Castillon and the wily privateer Captain Rene Beluche. Castillon was a rather record-shy adventurer and entrepreneur. Captain Beluche commanded his ship “Spy” in Lafitte’s Baratarian fleet. Although the owners of the property, Jean Baptiste Dominica Joly LaPorte probably lived on the premises, it is within reason that the Lafittes could have used the place as city base for negotiations with potential buyers of their goods. It is unlikely that a wealthy Creole would agree to meet at home on Royal Street. Bourbon and St. Phillip was probably regarded as a safe and convenient neutral ground. Like most New Orleans legends, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.
Irvin Mayfield’s Playhouse 300 Bourbon Street (at Royal Sonesta Hotel)
Irvin’s Jazz Playhouse is a classy jazz club that is actually on Bourbon Street in the Royal Sonesta Hotel. It’s not your typical cheap drinks, rowdy, 20 year old, hang out like so much of Bourbon Street. For those reasons I like it. It’s a much different atmosphere from someplace like DBA (which I also really like) where locals might also go to hear live music. It’s a jazz club where people go to sit and LISTEN to music, not talk or knock back beer after beer. It’s not a cheap place to hang out, drinks are more on the pricey side and so is the food which is also very good. It’s much more refined than the other places you would go to hear music in NOLA.
Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar – http://hotelmonteleone.com/
It’s been said that the French Quarter begins in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone. In fact, this venerable establishment sits majestically at the foot of Royal Street giving guests the best point of departure for all things New Orleans. This historic landmark is a member of Historic Hotels of America. The hotel boasts two award-winning restaurants, the famous Carousel Bar, and valet parking.
Hot bands/”Must See” musicians:
Allen Toussaint - New Orleans - is one of America’s greatest musical treasures. Singer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and producer. This New Orleans native has been making hit records for over forty years.
Amanda Shaw - New Orleans - When Amanda Shaw takes the stage, the petite fiddler commands the attention of the audience with a poignant and rhythmic sound that only a Louisiana prodigy could deliver.
Bonerama Sample at:
Style – Funk/Jam Band/Rock.
Even in a city that doesn’t play by the rules, New Orleans’ Bonerama is something different. They can evoke vintage funk, classic rock and free improvisation in the same set; maybe even the same song. Bonerama has been repeatedly recognized by Rolling Stone, hailed as “the ultimate in brass balls” (2005) and praised for their “…crushing ensemble riffing, human-feedback shrieks and wah-wah growls” (2007). Bonerama carries the brass-band concept to places unknown; what other brass band could snag an honor for “Best Rock Band” (Big Easy Awards 2007)? They do AMAZING covers of classic rock songs including Led Zepplin’s “Ocean” and “When The Levees Break” as well as the Beatles “Helter Skelter.” If you decided to see this show, make sure you check on whether you need tickets. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED…and I’m personal friends with the three lead horn players so let me know if you decide to check out their show and I’ll let them know you’ll be there.
Cowboy Mouth - New Orleans - purveyors of pure New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll. Check out site to learn about the band and to find tour information, pictures and merchandise.
Debauche + Slow Burn BurlesqueSample at:
Style – Russian Folk Jazz. This band features a burlesque show and is great fun to watch.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The - New Orleans - The most prolific modern New Orleans brass band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band are an international concert performance force, having performed with artists ranging from Dizzy Gillespie to Elvis Costello to the Black Crowes to Widespread Panic.
Dr. John - New Orleans - A prodigious songwriter, masterful piano player, two-time Grammy Award winner and celebrated ambassador of New Orleans music, he has secured a place in rock history.
Ellis Marsalis Jr. - New Orleans - the great modern jazz pianist and patriach of the Marsalis family of Jazz muscians.
Eric Lindell Sample at: http://ilike.myspacecdn.com/play#Eric+Lindell:Lay+Back+Down:74412533:s45360532.11678361.20071405.0.2.110%2Cstd_271f1baf3d724fc0ad4b7bedfde26ecf
Style – Laid back Southern rock. Love him!
Funky Meters - New Orleans - site includes pics, audio clips, chat, gig calendar and more.
Galactic - New Orleans - “The Funksters” from New Orleans, the site is where you can get the latest news, gig details, setlists, and plenty of audio and video clips.
George French - New Orleans – soulful old time jazz and a voice direct from Heaven. He sounds a lot like Lou Rawls. Great find if he’s playing. Check the Hotel Monteleone.
Honey Island Swamp Band – New Orleans – http://www.honeyislandswampband.com/
One of my personal favorities. Amazing southern rock/blues band. They were just recognized as one of the best acts at this year’s JazzFest: Emerging acts take the spotlight in New Orleans http://t.co/o7j85oX2 via USA TODAY
Iguanas, The - New Orleans - New Orleans based and combine Tex-Mex, Rock, R&B, and much more. Driven by twin saxophones, guitar and accordion.
Hot 8 Brass Band - New Orleans - The members of the Hot 8 were all born and raised in New Orleans; many of them began playing together in high school. In 1995 they came together and began playing traditional New Orleans brass band music professionally.
Jeremy Davenport - New Orleans - For nearly a decade, Jeremy Davenport has been a vital part of the New Orleans music scene. With his original lyrics and music, Jeremy infuses his unique style and mood of storytelling creating not only a modern edge, but also the distinct feeling of a lifestyle reminiscent of a time when Jazz was at its peak of popularity.
Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes – HOT, HOT, HOT act. Since its inception in 2001, Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes (JSDN) has gained a loyal following in a competitive New Orleans music scene. Their unique Funk/Rock style blends a hard driving rhythm section reminiscent of the Radiators’ swamp funk added to the punchy horns of Tower Of Power.
Jon Cleary - New Orleans - purveyor of high quality funk and blues piano.
Kermit Ruffins - New Orleans - Jazz trumpeter. A profile of the New Orleans jazz man and barbecue swinger.
Lagniappe Brass Band – http://www.lagniappebrassband.com/
In the same style as other high-powered brass funk bands, these kids can rock it. I’ve seen them often over on Frenchmen Street at Le Maison or Café Negril.
Marcia Ball Band - New Orleans - The official web site devoted to blues artist Marcia Ball: recordings, reviews, touring schedule, merchandise and more.
Paul Sanchez - New Orleans - Paul is a troubadour from New Orleans. In January of 2010 OffBeat Magazine gave Paul three Best Of The Beat Awards. Songwriter of the Year, Best Song of the Year for Hey God and Best Folk/Rock Album.
Pete Fountain - New Orleans - A closer talk with Pete, the famous New Orleans clarinetist. Pete appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson more than any other guests.
Rebirth Brass Band - New Orleans - The Rebirth Brass Band is a New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by the now infamous Frazier brothers, the band has evolved from playing the streets of the French Quarter to playing festivals and stages all over the world. Rebirth is committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands while at the same time incorporating modern music into their show.
Shamarr Allen (one of my personal favorites) Sample at:
Style – Hip Hop Jazz Rock. He’s major rising star (played Obama’s inauguration).
Stanton Moore - New Orleans - Find this New Orleans funk/jazz drummer.
Storyville Stompers Brass Band - New Orleans - The Storyville Stompers Brass Band, established in 1981, plays New Orleans music in the traditional style, a music considered the foundation for jazz and Dixieland.
St. Legends Brass Band – New Orleans. One word…AWESOME. They are young, hip and on the way to great success. Catch them usually at BMC Club down near Frenchmen Street or other area clubs.
Subdudes - New Orleans - They are as funky as they are original, all amazingly talented and soulful guys.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue - New Orleans - Troy Andrews’ dream is now a musical reality of potentially game-changing significance, as he and his band prepare to shift the musical landscape in a thrilling new direction. He is currently New Orleans BIGGEST, HOTTEST act and performed recently at the Grammys and the NY Giants national anthem in the 2011 NFL playoffs.