Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saturday Night In the Boom Boom Room

Jumping ahead…

One night, after a great dinner at the Grapevine (in which I had a HUGE pork chop with apricot sauce over a sweet potato and wild boar sausage(!) hash), four of us walked on down to Frenchman street to catch some music. For those of you unfamiliar with New Orleans, Bourbon Street is the street that gets all the press (and the flashing, and the tourists, etc.), but to my knowledge, Frenchman Street has the best concentration of bars to actually see decent music. We walked up and down the two block stretch, and had the choice of seeing Marva Wright, Anders Osbourne, the Papa Mali Trio, Trombone Shorty, and some others, all in packed bars, all sounding great from outside.

The packed bars were a problem. After several days of Jazzfest, and with more walking to come, Beth’s and Kathy’s feet were killing them. They didn’t want to pay a $20 cover just to stand for a few songs before their feet finally gave out, dragging us all home $80 poorer, all told. So after much discussion about whether they’d be safe on their own and whether they knew the way home, they took off, leaving Paul and me on Frenchmen.

We walked around a bit more, evaluating our choices, eventually settling on Ray’s Boom Boom Room, which no longer had Marva Wright onstage, instead featuring David Batistse and the Gladiators. And, at the moment we walked in, John Legend’s drummer, whose name I wish I could find, because he was throwing it into the skins like no one I’ve ever seen. Amazing stuff.

Not that the rest of the band were slouches, either. We walked in about a half hour before the set was scheduled to end (only paying half cover, boo-yah!), but got to enjoy more than an hour of music just the same, including club owner Ray singing “Cruisin’” and an especially nice “Let’s Get it On,” and a singer named Karen K. (or Kaye) singing “Sweet Love” and one more tune that was even better, but which my poor soaked memory can’t quite recall. Meanwhile David Batiste’s band kept it going and going.

In the crowd was an old guy, with maybe one tooth in his head for every decade he was alive. (That’s being generous.) But man, what this guy lacked in choppers, he made up in game. Women loved him. At one point, one lady about a third his age was shaking it right in front of him, all for him. He took out a handkerchief and started mopping his brow as he watched. Then, he unfolded it and started fanning her, as if to cool her off. She kept going and going, to the point where he fished inside his shirt and pulled out a stethoscope. He put the buds in his ears and checked his heart rate. He had a whole routine worked out, and it was a delight to watch. (The shimmying was nice, too.)

Eventually, the band closed the night, and Paul and I took off up Decatur Street, vaguely heading toward our hotel. I’ll pick this up later, but don’t think the night ended there…


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