Musical Tour: New Orleans
by Rachel Devitt | April 19, 2014
Fact: No one has ever truly visited New Orleans and not come away completely enchanted with it. No, really. Have you been? Well, HAVE YOU? If not, stop reading this right now and book a ticket. This city will change your life. Its easy pace. Its charming buildings and streets. Its incredible sense of history -- and we mean all the critical moments it participated in over time as well as the way that history still emanates from the cobblestones of the French Quarter, the streets of the Treme, the empty lots and inklings of construction in the Lower Ninth Ward, the staggering mansions of the Garden District. Its rich culture, from voodoo (sometimes mixed with Catholicism) to parade season to the nearby bayou. Its amazing food, from beignets at Cafe Du Monde (yes, it's a dirty, chaotic mess, but they are the best) to all kinds of meat at Cochon Butcher, from po' boys at Parkway Bakery and Tavern to muffulettas at Central Grocery (DO. NOT. MISS). Its lovely, kind, resilient, fun people.
And, of course, its music. Music is just everywhere in New Orleans: Second line bands march down the street during Mardi Gras season (or any old festive time). String bands staffed by young hipsters in old-timey clothes jam on the street. A dizzying series of festivals boast R&B, hip-hop, country, jazz and more. And just about every sound you can think of, from the blues to NOLA brass, swing to zydeco calls to you from the bars of Frenchman Street, the Maple Leaf in Uptown (where Rebirth Brass Band throw down weekly), Bullet's Sports Bar in the Seventh Ward (where Kermit Ruffins holds a weekly gig), the jazz brunches in the French Quarter, even the drunken nightmarescape of Bourbon Street (seriously, avoid Bourbon at all costs if you can. If you must go, stick to the far end where Lafitte's is.).
Music sweats from New Orleans' every pore. After all, this is the city where jazz was born in the brothels of Storyville. This is the city that gave us Fats Domino, Mahalia Jackson, Dr. John and Frank Ocean. This is the city where hip-hop artists took to the mic to decry the federal and state government's gross mishandling of the Katrina catastrophe (which continues to impact NOLA citizens today). This is a city that has and continues to produce its own inimitable genres of music, from its quintessential brass bands to the twerked-up booty-hop called bounce and its queer offshoot sissy bounce. This playlist features all that and more (including a little Cajun music, which technically hails from elsewhere in southern Louisiana, but can be heard throughout NOLA). One measly little playlist barely scratches the surface of the musical wonderland that is New Orleans, so think of this as just a little taste to whet your appetite for the real deal. New Orleans music must be lived to appreciate. GET DOWN THERE.