New Orleans – Louisiana – 4

At the French Market there was a swing dance competition. I recorded the social dance of maybe 35 couples a-jivin’, a-shakin’, a-shimmying’, and definately a-swingin’. They were on a plywood dance floor and you can hear the thudding of feet on the floor and the amazing band that had the biggest sax I’ve seen played live. Dancing is a very quiet thing- it’s meant to be the visual complement to the music. The thumping feet is almost a distraction. The dancers were stunning and everyone watching was smiling.

A walk down Frenchmen Street. I pass many bands playing music in bars and on the street, covering perhaps 3 blocks. It was like slowly turning a radio dial – sometimes the music would cut out to the static of street-crowd chatter; other times it would overlap and the two bands (or more!) would battle for your ears’ attention.

A street band on Frenchman Street in the French quarter. Trombone, trumpet, clarinet/sax, banjo, upright bass, and half a drum kit with James Brown’s portrait painted on. I am no longer a proponent of recording live performance and I’ll atone for my previous bootlegging sins in the next life. However, the sonic landscape of New Orleans would be incomplete wihtout showing the street music that is absolutely everywhere. This particular band, the Sweet Street Symphony, was barefooted and brilliant and had the whole street dancing.

My encounter below is with Matt Robinson, “Poet for Hire” on Frenchman Street. His typewriter was on two stacked milk crates and he asked me for a topic, any topic, wrote me a poem, and asked for whatever I thought the poem was worth. The street brass brand (including sousaphone) was playing a block away and Matt’s typing was just another part of the music of the night and the street.