New Orleans is a music lover’s paradise. It may not follow the strict Mod code but you can’t ignore the astonishing amount of talent spilling out into the streets. You will find a street performer around every corner and a musician on every sidewalk. This post is dedicated to the musicians who will play their hearts out for a buck.
Our first stop on our musical journey is with Acappella New Orleans. This first act would probably appeal to every Mod out there. They would certainly feel right at home on any Mod rally stage. Their sole instruments are their soulful voices. Their harmonies are spot on and you get to have a front row seat for a mere few dollars. Of course, I couldn’t leave without grabbing one of their CDs that they gladly all autographed. If I'm going to buy a CD from every artist that I like, I won’t have enough space in my luggage to bring them all back.
My favorite act of my weeklong stay in New Orleans has to be, hands down, Grandpa Elliot Small. He simply personifies everything New Orleans is all about. When you close your eyes and imagine the narrow streets of the French Quarter on a sunny day, the smell of crawfish being boiled on a sidewalk, Grandpa Elliot’s voice is the soundtrack that ties all of those things together.
In his white straw hat, blue overalls and bright red shirt, his smooth voice and classic blues harmonica will transport you to another time. He’s the real deal. He’s a character without being a caricature. I got a chance to talk to him for a brief moment and he is as sweet and warm as his voice. And he’s quite the ladies man too! He told me that I knew how a pick a woman, referring to my girlfriend. I just told him that it was the other way around. I didn’t have a say in the matter. She’s the one who picked me. He laughed.
When you hear him live, you can’t help yourself from being touched and moved. If you are ever in New Orleans, you must seek him out. Grandpa takes claim to the fame corner of Toulouse and Royal St. on any given sunny day.
Grandpa Elliot is not the only character in the French Quarter. You also have your fair share of bluegrass, bayou jazz. They might all look like they came off a steamboat but they sure know how to play. The only thing missing is a guy playing a big clay jug with XXX on the front. They don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves but I think it’s all part of the mystic.
Just in front of Jackson Square, there’s a chance you might catch a glimpse of the Young Fellaz Brass Band. They are well worth a few minutes of your time and a pocket full of change. They are young, energetic, have lungs of steel and will even dance between solos.
And finally, you have Doreen, a great clarinet player that has also made her home on the streets of the French Quarter. Usually found on Royal St., she has been bringing joy to the streets for the last twenty years or so.
So here you have it ya’ll, world-class entertainment in exchange of a few dollars in the bucket.