a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘andrew duhon’

savannah 2.0

finally, a new post!  Listening to Andrew Duhon as I edit this post and fondly remembering an incredible birthday trip to New Orleans.  He’s singing Girls from Other Countries as I type this.  For me, it’s boys but the song resonates strongly and that trip was one of many that proved the serendipity and magic that comes from leaving your comfortable home base can make your life feel rich beyond your childhood dreams.  I check myself when I am about to say something obnoxious like “yeah, I am kind of bored of Paris”.  As a child growing up in the middle of nowhere, getting to Paris even ONCE seemed like a fairytale.  Paris was one of those fantastic places that taught me to just be more adventurous,  Stay in a cheap hotel near Gare du Nord, which was way too dangerous the first time I went, but now just provides a new, fresh Parisian experience 🙂

 

If you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you will also gain an understanding of why Savannah has such an Austin feel.  If you stay in the Historic District you will likely pass the building that really shook up Savannah several times.  John wrote the book because cheap airlines were new and he started travelling from New York to Savannah on a regular basis and became more or less a local.  One of the other developments happening at that time was a push to expand the Savannah College of Art and Design.  According to him, Savannah was the conservative southern place you likely envision at the time and there was a definite clash of cultures but the college expanded and added a layer of hip to sleepy Savannah.

you could be in france!

What you get now is a fascinating mix of genteel southern manners and modern 21st century comforts and enticements.  For me one of the most delightful parts of Savannah was just wandering the streets from square to square.  It’s worth going into the Cathedral of St John the Baptist.  It was dedicated in 1876 and is one of the most spectacular in the region.

The other area worth checking out is the riverfront.  There are lots of options for eating and drinking and plenty of shops catering to tourists.  Two of the best options are River Street Sweets for pralines, salt water taffy and other sweet treats and the Arts and Crafts Emporium (up a staircase) for local arts and crafts you can take home as non-edible souvenirs.

Two places to check out in this neighborhood are Chart House and the Bayou Café.  Chart House is right on the water and you can have a meal on the patio.  The Bayou Café has live music every night so was where I spent my Monday night birthday.  It’s more Louisiana than Georgia but in the ‘hood and with basic but delicious seafood and Cajun fare.

I decided to try snow crab for the first time.  It took a few tries (and several stains on my top) to get

the beauty of latin squares

the hang of it but it was delicious and I acquired a new skill.  The singer noted that I was eating alone, found out it was my birthday, sang me “happy birthday” and bought me a shot of bourbon.  As already noted, there are a lot of friendly Americans.

He had recently broken up with his girlfriend so to make sure things didn’t get weird after last set, I left a bit early and encountered a young late night busker so ended up listening to him and then conversing for quite a while as he gave away some of his earnings to beggars.  I kept giving him money as I didn’t think he could probably afford his generosity.  He insisted I couldn’t walk back to the hotel (I had been doing it every night) so I waited for some sort of Uber arrangement he had made. I gave him money for that too so he had a great night but I remember being young and poor and am very generous to young people if they treat me well and I like them.

For shopping, the other street to check out is Broughton Street. It’s the main thoroughfare.  Nearby is a wonderful restaurant that is a Savannah institution, Belford’s.  The restaurant only arrived in 1996 but is housed in a historic building and is one of the best rated restaurants in town.  I managed to indulge in happy hour, which is a great bargain.  I also discovered that, like New Orleans, you can get your wine to go as long as you stay within a certain part of the Historic District so you can indulge in happy hour prices while strolling the historic streets with your beverage of choice.

One final suggestion if you like local history is a drink at The Desoto.  It’s now super modern 21st century complete with mixologists but its origins come from 1890 when it opened as a luxury hotel that became known as the Dowager Empress of the South.

Beaches and resorts are not far away if that is more your scene.  For me, pretending to live in different century is always a delightful adventure. Of course, I prefer my experience to not be TOO authentic.  I love the glamour and romance of the 17th and 18th centuries but I also totally enjoy actually living in my own.  Savannah offers you the best of both 😉

kermit would love it

I started this post a long time ago and then realized I forgot to mention the most surprising discovery of my trip to Savannah to listen to music.  Apparently they do St Patrick’s Day better than maybe anywhere else in the world.  One of my best friends had a dream of seeing it in New York City so I’ve done that.  I would love to check out Chicago but I’m not sure it will surpass Savannah.  It is so huge they sneak in and practically every fountain is green a few days before March 17th.  It is also WAY nicer weather in Savannah in March so that is part of the reason it is so successful.  Northerners are happy to come and celebrate in a climate that is much more hospitable than Ireland 😉

Any proper Irish person would consider them pussies 🙂  Being partly Irish, I have discovered it is more an Irish-American thing than an Irish thing.  I’ve been an immigrant a couple of times and totally understand that nostalgia for home.

So, what are you waiting for?  Savannah in March has so much to offer.  As I was heading to the airport, my taxi driver (who looked like a character from the Dukes of Hazzard 😉 teased me… “you don’t really want to leave, do you?  Quite honestly, I said, “no, especially as I am leaving just before St. Patrick’s Day.  Next time I stay longer…”

 

getting off bourbon street…

Well, I’m already in Puno… but it seems quiet so might allow me to catch up a little bit.  There will be a little more New Orleans when I get home.  There are a couple more half-written posts but I need good internet to look up links for them and I am finding the internet a little elusive in Peru… but I have already made a friend and there are a few stories to tell so stay tuned…

First, though, I am finally going to finish this post for New Orleans that I keep adding to at random moments.

So, we are not sitting beside the highest navigatable lake in world and keeping our fingers crossed we won’t succumb to altitude sickness… we are in New Orleans searching for some decent jazz…

After my two nights on Bourbon Street, I decided it was time to get off the tourist route and check out Frenchmen Street, which was supposed to feature the jazz clubs that used to exist on Bourbon Street before Larry Flynt and college students on spring break took over.

I am known for being a bit intrepid – and know the best way to get to know a city is to walk it!  And that way – if you can’t find a taxi – at least you know your way home in the dark 🙂  Of course you should start navigating your way through an unfamiliar city in the light.

Due to my Friday night revels – and 5am bedtime – I needed a nap pre-dinner.  I can sleep through practically anything but naps don’t present the opportunity for really deep sleep so shortly into my nap I heard a riotous soundtrack on the street.  I wondered what was going on – but I was too exhausted to jump up immediately and find out.

And it ended up I had plenty of time.  For the second time in two days I hit the streets of New Orleans and discovered an unexpected parade!

It’s still not entirely clear the occasion but it has something to do with the Italian immigrants to New Orleans.  Mostly it just seemed like an excuse for a parade – and corollary partying 🙂  No worries I would be walking the street alone! 😉

Luckily the processional was on the street outside my hotel marching in the direction of Frenchmen Street.  So the best plan of action seemed to be to follow the parade route.  And I got some extra entertainment to accompany my walk 😉

I am quite famous for the speed at which I move, even through crowds, so it didn’t take me too many blocks to get in front of the parade so I could cross over to Decatur Street, my original plan.  Decatur runs parallel to the Mississippi and is full of tourist delights.  Including “authentic” cuisine.

I decided to try one of them out as I had to have some classic Louisiana cuisine as part of my cultural experience.  I also thought I should have a “Hurricane”.  Just because…  My server was wonderful so when she informed me they made great Hurricanes and crawfish étouffé my order was settled.  The Hurricane was too sweet for me but I had my first crawfish!  And a signature local dish.  Apparently in Louisiana, cayenne is as ubiquitous as pepper 🙂

The charming server gave me a rundown of the history of Frenchmen Street and gave me directions from the restaurant.  So, within minutes, I had ducked into my first jazz club (Maison). The band was very good but the jazz was traditional so I stayed for a set and then moved on.

I had read my guidebook by then and went in search of The Spotted Cat.  The band at The Spotted Cat was very talented.  And I’d learned to order Ariba beer.  There was decent local beer in New Orleans – you just needed to make the right inquiries.  So I was ready to settle in for the night…

But New Orleans wins hands down for the most ladies rooms out of service in one weekend!  Not sure what girls get up to in New Orleans…  We got to directed to the men’s but it was gross – and meant there was only one tiny, sticky bathroom for the entire bar.

So I listened to a set and escaped across the street to Snug Harbor – and a clean, functioning bathroom 🙂  At first I was standing in a long line but it was late on Saturday night and I hadn’t had to stand in a line to get into a bar in New Orleans yet so I could afford to be patient.  Once inside, though, it got confusing.   When you are alone you naturally eavesdrop so I gathered everyone was lined up to go into a show and the cover was $25 so it was a commitment.  I had already ordered a drink before this was all clear so watched the show on the TV monitor and overheard some interesting bar conversations…

But my goal was to see live jazz… so off we headed to see if the fourth time was a charm… and it was!  This time I just paid the cover.  It was a whole $10 🙂  But I figured maybe my $10 would score me a better show.

And my instincts were spot on 🙂  The club was called dba.  Not jazz this time but roots music with a touch of soul and a definite southern vibe.  The bar itself was impressive but I was there to hear music so headed for the stage.  The band on stage was excellent but they kept talking about Andrew – in a way that suggested he was a bit of a demi-god to the New Orleans music scene.

So I knew I was waiting for Andrew just like everyone else… except they knew what to expect.   I was already pretty close to the stage but just before Andrew came on some girl directly in front just went into free fall.  Apparently she had a posse and they scooped her before she hit the floor and no one had to call the paramedics.  But they had to carry her off to a bench – or a bed – and it opened up a large gap on the dance floor right in front of the band.  A dark-haired girl and I looked at each other and mutually agreed that it would be acceptable for us to step into the empty space.

I still had no idea who Andrew was but I had a front row seat to his show – and he seemed to have a lot of fans!  It ended up being an unforgettable night, ending on the kind of high that only comes from being willing to live a little and take some calculated risks.

It ended up that it was the dark-haired girl’s birthday, a couple of days before mine, so we had an impromptu mutual celebration.  And her friends had ordered mini cupcakes!  They offered me one.  I loved the music and Andrew was promoting a new CD so I went to buy one on the break and got a second mini cupcake!  And because I was so close to the stage, it was easy at the end to meet Andrew and congratulate him on a fantastic show.  Supporting young talent is one of my things…

It’s a great CD.  Here is the link to him…

http://andrewduhon.com/

I am especially into the song “Beautiful Girl”… it’s on my regular music rotation and every time I hear it that whole night comes back to me.  The wonderful power of music…

In the end, I couldn’t get a taxi… so had to walk all the way home from Frenchmen Street.  But I knew my way…   the only hard part was actually going directly to the hotel and not stopping in the bars I heard along the way to listen to more music…

Make sure you get off Bourbon Street… you won’t be disappointed… and maybe you too will have a magical night full of serendipity …

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