By Jessica Watson
The air is damp with hints of bourbon and beer.
The bar is dank and dark, but the loud trumpet blaring into the microphone reels you in. The musician looks as if he is weathered and has seen the other side of life, but he has high notes and low notes that permeate the room. I lingered nervously at the entrance to the lounge in Treme neighborhood, not sure what I was getting myself into. Am I in the right place? I survey the exterior and loiterers casually smoking cigarettes under dim street lights.
Before I could make up my mind, I am pulled in.
“Come in! Don’t be shy!” A hefty black woman with blond braids grabs my hand and the rest is history.
This is the spirit of authentic New Orleans, a city where one goes to be free, to succumb to demons, to answer the call of the spirits, to give into inhibitions, to simply be. There’s no room for wondering if you are in the right place. Before you know it you’ll be on the dance floor letting the music move you, and after the show, a washboard player will show you how to make music that grooves you.
Sensing that my siblings and their significant others all had different plans for Thanksgiving, I decided to use the holiday as an excuse to visit ol’ friends in New Orleans, that I made on my 2013 year long country tour. I gave thanks to friends I had not seen in a couple years though it felt like maybe just a couple weeks. I gave thanks for people who were willing to just be, have fun and enjoy themselves. And I gave thanks for the quiet exploration time I got to do, walking familiar streets in Marigny and the Quarter. It’s a beautiful thing to happen upon a place you come to know before, and to have it not only bring up memories, but create new ones as well. Thank you New Orleans.