Thank goodness that in my job I get the local tourism peeps to point me in the right direction. Without them, or having friends actually living here, I’d never have found Tipitinas.
I was staying in the heart of the French Quarter (read my blog about 5 boutique hotels here) and had poodled along Bourbon Street and its surrounds listening to the music. Some of it’s cool, some not. Depends on the time of day and which bar it is.
And in my last few visits I have high-tailed it to Frenchmen Street which is lined with great bars and even greater live music. (Here is my blog on my picks for the best live music on Frenchmen)
But my hosts had bought me a ticket to get into Tipitinas, about a $15 cab ride from the French Quarter. I had no idea what to expect but I knew I was going to see the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra lead by Grammy and Billboard winner Irvin Mayfield and featuring several guests.
This place began as a neighbourhood juke joint in 1977 as a place where Professor Longhair would play in his final years, and nothing much has changed, except there is now air conditioning. Thankfully, because it can get very crowded in this standing-only hall with a stage at one end crowded with about 15 brass and string players, a grand piano and drums. Plus Irvin and his utterly complicated sheet music he is conducting from.
We had tickets for upstairs but with only a handful of tables and chairs gathered near the railing – and which were reserved – we hovered around, taking turns to mind our gear on the bench seat along the wall so we could peer over and get a better look. Actually I think downstairs might be better, but you will have to stand all night. However the room is small so getting to the front and feeling like you’re practically on the stage is all part of the experience.
These guys tour the country lead by Emmy Award winning Mayfield and to get to see them here was such a treat. (Every Wednesday you can catch Irvin Mayfield’s NOJO Jam at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter.)