Saturday, October 13, 2018

Nesbit to N'Awlins

After leaving Memphis we drove south to Nesbit to visit Jerry Lee Lewis's ranch. Lee, who is a big Jerry Lee fan, has been twice before but it was a new experience for the rest of us. And a surreal one it was too. It's not a big house but is packed with photos, gold records, personal items, certificates and of course his grand piano.  We were shown round by his son, Jerry Lee Lewis III who was affable and amusing about his dad's eccentricities. There's the glass fronted cabinet with a bullet hole - shot because Jerry Lee didn't like it. And a bedroom door with knife marks in it caused by him sitting on the bed and throwing his many knives at it. There's his white Rolls and another car with number Killer9. Hardly worth 45 dollars for a 45 minute tour, but if you're a fan, and even if you're not, it's a fascinating insight into a man who delights and appals in equal measure. He's still active - his son, who is also his general factotum, was off to Reno next day, - and long may he be so. It seems there's a good chance he will make a return visit to London next year, and I will be there.
Following lunch in Como where there are some blues markers we drove to Baton Rouge for the night. In the evening we made a return visit to Kenny Neal's Juke Joint hoping for some live music. There wasn't a band but his brother Fred, who plays keyboards in his band, was there and made us incredibly welcome. He did some impromptu solo numbers including Bring It On Home To Me, Members Only, No Woman No Cry and Cheaper To Keep Her and a young lady called Vernicia, a law student from Seattle, happily chose songs on the juke box with Dave for us. Fred insisted on buying  us drinks and Bernicia got quite emotional when we left. They were all genuinely friendly and it was a lovely, unexpected evening. Maybe we are the only white visitors they've had. Sad but probably true.
Arriving in New Orleans next day was a bit like coming home as I've been there so many times over the last 30 years. The weather was great and we all felt more relaxed after our exertions of the last fortnight. In the evening we went to the Rock 'n' Bowl to see Geno Delafose, one of the best zydeco performers around. We were taken aback when, just before the show, a video came on of someone singing the Star Spangled Banner. The entire audience stood with hand on heart with the exception of us and an English woman who was equally bemused. I know the owner of the place, John Blancher is known as being very right wing, but this sort of jingoistic claptrap went out of fashion in the UK in the sixties when people stopped standing for the National Anthem after cinema performances. Geno was excellent though.
Next day we walked around the French Quarter up to Frenchman Street before settling down in Ryan's Irish bar for a goalless bore draw against Croatia. This was the first day of the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival with just two acts. The first was the ever reliable Little Freddie King dressed, as usual, in a brightly coloured jacket and standing stock still throughout his set. Not great but quite enjoyable. Next up was Samantha Fish, who was clearly very popular with the crowd. A blonde rock chick, she looks good but is more rock than blues. I enjoyed Chills And Fever and one or two other numbers but some of her other numbers, played on any of five guitars, were too heavy for my taste. From there we went to the Parish Room at the House of Blues to see Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. They are a three piece from Indiana comprising a guitarist with a finger picking style, Breezy, a female washboard player  and a drummer. There's a bluesy feel about them although they have quite a tough edge tempered with quite a bit of humour. An entertaining outfit who have made eight albums so far. Two more days of the festival to go so a final report will appear soon followed by some photos.


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