I left the house at 4:15am to catch my flight to New Orleans, through Chicago. My sons were generous enough to get up and take me to the airport, but then they wanted the car for the week. I slipped them a $20 to go to IHOP, as well.

new-orleans-2009-150I had planned to grade papers, but I slept and read instead. Mostly slept. I landed in New Orleans, picked up my rental car and immediately went over to Marrero to check out our accommodations. We’ll be staying in Madonna Manor off of Barataria Boulevard, a former home for troubled youth (right). It’s not the Hilton, but it’s quiet, relatively spacious — I think it will work just fine.

I came into the city, checked in and walked a bit. Spring is in it’s full-throated glory. I was able to get a discount ticket for Delbert McClinton at the House of Blues and I then took a stroll up Frenchmen and back down Elysian Fields over in the Marigny. I stopped in at the Spotted Cat  and caught the Panorama Jazz Band (below, top). How have I missed these guys? Their New Orleans funkiness, blend of Caribbean, Eastern European, and traditional themes is infectious, as is their energy. I had to leave, however, to head over to the

New Orleans’ own Anders Osborne. Great blues guitarist. The only problem with the set is that it was too short. After a short break, Delbert and his band (right bottom) took the stage and it was full tilt for two hours. He played a nice blend of old, recent, and yet to be released tunes. He also played the audience, especailly the women, like a fiddle. He only broke for a few minutes to let a couple of his extraordinary sidemen show their

Afterwards, I headed back over to the Spotted to Cat to catch a set by the New Orleans Jazz Vipers (left). I normally wouldn’t have been up to it, but they are scheduled to be away next Friday and I had to get at least one annual fix. The place was packed with noisy, largely disinterested college students and I think that this rubbed off on the guys. They did warm up as time went on and before I left I was treated to a fun and spirited version of “I’ll Fly Away.”

new-orleans-2009-0261I got back to my room after 1pm and slept the sleep of angels.