New Orleans is arguably the best American city for live music. I know, cities like Austin and Memphis and Chicago, among others, can make a case, but my money and my heart are with the Crescent City.

And it’s that time of year. I’m heading down with my class in a little over three weeks, so every few days I’m sneaking a peak at the music listings. On one hand, I’m looking for musicians that I know and like; but then again, I’m looking for venues that are friendly for those under 21. And then, you have to factor in those intrinsic values such as: place (the stark reverence of Preservation Hall); showmanship (two words: Kermit Ruffins); or kinetic inspiration (OK, let’s get it out there: zydeco).

At this point, the musical possibilities seem to be coming together pretty well. On March 12th, the day we get to town, Preservation Hall is featuring trombonist Lucien Barbarin in a tribute to musical and familial ancestors, drummer Paul Barbarin and banjo/guitar player Danny Barker. On Sunday night, the Hot 8 Brass Band is at Howlin’ Wolf and Cajun Fais Do Do featuring Bruce Daigrepont is at Tipitina’s. Either way, people are going to be moving uncontrollably.

"Kid Chocolate" Brown, March 2010.

During the week, Shannon Powell and Preservation Hall-Stars are at – oh, you guessed it. Powell, can be something of a showboat, but he often surrounds himself with musicians like trumpeter “Kid Chocolate” Brown and pianist Steve Pistorious. And the venerable Rock and Bowl offers great entertainment value towards the end of the week. Clearly, nothing says St. Patrick’s Day like zydeco night. And on Friday and Saturday, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers take their feel-good sound uptown to Carrollton Avenue.

We’ve got papers, and readings, and a mid-term (them to complete; me to grade) before we head south, but musically, we’ve clearly got something to look forward to.

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