Monday, April 20, 2015

His own private railroad

Marigny cottage
Saturday was Record Store Day, and in the run-up to its upcoming release date, Louie is promoting his CD, Elevation 13: Louie Ludwig with the Moss Pickers,  at local record stores. Naomi and I were deciding what to do - it was open day at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, and I wanted to sight-see.

Cottages on Upper Magazine Street, with carnival beads
"You can go in your car, or you can go in mine," said Louie, "but if you're coming with me you're on the Louie train, and this train's going where it's going."

We jumped on the train, which in this case is a gold Prius, stuffed full of posters and refrigerator magnets for Elevation 13.  Come along with us for the ride.

We rolled down Esplanade, looking at the beautiful houses beneath the spreading live oak trees. The stately homes grew more funky and eclectic the closer we came to the river.

Then we turned off on Henriette Delille Street (I'm learning these secret short cuts!), and over to St. Claude. "Into da 9th Ward," said Louie as we rattled past construction barricades. We rolled past the same sights as last night, when we went to the club.

Elizabeth's in the Bywater
But this morning we went beyond, into the Bywater. Our destination was Euclid Records, where the line for Record Store Day stretched out the door. Louie hopped out of the car with his bag of swag, while Naomi and I checked out the murals on the building across the street.

Mural across the street from Euclid
Mission accomplished, it was back toward the French Quarter, and Frenchmen Street, legendary home of music.

Here crowds of beer-swigging bros swaggered through the potholed streets in their shower shoes and backwards baseball caps. Louisiana Music Factory specializes in local music, carrying jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, Cajun, and zydeco independent labels. In the window, Snooks the cat is grooving to the beat (he has his own Facebook page).

Then it was off down Decatur and into the heart of the Quarter itself, the Prius inching forward past the taxis, bikes, mule-drawn carriages and tourists. We snagged a spot just outside Central Grocery so I could dash across the street for some souvenir pralines.

Alas, the line for muffalettas was out the door and we had no patience, plus there were more stops on Louie's own private railroad.

Up Dumaine Street, where we saw a fully garbed pirate - or was it Ignatius himself? - nonchalantly cross against traffic. Then to the corner of Bourbon where we parked illegally in front of what may be the oldest gay bar in the US while Louie dropped off more posters and swag at Skullyz Recordz.

We crossed Canal Street into the Central Business District, and stopped off for a brief look at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

Reproduction street tiles by Derby Pottery
Next stop Magazine Street, to visit the shop where Naomi works. We served as tourist guides to a visiting couple, recommending lunch at the Mexican restaurant across the street. We explained that much as they wanted traditional Creole food, they couldn't find it within walking distance at this end of Magazine, where Asian fusion is more common than gumbo and red beans.

Then a pilgrimage to Jim Russell's Records, now sadly absent Russell himself, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 94. If you're a collector of 7" singles, you'd love browsing in the dusty, musty shop full of rare vinyl and shellac!

We toured the length of Magazine Street, a dip through Audubon Park and a brief homage to the "raison d'etre of the City of New Orleans," the Mississippi river bank. A family party barbecued on a pavilion elevated over the milky brown water while a paddle-wheel cruiser rolled by.

The streets of this city are barricaded and ravaged by multiple traffic projects. We jounced and bounced over potholes through Uptown, past the Carrollton cemetery, occasionally detouring around the block in pursuit of another one of Louie's passions - a photographic collection of abandoned furniture.

At the first careening detour around the block in the Bywater, I was a little alarmed, wondering if he planned to pack the sagging davenport or battered rattan dresser-drawers into the Prius' hatchback, but he explained that it was simply photos he wanted. By the third or fourth stop, I was able to appreciate the hunt, viewing a blackened, hollowed-out armchair, charred by fire, as the visual masterpiece it was.

Lunchtime came and we considered our options. You might think we'd chose something traditionally New Orleans, but I already had my Parkway po'boy experience the day before. So we chose sushi. We ordered too much to finish, and brought home cucumber salad, volcano roll and a slice of red snapper for Biscuit the cat.

Impressively ancient freight elevator opens onto a common gathering area
On the way, we stopped by Naomi's studio in an old warehouse in Mid-City. I was thrilled to see her work. She is experimenting with different glazes on porcelain, and her eye is discerningly sharp. I didn't take any photos except outside by the elevator, but here's one of her piece "St. Lucy," taken by Louie:

And soon the private railroad pulled back into its siding near Bayou St. John. What a tour!


David Duff said...

Thank you. Right, now I can cross New Orleans off my list of places to visit having enjoyed your conducted tour. Gosh, the money you've saved me!

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Fabulous! Makes me want to go back. Of course, I always pretty much want to go back to New Orleans. Nice to see new nooks and crannies through your blog.

smalltownme said...

What a ride! I wonder where the Louie train will head next.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Wow, so many links to go and explore. Thank you (and the Louie train) for this tour!