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I’m excited for tomorrow night’s live-stream show with my quartet. We’re doing a special Mardi Gras show from the stage of The Majestic Theatre here in Conway, NH. We’ve been rehearsing, masked up and distanced, for a couple of weeks now, and I think we’re sounding pretty damn good. After months of being apart, it’s amazing to be making music and fun with these fellas again.

In the process of getting ready for this show, I’ve been looking through photos from many New Orleans adventures, to share before and during the live-stream, and I came across this one:

and immediately my heart ached, but in a beautiful way. This was a moment that I’ll cherish forever – Shawn and I in 2012, first year campers at the New Orleans Trad Jazz Camp, having just performed a set of fun music with new friends at the legendary Preservation Hall. We were hot as hell, and excited. Are there marks on my arm from me pinching myself?!

It’s amazing how a photograph can instantly transport you, to conjure a cascade of fond and forgotten memories. I see our faces here, just a couple years into our relationship. I think now of the miles and years and adventures that lay ahead for those two young’ns – the touring and the songs and the adventures – and the gray that has crept into more recent photos, but the smiles and the joy and the love remain. We still return, year after year (except 2020), to the city that continues surprise and delight and challenge us. We bring our love of this place to every stage, every song, every performance, and to many of our moments together in our day to day life.

As the song asks and I answer: Yes, I do know what it means to miss New Orleans. Each of us misses some place, too – a place that makes your heart sing at the mere thought of it. Maybe that place isn’t geographical – maybe it’s in the eyes or the arms of those from whom you’ve been separated during this strange and challenging year we’ve been living through. We all know what it means to miss hugging the people we love, and to miss gathering with friends and like minds around the things we love, like music and art and food, and connection.

I really miss those crystalline moments in which I’m able to create those unique experiences on a stage in a venue with friends and strangers alike, swimming in that beautiful alchemy that is only possible in live performance. There, there are no edits, no take-backs, no second chances. It’s a kind of high wire act that, if performed with levity and love, is the most magical thing I’ve ever experienced.

I’m so grateful to get a taste of that magic this week, celebrating the musical traditions of a place I love with people that I love just as much, and for the opportunity to share what we pull out of our hats. I really enjoy the emotions that a single photograph can inspire!