French Quarter, Heather Pierson, Maison, Monday Night Super jam, music, New Orleans, Ponchatoula
Yesterday was probably one of the laziest days I’ve had – not just since we got here, but in general. We got up at the usual time to get our free breakfast downstairs, use the wifi, and endure the assault of early-morning news programs on the unavoidable TV screens (did I mention that I never watch television? I literally mean never.). Afterwards Shawn and I came right back upstairs and got right back into bed and got some more much-needed rest. After doing so much in the last week, we were both feeling completely spent.
We did eventually leave the hotel for a great little late lunch/early dinner at Lebanon’s Cafe over on S. Carrollton St. in the lovely Garden District and then, after an enjoyable drive, headed right back to our room and back to bed. (I wasn’t kidding when I said we were exhausted!)
There was one open mic stop on our agenda for this trip, and it came at last on Monday night at Maison on Frenchmen St. on the edge of the French Quarter. It’s not really advertised as an open mic per se, but as what the host kept shouting on the mic – a “super jam”. The jam starts every Monday night at 10:00, but the live music started before that with the Jayne Morgan Band. We got there to hear their last set which included a nice version of Edith Piaf’s classic “La Vie En Rose”.
The jam got going sometime after 10:00. I went up and put my name on the list and waited my turn. There were some good players, some great players, and some… not so great players. Hey, that’s what open mics – and “super jams” – are all about. Everyone getting a turn, right? Finally my name was called and I made my way to the stage. At that moment there was a fairly decent drummer, a different guitarist and horn player who had just been called up as well – and a different bassist. The volume was so loud that it was almost a turn-off to me while we were sitting there listening but I thought hey, I’m here, I signed up, let’s see what happens. Once the house keyboard player acquainted me with his set-up, I told him I could sing one, which he then communicated to the host. Fine, let’s do it. I said to the bass player, “It’s a 1-4-5 in E” and he looked at me with this very puzzled look that told me that he didn’t really know what I meant. I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. I said, “Slow blues in the key of E” which he seemed to understand. He nodded and said, “Oh, okay.” Here we go! I started it off and once I started singing the first verse, I realized I couldn’t hear my vocals at all. Nothing in the monitor, but I knew it was coming out out front. The volume of everything else on stage, however, was literally hurting my ears. Maybe I’m getting old but I just don’t enjoy those super loud volumes anymore. Oh well. The show must go on, right? Full steam ahead. We got through the song – it sounded pretty decent I think. I had fun. The sax player was good. The crowd whistled after my solos and what not. They seemed to dig it. And then… that was it. I got replaced by the house keyboard player, who also had some nice things to say about my playing. As I made my way back over to Shawn, I got a few handshakes, compliments and shoulder slaps. Overall, it was a fun experience. It reminded me of the open mic at the Red Parka on mega-steroids. Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to have horn players like that in the Valley…?
That was it for us. We stayed for a little while longer as the band made their way through a version of “The Chicken”. Shawn regretted not signing up – I was indifferent to the whole experience. Sure, I can say I played in The Big Easy – and yeah it was fun – but it made me miss playing with my friends back home, especially JD and Matty and Carl. I left a few of my business cards on the table and we left.
It’s hard to believe that we’re leaving tomorrow. We’re both feeling sad about that, but you know… in some ways I can’t wait to get home. I feel a new surge of energy for music – Shawn too. We’ve promised ourselves and each other to crack down and learn new songs, practice our chops and hone our craft.
Today is Tuesday, our last full day here. The plan today is to head up to Ponchatoula to visit Tina’s mother and to get a ride out into the swamp on Nick’s boat. The weather is looking pretty lousy though – we’ve already had one rain shower since we woke up and it’s looking very cloudy and dreary. All part of the adventure, as Shawn might say. 🙂