Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jimmy Buffett Parrott Head Walking Tour Of New Orleans And More Besides

Click on the above video to enlarge it.
The above video would mean a lot to anyone who grew up on the Gulf Coast. It meant a lot after hurricane Katrina in 2005. It means a lot now after the on going oil spill. The Gulf Coast was once a fine place to grow up. Now it seems all is lost for the forseeable future. But Jimmy Buffett sings Bama Breeze and brings back many good memories of bars on the Miss. Gulf Coast like Spiders. Growing up on the Gulf Coast was once a paradise. Now it is an oily mess.

The above video of Johnny Cash is from the TV Show Hootenanny. Aired Jan.11,1964. It was filmed at the University of Florida. I remember seeing this show because the folk group mentioned below was on the same bill. Or at least that is the way I remember it. Johnny Cash looked really strung out that night.
I found this walking tour of New Orleans French Quarter on a Parrott head Jimmy Buffett webiste. It mentions the Bayou Room where Jimmy Buffett first got his start back in the mid 1960s. I knew some of the other entertainers who played there back in 1963 and 1964. One group was a folk group who played on the Hootenanny TV show in early 1964 on the same night Johnny Cash played and sang and looked really stoned. I will put that video on here. I can't remember the name of this folk group but I knew the girl friend of one of the musicians. She will remain nameless. She also worked as the cashier front door person at the Bayou Room. I had met this group which used to play in clubs on the Miss. Gulf Coast because the girl was a former girl friend of a friend of mine. Folk music was a big deal in 1963 and 1964 and then in 1965 after Bob Dylan went electric folk music faded away and so did songs like Puff The Magic Dragon which this group played often and the crowd would always yell out to hear it more.
A couple of years later in 1967 I heard that the girl had caused a big problem for that group. She had threatened to commit suicide and was holding a razor blade. Her boyfriend tried to stop her and in the ensuing fight she cut his wrist so badly he couldn't play the guitar and was thusly out of business for a long period of time. That was the last I heard of them.
So here is a walking tour that mentions the Bayou Room in New Orleans around that time. Middle to late 1960s.

That is a somewhat disappointing list they have since it is really not very personalized about Jimmy Buffett. And certainly not very complete.
So I will add some places of interest I knew about in the period from 1958 through 1966.
1.Lafitte's In Exile. Just down Bourbon Street from Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop but a different sort of place. Lafitte's In Exile was a prominent gay bar. It also was the location of the gay costume judging contest on Mardi Gras Day each year out on Bourbon Street in front of Lafitte's In Exile. Many of the gay men made up as women were better looking than most women and almost impossible to tell from a real woman.
2. Two Greek bars located down on Decatur Street near Canal Street. One was The Acropolis and one was the Gin Mill. They were located side by side. Great place to see Greek Dancing late at night during Mardi Gras. I once saw a drunk sailor dancing with a transvestite and the sailor had no clue it was a man who was dancing with him and kissing him. I think both of these places are now closed.
3. Brocato's Ice Cream parlor on Ursuline Street. We lived a few doors away in 1965. Great old time Italian Ice Cream parlor. Tile on Ursuline street still there marks an entrance for Ladies. They moved to another location but are still in business in New Orleans.
4. Sydney's Liquor Store on Decatur Street. Back in the 1960s Sydney ran Sydney's Newstand but when I was in New Orleans in 2004 I saw he is now selling liquor. We went in as he was celebrating with his family his birthday. I dont know how old he is but he is a nice guy. They had some Southern Comfort Praline Liquor for sale so I bought some. It is truly a great desert sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.
5. La Siete Mares Bar or The Seven Seas. A great bar with a nice patio in back with a ping pong table.
6. Cosimo's bar. Another great bar still in existence.
7. Felix's Oyster Bar. My favorite oyster bar. Acme oyster bar opened after we moved away from New Orleans.
8. Brennan's Restaurant. Great for breakfast. Bloody Mary's for breakfast is a New Orleans tradition.
9. In the Monteleon Hotel is the best bar in the French Quarter. Right off the lobby is the Carousel Bar. It turns so slowly in a darkened room you might not even notice it. I was in there one night and a lady was at the bar and found herself over on the other side of the room and she screamed, "This thing is moving!" The drinks in the Carousel bar are strong. You get two shots of liquor instead of one. A whiskey sour at the Carousel bar is really strong.
10. Forget Pat O' Briens it is now owned by a corporation and they have opened knock off versions of Pat O'Briens in Houston and Memphis. Their drinks in the back patio now come in cheap little plastic glasses mostly filled with ice.
11. Galatoires Restaurant located down on Bourbon Street. In the heart of Bourbon Street but it is one of New Orleans finest restaurants. My favorite. They dont take reservations. You line up outside and if you are dressed well enough and look ok they let you in. Maybe. A meal for two is 80 to 100 bucks but worth it.
I will add some more places of interest as I think of them so check back now and then.
12. The Penny Arcade down on Royal Street near Canal Street. Great place for old time machine penny arcade games. Long before Pac Man and other electronic games arrrived.
13. Sho Bar on Bourbon Street. This is where I saw stripper Candy Barr in 1959. Also on Bourbon Street at that time were Tempest Storm and Lili Christine and other exotic dancers.
14.La Casa de los Marinos.A great 3 room bar on the corner of Decatur Street and Toulouse Street. This had been a merchant seaman bar until Tulane Students discovered it and then it filled up with all sorts of people including college students. Sometimes during Mardi Gras you might see men in tuxedos dancing there after or before a Mardi Gras ball. La Casa as it was known was right across Decatur Street from The Jax Brewery. You could smell the beer brewing all night long.
First room had Latin music like merengue on the jukebox. They had conga drums that customers could use themselves.
The back room had American and British Invasion rock and Roll. In the second room was a wall with red devil faces all over one wall.
15. Jewel's Tavern. Jewel's Tavern was a bar near the corner of Gov. Nicholls and Decatur Street. It was on Decatur Street. It was a merchant seaman bar. There were two merchant seaman unions in New Orleans in 1965. The S.I.U(Seaman's International Union)and the N.M.U.(The National Maritime Untion). Jewel's Tavern had a good country music jukebox with songs on it like Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire and Hank Williams,Sr.'s My Son Calls Another Man Daddy. Jewel's Tavern can be seen in one scene in the movie WUSA starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. That movie was made from the book Hall of Mirrors by Robert Stone one of my favorite novels about the Crescent City also known as The Big Easy and New Orleans.
16. The Volunteers of America Thrift Shop. This was the only good thrift shop in the French Quarter in 1965/1966. They had a little bit of everything. I saw a rack of old tuxedos for 2 dollars each. I bought one. I went looking for some 78 records to play on an old windup Victrola I bought at a white elephant sale at the Ursulines Convent one day at a sale there. The Voulnteers of American thrift shop had a whole wall floor to ceiling of old 78rpm records for 5 cents a piece. I only bought about 40 of them. One was Happy Trails by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I have often thought about that thrift shop and what record treasures they and other thrift shops and record shops must have had in New Orleans in 1965 before record collecting became a big business. Now old records cost a fortune in New Orleans.
17. There were some great pawn shops in New Orleans in 1965. The ones I remember best were on the other side of Canal Street on Rampart Street. I bought an old stand up 1930s style Underwood typewriter in one of the pawn shops. They had had them refurbished.It was good as new. I used it for 10 years.
18. The Quorum. New Orleans first Beatnik Coffee House circa 1964.
Here is another link to the movie The Quorum.
Below is a link to the movie mentioned above. It is 10 minutes of the 59 minute movie.
I only went to the Quorum once or twice as I recall. I thought the poetry being shouted from the stage there was really bad. Plus the whole beatnik thing was old hat by 1965/1966. Electric Rock and Roll had arrived with Bob Dylan in 1965 and the Beatles the year before. A whole new world was opening up and dim coffee houses were a thing of the past. And folk music was on the way out. I was glad to see it go. I thought modern jazz and old time blues were much more interesting. I found it hard to listen to folk music. In fact I hated it. If nothing else we owe Bob Dylan and The Beatles a great deal of credit for putting an end to commericial folk music. Folk music was boring. I listened to modern jazz and old blues musicians.
Babe Stovall is mentioned in the article about The Quorum. He was one of the better musicians around the French Quarter in the 1960s. A little known but excellent blues man.
Here is some good information and a discography on Babe Stovall.