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Blues Across The Sea

Little Dave Lewis’ & Johnny 'Guitar' Dixon's great adventure!
Written by Dave Lewis, serialised over the next few months both in our newsletter and online!

Well here goes.  It all started around two years ago after two friends, Dave Lewis and John Dixon found themselves young (er, well not that young!) free, and certainly single, and dare I say it... still fairly good looking!

It was decided one night, over a pint of 'Reverend James', or some such delightful brew, that we would embark on a 'Blues Adventure' of some sort.  The expense side of it was not really an issue, so after some deliberation (about 3 mins worth!) we decided on a trip to the good 'ol south of the USA, down to New Orleans in the state of Louisiana.

We had heard from an old and long time friend of JD's... none other than Mr Bob Lynch, that down in the 'Big Easy' a damn good time could be had by all who loved the blues (or indeed jazz), hot weather, and of course that lovely southern cookin'!

Every year a music Heritage Festival is held in New Orleans.  This is a Jazz / Blues / Gospel Fest, more or less in equal doses, so there's something for everyone!  The festival this year was held over two four day weekends.  We decided to take the second weekend, leaving the UK on Weds April 28th, returning on Thurs May 6th.  This would include the second weekend of the festival, giving us eight days away.                                                                 

So that was it...the spell was cast, the decision was made, and it was off to the travel agents to 'bend' the flexible friends.

After three (yes three!) hours of phone calls, deliberations and permutations of flight plans to hotel bookings, it was eventually all sorted.  Moral....always book well in advance!

But now came the waiting....our cold weather, and of course, having to go to work as well!

I WANT TO GO NOW......THIS MINUTE! was the screaming inside our heads.....but of course, as they say (whoever 'they' are!) everything comes to those who wait.

Wednesday 28th April

We're off! ...as the 'horsey' people say, and what a time to have to get up! Our flight was due to take off at 0830 from terminal 4 at Heathrow. As you, dear reader will no doubt know, you have to be there 3 hours before an intercontinental flight. Add to this the travel/parking time from South Wales to London, and yes! You've guessed it; we had to leave home at the unearthly hour of 2 am on the Wednesday morning! Never mind 'eh! The journey was virtually hassle free at that time of day... so we were starting our great adventure at last!

We took off in our shiny Boeing 767 smack on time, and rose into brilliant sunshine, which lasted nearly all the way. Our flight path seemed rather odd to me, but some of you more seasoned travellers will no doubt know why. Our big silver bird took us up to Scotland, and then to our amazement just south of Iceland (volcanic ash, and all that stuff?) We flew on to Greenland, the southern tip of which we could view quite plainly through our cabin windows. This was indeed a sight to see, even from 35,000 feet we could see the inlets and landscape of the south, some covered in snow, some not.  Don't know if there are any Polar Bears in Greenland.  If they were down there I was convinced I'd be able to spot them, at least against the black rock background.

We flew on, again in gorgeous viewing weather over Northern Canada, and on down over the 'Great Lakes' which again could be viewed perfectly, passing Chicago on the way. I remember parts of Arkansas appearing very flat for what must have been hundreds of miles.  Then we were on down to Texas, eventually landing safely at Houston International airport at about 2pm local time.  Through USA immigration without too much hassle and as we stepped down into Houston arrivals, I remembered those famous Chuck Berry lyrics: 'Cut your engines and cool your wings, and let me make it to the telephone'!
The turn round in Houston was fairly smooth, and soon we were back on another 'Big Silver Bird' for the last hour of the journey to ‘the Big Easy’  
We had been travelling now for some 10 or 11 hours, and we just wanted this 'flying business' over with, but as we looked down at the Mississippi river winding its way down the delta through towns that jump out of music memory - Baton Rouge, West Monroe, Lafayette, and many more - to actually be here, and be flying over these towns was almost surreal.

Our second leg 'Big Silver Bird' cut her engines and cooled her wings at 3.30pm local time New Orleans. ‘We had arrived y'all!’ As they say in these parts! After a short but nervous wait at the carousel, we picked up our bags...well, they looked like ours!  And walked out of the super cooled aircon arrivals into brilliant New Orleans sunshine at 35 degrees, just what the doctor ordered!

Our taxi to the Hotel was a brand spanking 3 litre V6 'Dodge Charger' driven by a 'Dolly Parton' look-alike, complete with bleached blonde coiffure, 2 inch false nails and thank goodness...normal shoes! However. judging books by covers aside, she was a very nice lady. The journey from the airport to our Hotel in the French Quarter was around 15 miles, and took our lovely lady about 10 minutes to complete.

At 3.30 in the afternoon the 'Expressway' into town is quite congested, and whilst very kindly explaining the American 'tipping' system @ 10/15% depending on customer satisfaction, our driver didn't see that the four lanes of traffic in front of us was now at a standstill! Oh dear...never mind, let’s see how good the brakes are on this motor 'eh! We eventually stopped just milliseconds before encountering the rear end of the car in front of us! JD looked at me as if to say ' We're gonna' die here on the Expressway before we've had our first shot of ‘Jack Daniels'!’

The blues gods were with us however, and we eventually arrived at our hotel, 'The Astor Crowne Plaza' on the corner of ‘Canal and Bourbon' street. After paying the nice lady taxi driver the standard fare of 34 dollars (approx £23) we walked into the unashamed luxury of the Hotel foyer.

crowne plazaCrowne plaza intThe Hotel is probably pre 1950's and of French colonial design with marble floors, palms, and of course the obligatory cash machine! It has recently been refurbished to a very high standard....total cost eleven million dollars!

Our room was on the 8th floor, and quite posh, tastefully furnished, nice bathroom and thank goodness two beds!



A quick shower and change of clothes saw us out in the French quarter for our first taste of New Orleans night life. First stop...something to eat! We decided to stop off in a little Creole restaurant in Bourbon street, where we eagerly devoured two 'Po' Boy baguettes (shrimp filled) and extremely tasty!

The very first blues bar we came upon was called, strangely enough...'The Blues Club’! That'll do nicely we thought, and we weren't disappointed.

By midnight, eyes were getting heavy after a long journey over, so it was decided to turn in for the night.

Thursday 29th April

The day dawned hot and humid, and we were up early and keen to get 'at it'.

Breakfast was fried shrimp...delicious... and was taken outside in local 'Cafe Bar'. The inner courtyard had a centrepiece, about 8 feet tall made up of brass instruments entwined together (real ones!) the centre of the top Flugel horn had a natural gas flame which burned all day! The outside instruments had water running down their outsides....a real work of New Orleans art!

After breakfast it was a short walk down to see the great Mississippi river, whereupon JD decided he wanted to put his feet in the river whilst I photographed the ceremony. I’m sure I heard one elderly black man sitting close by say ' Yo feet's gonna' fall off boy'! But JD was undeterred, and the deed was done, and captured for all time.

A short stroll further up the river found us sitting and chatting to two black hoboes on a riverside bench. These guys looked like they hadn't two cents between them but they were happy playing their blues outside in the hot sun.

A short while passed, and one of them said to me 'You wanna' play boy' ? Oh dear! The opportunity of a lifetime how could I not? So there it was, Little Dave Lewis sitting on the banks of the Mississippi playing the blues. I played 'Cadillac, pretty girls and some money' and attempted something else...can't remember now, all seems a little surreal. However my meagre performance was received with much respect and huge smiles. Don't expect they get many white boys from Wales doing that down there 'eh! Wish I'd got a photograph, but maybe some things are best left unrecorded!

What we came for!!

Back to the Hotel post-haste to grab a few things and get off to the Fairgrounds.

The New Orleans Fairgrounds is a horse racing track about two and a half miles away from the French Quarter, I think it's towards 'Uptown'. The Heritage Jazz and Blues fest is held at this site and is on from 11am until 7pm Thursday to Sunday. There are usually buses (out of service school buses) laid on, as a shuttle service from most major hotels. You can also catch the 'Streetcar' to within 10 minutes walking distance of the festival for a mere $1.25.

The cost of festival day tickets is $60 / day (£40) if you think this is pricey, wait until you see what you get for your money! Most hotels will charge you about $15 return for your school bus ride but of course you have the option of the street car ride!

On with the story! Thursday’s viewing/listening delights included 'Gov't Mule' (including Warren Haynes..Allman Bro's) 'Bernard Allison'...son of Luther, and 'Blues Traveller’ Also on stage was 'Elvis Costello' and 'Average White Band' (which some of you 'old' people will remember!) Another really good band to look out for is... 'CJ Chenier and the Red Hot LA Band'....excellent!

The place was buzzing, the air was hot, and the aroma of several different 'herbs' filled the air! A proper fest

Lunchtime it was off to the many food outlets where we tried a Crab and Shrimp 'Gumbo' with some crusty bread.... delicious!

Tired and sunburnt, but very satisfied we returned to our hotel around 7pm

Quick shower, change of clothes, and back out into the warmth of the French Quarter. We took a stroll early evening, down Bourbon street and on to Frenchman street, passing the 'Apple Barrel' and 'Spotted Cat'.....both renowned for authentic blues performances away from the tourist trail nearer town.

I remember one night in the 'Apple Barrel' watching a guy playing guitar, whilst playing a bass guitar on the floor, with his bare feet.....amazing!

We took a Catfish supper....very tasty...in a small restaurant on the way back up to Bourbon, then it was into the local blues bar. 'The Blues Club' to finish off the night in style! More about this bar’s performers later!

Friday 30th April.

Woke up at 11am...heavy dark curtains on these hotel windows combined with some 'jet lag' had produced two sleepy boyo's!

We had a quick Mac's breakfast (USA sized – of course!) and, as we were late getting up, decided to give the Festival a miss. So after our late brekkie, we went down to the 'Krazy Korner' bar halfway along Bourbon Street for our 'Instant Blues' fix! Live entertainment lunchtime...can't beat it!

The afternoon saw us taking a half hour bus ride to one of the Louisiana Swamp tour venues. The price for this trip, including the bus was around $50.....£34.

‘I’ve got more teeth than you'!!

Arriving at the Swamp Tour Quay side (we had chosen the boat trip, rather than the 'air' boat trip). As it turned out the ordinary boat is nice and peaceful and as our Cajun guide (a funny guy with no bottom teeth!) pointed out, ' Y'all can sneak up on critturs 'ya ain't normally gonna' see y'all! '

We pushed off and were shown ancient Indian burial grounds, pre dating European settlement by hundreds if not a thousand years.

We slid silently past beautiful swamp-side houses, now fully recovered from the devastations of Hurricane 'Katrina' five years before. Another 20 minutes of silent gliding brought us to an inlet on a very quiet and remote part of the swamp. Our guide leaned over the side of the boat, slapped the hull several times and called out 'Ici ici'! Within minutes several large shapes were gliding through the dark water towards us....real Alligators!

The fun really began when our guide began to feed them 'marshmallows' of all things! Apparently they really like them. Some of the large 'Gators' can jump 1/3 of their body length out of the water so hands inside the boat please!

We were able to handle a 'live' baby alligator around two feet long inside the boat. Even the babies are very strong indeed! We were also handling the skull of a 'Garfish'. This is a fish that can grow up to eight feet long with an alligator like head...amazing - must be some kind of missing link!

We were told there were four types of poisonous snakes, three of the 'Rattler' variety, and a 'Water Moccasin' the latter being extremely dangerous!

Swamp tour over, we headed back to the quay for the half hour bus ride back to town.

Back at the Hotel we grabbed a welcoming shower and the obligatory 'shot' of Mrs Daniels little boys cough medicine and then, yes you've guessed it, back out for more food/blues and booze! I think a Catfish and Shrimp platter was the order that evening, and then down Bourbon street to our by now favourite haunt, The Blues Club.

The bands in these clubs make their money solely from tips...but it's organised! About every hour or so throughout the evening a bucket is passed around amongst the audience, and it's normal to throw in a few dollars each time. If you stay there all night, it's going to cost you a maximum of eight dollars (a little over a fiver). Not much for a night of superb entertainment!

The 'Blues Club' plays host to many musicians, who might do a half hour set, then go off to play in another bar. The club is quite spartan in some respects, with what looked like a corrugated iron roof, but of course with the obligatory air conditioning!

We were lucky to see such musicians as 'Jimmy Hicks' a 75 years old blues veteran definitely still doing his thang. 'Little Wolf' the perfect travelling blues man at around 25 years old, always played his classic number.. Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham's 'Meet Me with Your Black Draws On'. This always brought the 'er, house down! And of course, let’s not forget Ike Turner’s nephew 'Troy Turner' who at 30ish played and sang like the true entertainer his uncle Ike was!

The highlight of several of our visits to this club had to be a young black lady called 'Ursula Love' She was in her mid twenties, very attractive and with a voice to silence all the talkers in the house!

Another muso that springs to mind (can't recall his name) was Cheryl Crow's keyboard player...what a voice, sounded like 'Lou Rawls meets Marvin Gaye'!

Saturday 1st May

After a 'Shrimp Po Boy' breakfast it was off to the festival again!

Another hot humid day, just made for blues at the track!

First act to catch was 'Paula and the Pontiacs' superb band, and a pretty lady out front whose vocals, sax and harp playing cut through like a knife. Chris Thomas must be mentioned, accidentally blinded, he sat on a stool in three quarter coat tails and top hat and played a ZZ Top influenced set to match anything we saw...JD especially liked this band! Later that afternoon we caught acts such as 'Cyril Neville' (Aarons nephew) and 'Tribe 13' - powerful in your face music.

It was on to the 'Kenny Wayne Shepherd' gig next, and whilst I was waiting 25 minutes for access to the portaloo's! I managed to hear some of ‘Pearl Jam's' set also! Pearl Jam was the 'odd card' in the music festival 'pack', but public opinion said they did themselves proud!

The final gig of the afternoon was on the 'Gentilly Stage' and was none other than our very own 'Jeff Beck' The gig area was huge and crowded and as the skies darkened and the thunder clouds gathered 'Becky' did his thing with his usual flare and finesse! The Americans love Jeff Beck and you could see by the attendance and crowd response, he still commands mucho respect!

It must be said that other superb performers at the Festival were the likes of 'Aretha Franklin' 'BB King' Van Morrison, and Elvis Costello to name but a few!

Leaving just before the end to avoid the crush, we made our way out (the wrong way at first!) to the waiting yellow school bus, and back to our hotel.

As we walked back down into 'blues land' that evening, we came across a large queue outside the 'House of Blues' box office and it really is a box!) This was for a 'Derek Trucks' gig, and as we walked on through the night heat the strains of a strong New Orleans drawl cut through the crowds babble. It was 'Doctor John' and his entourage presumably off to see 'our Derek' and no doubt in the back way without a ticket!

All this seemed slightly surreal (I know I keep using this word but no other description will suffice!) and a trip over a kerbstone, or an 'excuse me' from a fellow blueshound was sometimes needed to make us aware of the reality!

We had taken a delicious meal in our Hotel restaurant earlier, Seafood platter for me, shrimp, and catfish etc, and Ribeye steak with shrimps for JD. Now it was time to wash it all down with the local (Jackson Brewery, I think) brew called 'Abita'. This came in two types, one a light tan bitter, and the other called 'Turbo Dog' which was darker, and was best left alone! This local beer was cheaper than cans of Budweiser which often cost up to four dollars (£2.60) for a small can.

Bourbon Street here we come again!

Sunday 2nd May                                                               

We decided to have a slightly different day.  How it was going to pan out we didn't know, but 'here goes anyway'!
A walk down Canal street in the morning brought us to Harrah’s Casino, and what a place! Poker players from the night before still hoping for that last big play.....at 9am! The Casino is an awesome place, I've never seen so many slot machines, and on such a fine carpet too!
JD suggested we take a breakfast at the Casino, and we sat down to sausage, egg and fried potatoes and, of course, coffee.
On the way back up Canal, we ventured into the New Orleans 'Insectarium'.  What a place, what an eye opener.  They had a pair of albino alligators there, apparently very rare.  And insects!  I'm convinced that one day insects will rule the planet....not our superpowers!  Butterflies the size of Crows and other bugs...oh dear don't go there if you can't handle bugs!

 Lunchtime saw us down Bourbon street at the 'Krazy Korner' bar to watch 'Les Getrex' a superb guitarist who has been sideman to the likes of 'Bo Diddley' 'Fats Domino' 'Lee Dorsey' (Ride your Pony!) to name but a few.  We asked Les to look up the 'Borough Blues Club' if he ever gets to the UK.

 As the hot afternoon wore on, we decided to walk down to the Steamboat dock to book an evening cruise on the 'Natchez' with dinner on board.

 But firstly, a visit to the famous New Orleans 'Hard Rock Cafe'.  True to form this place was bristling with Blues and Rock memorabilia. After a sumptuous lunch of prime beef burger and salad we were allowed to sneak upstairs to take a look at some of the special 'stuff'!  Out came the camera and photos were taken of the original chords to 'Lenny' (SRV fans will know what I'm talking about!)  Quotes from Clapton followed by Led Zeppelin posters, Jimi Hendrix's scarf and brooch.  One of Jeff Beck’s Strats was on show, with Jimmy Reed's guitar, and for me the best came last....a chance to strum my fingers across the strings of 'John Lee Hookers' original battered old acoustic guitar....how cool is that!  I was so busy dribbling over the thing that the original make of it completely passed me by!

 We left the Hard Rock Cafe, with the images of its blues history artefacts shining vividly in our minds for the rest of the afternoon!

 And so, it was back to the Hotel for a well earned shower, and a change of clothes for the evening Riverboat cruise, the cost of which was $65 pp (£44).  This included boat cruise up the river, three course meal on board, whilst serenaded by a local Jazz quartet!

The cruise up the river started at 7pm and as JD and I looked around the engine room the storm clouds gathered above us...first poor weather since our arrival.  The band was entertaining (although they must be bored to tears with the nightly repetition!).  The food was excellent and, yes you've guessed it...mostly seafood. 

However, with the impending storm and the onset of night, we were not able to see much of the river.  We arrived back at the berth around 10pm to be greeted by the 'Mother' of all thunderstorms. The lightning show was something to see, and those who ventured back on foot felt the warm southern rain on their backs!

Monday 3rd May

dawned hot and humid. We decided to sample the Hotel breakfast at $15, but what a feast!  It was self service, but there was literally everything you could imagine... including of course the proverbial pancakes and maple syrup! The best part for us was the baked ham, which they have instead of bacon... delicious!

After brekkie we took a quiet stroll around the French quarter, eventually arriving at... yes you’re right... the local music shop!  This was no different to many UK guitar emporiums but on chatting to the owner and looking around, we spotted 1957 Fender Stratocaster, in Sunburst, with a price tag of $27,000 approx £18,000!!! This guitar wasn't in all that good a condition but had it been so, it would have an extra $10,000 on top! Think we all need to look in the attic when we get home!

Next, it was off to the 'Funky Parrot' on Bourbon Street for a few cold beers and some more local music!  A short walk back up Bourbon brought us to our now 'local' 'The Blues Club' bar where we finished off the morning in style.
Food! We decided that after our previous days visit to the 'Hard Rock' cafe, that's where our lunch was gonna' be! They say everything in America is 'bigger', and believe me, they're not wrong!  Our lunch was 'Prime beef burger, fries and salad'... JD commented that one order would have been enough for both of us! But I have to say it again, it was delicious!

We walked a little of our lunch off on the way back uptown where we stopped to buy a few t-shirts in a local Asian outlet store.  There were literally hundreds of different designs to chose from, with excellent quality at very reasonable prices $15 (£10) being the most expensive.  This was a good move as, not having brought that much with us; a change of clothes was becoming something of a rarity -  Two days to go and now we have new wardrobes!

The heat, combined with the continual high entertainment level was beginning to tell so we decided to head back to the Hotel for our first afternoon nap since we arrived... not bad ‘eh! Our superb aircon kept our room at a constant 70f and it was easy to slide quickly into dreamland and recharge our batteries for the evening’s delights.

Monday evening saw us again taking a stroll right down to the end of Bourbon Street. Once out of site and sound of the commercial end, Bourbon seemed almost surreal and slightly spooky, with it's now dimly lit back alleys and French colonial designs, we could easily imagine ourselves fifty years back in time. We sampled the delights of a 'Blackened Catfish' supper at a small restaurant, and soon after, the brighter lights and increasing intensity of the music, almost hypnotically, drew us back eventually to the 'Blues Club' bar. Here the evening was rounded off in style, with local musicians including 'Bobby Lonero', a white mid sixties guitarist of some mean talent,  Jimmy Hicks and Little Wolf followed by Troy Turner who finished the night off in grand fashion!

Tuesday 4th May

saw us take a leisurely hotel breakfast, followed by a long walk down to Frenchman Street, again passing the 'Apple Barrel' and 'Spotted Cat'....both 'Real' blues venues. Our return walk back to town took us to a small coffee shop on Canal (Main) street where we sampled the delights of real coffee whilst lazing away an hour or so, just watching the world go by in the hazy morning sunshine.

I have always wanted a 'real' silk shirt, so after realising that 'Rubenstein’s' a classy upmarket gentleman’s outfitters was only a short walk from the Hotel we decide to take a look inside!  Flexible friend clasped firmly between the digits JD and Little Dave began to upset the order on the shirt racks.  Much to the polite indignance of the immaculately presented male shop assistants we declined the offer of help in choosing the 'right raiment' and I ended up with one 'Tommy Bahama' silk shirt in an autumn hue adorned with Hawaiian ladies and palm trees... SUPER! A price tag of $128.00 (£85!) made my flexible friend bend somewhat at the knees... but 'what the hell’! I've got a real silk shirt!
 Back at the Hotel that evening we partook of yet another delicious meal, and then it was back down to Bourbon Street, for the last evening’s visit of our adventure.  The music, as usual, was superb and we felt that now we were almost 'locals' and wanted to stay for good. The end of the night came, as it always does, and we walked sadly but fulfilled, back up Bourbon Street for the last time.

Wednesday 5th (Boo hoo... bye bye!)

The morning was hot and gorgeously bright... Isn't it always the case when it's time to go home?

Our flight was due to take off from New Orleans at 3.30 pm local time with a connection at Houston International through to London Heathrow.  This would put us on the ground (hopefully!) at 9.30 am local time on Thursday 6th May.

We had to check in (intercontinental flight) 3 hours before our flight, so we figured on leaving the French Quarter around mid day.

Time for ‘brekkie’! We took a last leisurely breakfast in our hotel restaurant, again, delicious baked  Canadian smoked ham, fried potatoes, eggs, and to finish off, either pancakes with maple syrup, or scones with 'grape jam'.  All washed down with copious amounts of lovely southern coffee!  I'm really going to miss all this delicious food!

Bags packed and locked securely in our hotel room, we decided to take one last short stroll around Canal and Bourbon Street.  I must add for you, before we take our final walk, a description of some of the other characters we were privileged to meet on our 'adventure'.
There was 'Gatorman'!  Our Cajun swamp guide, with no bottom teeth!  A very pleasant elderly couple from, I believe, Northampton UK, who were wandering around the southern States… thoroughly enjoying themselves.  On our trip up the Mississippi we met 'Alex' a young Russian doctor from Moscow City, who delighted us with tales of deep winter 'freezes' in the country of the bear, he was on a half work / half play visit to the States, as a representative of his employers pharmaceutical company back in Russia.  He was a lovely family ma, who missed his home and his family but nevertheless was embracing his time in America.
During one of our visits to the Heritage festival at the New Orleans fairgrounds, we met a trio of young ladies. These ladies were probably late twenties (ish!) and came to sit by us in one of the food tents.  One of them was called Ingrid Lucia.  She is a jazz singer, very attractive, and much in the style of Billie Holiday (she gave us a CD!)  These ladies were 'charm personified' and it was a pleasure to have met them.  Having now listened to the CD, I'm sure 'Ingrid Lucia' is a name to look out for on the Jazz scene ...worldwide!
Last but not least, was our gorgeous little barmaid in the local 'Blues Club' bar.  Her name escapes me, but her attitude, zest for life and personality does not.  Around five feet two, her skin like ebony, and dark brown flashing eyes brought a kind of special magic to ordering a drink or two at the bar !

Our last walk down through town under the swaying palms and hot southern skies was strangely relaxing.  This wasn't in a ‘Seen it, done it, got the t shirt' kind of way, but more fulfilling, maybe something that every 'Muso' of this music genre has to do at least once in his or her lifetime. Our step quickened with the return walk, as our thoughts turned to home and family. What tales we can tell when we get back!  What 'Street Cred'  ‘eh!!

Bye bye USA!

Twelve...mid-day, time to rock and roll...as they say in the music world! Our airport taxi was a V8 Chevvie six seater pickup with leather seats - only in America folks... only in America!  Our taxi driver was a Haitian ex pat' who told us torrid tales of misery back home in Haiti.  On the 12th January 2010, the Haitians were subjected to an Earthquake of magnitude 7.  Twelve days later, and after over 50 'after shocks' measuring magnitude 4.5 or greater, Haiti was left in mass destruction.  Statistics now published tell of 250,000 dead, 300,000 injured and 1,000,000 homeless. Our driver was sending all his earnings home to his family and whilst we were humbled by his stories we were glad that back home ‘The Borough Blues Club’ had been able to give some financial aid to these desperate people.  Aren't we lucky we live in a fairly geologically and climatically stable part of this world?

The wait at New Orleans airport was soon over.  We flew to Houston, where we boarded our homeward bound big silver bird back to London Heathrow. Our 12 hour flight back home was mostly in darkness, the reverse of our outbound flight. This factor induced more sleep and I think made the journey go quicker. We left Houston International at 5pm Texas time in 35 degrees of heat.  We landed at Heathrow 9.30am in 12 degrees of err... cold.  Who said ' It's nice to go away but so nice to come home ‘?  Smaller cars, colder weather, different accents… YES!  WE WERE DEFINITELY HOME!                


Before you shuffle (no pun intended!) off this 'Mortal Coil' if you are true 'Blueshounds' please visit New Orleans just once. You won't be disappointed. Cost of flight and Hotel, booked through 'Going Places' in Cwmbran was £850 (Flight and room only 4* hotel). Eating out is very reasonable, drinks can be expensive until you get to know your way around. The weather can be hot 35 deg+ and humid, but the locals are beautiful friendly helpful people.

The people of New Orleans have had more than most folk’s share of misery.  From the early days of slavery, through hurricanes like Hurricane Katrina, that, in 2005 produced massive wind damage and extreme flooding from a 20' storm surge. Now, because of major oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, local seafood fishing may become a thing of the past for some time to come.  Coupled with, and a very close second to this, is the ecological horror of the deaths of many species of marine creatures, birds and wildlife caused by the oil leak.  Let's hope mankind has the technological skills to put right this terrible wrong before it's too late.

Both Dave Lewis and John Dixon will be only too pleased to give help and any information about this adventure, to anyone wishing to undertake the same journey, whether it be as individuals or as a group. Please contact in first instance through info@boroughblues.com


Thank you New Orleans

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