New Orleans Sojourn – Wk 5

This is a continuation of the previous two posts:

New Orleans Sojourn – Wk 1

New Orleans Sojourn – Wk 2

New Orleans Sojourn – Wk 3

New Orleans Sojourn – Wk 4

In my fifth and final week in New Orleans, I was joined by my friend Melodie, who came down from Montreal for the week. We checked out all the remaining on the NOLA bucket-list, like hearing a brass band (@ Kermit’s Treme Mother In Law Lounge), delicious BBQ (@ The Joint), going up to City Park, hearing King James and the Special (@ Saturn Bar) and a visit to Bourbon Street.

Here’s a little photo journal of the last week in town:


My New Orleans adventure took me to many places all over the city although this map of starred places might suggest I stuck mostly to the French Quarter.

nola map.png

I had to pay tribute to my hero Louis Armstrong, so I went to his birthplace which is unremarkable – it’s now a city of New Orleans parking ticket office. The more impressive monument to Armstrong is at Louis Armstrong Park in the Treme. I’m not religious, but if I were, the music of Satchmo would be my worship music.

Praying at the alter of swing music in Louis Armstrong Park.

I biked even more that I expected this month: supposedly 176 Miles (!) Blue Bikes NOLA gives you a breakdown of how much you use their bikes:

blue bike map a.png

Alex Belhaj – Kindred Spirit

Of all the musicians I interacted with on this trip, I felt an instant musical connection with Alex Belhaj. Alex’s approach to music seems to be ‘less is more’. He plays melodies with great effortlessness and efficiency but when you zoom in on the voicings and phrasing he’s using, it’s delicate and balanced. I heard him play with a few groups in town and whether playing rhythm or lead, his playing was great. Thanks for your generosity of spirit Alex!

Alex playing and singing on board the Natchez Steamboat with Steve Pistorius (piano) and Tim Laughlin (clarinet)
Alex Belhaj playing rhythm guitar with Marla Dixon’s band

Aurora Nealand – “not a lesson”

After one of her gigs with the Royal Roses (a band with some beautiful arrangemetns of both traditional and original music), I asked Aurora Nealand if she would be open to a lesson. She responded she didn’t know if she had “anything to teach” but would be open to getting together to play and chat about music. I went to her place for an hour to philosophize and chat about music and she reminded me a few times that this was “not a lesson”.

Aurora shared with me her approach to arranging music on the bandstand, how she gets inspired to compose, who her classical composer influences are, and a beautiful phrase about being a young musician in New Orleans trying to find your way: “you have to use New Orleans before it uses you.” Thanks Aurora for sharing your wisdom!



Thanks to The Canada Council for the Arts for helping support the album that will come as a result of the inspiration I derive from this trip.

Canada Council for the Arts Logo

2 thoughts on “New Orleans Sojourn – Wk 5

Add yours

  1. Wow! Thanks for this heartfelt journal of your NO experience. Everyone has a unique experience there but I feel like I’ve just walked through the looking glass with you as you peeled back the layers and dug deep into the heart and soul of this amazing city. One day I hope to join you on one of your musical journeys.



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