Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: buskers

Back then every morning broke both ways. Salty and sweet

Head already splitting sitting up, sliding into bell bottoms, frayed hems fringed over faded espadrilles

Peasant top, you know how it was, a roach clip on a looooong feather clipped into frantic loopy hair

Sip of last night’s to get me out the door, down to Ruby’s

Step out near the canals, the shaggy likewise join the journey

Who’s holding? Lights up, the high travels along the line of linked arms like a fuse

Snickersnorting to the boardwalk, Jingles and Frank ready for busking

All the lovely boys building bodies to bodacious on the beach, sand sticking to evvvvvery sinewed limb, pump pump bump

Now we can smell the coffee smell the bacon smell half the customers too, or at least their smoke

The clatter of breakfast – and always smiling Ruby (“somebody hit the juke for Ray Charles!” and his voice, “They saaaaay, Ruby, you’re like a dreeeeeeeam…”) She was 100% movement but never rushed us

Lazy, luxurious breakfast, runny eggs, and how they got bacon that crispy while retaining every bit of grease that came off the hog is a mystery of faith

OJ from the carton (back when we still called it that) not fresh, but we only drank it for the sugar hit

And so Sunday began. We were together. We had survived another Saturday night. And as we ramshackled back onto the mostly deserted boardwalk, it never occurred to us that something else might happen. That soon, Ruby’s place would turn into Starbucks; all the trash on the beach would become all the Eurotrash in the tragically samesame cafes; and eventually, Jingles might get a ticket for loitering.

Not yet. We didn’t have a clue that it was coming: the encroachment of developers, the diaspora of cool. I can still smell Sunday morning, the sweet greasy and the sweat weedy.

Thanks to my old friend Roger Green for kicking me in the butt to post something! He’s at www.rogerogreen.com


Swing, Sway, Pay the musicians!
(New Orleans)

TOURIST SAYS:
“We flew down here to New OrLEENZ
Oh, that Berbin Street’s a racy scene
White people, black people
Al Hirt’s closed but I got
a real hurricane glass at Pete Fountain’s
And the music! There was a white singer
who did that gravelly voice on
‘What a Wonderful World,’
so authentic, he sounded just like
Lance Armstrong!

 

LOCALS SAY:
…‘cept she wouldn’t know real jazz
if it sashayed up
slithered along her inseam
and chomped down on her skinny butt

Buuuut… we love them, the tourists
in their Mardi Gras beads
They stay on Bourbon so’s not to
imperil themselves, and
sure as God’s name is on a dollar bill,
the Lord rains that green on our
Katrina-ravaged, race/grace savaged,
road-buckled, pothole-pimpled hometown

Tourists nurture the city, rain the green
on the parched heads of bartenders and servers,
taxi drivers, musicians – from our bevy of
audacious, bodacious singers to brass ensembles and
buskers to second-line bands – plus mule carriage men and
bicycle carters, all manner of trade here in N’Orleans
Hell, they take that bread and spread it all over town

Tourists don’t know the real goins-on
‘less they got good friends hostin, boastin on
their chicory-roasted tasty toasty town
The dark side streets pulsing late-night R&B,
roots jazz, Kid Ory’s ghost, all those
greasy good sounds after the Bourbon Street gigs
are done, the paddleboat is docked, long after people
who clap on the one and the three (bless ‘em) have retired to
their hotels…after the Top Five Louis Tunes go to bed

That’s when the hunger is sated, when gates open to
a positive, righteous flood no Army Corps of Engineers
could ever fuck up, this outpouring of soul
dredged in Creole hot sauce nasty goodness
It’s what they’ve been dyin to say, dyin to play all day
all the way down from The Land of the Green, source of
the rent and new shoes and toys for Christmas

Payin gigs ain’t even foreplay
The cab ride down steams every hungry body up
Jump out the door, slide into sensual surreal
so-real recesses of excessive compression
to achieve the blissful explosion
swaying sweaty bodies
contorted faces
building building to

The excruciating mindbending orgasm of
hot humid homegrown harmony

And to that I say, Laissez les bons temps rouler
“Let the good times roll!”

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Yes, New Orleans was a treat. I will be recounting these stories for the next few posts. Thanks to Rickie Lee for inviting me down… to Lex for telling me I had to go… to Rose and Suzanne for their sweetness… to Alfred for being Alfred and trading the piano bench with me… to Amanda for hosting my Second Phase… to Brother Robert, and you best call him, I’ll give you his number later, if you need a cab… and to the wonderful assembly of artists, musicians, and just plain folk who made up our Second Line parade in celebration of Rickie’s birthday.

We will have words about Brother Robert, a smidge of the gorgeous art of Suzanne La Fleur, musings on my new friends and old ones as well. And yes, there will be clips once I get my Smart Phone hooked up to my hard drive. I am in love with NOLA, but my somke-sensitive lungs are glad to be back in Wisconsin!!

For ABC Wednesday, the letter was S.  Sweet sweaty salty swimmin in satisfaction.  Yeah.  Peace, Amy