This week’s Out and About adventures are geared toward the folk’s coming in town for Erica and Alex’s EXTRAVAGANZA! Since most of the guests will be staying in the Quarter, our outings will be downtown centric.

For the early arrivals, join the throngs that are certain to turn out for New Orleans brightest young star, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and his band Orleans Avenue.  At the free weekly concert series called Harvest the Music, that takes place in  Lafayette Square on St. Charles Avenue near Poydras.  Shorty, as he his fondly referred to by most locals, has exploded on the music scene since his graduation from NOCCA, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts – the creative arts high school that has graduated most of the great musicians, poets, actors and more for the past 40 years, including the Wynton, Branford Delfaeyo and Jason Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Terrance Blanchard, Wendell Pierce and so many more.

Shorty and many of his band members graduated from NOCCA about 10 years ago and have traveled the globe with Orleans Avenue as well as in other bands such as Lenny Kravitz.  Orleans Avenue fresh sound is rooted in New Orleans funk and influenced by their global travels.  Food and beverages are available in the park or you could head to one of the fine eateries in the area, such as Donald Link‘s Herbsaint just one block down St. Charles.

New Orleans is jumping with free outdoor concerts this time of year.  Thursday it is the fantastic fourth season of Jazz in the Park presented by People United for Armstrong Park.  As you guessed, this takes place in Armstrong Park on the edge of the French Quarter, pedestrian entrance on N. Rampart Street at St. Anne.  The afternoon begins at 2:00 PM with an arts and crafts fair and farmer’s market.  The time to arrive is 4:00 PM when the second – line parade gets underway.

The main stage entertainment begins at 5:00 PM featuring an exciting young talent Erica Falls – New Orleans Soul Angel – followed by the heavy horn antics of Shamarr Allen and the Under Dawgs.  The crowd is always lively and there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the show.  Be certain to take time to view the many sculptures of New Orleans musical legends throughout the park. Sculptures include Louis Armstrong (of course), Big Chief Tootie Montana, Sidney Bechet, a brass band and more.  It is not only art, it is history.

Speaking of history, as an aside, Congo Square is located in Armstrong Park.  Congo Square was a gathering place for slaves prior to the Emancipation Proclamation.  Slaves were allowed to gather on Sundays in Congo Square where they had a true African marketplace, practiced their native song, dance, food.  A major reason why the African and Caribbean cultures are so prevalent in New Orleans culture – food, music, crafts, etc.

If you have a chance, on your way to the park you should stop and Sylvester Francis’ Backstreet Cultural Museum, 1116 St. Claude Avenue between Ursuline and Gov. Nicholls.  Sylvester displays his life work of documenting Second-line parades, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, and Mardi Gras Indians.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about then DEFINITELY pay him a visit.  An excellent prelude to Jazz in the Park.
If you plan to dine out, you may want to try a local’s favorite, Irene’s Cuisine on the corner of Chartres and  St. Philip, No Reservations.

Friday, take some time to explore the Quarter.  Highlights include the Old U.S. Mint at the foot of Esplanade Avenue. Currently housing an outstanding exhibit “50 years of Preservation Hall” the legendary and still going traditional jazz club and band.  The Mint’s third floor state-of-the-art performance space hosts two events on Friday.  Local radio host, Fred Kasten, will interview traditional jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones at 12:00 noon.  Then at 2:00 PM Opera Creole performs selections from their repertoire of music composed by free people of color while also reflecting the rich contributions of African Americans to opera music in New Orleans.

The Mint is adjacent to the French Market.  Stroll through the market and enjoy the growing number of local artists and distinctive food booths, along side the fun display of New Orleans t-shirts and trinkets.  If you’re in the French Market, I always recommend a stop at Molly’s at the Market (Decatur Street) for a frozen Irish Coffee to go.  Take you libation to the pocket park next to the Gazebo Cafe where there is always an R & B band playing.

Other uniquely New Orleans stops include the Newcomb Pottery exhibit at Madame John’s Legacy on Dumaine Street.  Madame John’s is part of the Louisiana State Museum system and Newcomb Pottery is from Tulane University’s Newcomb School.  It is a local and national treasure made from 1895 until about 1940 and it has a distinctive blue color to most of the pottery.

The Historic New Orleans Collection, on Royal Street, has yet another magnificent and distinctly New Orleans exhibit entitled Alternative Imprints: Jon Webb, Gypsy Lou, and the Hand-Sewn World of the Loujon Press.  The Press was active in the Bohemian heyday of the French Quarter and the husband wife team boasted of their commitment to presenting Bohemian fugitives.  One such writer featured was William Burroughs.

Be certain to stop in at M.S. Rau Antiques, 630 Royal Street, to view the 10.6 carat blue diamond, valued at almost $10 million, on display through the end of this month.

Both M.S. Rau and the Historic New Orleans Collection are around the corner form the Omni Royal Orleans hotel.  Stop in at their rooftop bar for a wonderful view of the river and the slate rooftops of the French Quarter. (Note: sometimes the gate is closed / locked so you just wait for a guest to open it for you).
Lastly, for the antique lovers, New Orleans Auction House has an estate auction October 5. The 1600 items are on view now at their gallery in the CBD, Magazine Street at Julia, 9am – 5pm closed Sunday.

One more free outdoor event to mention.  The Old Algiers Festival takes place both Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM – 6 PM.  What is particularly fun about this even is, you get to take the Canal Street Ferry across the Mighty Mississippi River to Old Algiers.  A lovely historic Neighborhood with fabulous architecture and like most things in New Orleans….food, music, crafts.

Enjoy yourself – out and about in New Orleans.

Every thing lovely,

Out and About is a weekly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans, Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ ( and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.