A historical trip - the roots of our "modern" music

Last preparations ....

Preparations are still going on ... Start will be Sunday lunch time here in Istanbul (March 15, 2009) and afterwards almost two weeks covered fully with music and stories about music will follow .....


this trip will follow more or less along Route 61 - not as known as Route 66 but ... - most probably the most important Route when it comes to music history. The trip will start in Chicago - one centers of Blues and Jazz and will continue via New Orleans (Jazz!), Nashville (Country!), Memphis (Pop!) and the Mississippi Delta (Blues everywhere) to the heart of the 'old' Jazz Capital: New Orleans.

... about to start

By the way: some friends asked me if I really travel alone this time!?!? YES, I do! This time only music, the road and me! Sounds great, isn't it?

Less than 24 hours until take off ... I am getting more and more in holiday mood. From yesterday's concert of Jacky Terrasson in JC's (highly recommendable!!) at home in Istanbul to the Chicago, IL and Patricia Barber is only a short way. The books ar packed, the camera is ready, the mood is great - what should stop me now? (hopefully not the snow and cold weather in Chicago).

CHICAGO here we are ...

Let's see what comes next! I am curious and I fear, this will be again a very, very long day...


I finally made it after a flight of almost 12 boring hours - WE arrived ... OK, I have to admit, there is a tiny travel compagnion with me (his name is Jumbo III and he asked for joining only on Saturday evening) ... we are here in the city of Al Capone, the Chicago Bulls and of course the Chicago Blues.

The evening was a big surprise. I expected - also on Sunday - a busy town but I had to change my mind. After I arrived around 6pm my hotel (by the way: highly recommendable: cheap and good: Holiday Inn Express) I strolled around in town but ALL shops were closed! When I asked what happend I got the comment: it's Sunday!!!! What about the 'we're in 24 hours' attitude of the past??? What so ever: the town is clean and shows a brilliant mixture of old and new. New skyscrapers are combined with old, somehow tiny houses and it gives this town a very nice atmosphere!!

Where to go for Dinner??? There is one favorite place to do so - a place where music is at home: Hard Rock Cafe Chicago!!! OK, business is there as usual and when you have seen 20 before it's not special anymore but it's the perfect start....

Monday - A day full of Jetlag and the beginning of a diet!

And then there was the story with the chair - which brake down ... whatever the reason was - to avoid problems like that in future I started immediately a quick diet (3 burgers in 2 days are definitely enough) :-)) 

How to survive jetlag? What about sightseeing? Magnificant Mile, Chicago Tribune, High rising building everywhere, Millenium Park, L-Train, Uptown, Hancock Center, Arts institute of Chicago, Sears Tower + Apple (!).

After a short rest in the afternoon now the 'music' season starts. The beginning is a concert of Patricia Barber Quartet. This lady performs every Monday at Green Mill Cocktail lounge - a club where it is said that already Al Capone had regularly his dinner in. The whole club looks a little bit like the 20s of last century (without any further renovation) - the big differences are most probably that you can drink your beer there officially - but you are not allowed to smoke anymore. Chicago 2009!!!
Patricia performed two sets and I have to admit that I expected more of her (I remember that I said the same sentence also few years ago when I saw her during the 'Wiesen Jazz Festival' close to Vienna). Nevertheless it was worth seeing and listening to her in the first row in front of the stage - seeing how the musicians are 'living' their music and how Patricia always puts off her shoes and socks (yes, she is playing barefoot piano).
In the break I had a chat with Michael Arnopol, the bass player and he informed me that they will perform beginning of April in Germany - Cologne and Munich .. only in case you are interested.
To get a direct impression listen to two of her best albums  "The Cole Porter Mix" (2008) or Nightclub (2000).
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
Patricia Barber

Historical Building and the evening with THE Guy

The building doesn't seem to be of big interest but it is!!! It is most probably the most important building when you think about modern music history!!! This building was the headquarter of CHESS records where between 1957 and 1967 music history has been written! In this building the most of the famous music of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Ahmad Jamal, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and many others have been reorded. Also the Rolling Stones recorded in this studio the song '2120 S. Michigan Avenue' of the album 12x5.

Chess Records - now a museum

What a great time in Chicago - now some sleep and tomorrow it's time to go on tour - heading south to the capital of Illinois Springfield and to St. Louis.

Mastermind of this success was Willie Dixon, a bass player, singer and song-writer and he directed all Blues recordings of CHESS. Unfortunately not too many people know this guy but all of you know a lot of his songs. A small list of his songs: Little Red Rooster (famous by Stones), Wang Dang Doodle, I Just wanna make love to you, I can't quit you baby, I'm your Hoochie Coochie Man, Spoonful (famous by The Cream), Whole lotta love (famous by Led Zeppelin). And not to forget my favorite Willie Dixon lyrics - written for me: Some people look like this/some folks look like that/I may not be good looking/but don't you call me fat/I was built for comfort/I was not built for speed .... (you can find a nice version of this song on the LIVE album of Hans Theesink).
What a great place - I didn't want to leave. The guy who is running the house was also very helpful with additional information and stories about the record label. Unfortunately the shop didn't offer too much of the expected blues CD collections (good for the bourse).
The afternoon I spent - due to the excellent weather and 23 degrees - around the lake and I tried to shoot some fotos for a photo essay concerning the L-Train. I reached an area which is really lovely, looking very british and on every corner I found nice pubs celebrating St. Patrick. 
The evening was reserved again for excellent music. In Buddy Guy's Legends club a local group performed typical Chicago Blues and Buddy was also partly on the stage, partly ready for photo shootings, signing his CDs .... For all who are not too familiar with the blues scene: Buddy Guy is most probably one of the top 10 living Blues artists at the moment. On his last two CDs he sang and played with people like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Carlos Santana. Interesting person, excellent club and also excellent food - the first time that Cajun food made me happy :-) 
Buddy Guy

Chicago - Springville - St. Louis


What a wonderful end of a heavy rainy evening... couldn't been better. By the way: in St. Louis they have the largest brewery in the world: Budweiser!!! but I found out that no one - at least in the club - is drinking that beer (as also my local table friends confirmed). If you come to St. Louis drink Schlafly brand beer ... really tasty. 

What a day! Early in the morning I organized the car (thermos with tea, my co-pilot Jumbo got a map, some sweets, water, ...) and I started exploring the south of Illinois all along the ROUTE 66. The first stop today was Springville! The hometown of Abraham Lincoln (this year the town will celebrate the 200th birthay of the star of this town) and capital of Illinois is as expected: clean and a lot of old, renovated buildings - no high risers to be found and  Lincoln you can find in every corner (where he worked, sat, slept, stood, ..)!! Nice for a walk and after 200 miles in the car highly welcomed. 

Interesting was on top there that I didn't find any evidence of the Simpsons - I expected everywhere hints but I couldn't find a single one. You know: the family Simpson is living in Springville but it is unclear which Springfield - I heard recently that 5 towns in the USA are convinced that they are THE springfield. By the way: all the small houses and gardens outside downtown and the atmosphere ... I could imagine that the role model for the hometown of the Simpsons is this town (a famous capital city, the background of Lincoln, ...).
Before I left the town my co-pilot was keen on getting some hot dogs (an elephant :-)) and we found the famous COZY DOGS ....  hotdogs wrapped in some corn crumbs on a stick ... interesting but more than that was that the shop is located in an old Route 66 museum ...
The rest of the travel today until I reached St. Louis was not exciting - the landscape until now is a little bit boring but it will get better on the rest of the route. In St. Louis it started raining but nevertheless I wanted to find a cosy, nice place for dinner with maybe some music and what happened to me??? I found around the campus of the university (excellent area!) a lot of excellent looking theaters and bars and restaurants and I found the JAZZ BISTRO. Sounded nice and I wanted to see if they by chance have some live music or at least a nice dinner for me and what happened - no guide showed that before: Dr. Lonnie Smith, organ (I saw him 2 years ago together with Lou Donaldson in Istanbul) will play together with Herlin Riley and Russell Malone (well known as guitarist from several CDs of Diana Krall). I rushed in, got my ticket, a table in the second row and was for 80 minutes on cloud 5 (higher ranks are reserved for THE girl :-)). Great music,  difficult to describe: The organ pushed the other musicians in a partly wild and funky way and it was simply great!!! (latest CD Dr. Lonnie Smith: Rise UP! ... I have it now!!)
Rainy St. Louis
Herlin Riley - Dr. Lonnie Smith - Russell Malone

A journey through 4 States


Today's trip was around 350 miles long and I entered 4 states: Illinois - Missouri - Kentucky and finally we scratched Tennessee where our final destination was: Nashville (or how I also saw today: Nash Vegas, because especially at night the advertisement are like at the strip in Vegas :-)) 
Due to a small mistake we took the wrong freeway southbound but this was a nice opportunity to leave the freeway in Cape Girardeau and to stroll around the small roads (in the middle of nowhere) to find the other highway heading to Nashville. 
In Cape Girardeau I had the first time 'south-states-feeling'. The town lies directly at the Mississippi and the tiny old town is really beautiful with much atmosphere - the only dramatical mistake in the set-up: most of the shops are closed and are searching for new owners. It seems that we left the main tourist-path! Sad.
After crossing the Mississippi again and some mistakes in finding the way - this part of Illinois is poorer than expected - people are living mainly in RVs or very old desolate houses, no signs show the way, no 'real life on the streets' - we reached a town called VIENNA!!!!! Hurra - I am at home but: this town changed dramatically, e.g. the house of the Lord Mayor is now only a building with few rooms and not the proud building I knew from the past!! Where is the Ringstrasse and and and. The conclusion (for our Austrian readers): Wenn die keinen Steffl habn, gemma wieder ham :-) So we continued the trip and whenever you have the chance to chose between Vienna, Austria and Vienna, Illinois - take Austria, it's more lively and funnier!
Finally we reached Nashville with high expectations - and until now these expectations didn't fulfill. The reasons are simple. I had a picture of Nashville in mind, like: old western town, concentrated on country music with a very intensive atmosphere in downtown. The fact is: a normal 'big city' of the USA and only a small part - around two streets, called THE DISTRICT - offer something what I expected: full of bars, every 20 meters street musicians try their best, country boot shops everywhere and in the evening almost every place offers some live music. Forget Viennas Bermuda triangle - here you have more to listen and to look. I visited three places: BB Kings Blues Club, Nashville Legends and The Stage and the summary is depressing. In the Blues club the All Star Band played Pop/Blues/Souls standards without any soul or any own interpretation (OK, the horn section reminded in some way on Blood, Sweat and Tears) but at the end it was only routine blabla for tourists but nothing for real listeners! The other bars handled the topic music similar: different styles, maybe slightly oriented to Country but mainly mainstream pop. So where can I find the real 'country feeling'?? 
We will see tomorrow - I will try to find the 'real Country music'. I'll keep you informed.
One topic on top was surprising me: in the Blues club they announced (like somewhere else birthdays are celebrated) that three guys came back from the army, returned from Afghanistan, and the whole club spent standing ovations for these guys ... like 'our heros are back' ... I don't know - in Austria this would not be possible. Maybe in Turkey???



After today I have to correct one comment of yesterday. This town is not playing a lot of music - this town IS music - and this does not necessarily mean Country but all different types of music.

The whole day was dedicated to music. 
It started with the Country Music Hall of Fame where I learned about the  history of Country & Bluegrass music. With around 20 USD entrance fee the most expensive museum so far but everyone loves it. Summarized: it started in the 20's of last century where radio had to fill some time and started broadcasting local music which became quickly so popular and started the whole thing. When you see the number of visitors of this museum and also the number of sold records you see the huge success of this music style which is not that much known in our areas (of course some people like Kris Kristofferson everyone knows but the real local stars are mainly unknown to a bigger crowd outside the US). On one wall they showed golden and platin records of country stars. There was among others a CD of Garth Brooks which has been sold 10 Mio times !!!!! I have to get this CD 'The Hits' to find out what is so impressive. On this CD you can find also the original version of the song: If tomorrow never comes :-) one of the best romantic songs you might know.
After the Hall of Fame I made a tour around the so called 'Music road' an area of two streets in uptown where dozens of record studios are located and producing millions of all sorts of music. The best selling studio sells gospel songs and bible CDs ... isn't that strange? The most interesting studio and the main reason for this tour was the visit of the RCA Studio B. Did Chess in Chicago build the basis for the modern music so shows this Studio (which is not only a museum but still working and producing) the 'golden age of POP music'. Elvis for example loved this studio and produced there around 50% of all his songs (e.g. Are you lonesome tonight he produced at 4am in the morning and he insisted on complete darkness in the studio :-)) Other produced songs there, e.g. Everly Brothers: all you have to do is dream / Roy Orbison (who lived around the corner) Only the lonely / Dolly Parton, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Connie Francis, Garth Brooks, ... and of course Chet Atkins - wo run the studios for more than 20 years. Chet Atkins, one of the best guitarist of this world, became also a sort of 'star' status in Europe few years ago when he made a duo-CD together with Mark Knopfler!!!
In the afternoon I strolled again around the District and like the evening before in all corners they played live music (at 3 pm!!!!). How enthusiastic people can be, great!
The evening was reserved again for Country! I visited the GRAND OLE OPRY. Did you hear me in the radio?? The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show which is broadcasted for more than 85 (!!!) years - in the meantime world wide (via the net). These two hours show with dozens of stars (I didn't know a single one but the crowd loved most of them) was really entertaining and well produced. Especially the jokes, the spoken advertisements every 10 minutes are really amusing. The whole theater can entertain around 4.000 people and you will not believe it, this shows at least three shows every week and the theater is mostly sold out! Great music for one evening - but I have to admit that on the way back to the hotel I listened to some blues and saw that my real destiny is somewhere else!
All people you see and meet in this town are somehow connected to music. See the guy who sells CDs at Barnes & Noble with whom I discussed about 1 hour about Blues - he additionally plays bass in a blues band (unfortunately this chat cost me a lot of money because at the end I had so many recommendations ...) or take Shirley, the tour guide to the RCA studios who records country songs and plays tomorrow in the Legend Club in Nashvill with her band.
Really impressive this total music dedication! WOW.



On today's trip I crossed the south of Tennessee from Nashville to Memphis - the deep south starts - everywhere cotton fields around, farmland everywhere. It was also a trip from the heart of Country Music to one of the centers of R&B, Soul and Pop.

Not too many sights to see on the way - but one of the towns on the way is worth mentioning: Brownsville. The lovely historic center with a lot of old houses gives a nice impression how the town must have had looked 100 years ago. Everything looks like a wealthy region. On the other hand you can see also the preserved old clapboard house of 'Sleepy' John Estes - a guitarist and one of the Blues pioneers. He was - as most of the old blues musicians - NOT wealthy and he died 1977 blind and living in poverty (see picture of the inside).
Between Ripley  and Brownsville on highway No. 19 lies another small village which is not really known to the public but a very famous female Pop/R&B singer was born there and lived several years there before she left to St. Louis. Any idea who it is?? She wrote a hit song of her birth place (somewhere in the 70's published together with her husband) "A church house Gin house / School house out hous / on highway No. 19 / the people keep their city clean". Guess who it is! I will unravel this quiz in the next days with a photo ... :-) If you like: give me your guess!?!
Finally I landed in Memphis, TN - despite I was very tired I entered for 3 hours the famous Beale Street where the Blues has his home. Similar to Nashville one club borders on the next, everywhere live music ... but the picture compared to Nash is different: no traffic, there is atmosphere in the air, thousands of people black and white people mixed and everyone feels relaxed and listens and dances to the music. Here am I at home!! (forget Nashville).
Again I joined BB Kings Club for a drink. A blind singer entertains in a brilliant way - not comparable to Nash!! After 3 clubs I feel too tired for more .. the next days will be very busy with sightseeing so I give up early - but tomorrow is another day and I will join again!
Clapboard house of "Sleepy" John Estes
BB King's Club


Solution of the quiz: Ike & Tina Turner ... Nutbush City limits .....

Birthplace of Tina Turner ......

Praise THE LORD and record companies


Sunday - the day to praise the lord. That's the reason why we put on our best clothes and we are almost looking serious, isn't it (OK, I hear some voices crying that a shave would make sense ... but girls: WE are on holidays, isn't it?). 

And what did we do first? We went to church - to be precisely to the Full Gospel Tabernacle Chruch where Bishop Al Green was celebrating one of his routine services .... simply breathtaking. When you come from a roman-catholic experience such a gospel service is somehow strange, interesting and most of all entertaining. I never heard in a church people so often crying Amen and applauding to the music, the words of the bishop. It was more a party for God and Jesus where everyone was dancing (they have also employed staff with fans and tissues to cool down the exhausted dancing -mainly- women) and in the middle a very charismatic Al Green who is pushing his crowd forward. If you remember the church scene of the Blues Brothers film - with  James Brown as priest - reality is somehow similar :-)
The most interesting thing on this 'show' is Al Green. I do not know if you remember that name but Al was in the 70's one of the best selling soul singers in the world (I read somewhere that he is still the 10th best musician in the USA (his hit everyone knows is 'Let's stay together'). In 1976 he decided to run a church and this is now for more than 30 years his profession. Beside that he still releases CDs and performs on stages. But today the church was his stage! The foto in the middle shows Al Green - unfortunately the quality is not that good (to shoot photos in a church is not really allowed ... but I didn't want to hide this photo).
After these two hours of Gospel music experience my heart burns for Soul. You know that soul is a further developed mixture of Country & Gospel and here in Memphis we have THE record label who is - beside Motown - the company who developed most of the Soul stars in the world: STAX records. A well organized and informative small museum with a fine shop - at least I found a missing Isaac Hayes CD there.
The next step was another record company which is the most important label for Rock&Roll music: SUN records. Not only Elvis Presley was discovered there - by the owner of the company, the famous Sam Phillips - when he recorded on his own cost a single for his mother, but also hit sellers of the late 50's and 60's like Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Johnny Cash and Rufus Thomas produced there their first hits. Nowadays the premises are more museum but from time to time also actual stars are still producing songs in this studio, e.g. U2 and Paul McCartney.
The last stop of today completed the roundtrip in musical history and summarized. The Museum of Rock & Soul (!) showed additional film material and memorabilia of this period of time where R&R made his first steps and prepared the ground for today's music industry!
Now I am sitting at the computer with an overflow of information, impressions and I am tired of too much music today ... on Beale Street I had my dinner and listened shortly to some bands (inside the clubs, outside in the park) - business as usual there: a lot of people, a lot of beer and a lot of Blues.
Rev. Al Green



Last morning in Memphis. The question is: Graceland yes or no?? I know that a lot of people will hate me but I decided for NO, I do not want to see the living place of Elvis Presley and his planes and his garden and all the gold and glitter around, fighting with thousands of tourists in long lanes waiting to see the holy place ... I am not in the mood for all that (I saw in souvenir shops nail files and ashtrays with the picture of 'the King' - thats enough). 

I am in the mood for the Delta!! Before I leave I have to see another famous place of the world's history to Lorraine Motel - in front of this Motel Martin Luther King has been shot to death on April 4, 1968 and this assassination led to nationwide riots in more than 100 cities.

Another detour I did was unfortunately not worth the way: I went the evening to Jackson for some live blues experience but first I arrived late, then it took me one hour to find the place (my fault - I missed the maps) and finally I found out that this monday the club is closed! How sad - the first evening without LIVE music! Whatsoever, I am so tired that I immediately slept deeply, getting ready for the next day! 
The rest of the day was deep south with long highways - mainly Highway 61, cotton fields everywhere and from time to time the first swamps, mangroves and beautiful surroundings. In the middle of this landscape few small places where all the blues musicians lived, grew up and a lot of 'blues related places'... like: Coahoma (birth place of Ike Turner!), Clarksdale (brilliant Delta Blues Museum and Crossroads Monument) and the Ground Zero Blues Club which offers also at lunch time nice bluesy atmosphere. The highlight was Indianola, where BeeBee King grew up and made his first musical experiences. The BB King Museum is the best museum (and I saw a lot) on this trip!!! The life and the development are shown there so easy understandable in connection with the former apartheid system and how all that developed within the next 40 years ... brilliant!!! Worth to make a detour!!!!



For the whole day 'landscape' is in focus! I drove first from Jackson westwards to Vicksburg! This town is the birth place of Willie Dixon - you remember maybe: this bass player was the 'mastermind' of Chess Records (Chicago). Unfortunately almost no traces of Willie to be found. The town was a battleground during the Civil War 1863 and the National Military Park dominates the scene. The rest? A lovely small town, an excellent cafe and many, many casinos at the Mississippi (it seems that in Mississippi and in Lousiana there are different laws which allow to run big casinos). 

Another Quiz question: who bottled the first Coca Cola?? After invention of this soda-drink it was offered in so called soda-fountains, today we would say bars. No one had the idea to bottle this drink. The first person who did that was Mr. Biedenharn  from Vicksburg who run a Candy company and as everyone liked that drink he bottled it (starting from 1894) and sold it in the whole delta. The famous bottle we know today was invented only later. Before that everyone was allowed to put the drink in his own bottles ....
After this town I am heading south and the landscape varies very much: woods, fields, bright colours & clouds are changing and of course lovely small towns cultivated for more than 100 years and completely different than the northern towns (e.g. Port Gibson, Natchez). 
After I crossed the border to Lousiana - the last state I am going during this trip - the big old plantations are starting, with these well known big oak trees and the atmosphere of the 18th century. One of them is Myrtles Plantation, a place build in 1796 and it is said that it has been the scene of many murders. You can stay overnight in the house but it sounds dangerous :-) I met a young couple planning to do so - if they survived? Who knows, I wanted to continue ...
Finally I reached Baton Rouge which was recommended to me as THE hidden blues place. I mean this is the home town of the famous blues guitarist Larry Garner (the Austrian readers of this blog might know that Chris '2m Blues' Dozzler played for several years with Larry). This makes me suspicious but the more I search via internet, via discussions with several people, I couldn't find a proper place on a Tuesday where blues is played!!! It's only a weekend-town of Blues! Sad, it's the second evening without live music.

It's interesting that similar to Jackson the whole town looks completely dead after 8pm - the major shops are closed, no city center with life, .... . Where are all the people??
Old Coca-Cola bottles ....

Old N'awlins


At last I found the perfect place for traditional New Orleans music: the Perservation Hall. Founded in 1961 to keep the old traditions alive the place is simple (you stand or sit at the ground or on one of the few benches, no drinks, ..) and no renovation since the opening is disturbing the atmosphere. These guys at the stage (today played Carl Leblanc & The essential NO Jazz Band) have so much fun are so experienced in this music and you feel the power in the audience. Simply great! Maybe I will go there tomorrow again to finalize these holidays in a proper way (maybe you can open the link then you can see a small documentation of the place and the music which is played there - have fun).

The first stop today is the Oak Alley Plantation on half way to New Orleans. I learned today that south of Baton Rouge the climate is not good enough for cotton anymore but the perfect condition for sugar cane plantation - therefore around the Mississippi we can find everywhere sugar plantations like that. Especially the around 300 year old oak trees from the river to the house make this plantation special. By the way: these premises have been part of movies several times, e.g: rendezvous with a vampire. 

In the afternoon I arrived finally in New Orleans and especially downtown, the French Quarter, is like I expected it and far larger than Nashville or Memphis. When you are interested in Jazz every corner reminds you of  music: the Basin Street station (basin street blues), Bourbon street (parade), Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and of course the live music in most of the clubs around Bourbon street!! A real heaven for music lovers! You stroll around, find a nice place, rush in, have a drink and listen and then continue to the next place.... Nevertheless there are two topics which are really disturbing: first the growing sex club scene - in my three year old guide they are explaining these establishments only at the beginning, now I feel that almost 30-40% of all places are somehow linked to Hustler & Co. As a guy explained today it looks more and more like Amsterdam - how sad. The second disturbing topic is that only few clubs are really playing 'New Orleans Jazz' - I found three! Most of the bars are trying to be attractive with mainstream pop and rock and sometimes you can also find Blues ...
There was a third disturbing topic today but not linked to music. When you are in N'awlins then you have to eat Jambalaya or any other Cajun stuff on the balcony of one of the many restaurants - despite the fact that all of them had empty tables I got always the explanation that there are reservations and I can have my dinner downstairs inside and not on the balcony. So I didn't have dinner and I decided that a lonely traveller (Jumbo didn't count) has a hard life - the conclusion is simple: next time THE SWEETHEART has to join - agreed?

.... a day to discover the BIG EASY


For my understanding again too much pop and Rock and not enough traditional stuff. Of course one place with Cajun/Zydeco (washboard & accordion in the lead!), the one or other Blues place but Jazz is not that widespread.  Beside the yesterday described places I spent today most of the evening in PRETZEL - a somehow german!!! Jazzclub. The big surprise there was the fact that the musicians there are all around 30 years old and the public is young despite the traditional music. The girls and guys really try to develop the traditional music - you can see a mixture of New Orleans Jazz, Dixieland and also Swing elements (e.g.: the traditional banjo is replaced by three!!! acoustic guitars - wow what a new and different sound). When you see that you feel that this music is not at his end. The spirit of Louis and the others will continue!

For the last day I planned relaxed sightseeing and to feel the atmosphere of this town. To be honest: I failed partly as the weather was filled with rain, heavy thunderstorms (some flood warnings are still active) but in between always some sunny moments. The visit of the Jazz Museum was on top not possible as the museum is closed for renovation until 2010. Sad, but reality.

Nevertheless this town has a lot of atmosphere - outside the center nice villas, everywhere trees, alleys, parks, nice museums (e.g. the visit of the sculpture garden of the Art Museum is very recommendable) cool people - this town deserves the nickname 'Big Easy' (by the way, I still didn't see this movie ...). And similar to Nashville I get the feeling that everyone is related in tourism and of course music. I have a long chat with Smoky Greenwell who sells during the day tourist stuff but at night he plays harmonica, sax and sings together with his 'BLUES GNUS' excellent Blues music. A sympathical guy and his latest CD really recommendable!
It continues raining and that brings of course Hurricane Kathrina closer - today you do not anything which relates to this terrible flood which came two years ago. When you compare fotos of the past and the flood with the actual situation then the changes are getting more obvious. For example I was wondering why the Hard Rock Cafe in NO doesn't have any 'landmark' as it is usual - it had!!! unfortunately the 10 meters guitar didn't survive Kathrina.
Evening: Vieux Carre - what else. Business as usual: loud music everywhere and too many drunk people. The whole French quarter is a big party area, they do not need Mardi Gras to do party! 

Time to say goodbye


It's time to say goodbye and I forgot how much I hate these last days of holidays where you think that you can do so much but at the end your head is already at the airport.

The whole night we had heavy thunderstorms and the bad weather conditions and due to this I entered earlier to the airport from where I write a first summary of these holidays.
It was one of my dreams to travel from Chicago to New Orleans only to listen to music and to increase my knowledge about these music styles. I am happy that I finally did it and I know now that it was worth dreaming of it!! During these two weeks I got a lot of new ideas for new trips, I learned a lot and I discovered how unsatisfying my knowledge in American history is. Nevertheless I enjoyed these great places mainly in Chicago, Memphis, the Delta and finally in New Orleans, my interest in Country remains limited (except Country rock like Neil Young, Greatful Dead, Eagles, Poco, ...). 
I have to do some parts again in the upcoming years - especially with the Delta and New Orleans I am not done! This town is large and I didn't see too much. Only today I realized that in Frenchmen Street - outside the French quarter there are additional clubs, mainly jazz-oriented. Prominent names are performing there ... not in the last days but generally, I didn't do a riverboat tour, I have to see the NEW Jazz Museum (opening only in 2010), I didn't investigate further on Voodoo, Mardi Gras and I still insist on my dinner on the balcony .... The task here should be to escape the mainstream of NO and to find the 'real town'.
So, my plane to Chicago where I get my connection to Istanbul! These holidays are over, there are so many impressions I still have to sort, check some details, a lot to do (selecting photos, listening to the new music and films I will bring with me, summarizing the details I didn't mention in the blog). This will keep me busy the next weekends. 
This was my first blog and I hope you liked it. I am still unexperienced in it but I hope that it was despite the long texts and the few photos entertaining. If you are interested in following on of the next trips just let me know and I will inform you in time!
Bye and see you all soon.

THE END OF THIS TRIP ... stay tuned for more trips