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Elvis Presley Sings the Song of the Shrimp – Best Song from the Movie King Creole Set in New Orleans French Quarter

Whenever our family gets together to play guitar and sing, usually Christmas night, we always add this sweet and upbeat song from Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley Sings the Song of the Shrimp – Best Song from the Movie King Creole Set in New Orleans French Quarter

The movie is set in New Orleans and filming was done in the French Quarter and in Hollywood. Michael Curtiz, a respected director, did the directing duties and was impressed with Presley as a person and as an actor. Carolyn Jones and Walter Matthau also star in it.

King Creole, one of Elvis Presley's best movies, is set in New Orleans French Quarter.

King Creole, one of Elvis’ best movies, is set in New Orleans French Quarter.

Funny thing about the video of the Song of the Shrimp is that the opening shot has mountains in the background! It’s a beautiful shot but heck we don’t got no mountains in Louisiana! The rest of the song looks like it may have been done on Lake Ponchartrain seeing how calm and flat the waters are. But I could be wrong. It was probably done in the L.A. area as well.

I perform once a month at the Neutral Ground Coffee House and Song of the Shrimp is usually part of my set. Although, no one can sing it like Elvis Presley.

Posted in New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.

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New Orleans Author Pens Beautiful Book About His Experiences Canoeing America’s Rivers

There have been many books written about the desecration of the American landscape by uncaring people, corporations and moneyed interests. New Orleans author and Tulane professor Oliver Houck has added his own memoir of his travels down some of the nation’s most beautiful rivers and added commentary on his experiences as he has seen rivers once beautiful become spoiled by narrow-minded humans.

New Orleans Author Pens Beautiful Book About His Experiences Canoeing America’s Rivers

Oliver Houck's Downstream Toward Home is a beautifully written, engaging look at American rivers.

Oliver Houck’s Downstream Toward Home is a beautifully written, engaging look at American rivers.

But desecration of beautiful American rivers is not what this book is really about. There are some writers who can just tell of their experiences in a matter-of-fact way to impart information that is all surface and no depth.

These are the books I start and perhaps put aside with the thought that, yes, what is here is worth reading, but somehow the author has not infused me some sense of wonder.

Oliver, who I know, calls the stories in Downstream Toward Home: A Book of American Rivers personal stories and as such perhaps he seems to indicate most people won’t be interested in them.

But this is precisely what makes this book so engaging, these trips down Americas rivers are close to his heart and he relates his journeys with personal insight and feeling.

Each chapter, which covers one trip on one river, is written like a short story, some only a few pages long. As I was reading I kept thinking, shoot I wish I could write like this, I wish I could see a scene and write it so easily and crisply that the images just jump off the page. Well, that is what Oliver has done.

I was amazed, while sitting with the book in my hand in the comfort of my home, as I was transported over tranquil waters, along the jumble of swamp and forests, under the spell of massive rock cliffs, and through dangerous rapids with the threat of injury or death ever near.

And somehow over the decades that he has been exploring rivers he has come through it all relatively unscathed and is able to relate to us what he has seen through his own unique viewpoint of someone who cares deeply about our natural inheritance and landscapes, and is able to look on the foibles of man and governments, who have sought to trample these beautiful wonders in the name of some type of ill-conceived progress, with forgiveness.

Many of the stories are exciting, some loaded with suspense as he meets some unsavory characters along the way who have him wondering if he’ll make it back to his car alive. And then there is the hair-raising adventure of being lost in the Atchafalaya and encountering a beast of a man crawfishing.

These stories are written with such beauty and eloquence, which only someone completely in love and inspired by the natural world could write. Here is an example early on in the book the type of writing that appears on every page.

“If there is a yet prettier river in Florida than Juniper Springs a strong candidate would be the Wicassa, which rises from its own springs in a Lord of the Rings landscape choked with cypress knees and then opens into a wide river with long grasses underneath that trail downstream in braids. Large fish pilot the canoe, spooked out of one refuge and seeking another. One afternoon Lisa and I watched an osprey dive down to take one, a reckless, all-out plunge into the water, and no sooner rise with the fish in its claws than meet an eagle screaming down out of the sun and set to rob him.”

His adventures stretch from Washington D.C., then down south, to the west all the way to the Northwest Territories where he engages us with a history lesson about the demise of a 150 men trying to find the Northwest Passage and his near-to-death encounter with a grizzly bear.

This is a book to be savored over time, not gotten through in a couple of sittings. And also good to be shared and read out loud with friends and family. If you want to learn something about America’s rivers, the beauty that awaits those adventurers who want to explore them, and perhaps to get an idea of what’s been lost with the onslaught of human progress and, despite this, what amazing beauty still remains, this is the book you must read.

Prepared to be moved, prepare to be inspired. You might just want to take a canoe and go out exploring yourself.

You can get the book Down Stream Toward Home on

This is Oliver Houck’s second book reviewed on this blog. His other book Down On The Batture is just as beautifully written and engaging. Check it out. Professor Houck is one of our best New Orleans authors.

Posted in New Orleans Books, New Orleans Life.

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New Orleans Algiers Ferry: 10 Ideas For It to Make Money, Make It More Fun and Insure Its Future

I found out recently the the New Orleans Algiers Ferry only offers pedestrian passengers. I was shocked to hear this because one of the cool things you used to be able to do is get in your car, ride across the river on the ferry, go to one of the pubs or restaurants on Algier’s Point and ride back and get a beautiful view of downtown New Orleans.

New Orleans Algiers Ferry: 10 Ideas For It to Make Money, Make It More Fun and Insure Its Future

Riding across the river is especially fun at night because you get a chance to see the city from a different vantage point. And it’s magnificent especially at sunset.

Now you can’t do that as you used to. You gotta park and pay five bucks in a parking garage and walk to the ferry landing and then pay another 2 bucks each way. It used to be free for pedestrians and a dollar for cars. The reason for all this is that funding now is limited and apparently they had to let workers go who managed the entrance and exit of vehicles.

This has hurt the businesses at Algier’s Point that offered food and drink. The company Transdev North America who now operates the ferries and made all the changes also had to cut back on the ferry schedule which really cut into the bottom line of these establishments.

The New Orleans Algiers Ferry -- crossing the Mississippi New Orleans style.

The New Orleans Algiers Ferry — crossing the Mississippi New Orleans style.

And the current exclusion of autos has made it difficult for those who lived at the Point and worked in the city to get to their jobs. Now they have to drive the circuitous route to the Crescent City Connection, endure the sometimes ridiculous traffic and drive over the river to get to work.

Anyway, I have some ideas about how the Algier’s Ferry could start making real money and get the cars back on it to the delight of everyone. I’m surprised no one has thought of these ideas.

The overall thrust of my ten ideas stems from the one idea of making the ferry a destination rather than just transportation from one side of the river to another.

10 things you could do to make the New Orleans Algier’s Ferry financially viable and allow cars again:

1. Make it into and entertainment venue so people would actually come and maybe spend an hour or so on the boat riding back and forth across the river. This would only be for pedestrians.

2. Fix up the interior to make it look nice and inviting with a few simple tables and chairs.

3. Set up a bar area for service.

4. Have a jazz combo playing throughout the day in the afternoons and into the evenings. How about special guest appearances by famous local musicians. These would be surprise experiences, not advertised so as not to flood the ferry with too many visitors.

5. Offer poboy sandwiches, jambalaya, gumbo. Washington State ferries have a little food court area, granted the trips are much longer but there is no reason this can’t be done on the Algier’s Ferry on a small scale.

6. Offer drinks like iced tea, soft drinks, espresso, beer, wine and a signature drink called the Algiers Ferry.

7. Have paid advertising on the walls inside and outside the boat.

8. Start an Algier’s Ferry patrons of different contribution levels where you could join for a minimum of $25 and with your card get free ridership once a month for a year and discounts to bars and restaurants.

9. Have a wall with the history of the river and the ferries on it, something interesting that people might want to make a special trip to see.

10. Have a guest speaker or historical volunteer who talks about the Mississippi River and its history, and answers questions from riders.

There ya go. That’s just some of the ideas one could put into place to make a real success of the New Orleans Algiers Ferry. It does not seem like they would be very difficult to implement. And we would hope it would insure for visitors and residents that these colorful and practical ferries would still be in existence for the long term.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life.

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Musical Heaven or Congested Hell: Why I No Longer Go to New Orleans Jazz Fest

This morning I read in the paper how there have been complaints about the size of the crowds of the New Orleans Jazz Fest. OK, I know it’s really called the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival hosted by Shell, but here in the city we just call it Jazz Fest.

Musical Heaven or Congested Hell: Why I No Longer Go to New Orleans Jazz Fest

Massive crowds at the New Orleans Jazz Fest have many folks about the safety of the annual celebration.

Massive crowds at the New Orleans Jazz Fest have many folks concerned about the safety of the annual celebration.

Years ago when I was living in Washington State before I moved back to my home town, for the last several years I was there I would come in every spring to attend Jazz Fest. It was so great to be back in my hometown again around family and especially around our unique culture and music.

I usually went to the fest alone because, well, I had more fun. I could go to whatever music tent or stage I wanted to without worrying if a companion would want to go or not. I could wander in and out of different music venues, stay as long as I wanted, wander over to food booths, sit down on the grass, take a snooze if I wanted.

Usually I’d leave the house early enough to find a parking space near the Fair Grounds and walk the few blocks to the fest entrance. When they opened the gates I’d walk through with the streaming crowd and marvel at the wonderfulness of it all. I would remark to myself that this was truly the closest thing to heaven on earth.

Back then, and this was just only a few years ago, you could stroll around the fest and have no trouble getting from one end of the grounds to the other with the exception of getting within earshot of the Acura stage, especially if Sting or some big name was playing.

Then it became like walking through molasses, the crowd deciding how long it would take you to move forward or move at all. Frustrated, I usually would just turn around and make it on back through the crush and finally, after many minutes of patient maneuvering, pop out of the mass of human flesh near the edge of the crowd and go somewhere else where you could actually breathe and relax.

Being among that many people shoulder to shoulder, the flow of it dictating where it wants you to go, is not relaxing nor enjoyable. I’m there to have fun. Experiencing the fest in that way is not.

I remember one day several years ago when Dave Matthews and Ludicris were playing on the same day at the same time, there were 90,000 people there. That was crazy. I mean, what were the organizers thinking? Moving along the sidewalk even away from those two stages was like walking through a swarm of bees. I used to raise bees and have been in a swarm, so I know what it feels and looks like.

And forget about trying to get some food, lines are so long, the best place to escape all this is either near Economy Hall tent or in the air conditioned grandstands.

Now the fest really seems to be geared more toward visitors than locals. The big name acts like Elton John, Lady Gaga, et al, all seem to be designed to pull in out-of-towners, most of them, it appears, from New York. Not that there is anything wrong with that, with New Yorkers, you now. I’m just sayin’.

Unless you go on the second Thursday, the whole fest experience is not like it used to be. I got full up with the crush of the crowds, the long lines at the food booths. And for me the sound in the tents were just excrutiatingly loud. They’ve always been like that but just recently with the increase in my tinnitus, partially due, I believe, to standing too close to a speaker at the Acura tent years ago at a Jimmy Buffet concert.

Yes, listening to ole Jimmy hurt so much that in the middle of the concert I had to give up my back stage pass that I thought I was so privileged to have received. Listening to music and physical pain in the ear do not compute for me, especially being that I am a musician myself.

As I read this morning The Advocate some fans were calling the fest “musical heaven” while others were tweeting it a “congested hell.” I gotta agree with both of those assessments. But I think now the inconvenience and now the possibility of getting crushed near the Acura stage and the long food lines overshadows the heavenly part. It just ain’t fun any more.

More and more of my friends and family members who were hard core Jazz Festers just aren’t going like they used to.

For me the fest is a thing of the past. I have no plans to go again. If I ever do it will have to be on a Thursday when crowds are lean and you can wander and relax just like the old days of the fest when it was more for locals.

I can see that at some point the fest organizers are going to have to limit the amount of people that can attend. How do you that? I have no idea. You could restrict ticket sales on certain days when the big name acts are there, that’s usually Saturday and Sunday of both weekends.

Or the New Orleans Jazz Fest will have to be at much larger venue. Can we say New Orleans City Park?

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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Watch As Train Tumbles Off Huey P. Long Bridge During Heavy New Orleans Weather – Amazing Video

New Orleans weather seems to be something that loves to make the headlines. Yesterday we had our most severe storm of the year. Heck for a time it seemed almost like a hurricane coming through.

Watch As Train Tumbles Off Huey P. Long Bridge During Heavy New Orleans Weather – Amazing Video

Thankfully although there was extensive damage in some places nothing could compete with what happened to some train cars at the end of a long freight train that was doing its best to make it off the Huey P. Long Bridge and onto a siding for the express purpose of getting out of the high winds.

But the engineer was not able to get it off soon enough as you’ll see in the video above.

The crumpled wreck of train cars blown off during massive storm from Huey P. Long bridge. --

The crumpled wreck of train cars blown off during massive storm from Huey P. Long bridge. —

It is a miracle that no one was hurt and that the cars were empty so there were no dangerous chemicals spilt. But I would bet the the reason the cars did tumble off was because they were empty and light.

I understand that this is not the end of our recent spate of heavy New Orleans weather as another system is going to hit us tonight. Let’s hope that is all clears up by the weekend so Jazz Fest has clear weather.

Posted in New Orleans Life, New Orleans News, New Orleans Videos.

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