For TWB — It Don’t Get No Sweeter Than Khandi!

What a fantastic day for Travel With Balls — we now have over 100 “likes” on our Facebook page AND Khandi Alexander, star of the HBO series Treme and a former regular on CSI Miami for six seasons filmed a promotional video for us!!!  (See our Facebook page — for some reason I’m not able to embed the video on this site…)   The filming took place at the Louisiana Music Factory (where else?!), where William and I had gone to  buy dvds of the first two seasons of Treme and get them signed by several of the cast members — Clarke Peters (Big Chief Lambreaux), Wendell Pierce (Antoine), Rob Brown (Delmond) and Alexander, who plays LaDonna.  William and I haven’t had TV service for over seven years now but after we learned about Treme from a friend who knew we were coming to New Orleans and thought we’d enjoy the show since it’s all about the city post-Katrina, we rented the first season from a video store and then “borrowed” an HBOgo passcode from a relative so that we could watch the second season online.  We are completely hooked!   The show captures the essence of New Orleans — its joys, its struggles, its complexities, its corruption, its compassion and, most especially, its culture of great food and music.  I had never bought a dvd of a movie or TV show in my entire life before today but I’m thrilled to own Treme because William and I won’t mind watching each episode multiple times — it really is that damn good!

After the signing session was over, Khandi Alexander mentioned how much she liked the Travel With Balls t-shirts we were wearing.  When we explained what TWB was all about she agreed at once to film the promo for us.   She is a truly lovely woman with a big, beautiful smile and an even bigger and more beautiful heart!

In New Orleans, a “lagniappe” is a little something extra that is thrown in.  As if meeting the cast of Treme weren’t gift enough, shortly before the Treme signing session was over, John Boutte, a brilliant songwriter/singer who wrote the theme song for the show walked into the store.  He is a gracious man who was happy to sign his newest cd, entitled All About Everything for me.  Check out this video of the Treme theme song — it’s soooooooooooooooooo funky!

We hung around the Louisiana Music Factory to hear a great set of traditional New Orleans jazz performed by Dr. Michael White and his band, and then hung out still longer for pianist/singer Davell Crawford, who reminds me of an only slightly more subdued Little Richard — he has a large personality and he can really rip into those keys!  We might have stayed even longer (there were still several more fabulous musicians scheduled to perform) but our stomachs eventually prevailed over our ears and we headed to The Gumbo Shop for a feast of regional specialties:  Jambalaya, Andouille sausage gumbo, shrimp creole, red beans & rice and pecan pie all washed down by a Creole Cosmo (made with orange flavored vodka)…Lord have mercy!

Tomorrow (Thursday) begins the second weekend of Jazz Fest.  There are some phenomenal artists on the schedule over the next four days — The Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett, The Foo Fighters, Ziggy Marley, Mavis Staples, The Neville Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Frankie Beverly & Maze.  Along with the more familiar names are a slew of less recognized but still immensely talented artists: John Boutte, Wanda Rouzan, Esperanza Spaulding, Irma Thomas, John Mooney, The Funky Meters.  As with every New Orleans Jazz Fest I’ve ever attended (this is my ninth) there will be hard choices to have to make.  (But how incredibly blessed I feel to have these choices to make!)  To see the daily Jazz Fest schedule or to learn more about the world’s greatest festival go to http://www.nojazzfest.com

It’s unlikely I’ll post again until next Tuesday.  During Jazz Fest we generally don’t arrive back at our hotel until around 9:30 p.m. and after an almost 12 hour day spent dancing and waiting in long lines for the shuttle bus back to the French Quarter I’m usually pretty whipped and the only energy I have left is reserved for a hot shower and the dive into a soft bed.  (The first weekend was so hot and tiring that I wrote a song: “My face is fried, my legs have died, but baby, my soul is satisfied — I’ve got the Jazz Fest blues…”)  And since Monday is our last full day in this fantastic city that we love so much, we’ll be wanting to spend every possible moment savoring its pleasures to the fullest and wrapping up any unfinished business — breakfast at Lil Dizzy’s (this soul food spot in the Treme neighborhood is supposed to have THE BEST fried chicken…), Hanson’s Snow Blitz to see if their snowballs are tastier than Plum Street’s (a topic of huge and heated debate among the denizens of New Orleans — William canvassed lots of locals on the street and several people almost came to blows arguing about it…), a ferry ride to Algiers, lunch or dinner at Susan Spicer’s Herb Spirit, maybe one last set at Lousiana Music Factory, a stroll along the banks of the Mississippi River, a drink in the Garden District.  In New Orleans it seems there’s always one more thing to do…one more dish to try…one more song to dance to…one more dream to fly…

Peace & Blessings,
Jan

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