Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chasing Tubas and Drums.

I found a parking spot by a barbecue joint. There is an open grassy square, and the sleeping prospects appear positive. There are countless people in this city living in vans and similar. I feel safe from official harassment. I feel certain that the city of New Orleans has better fish to fry. Satisfied and comfortable in my sleeping location, I put down the curtains and opened my laptop.

Twenty minutes later, I heard an absolute tuba. I heard drums and accompanying brass. I assumed it was a practice, so I stood up slowly, and put my shoes on to investigate. I took a few too many minutes to prepare my approach, and when I exited the vehicle the ruckus was almost inaudible.

I walked in the direction of receding sound, and it dawned on me that the beats were on the move. The sound was exciting and had a confident swagger, so I doubled my initial pace. The band was much further along than anticipated, so I took to the middle of the street and jogged for many blocks.

I didn’t know anything except how zoom in on sound. Later, I would learn that this was a second line brass band. They were hired to march in a procession after a wedding. I didn’t know what I was watching or following, but I felt the tuba and the bass drum in my chest. There were three trombones and one trumpet. The ratio was correct.

I caught up to the band one block from a bar. As brass and drums poured in through all entrances, the music did not pause. They lit up the bar with sound. I stood on the opposite sidewalk as all conversations were interrupted. The band had a more important message. I stood opposite with rapt attention.

After that song, those involved ordered drinks. I walked back to the van. I decided to return to the street in search of more tubas and drums. I lowered my bicycle from the rack, and pointed it toward the French Quarter to see who was playing on what.

I cruised down Royal in the same direction, and found the same brass band preparing for another round. I followed behind for the next hour or so. Cars stopped and waited, residents opened their front doors to watch. Several people, including myself, followed along in the street. The procession arrived at another bar, where everybody entered for more drinks.

Rain began to fall in heavy drops, and I sat happily on the sidewalk protected by a roof. I shrugged off the instinct to order a beer, because I was comfortably topped off with music and wine.

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