Music, Music, Music

We checked out of the hotel early this morning and boarded the bus for our first excursion, a visit to Preservation Hall. We’d walked by it several times on previous visits to New Orleans but were never able to go in and take in a show; today, there was a show just for us (and the other 40 or 50 people on the bus, of course). Buses aren’t allowed to drive through the French Quarter itself, so they dropped us at Jackson Square.

We walked the three blocks to Preservation Hall, where we were treated to a short lecture about the history of music in New Orleans (especially jazz and blues), followed by a too-brief concert from the Preservation Hall Legacy Band. Photos and recordings were not permitted during the concert, of course, but I bought one of their CDs when we left.

One of the points made during the lecture was about the pervasiveness of music in New Orleans; this wasn’t a surprise to me, but I was more aware of the bands we passed on our way back to the bus. They’re hoping for donations and learning their craft at the same time.

We had a few minutes to look around Jackson Square before we had to get on the bus; we popped into St. Louis Cathedral for a quick look.

We got back on the bus and headed to the Cruise Ship Terminal to meet the American Splendor. We had to take a slightly circuitous route because the Mayor was holding some sort of event which closed some roads, but that gave us a chance to see Pete Fountain’s giant clarinet on the Holiday Inn.

The ship was docked under the Crescent City Connection; we were the first bus back to the ship, so we had plenty of time for a leisurely lunch before everyone was on board. I was pleased to see some familiar faces from previous trips on American Cruise Lines – that was a first for me!

We got one last chance to see the New Orleans skyline and the Mercedes-Benz Caesar’s Superdome as we steamed upriver.

We passed under the Huey P. Long Bridge about an hour-and-a-half after leaving New Orleans; we should pass under another Huey P. Long Bridge in the next couple of days when we’re sailing through Baton Rouge.

John Meffert gave the before-dinner talk, “Shadows of the Dream: Architecture of the Lower Mississippi”; the audience was enthralled, even though he ran a couple of minutes into cocktail hour!

After dinner, we saw the first show by our Entertainer-in-Residence, Stephen Merritt; he told us how he’d wanted to be a piano player on the Mississippi ever since he was eight and finally achieved his dream after playing many years at Disneyland Japan and Walt Disney World. He was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to his other shows on the cruise.

We’ve just docked in Vacherie, our first port of call. I guess we could get off the ship and roam around, but we have an early excursion tomorrow.