Last year, the Lady Jetsetters second-line had started in the new apartments that replaced the Calliope projects, but this year the starting point was a placed called Ed’s Bar in a neighborhood to the north called Zion City, caught in a triangle between Washington Avenue, Earhart Boulevard and South Broad Street. I had never heard of Zion City, but as I walked its streets toward the parade’s starting point, I was amazed at how isolated and rural it looked. A lot of houses and buildings were abandoned, and clearly this area had not come back much since the hurricane. But some of the houses were occupied, there were a few churches, and a bicycle repair shop for the neighborhood kids, and a tiny bar tucked between two houses where vendors and second-liners had gathered. Soon some musicians began to appear as well, members of the Stooges Brass Band who had been engaged for the day’s events. The weather was warm and pleasant, and as we headed out Washington Avenue, we were already a large group. Like all second-lines, the crowd grew bigger as we proceeded, and the dancers became more exuberant, with young men jumping up on roofs and slamming street signs as we came to intersections. Toward the end of the afternoon, the Stooges began playing a number of crowd favorites, including Deniece Williams’ “Cause You Love Me Baby” and Mel Waiters’ “Got My Whiskey”. Although the parade disbanded at the Foxx II on Washington Avenue, it wasn’t all that far away from where we began, and it was easy enough to walk it.
From Pop’s House of Blues, the second-line made its way down Dryades to the corner of Second and Dryades, where it disbanded in a huge crowd in front of the Sportsman’s Corner, an Uptown lounge that I have heard is a location for Black Indian practices. The music continued for some time after reaching the end of the line, and the groove is kept up not only by the band, but by the ad hoc percussionists from the crowd who are playing empty bottles with sticks, or cowbells that they brought with them. One such man tells me that he is the “Bottle Man”, but I suspect there are numerous “bottle men” in this second-line and every other. Unfortunately, as things were breaking up, I faced a dilemma, as this was my first second-line that disbanded at a different place than it began, and in fact, four miles away. Already I was dead tired, and the prospect of a four-mile walk back to the Calliope projects didn’t particularly appeal to me. But this proved to be one of those seeming problems that often has a simple solution in a magical city like New Orleans. Since I knew some of the Stooges Brass Band members, I asked them how they were getting back to the Calliope where they began, and one of them told me that they and their instruments would ride back on the tailgate of his truck. So in beautiful, late afternoon 66-degree weather, instead of a long, tiring walk, I got a ride back to the projects (and my car) with members of one of my favorite New Orleans brass bands. The day could not have ended any better.
After we left Silky’s, we had a brief unscheduled stop about a block away in front of a boarded-up building, the purpose of which I never figured out, but the Stooges Brass Band kept playing all the way through it, and soon we were on our way again, to the corner of 7th and Dryades, where I learned that the old Joe’s House of Blues has become Pop’s House of Blues, and is apparently under new ownership. An older man had set a lawn chair directly on the point of the club’s roof, and was sitting up there in the sun. When we arrived, he got out of his chair and began dancing right where he was up on the roof.
It probably doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but the more exuberant second-liners still end up on the roofs of buildings, as a good place to dance and perhaps to also be noticed by the crowd, as two young men did at the intersection where Silky’s bar was, one of the scheduled stops on the second-line. One of the men scaled a fence and ended up on the roof of a small garage behind a residence, where he wowed the crowd with his moves, before proudly yelling to us all that he represented the CTC (Cross The Canal) Lower 9th Ward. A girl near me said “That boy reppin’ by himself, way uptown here”, and her friend replied, “You gotta respect it.”
From the S & S Club, our parade worked its way down sidestreets to a club called Silky’s, where the largest crowd of the afternoon so far was gathered, and also where some of the most exuberant dancing broke out.
Like most second-lines, the Lady Jetsetters’ parade picked up a lot more people as it made its way down Martin Luther King to a scheduled stop at the S & S Club, where another hundred or so people were gathered.
After a brief stop in front of the headquarters of the Calliope Steppers, our second-line proceeded around to Dorgenois Street and from there to Washington Avenue, where we soon came to the first route stop of the day, at Tapps II Lounge on the corner of Rocheblave and Washington. There was already a fairly large crowd gathered there, and the usual assortment of food and drink vendors.
The second-line on Sunday January 12 was sponsored by the Lady Jetsetters, and it began in Mid-City at the B. W. Cooper housing development, usually called the Calliope, which anyone familiar with New Orleans rap would have heard of. Since Hurricane Katrina, the former Calliope has been undergoing redevelopment as a mixed-income neighborhood, but some of the original buildings remain. Fortunately, there was ample free parking, and I found only a small crowd outside where the parade would begin. The weather was sunny and warm for January, and soon a much larger crowd began to gather, and the first musicians began to show up. members of the Stooges Brass Band, some of whom knew me. By the time the club members “came out the door”, there were a couple of hundred people or so, and we followed the partial Stooges band around the corner into the old Calliope projects. A couple of musicians caught up with the parade a block or so from the beginning, and we quickly came to the first stop of the day, at the headquarters of the Calliope Steppers just around the corner from where we had begun.