The Young Fellaz Brass Band on Frenchmen Street @FrenchmenStreet

I had no problem finding free legal parking on Esplanade, and when I made the short walk over to Frenchmen Street, I was surprised to find a large brass band playing on the corner of Frenchmen and Chartres, opposite the Praline Connection, and the old corner where brass bands used to play, which was now occupied by a building under construction. I was somewhat surprised, because over the last couple of years, police have made a point of harassing brass bands on Frenchmen Street and running them off the street for lack of the appropriate city permits. Tonight they seemed to be playing to their hundred or so fans unmolested, and I could only assume that the current tolerance was due to two factors, the current mayoral election, where Mitch Landrieu is running for reelection, opposed by a couple of African-American candidates, and the city council’s current efforts to pass a restrictive noise ordinance. Mayor Landrieu probably would not want to strengthen his opponents by heavy police crackdowns on predominantly-Black brass bands, and with the city council trying to secretly pass a new noise ordinance, and already drawing opposition from musicians and community advocates, they would hardly want to animate the opponents by police harassment of the bands either. I even saw a brass band on Bourbon Street near Canal, the first one allowed to stay there in two years! At any rate, the brass band playing under the brightly-painted eaves of Yuki’s building proved to be the Young Fellaz Brass Band, a band closely associated with Frenchmen Street, where they first came to public prominence. They are really a lot of fun.

The Port of New Orleans Brass Band on @FrenchmenStreet

When I got back to Frenchmen Street from dinner, there was a brass band playing on the little empty park-like space at the corner of Chartres and Frenchmen Street. The band was called the Port of New Orleans Brass Band, and had drawn a good-sized crowd to the intersection, where people were dancing and having a good time. Unfortunately, a police siren sounded on the end of Frenchmen Street nearest the Quarter, and the musicians quit playing and ran for cover, as apparently it is illegal for them to play on Frenchmen Street, just as it now is illegal for them to play on Bourbon at Canal. It’s hard to imagine a dumber course of action than the one that Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration has taken with regards to live music in New Orleans, which, after all, is much of the city’s drawing card as a tourist destination. But presumably the city is continuing the agenda of those who want a quieter, more affluent city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, so the city’s war on music (particularly brass bands) continues unabated.