My homeboy Darren Towns plays bass drum for the TBC Brass Band, which in my opinion is New Orleans’ greatest brass band. They don’t play a lot of gigs in night clubs these days, but they get called for a lot of birthday parties, wedding receptions, funerals, and second-lines, so when I heard that they were playing over in the 9th Ward, I couldn’t wait to get out there to see them. Any TBC performance is an experience, and in the Crescent City, even a birthday party is a really big deal.
Enjoying Great Seafood At Brisbi’s Lakefront Restaurant
Tourists have undoubtedly heard that New Orleans is an island, but they seem to often forget that the city lies with a river at its front and a lake at its back. If they spend a lot of time at or near the river, they spend remarkably little at the lake, and that is a shame indeed, for the city’s lakefront is one of its most beautiful assets. Although Hurricane Katrina wrecked much of the lakefront of old, things are slowly building back, with several lakefront restaurants having opened in the last several years. I had reviewed Brisbi’s Lakefront Restaurant here in 2014, and there’s not much new to add, except to remind visitors that it is a great place for seafood, with an unbeatable view of Lake Pontchartrain from its upstairs deck.
Brisbi’s Lakefront Restaurant & Bar
7400 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70124
Chilling at Alto, the New Orleans Ace Hotel’s New Rooftop Paradise
Somehow I had never heard of the Ace Hotels chain, much less that one was being opened in New Orleans, so when my friend said that her dad R. L. Boyce was being booked to play at the Three Keys Lounge at the Ace Hotel New Orleans, I was somewhat confused, having never heard of either spot, and as one who prides myself on knowing New Orleans like a native, that had me concerned. As it turned out, I could be excused, for the hotel had only been open for a month, but as part of her dad’s performance, we had a room there, which was absolutely awesome, with an old-school vibe and modernistic art at every turn. But perhaps the crown jewel of the place (at least in my mind) was Alto, a sleek, modernistic rooftop bar with a swimming pool. Although on the day we arrived, the pool and bar were restricted to hotel guests, that apparently is not always the case, and non-guests can occasionally pay a fee for pool access. The pool was big, fairly shallow, very cold, and full of people, but none of that was worrisome in any way, since the day was so hot. All the same, it should be noted that people tend to lounge in the pool rather than swim in it. Outside the water, guests can enjoy drinks and a limited bar menu. It was by far the most luxurious spot I’ve found in New Orleans, and a whole lot of fun.
Alto (atop the Ace Hotel New Orleans)
New Orleans, LA 70130
Open Daily 10 AM-9 PM
Celebrating Eric Deaton’s Birthday at the Crawdad Hole in Water Valley
Usually people don’t celebrate their birthdays by working, but that is what Hill Country guitarist Eric Deaton did at The Crawdad Hole in Water Valley in May. Billed as a birthday party for Eric Deaton at the venerable restaurant that is owned by another great musician and record label owner, Justin Showah, my friend and I were astounded to find that Eric was performing himself with his band. We had figured that he would be chilling and enjoying other musicians playing, but his band sounded great and we had a lot of fun. It was equally fun to reconnect with Justin, and to enjoy some of the best steamed shrimp within a hundred miles of Memphis. His restaurant occasionally books live music, and I assume he still occasionally does things with his superb small record label, Hill Country Records.