New Orleans’s 300th birthday year came to a glorious end with not one, but four different fireworks displays. The idea behind four displays was to try and incorporate all parts of the city, from the east and Mid-City to Uptown and the French Quarter, with dueling barges. This theme of inclusion resonated well across the city.
Harry Connick Jr. has been traveling the world as New Orleans’s ambassador for practically all his musical career. With the city’s 300 birthday at hand, Harry took that ambassador role up a notch. Harry and his band brought their 300 Tour to UNO and were welcomed with open arms. The theme for his tour was Christmas as a backdrop, draped within a blanket of New Orleans culture. He’s a great storyteller and took every opportunity to praise the city in his homecoming and to let the audience know what was up with the 300 Tour. He was very happy that the audience at hand got the “inside” references and ended the evening with one of our most beloved traditions: a second line.
We are nothing if not for our traditions, and December was chock full of them. Music and December go hand-in-hand. Tipitina’s has, over the past few years, created a Christmas calendar that celebrates the city. Sadly, the two-evening stint Dr. John once played is no more, due to his health, but the likes of Big Sam’s Funky Nation (Christmas party), Anders Osborn (two nights with friends) and North Mississippi Allstars have kept their roots and slots. This past December brought along what I think will become another staple: Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers. As far as I can tell, this was the first sold-out show Kermit has played at Tip’s. One thing that likely helped was the whole “friends and family” concept when it came to the show. Closing out the year at Tipitina’s were the new owners of the club, Galactic. Much like during their Mardi Gras shows, the energy was amazing, and playing the club together as owners for the first time made it extra special.
Topping off December’s traditional shows, Tran-Siberian Orchestra played the Smoothie King Center, George Clinton played his final two New Orleans shows at the House of Blues (opting not to play Tipitina’s), and POGUETRY returned to One Eyed Jacks. It featured Spider Stacy & the Cajuns (Lost Bayou Ramblers), and bassist Cait O'Riordan (The Pogues).