In the 9 th Ward reigns a king. Each week, King James graces his subjects with a show on Monday nights at BJ’s in the Bywater, and occasionally ventures around the city to further his kingdom. Jimmy Horn got a group of Special Men together over a decade ago, and has enjoyed a steady career of live performance, and the band has just released their debut album. He fi rst began his mighty quest at the legendary Mother In Law Lounge. “I met Ernie and Antoinette K-Doe through Quintron. My fi rst evening there, they were ‘conversing’ with each other through a bullhorn and house PA. It was only a matter of time before we started playing there on a weekly basis. I miss the K-Doe’s dearly, may they forever rest in peace,” explains King James.
King James made his way to New Orleans in the 90s with a ingrained love of music. “My father was a text book 60's/70's audiophile, my grandfather could yodel and play the fi ddle, and KISS wore face paint, so I grew up absolutely loving music. I moved here when I was 19 and immediately started playing on the street, making fast friends with Lissa Driscoll, Tuba Fats (R.I.P.), Augie Jr. (R.I.P.), Sheik Rasheed (R.I.P.), Blind Boy Troy, and Keith ‘Wolf’ Anderson. Way back in 1994 is when I met John "Porkchop" Rodli, Special Man Extraordinaire. We started the band around 2000 with our buddy Chris Davis in an effort to learn the old R&B classics of the Crescent City that we felt were being overshadowed by Uptown funk and 6th Ward jazz,” says King James.
Clubs in this area are the target of ire from neighbors who think the clubs play music too loud or shouldn’t have live music and loud recorded music at all. “It's like an old country boy once told me: ‘You don't go to the hardware store for milk.’ Why are folks moving to downtown New Orleans if they don't like the culture of the place? Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, Danny Barker, Mac Rebennack, James Booker, hell, New Orleans' favorite son Louis Armstrong… they ALL got started in the local neighborhood bars of New Orleans! If you moved here because you love it, why change it?” questions James.
Music is not the only passion of the King. “FOOD!!! I love eating in New Orleans. Oysters at Cassamento's, Porterhouse steaks at Crescent City Steak House, and Korean Short Ribs at Tan Dinh. Of course, I miss K-Doe's Gumbo, y'all. If you don't know, better ask somebody,” exclaims James.
Exploring the realm of Asian comfort food, Noodle and Pie on 741 State Street at Magazine opened this year, and is already a staple in Uptown. Chef Brian Armour describes the public’s reception to his new culinary venture as: “Fantastic!” “People seem to be very receptive to what we're bringing to the table both fi guratively and literally. The schedule to hand craft our offerings can be grueling at times but it's more than worth the effort when all is said and done,” Armour continues.
Armour’s menu is truly unique as he strives for perfection with technique and ingredients. The Grilled Octopus with Simple Tomato Sauce and the Blue Crab Special Bowl are “selling like crazy” along with the Ramen noodle dishes and house-baked pies. “People are inclined to refer to it as fusion, but I have hard time accepting that because we are trying to learn and adopt the language of another culture’s food. Fusion implies sort of borrowing and twisting for your own purposes which I don't feellike is what we’re after. We try to use as much fresh ingredients from our own yard, so to speak, as far as sourcing our food and that's where some improvisation happens, but to a large extent we stay true to our discoveries,” explains Armour.
Being a chef of fried, quick-cooking Ramen noodles, Brian Armour has some advice for those who are relegated to eating Ramen regularly: “Double up on your seasoning packets if you’re not afraid of a salt blast and getting caught short on your next batch. Get a chunk of meat and cook it. Then slice it to add along with your favorite greens. When I was a kid, my mom used to make them and stir a raw egg into the hot broth until it cooked and got thick.”
Living in New Orleans for over twenty years, Armour loves our local music. “I'm real fascinated with Tom McDermott lately. I heard his music, and I was blown away. He's got so much versatility at the piano. Glenn David Andrews sings like he's 200-year old gospel preacher with a younger mans energy and sensibility. I think he's extremely powerful,” exclaims Armour.