We love our football in Louisiana, and one of our very favorite players is former Saint Archie Manning. Archie Manning was not only our quarterback for ten seasons in the 1970s and '80s; he is the proud father of the popular NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. He built his Fulton Street restaurant, called Manning's, around the game that he is famous for. "We've been open a year and a half and have been very, very pleased. We're not on a parade route, but Fulton Street is getting busier and busier," says Manning.
Archie Manning moved to New Orleans to play for the Saints, and the food of the city was quite a change from the meals of his hometown. "I grew up in a small rural town in the Mississippi delta, and a lot of people had their own vegetable gardens. The youngsters were supposed to chip in and help shell peas, butterbeans, corn…just help your mother. It makes you appreciate when you eat all those good things," explains Manning about the food in Mississippi.
After Manning attended college and joined the NFL, his palate had to grow. "Coming to New Orleans was a big transition foodwise because I had never eaten a lot of seafood; I ate very little shrimp, I don't think I ever had an oyster, and I certainly never had a crawfi sh. It took me a little while—like I said, I'm a vegetables and meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. But I've been here forty-two years now, so I've come around," says Manning.
The live music scene in New Orleans was also much different for Manning when he moved here. "I didn't know much about jazz. I guess growing up in a small Mississippi town, I always liked country music. Living here this long and knowing some of our local artists, I love the Nevilles. We're talking about food and music here, which certainly relates to New Orleans. I'm not a native, so
I don't call myself a native, but I think I've been here long enough to be proud of New Orleans and be proud of our food and music reputation," says Manning.
The youngest member of the Neville Brothers, Cyril is certainly a native. "I grew up not just in a house, but in a neighborhood that was fi lled with music and musical families. My brother Art was in a band in the 1950s called the Hawketts, and they rehearsed in the living room at our house. The people who I saw coming in and out of my house were Dr. John, Deacon John, Smokey Johnson, Allen Toussaint…there was a different combination of those people coming in and out of my house. I was a very lucky kid," states Neville.
Neville quickly learned what it took not only to perform, but to work in the music industry. In his teens, he was nearly a full-time musician. "I started at about thirteen getting on stage with my brother, Art. That was an apprenticeship; Art would have us help set stuff up because that's the stuff you had to learn, how the whole thing ran from the ground up. By the time I got to high school I was playing at a place called the After Hours Bar by Rampart Street. We got off at fi ve in the morning and had to be at school for eight. We did our sleeping at school. That was growing up in New Orleans in the '60s and '70s; it was beautiful," Neville reminisces.
After that time, Cyril Neville's career exploded, leading him to record numerous albums, perform all over the world, and share the stage with internationally known musicians. He stays very busy recording and touring. "I have a solo record coming out on RUF Records in August, and the title of it is Magic Honey. And we're working on a new Royal Southern Brotherhood record as well. I had the pleasure just recently of performing on my son's record.
My son and my friend Cranston Clements' sons have a band together called Rejected Youth Nation. That was one of the best experiences I've had, doing that," says Neville.
Cyril Neville does not often visit restaurants, as his entire family enjoys cooking, but he does admit that he has a love of Jamaican food. "The New Orleans that I grew up in is gone. I'm not that familiar with the new New Orleans; I never thought I'd see an Arby's on Canal Street. There was a Jamaican restaurant that me and my wife used to frequent called Palmer's, and another called Boswell's. I don't know if either one is still there," says Neville. Boswell's is still open at 3521 Tulane Avenue, and Neville may get the urge to go back now that he knows it's operational.