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New Orleans Music

Every morning I listen to the old man take a hot shower. Dripping down through the pipes like a percussion , I lie awake tapping my palms to the beat. When the alarm sounds I hop out of bed, pull on my tight overalls, and slip on a pair of holey sneakers. Swish, swish . The water rushes down the drain like a snare drum. Thump, thump . The old man’s feet hit the cold, concrete floor. I sit in bed dangling my feet off the edge, listening and waiting for the next beat.

new orleans music

This is my music every morning.

new orleans music

The old man brews a cup of coffee. Grind, grind . Slurp, slurp . The old man coughs. I greet the old man outside with a smile and a wave, but he never waves back.

Rattle, rattle . He slides a pair of drumsticks into his red bicycle basket. Screeeeech . My ears sting when he kicks up his rusty kickstand. I barrel down the blocks of Treme along the Lafitte Greenway. Clickety, clack . I pedal as fast as I can. He sure is quick for an old man!

This is my music every morning.

Each day I turn left on Galvez Street towards school…but not today. Today, my music guides me. I follow the old man instead. Where is he going? He’s too far ahead of me. Where did he go? I’ve lost him.

Zoom, zoom . I keep pedaling past the football fields and basketball courts, finding my way to a Reggae festival at Louis Armstrong Park. Bump, bump . The music pulls me in, and I surrender. Dancing to the beat of the drums, disappearing over the bridges, amid the fountains, and into the second line at Congo Square, I forget about the old man.

Smash, smash . The drums are powerful. The brass band gets me moving. The crowd shuffles and shakes. They raise handkerchiefs high into the wind and twirl them around in circles. “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” Let the good times roll!

Eyes half-closed, I glimpse the old man. I approach him thinking he will not notice me, but this time he reaches out his wrinkled hand and together we follow the band in a shuffle step. Where has he been? Does he know I’ve been waiting for him, lost in the crowd?

Lost in the music .

That was 50 years ago. The dusty lights are blinding now as I look out into a packed audience. I spot a face in the crowd. One that resembles the old man. He’s long gone now, I know, but sounds of the past remind me of him — swish, grind, rattle .

Sitting together in Jackson Square, sharing beignets as the colors of Mardi Gras dance by, he hands me his drumsticks. My drums boom and the crowd roars, bringing me back to the here and now. Smoke hangs in the air and candles glow illuminating the warm brick walls of this quaint jazz club. I thank the old man.

This is my music now.

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