Down: A little New Orleans in San Francisco…

Last night I attended a little shindig put on by Down, a great band from New Orleans.

Great show. Knew all the songs. Got some bruises. A lot of spilled beer. I suppose that’s all I need to say about it and if it had been a normal night, maybe that’s all I would…but when I got home after the show, a quick eight block walk through my beloved Tenderloin, I couldn’t get to sleep. I just laid in my bed, my ears ringing while I stared at the ceiling…thinking. On the street outside, people were shouting. I heard a scream. Maybe a gunshot? Don’t know for sure. Those sounds are pretty typical so no worries. Sirens. Ho-hum…but I couldn’t get to sleep. reminded me of my place many years ago in the Quarter where I would listen to the revelry on St. Ann below my hurricane doors and balcony and yeah, thinking…

Thinking.

Fuck I miss New Orleans.

That’s what was going through my mind. I miss the hell out of New Orleans.

Out here in San Francisco, I can watch all the Treme I want. I can go to Brenda’s for breakfast lunch and dinner. I can go see bands like Down when they come round, or Rebirth brass Band or Dr. John or whoever…but these things make me miss New Orleans all the more.

Where I work, at a support services apartment building for people who’ve been through the mill…or maybe four, five and six mills, I was actually put in charge of organizing the Mardi Gras celebration with and for the building residents. I was talking to one guy who asked about decorations. I laughed and said I’ll just bring in all the shit hanging on my walls for the day. He thought I was kidding until I described the things hanging on my wall…art, beads, posters. Hell I got a full sized City of New Orleans flag on my wall.

But no, none of that helps either.

And then last night at the show…don’t get me wrong, the music was great…beyond great. It’s the best show I’ve seen since I moved back to San Francisco but what really got me thinking about things were the band members and how much fun they were having. Down’s a pretty serious band, heavy stuff and dark moods, but when the singer leads the crowd in a chant of “Fuck the Falcons,” before they even play a note or when the guitarist mentions how he is envious of the 49ers defense because the Saints just have two offenses and then the general camaraderie of the band between songs: the laughter, the obviously long friendships and the feel. Yeah, that feel…for brief moments inside the Regency Ballroom last night, I felt like I was hanging out at the Maple Leaf or maybe the Spotted Cat, the Blue Nile or One Eyed Jack’s. Felt like community, that’s how it felt, and it’s a feeling still with me today, right now as I type this.

To New Orleans and the people I’ve come to know there…you’re missed and much as I love San Francisco…

I got some more thinking to do.

Have a nice day.

Down – Eyes of the South

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