Last night we met our friend Walter Craft, who has most recently been living in Wisconsin, and who for the last 50 years or so has been touring the country as a singer/guitar player. Walter, who started his musical career while living in New Orleans and is now in the process of moving back, introduced us to parts of New Orleans we might not have seen otherwise. When people not from this area think New Orleans, they usually think the French Quarter, and perhaps the Superdrome, and not much beyond that (well, since Katrina, probably the 9th ward, too). Walter directed us to the area around Frenchman Street, just across Esplanade from The French Quarter, where the artists and alternative types have been hanging out since rents in the Quarter became prohibitive. We ate and listened to some acoustic country, blues, and rock-a-billy music at a bar way out in the Plantation district, and ended up in this little co-op coffee shop, The Neutral Ground, in the Garden District. Thanks, Walter, for showing us that there is more to New Orleans than meets the eye of the tourist.
Epilogue: When Jim was in New Orleans as a teenager, he was going to stay there, and he had a job lined up as a short order cook. But as he was sitting in the Paddock Lounge listening to music, he met someone from his hometown who had just driven a moving van load of furniture down. (The name on the furniture van happened to be B. F. George--no relation). He offered Jim a ride back to Muskegon if Jim would help him on the van. Jim accepted, went home to finish high school, and so the story went on. It's interesting to think what seem like little decisions at the time can affect the course of a life, and to imagine what the alternatives might have been like.