A few years ago, catching a second line on a Sunday required a little more word-of-mouth sleuthing than it does today. Route sheets and parade club schedules weren’t available regularly online, just passed out via hard copy.
It wasn’t much different at Carnival time when it came to knowing where different Mardi Gras Indian tribes planned to gather each Sunday to practice their music and dance moves for Mardi Gras morning.
In recent years, however, local DJ Action Jackson has worked to keep the larger New Orleans community up to date on the latest news – as well as the deeper history – of the city’s rich street culture through his “Takin’ It to the Streets” program on radio station WWOZ, 90.7 FM.
A drummer since childhood (his grandfather, an original member of the Olympia Brass Band, gave him his first snare drum) Action Jackson has masked as a Mardi Gras Indian and served as king of both the Revolution and Big Nine Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. He’s been an honorary guest of clubs, including the Undefeated Divas, and his weekly brass band and Indian show on WWOZ makes him one of the city’s go-to local music authorities.
“It’s like four hours of therapy for me,” he says when asked what keeps him enthralled with parade culture after all these years. “Once the tuba kicks up, and it’s a Sunday, you’re not worrying about problems. You’re out there with everyone having a good time for four hours.”
Jackson has worked to keep the larger New Orleans community up to date on the latest news – as well as the deeper history – of the city’s rich street culture through
So what does Action Jackson love about his hometown besides street culture? We recently checked in to find out.
20 Questions with Action Jackson
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
I guess Fats Domino. When I was growing up, he was always a celebrity but he also kept his home in the Ninth Ward. I thought he was just as huge as Elvis.
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
I was born here.
3. In your opinion, what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
The Ninth Ward.
4. If it’s a beautiful day, where are you going to spend it?
Probably in the Ninth Ward – on Tupelo (Street).
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans.
Gumbo – my sister-in-law’s file gumbo.
6. Favorite bunch spot?
The Black Pearl – some people in New Orleans call it Roosevelt’s.
7. What is your favorite type of po-boy? Where do you get it?
Hot sausage, egg and cheese – and you can’t get the egg from Gene’s Po-Boy, but I would still say Gene’s is the best.
8. You’ve got friends visiting, and it’s their first time in New Orleans—where are you taking them?
You gotta take ‘em on Bourbon Street!
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail, and where do you go to get it?
The Hand Grenade on Bourbon Street [at Tropical Isle].
11. What’s your favorite dessert or sweet treat in the city?
12. Best spot to see live music?
I go to Seal’s Class Act.
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
14. Favorite New Orleans festival?
15. Describe your ideal New Orleans date night?
Probably going out to hear a band.
16. What are your favorite local shops?
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
18. Where do you go to watch the Saints play?
I go to the Boom Boom Room.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans, and why?
Once I got back into my house after Katrina, I felt relieved because we were traveling and weren’t comfortable in the place that I was. There’s pretty much no other place like New Orleans. Once we got back and settled in, that was a sigh of relief.