Good luck finding The Rusty Nail on your first attempt. Seriously. This place is less than five minutes from my apartment and it took me at least 10 tries over my first six months down here before I successfully made it there when actually looking for it. The fact that its signage faces opposite the traffic flow on the one-way, dead-end street upon which it is located does not make too much of a difference when you take into consideration the fact that the bar is located almost directly underneath I-10 in a part of town with roads that almost surely inspired a man much wiser than myself to coin the term “pear-shaped” to describe unusual urban planning.
But, when I finally (intentionally) made it there, I felt like all my hard work had paid off handsomely: it was awesome. When a bar does as many things as well as The Rusty Nail does – stadium seating for Saints’ games, a drink list that includes anything from a $1.50 can of Pabst Blue Ribbon to a $30 glass of scotch and bartenders that remember exactly how you like your Bloody Mary even if it has been a few weeks since you stumbled in there on Sunday morning looking for some hair of the dog – it’s easy to overlook the fact that the place does not mess around when it comes to keeping their music calendar jammed.
On Tuesday nights, Whiskey T of Country Fried hosts one of the most eclectic open-mics in the city. Wednesday evenings feature the jazzy touch of Jenn Howard and on the weekends the stage is home to all sorts of musical ramblers. I’ve seen a pair of aquarium drinkers calling themselves “The Touchables” stumble through a set of AOR standards that included “Shama Lama Ding Dong” and whichever portions of “Maggie May” they could collectively muster. I’ve seen Woodson Catlin, Jr. of The N’awlins Johnny’s unleash a brain-liquefying, wah-wah warped bass solo to close out a set of locally-sourced rippers. And I’ve seen Davis Rogan (the real-life inspiration for Treme’s Davis McAlary) absolutely kill a hilarious yet impeccably executed blues set.
The one thing that all these disparate acts have in common is that, at least when they were playing at The Rusty Nail, they had everybody in the place on their feet. And unabashedly cutting a rug alongside the lively clientele that frequents the Nail is the type of thing that can make you think, if only for a few booze-soaked hours, that there may be hope for humanity after all. There is never a cover and since the grand opening of their brand new outdoor patio area, the inside bar is 100% smoke free. So yeah, I’d say this place is worth finding.
The Rusty Nail
1100 Constance St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Matt Rosenthal // Groovescapes.com