I arrived at the Candlelight Lounge in the Treme on Wednesday before 9:00pm, anticipating a performance by the Treme Brass Band. The gentleman serving drinks in the room asked us if we wanted a table or a seat at the bar. At this time of night, there were still seats left. (Mental note: get there early). We ordered a tiny bottle of Dewar’s White Label to share, getting a pink bowl of ice and plastic cups. I haven’t seen this anywhere but in New Orleans– small liquor bottles for purchase. We sat and sipped and watched the band members arrive and mill around until they started.
After a few minutes, I was served a bowl of red beans and rice, courtesy of the bar (and, I suppose, of my $5 cover charge). The beans that came to me in a Styrofoam bowl had a big piece of ham bone in it. I figured I’d have to get dirty to eat the meat. Nope. My new way of gauging the quality of red bans and rice is to attempt to cut the meat with my plastic spoon. Tonight? No effort. The plastic spoon sank right through the meat as easy as, well, red beans.
I watched everyone’s favorite, Uncle Lionel Batiste, make the rounds, dancing with random ladies, greeting the young and old. Some of the other players sat, and some greeted the crowd, which at this point was rather small and seated.
Within 10 minutes of finishing my red beans, in walked Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, with a lady friend. To me in NOLA, that’s equivalent to a celebrity sighting, although at Candlelight Lounge, he’s mostly just a neighborhood kid that can play music. The band started, and another 10 minutes later, they’d called Trombone Shorty to the stage to play… wait for it… drums. He and the group played a stunner, and then another. The crowd that’d been gathering was now all on its feet, all ages and colors. There was mad dancing, and I joined in.
The set break came after about 45 minutes, and I headed home. As I write this, I’m sure the Treme Brass Band is in the middle of another set. It’s just getting started down there, like it does every Wednesday. Uncle Lionel is dancing with yet another admirer. I’m headed to bed, so happy to know that Wednesday in New Orleans brings such great music in a local venue with real New Orleanians holding down the dance floor. I can’t see myself leaving this place. I mean, where else could I live like this?
The Treme Brass Band plays on Wednesday nights at 9:00–but remember, this is musician time, so it’s somewhat fluid. My advice is to arrive early, and enjoy yourself while you wait for the music!
925 N. Robertson St