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The New Orleans scene now

Aurora Nealand explains

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The city built on music


I think there's two kinds of jazz fans, those who have been to New Orleans and those who haven't made the pilgrimage - yet.

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, no doubt, but not only is it still a major jazz center, it's also one of the top music cities in the world. In fact, I'd say if you can't make it to Cuba or Brazil, it's the most musical place you can visit in the Western Hemisphere.

The thing that makes New Orleans so unique in the US is that live jazz is still part of the warp and woof daily life there.

Live jazz is everywhere: at parties, at funerals, on the streets, in clubs, at picnics, in people's homes, at business openings, every day, all day, year 'round.

That said, unless you like beastly hot weather - hot enough to make grown men cry - November through early May is the best time to visit.

Don't waste any time on Bourbon Street,. Go straight to Frenchmen Street, pick up a free copy of Off Beat Magazine to plan your musical campaign, and prepare to eat better and hear more great music in one concentrated time than you ever have in your life.

What about New Orleans Jazz Fest? It's missable. Very missable. It's de-volved into the New Orleans Pop Fest and you can hear much better music, in much better settings, for far less in the city itself.

If you love music, prepare to have your life changed. Many come from a visit and never leave.

And look for Aurora in one of her many musical incarnations. She's been my New Orleans fave since she knocked me out in 2006 at the Spotted Cat channeling Sidney Bechet.

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