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Text Graphic: 'Recommended Daily Requirement - Old Fogey at the House of Blues'.

DATELINE: 5 February, 2007

Transmitted by Greg Cowman, USA

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RECOMMENDED DAILY REQUIREMENT - OLD FOGEY AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES: New Orleanian GREG COWMAN contributes to our Op-Ed page to talk about finding music when you become aged like wine.

New Orleans, LA, USA - OK, I guess Teresa and I are now certifiable "Old Fogeys." Well, I (approaching 60) much more than she (still in her 40's, for cry-eye).

We went to the House of Blues [hereafter "HOB"] last night to see one of our favorite bands, Los Lonely Boys. I got the tickets for her as a Christmas present, thinking, "Oh, she's never been to the HOB and she really likes LLB, so I think I'll treat her to something nice, an evening out, something different than sitting around doing sudoku and crossword puzzles."

WRONG!

Alright, maybe a bit of our ensuing discontent was due to my lingering and her advancing congestion, headache, and general ague (gosh, I don't think I've ever used that word in a sentence before now!) due to colds, but we soon found that things were not going to be as hoped.

After the last successful moment of the night - finding a free parking space a block away - we walked to the HOB in the chilly night air to find out we had to wait outside in line for about 15 minutes, progressing slowly toward the undoubtedly toasty entrance, until the minimum wage, but IN POWER people, who were dressed ever-so snugly in large parkas adorned with large type on them announcing they were the "Security" elite, deigned it feasible that we could now enter the warmth and camaraderie of said HOB.

Next stop was the ticket-taking person, a foreboding person to be sure, backed up by an even larger person, again both personas having "Security" imprinted all over their garb and, more importantly, their demeanor. An innocuous enough experience it should be, I suppose, she routinely scanning the embedded secret code on the ticket stub, he stamping each of us with the magical invisible ink that illuminates under a mini-blacklight (the only invention from the hippie-dippie 60's of ANY real value), therefore allowing us to come and go (presumably to step outside to smoke 'em, if we'd had 'em [wink-wink]).

One brief moment and an inch and a half later we are placed squarely in front of the hastily impact-printer-gorged announcement that, indeed, the show we came to see would start at 9:30 pm instead of the 8:00 lift-off we had planned our night around, allowing for a reasonable to-bed on a school night. This misleading information was also printed on the tickets AND indicated in no uncertain terms on the HOB web site.

I made my point fairly clear with those in charge, or was that the brick wall?

9:30! PM!!!!

That's pretty late for a couple of old ... well, you know.

Crap!

Photo of Greg Cowman.Well, what the hell, we were finally in the place and at least warming a bit, so we decided to buck it up (with the assistance of alcoholic beverages) and go upstairs to secure some balcony seats and wait it out.

WRONG again!

Seems the entire front balcony on all three sides - where ALL of the seats upstairs are positioned - had been reserved for some very special folks, those being the nouveau riche known affectionately by all those brandishing "Security" wear as "The Foundation." The going rate for entrance to this HOB heaven, I overheard, was $2,500!

I watched, bemusedly, and full well knowing his effort was useless, one older than I jerk-wad trying to bribe his way in by tucking a bill into the palm of yet another heavyset "Security" (i.e., gestapo) agent , the one in charge of unhooking the prohibitive chain that kept us and the rest of the unwashed masses from accessing the primo seats. It was a "no go" with her from the "get go", perhaps because the denomination was too paltry. He, too, was a loser! But, to my chagrin, someone on the OTHER SIDE recognized him and invited him in.

Double crap!

So, dejectedly, down we went into the bowels of the HOB, ordered that first cocktail (tequila for me, glass of red for my sweetie), and staked out a spot against the wall near the door for easy exit, as we had both sensed possible, in case of fire.

Well, thank benevolent gods there wasn't a fire, but one couldn't tell it from all the smoke in the room. If there were 500 people in the place, 497 of them were smoking. Make that chain-smoking. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and I'm sure some of the other stuff too. I never saw anyone actually light up. They all got by with that one first match and just kept the thing going, like a California wave in the Super Dome.

Then there was the bartender. I hadn't seen a Statue of Liberty Spike-Haired Weirdo like this in a long time. Wonder how many square inches of him are NOT tattooed? But, that's a story for another day.

The opening band was, as one could guess, and Crap! again, from Texas. Oh joy. A country/rock/TexMex band, that is. Nothing original here, I can tell you. Words? Schwords. Who could hear them through the way over amplified thump, Thump, THUMP of the incessant three note bass player? The entire HOB shook like a 6.2 on the Richter scale with his "rhythm" and then screamed along in unison (well, sort of) with the assault of the lead guitar player, who was evidently too ugly to show his face as he wore a cowboy hat so large and slung so low that all one could see was two long poodle ears of hair billowing out from underneath. I swear if I or someone else had suffered a heart attack, the thump, Thump, THUMP would have brought the dead back to life like a good jolt from the finest defibrillator.

That - pure bliss it was - lasted about an hour.

I succumbed to a second Cuervo and OJ. Teresa was in shock.

Oh sure, we could have left. I sincerely offered escape several times, though Teresa was probably being nice, or more likely, couldn't hear me.

After the opening band finally unplugged, we (she) set a maximun departure deadline of 9:45, come Los Lonely Boys or high water. Oops, shouldn't say that around here, these days.

Right on schedule Those Young Males sans Company came onstage and started belting out all of those favorites we came to hear, cheer, and hoped to have a clear visual path to them singing. Then a drunk tried to dance with Teresa, which sent her fleeing for the security (gestapo) of the back wall, near the door, for quick exit in case of fire.

We left after 3 songs.

Including the tickets, drinks and tips, that was about $22.67 per song. Or, about 68.69 iTune downloads. I'm pretty sure Los Lonely Boys don't HAVE 68.69 songs!

So, it was a long ride home, both of us coughing from and anxious to get out of the clothing that reeked of smoke, our chests still smarting from the thump, Thump, THUMP.

A lesson learned? It's OK to be an old fogey, once you can appreciate it for what it really is.


GREG COWMAN is a member of the esteemed fraternity of New Orleans bartenders who you might find speaking with you at the Napoleon House in New Orleans, should you ever have the joy of visiting. He is also a personal friend and former co-worker of our editor and publisher. His book, Secrets of a New Orleans Chef, can be purchased online. It provides background and recipes from one of the great New Orleans chefs, Tom Cowman.


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