501 Napoleon Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70115
September 27, 2009
In the words of Fats Domino, "I'm goin' to New Orleans….". Yes, pt at large has landed at Louis Armstrong International Airport and his priorities are in order. At the corner of Napolean and Tchoupitoulas Streets is Tipitina's, going strong with a rainbow of musical styles for the past 32 years.
Are we having fun yet?
For music and dance, this place is a mecca. The Sunday night Fais do do brings in a a crowd of people from around the block to around the country.
Bruce plays, dancers twirl.
The ages of people who are two-stepping and waltzing around Tipitina’s well-worn tile dance floor range somewhere between Tulane students and Grandma Moses.
The legendary Bruce Daigrepont revs up his diatonic accordion and cranks traditional Louisiana Frenchmusic with original Cajun and Zydeco material. Everyone who is capable of standing upright is on the dance floor. Abita beer flows from the taps at the chest high mahogany bar. Backed by a fiddle, bass, and drums, Daigrepont has been playing the Sunday Fais do do from 5:00 to 9:00 pm here for nearly sixteen years.
pt at large and Bruce Daigrepont
The bust of Professor Longhair in entryway to Tipitina's is a bronzed pedigree of the beloved place. Longhair, born Henry Roeland Byrd, all but invented the rolling rumba boogie-woogie, blues and southern R&B feel of the music in this town. He wrote Mardi Gras music for the Tchapatoulas Indians and his own brand of dance music. The former neighborhood juke joint was named after one of Professor Longhairs songs.
Professor Longhair and friend
In 1977, says the burly fellow who took our $7 cover charge for the evening, Tipitina’s was formed from the 501 Club and Longhair, an African American, was given an ownerships share and became one of the first integrated dance clubs in New Orleans.
Performers as disparate as Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, the Meters, Cowboy Mouth, the Radiators, Galactic, Better Than Ezra, Wilco, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, Bonnie Raitt, James Brown, Widespread Panic, and Stevie Ray Vaughan have made music here.
Dancers with spectacular spins and moves made up right on the spot share the dance floor with people who’ve never danced a two step in their lives. As the night progresses it isn’t at all unusual to see one of these high powered dancers take a newcomer by the hand for a turn around the dance floor. It's just the kind of shared exuberance Dr. Longhair wanted his music to inspire in people.