13 states, five weeks, thousands of kilometres, from the swelter of a Louisiana bayou to the glorious fall foliage of Vermont…
Interviews with wonderful radio-makers and visionaries, and with oral history venerables… will write about that soon.
Favourite place N’Awlins, just because of those folks’ big heart and unstoppable music. We stayed in Treme, oldest African-American neighbourhood in the US, and badly hit by Katrina. Sad to see boarded up houses and even worse, vacant blocks, where everything had been wiped out. But the Treme Brass Band still plays wild music every Wednesday night in the old neighbourhood hall – $5 gets you rice and beans and the best live jazz music you’ll ever hear. I’m a hopeless fan of the TV series of course – so it was cool to see the oh-so-elegant elder of the band, in his crisply pressed trousers and white hat, presiding over an increasingly exuberant occasion. I ended up on the dance floor, along with everyone else, including the bartender – a woman who insisted we could not be allowed to walk the two blocks home. Instead, she lined up a ride home for us – with the leader of the Treme Brass Band, Mr Benny Jones. An absolute highlight – thank you ma’am!
Washington was a surprise; hadn’t realised how impressive that monument mile is. Wonderful tour of the Capitol with insider Don Ritchie, Senate Historian there since 1976. I met Don back in the ’90s when he chaired a session I did at the Oral History Association of Australia in Alice Springs in central Australia. The red dust of Alice a bit of a change from D.C.!
Also a memorable hike on the Cranberry Bogs of Massachusetts with Studs Terkel’s old friend and collaborator, the funny, astute and delightful Sydney Lewis and her hospitable friend Sarah, ace broiler of swordfish.