TNB Night Owl – New Orleans Street Buskers

Tuba Skinny. Photo By Sarah Damziger.

Everyone has a preferred way to escape. Whether from worry, stress, or boredom, everybody needs a little time off from life now and again even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Music is my favorite escape. An old tune can instantly take me back in time, bringing to mind where I was, what I was doing, and cause me to feel the vibe of fond memories. A new (to me) tune can also whisk me away from reality with a catchy rhythm and melodic sound that is fresh yet familiar, as if this brand new piece always existed but was just waiting to be composed, performed, and listened to.

That’s exactly what happened when I discovered New Orleans street buskers online. Primarily they play traditional jazz, spirituals, ragtime, blues, all of which struck a chord with me. (Pun not intended – call it kismet). I didn’t grow up listening to this type of music. However, these pre-war music styles had a tremendous influence on virtually all the musical genres that came after the war.

No surprise then that while this music is from a ways back in time, it sounds familiar. While not new music, it seems new to me. It sounds fresh, because I haven’t listened to the genre countless times. I can’t say that about the music I grew up with, most of which has lost a bit of it’s crispy freshness over the years.

Search ‘new orleans street buskers’ on YouTube and you’ll find many different performers of New Orleans traditional music to sample (and I encourage you to do that). An entire article could be written on each artist and they probably each deserve their own article. Which I’m just not gonna do, so get over it.

Instead, I leave you with a few YouTube video’s from a representative group that, in my opinion, is one of the best and most successful of New Orleans street buskers.

Tuba Skinny has been making music on the streets and in the bars of New Orleans for ten years. They’ve made ten albums and earned a following around the world which has allowed them to tour America, Europe, Australia, and Mexico. And they still busk on the streets of New Orleans when they’re home, as the numerous videos online demonstrate. Obviously, they’re having alot of fun.

🎺 Tuba Skinny – “Going Back Home” – Royal Street

🎺 Give Me Some

🎺 Best Jazz Street Performers (New Orleans)

This music makes me want to get up and dance. It makes me smile, brightens my day, and for a few minutes makes it seem that all is right with the world.

At the same time, these buskers connect me to Americans who lived through the pre-war decades, when music was made without amplification. My grandparent’s time, when they were young, becomes a little more real. I sense a bit of history I could not experience first-hand, in a city I’ve never been to before.

Of all the places to visit, I have never been the least bit interested in visiting New Orleans… until seeing videos of street buskers performing there. Now New Orleans is near the top of my bucket list, should I ever find a way to escape and go on vacation.

Question of the night: What’s your favorite escape?

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About Richard Doud 16 Articles
No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.