New Orleans Travel Photography

My New Orleans Travel Guide

New Orleans continues to be my favorite city in the world. It’s vibrant unique culture and diverse tolerant population of characters continues to draw me back, again and again.  It’s impossible not to fall in love with the people, the food, and the music of this incredible city.  After a few years away, I returned to New Orleans this time for Jazz Fest, which I hadn’t been to since before Katrina. Although some of my New Orleans Travel Guide remains the same, there’s a few new haunts I fell in love with listed below the photos.

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STAY:  Every neighborhood in New Orleans has it’s own unique feel and vibe, but I always encourage you to think outside the French Quarter when staying in this city so that you really get a feel for the varied cultures and differing architecture of the city.  While hotels and bed and breakfast’s abound, there’s also a great selection of rooms and entire homes on Airbnb and VRBO to choose from when visiting my favorite city in the world.

  • The Garden District: up river from the French Quarter, St Charles winds it’s way along the river bank into a neighborhood filled with colossal columned porches, lush overgrown green gardens, and wrought iron gates.  Magazine Street offers hip new restaurants, small independently owned boutiques and now, a trendy but delicious donut store.  Stay here if you want to really embrace that southern gentility and envision yourself drinking champs on a porch while the streetcar rolls by.
  • The Marigny used to be a secret, but it’s proximity to Frenchman Street and it’s laundry list of amazing nooks and crannies to explore has made it more popular.  The Marigny’s eclectic mix of late-Georgian, one-story Creole cottages and shotguns that are vibrantly colored make you want to wander down a different street every day on your way through town.  Stay here if you want to be close to the nightlife, but just out of the way of the French Quarter drunkards.
  • Mid-City is perfect if you’re coming to New Orleans for a festival.  It’s proximity to the fairgrounds means that you can walk to the fest while you’re feeling sparky during the day, but taxi and LYFT around to the nightlife at night when your feet are feeling the pressure.  From grand mansions, to shotgun doubles, to Victorian style homes, you’ll see a varied mix of architecture here, but none lacking in charm.  Make sure you head to the Parkway Tavern on your way home from the fest one day.  It’s one of the best po-boys in the city.

EAT: this list gets longer every time I return to New Orleans.  It’s been over a decade since Katrina and the restaurant scene here has really flourished in recent years.  There are a few of my stand-out favorites on this list, and some new ones that I discovered this trip around.

  • Elizabeth’s in the Bywater (don’t skip the Praline bacon), Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District, and The Ruby Slipper Cafe are breakfast standouts.  The Ruby Slipper now has locations all over the city.  Cake Cafe and Bakery in the Marigny is also a great breakfast stop-off, where breakfast is served six days a week all day.
  • Jacques-Imo’s is still one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  It’s raucous atmosphere, incredible menu and alternative vibe have me returning again and again.  Expect a bit of a wait, but you can always head next door to the Maple Leaf for a drink.  For a real experience, come here on Tuesday night for dinner and then head on over to the Maple Leaf to see Rebirth Brass Band play their weekly show.
  • The list of restaurants on this page with James Beard awards is astounding and La Petite Grocery is part of that club for good reason.  The turtle bolognese was incredible and it didn’t hurt that I made new friends while dining at the bar.
  • Our meal at Shaya was a stand-out: modern Isreali cuisine prepared fresh, prepared fresh with a huge side of warm, brick fired pita.  You must order the hummus!
  • There are certain dishes that I spend my life dreaming and replaying over and over and over again in my head and Cochon‘s wood fired oysters are now on that list.  I’ve always maintained that I’d want my last meal on earth to be the mushroom strogonoff that I once had at South Congress Cafe in Austin, TX, but these oysters may be claiming that top spot.


  • Enjoying a Pimm’s Cup at the historic Napoleon House is a must-do.
  • If you can get in, Bacchanal is a wonderful way to while away the evening.  Part retail wine store, part patio, this Bywater haunt has become incredibly popular in the past few years and there is now usually a line around the corner to get in.  Skip it on the weekend and on festival weeks but if you are around in the off season, you might be able to score a seat on their deck and listen to music mid-week.
  • If you can’t score a seat at Bacchanal, the Tasting Room offers an eclectic dining menu and boutique wines from around the world.  It’s dark, cozy and just what you want a wine bar to be.  It’s perfect for lounging on the couch, reading a book and sipping wine in the event of poor weather.
  • Sitting on the deck of the Columns Hotel in the Garden district and whiling away the afternoon with a bottle of champagne will never lose it’s charm with me.


  • Get lost on foot: the New Orleans Tours at Your Feet walking app offers guided tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Haunted Homes, and Cemeteries in the area.
  • If it’s your first trip to New Orleans, the World War II Museum is a must-visit.  It’s grown considerably in the past few years, but it remains informative and the exhibits are related to local history and people.
  • The Presbytere in the French Quarter houses a New Orleans cultural exhibit on mardi gras and it’s customs, along with an exceptional exhibit about Katrina and it’s aftermath.
  • Fest it up: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Voodoo Festival and Mardi Gras continue to be huge draws to this city.  They are all amazing, but there’s also something to be said for just going for the shrimp and grits no reason at all.

Squaw Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest

The Squaw Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest is one of my most treasured summer weekends in Tahoe.  The event is held at the Squaw Village over two days every August and benefits the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.  It always boasts a massive array of micro-breweries and an incredible line-up blues, funk and brass bands.  This year was no exception and I was particularly anxious for the weekend to come when they announced that Trombone Shorty was going to headline.

Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, is incredible and if he ever comes to your city, you absolutely must go see him.  A trumpet and trombone player since the age of six, Andrews grew up in the Tremè and was a member in his teens of one of New Orlean’s best brass bands: Stooges Brass Band.   Boyfriend and I had the good fortune of seeing the Stooges play last year in New Orleans at d.b.a. and although I’m extremely thrilled they are coming to Tahoe to do a show in September at the Crystal Bay Casino, I’m devastated that I’m going to miss it because I’ll be in Dallas running a half marathon with K’s for Keegan.

Since 2009, Andrews has been performing with the Orleans Avenue.  Their 2009 album Backatown was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in Best Contemporary Jazz Album.  Trombone Shorty also makes frequent appearances on one of my favorite tv shows.

I spent the weeks before the Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest gushing over how excited I was and how BOSS Trombone Shorty is to my friends.  I’m sure they were sick of listening to me.  He brought the business at Squaw and the show was incredible.

After the show, I picked up two of his albums for the 3 year old I babysit for that I’ve given a broad appreciation of brass bands and jazz to.  When we went to New Orleans, I returned with a Kermit Ruffins CD and much to his mother’s chagrin, Kermit very quickly replaced his previous favorite musician D.Y. [Dwight Yokum].

On Sunday, the Marching Fourth Marching Band headlined.  The band hails from Portland, OR and while they call themselves Jazz Fusion and it’s a bit like traditional New Orleans parade music, just souped up and twisted.  The massive band sports mismatched circus like marching band uniforms and members perform acrobatics on stilts during some of the songs.  Boyfriend and I are fairly certain we saw them perform in the lobby of the Primus show we went to see in Portland.

These are all my favorite photos from the two shows at the 2013 Brews, Jazz and Funk fest but you can view the entire album via this link.

Flashback!  Previous years at the Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest:




Tahoe Concert Photography | 2nd Annual Montbleu Reggae Fest

I thought that I hated reggae but I never turn down an opportunity to shoot a show.

Passafire plays with no relief from the sun in the middle of the day at the Montbleu Reggae Fest.

After an entire day at the 2nd Annual Montbleu Reggae fest I can emphatically say that I do not hate reggae, but I still hate bluegrass.

The crowd gets pumped for Alpha Blondy.

The best part about a reggae fest is that everyone is so mellow and chilled out that even when you run into them, they apologize, even though they’ve done nothing.

Alpha Blondy has been recording music since 1982. He sings in French and English.

During the heat wave that was happening apparently all over the country last week, Tahoe was reaching record temps and we all thought we were melting.  I made it a point to skip a few of the openers because I didn’t think I would make it all day long in the heat and the sun.  Full disclosure: if it’s over 83 in Tahoe, I think that I’m dying.

The ladies of Alpha Blondy heat up the crowd.

I was surprised at how much brass was included in the bands and you know I’m a sucker for brass of any kind.

Hellman Escorcia of SOJA on one of my favorite instruments!

The headliners, SOJA, are from Arlington, VA and had amazing energy.  I really enjoyed their show (I will admit my surprise).   They’ve been playing as a band since 1997 and you can tell from their stage presence.

Jacob Hemphill, lead guitar and vocals of SOJA.

Overall, I had SUCH a blast at the Reggae Fest.  Double bonus: The Yum Truck was on sight to feed me street corn and tacos AND Montbleu was serving Lagunitas Ale on draft!

Trevor Young of SOJA on guitar.

You can check out all my photos from the day via this link or over at the Tahoe South Facebook Page.


Red Baraat, SXSW, Stages on Sixth, Reno Tahoe Concert Photography

My Top SXSW Acts: #7

My favorite new artists from SXSW 2013

#7: Red Baraat

Red Baraat, Stages on Sixth, Paste Magazine, SXSW, HGTV, Reno Tahoe Concert Photography,

Sonny Singh on vocals for Red Baraat.

Part New Orleans Brass, part Northern India, Red Baraat hails from Brooklyn, NY and serves up a large dose of high energy dance music.  They rollick, roll, and, at the end of their show at the Paste Magazine Stages on Sixth Party, led the audience in a second line out into the street.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little rough ending one night with their official SXSW showcase at Speakeasy and then starting up bright and early the next day with a whole new daytime dance party.  Our legs were tired from all the dancing we’d done the night before.  That being said, when Red Baraat plays, you can’t help but shake your hips.

Their new album Shruggy Ji was released this year.  I purchased a copy of Chaal Baby for the three year old I babysit for and I must say, it’s delightful daytime listening.   If you’re fond of the music of New Orleans, Red Baraat offers an exceptionally creative twist on an old standard.

Red Baraat, SXSW, Paste Magazine, Reno Tahoe COncert photography, Concert Photography, Stages on Sixth

Red Baraat takes it to the street at the Paste Magazine and HGTV Stages on Sixth Show.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

#9: Guards

#8: Zeale


New Orleans: City of Dreams

New Olreans, Street Car, Garden District, St. Charles St

The St. Charles Streetcar

It was our last full day in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the Maple Leaf had given boyfriend the wrong credit card back. It was about a 45 minute bike ride from the Treme. We decided to take advantage of the need to return to that side of town by taking a ride on the iconic St. Charles Streetcar Line.

Bywater, New Orleans, Breakfast, Praline Bacon

Elizabeth’s in the Bywater: breakfast all day.

That being said, we couldn’t be running around town without the most important meal of the day in our bellies so we started with an unbelievable breakfast in the Bywater at Elizabeth’s, where everything is made from scratch and the bloody mary’s are huge and spicy. Elizabeth’s is known for something a little quirky: praline bacon. I was nervous to order it at first, being that I don’t care for sweet things, but the numerous rave reviews on yelp convinced me that I should. It’s a very strange but unbelievably addicting fusion of smoky crispy bacon and cane syrup, brown sugar and pecans. It was perfectly balanced for my discerning taste buds: not too sweet and just salty, peppery and smoky enough to balance it out.

Elizabeths, Bywater, praline bacon, New orleans

The bloody mary at Elizabeth’s in the Bywater – worth the trip!

After venturing all the way back to Oak St, I lamented that we should stop into Snake and Jake’s, a dive bar so divey that it’s Christmas year round and holds residence in a garage, but didn’t. Instead, we choose to participate in another New Orleans tradition: happy hour at the Columns. I dare you to sit on the porch of the Columns sipping wine or Abita and not imagine sitting on that very porch at the turn of the century.

Garden District, New Orleans, Happy Hour, bed and breakfast

The Columns Hotel.

After a quick cheap dinner at Killer Po’Boys, which offers unusual twists on the standard New Orleans fare from their tiny kitchen tucked in the back of the Erin Rose Bar, we hit up Frenchman St for a brief hour to watch the Halloween chaos ensue. It was only 9 pm but the street was already so packed you could hardly walk and there was a street party duel happening between a DJ with a grocery cart and the Red Bull Truck.

New orleans, street party, Halloween, Frenchman Street

Frenchman Street Party on Halloween

We returned to our little house in the Treme early. We’d been in New Orleans one week: we ate, drank, partied, and danced every night. We were tired and filled with fried food and praline bacon and beer and remoulade to the brim. It was one of the most fun weeks of vacation I’ve had in my life and I’ve traveled extensively. Everyone needs to visit New Orleans. It’s my favorite city in the world. It’s a special place where people are happy despite the odds, where life moves at a slower pace, where the fried chicken is crispy and the music goes on all hours of the day. Visit New Orleans and fall in love with the spirit of the city.

You can see all the photos from our trip here.

New Orleans, Marigny, Bywater

Let’s fly down,
or drive down,
to New Orleans.
That city,
‘so pretty,
it’s so extreme.
I’ll take you,
I’ll parade you,
down Bourbon Street.
You’ll see all the hot spots,
you’ll meet all those big shots,
down on New Orleans.

If you want to visit New Orleans, here are my recommendations.

STAY: Rick and Liz in the Treme will make you feel like a local. Their house is wonderful, full of character and conveniently located for all your adventures. They have two private rooms they offer that include cruiser bikes to explore on. I can’t recommend Airbnb enough. A hotel cannot match the charm, comfort, and character of staying in someone’s home, especially in a city like New Orleans.
Choose from the private room we stayed in or the other private room they offer in the same home.








New Orleans, Marigny, Bywater, Jackson Square, French Quarter

I Feel like Funkin’ it Up

New Orleans, Music, Street Bands, French Quarter, Jackson Square

I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up

We had two days left to explore New Orleans and wanted to make the most of it. Thankfully, it was Tuesday and Tuesday in New Orleans means one thing and one thing only: Rebirth Brass Band plays at the Maple Leaf. The Maple Leaf is just north west of the Garden District on Oak Street. It’s dark, long and narrow. It’s hot and sweaty. And when Rebirth gets the party started up in there, people push to the front, dance on top of each other and climb up on the benches with their hands in the air.

In college, when we used to drive to New Orleans frequently to party, I spent many a Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf. I was thrilled to take Buddy there and give him a taste of a New Orleans tradition.

Rebirth was on tour this week so we were treated to their stand in, the New Birth Brass Band, which features members of the now defunct Olympia Brass Band and includes Tuba player Kerwin James, the younger brother of Philip and Keith Frazier, who are part of Rebirth Brass Band.

New Orleans, Creole Food, Oak St

We started our night on Oak St with dinner at Jacques-Imos, where you walk through the kitchen to get seated in a tiny shotgun house and may get the chance to peek at Samuel L Jackson, a frequenter of the joint. He was there the night we were, wearing a track suit, arriving on foot. Buddy and I, learning from our previous nights dinner where we ordered WAY too much food, split a rabbit appetizer and the smothered chicken entree. All the meals start out with some of the best cornbread I’ve eaten (parsley and garlic in it!) and the restaurant is lively and vivacious. We arrived just before the evening crowd, but if you happen to get there late, you can go drink in the Maple Leaf Bar and they will come find you when your table is ready.

Earlier that day, we also visited the Presbytere, part of the Louisiana State Museum. Admission is a whopping $5 and there is an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina and the history of Mardis Gras. After you visit, grab a muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery, where the secret is in the olive salad and the charm is that you order either a half sandwich or a whole. The whole is big enough for four, the half for two. It’s ridiculously over sized, much like all plates of Southern grub. If you have extra time, eat your sandwich while you walk through the French Quarter Farmer’s Market, aptly called the French Market. It was the only place all week we found frog legs on a stick to eat and were entertained by not a brass band, but a jug band.

French Market, Street Music, French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jug band performs for folks in the New Orleans French Market.

French Market, Farmers Market, French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans, Street Music

They got music
It’s always playin’
Start in the day time, go all through the night

When you hear that music playin’
Hear what I’m saying, it make you feel alright

Grab somebody, come on down
Bring your paintbrush, we’re paintin’ the town
There’s some sweetness goin’ ’round
Catch it down in New Orleans

Exploring Frenchman Street

Marigny, New Orleans, Frenchman, Brass Bands

Frenchman St in the Marigny

Want to know what Creole-Italian is? Head to Adolpho’s. Dining there is an experience best imagined as a marriage between your Italian Grandmother’s kitchen and a dive bar. Find it by climbing rickety stairs through a bar on Frenchman St to the upstairs room with less than 15 tables. Be adventurous and start off with fried alligator which tastes like a chewy, albeit delicious, chicken. If you’re a pescatarian, any of the fish of the day dishes topped with Ocean Sauce is the way to go. Cash only!

Adolphos, Frenchamn St, New Orleans, Creole-Italian Cuisine

Fried Alligator in Remoulade

Follow it up with a stop into the Spotted Cat Music Club to listen to the sounds of jazz, where there is never a cover and the Abita Amber is cold and cheap.

Frenchman St, Brass Bands, New Orleans, Street Music

Young Fellaz Brass Band gigs for Frenchman St passer-bys.

On your way down the street, you might get derailed by the sounds of the Young Fellaz Brass Band who can often be found gigging on the street corner. Don’t be fooled by the name: the band’s enthusiasm and talent far exceed it. Order their last album here or find them on facebook here.

New Orleans, Street Music, Frenchman, Brass Bands

New Orleans, Street Music, Brass Bands, Frenchman St

New Orleans, Street Music, Brass Bands, Frenchman St

It’s hard to tear yourself away from amazing music, especially when you find it on the street corner, but another act and more Abita is vying for your attention over at d.b.a. where the Stooges Brass Band (or via facebook) is setting up.

d.b.a., Frenchman, new orleans

The Stooges were incredible! They tour nationally so keep an eye on their events page and don’t miss the chance to boogie with one of the most hardworking and talented brass bands in the nation. I am so thrilled we stumbled upon them!

New Orleans, Frenchman St, Marigny, d.b.a., brass bands

These are a few of my favorite photos from the Stooges set at d.b.a., but you can see all of them here.

Stooges Brass Band, New Orleans, Frenchman Street, d.b.a.

I’m gonna show you how to do it
I’m gonna show you how to do it
I’m gonna show you how to do it
You got to wind it up
Like Michael Buck

Brass, New Orleans, Frenchman St, d.b.a., trombone, tuba

Voodoo Music Experience

Our original plan had been to visit New Orleans for simply a weekend, heading to Voodoo Music Festival and showing off a bit of the city to Buddy. When I realized a good friend was getting married in Austin the following weekend, we decided to stay in LA the entire week: it simply made no sense to burn multiple days of vacation flying back and forth from CA. After missing my favorite fest, ACL Fest to move, I was jonesing for some great and new music.

We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday and after partying until the wee hours of the morning at Vaughan’s, woke up feeling not so sparky. Desperate for breakfast despite the late hour of noon, we hit up Restaurant Stanley on a tip from another cafe. This is what I ate:

Stanley, New Orleans, Creole Food, Cajun Food, Eggs Rockefeller, Jackson Square, French Quarter

That’s right. It was like THAT. Eggs Stanley: Cornmeal-Crusted Oysters, Poached Eggs, Canadian Bacon and Creole Hollandaise on a Toasted English Muffin. Serious breakfast, ALL DAY LONG. Like breakfast SHOULD be: an ALL the time food.

Voodoo Fest takes place in New Orleans’ massive “City Park,” a 1,300 acre park in the center of the city. It is the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States! It’s also famous for holding the world’s largest collection of ancient live oak trees, some more than 600 years old. The city hosts multiple festivals a year there, including Jazz Fest.

We arrived pretty late, thanks to our headaches and need for bacon, but had plenty of time during the day to catch some standout acts. My favorites from Friday included CC Adcock and the Lafayette Marquis, The 101 Runners and their tribute to Big Chief Bo Dollis featuring Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and members of various local brass bands, Gary Clark JR, and, oddly enough, The Avett Brothers. The Avett Brothers are this band that everyone just LOVES and you’re supposed to LOVE them to and I have the albums and I just didn’t LOVE them. Until I saw the show. What is subdued, underplayed and downright boring and mellow on their album is taken to a whole new level of power and persuasiveness in their live show. I don’t know that I’ll listen to the albums still, but I would definitely go out of my way to see them tour again.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse were playing but after hearing lackluster reviews from everyone about their live show, I decided to be responsible and skip it since I had to get up at 6 AM to go run a half marathon. It was a good idea. Day 1 of Voodoo fest was in the bag and we were happy, filled with music, and worked!

Introduction to the Big Easy

We arrived on a Thursday and settled into our adorable shotgun house in the Tremé. A shotgun house is a narrow long rectangular home, usually more more than 12 feet wide. Our hosts have purchased one that used to be a duplex and are busy converting it into one big long house, which makes it considerably more comfortable. In most single shotgun homes, you have to walk through one room to get to another, meaning that your bedroom is often also the hallway. Shotgun homes are prevalent in the south and particularly in New Orleans.

As an Airbnb host myself, it is now my preferred way to travel. I would much rather stay in a local’s home than in a hotel. The beds may not be as new, the comforters as fluffy, but they undoubtedly always have more character and charm than any Best Western.

Our home was conveniently located in Tremé, which is also known as the 6th Ward, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans. Early in the city’s history, the Treme was the main neighborhood for free people of color. Some of my favorite New Orleans musicians grew up in the Treme, including Kermit Ruffins and Joe’s Cozy Corner in Tremé is often considered the birthplace of my favorite band, the Rebirth Brass Band.

Our hosts have four bikes for their guests to use and they were going to be our primary mode of transportation. Their house was conveniently located centrally in between City Park, home to New Orleans’ various music festivals, and the bustling French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in the city.

Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans

Since Buddy had never been to the city, the first thing we did was cruise our bikes around Jackson Square for a bit. At any given moment in Jackson Square, the plaza is bustling with street musicians, artists, performers, pan handlers and hustlers. Be wary of the hustlers: they are aggressive, angry, demanding and not worth your dollar.

Jakcson Square, Brass Bands, Street Music, New Orleans, French Quarter

After a cruise around the Square, we headed to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, generally considered the oldest bar in the US. According to legend it was used by the Pirate Jean Lafitte as a home base for his operations. Just around the corner from Lafitte’s is Eat, where they serve up Louisiana fare using locally farmed produce and ingredients. It’s BYOB and there is no corkage fee for the first six pack or bottle of wine. We started with crawfish boullettes (similar to hushpuppies but made of crawfish) and stuffed artichoke and leek gratin, both of which I would recommend. I followed it up with crawfish pie (a casserole form of etouffee) and it was far more food than I could eat!

Vaughan's, Kermit Ruffins, New Orleans, Brass Bands, By-Water, Dive Bars

It was Thursday, which meant that Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan’s in the By-Water was a must-see. Kermit and his band covered everything from New Orleans brass band staples to Louis Armstrong followed back to back by the Black Eyed Peas. I’m not even joking. Dance with the lcoals, don’t smoke while Kermit’s playing and make sure you have some red beans and rice.

Kermit Ruffins, Vaughan's, By-Water, New Orleans