Ah! The Big Easy. A quick enough drive or even faster flight from the Red Bandit HQ for a little rest and relaxation (or a friend’s wedding) as was the case this trip. Of the many tourist locations in NOLA, (many of which will arrive in future boombox posts), Bourbon Street happens to be among the top 3 for most adults above a legal drinking age. Bourbon Street is where you let the good times roll with a touristy tropical drink (Hurricane, Hand Grenade or even a Big A__ Beer (name censored for content) and a stroll down a packed street. Street performers play alongside the curbs, hopefully ruffling enough dough from strangers to make rent and a hot meal. Maybe it’s a group of musicians, maybe it’s a sword swallower, maybe it’s a hip hop gymnastics group trying to fund their trip to Disney.
You stop in a variety of clubs, bars, karaoke joints as you head east of Canal and deeper into the French quarter. As there is no closing time in New Orleans, unlike my native Texas, the party keeps moving for as long as you’d like it to. But ultimately, the final destination for a night of drinking, dancing and general debauchery leads you to the light at the end of the multi block journey is Clover Grill.
Clover sits as a staple corner positioned diner which takes us back to a mash up of things I know and a transport to another year. It’s part place to grab something that will sober you up before the cab ride back to the hotel. In that sense, the waitstaff is a matter of fact type, because of the volume required to turn booth or counter seats for what inevitably be a small crowd waiting for your spot.
Clover is also the same place that operates on a cash only basis and will cover your burger patty with a vintage hubcap on it’s grill to promise a juicy and delicious meat patty on your plate. What they may lack in extended hospitality by giving you tons of time, they make up for in amazing food.
Admittedly, the hero of this cozy diner is not only that it is open 24 hours, but that it overall seems a little underwhelming to the untrained eye. But it delivers time and time again. It has a following and the people who know will swear by it. Which as a great segue leads to our track for the week.
I initially became familiar with Kid Koala when I listened to Deltron 3030, a 3 part supergroup of 2 DJ’s and an MC, but also more recently watched 2017’s “Baby Driver“. Kid Koala, otherwise known as Eric, had a couple of tracks on the OST that not only provided context for plot points in the film, but which stood out as some real bangers using unlikely sources of sound. On a side note, I totally recommend the film if you get a chance and haven’t already seen it.
So, a couple of months after the premier of “Baby Driver”, I found out about a live show called “Nufonia Must Fall”, a decade old live adaptation of Eric’s graphic novel project which includes an entire story and soundtrack involving live action robot puppetry. Yes, I said robot puppetry. With a straight face. And yes, you should check it out because it is a great narrative with a team of highly talented professionals in their element. Instead of my words failing to do it justice, just click here. See it when it comes to your city.
The track is a Kid Koala rendition of a 1928 jazz song penned by Spencer Williams. Eric’s rendition pairs the scratches of a turntable with the slow jazz the tune normally takes. While hip hop has notably sampled portions of songs from the Blue Note catalogue, this rendition is special in my eyes because it almost is more ode to the original than just a sample for another purpose.
It is simple yet significant. Stylistic and suave. Which in many ways explains how I perceive Kid Koala’s career. Maybe you have never heard of him until today, or maybe you are a long time fan that can attest to the many projects he has had a hand in shaping. But he is the light at the end of a dark street filled with people losing their minds to let “the good times roll”. But what waits for you is consistent, no nonsense, and the thing that will prepare you for the next part of your journey; be it the cab ride home, to the next location away from Bourbon Street, or even just enjoying the moment on the counter stool watching a master on the Diner grill or set of concert turntables.