I read a couple of reviews of Bourbon Street, and I had to write my own because those poor people just didn't do their research, and ended up missing the best aspects of the French Quarter.
For one, you are going to find a "variety" of music on Bourbon Street, and not just Dixieland Jazz. That's history. New Orleans has always played to an audience, and they are going to play the music that attracts people with their money to their city. Right now, not as many people want to hear the old standards, but they do want to hear "their" music. That's why you hear the variety of music, and the different styles coming from various establishments.
If you want to hear the jazz, go to Preservation Hall, or just listen for the sounds of what you want to hear, and follow them to the respective establishment form where it comes. If you want to hear what the locals like, go a few blocks toward the river, and a few blocks downtown, (downtown is the part of town "down river"), to Frenchmen Street. Frenchman Street is more likely to have the banjos, the washboards, and the trumpets. Most importantly, do your homework!
On another point, I heard one woman comment about the "smell" of New Orleans. The "smell" you sometimes smell comes from the fact that there are no "alleys" for the establishments on Bourbon Street. That's because this is one of the oldest parts of one of the oldest cities in the nation. It was built in a time when alleys were neither needed, nor used. In keeping with the historic nature of the area, the city decided not to tear down any historic buildings in order to make alleys. As a result, all of the trash of the city ends up in the street, but that's OK because shop owners clear out the streets and hose them down every day. Those smelly streets are actually cleaner than the streets of most cities. Besides, the smell you smell is the smell of history, and, believe me, it was probably a lot worse when the streets were made of mud, people emptied their chamber pots out the window and into the street, and horses evacuated their bowels on a regular basis. Frankly, the streets of New Orleans at their worse smell no worse than any alleyway anywhere else in the country, and I, for one, have come to associate that smell with the good times I've had in the Quarter. I also associate them with the smell of history; something I really love. If you don't believe me, do your homework!
When tourists open their minds, they find the beauty of New Orleans and the Vieux Carre is that it is all history during the day, and all party once the Sun goes down. There is so much marvelous American history to explore all around the Quarter all day long - The WWII Museum, The Civil War Museum, The Mint, The Beauregard House, the Ursuline Nuns, the Chalmette Battlefield, the Presbytere, the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral, Cafe du Monde, Jackson Square, and so many more. Then, at night, they block off the streets, and let tourists enjoy the hospitality of New Orleans in a way no other city I now of does - right in the streets like a huge block party, surrounded by all of that history. It is a wonderful place to take a step back in time, and really feel what it must have been like to have lived in the city in some wonderful day gone by. Like all of the attractions in the area, Bourbon Street is a wonderful, eye-opening experience for Americans of all ages, and it always will be. You just have to do your research, learn your history, and open your mind. The rest will fall into place.
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