Gutterpunk bluegrass buskers in the French Quarter

Today in New Orleans French Quarter, I shot this short video of the gutterpunk busker-band Natchez on Fire performing "Red Rocking Chair." I was completely blown away by their performance, arrangements, vocals, and playlists. I can't locate any more info on them online, but I'll be looking for them.

Natchez on Fire



  1. definitely not the best traveler group on royal street.
    the cake is taken by Tuba Skinny. yall should check them out.

  2. Enjoyed the music, and the parade of people and vehicles passing by in the background. Including a bride with a bearded non-groom companion around 1:40 :)

  3. Yee haw! The “check out how old-timey I am” thing can get a bit tired for me, but these guys wear it well. Very entertaining. Thanks.

  4. I wish I lived in a city where it was common to encounter this sort of thing on an ordinary city street on any ordinary day. But, alas, unless there’s some sort of arts or music festival in town, you just don’t see this where I live.

    BTW, I wonder why the washboard player and the fiddle player looked so bored.

  5. Could “Washboard Boy” and “Violin Girl” look any more bored?

    … and Yes, those are their superhero names :)

  6. igled, don’t remind me what I’m missing by not living in New Orleans anymore! Juan’s has the best burritos and guacamole ever.

  7. obeyken, “old time” is a late-19th/early-20th century catch-all. Church-music, hillbilly, ballads, barn-dance, parlor tunes . . . Everything that went into the repertoire of amateur and/or itinerant performers who played parties, weddings, barrooms . . . wherever. Old-time gathered a bunch of bits, and distilled from that mix were country, rock, folk, bluegrass . . .

    Clayton, gotta disagree on the banjo. That’s a classic style.

    Cory . . . not bluegrass, not gutterpunks . . . but you got the “buskers” and “French Quarter” right! Yay!

  8. Loved the music! I’ll keep an eye out for them and drop some bills in the hat.

    A minor quibble: these folks aren’t “gutterpunks.” They’re clean, for one thing. And they provide something in return for the money they seek. The Quarter is plagued by gutterpunks, and they’re not the delightful performers we see in this video. They threaten and bully passersby and have made parts of Decatur Street unpassable in the evenings. There’s nothing hip or cool or interesting about them.

    During the first year or so after the storm, there were Help Wanted signs on every shop; New Orleans desperately needed workers. Gutterpunks flocked in from out of town, ignored those opportunities and instead demanded money from people struggling to rebuild their shattered lives. They stretched out across the sidewalks on darkened streets, and created a hostile zone throughout the lower Quarter. One group of gutterpunks squatted in a house whose owners had evacuated, put a handmade sign on their truck reading “Animal Rescue” and went through the Bywater looting empty homes, using their rescue front to deflect police and National Guard inquires. They’re parasites.

    I can see where an imaginative writer from out of town might romanticize the term, out of ignorance of what it means in the real world. But if you’re visiting New Orleans and a local tells you to cross the street and avoid the gutterpunks, they’re not being silly; they mean it.

  9. We could get even more nit-picky about genre and say it’s jug-band/vaudeville, since the banjo’s all strummy and plectrum-style.

    1. My wife and I saw Sweet Street Symphony, also from New Orleans, in Asheville last May. They have a similar feel and played a crazy version of Bei Mir Bist du Schoen that I really liked. I listen to their CD in the car fairly often.

  10. Yeah, these folks are too clean to be gutterpunks and they don’t have a sign that says, “give me money for beer”.

  11. Let me guess:
    They are TIME TRAVELLERS (from the past), Where is their Time Machine?
    They have talent, I wish them Good luck (Hope they stay on Our Time).

  12. First off they are not gutter punks, they are not begging unwashed nor drunken and abusive.

    Second as was mentioned, not really bluegrass more bluegrass/oldtime/jazz.

    Third they rock!

  13. That pink haired violinist is my friend, Elena, absolutely the best violinist I’ve known – and I am also friends with the assistant choirmaster for the philharmonic, here (Sorry, Hannah, but you did call her a rockstar!)

    Her myspace is and I have two or three music videos that I shot of her. Anyone want an interview?

      1. A healthy mix of the two is best. I don’t know if Elena’s harmless, but she’s definitely friendly and good people. The rest of her band, that I have met, are also good folks – very nice, friendly, inclusive.

        – Eli

  14. Oh, snap – I just realized that means Cory is in NOLA! Get in touch with me on facebook (elias danger zwillenberg) and I’ll get you in touch with them. Incidentally, Neil Gaimann is here with his wife right now if you should want to try to chat him up, too.

      1. Methinks – though I don’t know either of them personally, they were sitting together at Cafe Envie. Not that that and marriage are at all related.

        BTW, the article with his library here on BB was epic.

  15. The fiddle player is a friend. She travels between NOLA and Seattle and some places between, playing with various people and busking solo. I’m pretty sure “Nachos on Fire” is some kids she started traveling/hanging out with. Most band she’s in don’t last very long, people gotta travel their own ways in their own time.

    1. Thanks!Just fixed the band-name. I’m actually in town for Neil’s birthday party (which was wonderful)!

      1. You are welcome. Elena’s psyched about being on the bESTbLOG, and I would love nothing more (well – maybe being invited to Neil’s party next year so I can have his autograph tattooed on me) than to introduce you two, get you more video and an interview or anything else you like.

        Feel free to contact me… hell, feel urged, lassoed, yanked, compelled by the power of zombie Jesus.

  16. You’re in NOLA? Man, I am sooooo jealous – it’s the greatest city in the world. Don’t miss eating at Mena’s Palace!

    Great band, by the way, love that old timey music …

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