Gutterpunk bluegrass buskers in the French Quarter


47 Responses to “Gutterpunk bluegrass buskers in the French Quarter”

  1. igled says:

    I wonder if they are from Juan’s Flying Burrito home of “the gutterpunk”

    “Gutter Punk ground beef, pinto beans, white rice, salsa, jack and cheddar cheese, sour cream and lettuce 6.95″

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m in love with that cutie fiddle player

  3. Ichabod says:

    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!

  4. echolocate chocolate says:


  5. sapere_aude says:

    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.

  6. urpBurp says:

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

    … and Yes, those are their superhero names :)

  7. Nom_de_Guerre says:

    What a cool find, I’m an instant fan

  8. Clayton says:

    Not bluegrass – especially with that awful banjo. Otherwise, they’re fun.

  9. Glaurung says:

    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.

  10. xogo says:

    Takes me back to one of my all time faves: Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes.

  11. EliZ says:

    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?

  12. Anonymous says:

    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!

  13. EliZ says:

    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.

  14. BethNOLA says:

    Kept thinking, why is Cory Doctorow in NOLA?

    Neil Gaiman’s 50th birthday party?

  15. BethNOLA says:

    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.

  16. gluther says:

    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.

  17. narrowstreetsLA says:

    These guys are pretty nifty too, and along the same lines. Asheville, NC.

    • Rich Keller says:

      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.

  18. cosmic_kiiljoy says:

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

  19. Anonymous says:

    For more of the guitarist and banjo player look up “lil maxwell and the malt liquors”

  20. Anonymous says:

    oh, i am sure they wouldn’t like to be called gutter punx

  21. Anonymous says:

    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.

  22. EliZ says:

    Oh, BTW, and I swear I’ll quit commenting now ;-) it’s Natchez On Fire, not nachos.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

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

      • EliZ says:

        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.

  23. DrPretto says:

    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).

  24. Tom Fury says:

    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 …

  25. Anonymous says:

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

  26. Anonymous says:

    sweet…ever hear or see “larry and his flask”

  27. glace neuf says:

    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 :)

  28. VoiceUXGuy says:

    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.

  29. Billy Blight says:

    There are a million of these groups in the French Quarter on any given afternoon.

  30. Spinkter says:

    A nit: This isn’t Bluegrass; it’s Old Time. Excellent nonetheless.

  31. Anonymous says:

    if you like these guys, check out the cardboard songsters
    pretty swank digs

  32. Anonymous says:

    Nice, also check out a band on Bloodshot called Devil in a Woodpile. Great stuff

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