Laura Caypouette continues her ongoing conversation with Jeff Dowd, the man behind The Big Lebowski's Dude. This week, the Dude fills us in on his take on music in New Orleans and parts elsewhere, and makes some crazy claims about seafood!
LC: What is your favorite musical experience of New Orleans?
JD: I may not get names right, but what street is over near the river, Oak Street or something?
LC: There's a bar over there called Maple Leaf. Is that what you're thinking of?
JD: Yeah, like where Maple Leaf is, I remember seeing, oh man, it's all gonna blur in, but I remember seeing somebody like (???) at two in the morning. And I remember going to a place with a ceiling that I could almost touch with my hand and about 80 people dancing with a band that had like, you know, it was one of those bands that was like really funky with like 12 people and half of them were over 60 years old, you know?
JD: That was such an iconic memorable experience, being there like two or three in the morning. This was after Jazz Fest and after you go out to eat and after everybody wants to walk down Bourbon Street, get out and soak it up, you know, and get out of the Quarter, go to Tipitina's and stuff like that. But that experience of going to what was ostensibly a shack, you know, your living room almost, and having 50 people there with a band, no stage, just standing there playing, you know. I mean, it just…
LC: Yeah, I know, and it happens every night here all over the city.
JD: That's what I'm saying'. I'm also saying, like you know Seattle, there's like four or five music cities in the United States (??? mumble ??? band?). One of them's Austin's obviously. Although, you walk down 6th Street now, it's like five discos. (??? some block filled with ???). But, Austin, Seattle, Chicago, and New York and L.A. to a certain degree, and, I don't know much about Miami lately, I know they've got a lot of Latino music there.
You know, one of the reasons we (???) in Seattle had a lot to do with this whole bar/music scene. And we had that whole scene going on in Ithica. There were a lot of great musicians there and we took on the firehouse and turned it into a bar. We had this old firehouse with an old truck and a fire pole and all that stuff, really cool.
So, I really lived in Seattle from the age of like, 20, to whatever, you know, 30 or something like that around the mid to late 70's. And, everywhere you went, there were cool bands in all kinds of places and that was a progenitor to like, Pearl Jam, and all that kind of stuff. It looked the same in Seattle then, you know people didn't look any different than like the grunge look that came later.
JD: Except, of course, for the Disco years.
JD: There's a few years for those of us that went that direction, a little "glam" and the other kinds of stuff. Yeah, anyhow, so to me, Seattle, and by the way, I'l go so far as Seattle has ten times better, more, more seafood than New Orleans. Not better, not better.
LC: Yeah, but they don't know how to prepare it. And it's not as sweet.
JD: They get everything from Alaska and everything from the Pacific Northwest.
LC: You can tell the difference between cold water and hot water, because hot water animals just are sweeter, man, they're just sweeter.
JD: Yeah, yeah, let me rescind that, strike that from the record. New Orleans is a great seafood town, but Seattle is too. And when you say they don't know how to prepare it, of course they don't have the restaurants and the chefs, you do now really, but (something about a "money man" and "all those people want to live there and shit") so they've got a lot of chefs there now, but we knew how to prepare it.
And look, if you're into salmon, Seattle's the place to be, okay? And if you get into the (???) stuff and the Copper River stuff, you ain't gonna get much sweeter than that (??? "Copper River sandwich" mumble???). So, uh, I actually met the guy that found that Copper River stuff, he was the one who was doing it, realized he could do it, but anyhow, if you go to a Seattle market, everywhere, you see the guys throwing the fish and stuff and you look at the ice stuff and those funky things like gooey ducks that look like, you know, 40 inch long penises, and a big clam, you know, but it would've been cool, like, calamari. I mean, it's the same deal, you cut 'em like calamari except they're bigger.
So Seattle, so I kind of have the experience of some of the best years of my life, not best, but (???fulfilling???) young and free and all that kinda stuff, we had a huge music scene in Seattle and a huge food scene and a huge community scene… And, Jimi Hendrix was a Seattle native…
Jimi Hendrix said one time, "I once got so high, I had to take another hit to bring me back around to normal. (Me laughing/him mumbling ??? Jimi Hendrix story) So, my girlfriend, Kevin, who is quite the woman, named Kevin after (???ishner???), born "underground" in the 50's and Kevin, who went to the same high school, Garfield, that Jimi Hendrix did (???) and Jimi comes back, wants to play, but I don't know if you know this story, but when Jimi was in his first, first band he ever played in, he was in tenth grade and they were playin' in some Jewish temple (???) and at the first break, the band goes back with Jimi and they kick him out of the band.
LC: You're kidding.
JD: No, 'cause he's Jimi Hendrix and they're doin' like covers of who-knows-what? So Jimi got kicked out of his first band at his first gig at the first break. Jimi Hendrix (laughing).
LC: Well, my dad said that when he was a kid in Louisiana here in Baton Rouge, that they had these, um, high school dances or whatever and, you know, the really good people would play the prom and homecoming, but the okay people would play, like, the Valentine's Day dance.
LC: That was Chuck Berry.
LC: Yeah, he wasn't good enough for the prom.
JD: Exactly. Exactly. Chuck is so cool, you know, Chuck is the guy that invented, you know how he plays when he goes on the road, right?
JD: Chuck doesn't take a band, he's too cheap, right? And so what he does is just takes his act, shows up at every town and he has a local band play because – what local band can't cover Chuck Berry perfectly? Every band worth their salt can play Chuck Berry. I mean, that's how they all learn, right?
Next week, The Dude explains how the Huxtables led to Obama getting elected and continues to share his love for New Orleans.