I couldn’t remember their name and kept calling them Hat Trick for some reason. Hallelujah Hat Rack is a line in the Grateful Dead song The Eleven (named for its meter). This is probably the most obscure reference lent to a cover band name that I’ve come across. They were booked as an after party to follow the Dead & Company show in New Orleans on a Tuesday night.
Originally I came to town for work. Bonus that the Dead were in town and that I was staying across the street from the venue! Even better, the poster for this show was my favorite from the entire tour. I’m not a big poster fan (I love art but won’t line up early for a poster nor do I have an abundance of walls) but it was cool and had my favorite colors in it.
All those plans came tumbling down.
I landed in New Orleans Tuesday morning with the day free. Sometime between the plane landing and the Lyft taking off, I manage to score a ticket online. Concerts are cheaper here! $45?! That show is $90 in NYC! Woohoo! Check-in, drop the bags, and walk the town. First stop, Killer Po boys… Closed on Tuesday. Boo. Found a bite (and some dessert) while strolling through town admitting the tie-dye everywhere. Basically, like Mardi Gras but since the town was otherwise empty, the heads took precedent. After a few hours of browsing the pharmacy Museum, antique stores, art galleries, and more snacks I catch the eye of a fellow fan who was frowning and shaking his head. I approached.
“What are we gonna do man?” he asks.
Uh oh, was my first thought.
“You didn’t hear? Show’s canceled. Mayer needs an appendectomy.”
We discuss contingencies. A few decades ago they would have opened the lot anyway and let us camp. People had come in from all over and were at least grateful that New Orleans had plenty to offer, even on the off, off, offseason. I text my contact at Hat Rack to confirm they’re still on. The rest of the day was filled with inviting folk to the after party (aka the only party).
11 pm rolls around and I’ve already walked close to ten miles today. Up and down the streets you see different things each time you pass. the BMC is a typical New Orleans street venue. Free admission, big bar, and open doors inviting any and everyone in. If you’ve seen 6th street in Austin or South Beach, Miami you know what I mean.
The Dapper Dandies were finishing their set and they probably do sound like whatever came to mind first. The heads descended and looked for seats inside to little avail. No worries, standing, dancing, we’re ready even if it’s on the streets. Now fast friends with visitors from Buffalo, Cali, Tennessee, Florida, and beyond, we danced on the sidewalk under the balcony and in the street to the tunes we had been waiting so long for.
I honestly forget the set but had a blast being with everyone throughout the night. People came and went through the door passed our sidewalk crew dancing to stay warm and singing away. We speculated on the fate of the upcoming shows (which have since been postponed untilearly 2018) and reminisced about our favorite shows of the tour so far.
Once again I’m left basking in the glow of fandom who keep me smiling and warm on a dark sidewalk in December. I’ve found a new local cover band who I can recommend and reconnected with the spirit of the music and community which I love so much.0 likes