30/90, Cafe Negril, Spotted Cat

Hannah’s Three-Venue Runaround

In many places where the music industry thrives, bands and businesses are competitive, proprietary, or just plain isolated from one another. Frenchmen Street, on the other hand, has traditionally subscribed to the “borrow a cup of sugar” model…

Curtis Casados, a longtime bartender who’s worked at various Frenchmen locations over the years (read his Spotted Cat storm story here), has always been struck by the camaraderie he’s felt on the street. “Frenchmen itself was just a big large family,” he says. “We all intermingled and drank together. We’d borrow bottles of liquor across the street, or towels, or whatever. It was like, ‘Hey, can I borrow a cup of sugar?’”

The principle applies to musicians as well. One thing that even a new-to-town tourist can observe after a couple days of hanging out on Frenchmen is the way all the same people show up playing in various combinations under various names up and down the street.  

Hannah Kreiger-Benson, a local piano player and one of the authors of this tour, describes an ‘only-on-Frenchmen’ experience she had one night that illustrates this point perfectly. 

“So, I was playing with a band at 30*90, and our gig was 5-8, I think, yeah. This was in…2017? 2018? In the middle of our gig, a guy comes running in, says he works at Cafe Negril, [next block, same side of the street], and that their booking from 7-10, the band they’d booked, couldn’t come. He asked did we want to come play at Negril as soon as we finished, from like 8ish until 10, so that they’d only have half an empty music slot. We said sure, why not!” 

The density of venues on Frenchmen St. allows for this kind of interactions, with the physical proximity creating almost one large entity. Hannah continues:

“We finished at 30*90, and then did this like goofy running-down-the-street-with-our-gear parade [laughs] it didn’t make sense to properly pack up/break down, so we just carried the gear down the street in batches. Like, guitar not in the case in one hand, guitar stand in the other hand. And then as we got set up at Negril, we realized that there weren’t enoughvmic cables. Since the same folks managed Negril and the Spotted Cat, [diagonally across the street], the manager or whoever this guy was, he and I run across to borrow a mic cable from the [Spotted] Cat. There was a band in full swing, I think it was Panorama, and I literally crawled in front of the low stage, to rummage in the bin of spare cables on the floor. I remember looking up at Ben Schenck [clarinet and bandleader for Panorama], and I was like like ‘hi Ben, ‘scuse us, pardon me…’ and he was sort of bemused, like ‘uh, oh hello musician I know who’s doing some undignified nonsense on the floor’. 

We got the cable and played a fun half-set at Negril. That whole sequence really, you know, captured the… interconnectedness of Frenchmen! [laughs]”



Chartres & Frenchmen