26 May 2015


One morning in April 2015, Tuba Skinny had agreed to play some street music ('busk', as we say in England) on Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. But when Shaye Cohn showed up, nobody else had arrived. Undeterred, she took out her violin and started to play all alone.

A few minutes later, Jonathan Doyle, the great clarinet player, arrived and joined her. So the two of them played as a duet, improvising a fast 12-bar blues in the key of D.

But it wasn't long before five other members of Tuba Skinny arrived. Shaye switched to her cornet, and away they went, giving a concert that witnesses told me was absolutely brilliant.

Here is one of the tunes filmed by the great video-maker digitalalexa at the time:
When I heard about this concert, I was bitterly disappointed to have missed the performance. I was in New Orleans but happened to be in a different part of the City at the time.

But my friends David Wiseman and Bill Stock, both from England, were there and told me about it. Bill took the pictures above and kindly let me have them. He gave me this additional background to the story:
The busk was on Friday, the first main day of the French Quarter Festival. At his hotel in North Rampart Street, Alan Bates bumped into Todd, complete with tuba. Todd was visiting his Mum who was staying at the same hotel. He confirmed TS would be out in Royal Street from 11am.  Alan phoned me and we rallied the troops. We set off in search but were disappointed that there was no sign of the band at their usual spots. I then saw Jon Doyle on his bike, pedalling fast along Royal. We  flagged him down and he said that Shaye had called the band to the corner of Royal and Bienville Street. And that is where the story started. Their usual spots had been taken by other buskers but Shaye had obviously carried out an early recce to  find this location.

Things got better for me. A few hours later I saw Tuba Skinny playing in a Frenchmen Street bar. I also attended two more of their concerts.