New Orleans is hot and humid especially in the summertime. The best way to cool down is to stay inside your house or step into an art gallery or record store where there would be music playing. On the weekends, my Mom would drive me to Jackson Square in New Orleans . The historic Saint Louis Cathedral is located there.  Around the square, artists have their paintings for sale. Sometime in 1988, I bought my first painting by an artist named C, Passage. The painting was of the garden at the Hotel Maison Deville in the French Quarter. He was selling the painting for $75.  I wanted the painting at a cheaper price so I stood there and kept looking at the painting. I told him how much I enjoyed the colors. Whatever I said or did must have worked because he offered the painting for $35. I still have and enjoy this painting for almost thirty years, it’s propped on a shelf in my house.  My Mom took me to see the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Irma Thomas at either Audubon Zoo or park. I was introduced to the traditional  New Orleans jazz of sax, trombone, horns, and drums with an uptempo rhythm that made you feel good, I met the members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band afterwards and told them how much I enjoyed their music. I enjoyed the rhythm and blues  songs of Irma Thomas. I was very fortunate to have someone with great musical taste, glad my Mom took me to see the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Irma Thomas. For my sixteenth birthday, I wanted to go to the New Orleans Jazz& Heritage Fesitival. At the time, I was into Robert Cray who had a popular song  ” Smoking Gun”.  Sometime in May at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, I was lucky to see Etta James, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Robert Cray.  I was familiar with Etta James. My Mom had a copy of her great live album called ” Rocks The House” which had great tracks like ” Seven Day Fool” or ” Something’s Got A Hold Of Me. She also did a cover of “I Just Want To Make Love To You” by Jimmy Reed. Watching Etta James at the Jazz and Heritage festival was great. About thirty or more years after ” Rocks The House”, she still had a great voice and stage presence, soulful and rocking.  After Etta James, it was the Fabulous Thunderbirds who featured the older brother of Stevie Ray Vaughn named Jimmy.  The band played their style of Texas blues with a rocking feel. My favorite songs were ” Tuff Enuff” and their version of ” Wrap It Up” which was originally done by Sam& Dave.  The Fabulous Thunderbirds wrapped up their set. Then, Robert Cray took the stage and played songs from his recent album ” Strong Persuader” which featured ” Smoking Gun” and my personal favorite ” Right Next Door( Because Of Me). He played some older songs like ” Bad Influence”.  By this time, I was close to the stage and had a great view of the band, this gave me a great memory. Over a year later , my first music review for the Maury High School newspaper in Norfolk would be Robert Cray’s followup to ” Strong Persuader” called ” Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” . Twenty seven years after seeing Robert Cray in New Orleans, I would see him perform at the Peace Center in Greenville. When I moved to Mandeville,  one of the first songs I bought was the new single by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey called ” Easy Lover. The song had a great bass guitar line and guitar parts. The drumming was very good. I enjoyed the vocals of Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. Naively, I dedicated this song to someone at a junior high dance, I later found out what the lyrics meant. I thought she would enjoy the song because it was danceable and this sounds cliche-it had a great beat or rhythm.  This was a teachable  moment for me.  After that, before dedicating a song, I would listen to the lyrics so I would not make the same mistake.  Someone would not get the wrong idea, become annoyed or upset and have their boyfriend talk to me.  Back to Phil Collins and Philip Bailey, I was familiar with Earth, Wind and Fire and Genesis. I had heard ” Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind  and Fire and ” That’s All” by Genesis on the radio. I wanted to know more about the band called Genesis. This is hard to believe for people who are teenagers now. There was no internet or music app where you could learn about bands, you had to read books or magazines to find more information about older and newer bands.  I bought a book about Genesis and was shocked to learn that Peter Gabriel was a member of this band.  Genesis had a guitarist named Steve Hackett who played on their earlier albums. Steve Hackett would be my first concert experience when he would play at the Saenger Theater with GTR in the summer of 1986.  At the time GTR’s big song was ” When The Heart Rules The Mind”. My brothers attended the concert with me. The opening acts were Steve Hackett playing acoustic material from his solo albums and his former band Genesis and Steve Howe who was a member of GTR playing acoustic material from his solo albums  and from his other band called Yes.  To be honest,  I enjoyed Steve Hackett’s acoustic material played on a guitar with nylon strings, had a mixture of Flamenco and Classical like Segovia, relaxing and engaging. Years later, I wrote him a letter and told hm how  much I enjoyed his music and that his music inspired my poems.  He wrote me and told me that he was glad that he inspired my poetry. Also, I have autographed copies of  his later albums-” From The Tunnel’s Mouth ” and ” Wolflight” . A good example of his acoustic playing are his albums ” Bay Of Kings”, “Momentum” and ” Metamorpheus”.  While on the subject of Genesis, I was introduced to Peter Gabriel who was the original singer of Genesis by purchasing his albums at Sound Shop at the Hammond Mall and at a local record and tape store called Sound Trak in Mandeville. The two albums I purchased and enjoyed were Peter Gabriel 3 or the melting face cover and Peter Gabriel 4 or known as ” Security”. My favorite songs on 3 were ” Games Without Frontiers”, ” Not One Of Us” and ” Biko”. ” Games Without Frontiers” introduced me to the vocals of Kate Bush.  I enjoyed the  lyrics about children playing silly games. I could identify with the lyrics of ” Not One Of Us” -not feeling you were part of the group which made me feel better. Someone knew how I felt. The song ” Biko” made me aware of the death of anti -apartheid activist Steve Biko in 1977. The song inspired me to learn about the anti-apartheid movement which was the South African version of the civil rights movement in America. I was familiar with some of the songs on 4 or “Security”, I remember hearing ” Shock The Monkey” when I lived in California. The opening track of the album” Rhythm Of The Heat” had this percussive beat that reminded me of Senegal, though the drummers were from Ghana.  The other track I enjoyed was  “Wallflower” which was either about a political prisoner or a patient at a mental hospital. It may have been before or after purchasing the album that I heard instrumental tracks from this album and the previous album  while watching  the film “Birdy” , Peter Gabriel composed and performed the music soundtrack for the film. ” Birdy” was based on  a book by William Wharton. After  seeing the film, I read the book by William Wharton. He has been an influence on my writing and is one of my favorite authors. In Norfolk, I would read a book called ” Dad”  by William Wharton that I enjoyed and I could identify with the characters. The book is about three generations in a family-the grandfather, father and grandson. Each chapter is told from a different perspective. It might be the grandfaher talking in one chapter. The next chapter might have the father who is the son of the grandfather talking.  The chapter after that would have the grandson talking. Though they were different ages, they were going through the same issues, dealing with the world around them.  At the time when I was living in Norfolk, my grandfather was living with us so I could identify with the characters.  Years later, while working at the Beaufort county library, I found a hardcover first edition of the book in the free book section. I picked the book up and took it home where I enjoy rereading the book.In 1986,  I was listening to a Classical station from the University of New Orleans.  The station would play avant garde composers like John Adams or Philip Glass. I enjoyed the minimalistic and complex compositions by Philip Glass. In the summer of 1986, I read that Philip Glass would be giving a lecture and presentation at Loyola University. I asked my Mom to drive me there so I could attend the event. Philip Glass gave a lecture where he discussed his compostions and played excerpts from his operatic works. After the lecture , there was a question and answer session, I asked him what album would he recommend as an introduction to his compositions. He recommended ” Glassworks”.  Also, I asked for his autograph . He graciously obliged and gave me his autograph which I still have. Lastly, a record shop I would frequent in the French Quarter was Record Ron’s which was owned by a big intimidating yet friendly man named Ron. He had gray hair in a ponytail and a beard. I made many purchases at his store. This was my introduction to obscure bands like Jade Warrior and Nektar. The reason why I bought these albums is that they were cheap and I liked Jade Warrior’s album covers.  Record Ron had a great promotion or incentive for customers. If you saved your bags from Record Ron’s- a minimum of ten bags would get you a free album. So I saved my bags until there were ten. Then , I received a free album. Also, I had him sign the bag which had an illustration of him. I still have the bag. The heat of New Orleans inspires a rhythm of  creativity of art and music.. I was fortunate to hear the different sounds of music and appreciate art from Jackson Square.