- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — She’s flipping sausages and eggs over easy in the oppressive heat of the Clover Grill. Hips moving slightly, lips smiling, Tyshiaka Hayes dances in between the counter and grill to a Michael Jackson song booming from the wall speakers.

“That’s my music! M.J.!” she says raising her hands to the ceiling, laughing. She’s alive.

This is a place where burgers sizzle under hub caps, where the sweat soaks your body through to the shirt and runs down the small of your back. A place for making eye contact and having sweet conversations with people you hardly know. This is a place with soul. It’s a place where local musicians and state troopers alike come in for breakfast here in the French Quarter.

On Canal in the late afternoon, the street is full of sweet jazz, a sound that you know is live because of the crash of the drum cymbal and the crisp crack of the snare.

There they were, at the corner of Canal and Bourbon. Kids. High school age, some, jamming on the shady side of the sidewalk, the side every one walks on to escape the grudging sun.

Sean Roberts wears a towel on his head as he screams on the trumpet, his fingers move on the valves with grace and speed, his cheeks like softballs, the others are playing like it was their last day on earth.

About a dozen kids, friends from two different jazz bands, the To Be

Continued Brass Band and The Truth. In the middle of Bourbon Street, the impromptu concert inspired a man in dreadlocks to jump and spin in mid-air.

He wasn’t alone in his appreciation for the young musicians: Tourists reached into their pockets to offer cash, librarians stopped and tapped their toes on the hot pavement, and Louisiana State Troopers in their neat blue uniforms with tidy yellow striping and handsome hats paused to enjoy the magic.

In his father’s arms, T. Torregano, Jr., is swaying to the beat, liquid eyes look upward into the heat as the band plays on here on the corner. A car passes by in a hurry motoring past the organic soul pouring out from the melodies of the youth. He doesn’t stop, and it is his loss.

Here in New Orleans, the notes on a measure of music are interwoven with the heartbeat of the people who have made this city their home.

As Tyshiaka dances to the music in her head while working the grill for local saviors, the kids too play on, and New Orleans, like the music of life itself, is … to be continued.


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