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Aug 11, 200903:54 PM
After Hours

New Orleans Finest Nightlife

Getting to "the Point" for Free Music

Ian McNulty photograph

Old Algiers Point seemed oddly quiet as we pedaled bicycles through its streets on a recent Wednesday. The early-evening sky looked mellow through the filter of the trees lining the neighborhood streets, and the houses were beautiful with their copious gingerbread details and neat front gardens. But it seemed odd that no one was about, not walking their dogs or pushing baby strollers as you might expect at this after-work hour on a weeknight.

Then, suddenly, it all became clear when we turned the corner and found them. Just about everyone in Old Algiers Point was already at the destination where we were headed, running a bit late as usual.

The moms and dads, the single people and empty-nesters, the teenagers and the toddlers, the college students, the contractors and the CBD professionals –– all of them were gathered for this recent rendition of Wednesdays on the Point, listening to music; drinking beer and wine; and socializing outside, block-party-style.

Wednesdays on the Point is a free weekly concert series, and it's been going on outside different restaurants and bars in Old Algiers Point each Wednesday since late June. I was turned on to this rather late in the game, but there is still one last concert left on calendar, and it's tonight, Aug. 12.

For this season finale, R&B singer Betty Harris is scheduled to perform at the Old Point Bar, the big, vintage wood-lined music hall and watering hole facing the Algiers levee at 545 Patterson St. As always, the event is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and admission is free.

The easy after-work time slot, the mid-week break, the all-inclusive nature of the outdoor gathering and the great music all make this a sweetheart of an event. There is a small-town feel to it, which is one of the reasons some Algerines cite for living in their neighborhood in the first place.

The last Wednesdays on the Point event I attended featured bluegrass duo Jeff & Vida playing outside Gulf Pizza, a tiny pizza joint built in an old filling station in the heart of the neighborhood. People brought their own folding chairs and bought cups of beer from a keg truck and wine from a little stands set up over a café table. The restaurant sold pizza by the slice, and everywhere people were chatting, visiting and soaking up the good vibes.

It seemed like most people walked or rode bicycles to the event I attended, and when it was all over, people just packed up and strolled home or perhaps went out to the next stop on a suddenly fun Wednesday night.

For people attending from the east bank of the river, getting there is part of the fun, if not literally half of it. Coming from Mid-City, I simply pedaled my bicycle down Canal Street to the ferry, walked the bike onboard and enjoyed the city's greatest free air conditioning during the vessel's brisk, short jog across the Mississippi. The Wednesdays on the Point venues are all easy walking or biking distance from the Algiers-side ferry landing. In fact, for tonight's Old Point Bar destination, you can just stroll or pedal along the path on top of the levee for a few blocks downriver until you spot the crowd.

On the return ferry trip, after the recent Jeff & Vida concert wrapped, the open-air deck was filled with people who had been to the event, talking to each other about how they really need to get over to Old Algiers Point more often. Tonight is a golden opportunity to do just that.

Remember, the ferry leaves Canal Street at quarter-'til and quarter-past the hour (i.e., 5:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.) and makes the return trip back from Algiers Point on the hour and the half hour, (i.e., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.)

 

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After Hours

New Orleans Finest Nightlife

about

Ian McNultyA transplant from his native Rhode Island, Ian McNulty quickly discovered how easy it is to strike up conversations with New Orleans people simply by asking about their favorite clubs and neighborhood joints.

He asked often, listened carefully and has been exploring the nightlife of the Crescent City ever since.

McNulty was the editor and principal contributor to Hungry? Thirsty? New Orleans, a guidebook to nightspots and inexpensive restaurants around town. He is also author of Season of Night, a memoir about life in a devastated part of New Orleans during the first few months after Hurricane Katrina.

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