When friends or relatives visit from out of town and want to “see New Orleans,” I always urge them to take a look at the city from the river via a short trip on the Canal Street ferry. Tonight, there’s an extra-special reason to make the trip: Jon Cleary will be performing a free, open-air show by the ferry’s West Bank landing in Old Algiers Point from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
I always find the ferry trip fun in its own right. The vessel makes the quick jog across the river in just a few minutes, and along the way its open decks provide a blast of free air conditioning from the reliable river breezes and a unique view of the city from the waterline. There’s also the pleasure of the destination: the dense, historic, beautiful Old Algiers Point neighborhood on the other side. When taking visitors on this ferry ride, we’ll usually pedal bikes around the neighborhood; check out the architecture; grab a cup of gumbo from the Dry Dock Café; and, if the hour is right, maybe a pint from the Crown & Anchor, an English-style pub hiding in a New Orleans-style shotgun.
Tonight’s outdoor concert is quite a different draw, however. Jon Cleary, the R&B pianist and band leader, tours the world on his own, regularly backs Bonnie Raitt and can often be found gigging at the Maple Leaf or d.b.a. when he’s in town. Tonight he’s the headliner for Wednesdays on the Point. Vocalist Mykia Jovan opens the show.
This free summer concert series has been going at different locales around Old Algiers Point each Wednesday since late June, and there are a few more dates on the calendar for this year’s edition. The sultry chanteuse Anais St. John performs Aug. 18, alt-rockers MyNameIsJohnMichael perform Aug. 25, and the Latin-tinged roots rock band the Iguanas finish the series on Sept. 1.
Past editions of Wednesdays at the Point have always proved to be a good time. An eclectic, all-ages crowd gathers, listening to music, drinking beer and wine and socializing outside block party-style. The easy after-work time slot, the mid-week break, the all-inclusive nature of the outdoor gathering and the great music all combine to 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 Wednesdays on the Point venues are all easy walking or biking distance from the Algiers-side ferry landing. In fact, for tonight’s Jon Cleary show, you should be able to just step off the ferry and spot the party dead ahead.
Remember, the ferry leaves Canal Street at quarter-till 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 at the half hour (i.e., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.).