I spent a few days in New Orleans back in April for work and to celebrate my 50th birthday. And for anyone who's been to New Orleans, they know a few days is not nearly enough to immerse oneself in the fantastic food, music, culture, history and bling in one of the world's most fascinating cities.
While there, I snagged a four-CD box set titled "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans." Packed into this set are 85 songs delivering a sweeping panorama of the wildly diverse styles of music the city is known for. You've got Dixieland, various forms of jazz, zydeco, R&B, rock, Cajun, gospel, soul and a bunch of other stuff.
Over the course of 85 songs, I'd say only about six were forgettable. The large majority I have listened to repeatedly since cracking open the box. And while the playlist is by no means complete in terms of containing "hits," nearly every major or influential artist has a slot. I can't recommend these four CDs enough. The music is addictive, challenging and invigorating on physical, sociological and musical levels.
Equally rewarding is a fantastic 82-page full-color booklet that details each song but more importantly provides an insider's visitors guide to the Crescent City.
For example, here are some of the features supplementing the music liner notes:
- "7 great bars that are nowhere near Bourbon Street."
- "Six places to eat that will make locals say, 'You know about THAT place?' "
- "8 random things you might love about New Orleans."
- "Things to do that are totally uncool and are usuallly done by tourists and drunk conventioneers but actually are quite fun."
- "Things that in any other city would be a tourist trap."
This package is from the geniuses at Shout Factory, a company that specializes in quality reissues, so the packaging and liners notes are top-notch.
If only I had bought this box set BEFORE I made the trip! If you're visiting New Orleans or simply love the music the city is known for, I can't recommend this enough.