Yeah. This is the most beautiful gig in the world, sometimes, anyway. We play here almost every day, on the banks of this magnificent old dowager called the Mississippi, where the same river I once walked across in Minnesota is damn near a whole big old mile across. The ferry takes twenty minutes to go across and the driver goes fast. It’s not always great, for sure. There are hard times down here too, but somehow it’s almost always worth it, to set up with a guitar and a bass, and play against the river wind. I always feel better just walking up to our spot.
You know, this is now my twenty-fifth year playing on this old river. In all this time, I’ve come and gone. Once I left for over five years, when I lived in North Carolina. In all these years, I played some pretty good gigs. I did the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 96, when Barbara Shorts herself came out on the Lagniappe Stage and we did Spoonful just like Koko. I played the Eno River, all those July days, with Big Boy Henry and old John Dee, back when Fris Holloway sat to our left and played the piano in all those crazy keys. He had a pitch control, so me and John Dee Holeman couldn’t hardly figure out what, exactly, he really was tuned up to. Back in New Orleans, John Dee and I played at Tipitina’s, Professor Longhair’s old joint up on Tchoupitoulas. There’s so much more, now, to remember: playing with Greg Allman at Jimmy Buffet’s bar; we got a hundred bucks to divide up five ways. Playing with Jorma and Jack in Hillsborough at that big barn.
Through it all, no matter what, there’s so many times I sat back down on this big old river and thought, I wouldn’t trade one bit of it, if I had to quit this river. There’s just something so sweet, so special here- you don’t get to play to a three-year-old dancing like a disco king in a barroom. I’d never have met the Mexican ladies any other place. And now? It’s been the best it’s ever been. All I ever lacked was another voice, someone to share these magic days with, the days you never want to end. Cary walked up to me one day, with a guitar in her hand. I asked her if she could sing. We’ve pretty much been together ever since. Now the river has us both. We even write our songs here.
-Slewfoot, New Orleans Street Singer
Slewfoot was born Mark McLaughlin in 1953. At the age of 14 while his father was in Vietnam his mother committed suicide and he and his brother lived on the streets of Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. Two years later his father found his sons in New Jersey and brought them to Hawaii. Slewfoot began playing guitar at the age of 13 and in 1980 he started his career as a New Orleans street musician. Carrie Beckelheimer, born in 1968, graduated with a degree in Theatre from Marshal University in Huntington, West Virginia. She traveled with a children’s theatre company for 9 years before turning her full attention to music.