The battle of Frenchmen Street.
From Chopitulas post on another thread.....
And there was some sort of police sweep on Frenchmen St. last night. The city needs to do something to make what goes on there an asset and this doesn't look like what is needed to me. Granted, the cat is out of the box and it will never be what it once was but heads need to be put together to make it work, for the sake of those that make money there and to provide a quality experience for the tourist, as well the locals that still venture there. Punitive measures like this are not the answer.
Here is the script to Chops link.
Major Crackdown Begins on Frenchmen St, Future of the Street in Question!
This week, NOPD began enforcement of the Frenchmen Street ‘Arts and Cultural Overlay’, a set of rules created in 2004 to govern the Frenchmen Street entertainment corridor.
These rules particularly apply to the businesses that are classified as restaurants but also host live music, namely Café Negril, Vaso, Maison, Mojitos, Checkpoint Charlie’s, BMC, Yuki, Three Muses, Dragon’s Den, and the newly opened Bamboulas. Some of the more controversial rules in the Overlay require the restaurants to have no amplified music at all, and no bands larger than 3 members. They must all be closed by 1am on weekends, 11pm on weekdays, and all must serve food. Cover charges are prohibited.
Older businesses such as Blue Nile, Snug Harbor, Dba, and Spotted Cat are grandfathered in as they were in operation before the creation of the Overlay, essentially giving them the legal freedom to host any type of band they desire, and absolving them from being legally required to serve food.
Over the course of the last decade, as Frenchmen grew, so did the gray area surrounding the rules. With virtually no police enforcement of any laws, including the club’s selection of bands, the interlopers with street grills, food trucks, and artist tables, the brass bands on the corner, the hippies selling nitris balloons and weed brownies, and the panhandlers and gutterpunk colonies that post up on the corners, Frenchmen blossomed organically into it’s current incarnation.
While some locals rue what it has become, and label the corridor as being the next Bourbon Street, there is no denying it has become one of the premiere local and tourist nightlife destinations in the city, and a mecca for live local and national music of all kinds. The street is also a major economic engine that employs hundreds of service industry professionals as well as musicians.
Over the years the street has seen a surge in businesses that have opened in the area under the Overlay’s jurisdiction. What started with just a few places now has close to 20 in the two block stretch. The newest addition to the street, Bamboulas, announced a year ago they would be opening a 3 bar mega club in a dilapidated building in the 500 block. The reaction was universally negative, and their plans to obtain a bar license was denied by the City Council. Many in the neighborhood did not want to see the street getting bigger. Residents had serious concerns about parking, noise, and large crowds in an area that already seemed to be at capacity. Bamboulas scaled down their plans, and finally opened this Halloween with a restaurant license, but many residents in the neighborhood felt their business model was more suited for Bourbon Street, where they own several other clubs, than Frenchmen.
One particular detractor, Jesse Paige, manager of the neighboring Blue Nile, crusaded against their opening for a year by reporting licensing issues and posting pictures on Facebook of what he perceived to be illegal construction. For years, Paige, who has no ownership stake in Blue Nile, openly campaigned against other businesses on the street he felt illegally encroached on his employer by presenting amplified music and bands with more than 3 members. Since the opening of Bamboulas, Paige has been extremely vocal in pointing out every infraction the new business has made, and it now appears his efforts have bore fruit, not just against Bamboulas, but most of Frenchmen.
As NOPD made their rounds Friday to make sure all offending restaurants were abiding by the laws laid out in the antiquated Overlay, Paige took to Facebook to boast of his victory with a rant claiming he was “preserving the culture that makes us who we are”. While Paige claims those are his intentions, coincidentally, his business interests also stand to gain the most if restaurants are no longer able to present amplified music.
The rant also included a taunt at the restaurants to make better food in order to attract business instead of breaking the law, and ended with a crude poem:
“SAVE FRENCHMEN BY THE LAW OF THE LAND. DEFEND HER BY THE LICENSE IN HAND. PLAY THE MUSIC THAT MADE HER GRAND. AND CHARGED ARE WE TO TAKE A STAND!” Paige wrote in all caps.
As Paige celebrated, many people, mostly musicians, wondered how the enforcement of the Overlay would affect their means of making a living. If these laws are upheld, this would mean no one who plays an electric guitar, a keyboard, an electric bass, or DJs, will be permitted to play anywhere on the street but Blue Nile, Snug Harbor, Spotted Cat, or Dba. This will instantly un-employ hundreds of local musicians. While most of the restaurants will survive under the rules, albeit with less business, this law will have a catastrophic effect on the music scene.
While Frenchmen has received a lot of flack as of late for what it is becoming, think about what would it be without DJs at Dragon’s Den, without funk bands at Maison, without brass bands at Vaso, and without reggae at Café Negril? What would the culture of Frenchmen Jesse Paige claims to be preserving be without that?
Offbeat/Jan Ramsey weighs in...
Sigh! The need for a Threadhead Village somewhere in NOLA has never been more apparent. Maybe on an abandoned cruise ship somewhere on the river. I'd even give up my rights to make iPad movies of musicians while standing right at the front of the stage if somehow this starts happening.
Well that sucks and looks like it is going to escalate. So sad there. But how do you do that? What is good and what is bad? It is like people turning down a Walmart and then having a Target in the same place insted. What is the difference? How big is how big? Seems some places have it way better than others and tht doesn't seem fair...... How do you placate the neighbors?
Originally Posted by marignygreg
I personally love it there and it is the only place in that part of town I go to when I am in NOLA. I Avoid the 1/4 for the most part and go to clubs that are not there (Rockin bowl, Chickie, Tips) and if Frenchman was less weird, I might not want to visit as much, or at all......
Shame on Jesse Paige for "trying to preserve". All he is trying to preserve is the blue nile because of fear of the competition. At least that's the way it seems to me standing outside looking in.
If you don't know Jesse or everything he has done for the music community in his years runny g Blue Nile please don't crucify him based on a foot in mouth moment that is being blown up by a media outlet operated by one of his competitors.
I dont know all of that facts and elements at play here, but I've known Jesse for a long time and he's always been alright with me and a lot of the musicians I know and has worked as a musician himself. I can see why the owners of the established clubs that have worked hard for years to make frenchmen st the successful place that is would be a bit freaked by the incredible rapid growth on the street. I hope the established owners can work with the other venues and the city so that this explosion in growth benefits everyone.
So, what actually happened this weekend on Frenchmen? Did the cops hand out warnings? Were clubs cleared out? Was music shut down?
Debbie Davis posted this on FB yesterday: "Police are fucking with Frenchmen street tonight, going door to door issuing "friendly warnings". The new rules: all doors to all live music establishments must be closed at all times, even when there is no music. Restaurant venues may not have amplified music of any kind, only acoustic. These acoustic bands may consist of 3 band members and one singer and no more. No tables chairs or employees stationed on the sidewalk.
The 13 piece brass band on the corner, however, was given no such rules of operation.
So, um, now what?"