New Orleans is filled with a cast of characters and individuals with a history. Ms Doreen is one of those individuals with a history. While this article was written in 2010, it is still valid. If you are in the French Quarter aka “The Quarters” stop on the corner of Royal and St. Peter and give a listen. Don’t forget to show some love by putting a little bit as a tip
Where can you go to catch a world class musical performance with plenty of room to dance? The 700 block of Royal Street is where it’s happening. You’ve got Rouses’ (the old A&P) grocery, a regular stop for French Quarter visitors and locals alike. Across the street is Forever New Orleans, and Alex Beard recently opened an art gallery a few doors down on the corner of Royal and Pirates Alley (you can actually watch him paint in the window sometime, very cool). Gallery 713, a local favorite, is opposite him. But the crowd in the street is gathered around a group of local street musicians known to frequent this block. They are here to see the Queen.
Doreen and her husband Lawrence Ketchens have been international ambassadors for New Orleans music and culture on radio and televisions around the world. While they are available for weddings and special events, Doreen and her band of jazz musicians have been bringing their brand of music to the Crescent City streets for twenty years or so. A fixture on this stretch of Royal they will have even the most rhythm challenged tapping their feet and moving to the beat.
As Doreen says in one of her songs “I’m the Queen of the clarinet, been around the world ain’t heard better yet” and I say “Amen!” The group has several CD’s available for purchase. You can visit their website: www.doreensjazz.com
These show stealers will capture your hearts with just one stanza of their rendition of “Little Liza Jane” as they did mine. It is obvious these amazing performers play for the absolute love of it because their heart and soul are in every note.
Stop by and hang out with Doreen, Lawrence and the crew next time you find yourself on Royal Street. Hey y’all, don’t forget to leave a little something in the bucket!
By S.D. Talbot