On a recent cloudless day, 32 British tourists stepped off a tour bus in Central City and, for reasons not immediately obvious to bystanders, spread out to view a dull yellow shotgun double at 2309 First St. The plain house sat vacant, stripped of all its architectural ornaments, and with its doorways and windows covered with plywood. Its maroon cement stoop provided the only contrast.
The group had flown 4,500 miles to see this undistinguished place, along with a few others, just before the city’s signature New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which kicks off today.
Perhaps a few imagined its former occupant, the great Buddy Bolden, a cornetist widely acknowledged as the first great jazz musician, playing on that very stoop more than a century ago.