A New Way to Experience New Orleans History; or, Rock-n-Roll Was Invented in a French Quarter Laundromat

Published on: June 16th, 2017


French Quarter Tour map
Bourbon Street Parade: French Quarter Walking Tour

We'd like to introduce a new tool for exploring New Orleans music and culture: a web site called A Closer Walk. Visitors can read descriptions by acclaimed music writers, see rare archival photos of important music history locales in their heyday, listen to music and oral histories with artists, and watch music videos and interviews.

A Closer Walk maps more than a century of New Orleans’ great musical moments, from Buddy Bolden to Big Freedia, so you can Go There! It's a handy guide to exploring New Orleans music history, either via the nine curated tours, or by exploring “a la carte” any of the 76 individual music history sites (more on  the way!) that A Closer Walk catalogs and describes. The web site is optimized for mobile devices, so you can head out with your phone or tablet for a self-guided tour.**

To get a better sense of what A Closer Walk is all about, consider one of the curated tours: “Bourbon Street Parade: French Quarter Walking Tour." It contains about a dozen historic sites, including buildings that are long-gone, like the French Opera House, formerly at Bourbon and Toulouse, as well as ones that are very much alive and vibrant, like Preservation Hall.

Also in the Quarter : a couple of Cosimo Matassa-related locales. These include 521 Governor Nicholls, once the site of Cosimo Recording Studios (and famous recently as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's New Orleans digs) and the former J&M Recording Studio at 840 North Rampart, currently a laundromat called "The Clothes Spin." J&M operated from 1945 to 1956 and is recognized as a birthplace of rock ’n’ roll. Among the classic tracks recorded there: "Good Rocking Tonight" by Roy Brown (1947) and "The Fat Man" by Fats Domino (1949).

If you visit during business hours and you have a taste for the surreal, go to the back part of the Clothes Spin, by the banks of dryers, check out the photos of Cosimo and Fats and imagine it's 1955 and Little Richard is laying down "Tutti Frutti".... Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!

Yep, you're there.


A sampling of the types of multimedia materials on A Closer Walk's J&M Recording Studio page:


**When you're using A Closer Walk on your device, it feels like an app. But you can't get it in any app store. Just point you mobile browser to acloserwalknola.com. And if you're interested in putting an icon on your home screen for one-touch access, click here.


A Closer Walk is the result of a partnership between WWOZ, Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, Randy Fertel, Bent Media, and e/Prime Media.

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