“Banjo Mike”

Thomas Balzac
2 min readJan 22, 2023
“Banjo Mike” at his perch along the Mississippi River in New Orleans

It’s Saturday, early afternoon and Balzac does not know where to begin composing the funeral dirge for his dear friend Banjo Mike. An alcohol induced cerebral aneurysm was inevitable, everybody knew it was coming.

The old musician would have liked to use the A-minor key; however, its over-popularity in today’s society made him reflect longer on that idea. He wondered what his friend Banjo Mike would have suggested….

Colorfully-opinionated and a very talented musician, Mike had a truly kind soul, as memorable to the — now old composer — as, to some, Jelly Roll Morton.

Balzac’s friendship with and memory of Banjo Mike will never end, except perhaps< “when I meet him again!” (reminding himself of his own mortality).

Mike was invariably dressed with a smile, in either denim overalls or trousers — with rainbow suspenders (Flower’s Christmas gift).

“Let my music suspend you all!” he’d always jest to the curious crowd of tourists, locals and travelers passing through New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Balzac laughs aloud at thoughts of similar gibberish-like rhymes and puns Mike would throw out to the smiling onlookers. Balzac and his friend would often banter humor to one another.

Mike’s talent as a musician, however, commanded serious attention from even the snobbiest tourist who happened upon his one-man show along the majestic Mississippi’s riverbank at the foot of St. Peter Street.

I’ll begin this blog with Banjo (will add more text soon); and as time goes by I will add other vignettes about local New Orleans French Quarter performers — many as interesting as Mike.

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