By Kevin Gibson
In recent episodes of The Fred Minnick Show, Fred sipped wine with Harry Shearer and bourbon with Mick Fleetwood, and the conversations briefly turned to the cultural significance of restaurants and clubs. Restaurants are slowly reopening across the country, and the words of both Shearer and Fleetwood remind us of what we’ve been missing and – hopefully – are poised to reclaim.
Shearer, probably best known as the veteran voice of many characters in “The Simpsons” and bass player of legendary band Spinal Tap, talked about living in the French Quarter, what the restaurants and clubs in the district have meant to the city’s culture and him personally, and how difficult it felt to self-isolate there.
“It is very easy to have a lovely meal and walk a few blocks and hear great music for pathetically cheap prices, a 10 dollar bill and a drink,” Shearer said. “… The New Orleans culture generally is just a culture unlike anything else in the U.S. … You’re not on top of each other, but everything is really close. Life is lived in the streets and in the restaurants and in the clubs, even though people have lovely homes as well. It’s not like New York, where you have to live outside because you have, you know, 400 square feet and no windows in your home. It is culture that drives people out. I mean, I’m a homebody by nature and I know when I’m down there, whenever I leave the house, I know I will be rewarded by something strange or funny or wonderful. So the idea of closing all that down is remarkable. I check in with my friends all the time but it’s a remarkably wrenching change.”
Get the full interview with Harry Shearer.
And Fleetwood, the drummer and co-founder of legendary rock band Fleetwood Mac, talked with Fred about being a restaurant owner – he owns Fleetwood’s in Maui — during the pandemic, as well as what he believes restaurants mean to American culture.
“With anyone and everyone, in whatever flow of life you were in, it came to an abrupt stop,” Fleetwood said. “It’s all about taking care as much as you can of people, staff; restaurants, as you well know, is like having a family, an extended, large family. We’re trying our best to keep everyone positive. … It’s absolutely devastating.”
On why restaurants and clubs are so important, Fleetwood said, “That is part and parcel of … a restaurant, a pub, anywhere where people come together, coffee house, wherever it might be, is about camaraderie and sharing an experience, on numerous levels, and we miss that. I miss that as a person and I miss that, of course, being a player. It’s all about having an audience and having a rapport between yourself and what you do, what you present as a restaurant. You get back what you put in, and people come back to an atmosphere: obviously the food and the way it’s served and being receptive is part and parcel. The whole total atmosphere is what you gravitate toward, and suddenly those little homes outside of your satellite home are not available. So we’re all looking at how to reproduce [that], and it’s a challenge.”
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