On my first day in New Orleans, I followed my ears to the French Quarter's Royal Street, one of the oldest strands in the city. I ended up face-to-face with a toe-tapping, crowd-pleasing jazz band, led by a singer who did double duty on a mean clarinet. Passers-by paused, clapped and dropped tips in white buckets. When a little girl shyly left her donation, the trombone player gave her an extra-special slide of his horn. Each day after that, I stopped by Royal Street — part of which is closed to traffic each afternoon — for a dose of soulful street music in the Big Easy.