Sunday – April 13th.
Little Freddie King
‘We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once’ – Friedrich Nietzche
It is our wedding anniversary today. I left a present with Kate to give to Wendy. Kate and Wendy are in Canberra visiting my cousin Brain and his lovely wife Judith. Brian and Judith are very generous and giving people and we are close friends as much as being relatives. I know that the girls will be well looked after. Cara has had to stay home as she is working at Baker’s Delight.
I was up early even though I found sleep hard to come by last night. The temperature is predicted to be at a maximum of 29 degrees Celsius with a strong breeze.
I got down the festival site around 10:30 and grabbed some food from Mona’s food stall. I have eaten at their Lebanese restaurant on Frenchman Street and the food is very good. In fact if you fancy any sort of lamb to eat then the few Lebanese places around town are your best chance. There is not a lot of lamb eaten down south apart from Easter celebrations.
I got to the Abita Stage just as the music started. I really do feel like part of the stage crew now as everyone says to me ‘morning baby, where yat’
Lillian Boutté and Gumbo Zaire are just commencing their set and they have Detroit Brooks on guitar so I know I am going to enjoy the show. Real nice way to start the morning music wise with some New Orleans Jazz and it being a Sunday a little Gospel on the side. It is only just past 11 and the crowd are already clapping and dancing. I am not a religious person but I do enjoy Gospel Music. It moves your soul. I may need more than a few Gospel tunes though to save me from the City of Sin.
Next up are the 9 piece Bucktown Allstars with guest dancer Miss Joyce (who happens to be 87 years old). The Allstars are well known to me from my last visit. This time last year Wendy was up on stage with them taking photos. A couple of the band recognized me and came over to welcome me back. They hit the stage running and the next 75 minutes is not stop classic New Orleans R’n’B’. The crowd was asked to stick out their tongues to see if they had been drinking the classic ‘awlins fire water from Paddy O’Brien’s known as the Hurricane. A drink guaranteed to knock your socks off and turn your tongue bright red. I know first- hand that the drink can be potent and that is why I do not wear socks to the festival.
I went and got some crawfish bread as it has been highly recommended. For those not accustomed to the local food a crawfish is similar in some ways to our yabbies. They are farmed six months of the year and then the fields are used to grow rice for the next six months. There are many ways to eat crawfish and I am lucky to be here during the season of suckin’ dem heads. The bread is like a big fat pastie stuffed with crawfish and spice and the whole thing is then deep fried. Delicious.
Big Chief Donald Harrison Jnr is up next. His lineage goes back generations and it is worth checking out a little history at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Harrison the chief’s father was also a Big Chief and I read a fascinating book written about him. If you have any interest in the history of black Mardi Gras Indians then it is worth sourcing the book Big Chief Harrison and the Mardi Gras Indians Author Al Kennedy. I know it is available through Amazon. New Orleans and its music goes back generation after generation. It is handed down to keep the flame burning. A lot of well known and established musicians start foundations to get kids off the street and learn how to play music as well as to understand their heritage. Lillian Boutté who opened the first set had a very young and nervous girl up singing some harmony. Donald Harrison has founded the Tipitina Foundation which educates young musicians both black and white. Donald got 6 of these young boys up on stage to play with him. A 13 year old drummer, a 13 year old piano player and a 15 year old trumpeter. The other boys were much older at 16. They accompanied Donald on two songs and were excellent. Donald got his own band back up (Detroit Brooks was sitting in again on guitar) as well as four elaborately dressed Mardi Gras Indians and they rounded off the set with classic Indians songs including a favourite ‘Hey Pocky Way’. This song has been recorded by many band including the Meters, the Grateful Dead & the Neville Brothers and is a staple of New Orleans Mardi Gras. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEtXT9w9AYU
While all that was happening Stew introduced me to Little Freddie King. I was indeed excited to meet the man. I have seen him at Jazz Fest every time I have come over. He is the king of the slow groove boogie and has to be the snappiest dresser in town. I have a photo of Freddie to be signed. He was delighted with Wendy’s photo and his drummer/manager so liked it that he has asked for a copy to be sent to him. If they use the photo in an official capacity then Wendy will get a credit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Freddie_King
The sun has slipped behind the high rise Sheraton Hotel and the heat of the day disappears far quicker here than home.
Only one band to go and that is ‘Raw Oyster Cult’ which have three original members of the classic New Orleans band the Radiators. The Radiators were the equivalent of a southern Grateful Dead and you can see many older hippie types wearing cult t-shirts. Dave Malone is the lead singer/guitarist and his is the last photo I have to get signed. He is happy to do so adding ‘Man, not even a mother would love that face’. I did not hang around for their set as the last four days of sun, standing, drinking (but not a lot) and eating have knackered me.