Jazz Fest – Week 2

Jazz Fest Weekend Two – Thurs May 1st to May 4th


Johnny Winter



Music? Music is life! It’s physical emotion – you can touch it! It’s neon ecto-energy sucked out of spirits and switched into sound waves for your ears to swallow. Are you telling me, what, that it’s boring? You don’t have time for it?’ – Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies  


I hope I am adequately prepared physically and mentally for the next 4 days of music, sun and food. The weather forecast for the four days could not be better. No rain and plenty of fine weather. It will be hot but not as bad as it can be. Still I need too pace myself, plenty of fluid. I am now an old hand and I know where to seek shelter when I need to sit and cool down.

On the way to the bus stop I stopped in at Café Vacherie for a breakfast of Johnny’s Pancakes. Three huge cornmeal pancakes covered in pecans and syrup with a side of crispy bacon. I am yet to finish a meal and this is not an exception. It is not because the food is no good, the reverse is true indeed. It is because the serves are so big. You never get to finish your coffee before it is being topped up.

I gave my three security guard friends in the Blues Tent a souvenir each and they were very happy for the unexpected gifts.

The bands I caught over the four days are as follows:

Colin Lake Band, Kenny Bill Stinson and the Ark-LA-Mystics, Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, Johnny Sansone, Luther Kent, Lyle Lovett, Bernard Allison, Ivorie Spectacle featuring Seguenon Kone, Eden Brent Band, Big Al Carson, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Alabama Shakes, Spencer Bahreen & the Whippersnappers, Tommy Malone (ex Subdudes), Voices of the Wetland Allstars (Johnny Sansone, Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Johnny Vidovich, George Porter Jnr and Michael Doucet), the Boss – Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Winter, Creole String Beans, the Deslondes, James Andrews & the Crescent City Allstars and Robert Earl Keen.


Ya Ka Mein, Fried Chicken, Hot Sausage Po Boy, Gambian Grilled Steak Pita, White Chocolate Bread Pudding. One can of Abita Amber, bottled water a plenty, strawberry lemonade (oh way too sweet) and my favorite soda Barg’s Root Beer.


Toward the end of Johnny Sansone’s set he grabbed a box of harmonicas and started throwing them out into the crowd. The years were rolled back when a signed boxed harmonica flew my way, my big right hand rose above the crowd and I snaffled it like a Rick Ponting blinder in the slips.

I had befriended a lady in the Blues tent who is wheel chaired bound. She is African American, lives in L.A. and has been coming to Jazz Fest since 1998. She was very interested in the Melbourne music scene. She told me that she wanted to go over to see Bruce Springsteen the next day. She was able to go into the handicapped area which is near the Big Chief VIP area. She did that so as to see Clapton in the first week. I said that I had tried to get to see Clapton but it was impossible. Anyway talk about being in the right place at the right time. She invited me to come with her explaining that she is allowed to take one person with her. I got to sit in comfort and watch The Wetland Allstars and about an hour and a half of the Boss in relative comfort. Springsteen is amazing for his 64 years of age. It was very hot out in the sun but that did not stop him on two occasions jumping off stage and singing and blowing his harp out in the crowd. He also had two special guests come out on stage for some songs. Rickie Lee Jones and John Fogarty.

I mentioned I stayed for hour and a half of Springsteen. His set went on for another hour but I wanted to get across to the Blues Tent to see if I could get in for a few songs of Johnny Winter. It was relatively easy to get in. He looked much better that I expected. Healthier than I imagined and if my eyes do not deceive me I think he has put on weight. Full on throttle slide guitar and a driving rhythm section was a good way to end the day.

My favorites for the four days were (in no order):

Robert Earl Keen, Hurray for the Riff Raff, the Alabama Shakes, the Boss, Johnny Sansone and a surprise young band on the small Lagniappe Stage the Deslondes.

Oops I nearly forgot to mention that I accompanied Brian Wise and a few of the Aussie tour group on Thursday at the close of the day’s music for a 15 minute walk up to City Park. In a beautiful garden setting we saw Little Band of Gold plus the Royal Southern Brotherhood. Little Band of Gold are brilliant and made even better when a couple of guests got up to play. Doyle Bramlett and Ben Moutench who is Tom Petty’s piano man. RRSB are a super group with members being Mike Zitto, Cyril Neville, Damon Allman and Steve Riley. What a night made even more special with the delightful surrounds and lovely evening.

The only disappointment for the whole of Jazz Fest was not be able to see Delbert McClinton who has recently had a heart attack and had to pull out of the Fest. Guess that is a good enough reason.

Rock ‘n’ Bowl

Wednesday – April 30th


‘Softly, deftly, music shall caress you. Hear it, feel it, secretly possess you.’ – The Phantom of the Opera 


I am a number of days behind with my posts. After Jazz Fest it is hard to come home and start typing. I have just been showering and then recuperating, it is tiring having fun ya’ll.

So let me catch up.

Breakfast again at Envies’, they are getting to know me know which is cool. Another nice day with a cooling breeze. As I was walking down to Envies’ an older man sweeping the sidewalk out the front of one of the nice creole homes on Governor Nichols Street said to me as I was about to pass ‘you know people just walk on past me not even saying what a nice day it is’. Well I took the opportunity to stop and talk. He would be in his 70’s and African American. It was worth stopping. He asked where I was from and then gave me an insiders’ insight into the history of this block. He told a few stories and laughed continually while clapping me on the back. I could not understand a lot of what he was telling me but I laughed along with him. I think he enjoyed just talking and taking time out from looking after his little patch of sidewalk.

I sat out on the balcony for a few hours talking to Mickey and watching the people go by. A well-dressed guy said hello as he went by eating his sandwich. Just as he passed us a Quarter Punk coming from the opposite direction stopped the guy and asked if he would give him half of his sandwich. The Punk was pretty aggressive (which is not the norm). He then spotted Mickey and I and asked us for change. He then stopped right in front of me and again asked for change. I said no and he then said ‘if you give me 11 cents I will show you my dick’! Now there was an offer that made be recoil in horror. 11 cents is a lot of money and I was not even wearing my Easter Bonnet.

It will be my last opportunity to go down to Lafayette Square for the free music session tonight. The first band on where called Gravy and I enjoyed their set. (and scored a free C.D.) One of the saxophone players in the band looked familiar. After a couple of songs I remembered seeing him play with a favourite band of mine called the Creole String Beans. To date I have not seen them play this trip. I was standing in the artists area (thanks again Stew) and spoke to the guy I recognized. He remembered Wendy and I from last year and told me he was rushing off for a gig with the ‘Beans’ at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl and he said he would put my name on the door. I hung around for the next act the Eric McFadden Band. As it started to rain I hailed a cab for the 10 minute drive to the ‘Bowl’

The Rock ‘n’ Bowl is one of the premier music venues in town. It is a venue, come bar and bowling alley all in one. Where else can you listen to a live band and hear bowling balls making their way down the alley? I told the door bitch that my name was on the door and it was, oh yeah. I had a great time. Not an overly big crowd which made it comfortable. I have been to this venue during the Jazz Fest weeks and it normally is shoulder to shoulder standing. Met some people I recognized from last year’s Jazz Fest Blues tent and hung out with them. The band was setting up when I arrived and the Bass player came off the stage to welcome me back which was nice. Once the music started most people were up dancing doing the old rock ‘n’ roll moves. The sort of dancing that is well beyond my clumsy steps. Most of the dancers seem to know each other and it is very much a local crowd. I even got asked to dance a couple of times but humbly declined. This is a music night not a comedy night. There is a bit birthday party going on with cake and singing.

I got home at 1A.M. which was not a good move seeing Jazz Fest starts at 11this morning.