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