Day Twenty Three

Day 23 – April 28

Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Saying, “This land is condemned
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem.”
I travelled through East Texas
Where many martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell – Bob Dylan – Blind Willie McTell

Jazz Fest – Week Two

We were walking down Burgundy towards Iggy’s and an ambulance pulled up to ask us if we had seen anyone lying on the sidewalk. There is normally someone lying on the sidewalk on nearly every block but I hadn’t seen anyone today. One of the ambulance guys said to Kate, ‘nice ink.’ She gets a lot of those comments.

We got to Jazz Fest without any drama but the weather if looking iffy. Thunderstorms and heavy rain has been predicted. Thursday of the second week of Jazz Fest is always a little easier to get around crowd wise. Wendy got me a cool Jazz Fest t-shirt featuring guitars and an alligator on the back. I told Kate that I knew which way the weather was coming from and we will not get any rain soon. The rain started five minutes later.

Started the day food wise with Creole Chicken and Tasso (Ham) over Creole Rice. While I eat the girls have gone over to the bookstore to get a N.O. colouring book. The wind is starting to pick up and the rain getting a little heavier. Wendy told me to pack my rain coat but as usual I ignored the advice. Glad they were giving out free ponchos near the entrance.
I thought it best that we head over to the WWOZ tent, not just for the fresh fruit and iced coffee but also for the shelter. We got there just as another downpour started. I know we get heavy rain back in Melbourne but when I write downpour here just think like standing under a waterfall. Kate tapped into the free Wi-Fi to put on our footy tips. Who the hell do you pick, Carlton V’s Essendon. I have gone for the Blues to continue their winning streak of one.

We went to the photo displays under the Grandstand. There is also a magnificent  St. Joseph’s Day Voodoo Shrine dedicated to Allen Toussaint. Also at the shrine you can grab yourself a lucky Fava Bean which is meant to be kept in your wallet.

The fava bean plays a role on the feast of St. Joseph and the tradition of the Altar or Table for March 19. Here is a short explanation.

Fava bean (vicia fava) —Fava beans play a large role in the Sicilian tradition of the St. Joseph Table or St. Joseph Altar. They may be served in a frittata or in garlic sauce. When dried, roasted and blessed, it becomes the very popular “lucky bean.” Legend has it that you will never be broke as long as you carry one. Some people believe that if you keep one in the pantry, there will always be food in the kitchen.

The myth of the fava bean began during the famine in Sicily, where the bean was used as fodder for cattle. To survive, the farmers prepared them for the table. Hence, they considered themselves lucky to have them. The bean is also a symbol of fertility since it grows well even in poor, rocky soil. Italians would carry a bean from a good crop to ensure a good crop the following year.

The blessed dried beans are distributed on the altars along with a piece of blessed bread.

The rain has finally stopped for the moment but we know there is more on the way. We walked over to the Gentilly Stage and saw the last couple of songs from Mia Borders.

The girls bailed out at 1:15 as they know a storm is a coming. I am going to stay for the duration as the closing act of the day is one I want to see. I got my first beer and stood in another downpour while watching the slide maestro Sonny Landreth. I had to keep my thumb over the beer can opening otherwise I will be drinking a very diluted brew. Now there is thunder and lightening to add to the rain. One thunder clap was so loud that I jumped out of my skin. I made my way over to what was left of the Iggy’s crew . Just as Sonny Landreth finished his set the sun broke out. It was like watching 20,000 bears all come out of hibernation at once. People coming out from sitting under umbrellas and ponchos. Within 5 minutes I was roasting. It was like the rain had just basted my skin and now I was back in the oven.

Gary Clarke Jnr. got the crowd up and going again and the two jelly shots that Aaron gave me also assisted. Many people have left the Fest early as to be honest the rain was real bad. But Mike did point out that it was a perfect Jazz Fest as there is not a line any where for food, booze or the loos.

I made it to the closing act. The Tedeschi Trucks Band. Sensational and even more when two special guests came on stage to join in the guitar show. The two guests in question being Jimmy Vaughan and Billy Gibbons (ZZTop). Somehow the four guitar heroes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jimmy and Billy all gave each other room and had the chance to show off four very different playing styles. One of the guys from the float we rode earlier in the month passed me his flask of moonshine which warmed the cockles of my heart. They are a very sharing lot! The band played a moving tribute to Mr. B.B.King

I left with the last of the Iggy’s crew to get the shuttle home. Very proud of the fact that I have been given the Iggy’s flag to carry back to our pick-up spot. As Wendy later said, ‘you know that you have made it if you get to carry the flag.’ I am writing in my dairy under duress as it has got soaked and all the pages are stuck together. I can only write on half pages as the outer part of the pages tear if you write there. My diary is looking a little like the Dead Sea Scrolls – all wet papyrus and words of wisdom.

We got back to Iggy’s very sodden but happy. What is Jazz Fest without rain. As long as the music is playing the people are staying. I had a couple of beers and then took off for home. Should have relieved the bladder first as I only got two blocks and I had to call into the Royal Street Hotel Tap Bar for relief. I guess you can’t just use a rest room without having a beer as well and so I did.

Another fine day of music and adventure.

Day Twenty Four

Day 24 – April 29

There’s a crack in the mirror
And a bloodstain on the bed
There’s a crack in the mirror
And a bloodstain on the bed

Oh, you were a vampire
And baby, I’m the walking dead
Oh, you were a vampire
And baby, I’m the walking dead

I got the ways and means
To New Orleans
I’m going down by the river
Where it’s warm and green
I’m gonna have a drink and walk around
I got a lot to think about – Bloodletting – Concrete Blond

Jazz Fest

At last it looks like the rain has cleared. When we got to the Fest the infield looks ok, not to much mud around. Morning feed today is a Grilled Lamb Sausage Po Boy and a frozen iced-coffee.

We went over to the Fais Do Do to say hello to Stew and Carol and watch a little of Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys. At 1:30 I had a look at a cooking demonstration – Pork Belly & Shrimp pot stickers. It was more Chinese style cooking so I didn’t stay to the end but I did learn the best way to peel fresh ginger (my secret).

Not sure what to go and see so we decided on the Lagniappe Stage for Quiana Lynell. Sophisticated late night Jazz and not sure that Kate would enjoy. The band are very good and Quiana’s voice is amazing. She sang a tribute to Porgy & Bess, Summertime and Motherless Child which was spine tingling and her scatting amazing. Kate clapped enthusiastically at the end and said she enjoyed her singing.

Over to the Raw Oyster Cult at the Gentilly. The Raw Oyster Cult grew from the legendary N.O. rock band the Radiators. Sort of like a Grateful Dead jam band. The special guests included all past members of the Radiators which was pretty cool. The girls went back over to Fais Do Do for the Honey Island Swamp Band. I have been sitting on the track but toward an exit. Have on my NOLA to you die t-shirt and I must look like an official as people keep coming over to me to ask me questions.

It started to get hot again so I grabbed me a lemon and lime sno cone. I felt like a kid again spooning the flavoured ice into my gob. To think yesterday I was standing in torrential rain! Caught a few songs of the Revivalists who I enjoy. Then over to the Fais Do Do for Los Lobos who are going to perform La Pistola Y El Corazon. The stage area out front is packed and I sat over to the side. I could hear the band OK but could not see them.

Then went over to the Acura for Paul Simon. I listened to a few songs but he is a bit wishy – washy for me and so decided to finish the day with a little of Elvin Bishop at the Blues Tent. Elvin played great but looks like age is catching up with him as well as he played sitting down.

Ran into the girls around 6:30. As we were heading out an older hippie looking guy came over to say to Kate, ‘I like seeing you wearing your Sea Shepherd cap. Turns out he is a staunch supporter of anti- whaling and is a member of the Sea Shepherd family even though he is an American. Said he is boycotting all things made in Japan.

Day Twenty Five

Day 25 – April 30

I was sittin’ on a stump
Down in New Orleans,
I was feelin’ kinda low down,
Dirty and mean.
Along came a fella
And he didn’t even ask.
He says, “I know of a woman.
That can fix you up fast.”
I didn’t think twice,
I said like I should,
“Let’s go find this lady
That can do me some good.”
We walked across the river
On a sailin’ spree
And we came to a door
Called one-oh-three. – Bob Dylan – New Orleans Rag

Jazz Fest – and the heavens opened

Overcast with thunderstorms predicted mid afternoon. Today I have on my Mambo shirt which my good friend Greg Keyes gave me. Already had some comments re ‘cool shirt.’

It is another Ya Ka Mein morning to fuel me for the day ahead. If I had known what was going to happen later in the afternoon I would have had another three or four serves.

I went over to the Gentilly for some Sweet Crude. Heard the singer quip that we in N.O. don’t have mosh pits, here they are march pits.

The girls have saved me a seat in the Blues Tent for Cyril Neville’s Royal Southern Brotherhood. The band has had a number of changes since I last saw them here in N.O. The set just kept building and building and I now have changed my mind and upgraded the show to the highlight of the Fest.

We all know the storm is coming but I decided to go out of the tent and listen to some of Roy Rogers & the Rhythm Kings from outside the tent. The girls chose to stay inside which turns out to be a wise decision. As soon as the band started I had to reach in for my poncho.

I wanted to catch Dr. John over at Acura and the rain ain’t gonna stop me. The Doctor is in the house and he cured all who braved the rain. No now it is not rain it is a monsoon. Thunder and lightning. Even heavier rain than the Thursday. I think the Doctor knew something as he just finished singing ‘Goodnight Irene’ when the lightning got even closer and the show had to be stopped.

Parts of the Acura crowd area are flooding and people are scrambling to get over onto the track. I walked around to the Blues Tent and have never felt rain so heavy before and the wind is howling, only saving grace is it is not cold. There is no way to get into the tent even though the music has been stopped. People are huddled under a truck. The only music still going is from the Gospel Tent, I guess they have you know who on their side. My phone is wet and I can’t text the girls although I did get a text to say they will make their own way home. I assumed they had set off earlier

I know the Iggy’s shuttle will not be able to get through to our pick up point and the transit bus line goes on forever. No let up to the storm so I bite the bullet and decide on the walk home down Esplanade. About a 45 minute walk through at times ankle deep water. Now don’t’ think I am exaggerating as when I finally did make it home I read a text from Brian Wise saying it is the worst storm he has seen at Jazz Fest and he has been coming for decades.
When I did get indoors I found out that my back pack had water in it and my new phone and wallet were floating. Looks like the phone is cactus as it will not charge.

The girls got a message through to say they were walking back with some of the Iggy’s crew. They got home about 45 minutes after me. Kate has video footage of inside the Blues Tent were the water was at some points mid – shin deep. She even can be heard saying on the video, ‘mum there is a rubbish bin floating down the aisle’. Oh Jazz Fest you never stop surprising us. It is all part of the adventure.

We learned that all the closing head line acts had to be cancelled. No Stevie Wonder, Beck or Snoop Dog. Stevie’s show was transferred to a venue in the Quarter and was due to start at 8:30 but by 8 there was already a line snaking down the street.

Just to confirm how heavy the rain was. In todays Times Picayune there is a quote from an official saying. ‘ Jazz Fest has had its rainy days, but this is the worst weather I have ever seen.’ Good to know I was not imaging the ferocity of the storm.