Jazzfest Final Days: Design Parameters Exceeded

Well, Jazzfest is finally over (actually, it was over a few days ago, but let’s not be technical here). I’m writing from recovery, a necessary step after 10 days of debauchery and abuse. K, a mightier soul than I, has gone on to Los Angeles. I believe she has scheduled a high colonic and a meeting with Madonna’s Kabbalah advisor to exorcise the Jazzfest demons.

We made it through the last 2 days, valiantly, though we were a bit unsteady as we teetered down the jetway to our Delta chariot. An evening hangover is **not** pretty. It may also have been the large shrimp bread we inhaled while killing time at the gate. Or perhaps the spinach and artichoke casserole that was ingested on the run out of the fairgrounds. Maybe a leeetle too much dairy product.

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But let’s return to Saturday. Despite our best intentions, we missed the first few acts, including Frankie Ford. Somehow we ended up at Amanda Shaw, who’s capable enough but brings to mind a Cajun Hilary Duff. Luckily, our pal Jack was hovering nearby, mainly because he had scarfing privileges at the W hospitality tent. Which meant that K and I had same privileges. We immediately became Jack’s protection for the remainder of the afternoon.

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From there it was on to the Dirty Dozen, who were striking a very traditional second-line kind of chord, as opposed to the funked-up hip-hop stuff they often play. The crowd was rolling and Jack and I had some good dances out on the track. We then caught Deacon John and his jump blues. He was sounding good but there was no room anywhere in the Acura field as the Invasion of the Red-Faced, Bubble-Brained, Lacking-in-Musical-Taste Parrotheads was well underway. I mean, I’m all into pirates and stuff, and I’m glad Jimmy Buffet makes a whole lot of folks happy, but WTF?

We then caught some of La India, the salsa princess who reminded the audience more than once that she was carrying on Celia Cruz’s legacy. Allright, already! Fun to watch the salseros working it on makeshift dancefloors. Saw some of Robert Randolph, but having seen him many times before in much more intimate environments, I nudged K on to the Ohio Players, who opened with a kick-ass version of Skin Tight. Gotta love the bass player’s full-on fly attire, leopard from head to toe.

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We stopped by Nathan & The Zydeco Cha-Chas, then on to Bonerama a bit, and finally to the jazz tent. As I walked in, Eddie Palmieri was just sitting down to the piano. On stage with him: Donald Harrison on alto sax, his nephew Christian Scott on trumpet and George Coleman on tenor sax. A pretty powerful horn section. Backed by Bill Summers on percussion.

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I knew I’d hit it good. They threw down a latin jazz jam, followed by a more trad jazz jam, and topped by a second-line tune, joined by 2 fabulously-festooned Mardi Gras Indians — an older man and a small child. Harrison’s father was a Chieftain so second-lines are in his blood.

The crowd went nuts and rushed the stage, snapping photos.

Nice way to end the day’s music, and we followed up with some pleasant socializing, first at a friend’s place just outside the fairgrounds, where we chatted with, among others, Charley Varney, a freelance photojournalist who documented Katrina and whose pics are in Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Chris Rose’s hurricane-related essay collection, 1 Dead in the Attic.

Then it was on to another friend’s traditional 2nd weekend Jazzfest party, where we were stuffed with Abitas, BBQ shrimp, red beans and rice, grilled kielbasa, and bread pudding. Safety was definitely not first. I’m not sure it was even third — quite an admission from the Safety Third spokesmodels.

Sunday. Get up. Do it all over again. Strange day, probably due to disorientation over the idea that we were actually leaving New Orleans. We seemed to wander from the beer tent to the SoCo daquiri feeding station, back and forth, aimlessly. Then, somehow, K snookered me into emptying my wallet in the crafts area, but, admittedly, I believe I purchased one of the finest denim miniskirts I’ve ever seen or worn. And, MAJOR BONUS, we hooked up again with Philip, aka Kickassbootwearin HR guy. Howdy, pahdnah!

We wandered over to the Fais Do-Do stage, a few songs into Geno Delafose, and, just as the skies opened up and let loose like some kind of unholy golden shower. But everyone kept right on dancing.

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It was so damn hot and humid that the rain was welcome relief. And, for many, dancing amidst that downfall was a release from the Katrina shackles. See, I spit in your eye, dark and rainy sky! Geno revved and revved, climaxing with a rock and roll song that I love but that for the life of me, I can’t remember the title. And I had Jack, dancer par excellence, to shimmy, twist, shack and shamble with in the mud.

Soaked and a sobered up, we headed over to some of Irma Thomas at Acura and then, to what ended up being our closing moment — in the Jazz tent with our best pals Val and Chris as the often sublime John Boutte brought the house to tears with his rendition of Louisiana 1927.

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In one verse, John changed the lyrics about President Coolidge coming down on a railroad, to President Bush flying over in a helicopter and telling the fat man with the notepad, Good Job, Brownie! And, 6 feet of water in Evangeline became 12 feet of water in the Lower Nine.

They’re trying to wash you away, Louisiana. Let’s hope that all those Jazzfest revelers, myself and K included, tell everyone that it ain’t no poor cracker’s land, but an irreplaceable slice of America that still needs our help and hope.

6 Comments so far

  1. Professor (unregistered) on May 10th, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

    Skirt. Skin tight. Sweet.


  2. MindyMoo (unregistered) on May 10th, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

    Great read, Alicia — keep it up, you’re turning our to be quite an asset to Metroblogging! Nice.


  3. Alicia Ault (unregistered) on May 10th, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

    Professor. You are scaring me. But I have much to learn.


  4. Holly (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 11:12 am

    Are the safety third girls available for consult?


  5. Emma (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 4:58 am

    Great work!
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  6. Scott (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 11:54 pm

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