New Orleans anomaly

I’ve lived in New Orleans for a long time. A couple more years, and I’ll have been here for the better part of my life. But you know what’s funny? You know what I just realized today?

Can you keep a secret?

Okay, come closer.


Now, lean down…

I’ve never been to Jazz Fest. Never.

Nor, might I add, do I plan to go in the future. Granted, with a couple of beers in me, I can be persuaded to do almost anything, but Jazz Fest would probably require a six-pack…. Actually, streaking requires a six-pack. Jazz Fest would probably be more like a 12-pack and a bottle of Xanax. The good kind.

I think part of it is that I’m not much of a live music fan. Crappy, lip-synched shows by Peter Murphy and Orbital cured me of my concert jones while I was still in hot pants and eyeliner. Another part of it is the crowd: those who know me and who’ve seen me march shoulder-to-shoulder with the Society of Ste. Anne on Fat Tuesday might find it hard to believe, but I’m vaguely agoraphobic.

Mostly, though, the reason I don’t go is because of the type of people Jazz Fest attracts. Hawaiian shirts. Tie-dyed shorts. Panama Jack straw hats paired with receding hairlines and graying ponytails. You know what I mean. I’m sure they’re nice and all, but I’d rather observe them from a safe distance. By which I mean, on the evening news.

And while I’m on the subject: will someone please explain the Neville Brothers? I am so lost on that one.

49 Comments so far

  1. jonno (unregistered) on April 25th, 2005 @ 5:12 pm

    don’t look at me, i’ve been trying to get him to go for years (if only for the food, which is pretty much the main reason i go myself … )

  2. Tyler (unregistered) on April 25th, 2005 @ 7:42 pm

    I bet he’d see Meat Loaf in concert, Jonno. (Combining food and live music there …)

  3. YatPundit (unregistered) on April 25th, 2005 @ 10:29 pm

    Actually, I explain the Neville Brothers a bit in my JazzFest podcast, since The Meters reunion was Saturday. The Neville Brothers are the band that Art Neville put together after the Meters started having troubles. Cyril, Charles and Aaron were always secondary to Art–people came to see Art. Aaron developed his own following, of course, but the man on the keyboards is Da Man, and George Porter, Jr., on bass is a close second.

  4. Tyler(the other one) (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 2:42 am

    I feel ya. I had my first crawfish cake out there Sunday.

    Here’s what I’ve discovered, and quite rapidly I might add, since I moved here in July of ’04.

    It’s a big-ass state fair.

    Mardi Gras…State fair. Jazzfest…State fair.

    Comin’ from North Carolina, these are just the damn state fair. Spectacular? Yes-only from the amount of art that is going down musically in one place.

    In New Orleans, instead of the farm animals being judged for the biggest udders (yes, a competition in NC), we just try to figure out how many bands we can put in a three day period…only to talk about how “there were so many bands” the week after.

    It’s 3am, so yes, negativity..just a tad. :)

    But I got sand in my flip flops out there….and that’s some messed up stuff…


  5. jfbiii (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 4:16 am

    I’ve worked a beer booth at JazzFest a few years as a Krewe fundraiser, and won’t drink Miller products to this day because of it.

    But as a spectator, I’ve never gone, either. Too many people, too much overpriced food, drinks, and trinket crap. Too many short sets, and way way way way too much mud. Not to mention parking.

    I am always fascinated by the traditions and rituals that have evolved, and the lengths that people go to in following them. For many, even though they’ll see different acts, their traditions and rituals insure that this year’s Fest will be functionally equivalent to last year’s and next year’s

    It’s the kind of event that, like Mardi Gras, I’m glad the city throws. But I’d rather watch from a safe distance.

  6. richard (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 10:10 am

    Actually, when I said I wanted someone to EXPLAIN the Nevilles, I wasn’t looking for a family tree or a background or anything (though it’s useful, to be sure.

    No, what I meant to say was, can someone PLEASE explain why they’re so goddamn popular? For the life of me, I can’t figure that shit out.

  7. richard (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 10:22 am

    And as far as the Jazz Fest/state fair comparison goes, I kinda agree (based, of course, on my limited knowledge of the event).

    I would, however, strongly, vehemently, wholeheartedly DISAGREE about Mardi Gras having even a REMOTELY similar feel. It’s totally its own thing: no hakey sack, no Hawaiian shirts, and no tie-dye–at least, not on my freakin’ block.

  8. Clay (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 10:57 am

    state fair? well where are the funnell cakes, fried oreos, cotton candy, the ferris wheel, the ring of fire, and the bearded lady? oh, i know…they’ve been replaced with seafood cornbread, crawfish monica, and catfish almondine, the Roots, Buddy Guy, BB King, Widspread Panic, Charlie Musslewhite, and Dave Matthews.

    too expensive? oh, i guess the 25 bucks i spent to see Brian Wilson, Dr John, Rebirth Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, Nelly, and G.Love was way out of line. what’s that you say? that strawberry gelato from Angelo Broccato’s is $3 dollars! oh my god! run, they are robbing us blind!

    can’t figure out the Neville’s? oh that’s right, your just supposed to enjoy them! that’s right! i almost forgot. Grammy award winning, trend setting, genre busting, voices like angels, and musical chops like the legends they are. But for the life of me I cant hear how good they are, because i’m trying to FIGURE them out.

    the panama hats, hawaiin shirts, notwithstanding this is one the greatest music events on the planet, stop being cynical and stuck up and get out there and check it out you whiny little babies. and anyone who cant FIGURE out the Neville’s doesnt deserve an explanation.

    i typically dont get this worked up on a message board, but you guys are really bumming me out this morning.

  9. richard (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 11:53 am

    Not to flame (I already do that enough on my time off), but clearly, ladies and gentlemen, Jazz Fest is inhabited by some seriously dour, humor-challenged individuals. And they’re not all lesbians.

    On a side note: if the Nevilles sound like angels, then sweetie, sign me up for hell.

  10. Clay (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

    dour – why thanks, i didnt think you could tell.

    I was just wondering how someone, who has admittedly never been to Jazzfest, can be so negatively “all-knowing” about the whole experience. But I have the answer now. Thanks.

  11. rcs (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 2:18 pm

    And where precisely is the humor in the original post that Clay is supposedly challenged in regard to? The original post is more asinine than anything else.

    Don’t like ‘fest, don’t go. Simple as that. I’m sure no one will miss you.

  12. laura (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 2:33 pm

    Tickets are expensive, I’ll give you that. I certainly would not have gone if I were not given free ones. But the food and drinks aren’t so bad. Beer was $3 a piece, no more than you might pay in any bar for something similar.

    And I got full on less than $10 in food. I was there for four hours and spent little more than $25. Not too bad at all.

    And yeah, I don’t get the Neville’s at all. Grammy winning, trend setting, whatever. Nails on a chalkboard to me, as are many of the traditional Jazz Fest draws. I wouldn’t have missed Wilco for the world though.

  13. rcs (unregistered) on April 26th, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

    Hehe, different strokes – I made it almost to the end of the third song (I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, maybe?) before I bailed on Wilco. Total wrong atmosphere for that set, IMO (I am not a regular Wilco listener, granted.)

    Oxomatli was my first-weekend favorite.

  14. Robert (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 10:07 am

    Wilco was all kinds of good, but then again I’m a Wilco fan. I don’t know why anyone would get worked up about someone else not liking Jazz Fest. Plenty of people don’t like the fest. Sure, some of Richard’s complaints were a little haughty (hawaiian shirts?) and some were wildly off-base ( state fair?) but really, who cares?

    More room for the rest of us. And God knows we need it. I left before the Meters on Saturday because it was just way too crowded.

    FWIW, I don’t care for the Neville Brothers either.

  15. richard (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 10:14 am

    Not to beat a dead buggy-mule, but I wasn’t the one who raised the “state fair” issue–that can of worms was cracked open by dear, sweet Tyler.

    I take full responsibility, however, for the Hawaiian shirt bit. I totally LIVE for being called haughty….

  16. oyster (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 11:46 am

    Oh. I thought you lived to be called “hottie”.

  17. Aaron (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 12:52 pm

    Jazz Fest is about as near to being a state fair as Emeril’s is to being a wafflehouse. People don’t travel from Germany to see your county udder judging contest, and neither does Ray Charles, Sting, Paul Simon, Astral Project or the very Funky Meters – the very tip of the iceberg of bands I have seen play at Jazz Fest. I have recently waned from going to Jazz Fest, the last three years, but as soon as Law School ends (PIECE OF SH*T finals in the middle of Jazz Fest is totally out of line), I will continue my streak, which was 23 years straight without missing a Fest (from the age of 1, thanks Mom & Dad). It embodies the cultural zeitgeist of New Orleans the way Woodstock embodied that of the 60’s, and it is freakin’ COMPLETELY BEREFT of funnel cakes. You are missing a huge chunk of what makes the current New Orleans tick, and you’ll never understand the city completely until you actually go, enjoy it or hate it.

  18. laura (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 3:12 pm

    I would hardly call Jazz Fest the “cultural zeitgeist” of New Orleans. It’s more like what is perceived as the only New Orleans music with some big name acts thrown in that are roughly tied to the Heritage part of the Fest.

    Many, many of us don’t feel that stuff like Widespread Panic or the Meters or (for heaven’s sake!) Dave Matthews Band represent the spirit of the city.

  19. Clay (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 3:34 pm

    who does “many, many of us” refer to? to you, richard, and tyler?

  20. richard (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

    <neely o’hara> Stop it, stop it, stop it! Can’t we all just get along? </neely o’hara>

    Still, Clay, you have to agree: if Dave Matthews REALLY represented the spirit of New Orleans, you, me, and most of the city would pack up and head to the Greyhound station fast enough to make Ray Nagin’s shiny, sexy head spin.

  21. Laura (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 5:25 pm

    I’m sorry, my frame of reference extends beyond the handful of people who write for and post in the comments of New Orleans Metblogs. I think there’s a very large contingent of New Orlenians out there who are not into the jam band/white boy funk thing. This is evident in the numerous rock, pop, country, and electronic acts that regularly play around town and put out music that gets good distribution and sales and yet is completely absent from the Jazz Fest lineup. (And don’t give me that crap about Cowboy Mouth and Better than Ezra being rock bands.)

    This year there’s even a festival happening in the Bywater (NoizeFest) that coincides with Jazz Fest for some of the weirdos out there who don’t think that the bands playing Jazz Fest represent the totality of the music being made in New Orleans.

    Also, I hardly think that you have to attend Jazz Fest in order to “completely understand the city.” What I like best about this city, and cities in general, is that mine is different from yours. Your New Orleans is Jazz Fest and The Meters and the Maple Leaf Bar and whatever. Mine involves something totally different but I hardly think you can say that I don’t “understand” the city as well as someone else.

  22. Clay (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 6:51 pm

    he does have shiny, sexy head now doesn’t he!

  23. Aaron (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 9:12 pm

    Perhaps my detractors aren’t reading exactly what I said: “You are missing a huge chunk of what makes the current New Orleans tick, and you’ll never understand the city completely until you actually go, enjoy it or hate it.” I did not say you had to like it. I didn’t say you had to feel represented by it. What I did say is that it IS representative of what makes New Orleans the city it is, and if you haven’t at least been to the festival once you are missing a cultural event which helps defines a large part of the city’s population. Fine, you aren’t represented by the music there, or the food there, or the people who buy tickets/go for free (it has been about 8 years since I had to buy a ticket); that does not mean it is not the cultural event it is. Mardi Gras sold out several years ago, and I don’t think more than pocket of the New Orleans population feels represented by Big Ass beers and flashing on Bourbon balconies; I certainly don’t.

  24. Preturbed (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 10:24 pm

    Does anybody here take the time to think that people from out of town might actually read this blog? Is this bickering really good for New Orleans in any way?

    So you don’t like Jazzfest. BFD. I don’t like a lot of things that happen in New Orleans, but I don’t go spouting negative about something that you admittedly have no frame of reference for. Possibly you have more connection to the Labor Day festival that other New Orleanians could do without. Congrats.

  25. jonno (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 10:50 pm

    Yes, let’s all present a Unified Front so any non-New Orleanians reading this blog think everyone who lives here loves JazzFest and enjoys listening to the same types of music. Good call!

    (And of course I’m biased since I happen to know the author of the original post better than most of you here – we do share a medicine cabinet, after all – but Richard’s post really was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Lighten up, people.)

  26. richard (unregistered) on April 27th, 2005 @ 11:01 pm

    < nellybreak >

    Dear Preturbed [sic]:

    When the City of New Orleans starts paying MetroBloggers *comme moi* to be mouthpieces for the tourism industry, then I do solemnly swear that I will give a rat’s ass about whether (a) people from out of town read this blog and (b) online bickering is good for New Orleans.

    And even though I’ve never been to Jazz Fest, dearest, trust me, I’ve got a frame of reference. If you’ll re-read my post, my biggest complaint with the Fest is not with the music, but with the type of people it attracts: aging, bouge-y hippies barely fit to work as extras in *Sideways 2: The Musical*. I might never have set foot on the Fairgrounds, but I worked service-industry jobs for many, MANY years, and believe me: at least with the frat twits in town for Mardi Gras, you know where you stand.

    P.S. Not to be all flame-y (again), but there’s no need to be coy when you’re talking about Southern Decadence. Calling it a “Labor Day festival” makes you sound like a prude or a communist or a commie prude or something.

    < /nellybreak >

    Lovely weather we’re having, isn’t it?

  27. Clay (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 9:51 am

    First we have tyler and his “quality bloodlines”. now we have richard and jonno and their “What Not to Where” version of New Orleans Festival culture, of which they base their opinions because they worked in a bar and hated frat boys and actually consider an Orbital show as a live music concert.

    Point to ponder…Does Life does happen outside the FQ? Well, ladies, the answer is a resounding YES!

    You girls are great! You are making my days at work so enjoyable, I love all three of you! Dont ever change.

  28. jonno (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 10:54 am

    And this is exactly why God invented Canal Street! Tell you what, Clay: you stay on your side of town, we’ll stay on ours, and we’ll just pretend not to see you the next time you’re trawling around the corner of St. Louis and Burgundy looking for a “date” for the evening. Deal?

  29. Mike Hoffman (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 11:38 am

    Metroblogging is intended to give a hyper-local look at what’s going on in the city.

    Congrats to all of you for meeting that expectation.

    You guys might want to check out the “Subway Folk” series that is currently on the Metroblogging “Best Of” on the home page. Check out the April 27th entry …another perspective on dealing with tourists in a tourist-laden city might just keep your panties from bunching up.

  30. martin (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 11:43 am

    There is a distinct lack of homosexuals at Jazz Fest, or at least leather guys. I can’t really tell otherwise so maybe I’m wrong. Of course it’s usually hot. What do leather guys wear besides leather anyway?

  31. richard (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

    The leather queens are the ones with the elaborate facial hair, played-out tribal tats, and matching halter top/culotte sets.

    Which gives rise to the second oldest joke on the planet: How do you make a leather queen scream twice? You’ll have to email me for the answer–it’s not fit for family sites like this one.

    …Well, I think that officially exhausts the Jazz Fest topic. Let’s move on, shall we?

  32. Aaron (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 12:42 pm

    My uncle is gay, and he’s been going to Jazz Fest with my family for years – and yes, there’s a very large representation of that lifestyle who goes to Jazz Fest every year. But guess what? There aren’t cliques at Jazz Fest, every one hangs out together because the music and the shops aren’t segregated by interest. It is not a festival which is segregated along those lines, just segregated along lines of whether or not you like being outside and dancing and eating with fun crowds. Oh, and if you don’t like the tourist crowd, go on Thursday, it’s almost all locals.

    p.s. I don’t know when the bigots started contributing to this post, but I apologize to anyone who’s been offended by them – they’re not representative.

  33. Tyler (unregistered) on April 28th, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

    Lordy lordy lordy. As an out-of-towner (yes, Virginia, there are non-locals who read this blog), I gotta say that 1) Richard’s original post was funny; and 2) unfailingly self-deprecating. Each of the paragraphs states that his not getting Jazz Fest is probably due to a dislike of live music aggrevated by a mild case of agoraphobia. Hell, people, what he says is that the crowd isn’t *his* cup of tea.

    To paraphrase Bertha Bumiller, All y’all, don’t *make* me come down there and slap you.

    Oy. Then again I’m a big old homo who actually listens to The Meters.

    But this tea-pot tempest does confirm one thing. I love NOLA. People feel passionatly about the city that the Mississippi is gonna eventually wipe off the face of the earth …

  34. rcs (unregistered) on April 29th, 2005 @ 9:55 am

    Technically, it’ll be the lack of the Mississippi that’ll do New Orleans in.

  35. escapes (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 9:30 pm
  36. I like funk.... (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2005 @ 3:09 am

    “I went down to the corner

    to loot some Visine

    all this smoke in the air

    got to keep my contacts clean….

    I’ve got the subterranean, hate the Jazz Fest blues…”

    ok…so it’s a work in progress….

    PS: I’ll admit to not ‘getting’ the Nevilles either.

  37. expands (unregistered) on September 4th, 2005 @ 1:54 am
  38. convenient (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 2:42 am
  39. ether (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 4:17 am talentstitillatedtusk

  40. entire (unregistered) on September 11th, 2005 @ 4:10 pm
  41. deserted (unregistered) on September 13th, 2005 @ 5:13 pm invisiblelisteningvulnerable

  42. take (unregistered) on October 17th, 2005 @ 12:04 am
  43. bestiality pic (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 3:33 am
  44. healthy (unregistered) on October 25th, 2005 @ 9:39 pm
  45. others (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2005 @ 9:16 pm
  46. http bingo (unregistered) on November 14th, 2005 @ 4:36 am

    Parlez vous francaise?

  47. jOHN (unregistered) on November 14th, 2005 @ 6:55 am


  48. jOHN (unregistered) on November 14th, 2005 @ 6:58 am


  49. reformed (unregistered) on November 28th, 2005 @ 8:06 pm

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