Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Jazzfest Day 4: Saving the Best for Last
We all woke up early on Sunday determined to make the most out of our last day of Jazzfest after the rainstorms the previous day. Wasn't hard to do - the weather was simply breathtakingly beautiful - again. I'm not sure if it was the perfect weather, perfect friends, perfect lineup, or the fact that it was the last day, but Sunday may have been the best day ever despite all the previous highlights.

Light beads
A French Quarter street lamp awash in beads, despite the fact that Mardis Gras was 3 months ago...

Most of us met in the lobby early, and headed to the Festival Grounds well in advance of opening, so we could stake out our claim and lay in the sun (we're veterans at this point, and even know which Flags are the coolest / most fun to camp out with. Music as a competitive sport - gotta love it). We all had such a giddy, enthusiastic, feel good, punch drunk, vibe at 9:00 in the morning (from coffee!) - you knew it was gonna be a long day!!

I decided to start the day with Spencer Bohren. He lives just a few blocks from Jazzfest, and was simply the perfect, authentic mix of acoustic folk, gospel and blues to start off a gorgeous Sunday morning. Not preachy - just playful, joyous, and incredibly intimate with the audience. You really felt as though you were across the street in his garden, just hanging out and singing along. Just him and his guitar(s). Great stuff.

From there, I wandered through many of the craft and shopping booths that I had been lurking around, but neglected to buy from all week, and finally spent some $$$ on live Jazzfest recordings, rare jazz CDs, clothes, and Louisiana handicrafts (you're welcome Andrew).

This was all on my way over to meet Chuck and Diane who "slept in" (cough, cough), and met up with us later. I met them at the Sprint Stage to hear Anders Osborne. Oh. My. God. SUCH a fun, raucous, and amazing set. You know, there is truly something magical between the artists and the audiences at Jazzfest. I could be trite and say that they "feel the love", but there is this deeper understanding and appreciation that exists between the performers and the audience that, mixed with perfect weather (and a "little bit" of pot smoke), turns it into an almost spiritual experience. I've never seen such communal joy and goodwill as I have at Jazzfest(s). I mean. sure, there is a lot of security. It's >100,000+ drunk, sunburned, happy people every day for 2 weekends. But there are no arrests, no fights, no thefts, and no grudges. It's a musical utopia for 4 days. Yes Virginia, there is a heaven on earth - it's called New Orleans Jazzfest.

After Anders Osborne, I wanted to head next door to hear the Creole Zydeco Farmers, but I had heard them before and Diane wanted to hit a certain African craft booth for some beads that she had been eyeing all weekend, and it was next to the food area, and of course, it was nearing 2:00 already.

So....I had some crayfish bread and jambalaya, and after a flurry of text messages between everyone, we all met up at the Congo Stage to hear Michael Franti and Spearhead. Now, to be honest with you, I knew of him, but was not really familiar with his group's music and hadn't heard them live before.

Well now. They. Rocked. My. World.

Such energy, such enthusiasm. And Franti?? ooooooh baby - That is one TALL, cool drink of latte. Yummy.

Oh, I'm sorry, was I drooling?

Anyway, just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, we met up with everyone over at the "main camp", to hang out and hear Trey Anastasio . Trey is/ was the guitarist from Phish. I was completely blown away - seriously. Some of the best guitar playing I have heard, (since, mmmm, maybe a private concert in London back in November). Seriously - great, great stuff. A couple of our friends opted to wander over to the Los Lonely Boys concert, and came back complaining that they weren't nearly as good as Anastasio.

Opening with a nod to Led Zeppelin, Anastasio set the tone for his new project's rock-driven sound. Running through a set of new material, as well as the Beatles' - "I am the Walrus", (this really had the crowd going!).

On 2001's "Drifting," in particular, Trey's group sounded like a streamlined version of his previous solo band, coated with a slightly harder edge. Of his new originals, "Low" earned the biggest applause, while the appearance of New Orleans accordion hero Fig Tomato added some local flavor to Anastasio's jam session.

Trey's set ranked among the weekend's best offerings. Inviting percussionist Cyril Neville, saxophonist Dave Grippo, trumpeter Michael Ray, and a duo of Dirty Dozen tenors onstage, he ran through a series of Mardi Gras covers, recalling both the Meters' funky jams and his original solo project. Mixing his previous groove musings with the two-guitar interplay that characterizes his current band, Trey fulfilled his dream of orchestrating a big band of modern players, fusing jazz, rock, and New Orleans soul. It was just simply awesome.

Truly, my best memories of Jazzfest are not the big names - they were the uniquely American blues, jazz, and funk groups I discovered for the first time - even if some of them had been around for 60 years.

Saving the best for last.....

A fitting close to JazzFest, the Neville Brothers anchored Sunday evening's lineup as tradition has become to warrant.


The Neville Brothers' mixture of soul, funk and jazz has defined New Orleans for decades, seeding countless side projects along the way. Adding Trey Anastasio as a jam artist, and pairing him up with Charles Neville for a duel against his sax at several points towards the end, made for an historic concert. Unquestionably New Orleans' first family, a number of Neville kin now back the founding brothers, most notably keyboardist Ivan. Jamming with a variety of guests over the weekend (he was everywhere!), Ivan Neville has helped brand his family as The Big Easy's primary ambassador. And, in the end, the Neville Brothers proved that the key to preserving New Orleans ' musical heritage is a pair of old jamband tricks: cross-pollination and collaboration.

Well, how could you not be happy after a day like that?? We retired to the hotel for a swim, change of clothes, and drinks. Chuck, Diane and I (having lost the others to Bourbon St. earlier) wandered down to Decatur St. in the French Quarter later in the evening and found a great seafood place that also had a live jazz quartet playing. Since we were late, most of the people were gone, or "gone" as in not paying attention any longer as the jazz group tried their hardest to play. As they were ending a set and trying to engage the audience, they launched into the Cab Calloway "Hi-de-ho" song. It's a call back song, and being from Baltimore, I HAD to respond, so it was rather embarrassing when our table was the only one in the restaurant to stand up and answer the call to: "Hi de Hi de Hi de Ho".

The band leader loved us for it, and Chuck, Diane, 2 of the waiters, and another patron all got up on stage with me and we danced our hearts out (drinking?? who?? us??) .

Had a blast. The food was VERY good as well, but I'll be damned if I can remember the name of the place - starts with an "A"??? Look it up - it's 3 blocks off Canal St., on Decatur. Awesome.

So was this was on the way to dinner that night. A door in the French Quarter. I liked the colors:

posted by Broadsheet @ 9:42 PM  
1 Editorial Opinions:
  • At January 15, 2006, Blogger bill komissaroff said…

    JazzFest was incredible last year (as always!). I was there the first weekend and some of the highlights were:
    (Fairgrouds) Liquidrone, Ozomatli, Wilco, The Gospel Stars, Snooks Eaglin, Terence Simien, Sonny Landreth, and Buddy Guy.

    (Night Shows): Galactic (Tipatinas), Papa Grows Funk (The Maple Leaf), Bonerama, Freaquenox(sp?), and The SubDudes.

    We were staying in the quarter and rented bikes for the weekend. I am convinced it is the best way to travel to and from the fairgrounds.

    The buzz has already started for 2006. I will be there! May be the best one ever!


Post a Comment
<< Home

Name: Broadsheet
About Me: The Editor in Chief
See my complete profile
Mainstream Media

World News: Darfur/Sudan

Left Handed Editors

Right Handed Editors

The Personals

Food and Wine

Literature, Academia, Arts, and Culture

Healthcare and Technology

Book Reviews

The Tabloids

Previous Post
Archived Editions

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)

Blog Baltimore

Subscribe with Bloglines

Blogarama - The Blog Directory


Save the Net

Blogtimore Hon

Powered by