Thursday, May 29, 2008

I ask, who the hell would show up at this concert?...

I was reading through the Cal section of today's Hartford Courant, minding my own business, when I was accosted by a half-page ad for Air Supply at the Palace Theater, Waterbury this Saturday. WTF! Scared the hell out of me! Tickets are $40-$60, but I don't know whether you pay them or they pay you. It's gotta hurt either way.

Regrouping, I offer that the Ct. Blues Society Band Challenge 2008 continues tonight at Black Eyed Sally's in Hartford. The lineup:
8:00-8:30 Blues on the Side
8:45-9:15 The JSwine Band
9:30-10:00 Patty Tuite & The Boilermakers
10:15-10:45 Steel Trees
11:00-11:30 The Blue Lights (winner)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cool find: vinyl record memorabilia clocks by JennKisk...

Minding my own business on Monday when I happened upon an intriquing website,, featuring clocks made using old vinyl record albums. She will do custom clocks, too. Check it out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make....

Paul McCartney awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Yale University. (video clip courtesy of SeanP) - 2008 Yale Commencement

Here's Dr. Paul on the Back in the US 2002 Tour playing Sgt. Pepper and The End.

Happy Decoration Day!...

All Music Guide review of Decoration Day
by the Drive-By Truckers

Wikipedia overview

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Coming soon, ready or not- Johnny Gumbo Piano Shirt Tours...

Admit it, you've always imagined what it would be like to roll with the Gumbo at Jazzfest. Well, now you can. While details are still sketchy (not unlike the Gumbo), you can be assured that this will not be your run-of-the-mill tour, not with Johnny Gumbo at the helm. And that's what you must ask yourself before you commit, can you HANDLE the Gumbo?

Only on the Johnny Gumbo Piano Shirt Tour can you:
  • Be greeted at the airport by your personal driver with fresh, spicy fried chicken and cold beer for your ride into the Big Easy.
  • Stay in deluxe accommodations selected personally by the Gumbo.
  • Learn to kick ass at Ryan's Irish Pub playing pool and downing Abita Ambers with the legendary Pool Hall Studs.
  • Have access to Gumbo's incomparable wardrobe, possibly (but no promises) the Piano Shirt.
  • Wake up in the morning, bleary-eyed from the previous night's activities, only to suddenly focus on Gumbo's big bare ass staring back at you from across the room.
  • Learn to buy shoes, lots of them, from the experts- The Shoe Ladies.
  • Constantly text message Oriana From Oregona for five days straight, sometimes from 50 yards away, and not actually meet until accidentally bumping into one another.
  • For Keith and Sharie, who are to see one of the Piano Man's 75 shows at Mohegan Sun...

    Set list of Friday night's show (Courtesy of Eric Danton's blog)
    1. Prelude/Angry Young Man
    2. My Life
    3. The Entertainer
    4. The Downeaster Alexa
    5. Allentown
    6. Zanzibar
    7. New York State of Mind
    8. Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
    9. Keeping the Faith
    10. Don't Ask My Why
    11. She's Always a Woman
    12. Captain Jack
    13. The River of Dreams
    14. Highway to Hell (Chainsaw on lead vox)
    15. We Didn't Start the Fire
    16. It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
    17. You May Be Right
    18. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
    19. Only the Good Die Young
    20. Piano Man

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Frankly, Scarlett, we're disappointed...

    The combination of our girl doing an album culled from the incomparable Tom Waits' catalog was intriguing. I listened to it a couple times to be sure. I am. It sucks.

    Anywhere I Lay My Head Scarlett Johansson (reviewed in Rolling Stone)
    The girl's got indie cred, no doubt. Lost in Translation wrapped her in a dynamite alt-rock soundtrack, and she's sung with the Jesus and Mary Chain. So it makes sense that, for her debut, Scarlett Johansson takes on the indestructible songbook of indie totem Tom Waits. Produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, the experimental result finds her draped, sonically speaking, in costumes as ornate as those 16th-century period gowns she rocked in The Other Boleyn Girl. It's a reasonable strategy, since Johansson's voice is unremarkable and her pitch sometimes unsteady; she's a faintly goth Marilyn Monroe lost in a sonic fog. Sometimes that's fine: "I Wish I Was in New Orleans" is carried by a haunting music-box melody, "Fannin Street" has lush choral vocals bolstered by David Bowie, and "Song for Jo" (the set's sole original) sweeps the singer along in sound whorls recalling "Tomorrow Never Knows." But the synth-pop version of "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," famously covered by the Ramones, makes you wish Joey was still around to take the mike.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    More jazz for your summer...

    The Litchfield Jazz Festival has announced its 2008 schedule:

    Friday, August 1:
    5:30-7pm Friends of the Festival Gala at Winvian Resort & Spa
    7:45 pm Paquito D’Rivera with Zaccai Curtis Trio
    9:15 pm Bebe Neuwirth

    Saturday, August 2:
    noon Winard Harper Sextet
    1:45 pm Nicole Zuraitis Quartet
    3:30 pm Kenny Werner Trio
    5:15 pm Wayne Shorter Tribute Big Band
    7:00 pm Dave Brubeck Quartet
    8:45 pm Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side of Miles & ‘Trane
    After party and open jam, immediately follows Heritage Hotel, Southbury, CT

    Sunday, August 3:
    noon Claire Daly’s "Rah! Rah!" Band
    1:30 pm Peter Madsen Trio
    3:15 pm Jimmy Greene Quartet
    5:00 pm Cyrus Chestnut Trio
    6:45 pm John Pizzarelli, Dear Mr. Sinatra with Orchestra

    Hot town, summer in the city...

    It looks as if the summer jazz series in Hartford's Bushnell Park will not die after all. Courant jazz critic Owen McNally reports today that the Hartford Jazz Society will take over the management previously handled by renowned bassist/educator Paul Brown, while Prudential Financial and the Greater Hartford Arts Council will provide the financial support. The four-week series will feature:

    July 7- Roy Campbell's TAZZ and Matthew Tripp's Trio
    July 14- Jim Hobbs' Brothers of Heliopolis and Dominique Eade
    July 28- Tim Berne's Bloodcount and William Parker Quintet
    Aug 4- John McNeil/Bill McHenry Quartet and Gerald Cleaver's Violet Hour


    Monday, May 12, 2008

    The Fab Farq legend continues...

    While I was way down yonder in New Orleans (in the land of the dreamy scenes, there's a garden of eden, ah-you know what i mean), Bill Dempsey dropped this note in response to Notes from Ned from November, 2006:

    I worked in a bluegrass/folk group "Open All Night" and we did a version of "Dear John Deere". Lately, I've been thinking of recording the song. (I've done three self produced CDs.) Found a recording of the "Roadside Review" with "Dear John Deere". My understanding is the song was written by "Barnswallow Farquahr" or Doug Lapham from the group "The Fabulous Farquahr". Anyone else have any more info please let me know. Thanks!

    (note: Freddie Boom Boom Cannon's Way Down Yonder)

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Mother, you had me, but I never had you....

    Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!

    Mother (Pink Floyd)
    Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
    Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
    Mother, do you think they'll try to break my balls?
    Ooooowaa Mother, should I build a wall?
    Mother, should I run for President?
    Mother, should I trust the government?
    Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
    Ooooowaa Is it just a waste of time?
    Hush, my baby. Baby, don't you cry.
    Momma's gonna make all of your nightmares come true.
    Momma's gonna put all of her fears into you.
    Momma's gonna keep you right here under her wing.
    She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing.
    Momma's gonna keep Baby cozy and warm.
    Oooo Babe.
    Oooo Babe.
    Ooo Babe, of course Momma's gonna help build a wall.
    Mother, do you think she's good enough,
    For me?
    Mother, do you think she's dangerous,
    To me?
    Mother will she tear your little boy apart?
    Ooooowaa Mother, will she break my heart?
    Hush, my baby. Baby, don't you cry.
    Momma's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
    Momma won't let anyone dirty get through.
    Momma's gonna wait up until you get in.
    Momma will always find out where you've been.
    Momma's gonna keep Baby healthy and clean.
    Oooo Babe.
    Oooo Babe.
    Ooo Babe, you'll always be Baby to me.
    Mother, did it need to be so high?

    Other songs for Mother:
    Mother John Lennon
    Your mother should know- Beatles
    Mother in law Ernie K-Doe (written by Allen Toussaint)
    I want a mom that will last forever Cyndi Lauper
    Mother stands for comfort Kate Bush

    The blues ain't goin' nowhere...

    Johnny Gumbo forwarded an article about the oldest surviving Delta bluesman Honeyboy Edwards turning 93.

    story - history

    Edwards' take on the blues: "Blues ain't never going anywhere. It can get slow, but it ain't going nowhere. You play a lowdown dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain't dead but I'm just supposed to be blues. You can take that same blues, make it uptempo, a shuffle blues, that's what rock 'n' roll did with it. So blues ain't going nowhere. Ain't goin' nowhere."

    Jeff and Michael Dyson, founders of the Blue Shoe Project

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Best 'O the Fest...

    1. John Butler Trio (not HENRY Butler!) at Gentilly on Friday.
    2. Ruthie Foster at the SoCo Blues Tent on Saturday
    3. Jumpin' Johnny Sansome's Harmonica Revue at the SoCo Blues Tent on Friday
    4. Honorable mention: The Raconteurs, Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys, John Prine, St. Joseph the Worker Music Ministry, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Papa Grows Funk, Jimmy Buffett

    1. Lamb chops at Orleans Grapevine on Monday night; a very nice restaurant find
    2. Red fish at Herbsaint on Friday night where Diane from 'Frisco tells me about a jazz mass at St. Augustine Church
    3. Stuffed chicken wings at NOLA on Thurdsay night while meeting Shirley MacLaine (sort of)
    4. Honorable mention: cheeseburger/baked potato/Monsoon at Port of Call early Sunday afternoon, loaded up Lucky Dogs anytime/any Quarter street corner (can I get an amen, Gumbo!), oysters at the bar at Bourbon Street Oyster House, late morning Bloody Marys at Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar in preparation for the day's events

    1. Jazz mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church on Sunday morning while my compatriots slept in.
    2. Humble pie at Ryan's Irish Pub pool table (revisionist history may yet declare us winners).
    3. The odyssey that was Johnny Gumbo and Oriana (from Oregona); much too involved to explain, you'll have to trust me on this one. Me too!
    4. Honorable mention: "Coffee? Are we talking about COFFEE?" (waiter at Pat O'Brien's, in his best Allen Iverson persona, reacting to my drink order late Monday night)

    Comments invited.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Goin' home day...

    More perfect weather this morning. Warm, no humidity. Gumbo and I stroll across Canal and up Decatur to Cafe Du Monde around eight. Perfect timing for they do not serve outside until now. Quiet bustling about, the city back to normal, regular tourists and regular business people shuffle in and out, newspapers under their arms. We are seranaded by a street guitarist strumming Beatles songs just outside the cafe. Gumbo has to leave for the airport around 11:30; the PHS and I have a late afternoon flight, so there will be time to go over to the Louisiana Music Factory to pick up some music. Way too crowded yesterday, where crowds packed the store for the afternoon concerts.

    Back at the hotel via the Riverwalk, we pack up and it's exit time for the Gumbo. Tears, sobbing all around. Or not. In any event, the legend that is Johnny Gumbo shuffles off to the Great Northwest. The PHS need more time to beautify, so I'm off to Decatur again to the LMF. Quiet, but quite a few of us looking for some good stuff to bring home. I'm told Ruthie Foster sold out fast. I settle on:

  • Johnny Sansone- Poor Man's Paradise
  • Terrance Blanchard- Let's Get Lost
  • Ellis Marsallis Quartet- An Open Letter to Thelonious

  • I retire to the Attiki Bar looking out on Decatur for an Abita Golden (they are out of Abita Amber) while I look over my cache. The Studs leave a message on my cell (I can't get the damn thing to ring) that they are off to Luke on St. Charles for lunch, but I've overeaten all weekend and I'm tapped out at this point. So I walk around the Quarter for awhile before rendezvousing with PHS back at the Louisiana Music Factory, where we see Allen Toussaint, crisply dressed in a pin-striped, grey suit and sandals, stroll in, looking for a Jimmy Buffett CD! Damn, left my camera back at the hotel with my stored luggage, so we missed a chance at a group shot (sans the Gumbo) with him. My bad.

    Finally, music acquired, it's up Decatur to purchase jewelry at Java House Imports and then Jazz Fest 2008 is history. See y'all next year.

    Approaching Cafe Du Monde for our annual coffee and beignets.

    Insider's view of Cafe Du Monde Tuesday morning while listening to a street musician playing Beatles tunes on acoustic guitar. Gumbo tips the gent as we leave. Street cred.

    Steamboat Natchez

    Steamboat Natchez docked along the Mississippi River.

    Just some historic building on Decatur Street during our Tuesday morning walk.

    St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square viewed from Riverwalk across Decatur.

    Harrah's New Orleans- no reason other than we were passing on our walk back from Cafe Du Monde.

    The legendary Fashion Cafe - now a Walgreens

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    It's Monday already?...

    Monday concerts at the Louisiana Music Factory:

    12pm- Eric Lindell
    1pm- Ellis Marsalis Quartet
    2pm- Spencer Bohren
    3pm- 007
    4pm- Cyril Neville & Tribe 13
    5pm- Henry Butler
    6pm- Tab Benoit

    Cyril Neville & Tribe 13 performing at a packed Louisiana Music Factory on Monday afternoon.

    The Ellis Marsalis Quartet at the Louisiana Music Factory on Monday afternoon. Note the concert poster to the right with the Beatles as the opening act for Little Richard.

    Pool at the late opening Ryan's Pub brought heartbreak for Gumbo and Johnnyk as the Pool Hall Studs withstood a furious comeback (down two games to zero) only to see it slip away in the tiebreaking game. However, the philosopher Johnny Gumbo, beaten but unbowed, says despite the defeat the sun will still come up tomorrow.

    Dinner at Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro. A very nice find.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Sunday, Bloody (Marys) Sunday...

    can I get an amen!
    Up early for Mass. Yep, you heard it right, brothers 'n sisters. While dining at Herbsaint on Friday night, Diane from 'Frisco told of a wonderful jazz Mass service at a small, African-American Catholic church off of Rampart, so I thought I'd give it a try. Actually, the others were also interested in going, but their morning sleeping schedules do not allow for it. It is a glorious two mile walk on a Sunday morn, down to Canal, up Canal to N. Rampart, up N. Rampart past the Louis Armstrong Park to Gov. (chainlocked, looking a bit in disrepair) to Gov. Nichols, where I find St. Augustine Catholic Church of New Orleans. Its website describes the church as "....St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, advocates and celebrates freedom from sin and oppression. Since it’s dedication in 1842, St. Augustine has been a church of the free black citizens of New Orleans, welcoming both free and slave as worshippers. It continues today as a beacon of humanity and spirituality, both a history lesson and an example of 21 st century Christianity in action."

    The doors of the church are open for me (both literally and, I am hoping, figuratively), so I step inside, only to find it empty save for several musicians practicing up at the front. Damn! Sorry, I meant darn it! A friendly, stately lady welcomes me to St. Augustine Church, and I ask if there will be a Mass this morning. Oh yes, and you picked a good one, a Jazz Mass at 10 o'clock. Thank you, Ma'am.

    What to do? I decide to walk around to pass the time, crossing over Rampart back into the French Quarter. A call to Gumbo to see if he is awake enough to make it at ten brings an curt, inaudible response that I take as a no. I grab a coffee to go and call The Reet to give her an update, walk around the just awakening Quarter a bit, then head back to St. Augustine. When I arrive, the place is a beehive of activity. I'm handed a hymn book by one of the well-dressed greeters and slide into an empty pew in the back. The church is long, high-ceilinged, with two rows of pews from the back to about half way to the front, then an open area where a small altar table is set up facing the congregation, then the pews continue to the front, but no one is sitting in those. There are also pews on the sides, just three deep, facing the center. There is an elevated area in the front where traditionally the altar would be. This is presently filling with musicians and a chorus of about ten men and women. I decide to move up front (third row, over to the right) for a better view. In a few minutes others squeeze in next to me, so I end up in the middle.

    St. Augustine Catholic Church seen from Claude Street (from Wikipedia)

    The Mass starts with a procession from the back to the alter table with two youngsters leading carrying the cross and other essentials, followed by two priests. The band and chorus swing into action and the whole place starts singing and clapping and moving to the beat. The traditional elements of the Catholic Mass are present: readings by a nervous, teenage young man; a sermon about the Ascension, Communion. Two of the well-dressed greeters, older gentlemen, carry a large wicker basket lined with a linen cloth and place it in front of the altar table while the priests take seats. The band and choir starts up and, after a slight hesitation, everyone, at random, walks up to the basket to throw in an offering. I slide out of the pew along with my pewmates and toss in a twenty. When the activity is complete, the greeters take the basket over to the priest for his approval, then cart it off to a side room. When it's time for the sign of peace, no timid handshakes with a couple neighbors here - the place explodes in song as people get out of their seats and roam all around the place singing and hugging and kissing! I hold back on the hugging and kissing, but shake the hand of darn near everyone in the church including the two priests. My energetic neighbor, a woman possibly in her 40's, does give me a hug. This goes on for about ten minutes before order is restored.

    After Communion, and a rousing When the Saints Come Marching In (also the St. Anthony High School Crusaders' basketball entry song, Fats Domino version, which was pretty cool), numerous acknowledgements were handed out. Any birthdays out there? No? Finally, after much prodding, a middleaged man stood up and was treated to a 15 minute, full-blast version of Happy Birthday. To wrap things up, everyone joined in the procession back out into the sunshine while the music kept playing. Pretty cool.

    Well, it's about 11:30, so I call Gumbo for a what's up and find that everyone is off to Lucy's for their morning veggies (the bloody marys are loaded with them!). Then it's off to Port of Call for a big old burger,a fully-loaded baked potato and, of course, a Monsoon. Alrighty.

    Sunday's lineup looks like this:
    2:35-1:30pm Sonny Landreth at Gentilly Stage
    2:15-3:15pm Snooks Eaglin at Southern Comfort Blues Tent
    3:20-5:00pm Santana at Acura Stage
    3:35-4:55pm The Raconteurs at Gentilly Stage
    3:45-4:55pm Keb' Mo' at Southern Comfort Blues Tent
    5:30-6:50pm The Derek Trucks Band at Southern Comfort Blues Tent
    5:35-6:55pm The Radiators at Gentilly Stage
    5:40-6:55pm The Neville Brothers at Acura Stage
    5:45-7:00pm Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys at Sheraton New Orleans Fais-Do-Do Stage

    Out to the fairgrounds by two in time to start the day with Snooks Eaglin in the Southern Comfort Blues Tent. Then must catch Jack White and the Raconteurs. The Nevilles are closing for the first time since Katrina and there's been some backlash against them, even talk of an organized booing when they are introduced.

    The Raconteurs do not disappoint. They are loud, but in touch with this predominantly younger audience.

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    It's Saturday, and it's POURING!...

    Up early after a good night's sleep (unlike some of my contemporaries), I hear the window of our hotel room being pattered with rain. I go to the window to investigate and see the rain coming down in sheets. Damn.

    But, not to worry, by the time we get to Lucy's Retired Surfer's Bar, the sun is out and everything is good. From our cubes perusal, we come up with the following game plan:

    1:50-2:50pm The Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Congo Square "My Louisiana" Stage
    2:15-3:05pm The Dixie Cups & their Cayenne Pepper Band at Acura Stage
    2:15-3:20pm Ruthie Foster at Southern Comfort Blues Tent
    3:35-4:45pm the subdudes at Acura Stage
    3:45-5:00pm Marcia Ball at Gentilly Stage
    3:45-5:00pm Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea at WWOZ Jazz Tent
    5:30-7:00pm Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at Acura Stage
    5:30-6:55pm Kenny Wayne Shepherd at Southern Comfort Blues Tent
    5:35-7:00pm Diana Krall at Gentilly Stage

    A little on the later side today, but we are out at the Fairgrounds around 1:30pm and, because of our decision to buy all our tickets yesterday (which did not look like a good one a few hours ago), we waste no time in line. A good thing too, it's going to be very crowded today. Ruthie Foster at 2:15 in the Blues Tent is the pick of the day, so we walk past the grandstand, past the Gospel Tent. But, no, we can't pass without sampling the St. Joseph the Worker Music Ministry! The joint is rocking! We are able to stay for one number before feeling the urgency to get a spot for Ruthie. The Pool Hall Studs peel off to get some food, so Gumbo and I walk around to the far right side of the tent to position ourselves in the same spot as we did Friday for Jumpin' Johnny. TWO EMPTY SEATS! We take them. The Southern Comfort Blues Tent gets filled up fast. Ruthie strolls out onto the stage with her all-female band, straps on a guitar, offers a warm welcome and proceeds to kick our asses for the next hour. Soul, blues, gospel, reggae, all mixed together in a wonderful performance that has the whole tent on its feet. She does a sweet version of Lucinda (she calls her friend, Cindi) Williams' Fruits of My Labor. John Butler, you've got Ruthie so very, very close behind you. What a start to Saturday!

    While the PHS catch the subdudes, Gumbo and I make our way down to hear some of Marcia Ball's set, catching some zydeco along the way. The last set of the day will be crazy at Acura for Jimmy Buffett. Mark says I must see some of Kenny Wayne Shepard and we all want to see Diana Krall. While we stand with 50,000 of our closest friends waiting for Jimmy Buffett, we hear an announcement that Churchill Downs, which also owns the Fairgrounds, will be transmitting the Kentucky Derby race over the large screens near the stage. Pretty cool. Buffett is in great form, everyone singing along, fins going to the left and to the right everywhere! But we've got work to do. Mark says Kenny Wayne Shepard is a must see, so we say ciao to the parrotheads to find the SoCo Blues Tent. Mr. Shepard doesn't disappoint. Not a singer, in the Carlos Santana tradition, he blisters through his solos, getting hoots from the packed crowd at completion. Good choice.

    Now we're off to catch the final half-hour of Diana Krall at Gentilly, not an easy hike at this point, but mission accomplished in good time. Diana is finishing up a number as we arrive to the left of the stage, in the same general area where I saw the John Butler Trio and John Prine yesterday. She looks and sounds great. Another number has us hooked, but she suddenly gets up and waves goodby. WTF! She's lured back to do a brief encore, then an indifferent exit. Very strange, and VERY disappointing. Anyway, it's off to Brook's Seahorse Saloon just outside the Gentilly Blvd exit to await our cab ride back while tasting an Abita Amber.

    Another good day of music despite Ms. Krall (I must tell Elvis of her behavior).

    USA Today report
    Ruthie Foster at the SoCo Blues Tent on Saturday

    St. Joseph the Worker Music Ministry at the Gospel Tent on Saturday

    Scene at the Acura Stage prior to Jimmy Buffet

    Diana Krall finishing up her abreviated set at Gentilly

    One-half of the Pool Hall Studs waiting for Jimmy Buffett

    Johnny Gumbo posing with new friends

    Savoy Family at the Fais-Do-Do Stage

    Dancing in the mud to the Savoy Family at Fais-Do-Do

    Sorry, Gumbo, she's with the band

    Friday, May 02, 2008

    Johnny Gumbo Piano Shirt Friday!

    morning has broken
    The 2nd annual Johnny Gumbo Piano Shirt Friday (it's really an accordion shirt) kicked off with an early morning walk, which was not the greatest idea considering I would be standing/walking for about 6 hours at the Fairgrounds. But logic is apparently not my strong suit, so I travel up Magazine over to St. Charles. Note that the cable cars are back running on St. Charles. Warm, partly cloudy. The forecast is for 50% rain. Better be prepared with cheap, condom-looking plastic rain ponchos like the ones on the album cover of the Pool Hall Studs' classic Where the hell did the gumbo go?.

    Back to the room to cleanup, dress and meet at Lucy's Retired Surfer's Bar on Tchoupitoulas for pre-game Bloody Marys. Gumbo and I arrive first and are into our second before the tardy Pool Hall Studs arrive. Out come the cubes to plan the day's music. Gumbo has his cubes all noted:

    1:25-2:25pm Jumpin' Johnny Sansone's Harmonica Revue at Southern Comfort Blues Tent
    1:55-2:55pm Papa Grows Funk at Acura Stage
    2:00-3:00pm John Boutté at WWOZ Jazz Tent
    3:30-4:30pm Ingrid Lucia at Allison Miner Music Heritage/Lagniappe Stage
    3:50-4:55pm Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave at Congo Square "My Louisiana" Stage
    5:40-7:00pm John Prine at Gentilly Stage

    Good choices, Gumbo. Very tough call on the John Prine v. Stevie Wonder matchup to finish the day (and that's not even throwing Terrence Blanchard at the Blues Tent into the mix), but I agree with Gumbo. The Studs will opt for Stevie, so we've got it covered. I tell the boys that I MUST catch the John Butler Trio on the recommendation of Garrett, who proclaimed their concert to be the very best he's ever attended. It's agreed that we will abide by the suggestion. Also, I might consider Richard Thompson, who gave a great show back in the 90's at Toad's (Dave H, you remember that one?).

    Bloody Marys drained, we walk down to Canal to get our condom rain pouches and cigars (not for me), then call Garland (our personal driver with the chicken/beer) to take us out to the Fairgrounds.

    Johnny Gumbo and piano shirt Friday noon at Canal.

    Jumpin' Johnny Sansone's Harmonica Revue
    We arrive at the Fairgrounds around 1:30 and get our tickets, all opting to buy three days at once to avoid having to get in line on Saturday and Sunday. We're here! It appears to be very crowded for a Friday. First stop is the SoCo Blues Tent to catch Jumpin' Johnny Sansone's Harmonica Revue, not because we've heard of him, but because it's a great name! The tent is packed; no seats available, but we work our way over to an aisle to the right of the stage and stand. Not a bad view. Well, Jumpin' Johnny is kicking ass up there with his band. I reach for my trusty camera to shoot some video and am told via flashing message that the batteries are exhausted. Great, I go out walking for a couple hours and the batteries have been just sitting in the camera, and THEY are exhausted! And, of course I have about a dozen new batteries in my bag - back at the hotel. Wonderful planning, JK! But not to worry, they have a General Store somewhere in the fairgrounds, so I might have a chance to get some replacements. We stay for the end of Jumpin' Johnny's set and agree that he was a great start to the festival.

    good battery hunting
    After sampling some file gumbo and assorted other shared Papa Grows Funk lures us to the nearby Acura Stage where they are funking up the place to a large, appreciative audience. I leave the group to search for batteries; we can communicate by texting, but without my glasses I can't read anything. A security volunteer points me in the direction of the General Store and along the way I check out this year's tee-shirts. I will NOT buy the official one again (burned two times already), for they end up too stiff and really not practical. There are some good ones here, though. Note to pick one up. There's the General Store! Five bucks for 4 AA batteries and I'm back in business. I decide to make my way to the Gentilly Stage (2nd largest) for the John Butler Trio. On my way I stop at the Sheraton New Orleans Fais-Do-Do Stage to take in some Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band.

    respect, y'all

    I make my way to the left side of the stage, wedging into a decent position about 30 yards from the stage. The others are on their way, but it's so crowded we won't hook up. Sound checks completed, the diminutive Butler and his two mates walk out on stage to the roar of this younger crowd. He welcomes everyone and shouts out some respect for the city and it's people - the birthplace of jazz, rock 'n roll, hip-hop, all began here, y'all - respect! And he fires up the crowd with You can be better than that (see video above). Fabulous show! All three members, Butler on guitars, Shannon Birchall on bass and Michael Barker on drums, are powerhouse musicians and the energy of the performance is breathtaking. A guest keyboard player joins them for much of the show. Even when it starts to rain, nothing bothers the enjoyment ("Just a little water, it's all good, y'all").

    you are what you are and you ain't what you ain't
    We stay at Gentilly for John Prine while the Studs go back to Acura for Stevie Wonder. I'm guessing the crowd at Acura must be immense, because there are far fewer here now than for the Butler show. Prine comes out dressed in black, a bit of A Johnny Cash look, with another electric guitar play to accompany him. Always a big fan, I've never heard him in concert so I'm excited for the opportunity. We are able to get a good vantage point again and settle in for some wonderful entertainment. Prine is a storyteller, a philosopher, reminds us of early Dylan, not much range in his voice, but so expressive. Loved the Bonnie Raitt hit Angel From Montgomery, the humorous Dear Abby, the poignant Sam Stone. Again, a great show. We agree that every act we saw was a winner today. We exit to the bar just outside the Gentilly exit and wait for the Studs, who arrive in a bit to say Stevie, after a slow start, put on a great show. A call to Garland and we're on our way back to the hotel filling ourselves with fried chicken wings.

    A quick freshen up/change and we grab a cab out to Herbsaint on St. Charles St. for dinner. We dine at the small bar, where Diane from Frisco tells me of a jazz mass I should try this Sunday. Excellent Redfish special. That's all for me, folks. Garland drops me at the hotel (it's midnight by now), on the way to drop Gumbo and the Pool Hall Studs at Frenchmans Street.

    Tee shirt booth under threatening skies

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    Oh, those Pool Hall Studs, they are SO good!...

    Arrived at the Louis Armstrong Airport about 1:30pm. Mark immediately dials up our transportation connection and, after a quick beer while waiting for the bags to arrive, we are on our way into town with complimentary fried chicken and beer. Nice touch.

    Some lunch at Mother's as Johnny Gumbo arrives from the great Northwest, then we head into town, ending up, Surprise!, at Ryan's Pub. I know we kick some serious ass last year, but the Pool Hall Studs have been working out hard, and squeezed out a 4 games to 3 victory. They have been strutting around like peacocks ever since.

    Dinner at Emeril's Nola, then saw Jon Cleary piano soloing at the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street, before heading back for the night.

    Celebrity sightings- Shirley MacLaine (close enough) at Emeril's Nola
    We're off to Jazz Fest!

    Jazz Fest photos/vids/commentary, Piano Shirt Friday, Ryan's Pub, Pool Hall Studs, Johnny Gumbo - follow it all here!