Monday, May 04, 2015

Winding down Monday...

Movie set at park on Frenchmen Street early Monday morning

Late afternoon at the Louisiana Music Factory:

Post Eric Lindell at LMF- late afternoon drink with Jersey crew on Decatur

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys...

Kim Carson at Sheraton Fais Do Do Stage

Buddy Guy closing at the Blues Tent
Goodbye for another year - passing Gospel Tent on way out

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Saturday nights are made for fighting...

Day two begins in similar fashion to day one - the Pool Hall Studs making snoring/other loud familiar noises in the other room as I arise just after daybreak.  Because of my eight hours of French Quarter/Jazz Fest walking yesterday, I've developed a large blister on the bottom of my right foot; not a good thing.  Oh well, suck it up.  I dress, get coffee, stroll the Warehouse District, call The Reet.  Another perfect day, weather wise. Back to the room mid-morning to try to blog Thu/Fri.

Toast to Johnny Gumbo
Eventually, Mark is up/dressed.  While we wait (and wait) for Barry to go through his human-rain-delay morning routine, we walk the two blocks up Tchoupitoulas to Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar, our morning go-to spot to plan the day.  Crowded already.  Great $4 Bloody Marys.  We make a toast to the late, semi-great Johnny Gumbo, the iconic Big Easy personality who left us several years ago.  Call to Barry for plans.  Lunch.  Nola, will meet there.

One of the Jazz Fest lunch staples is a trip to Emeril's Nola restaurant for Miss Hays' stuffed chicken wings. "These wings are deboned, stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, chopped shrimp, mushrooms, onions, celery, cilantro and fish sauce. They're baked, then fried and served with a garlicky homemade hoisin dipping sauce." We do a couple orders with BloodyMarys/Abita Ambers to start, then on to an entree of Shrimp & Grits.  Now THAT'S a lunch!

It's Saturday in the park.  No, that doesn't work, Chicago was yesterday.  Saturday's lineup includes Marcia Ball, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aaron Neville along with closers Elton John, Ed Sheeran, TI, Terence Blanchard, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rockin' Dopsie.  We arrive at the Gentilly end of the Fairgrounds around 2.  The line for tickets goes on seemingly forever.  Good move to get all tickets on Friday.  We find Marc Broussard (he'll be at Hartford's Infinity Hall on June 7) sounding great on the Gentilly Stage. Next stop is Kermit Ruffins at Congo Square Stage viewed from the side on the track.  Hey, it's getting REAL crowded in here today!  Combo of perfect weather, a Saturday (always the biggest day) and Elton John on the bill spells massive crowd!  We find the Jersey boys & girls in the Blues Tent for the Royal Southern Brotherhood, Cyril Neville's southern rock supergroup (“They are not a band – they are an extravaganza” – John Hiatt) that includes Devon Allman (Gregg's son), drummer Yonrico Scott, bassist Charlie Wooten and guitarist Bart Walker. Really good.

A brief trip to the Lagniappe Stage in the Grandstand for the Radiators' Ed Volker's Trio Mollusc, then I split from the others to go back to the Blues Tent for my pick of the day, Aaron Neville.  I missed his 2012 show where he debuted his doo wop stuff, so I want to hear it now. It's hot as hell, so a seat inside and a few drops from the mist lines feels like heaven.  Aaron does not disappoint, running through a bunch of old Neville Brothers, Wild Tchoupitoulas and his solo stuff.  Curiously, after a rousing When the Saints Go Marching In, he chooses to do Tell It Like It Is - diffusing the energy in the room.  On to Amazing Grace, which was the Nevilles' Jazz Fest closer for many years.  For me, it has lost some of its punch.  In any event, loved Aaron.

Just up around the bend in the track to Acura.  As I make my way, I can hear Elton launching into Rocket Man.  The crowd is immense, solid wall of people, but I make my way through until I can see the stage from the track (but, in reality, I see the large screens showing the stage!).  Again, I was skeptical of booking aging rockers for Jazz Fest, but again I am proven wrong.  He sounds in top form, his piano playing is strong and energetic.  And it's really weird to see 20-somethings walking along singing Rocket Man, burning out his fuse up here alone.  Parents' record collection?  I stay for about 45 minutes, then head back to the Jazz Tent for the end of Terence Blanchard's set (and to rest my weary legs).  Out the front gate over to the Seahorse to reconnect with the Pool Hall Studs, who have found yet another private source of transportation back to the Staybridge.

A quick cleanup and we're out to Root over near the Convention Center for dinner, where our somewhat pompous barkeep tells us all about expensive tequilas.  Hot and Sour Lemonfish (Coriander Seared Lemonfish, Fried Glass Noodles, Red & Green Curry Paste, Horseradish “Snow,” Hot & Sour Soup)  is very good.

Tired, but no longer hungry, I bid the Studs good evening.  They continue on to Manning's where they bump into Allen Toussaint, dressed to the nines, just exiting from the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight.  They also run into the Jersey crowd and accompany them to Kangaroo Vic's on Tchoupitoulas for a nightcap.  I am fast asleep.  Another good day at Jazz Fest.

Lagniappe Stage in the Grandstand

Aaron Neville at Blues Tent
Back of beer tent, near toilets for Elton John.  Insanely crowded!

Seahorse Saloon, post-Fest meeting place

Friday, May 01, 2015

Can there be a PIANO SHIRT FRIDAY without Johnny Gumbo?,,,

Johnny Gumbo piano shirt
A good night's sleep on my luxurious pull-out couch bed.  The PHS do not wake until late morning, so I'm up, dressed and walking - across Poydras, down Tchoupitoulas past Mother's and Restarant August (another simmering feud, something about Barry miffed at not being allowed the dinner menu while seated at the bar), across Canal Street, all the way up Bourbon (freshly hosed down, so not TOO smelly) to Esplanade, then over to Frenchman, where I see the new location of the Louisiana Music Factory.  This walk, in retrospect, was not a well thought out idea, for we will be on our feet the whole day.

Stud sighting at Parkway's
Mark and Barry FINALLY awake from their slumber, then work out/run, announce themselves sufficiently buff, complain that I did not bring them up any food from the hotel breakfast buffet that they would NEVER eat at, shit/shower/shave, dress.  Sensitive to my thought that we COULD be getting out to the Fairgrounds a bit earlier this year, we set out, grab a cab out to the Parkway Bakery & Tavern at the corner of Hagan/Toulouse for some poor boys.  It's a small neighborhood joint with a big reputation for their poor boys.  I grab a table while Mark waits in the long line until Barry finds out that if you get a table in the bar, the bartenders will take your order.  We find a table in the back of the bar near the back door.  Lots of people in and out picking up orders.  Mark offered to hold the door for one young lady, loaded down with a bunch of bags.  "No need, honey, that's why God gave me this big booty" as she used said booty to bump the door open.  The Studs are starving and order Stud-sized shrimp and ???.  I go for the more human size BBQ steak.  Very good, but we agree that it does not quite compare with Mahoney's.

We're about seven blocks from the Fairgrounds, so we decide to walk it.  Gorgeous day.  Getting pretty warm.  Bright sunshine, no clouds, temperature in the 80s.  The grounds should be dried out from the 1st weekend rains and Monday's severe storm.  The ticket line is short; we purchase tickets for all three days, each of which is up to $70.  Our expectations for today's music are low, No Doubt and Chicago as the closers?  Disappointing, but let's see what we can find.  I suggest Gal Holiday & Her Honky Tonk Revue over at the Sheraton Fais Do Do Stage.  We arrive early in her set and find Gal looking and sounding hot as the weather, a simple shift-type dress, boots, and a short cut to her dark hair.  Oh, did I mention that she shaved one side of her head?  Great look!  She tells us she's from originally western Maryland, but after 16 years living here, she's a New Orleans girl through and through.  Great voice, great backup band playing in a sort of country-swing fashion.  Some originals, some Hank Williams, some Dylan.  Very, very good start.

Luther Kent & Trick Bag at Gentilly Stage:   Luther's been around for awhile but I've only caught him
Piano Shirt Friday?
once before. His biography says he was lead singer for the touring Blood, Sweat & Tears in the early 70's, but record contract issues kept him from ever recording with the group.  Big man, rough, soulful voice backed by a huge band which features once of the sax players often,  Good sound.  We stick around for a good chunk of his set.  We've finally found the New Jersey crew. More hugs, laughter, tears while everyone samples the liquid concoction that they've smuggled in.

Damn, it's getting warm, so New Jersey Mark suggests we go into the Miller Lite Tent (he's got some free passes) at the back of the Acura Stage for Galactic with Macy Gray.  It gets us out of the sun with free beer and funk to boot! But I've targeted Shooter Jennings back at Fais Do Do as a possibly good show so Mark G and I leave the group and make our way over there.  His set has just started,  Looks a bit like his old man, Waylon.  As he introduces his next song, it's quickly apparent that he is NO fan of Nashville (something like "My Favorite View of Nashville Is From Afar"), but all those anger issues result in some great songs.  Hell of a backing band, too.  The dude on pedal steel/harmonica is fabulous!  "So, a few years ago a guy from Nashville said he was doing a tribute album for George Jones and asked folks to write original songs and submit them, so I wrote a couple songs for him. Turns out the guy was full of shit, but here's one of those songs I wrote."  Funny story, great song.  Great show, Shooter.  Best of the day!

JK, Elisa, Pool Hall Studs at Gentilly
Chicago closing at the Acura Stage: Does anybody know what time it is?  Does anybody really care? I don't. And I tell the others that there's no way I'm going to see No Doubt or Chicago, today's "big name" closers at Acura and Gentilly respectively. MAYBE I'm a bit of a music snob, but I loved the Chicago Transit Authority (saw them twice at Yale Bowl in the late 60s) through their first 3 albums until Terry Kath died and everything went to mush.  And there's, like, one member left!  But I'm a team player and I go along.  Okay, okay, they do sound pretty good (except for some generic songs that sound like Journey).  I'm getting killed by everyone.  We venture into the crowd closer to the stage to meet up with Elisa, longtime friend of the Pool Hall Studs.  I met her years ago just as she was moving from New Orleans out to Denver for professional reasons, but she and her husband have recently returned to NO permanently and are finishing up renovating a place in Marigny.  Hugs, laughter, tears.  The sun is lowering in the background as Chicago continues to prove my assessment of them MAY have been a bit harsh.  Last song:  25 or 6 to 4  Killer good.  Okay, OKAY!

And, of course, what would Jazz Fest be without the Pool Hall Studs' dressing for Marshall's annual themed dinner.  Personally, I would not trust ANY read from that caddy!

Words cannot describe