Monday, May 14, 2012

April 28, 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Round 1

This is the Southern University Jazzy Jags on one of the main stages, the Gentilly Stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Before I continue I should probably explain how someone who never listens to jazz ended up here. The first person responsible would be my brother, Jeff. He moved to New Orleans over two years ago. The second person responsible would be Bruce Springsteen. When Bruce announced he was headlining Jazzfest, I started thinking about coming down here to see him. Then I ordered his lastest CD, Wrecking Ball from Amazon. I also ordered a box set called Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans. I called Jeff to say I was coming down for a weekend to see Bruce. He let me invite myself. Then I started listens to the 4 CD's from the Big Ol' Box of New Orleans...and I kept listening to those incredible CD's....non stop for weeks, during this time I started looking at the Jazzfest lineups...I called Jeff and said I'm coming down for 10 days...once again he said OK....the least I could do was buy him a ticket for the days I decided to go to Jazzfest. So that is how I ended up watching the Jazzy Jags with Jeff today.  

Like a fat kid in a candy shop, I just wanted to sample everything available here at Jazzfest. So we headed over to the Fais Do-Do where Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours were playing music that had everyone dancing...
...I quickly fell in love with this stage. There was always a party going on here and having fun was contagious if you were in the crowd. It really was impossible not to enjoy the bands that played here.
The huge Congo Square stage had to be tough on the performers because the sun beat down straight onto this stage. I think this was Khris Royal and Dark Matter. They mixed musical genres progressive funk & alternative jazz. (Oops...this is not Khris Royal, it is Cheikh Lo of Senegal.) We grabbed some lunch which it turns out is just as eclectic and good as the music at this festival...I had trout was incredible.

Ever since I first saw the Mardi Gras Indians on the show Treme, I couldn't wait to see them in person. So when we saw Walter Cook & the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians on the Jazz & Heritage Stage, I had to check them out. The dancing, the chanting, the amazing colors and unbelievable costumes, the call & response MC along with the heavy bass percussion had me mesmerized. I took pictures in between dancing along with the rest of the crowd.

After their 45 minute set, we headed over to the Gospel Tent...
...I'd be lying if I said we came to see the Archdiocese of New Orleans Gospel Choir. We came because there were seats and shade. But we did enjoy the music...and the shade...and the seats.
We stumbled across these Indians parading across the Jazzfest grounds.
Back at the Fais Do-Do stage, the Savoy Music Center of Eunice Saturday Cajun Jam...
...had the crowd dancing. I was interested because on Monday I am going to visit family in Eunice. I was impressed as they kept switching instruments and inviting different people to the stage but the music sounded great whether an old timer or a young kid was playing. I was beginning to think that Springsteen might have gotten me here but bands like this were making me thankful that I came to Jazzfest.
Amanda Shaw and the Cute Boys on the Gentilly Stage. This little firecracker of a fiddle player hit the stage like an atom bomb. Her energy was explosive and her fiddle playing was great. I heard about three of her songs and was instantly a fan.
Lots of creative people in the crowd too.

           There's a sign you do not see very often.
I saw Cee-lo at Lollapalooza and he was happened again. The sound mix was terrible and Cee-lo must want it that way because everyone else sounded great on this stage.
I only saw this band, The New Orleans Bingo! Show because I thought the Carolina Chocolate Drops were playing here. They sounded unique so I checked them out online. They are fantastic, check for yourself.
So at my favorite stage, the Carolina Chocolate Drops. This is a great band, they play traditional string music and perform old time versions of new songs. They also had tuning issues due to the humidity...lots of bands had that problem. After a very tasty crawfish enchilada, we watched Tom Petty from waaaayy in the back. This area was packed all day long in front of the Acura Stage. He sounded great. So did the Soul Rebels who we heard playing on the Congo Square stage.

After the show we used the horse track (Jazzfest takes place at the Fairgrounds Race Track) to make our way back to the shuttle buses. The cleaning crew had their work cut out for them tonight.
Here's my trooper of a brother, still smiling after I dragged him all over this place today. It was a great time. We topped off the day at Brooklyn Pizzeria near his house...and yes, it was authentic New York pizza. What a great day!!!

Here's some videos from today at Jazzfest. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers playing "Mary Jane's Last Dance"

Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys playing "Bosco Stomp"

"I Wanna Fall In Love" - The New Orleans Bingo! Show

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