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I'm goin' where the water drink like turpentine - Scott Dunbar, Blue Yodel

Author Topic: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2005  (Read 1700 times)

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Offline Buzz

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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2005
« on: May 07, 2005, 10:06:48 AM »
Hello , Folks!

Claudia and I just returned from my old home town, New Orleans, where we stayed with old friends, and went to this years JazzFest. We had a blast. Ate some great food, heard some outrageously fine music. I really must share the musical factoids with the Weenies. So here goes. Slack, feel free to post this anywhere you think it is best.  :P

We went on Friday on the second/last weekend of the Fest. The weather was ideal: warm to the 70's, cool breeze, partly cloudy, not 100% humidity. The crowds wee modest, not a throng. We heard C.J. Chenier, Clifton's son, and his Zydeco Band. There were totally cool. CJ plays this accordion that is broader than he is, a huge squeeze box that must weigh 50 #, and he is the master of it, for sure. All smiles and rhythm. He has a man on washboard, one on bass, one on Strat--who was good, yeah, but a little too showboatey for me with the orgasmic grimacing and twisting on his breaks--and a full time dancer: a Black man with a large Afro and a head scarf, in Zebra tights and knee high boxing laceups with fur tops, and shaking Maracas as he danced. The tunes were Blues and uptempo Cajun , and all rocked. I was really digging it. Claudia said, "Yeah, now this is more like it!" We had just walked out on a couple acts that were sluggish, not well rehearsed, and did nothing for us--so we were wondering if there was going to be some music we really would like. No need to fear, there was plenty, man, plenty.

We left CJ's tent, and walked past the Gospel tent--packed--and a choir was singing some great tunes. We headed to the Jazz tent, and listened for a while to a man I  never have heard of , who plays terrific harp, saxophone, sousaphone, and sings with a smooth style. He played some cool variety of tunes, including old big band tunes. Fun for a short while.
Off to the Economy Hall Tent, for some Dixieland JAzz. Now, I was raised on this style of music, and at it's best, it is hard to best. This was totally fine. Connie Smith's Crescent City JAzz Band played up some great old and up-tempo tunes, and we were jumpin' and smilin' for
an hour. All the older jazz club members opened their little umbrellas and formed second lines and danced all around the aisles in lines, sweating and smiling. Between sets I left, to reconnoiter the food booths, and returned with a Cajun Crawfish sausage po'boy, and a plate lunch of Seafood au gratin, spinach and artichoke casserole, and sweet potatoe pone! Man, cayenne, talk about a feast, and hearing dixieland while munching. :D

Saturday, a huge thunderstorm went through, so we decided not to wade through mud at the Fairgrounds, so we slept in, played tunes in the condo, read, and chilled listening to old Neville Brothers and Snoooks Eaglin, some Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure. Now, that old CD of Ry is really cool. I will try to find it. Toure is such a superb player, so unusual and haunting.

Saturday nite we went out late, for some fun. Coffe at 7, off to the Lebanons Restaurant on Carrolton for some fabulous hummus and lamb gyro plate--huge amount of food--and lots of mint tea for the nite awakeness. Off to Southport, a club off River Road nearby, for Tracy Thomas (?) and her band, then MArcia Ball and her Band. Whoa! Tracy lives in Covington, North Shore of LAke Ponchartrain, and she is a looker in high heel pumps, and a slinkiy black shiney dress, which if it were any shorter would require her to shave more than her legs, who has a terific tone-on and bit- raspy voice, who can belt out the rhythm and blues. Her band was good. Opened for MArcia.

Marcia Ball is another thing entirely: she simply rocks. A tall, skinny  woman, all legs and arms. She is amazing, sits at her keyboard with her legs crossedunder the keyboard for the set, playing and singing old tunes with a passion. Hands racing over the keys, smiling and talking to the audience. She is a superb keyboard artist, and knows the great old blues tunes. She prefers up-tempo tunes, and admits she likes to play things fast. Regardless, she and her group were fabulous. They know their material, and have played for a good while together--they are tight. Her guitarist, Pat, was excellent, with great chops and no showboat. Simple nod or smile to the audience for his appreciation or our applause. Plays all types of music. Dance music fast or slow--hell, Claudia and I danced a couple ourselves, just cant be still with some of those tunes. She was particularly fine on "The Right Tool for the Job", "La Te Da", and a few others. By the time we left at 2:30am, we knew we were in for a treat on Sunday backj at the JazzFest .

Sunday, we parked at a friend's house on Bayou St. John, and walked 15 minutes, got to the fairgrounds in time for a bite of a pulled pork and cajun slaw and mustard poorboy with a frozen cafe au lait, then headed to the North Mississippi All STars Revue. Now, I was really looking forward to this!  :P  But,for me they fizzled out after 3 numbers: opened as they walked in, playing Othar Turner's pipes and drums, which was cool and authentic enough for me, but some of the younger members were not on the beat. Then they played a rag-tag version of R.L. Burnside's Black MAttie. I felt badly for them, the tune was not hypnotic, nor up-tempo, the words were lost in the mix of cacophonous notes in off-beats. This was not well done. Like they weren't rehearsed, or was a group that had not played together before. Strange. We looked at each other, wrinkled our noses, shrugged our shoulders, and started walking.

Past the Economy Hall tent for an uplifitn tune or 2, then over past Aaron Neville singing Gospel at the Gospel tent. It was  packed to the roof, no standing room , so we stood out on the track and heard him just fine for a tune or 2. His voice is so rare and exceptional, it was fun to hear.But what we were headed for was the best:

As we walked toward the Blues tent, I passed a dude with a straw hat, wearing a T-shirt, that read:

That was Zen
This is Tao
Confucian?

We walked right at the break between sets, into the tent, and got Bleacher seats up over the heads of standing fans, for a great view of the stage for a  "Tribute to Sister Rosetta Thorpe" with MArcia Ball and her Band, Del Rey, Tracy Nelson, Angel Strehil, MAria Muldaur, and Irma Thomas. We were not disappointed. This was the best set I have ever seen at a festival. These fine women, strong and belting it out, each standing there singing Rosetta's tunes and covers by herself or with the group, they were simply fabulous.

Del Rey rules! Period. She was dressed in a lovely little old timey dress, with her trademark rolled down white socks and old-timey pumps--did they have an open toe? I think so, as I tried to see through the binoculars--and she was holding and playing a blonde (maple?) f-hole electric archtop, somewhat large body, looked like an old Gibson or Epiphone, with diamond or trapezoid mother of pearl fret inlays, and a single pickup as far as I could tell from the bleachers.. Sounded very cool. So, Del was rocking. She started off with MArcia's introduction, palying "That's All (Real Religion)". Tracy Nelson sang "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and I got goosebumps when they all sang and played together. Powerful stuff. They are so good. And they had rehearsed together. These were professionals.  ;)

Maria then introduced Marcia, as a tall skinny wwoman who can really sing this tune in earnest, who brought the house down with "I Want a Tall Skinny Man". Marcia stood to sing with Del playing lead and singing too, and with Charles Weems on the piano in the side of the stage. Really cool. Del's leads were clean, fingerstyle, and right on. She rocks. Then Irma Thomas, one of my favorite ladies from my teen years in NOLA, sang "EveryDay" with Del playing a delicious fingerstyle break, and I was all smiles--my teeth dried out!

Del then sang and played lead on "Sit Down", with the ladies singing harmony and Marcia on the keys. Maria was a strong leading force in the next tune, when they all stood and sang gospel "Up Above My Head", in a bit more up-tempo speed than the NAshville Bluegrass Band does it, and with such feeling--man! MAria led the beat and timing with her left hand for the end-tag. Maria was very good as a choice for this tribute, since she knew Sister Rosetta, and sings gospel herself. Maria sang the best I have heard her do, since she was at PT a few summers ago. And this is all new material she did not sing at her 3 sets we heard in PT, so I liked that. ;D   I got a bit tired of the same 10-12 tunes she would do each time at PT with Ernie HAwkins, but here, it was all new and fresh, and harmonious, and flowed beautifully.

MArcia and Band then made us smile with"Trouble in Mind" a bit faster than we are accustomed to, but was fine. Tracy and MArcia did "Lay My Body Down", and Pat did a Strat break, then Del followed with her fingerstyle break--that was really nice. Pat, Marcia's guitarist is a true professional, no ego getting in the way. He wanted to feature Del, and he did. Smiling the whole time. He is a great player, but he did a terrific job on ryhthm, tkng tactical breaks on cue. Very professional. Del was featured, and she was so good. 

MAria thenled on "Look Down the Road and I Wonder". Then Irma sang a slow tempo tear-jerker number:"I Shall Be Free Someday" ("Jesus...Through This Wilderness..."). She was crying adn held her hands in a prayer position at the end. We were all moved. The whole band, then whole tent. Her feelings came through the music. Simply fabulous.

Followed by Tracy, Angela, Marcia, Del and band on "Didn't It Rain", and "Down By the Riverside". The crowd was on their feet, and they couldn't leave--they had to do an encore. They played and sang "One More Time Like That", and again brought down the tent! These women are in their element, singing and playing this stuff. This was the top of the mountain, the best of the JazzFest, and we all knew it. We were all not only loving the music, but were all moved in the spirit of remembering a great woman who left a musical legacy, and moved in our own spirits to a higher place. Can't get much better than that, folks. Thanks, LAdies, very much.   :D
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Janmarie

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Re: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2005
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2005, 03:12:21 PM »
Miller -
I am so jealous!  I think I would have run away from home to hear my favorite women doing Sister Rosetta!  I love 'Didn't It Rain' - a song made for lifting the roof.
Thanks for the glorious description - could imagine being there.
Jan

Offline Buzz

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Re: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2005
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2005, 10:33:22 PM »
Yeah! It was sooo fine! A most memorable set, seemingly endless and uplifting, even the secular material. Look up the dates for next year, and consider goin'! You'll love it. Make your reservations early, though...we got the last 2 seats on the last open flight out of San Jose, almost 1 month before the Fest! :o

Be well,
 Miller
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

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