Another monsoon at Jazz Fest today. Another great time.
I made a point to get there early today to catch all of Little Freddie King’s set (11:30–12:30, Blues Tent). I have a couple of his records, but I’d never seen him live before. I learned that, besides being one of the last of the real-deal country blues guitarists left (in the tradition of R.L. Burnside and T. Model Ford), Little Freddie is quite the showman. No duckwalk, but he does have a bit of a Chuck Berry streak.
After Little Freddie, I had nothing in particular planned. So I grabbed a crawfish pie at one of the food booths and wandered over to Congo Square, and listened to some salsa Cubana courtesy of AsheSon. Good stuff.
After Ashe Son, it was a short walk to the Gentilly Stage, where Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters were playing. I’ve seen them many times, and they always put on a great show. Today was no different.
But during their set, the sky darkened and the rain started falling. By the time they finished, it was pouring. It got so bad that they had to cut the 2:30 set short at the Acura Stage. It was the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars, featuring Tab Benoit and some of his friends. As I arrived, Tab was announcing that they weren’t going to get to play another song.
So I wandered around looking for music. There was music in the Blues Tent and the Gospel Tent, but both were jammed. Fortunately, I had no particular need to get under a tent. On arriving this morning, I bought a Jazz Fest rain poncho, and I’m happy to report that the thing worked pretty well. It was a bit pricey at $35, but it’s heavy-duty material, not a glorified Hefty bag. It should last for years.
I found some music at the Jazz & Heritage Stage, where the Midnight Disturbers Brass Band was kicking ass. The rain was pouring, and the area in front of the stage ranged from quagmire (the relatively dry spots) to lake. By “lake,” I mean knee-deep brown water. But none of that mattered. The band was smoking as the stage crew continually squeegeed the water off the stage. In front of the stage, everyone was dancing—good thing, because if you planted your feet too long in one spot, you’d sink in the mud.
After the Midnight Disturbers, the rain slacked off a bit, so I went to the Acura Stage to see whether Irma Thomas would perform as scheduled. She did, and as usual, she delivered.
After Irma’s set, my choices looked like this:
- Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, 4:55 at the Gentilly Stage.
- Delbert McClinton, 5:30 at the Blues Tent.
- Al Green, 5:45 at Congo Square.
- Hot 8 Brass Band, 5:45 at the Jazz & Heritage Stage.
- BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, 5:55 at Fais Do Do.
The tie breaker was my poor feet, which begged me to find a place to sit down; poor things hadn’t done that much dancing since last year’s Jazz Fest. So I took them to the Blues Tent and found a seat at the top of the bleachers in the back. I took off my soaking wet shoes (ahhhh!), took off and wrung out my soaking wet socks , hung them on the back rail to drip-dry a little bit, opened up my little cooler, retrieved my last beer, sat back, and listened to Delbert McClinton and his band deliver a solid set. A great way to top of an exhausting three-day weekend.
The second weekend starts this Thursday; the lineup includes Bonerama, Widespread Panic, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Randy Newman, and dozens more. Friday will feature John Hammond, Trombone Shorty, John Prine, Art Neville, and Stevie Wonder. Saturday will feature the Dixie Cups, the subdudes, Charmaine Neville, Henry Butler, Marcia Ball, Diana Krall, Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea, Irvin Mayfield, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mooney, Jimmy Buffett, and many, many others.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend next Sunday. So someone else will have to go to Blues Heaven and report on the performances by (deep breath now): Sonny Landreth, Keb’ Mo’, Santana, Derek Trucks, the Radiators, the Rebirth Brass Band, Snooks Eaglin, and the Neville Brothers’ post-Katrina homecoming.