Here it is, campers...
SAL'S NEW ORLEANS REPORT, PART DEUX!
All fears of a thin turnout were dashed has soon as we arrived at the Fairgrounds at 10:30 A.M.. It was a beautiful day, and though the line to get in seemed thin, the line to purchase day tickets was larger than I recall it ever being before.
We headed right for the traditional first day iced coffee stand and into the Gospel Tent. Church, if you will. The "Inspirational Gospel Singers," 7 women in the 60's, all dressed in red gowns, the lead singer holding a microphone with her left hand, and balancing herself on her walker with her right, were whooping it up. They "believed" and within minutes, so did we. We are here. An emotional entry into a first day that only got better. In the words of Rachel Masters, "I can't fucking look at them anymore, I need some crawfish bread." Praise God.
The next stop was the jazz tent for what could already be the performance of the trip. 20 year old, homegrown Jonathan Batiste was making his Jazz Fest debut as a leader, with his trio. A mix of Oscar Peterson swing, with Professor Longhair's attack, always sounding like Monk. As my friend Dan pointed out, "This is all Monk, man, only you can hear ALL the notes." Outstanding. Batiste brought the house down for the first official "Jazz Fest Moment."
It was time for some food, and the lines were looooooong. Good sign. People came. This was a success. As the day progressed and the sun got hotter, the crowd got bigger, and trying to get near the Acura Stage to see Dylan became an impossibility. (he also came on 30 minutes late--not usually allowed at Fest)
OVERHEARD AT FEST:
Irvin Mayfield, the young Miles-wanna- be trumpeter was explaining to the Jazz Fest crowd how his father drowned during Katrina and how he had not been able to play "Amazing Grace" since then, but he'd like to now. To which a woman seated behind us said, "I hate the trumpet."
Got home around 6PM. A 20 minute nap, a hot shower, and a cocktail that really hit the spot, and we were ready for dinner and the Snug Harbor All-Stars, this year featuring Henry Butler, Shannon Powell, Wessell "Warmdaddy" Anderson, Ed Peterson, Jason Stewart, and the great David Torkanowsky, who also acted as music director. Impromptu versions of such standards as "Caravan" and "Swingin' At The Haven," set the swinging mood which quickly turned into a "soul shack" when Davell Crawford got up on stage, sat behind the B-3, and knocked us on our asses with a Ray Charles-channeled "You Are My Sunshine," and one of the most chilling perfomances of Leon Russell's "A Song For You" I have ever seen. Not a dry eye in the house.
It is now morning. It is cloudy and very windy and it may rain, but no one cares. The Dave Matthews Band is set to close the Acura Stage today. This could mean a crowd disaster, but again, no one cares. More food, and another couple of "moments" to take home trumps rain.