If last year’s weather for French Quarter Fest was “amazing,” as I described it then, this year’s weather could only be called perfect. It was sunny, dry, and cool. This was the only New Orleans festival I can remember where I didn’t go home each day a sweaty mess. While it was easier to be out longer, I was in my car headed home by 7:30 each day. This year I went on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I elected to skip Thursday and go to work. I’m taking three vacation days for the upcoming Jazz Fest during exams at the law school where I work which drew some undesired attention, and I didn’t want to push my luck.
I did even more wandering than I usually do at the festival this year. In the past I’ve made elaborate plans to offset conflicts with the Jazz Fest schedule, but I never even looked at the lineups in advance of each day. I will probably miss my favorite local band, Astral Project, at the Jazz Fest this year, but I see them close out French Quarter Fest every year so that wasn’t something I needed to think about.
The highlight for me on Friday was Debauche. I’ve seen the “Russian mafia band” a few times before at small venues. Cramped clubs like Siberia are admittedly more appropriate for their take on gypsy punk, but the pleasant outdoor setting offered a less intense experience that was welcome for an aspiring party pooper like me.
My mom was along with me most of Saturday. After we arrived we met up with my Aunt Lauren at the Jackson Square stage where Tim Laughlin was playing. We wandered with her for a while and ended up at the Palm Court Jazz Club where we saw Lars Edegran’s New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra and Tom McDermott and His Jazz Hellions. We had seats well off to the side of the stage so I didn’t shoot many pictures there. Later after Lauren left for the day Dad joined us and we went to El Gato Negro near the Old US Mint for something to eat. Not long after dinner I parted company with my parents. I was intent on heading home for the night but I liked what I was hearing from Jackson Square and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. Terrance “Hollywood” Taplin was filling in for Delfeayo Marsalis as orchestra leader. It was a great set featuring some of the best brass players in town. Any band with a large horn section usually does it for me. After I got home, I went out again for a second dinner with Lindsay at Sake Café.
On Sunday I made it out of bed early enough to catch John Boutte open the day at Jackson Square. I stuck around for Leroy Jones afterward, and then Jeremy Davenport. Like Saturday, I wasn’t interested in braving the crowds on the riverfront and I was content with the lineup there. After Jeremy’s set I gradually made my way towards the US Mint. I caught the better part of John Mooney’s set before Astral Project closed out the festival. As always, they played an excellent show in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
I was better behaved with the picture taking this year as compared to last. I took “only” 3,000 pictures over the weekend. I was a lot better about stopping after I thought I had the shots I wanted. That said I always wish I had shot more pictures of the people attending the festival instead of just the performers. I am looking for those shots more than I used to, but I don’t often find them. I will have plenty of opportunity to look some more in two weeks with the 2017 Jazz Fest rolls around.