Jazz Fest 2006 Comes to a Close

Dad and I attended the sixth and final day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival today. I think dad and I arrived at the fairgrounds sometime around noon. I immediately went off to get something to eat and bring it back. The lines are best before noon because they are practically nonexistent. I got this lamb sausage sandwich and a lamb rice of some sort, as well as some white chocolate bread pudding which Dad has been recommending for a couple days. We set up our chairs in Economy Hall where Lars Edegran and the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra was playing. The bread pudding was great although I didn’t much care for the sandwich I got. It wasn’t too bad After their performance finished and I finished eating, we walked over to see Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie. I stayed for a few minutes and left Dad to walk back to Economy Hall where the Treme Brass Band was getting started. They’re a local, traditional jazz brass band, the sort you see at jazz funerals. They put on a very lively and enjoyable show before a large crowd. The crowd grew rather large as a result of some heavy rain that lasted about 15 minutes starting at two o’clock. There were lots of people that got under cover before it started, noting the darkening clouds and many more when it actually started raining. Dad had returned to the tent shortly before the rain started. At the end of the show, the band did a second line themselves through the audience. After the rain stopped shortly after the Treme Brass Band was finished, Dad and I walked to the blues stage to see Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters. They got a rather late start. Dad tells me this guys father was a zydeco musician himself and his son is supposed to be carrying on the tradition. That’s not happening. He’s certainly very energetic and entertaining, I liked the show. However, his music, whatever it is, sure as hell ain’t zydeco. I’m not really sure what it is. I just hope there weren’t any tourists in the audience who walked away thinking they just heard zydeco music. There’s a little more to it than wearing a washboard. We left the blues stage and headed to Economy Hall where Pete Fountain was playing at 4:10. I stopped in the grandstands on the way. I bumped into Kalisha Fields there, a former classmate from Karr. We spoke for a minute and I made my way to Economy Hall to try and get a spot. I left my chair and walked over to the jazz tent to catch a few minutes of Ellis Marsalis. I was hoping to see all of his set at Jazz Fest this year but I felt obliged to see Pete Fountain this year as there probably won’t be a next time due to his ailing health. I certainly didn’t regret seeing the renowned clarinet player though. Along with a capable band of musicians including Tim Laughlin, Pete put on a great, completely upbeat show. A lot of people came to see him. I’ve never seen so many people standing outside of the tent before. Near the end of his set the audience formed the largest second-line I ever remember seeing in Economy Hall. After Pete Fountain’s set, I started heading for the Acura stage where Fats Domino was to close the show. Dad headed to the blues stage I think because he wanted to see Lionel Richie. I stopped for something to eat on the way. I didn’t feel like waiting in a long line so I just got some crawfish monica. That was a very popular item this year, and there were six lines serving it exclusively so there wasn’t much waiting required. I walked along the track to a spot on the fringe where I’ve been sitting for all performances I’ve seen on the big stage. I talked to a lady as I was walking down the track that started the conversation with “Wanna race?” apparently noticing my hands were full. Shortly after I got situated I noticed the poster indicating the musician appearing read “Lionel Richie.” Fats Domino appeared on stage briefly to thank the audience and apologize for not being able to perform this evening. Apparently he wasn’t feeling well today. I called Dad who was planning on seeing him. He just learned of the change himself and eventually joined me at the Acura Stage. I’m no Lionel Richie fan, but I’m very familiar with his music as all the hits he has had makes his work rather ubiquitous. As such I didn’t have any expectations. I was pretty blown away by his performance. The man is great live. He looks and sounds fantastic appears exceptionally comfortable on stage. I would imagine every song he performed was a top 20 hit at some point. I recognized most of the songs. Among other things, he sand a lot of his Commodores stuff. It was quite apparent that the crowd thoroughly enjoyed the show, even I did. He performed until just after 7:30, about a half hour later than he was scheduled to. He closed with “Brick House” and finally, “All Night Long.” Dad and I walked to Liuzza’s for a drink or two afterwards. We remained there for a while and listened to the band that was playing there. I think we finally got home around ten. In Summary: I know it isn’t really conveyed by the clinical nature of this log, but I think I need to have it expressly stated here how much fun Jazz Fest was this year. It’s been a while since I enjoyed myself as much as the last two weekends. It was a real treat to be able to attend the fest every day this year. The crowds were wonderful and sizable. The weather was fantastic overall. It was largely overcast everyday. The wind the first Saturday was annoying and there was a brief downpour today, but otherwise it was ideal. I took 867 pictures at Jazz Fest over the two weekends. Almost all of them suck but I’ll be combing through them this week. I hope to find a gem or two. I was acutely aware that the festival needed to do well this year in particular, due to the dark cloud of sorts that’s been hanging over the city since the hurricane. I have no doubt the festival will be considered a rousing success. One need only look at the crowds to see how much money was changing hands. This was also a signal to the rest of the world that New Orleans is on the way back.

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