Etta James

I was up and about early enough to get to the fairgrounds around 11 this morning. If I remember right, this was the day Elliot was the driver that picked me up. Unlike Saturday, I did a good bit more walking around at the fairgrounds today. The first set I saw was the Loyola University Jazz Ensemble. I saw them last year on a smaller stage but they were the opening act in the jazz tent this morning. The crowd was light so I had no trouble getting a good seat. They played a pretty good set and featured a few impressive solo performances from the students. As the performers were three rows deep it was nearly impossible to photograph most of them.

Following the Loyola set I walked over to Economy Hall, stopping to get something to eat along the way. I got a fried pork chop sandwich which was somewhat problematic as it still had the bone in it. When I got to the Economy Hall tent I saw the same couple from New Jersey I met yesterday. The start of the next act caught me a bit by surprise. Rather than take the stage, the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble began by parading back and forth in front of the stage. The music was pretty good, mostly traditional brass band jazz. I stayed for the whole set which was about an hour.

Afterward, I made it to the Jazz Tent early so I could get a front row seat for Germaine Bazzle. Her accompanying musicians started first to warm up the crowd. Miss Bazzle took the stage after a couple numbers by her accompanying musicians. Her unassuming appearance and personal modesty contrast starkly with commanding stage presence. She owned the crowd after two bars.

I make sure to enjoy the music at Jazz Fest and not just shoot pictures. There is always a mad rush to the front when a performer takes the stage but I like to sit back and enjoy the music while the camera-wielding mob does its thing. My favorite song of her performance was her rendition of What a Diff’rence a Day Made.

After a couple of songs I started taking pictures. More often than not I was shooting during up-tempo tunes. My hobby has had me shooting live music for quite some time but the exhilaration I felt photographing Miss Bazzle was a first time experience for me. Not only did I have a lively, fascinating subject and respectable vantage point, I knew I was getting good pictures. Having interesting people to photograph is not unusual but capturing them with confidence was a new and awesome feeling.

After her performance I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Germaine and complement her both on her performance and her photogenic nature. I also told her my little story from last year and remarked that she was the most interesting person I have ever photographed at the Fest. She was reluctant to accept the compliment but it was indeed a true statement.

I stuck around at the jazz tent to wait for the next act as there was nothing on the schedule that struck me. At 2:35, Herlin Riley took the stage. The drummer often appears with other musicians but he earned his own stop on the schedule this year. I was there for about 20 minutes before I decided to take a walk. I ended up with an ice cream cone in Economy Hall as Clive Wilson’s New Orleans Serenaders were wrapping up.

The next band was Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band. This was one of the few acts on the today’s schedule I had been planning to see. I’ve seen this group a few times before and like previously they put on a great show.

Following Dr. Michael White I walked to the Gentilly Stage and found a place at the front. There was a tough choice to make in deciding which final act of the evening to see. Dave Matthews, Etta James and Earth, Wind & Fire were playing concurrently. I decided to see Etta James as I saw Dave Matthews Band a couple years ago. For someone her age who spends most of her time seated, she has quite an impressive stage presence. The set was very entertaining and she owned the crowd. Considering my distance from the stage I managed to get a few decent pictures. A gentleman I was standing next to took an interest in my camera and I got to talking to his for a little while after the fest ended for the day. After we parted ways I got a look at the disturbingly long cab line at Stallings Playground. I decided to walk to Broad Avenue and catch a cab from there. Like the last two evenings, I spent a good deal of time going through the day’s pictures.

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