French Quarter Festival 2010

Today marked the start of the 27th Annual French Quarter Festival. I usually have Fridays off anyway so I went down to the quarter with Dad who was going to the office for the afternoon. Dad dropped me off on canal Street adjacent to the quarter.

My first stop of the afternoon was Jackson Square. Banu Gibson was playing but my primary concern was getting something to eat. For a Friday, the crowd was pretty thick and didn’t feel like wading through it very long to pick something to eat. I decided on the crawfish louisa from the Court of Two Sisters restaurant booth. It was a mix of crawfish and assorted vegetables. I enjoyed it, high praise from someone who doesn’t like squash.

When I finished eating I strolled over towards the french market and the international stage in Dutch Alley. The Maryland Jazz Band of Germany was playing when I arrived. Don Vappie, one of the most recognized banjo players in New Orleans, performed with them. I stuck around after them for the Young Jazz Cats of Germany. Mr. Vappie performed with them as well.

After a few numbers, I walked out to the French Market and the traditional jazz stage where Miss Sophie Lee was playing. It’s a rather small stage with a dance floor in front and quite a crowd was gathered around. I couldn’t get very close for pictures. I only remained there for a few minutes before wandering down Bourbon Street to the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

Steve Mazakowski of Astral Project performed alongside his daughter, Sasha at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. Sasha is a vocalist with a pretty decent voice. Steve accompanied her on seven string guitar. I remained there until about three when I started heading to Jackson Square.

At 3:30 this afternoon, Lionel Ferbos and the Palm Court Jazz Band performed. At 99 years old, Mr. Ferbos is the oldest working musician in New Orleans. He sings and plays trumpet. I’ve never been to the Palm Court Café but I do see Mr. Ferbos every chance I get. The man’s still got it.

I stuck around for most of the set and then walked over to Preservation Hall where the Treme Brass Band was to perform at 4:30. Unfortunately a rather lengthy line was formed outside waiting for a chance to begin. I got in line briefly and then decided it wasn’t worth risking not getting in, especially since I plan to see them at Jazz Fest in a couple weeks. Instead I walked back to Dutch Alley and saw the Liberty Hall Stompers of England.

By five o’clock I was a bit tired and ready to head home even though the fest continued until sundown. I also heard from Andrey earlier who wanted to go out tonight after 10 and I figured a couple hours at home first would suit me well. I called Dad who was still at the office. He told to catch a streetcar up Canal Street and meet him at the office for a ride home.

The crowds on Canal Street waiting for the Streetcar were substantial. I waited for a good while as one car was just a block away with dozens of people boarding. It took quite a while for it to finally reach us and then make the other stops along side the French Quarter. Once we were past Claiborne Avenue the pace normalized. I finally made it to Canal and Carrollton shortly after six. Dad was meeting with someone when I arrived and I waited around for about a half hour before we headed home.

Later this evening, I took a cab out to the Hi Ho Lounge on St. Claude Avenue. Elliot, a familiar face, was the driver. I’ve never been there before and I was mildly surprised at the… less than stellar neighborhood I sent myself too. There wasn’t much of a crowd when I got there but that changed soon enough. Debauche, a Russian band as I can best describe it, got started around 10:30. Andrey, Patrick and David showed up not long after that. The band has a loud folk music sort of sound and sing in Russian so I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Andrey, a native Russian speaker, remarked that there was ample profanity. In keeping with the theme, free vodka shots were offered.

After their set, we stepped outside with most of the other bar patrons for some air. Patrick bought a hot tamale from a woman selling them from the back of her bike. With no loud music we were able to have an actual conversation. About 20 minutes later we went back in after the next band, the Zydepunks. The name gives you a decent idea of what they’re about. They served as a nice follow up to the previous act. I think the last time I saw them was last year’s French Quarter Festival. I can’t remember if we stayed for their whole set but we did hang around for a while.

Later after we left I suggested we go to IHOP… just because. Patrick was driving and didn’t want to bother trying to find a parking spot near Canal Street so we drove all the way to the Metairie location. None of us had enough free vodka to really warrant a trip there but it was good for the sake of variety. I ordered a couple pancakes and everyone else got different stuff. After we ate Andrey felt fine to drive so rather than take him back to his place in Metairie we all rode back uptown so he could get his car. Before calling it a night we went to the LBC but the one available pool table was missing vital components so we just decided to leave and eventually call it a night around three AM. I took a cab home from the Boot.

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