Amazing weather led to the most-attended French Quarter Fest in the event’s 33 year history, with 760,000 attendees. As soon as I arrived in the Quarter on Thursday, it was readily apparent we’d be setting a record. What used to be called “local’s day” looked like Saturday crowds in the recent past. That said, I still had a fabulous time and didn’t have any struggles with the throngs of people. The mild temperatures and cool breezes had everyone in a good mood. Avoiding the riverfront stages on Saturday and Sunday also made my life easier.
The music this year was as excellent as it was familiar. I tried to see some locals bands I’ll may well miss at the upcoming Jazz Fest. On Thursday I saw Deacon John, John Boutte, The Tin Men, Ellis Marsalis and Cowboy Mouth. This was the first time I’d seen a Cowboy Mouth show since their set at Wednesday at the Square in 2007.
Friday was a short day in the Quarter for me. I arrived around one, and briefly met up with my friend Lindsey for lunch at the food area near the Jax Brewery for lunch. I saw Sweet Crude, Irma Thomas, and Soul Project NOLA along the riverfront, and then headed home. I got home early enough to go to ‘game night,’ how I spend most Friday evenings.
Saturday was more of a full day. I was downtown before noon and caught the better part of Tim Laughlin’s set at Jackson Square. After that I got something to eat and eventually wandered to the French Market International Stage where some musicians from Japan were playing. They were winners of the “Kobe Next” competition, which awards a trip to New Orleans. After that I caught most of The Ronnie Kole Show, then met up with Dad who was able to join me for the rest of the afternoon. We wandered into Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse where the exemplary saxophonist Ed “Sweetbread” Peterson was playing a two hour set of music from Stevie Wonder. We had a nice chat with some tourists and then meandered to the Old US Mint for Tank and the Bangas, a rhythmic soul/spoken word group… at least that’s what their Facebook page says. I’m not qualified to accurately describe what is they do, but it’s pretty interesting. I think Dad was a bit unprepared, though. Afterward, Dad and I got something to eat at the Marigny Brasserie and then went home and watched the St. Louis Blues’ last regular season game.
Both of my parents came out to the Quarter Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t see much of them. It was exceptionally crowded Sunday, but I’m sure I avoided the worst of it having not ventured to the riverfront at all that day. I saw Paul Sanchez and Jeremy Davenport at Jackson Square. I also saw Alex McMurray, Treme Brass Band, and fest closer Astral Project at the Mint. The Astral Project set had a different feel to it with two of their principles missing. Standup bass player James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich were on the west coast. Roland Guerin was sitting in for James and did a fabulous job while looking great. Some of my best photos of the fest are of him.
I did go a little overboard with the picture-taking this year, even though I wasn’t that enthusiastic about it. I took about 5,000 pictures over the four days. As I write this, I’m still working on the Sunday photos. I am motivated to finish tonight, though. Jazz Fest starts tomorrow.