This year’s French Quarter Fest resembled last year’s Jazz Fest in that the weather was spectacular, except for that one day where it rained. Cool spring weather has lingered longer than anyone might expect. Thursday and Friday were exceptionally pleasant, but Saturday’s events were cancelled ahead of a torrential downpour. Sunday was more than cool. It was actually cold towards the evening.
On Thursday I arrived shortly before noon and scored a parking spot on Ursulines near Dad’s hotel. IO actually cooked myself breakfast that morning so I wasn’t immediately preoccupied by food. I made my way to Jackson Square and hear the tail end of the Preservation All-Stars before walking to the riverfront to hear Alex McMurray. There was a little bit of action in the river itself, a crew from OMI was cleaning up an oil spill in the river. There was a matching smell in the air as well. It was mildly amusing towards the end of Alex’s set when he performed a song about the BP oil spill.
After Alex’s set I walked to the stage in the parking lot next to Jax Brewery, got some brisket tacos and heard some of Deltaphonic. Khris Royal was sitting in with them. Later after hearing some of Fredy Omar in Jackson Square, I walked back to the riverfront for Irma Thomas. The one thing that struck me about the crowd was the sea of folding chairs that extended from the front of the stage back as far as the eye could see. It would be nice to see them banned from the front of the stage in the future. In spite of that minor annoyance, it was a great set. Marcia Ball joined Irma on stage for a number towards the end. My last show of the day was the Uptown Jazz Orchestra with Terrance Taplin. I love big jazz bands and this one has some of the best horn players in town. At the end of the set the band came down and played among the crowd in front of the stage. Very cool.
On Friday I started the day at Jackson Square for Ellis Marsalis. I see him every chance I get. Afterward I wandered towards the Mint, stopping in Dutch Alley to see a group from Japan at the International Stage. After I did make it to the Mint where Magnetic Ear was playing, I met up with my Dad around three after he finished with work. We eventually migrated to the other side of the Mint, got some roast beef sandwiches and listened to some of The Revealers. My friend Miranda joined us a short time later, and soon after that, Miranda and I departed down Decatur heading toward Jackson Square. She was in the mood for some raw oysters so we started peeking at the menus posted outside restaurants along the way. Surprisingly, we looked at several places before we found one, The Corner Oyster House in the Lower Pontalba building. We nursed a dozen raw oysters for a short while and then walked a couple doors down to Tableau and met Miranda’s parents for a drink. By the time we left it was well after six and Miranda wanted to go home so I gave her a ride.
As I mentioned earlier, the cancellation of Saturday’s events was announced Friday evening.
On Sunday, I got a slightly earlier start than the previous days. I started this day at Jackson Square as well, got something to eat among the sounds of Lena Prima. I stuck around for the next set with Jeremy Davenport. Towards the end of that I walked across the street to meet up with some folks in a facebook meetup group, none of whom I’d met previously. A majority of them moved here from other places, including a couple who had only been here a few days. I spent the better part of the afternoon wandering around with this small crowd of about 10 people. We never got that close to any one band but eventually settled on the riverfront near the Abita stage. While we were there I had a minor accident with my telephoto lens. As I was seated on the ground it fell out of my camera bag and hit the concrete. It didn’t seem like a substantial drop, but it knocked out the autofocus motor.
I parted company with the group around five and headed to the Mint to catch Astral Project. They traditionally close out the fest at the Esplanade in the Shade stage and I’ve seen every one of those performances going back several years. They put on a great show as always. I did leave a bit early though as I was starting to get uncomfortably cold.