Day 6 / Monday, May 7

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So we did still have to get up this morning, get ready, and get a lot of stuff together, but we did not slather on sunblock before having a final breakfast and coffee at PJ’s. We lingered a bit longer at the table outside on Canal Street, but the Jazz Fest crowd was gone and the vibe today was people on their way to work or on their way out of town. The Airport Shuttle picked us up around 10 and we were at the airport in plenty of time for our noontime flight back to Dulles by way of Atlanta.

As we were sitting in the airport, reading the Times-Picayune and wondering if we should buy a box of pralines for the people back home (sorry), there was a bit of commotion as a bunch of people sat down in the same waiting area as us, including a short woman in a baseball cap who looked and sounded familiar. Irony of ironies, it was Sharon Jones, with most of the Dap Kings, and we were separated by a single seat. Now, even though I have never seen her perform in person, I have done what most of her fans have never had the opportunity to do ... hear her stress about her travel arrangements.

I don’t have a lot of experience with entertainers of note, but for those with whom I do, I always find it amazing how normal they are, as if we expect them to be larger than life or caricatures. She was on our flight to Atlanta, too. She’s waiting to board at the end of the line of Dap Kings below.

Day 6-1

As one might expect, once we got going we were delayed on the runway in Atlanta for an eternity, so it was close to 8 p.m. by the time we got home. NOLA travel note, avoid flights through Atlanta, even if it means going beyond NOLA to Houston or Dallas. Probably not Denver or Chicago, though, that may be a bit too far. But home we were, and it’s back to work tomorrow. And that’s the end of the trip.

Day 6-2So the rest of this space today can be taken up with some thoughts. I feel very strongly about the destruction in New Orleans resulting from the failure of the levee system after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – for which the government is completely responsible. I felt this way before we visited and even more so now. We now have first-hand knowledge of how New Orleans isn’t just a city, it is a one-of-a-kind melting pot that preserves individually and also uniquely blends several distinct cultural groups and their music, art, religion, cuisine, and life style.

To even suggest that New Orleans be allowed to die is criminal. The destruction forced a lot of people out of the city, and once they were out they had no way to return, and that, too, is criminal. The leaders should be doing everything they can to bring the people of New Orleans, those who want to return, back home.

Day 6-3

Much is being done in New Orleans, but much is left to be done. Thank heaven for the volunteers and locals who have been slowly but steadily rebuilding the homes and businesses lost during the floods, the people who say we don’t care what anyone else says, this city is here to stay. The musicians have had a lot to do with this with their continuing reminders of the need for help in their recordings and performances.

There are many ways to help the people of New Orleans, but if you want to help its musicians specifically, check out the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation (NOMAF). NOMAF evolved from the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to expand its mission and promise to keep New Orleans music alive by sustaining New Orleans' traditional music cultures. The clinic has been around since 1998, dedicated to keeping New Orleans’ performers alive in body, mind, and spirit by providing comprehensive health care and mental health/social services. It serves more than 2,000 local musicians and tradition bearers, providing high-quality healthcare and wellness programs, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

Day 6-4Enough soapboxing. I really wanted to reflect on Jazz Fest today. It would be impossible to rank the performances we heard over the last four days. The music was simply too diverse. And we heard a lot of it! But who DIDN’T we get a chance to see?

We didn’t see anybody in the Economy Hall Tent, and that list includes the Palmetto Bug Stompers, the Dukes of Dixieland, Pete Fountain, Wycliffe Gordon, Topsy Chapman, and Ruby Wilson among a host of other traditional New Orleans artists.

Day 6-5We didn’t spend a lot of time at the Jazz and Heritage Stage except to walk by or stop for just a few minutes, which means we never saw a complete performance by any of the Mardi Gras Indian groups as well as Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, the Revealers, or the Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective.

We also never got to the tiny Lagniappe Stage in the Grandstand where there was a lot of diverse indie-type music and acoustic music of other types. And the Allison Miner Stage in the Grandstand had interviews with Regina Carter, Little Anthony, Pedrito Martinez, Mac Arnold, and the Preservation Hall crew, among others.

In the Jazz, Blues, and Gospel tents, we didn’t get to see Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Orchestra, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Big Al Carson and the Blues Masters, Guitar Slim Jr., Bombino of Niger, Mavis Staples, a solo gospel set by Aaron Neville, and Warren Haynes with Dr. John (taking the place of Levon Helm).

On the big stages, we missed My Morning Jacket, Bonerama, Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A., Anders Osborne, Allen Toussaint, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ne-Yo, Supagroup, Maze, Bonnie Raitt, the Neville Brothers, and Foo Fighters.

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Some of these artists we had already seen, some of them we already knew would be at Wolf Trap’s annual Swamp Romp in June, and with the benefit of six months since I can say that we made up for missing My Morning Jacket in a big way at Merriweather Post Pavilion over the summer.

Day 6-6And then there was the food. Some things that I didn’t try that will be on the list for next time include: locally made artisan gelato and sorbetto, peach cobbler, Jamaican chicken, Caribbean fish, Crawfish Monica, grilled lamb sausage with Tunisian salad, pheasant and quail gumbo with andouille, fried oyster po’boy, Creole hot tamales, crabmeat stuffed shrimp, and gator with fried jalapenos and onions (maybe). Plus the freshly shucked oysters on the half shell in the Grandstand. 

So that’s about it for this report. We loved the city, loved the people, loved the music, loved the whole experience. The hotel is reserved and the flight is booked for April 25 through May 7, 2013, so the report will be on 7 days of Jazz Fest and the three daze between weekend 1 and weekend 2. See you then! And remember, Live Music Is Better ...!

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© Jeff Mangold 2012