Day 12 / Monday, May 6

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12-13

Alas, there was no morning drill today. We took our time getting ready to go, and missed the breakfast at the Staybridge completely. We packed for the trip home and took our bags down to the lobby. The as-always very friendly people at the front desk allowed us to stash everything in a locked room because our flight wasn't until around 5 and we had a few hours of bonus time to roam around before catching the airport shuttle.

The first thing we did was head over to the PJ's coffee shop in the DoubleTree to have a last morning café au lait (or black coffee) on their patio. It was finally back to normal weather for New Orleans – the sun was shining strongly and the temperature was on its way out of the 60's well into the 70's. Too little too late, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

After the coffee, we went back into the French Quarter by way of Royal Street. I was hoping that today would be my opportunity to get the daytime pictures of Preservation Hall as well as anything else in the Quarter that caught my eye.

That happened, as did some bonus music, on many street corners. For some reason, the whole neighborhood was alive, and what started out as a depressing morning turned out to be quite uplifting. After I got my pictures, we were feeling it was time for an early lunch. We found ourselves at the Royal House Oyster Bar, got a table, and we both immediately said "Bloody Mary" when asked if we wanted a beverage. You just don't get to live like this in the regular world, you know? 

The restaurant's French doors were all open. You could hear the music from the street, and the fresh, warm air was flooding the restaurant, which was just becoming busy. While we were there we saw several bushel bags of oysters being delivered to the kitchen. Laurie had the Royal garden salad: Mandarin oranges, mint, and red pepper flakes tossed with a medley of greens and then topped with fried oysters, served with a peanut vinaigrette dressing. I opted for the crawfish ravioli: ravioli filled with ricotta and topped with creamy crawfish Breaux Bridge sauce and sautéed crab meat. The quality of the food was an unexpected surprise; we thought we were just going into a bar, but should have known better. After all, we were in the heart of the French Quarter.

     

After lunch and some more streetcorner entertainment, we picked up some confections for back home from Leah's and then headed down to the river by way of Jackson Square, enjoying the artists' work at the square and soaking up some more sunshine.

Heading back, we walked through Woldenberg Park, passed by the aquarium, and ended up at Canal Street, where a train blocked our path. To keep moving we went up to the second floor of the Algiers Ferry terminal and across its pedestrian bridge. We grabbed a snack at the Pinkberry on Canal Street before walking back to the Staybridge to get our bags and wait for the Airport Shuttle. 

On our way to the airport, as the shuttle picked up other passengers, we got a nice tour of a lot of the places we had walked to in the Central Business District and the Warehouse Arts District. Soon enough we were at the airport and boarding our flight to Dulles. Less than three hours later, we were back home. Our neighbor Nina picked us up (she is just too nice) and that was that. Everything was safe and secure at home, and it was good to be back, even if we will certainly miss New Orleans and its wonderful people ... until next time.

Now it's time for some final thoughts. The music we heard over the seven days of Jazz Fest and in the clubs and on the street was, as last year, nothing less than astounding. Not a clunker in the lot. Sometimes the logistics and atmosphere fell a bit short, but that's just the way it is; only the good memories remain. 

Like seeing the old oak tree at the Gentilly Stage for the first time in a year:


And the joyous finale at the Fais Do Do Stage with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Del McCoury Band:


There were some challenges, too, to be sure:

      

      

      

      

Next year I will be better prepared. Probably not like this, though:


So I usually (meaning last year) end this with who we missed seeing. With seven days, we did get to experience all of the stages, with the exception of the interview area in the Grandstand. Why, on that second Friday when it was really cold, I didn't stop in there for a while to warm up is beyond me. I don't think it even entered my mind. 

At Acura, John Mayer would have been good. Billy Joel from all accounts was awesome, but nothing was going to keep us from Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite. And of course Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue closed the whole deal (you need to listen to this).

At Gentilly, Gary Clark Jr. and Anders Osborne were said to have been on fire. Willie Nelson would've been cool. Calexico as well. At Congo Square, Jill Scott and Earth, Wind and Fire (but water would have trumped all three at their show!). 

At the Blues tent, the sacred steel of the Campbell Brothers. B.B. King. The ageless Drink Small. Glen David Andrews reportedly tore the roof off. Herbert Hardesty, Lil' Buck Sinegal, Satan and Adam, Taj Mahal, Jon Cleary, Charles Bradley, Little Freddie King, James Andrews ... good grief, you could never have left that one place!  

While we were being drenched at Jazz and Heritage (twice), Dianne Reeves (Sunday) and a Hammond B3 Woodshed (Thursday) were in the Jazz Tent. Also in the Jazz Tent, Roy Ayers was unfortunately cubed when Patti Smith was at Gentilly. I mentioned Stanley Clark and George Duke earlier. Shannon Powell with Charlie Gabriel, the great clarinet player from Preservation Hall. Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. The Mashup featuring Ron Holloway. Wayne Shorter

Speaking of Jazz and Heritage, Los Po-Boy Citos, Kirk Joseph's Tuba Tuba (must be heard to be believed), Bill Summers' Jazsalsa, and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, plus any number of Mardi Gras Indian performers, including Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias.

At Fais Do Do, dobro and slide master Jerry Douglas, Chubby Carrier, Norah Jones and the Litle Willies, Terrance Simien with Queen Ida, Bruce Daigrepont, Balfa Toujours, and the Savoy Family Cajun Band.

Then there were Irma's tribute to Mahalia Jackson at the Gospel Tent, and heaven knows how many others that were worth a listen at that venue. Virtually any performer at Economy Hall, but especially Pete Fountain. On the Lagniappe stage, Maggie Koerner, a great singer-songwriter who is in the Galactic universe. Also the Joe Krown Trio with Walter Wolfman Washington and Russell Batiste Jr., Washboard Chaz, the Breton Sound, the Kid Carsons, Tuba Skinny, and Kevin Gordon.

And while we certainly knocked a lot of local artists off our list of people to see, plenty more remain, such as the Honey Island Swamp Band, the Revivalists, Charmaine Neville, the Creole String Beans, Khris Royal and Dark Matter, Flow Tribe, Cowboy Mouth, Raw Oyster Cult, and on and on. There will be other opportunities to catch all of these, I'm sure. 

And then there was the food. From the list last year, I tried the locally made artisan gelato and sorbetto, peach cobbler, Crawfish Monica, pheasant and quail gumbo with andouille, and gator with fried jalapenos and onions. But I missed boudain this year, and that needs to be annual. A few other things left to try: crawfish beignets, fried oyster po-boy, fried pork chop sandwich, crawfish pie, grilled chicken livers with pepper jelly, crawfish strudel, lamb tangine, lamb sausage po-boy, BBQ turkey wings, and an old-fashioned hand-made ice cream sandwich. So much food, even seven days is too little time!

So that’s about it for this report. The City of New Orleans continues its comeback, still with problems, but with spirit and friendliness in spite of them. We still love the city, and really really love the people ... but would like to have words with the weatherman. However, even for that a bit more preparation regardless of the forecast will go a long way. By the time this report is finished, less than 60 days before the 2014 Jazz Fest (and the lineup is specatacular) the Staybridge has been reserved and the flight has been booked, and the tickets are in hand for April 24 through May 5, 2013, so we'll see you then! 

And remember, Live Music Is Better ...!



  

© Jeff Mangold 2012