Day 11 / Sunday, May 4

11-20

 

The last day at Jazz Fest is always bittersweet. You know you are going to hear some great music, and you also know that you won't be hearing any more tomorrow. Instead, you'll be sitting in the airport and on a plane. As we all know, all good things must come to an end, so you just have to make the best of it. 

One final time, we did the (revised) 2014 drill: get up, get ready, slather on sunblock and gather tickets and cameras and phones, just grab coffee on the way out because the Staybridge buffet is a lost cause, and head over to the shuttle buses at the Sheraton. No Bruce today, so we were back to arriving at Jazz Fest with plenty of time to spare before the music started and could have a late breakfast, or early lunch, or whatever you want to call it.

That meant, for me, finally getting a crawfish sack, oyster patties, and crawfish beignet platter from Patton’s Caterering of Slidell, Louisiana. I washed that down with a Coors beer. There was no more Summer Shandy to be found at Jazz Fest. That's another way you know that the festival is winding down ... vendors are running out of stuff. Anyway, the crawfish sack is a little pouch of fried goodness, stuffed with a crawfish mush that tastes so good you wish it was a bigger bag. Oyster patties are basically two hollowed-out buttermilk biscuits filled with a creamy oyster gravy stacked on top of each other; then, more oyster gravy is poured over the top, as if you need extra (oh, but you do!). Crawfish beignets are fried-to-a-crisp fritters covered in a lemon tartar sauce. Perfect for breakfast. This dish definitely moved onto the "must eat every year" list.

Patton's Catering Service began in 1954 with Oliver and Shirley Patton creating hors d'oeuvres in the butcher department of their grocery store, located in the Ninth Ward. Eventually the catering took over, and Oliver and Shirley closed the grocery store and sold the building in order to dedicate all their efforts to it. Today, Oliver and Shirley's legacy continues with their children (and their children's children). They've been at Jazz Fest since 1989. Here is the skinny (ha!) on these three awesome dishes.

Laurie disappeared for a while, and when she got back she had an interesting breakfast as well: a fruit salad from Joyce's Lemonade stand (sensible) and bread pudding with rum sauce from Ms. Linda's Catering of New Orleans (inspired). Someone once said that by using day-old bread in something so singularly delicious, bread pudding is the perfect embodiment of the twin Creole virtues of frugality and indulgence. More on Ms. Linda later today.

New Orleans has slowly but surely heating up over this last week. Today the sun was bright, the breeze was light to nonexistent, the humidity was creeping up but not enough to haze out the sun, and the temperature got up into the upper 80's. That means it was hot, with a real feel somewhere around 400. That's OK, though, it's what we come here for and it was far preferable to last year.

In the morning, eating at the tables set up in the food areas is always nice. The food is good, that goes without saying. It's not too hot yet, it's relatively clean, and it's not crowded at all, as it inevitably will be later in the day. Plus you can usually strike up a conversation with the other people using the table. It makes for nice moments that when you look back don't especially stand out but are just part of the entire package. 

Music started on the Jazz and Heritage Stage while we were eating, so we slipped over to catch a few minutes of Big Chief Juan Pardo and Jockimo's Groove, a band of Mardi Gras Indians featuring Billy Iuso on guitar. You get it all with a Mardi Gras Indian show, costumes and chants, and they always put together a great funk band to back them up. Iuso is from New York but has become totally immersed in the funk culture of New Orleans and collaborates with all manner of musicians. His bluesy riffs go great with the Indian chants. Here's my video with some of this show, and here's a longer one from 2010 with some of Iuso's guitar work. From the Louisiana Music Factory here are 1 and 2 more of Big Chief Pardo. The first one, from 2009, is pure Mardi Gras Indian, just chants and percussion. The second one has the chants with some more instumentation.

So that brief dose of New Orleans funk got us started, and we were off to cram as much music as possible into the day. Even if you didn't look at today's cubes, you probably wouldn't have any trouble figuring out where we went first. Fais Do Do on the last day? Heck yeah!

On stage was old-style zydeco from Joe Hall and the Canecutters. When I say old-style zydeco, I mean their music is updated Creole La La -- a la Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys (see Day 10 last year). A fiddle and acoustic guitar see to that; you don't find those in modern zydeco bands all that often, but they are fixtures in Creole bands. This musical style is a rarely heard and a real treat to see performed. The Cane Cutters do put their own spin on this music by adding a stronger rhythm section than a traditional Creole La La band would have, and they are adding a bit of blues to their repetoire as well.

Hall was born and raised in Eunice, Louisiana, where, at the age of 7 he began playing the accordion of his grandfather, the well-known Crole accordion player Clement "King" Ned. His French-speaking grandfather took great pride in his grandson's interest in the accordion and Hall has dedicated one of his recordings to him and included some of his songs on it. 

Joe says, "I’ve heard from credible people that if you had my grandfather in your house band, you had the best in the business at those times. I’d watch paw-paw every Saturday morning. Before he’d get dressed, he’d sit on the porch and drink his coffee and play. At that time in Eunice, they had accordion players in every other house." King Ned's father was the fiddler Jean Batiste Ned. They are both mystery men as far as online history is concerned.

Like his grandfather, Hall grew to love Creole music, too. "He would play and play and play," he recalled. "My mother would tell me, 'You need to go out with the rest of the kids. If I have anything to do with it, you won’t learn how to play that.' I told her, 'Mama, when I get to be big, I’ll play accordion just like paw-paw.' She said, 'No, you won’t!'" 

Hearing his daughter’s objection to his grandson playing the accordion, Ned spoke up. "He stopped playing," Hall remembered. "He said, 'Oh, go in the house and leave him alone.' He later bought me a little rocking chair to sit on the side of him in his rocking chair while he played. I’d just sit on the porch and rock."

When Ned was away, Hall secretly played his grandfather’s accordion. "My grandmother, she caught me playing his accordion. She said, 'If paw-paw see you, he's go' be mad.' I said, 'Yeah, but ma-ma, I like it.' She says 'Yeah, I know. But I'm letting you know, if he catch you, he's probably go' whoop you.' I said, 'OK.' She said, 'We'll do it as long as it lasts. I'll tell you when he's coming and then you need to put it up fast.'

"Whenever my grandfather would leave without his accordion, I'd take it and chinky, chank-chank, chank-chank-chank. I was sneaking. That’s how most people learned on their own." When Ned finally caught his grandson playing the accordion, he reacted with more pride than anger. "He took a special interest," Hall said. "He showed me off to Bois-Sec (Ardoin) and Canray (Fontenot) (video here) and Nathan Abshire (video here with another legend, Dewey Balfa), the grand old men of Creole music. 'Hey, look! This is my boy. Look what he can do.' It was a pride thing for him." 

Following Ned’s death some 30 years ago, Hall took lessons from Ardoin and drew his artistic inspiration from the Creole musician Nolton Simien, who he met in 2005 when Simien was playing at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette. "Ardoin, Abshire, and Simien are the three that I based my style on," he said. He names Canray Fontenot, Calvin and Bebe Carriére, and Marc Savoy as other influences. 

Hall formed the Canecutters band (shown here at the Fais Do Do Stage before Jazz Fest opened on Sunday) about 10 years ago, and chose most of the tunes they play through research at the Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. "I consider this band to be a band with a very strong foundation," Hall said. The members of the Canecutters are Zack Fusilier on fiddle, Mark Stoltz on scrubboard, Nico Guiang on guitar, Mike Bell on bass, and Jock Randall on drums. 

Unfortunately, there isn't much opportunity to perform authentic Creole music. "It's true," Hall said. "It doesn't pay the bills. It doesn't pay for a band to go out and say, 'Hey, man, we're going to play Creole music and only Creole music.' This is a style that reflects the way music was done in the late 1800s. It still had the European influence."

Creole music may not be a profitable endeavor, but Cajun and zydeco musicians who don’t study it are in trouble, Hall said. "I feel bad for them. They don’t have a brick to start building. And it doesn’t have to be that way because, in Louisiana, there’s always that old accordion player or old fiddle player, sitting on the front porch, who would love to teach you something."

Ardoin, Simien and his grandfather’s example didn’t stop at music, Hall said. "These cats put their overalls on and worked Monday through Friday. They didn’t worry about music until Saturday. But Saturday or Sunday, you had to get out of their way. Nobody was going to stop them from playing. They loved the music, but they realized that not everybody could go out and play for a living. In that era there wasn’t such a thing as a musician just being a musician."

Here's a nice playlist of Joe Hall and the Canecutters from the Swamp and Roll show on KDCG TV out of Cajun country in Louisiana (tremendous archives here). The hosts are really campy, but that's part of the show's charm. From Jazz Fest, here's my video plus 1 and 2 others that show the scene from the Fais Do Do Stage. And here are 1 and 2 parts of an interview that Zydeco Online did with Joe Hall.

We said goodbye to this wonderful place called Fais Do Do after this show. We weren't planning on seeing anything else here ... until next time!

Our next stop was Congo Square, but we had a few minutes to spare, so we checked out the Cultural Exchange area, the place where Jazz Fest does its annual focus on a different county that has had an effect on New Orleans or some other aspect of New Orleans culture (last year it was Native Americans; in 2012 it was Mardi Gras Indians). 

This year, as reflected in some of the food Laurie enjoyed during the festival, it was Brazil. In the exhibit tent were working artists and craftsmen. Outside was a grafitti artist working on a large painting. There were Brazilian Carnival parades and of course there was plenty of Brazilian music as well. 

Jazz Fest is full of stuff like this, with exhibits and interviews in the Grandstand, cooking demonstrations on two stages, tons of artisans from all over the place, Louisiana folklife demonstrations, and on and on. Problem is, you have to give up music to enjoy these, and we just aren't ready to do that!

At Congo Square, Glen David Andrews put on a funkified early Sunday afternoon revival, putting the best of his trombone-based funk band and his latest recording, a gospel-infused effort, on display. We caught GDA last year on Day 1 at the Jazz in the Park concert in Armstrong Park, so you can read a bit more about him there. Andrews is a dynamic performer and his band is top-notch, too. Here's 40 minutes of today's show. He really got the sun-baked Congo Square crowd going, and even took it down into the people at one point. 

Andrews' new-found gospel emphasis in his music is partly a result of his rehabilitation from substance abuse, but also a reflection of his childhood in the musical, church-going Andrews family. Forced to attend church as a kid, Andrews said he focused on the musical aspects of the services. "Gospel is a part of who I am," he said.

Andrews also focused on music during school, and regularly "caught a spanking" for cutting class to attend second-lines. Through the classroom windows, Andrews would see musicians gathering outside for the parades. "I said, 'It's lunchtime. They not gonna' miss me for 30 minutes.'"

His Treme neighborhood taught Andrews how to create music out of joy and fun, but also out of suffering. The lyrics of his tune, the brass-band favorite Knock Wit Me, Rock Wit Me drew from overheard drug-bartering. "As children, you hear that all day," he said. "We started making fun of them." Another part was inspired by mothers losing their children to violence. "I wrote that song 17 years ago and it's still true," Andrews said.

Every song Andrews does is a reflection of something he has experienced. "My songs seem dark in the beginning," he said, "but they all come out with a lot of light shining in the end."

Asked about whether he pays attention to genre when making music, Andrews said he's more concerned with ensuring that he loves what he plays. "First, you have to please yourself," Andrews said. "You have to please your soul."

Andrews uses his music in social activism as well. He is in Spike Lee's Katrina documentary "When the Levees Broke" and was seen singing next to civil-rights leader Jesse Jackson in protest of plans to tear down the historic St. Augustine Church in the Tremé. "All kinds of people were there," he said. "It just so happened I had the loudest mouth." His latest cause is a protest against City Hall over a proposed noise ordinance that threatened the local music scene. 

Andrews also rails against the ongoing gentrification of the Tremé, explaining that newcomers to the neighborhood are trying to limit the music there. "You've got to keep that music in that neighborhood, in Jackson Square, on Frenchmen Street, so we can have the next Nicholas Payton, so we can have the next Trombone Shorty," he said. "As long as I'm alive in New Orleans, certain things are going to happen: second-lines, music in the Treme neighborhood, St Augustine Church, music in Jackson Square." Aside from protecting the local music scene, GDA says the city needs to mandate New Orleans music and culinary arts be taught in public schools. The sheer force of his personality could probably make that happen.

     

In the band today, among others, were Josh Starkman on lead guitar, James Martin on sax, Rico Fruge on trumpet, Ron Williams on bass, and Alex Hall on drums.

Glen David jammed in the van at Jazz Fest, so here's a page with three videos of that performance. And just for a little bit more, here are 12, 3, 4 from the Voodoo Experience festival in October 2013. Glen David Andrews is a force.

We skipped out on this show a bit early so we could catch the last part of George Porter Jr. and the Runnin' Pardners set at the Gentilly Stage. We were thrilled to see this great band up close and personal at The Hamilton in DC last summer, but one can never get enough of this funky good stuff. 

To know funk is to know George Porter Jr. Best known as the bassist of the progenitors of funk, the Meters, it is said his DNA can be found in all New Orleans funk. It goes without saying that the Meters have probably had some kind of influence on all modern-day funk bands or at least the bands that inspired them. And on the bass, there are only a few as accomplished in the genre.

In the Runnin' Pardners, Porter has assembled two of NOLA's most seasoned and talented musicians in Brint Anderson (guitar) and Michael Lemmler (keyboards), and two rising stars in Khris Royal (saxophone) and Terrence Houston (drums). They are tight and funky and a treat to watch. As a group, they are so acutely in tune with each other that the audience can't help but be captivated by their stage presence.

               

It is this personal element of camaraderie that evokes such dedication from fans like us. When Porter performs, he makes you feel as though you were invited over to watch him play with his friends. They waste no time laying out the funk and melody with extreme force. GPJ is a wizard on the bass, playing with quick fingers and delivering a wide array of funky sounds.

Here are my video (for listening only, but including a great sax solo by Khris Royal), a 15-minute video (this one includes a cool take on Lee Dorsey's great song Ride Your Pony), and finally a 7-minute video from this show. But you can never have enough of the Pardners, so here are 12 minutes live in a club during Jazz Fest, 17 minutes at Jam Base HQ (good stuff here), and 18 minutes at the 2013 Bear Creek Festival shown on the Funk It site (even more good stuff here). And here are 1, 2, 3 parts from the 2012 Bear Creek show. Jam in the Van? Sure, right here!

After this show ended, we had to make our way back across the Fair Grounds to the Acura Stage. It's just what you have to do on the last day. At Acura, more funk, Dumpstaphunk style, the beginning of a bunch of last-day special Jazz Fest moments.

On the way we stopped at the Jazz and Heritage Stage to hear a few songs from the Storyville Stompers Brass Band.

Started in 1981 by a group of friends who had a love of traditional New Orleans music, the Stompers have grown to become an integral part of the city's brass band scene with a big fat sound and plenty of spirit. They are one of a handful of ensembles carrying on the brass band tradition with a repertoire of classic jazz tunes as opposed to brass band interpretations of contemporary tunes (not that there's anything wrong with that at all).

With a reputation as NOLA's go-to second-line band, the Stompers play everything from parties and festivals to weddings and conventions. They participate in New Orleans traditions such as Mardi Gras parades and jazz funerals. The group has kept most of its original members. Out of the current lineup, five were with the original band in 1981 and the rest have been with it for more than 10 years. Others in the original band still perform on occasion.

Trombonist Craig Klein (who plays to his funk-rock side as a member of Bonerama) says the Stompers drew their inspiration from the Olympia Brass Band. "We do funk it up some like Olympia did, but there are so many great, traditional songs with forms and melodies that we love to play," he says. Doing so makes him feel like they are continuing a "serious New Orleans tradition that sometimes gets overlooked."

One yearly gig for the band is the St. Anne Parade on Fat TuesdaySousaphonist Woody Penouilh loves this event because "the music, the costumes and general sensual overdose are fantastic. We have a deep respect for the music and the tradition. 

For Klein, playing with the Stompers is playing with family. "I love playing with the Stompers because I get to play with guys I’ve played with for over 30 years. It's good to play music with friends that started from humble beginnings, and it's still going strong."

Here are 1, 2, 3 videos of the Stompers at Jazz Fest this year. Just a rollicking fun time for sure. In the crowd at the Jazz and Heritage Stage was this guy, looking very content to sit and listen to whatever music came his way. This is definitely one of the best stages to do that.

Onward to Acura. We love Dumstaphunk. We've seen them every year at Jazz Fest and once at the Hamilton in DC. They play unbridled, unadulterated funk. It's so funky they have two bass guitars, Nick Daniels and Tony Hall. They have one of the baddest drummers around in Nikki Glaspie (unfortunately, this would be the last time we'll see her with Dumpstaphunk as she was leaving to devote more time to her own project, known as the Nth Power). Then there are the Nevilles, second-generation version. Ivan, the leader, is on keyboards and guitar and is the son of Aaron Neville. Lead guitarist Ian is the son of Art Neville.

In the late 1970s, Art and Aaron, joined forces with thir brothers Charles and Cyril to form the Neville Brothers. They presided over countless sweaty late nights in local clubs, distilling funk, R&B, Mardi Gras Indian music, and soul into a distinctly New Orleans, distinctly Neville sound. They toured the world many times, and became de facto ambassadors of the city. But they haven’t released a new album since 2004. Hurricane Katrina exacted a heavy toll on Art, Cyril and Aaron, the three brothers who still lived in New Orleans at the time of the storm. They rarely appear together anymore, and let's face it, they are getting older.

The Neville Brothers closed Jazz Fest virtually every year on its second Sunday. That long-running tradition ended in 2013, when Aaron Neville, with a new solo album, elected to play his own set. Cyril, Charles and Art, with other members of the family, performed separately, billed as the Nevilles, on the first weekend that year. Aaron went solo again this year. But despite the apparent breakup of the Neville Brothers, they are still musical forces. Charles Neville played sax throughout Aaron's Jazz Fest set, and Cyril Neville and his youngest son Jason also joined in. 

The Dumpstaphunk set today also was a Neville family affair. Art Neville, aka Poppa Funk, joined his son for at least half of the show, and Cyril joined in for a couple of Neville Brothers classic tunes as well. Watching the two generations together was really special. You could tell that the artists felt that way, too.

Art Neville was barely 17 when he sang lead on his first recording, the Hawketts' remake of a country song called Mardi Gras Mambo. He eventually assembled the Meters. As the house band for Allen Toussaint's Sea-Saint studio, the Meters backed a litany of local and national stars, including Patti Labelle on her classic Lady MarmaladeThe Meters' own recordings of slinky New Orleans funk are now considered classics. The Neville Brothers followed the Meters, but Art has alway maintained a Meters-like preseence as a member of the Funky Meters. 

At the Acura Stage, Dumpstaphunk started the set alone, getting the place sticky with the kind of nasty, New Orleans-style funk that runs deep in Neville bloodlines, smacked on the bottom by Hall and Daniels' dueling five-string basses and drummer Glaspie's killer beat. I can't imagine this band without her. She was raised in a church family and trained at the Berklee College of Music but has taken to the New Orleans sound like she was born in the swamp. She will be missed.

Brass courtesy of the Grooveline Horns added some punch.

Ian laid down hard, crunchy rock guitar, and Ivan orchestrates it all from his funkified keyboards and B-3 organ.  

Ian's father slipped behind a second organ about a half hour into the show. Few artists have impacted New Orleans music as much as Art Neville; from his teenage rhythm and blues recordings with the Hawketts to the blistering funk of the Meters and Funky Meters to the Neville Brothers, Art virtually single-handedly has over more than half a century crafted the sound of a city.

Now in his late '70s, Art has soldiered on through various ailments that have made walking difficult. When out and about, he relies on a wheelchair, walker, or walking stick. Last year, he was hospitalized after suffering what appeared to be a minor stroke. His voice was rough, but he persevered as the band blasted out the haunted, blistering Fire on the Bayou. We didn't care, we all sang the chorus with gusto.

     

Art's humor and determination are undiminished. He works with physical therapists several times a week to improve his strength and mobility. And as soon as he’s seated at a keyboard, the aches, and decades, drop away. He jokes that he’ll continue to perform even if he must be carted onstage via gurney: "You can bring me there in the ambulance, roll me onto the stage, give me a microphone, and a mirror where I can see the people. Look. I’ve been doing this all my life. I enjoy it. Even the bad parts of it, the parts I didn’t like. That’s the way things go sometimes. You’ve got to go along with them."

Then the youngest of the original Neville Brothers, Cyril, joined the group. Philosopher, poet, and one of the last great southern soul singers, he punished a tambourine emblazoned with the name "Big Chief Jolly," the Neville Brothers' uncle George Landry and one-time Big Chief of the Wild Tchoupitoulas, the tribe that collaborated with the Neville Brothers and Allen Toussaint for a landmark mid-'70s album of Mardi Gras Indian funk. "It's like old times," Ivan said, watching his two uncles on stage together during a raucous Hey Pocky Way. A ferocious vocalist, Cyril brought it to the Meters' No More Okey Dokey.

Later, Ivan said, "We were proud to have them with us and represent what's been going on with Jazz Fest through the years and represent where we're from, uptown New Orleans. It was just kind of a special thing."


After Cyril left the stage, Art, the horns, and the band kicked it up a few notches for an extremely funky Raise the House. Art left and then the band and horns closed with a jaw-dropping version of Meanwhile that featured an incredible bass-driven funk-a-thon led by Nick and Tony, during which Ivan stepped out from behind the keys to join Ian on guitar and the whole thing ended with a funky wall of sound. By this time, the day was hot. Really hot. This show may have had a lot to do with it!


          

Here is the entire concert for listening on Archive.org, and here is most of the show from AXS TV's broadcast of Jazz Fest. Here is almost two hours from the Funky Biscuit club in Florida in November 2013. Finally, here's 1, 2, 3 parts from a show at Tipitina's in 2013 from the FunkIt blog, where you can find lots more.


So, after seeing key members of the Meters at Gentilly and at Acura in the last two acts, what was it that was so different about what these guys were doing? And what defined it as funk? Porter Jr. says, "I think it was the syncopation. So many of our songs were not 'on the 1.' It seems like everyone else on the planet was playing downbeat stuff, but we were playing 'off the 1.' That’s what made what we were doing entirely different from anyone else on the planet. We weren’t pronouncing 1. Our first notes were usually before 1."

The Meters never really made it into the mainstream. Porter again: "I may be wrong, but I think we were always 'musicians' musicians.' I don’t think the general public knew what we were doing, because they didn’t know where '1' was, they didn’t know where the downbeat of the music was. I think the radio stations were in the same boat. In order to get airplay, the DJs had to like it, but if '1' was so difficult to find, then they wouldn’t play it." But it's more popular than ever today, especially in New Orleans, where the Meters brand of funk is everywhere. 

Outside of town it can be found on the jam-band circuit, which is not as strange as it may seem when you consider that many early funk pioneers had a jazz background, including Porter. Some bands in the modern funk genre, like Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, the New Mastersounds, Lettuce, and Soulive, have also found a welcome home in front of jam band-loving fans.

"The jam-band community is bringing a lot of the music of us older guys back up to the forefront," says Porter. "They have really embraced funk concepts. I like what Eric Krasno does with Lettuce and Soulive. I've grown fond of Adam Deitch and Nigel Hall. John Scofield’s funk band is great, even though it’s more fusion than funk. Here in New Orleans, Stanton Moore can lay down the funk. Then there is Dumpastaphunk. I think the Revivalists seem to have picked up on funk elements, too. Those young cats have probably done more homework than an old fogey like me!"

Meanwhile, back at Jazz Fest, after the Dumpstaphunk fun, it was time for some food. We hit Food Area II, where Laurie had vegetarian ya-ka-mein (vegetable soup with noodles) from Ms. Linda's (the same peple who did her bread pudding for breakfast). 

Ms. Linda Green knows how to roll. For the last 20 years, Green, who is widely known as "The Ya-Ka-Mein Lady," has been rolling her truck out to the Sunday social aid and pleasure club parades to sell her famous noodle soup. She rolls in the street parades as the president and longtime member of the Lady Rollers

She first began selling Ya-Ka-Mein from the back of her Blazer at the parades to raise money for clothing and accessories for the members of the Rollers. Back then, the women rode in cars as part of the Men Rollers’ parade. She prepared the soup at Kemp’s Bar on La Salle Street near Washington Avenue. She’d start there and then follow the parades to the next stops.

"Ya-Ka-Mein is one of New Orleans' best kept secrets," Miss Linda says. "It is a soup. They call it Old Sober." It acquired its nickname due to its alleged curative powers after a night of heavy imbibing.

"You have spaghetti noodles in it, you have a hard-boiled egg," she explains. "You have green onions that are dashed with some soy and hot sauce. You have any type of meat you want" (or not, but she uses a boneless chuck roast in her non-vegetarian version). "You put all of that together, and you add that sauce. Now that sauce is the Ya-Ka-Mein." The recipe is a family, and a cultural, tradition. "It always has been in the black community. My mom used to do it." Linda says her family's version of the recipe isn't written down anywhere. But here is a close replica.

After Hurricane Katrina, Miss Linda needed a job, and her cooking skills were her salvation. "I just decided to go out on feet," she says. "And I have been going out on feet and haven’t looked back yet. I’ve been rolling with the Ya-Ka-Mein."

Rolling near and far. Anthony Bourdain featured Miss Linda on a segment of the Travel Channel’s "No Reservations." She’s appeared on the Cooking Channel's "United Tastes of America." And she was a winner on Food TV's "Chopped." That's a lot of notoriety for a humble, 53-year-old New Orleans native. 

On the "Chopped" episode, she bested some pretty strong challengers from the New Orleans area, including Cody Monfra, the sous chef at the Palace Cafe, Richard Bond of the Mardi Gras School of Cooking in Algiers and Justin Kennedy from the Parkway Bakery.

"I know they worked for some big names, but I worked for a big name, too: Shirley Green, my mama," Ms. Linda says with a laugh. "I didn’t go to no culinary school; she taught me, and I’ve been doing cooking for a long time. Oh Lord, it was stressful, but it was fun," Green adds about appearing on the show.

Talking about her mother, Linda says, "She worked for the Orleans Parish School Board, which I did as well. Mom worked in the food service department. She was one of the best cooks. I learned a lot. She taught me well.

"Mom would feed the block. She would also make the food for Bean Brothers Bar, but it was called something else then. They said that you had to visit Shirley before you went into the bar! She had fried fish, potato salad, stewed hen, and ya ka mein, which always sold out."

This was in the heart of Central City (Third and Danneel Streets) where, she remembers, "Everything was happening. They had a bar on every corner and the Young Men Olympian parade passed right by the door. I went out that door and went second-lining with them."

She got started at Jazz Fest by doing one of the cooking demonstrations in the Grandstand. After the program, there were long lines of people eager to taste Ya-Ka-Mein for the first time. Her popularity was noticed by festival producers, and she got her own food booth in 2005. 

"I love my city," she says proudly. "I love my city. My city is very, very good to me." Her city definitely loves her back.

I had the crab and crawfish stuffed mushrooms from the Cajun institution, Prejean’s Restaurant of Lafayette. These people know how to fry seafood. Laurie has had this dish before but it was the first time for me. I have had Prejean's PQA (pheasant, quail, and andouille) gumbo, and both of us have had their crawfish enchiladas. This dish is every bit as good as those. The little bit of crab butter cream that's drizzled on it just adds to the delightfulness. 

At this time Laurie was off to see Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire at the Acura Stage. Based in Montreal, Acade Fire is husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Win's younger brother Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, and Jeremy Gara. 

The band's current touring line-up also includes former core member Sarah Neufeld, frequent collaborator Owen Pallett, two additional percussionists in Diol Edmond and Tiwill Duprate, and saxophonists Matt Bauder and Stuart Bogie.

Apparently one never knows what to expect from Arcade Fire. They are an arena act with a small club sensibility. They revel in the ability to keep it weird. The band led a conga line on stage to open their Jazz Fest set, dancing to a recording of Iko Iko. A dozen or more dancers in papier-mache masks -- doing the boogaloo as Pope Francis and President Obama, among others -- shook it along with the spectacle. 

Win Butler doesn't usually seem like he's having a good time. Clad in white pants and a baseball jersey with "Enemy" scrawled across it (with a target on the back, for good measure), he looked the part of tortured artist. He doesn't make being a rock star look effortless. He leaves that to the others. Will Butler went crazy with a drum strapped to his chest at the edge of the stage, nearly losing his footing. Chassagne worked her body with abandon, and the Haitian percussionists Edmond and Duprate smilingly shook poms throughout. 

This was the last show of their tour following release of their most recent album "Reflektor," and they did it in style. Just a few minutes shy of the official end time of their set, Win Butler introduced Wake Up by saying "This is our last song. They're kicking us off." True to contractual obligations, the band exited the Acura Stage at 5:15 ... by leading NOLA's own Original Pinettes Brass Band on a second-line through the crowd. Butler clutched a megaphone and, playing and singing Iko Iko, Arcade Fire and the Pinettes wove through the audience, a mini-spectacle in the last hours of revelry at Jazz Fest. Laurie was thrilled with this concert. 

Here's AXS-TV's 30-minute excerpt from the Arcade Fire performance.

As for me, I was bound for the Jazz Tent for a long-anticipated performance by Chick Corea. As I expected, the tent was packed a full 30 minutes before the show. I got a spot about halfway up the bleachers at the back of the tent, which got more and more crowded as the sound people in the back, who I was virtually on top of, and the people on the stage went back and forth and back and forth with the sound. I put up with this for a good long time, but reached a point of impatience and discomfort and finally left in frustration. By all accounts this was a great show once it finally got started (the 40-minute excerpt is from a festival in Paris), but I believe what I ended up doing was a better way to end Jazz Fest in New Orleans.

Heading into the infield, I was drawn in by Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr. and the Wild Magnolias performing on the Jazz and Heritage Stage. Like his father, Bo Dollis, the man responsible for the mainstreaming of the Mardi Gras Indians and for some of their most popular chants, Dollis Jr. is a great performer. The stage was crowded with members of the Wild Magnolias, including Bo Jr.'s mother, Queen Ida, resplendent in orange. He even brought out his daughter, 18-month old old Acerria, for a brief appearance. 

Behind it all was, as usual, a great funk band, this one featuring the incredible guitarist June Yamagishi, formerly with Papa Grows Funk (see Day 9 last year), who has played with the Wild Magnolias for several years. Yamagishi smoked guitar solos over and over. The ever-present Adam Crochet was playing guitar, too, and when the two played together it was simply astounding.

Led by Bo Jr., the group did all of the Wild Magnolias' great tunes: Indians Here They ComePapa Was A Rollin' Stone, New Kind Of FunkBig Chief (this version is awesome with Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Earl King and the Meters), We Come To Rumble, and Cabbage Alley (this one has the great Bo Dollis Sr.). He encouraged the audience every step of the way, drawing us in as if we were members of the tribe and dropping into the crowd and standing on a folding chair several times. He took pictures with cameras from members of the crowd, and he tossed shirts and other lagniappe out. He orchestrated it all with great enthusiasm. However, he could not ignore the fact that his father, for the first time, was missing. He told us that he promised himself that he wasn't going to get emotional, but who could blame him? We all gave a huge shout to the Big Chief. 

A group calling itself the Wild Magnolias, participating in the local "Indian masking" traditions and performing New Orleans Mardi Gras music, extends at least back into the 1950s. The group's lead member was called the Big Chief, and at least three Big Chiefs are known to have headed the band for short stints prior to 1964: Leon, Flap, and Joe Lee Davis. In 1964, Bo Dollis Sr. became Big Chief of the group, having previously participated in other Mardi Gras tribes such as the White Eagles and the Golden Arrows.

Meanwhile, the chants sung by Mardi Gras Indians in the streets of New Orleans had begun to work their way onto wax. In the mid-1950s, folklorist Samuel Charters had collected field recordings of Indians in New Orleans, later released on the Smithsonian Folkways label. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Danny Barker, James "Sugar Boy" Crawford and the Dixie Cups had released swinging jazz and rhythm and blues arrangements of Indian tunes like Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing and Iko Iko. Earlier than all of that, Jelly Roll Morton had demonstrated Indian melodies on the piano for Alan Lomax, during Lomax's landmark, marathon Library of Congress interview sessions. (Note: The filmwork of Alan Lomax linked here was shot throughout the American South and Southwest over the course of 1978 to 1985 in preparation for a PBS series, "American Patchwork," which aired in 1991. The videos consist of performances, interviews, and folkloric scenes culled from 400 hours of raw footage, many of which have never been seen publicly. All well worth a look, and not just the New Orleans section; there's Cajun, Appalachian, and Mississippi Delta as well.) 

Indian tunes were making their way into popular music, but outside of Charters' recordings captured in the field, none of them were performed by actual masking Indians. In 1970, Bo Dollis Sr. changed that. He did so with the help of his longtime friend Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians (the link was part 1; here are parts 2 and 3) and a young Quint Davis (someone else we need to talk about, but not today!).

Davis, now its producer, had just helped to put on the first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in Congo Square, at which Dollis and Boudreaux paraded. It was a sort of coming out party for the Mardi Gras Indians, who had maintained a cultish, almost secret society existence in the city until then. In a 2011 interview, Davis told Offbeat magazine what had occurred to him while attending an Indian practice session.

"I went home and listened and heard one voice that soared over the place, and that was Bo Dollis. And what occurred to me was that when you're at Indian practice and you're in the bar, the jukebox is playing. You go unplug the jukebox and the Mardi Gras Indians make their music and then, when they're done, somebody plugs in the jukebox. I said, 'How can we bridge that gap and get Mardi Gras Indian music on the jukebox?'"

Davis had recently paired Indians up with keyboardist Willie Tee before for a performance at Tulane University. Now, he assembled a band to record: Boudreaux and Dollis, plus percussionists from the two Indian gangs; Willie Tee and his brother, jazz saxophonist Earl Turbinton; Snooks Eaglin on guitar, Alfred "Uganda" Roberts on congas (we saw him play with John Mooney last year on Day 2), bassist George French, drummer Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste (of the Meters), and even more young guns. The first single they recorded as the Wild Magnolias was Handa Wanda, a new Indian song penned by Dollis.

Three years later, with Willie Tee as musical director, slight personnel changes (Larry Panna drummed instead of Modeliste, who was likely busy the Meters) and a recording contract with the French label Barclay, the group crafted a full-length album. Recorded at the Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana, in 1973, "The Wild Magnolias" was a groundbreaking platter. It contained original and traditional Indian chants, the signature shout and percussive clatter of the gangs laid over taut, gritty funk. The album brought the ensemble gigs around the world, including a stint opening a tour for Aretha Franklin and a date at Carnegie Hall. The following year the Wild Magnolias released a second album, "They Call Us Wild," though Barclay's American distributor, Polydor, didn't make it available in the United States until the early 1990s.

Arguably one of the most significant recordings to come out of Louisiana, the Handa Wanda single launched a lifelong career for Bo Dollis; more importantly, it introduced the Mardi Gras Indians to the world and, in doing so, ensured that the often-mysterious tradition would be preserved. Songs from the Wild Magnolias albums were widely sampled by hip-hop artists including the Geto Boys, Schoolly D, and Boogie Down Productions.

Other Indian bands have followed, notably the group that recorded a sizzling album as the Wild Tchoupitoulas (see Dumpstaphunk above). Still, it was Bo Dollis and company who stuck the first flag in the sound and it was awesome. He was definitely missed today, but what a fabulous performance this was. Wow! Here's my (shaky) video. It's 12 minutes plus and the only one I could find from today so we'll make the best of it.

The Iko Iko blog has this lengthy, but very informative article on the Mardi Gras Indians, a fascinating piece of New Orleans and Louisiana cultural history.

When this funky extravaganza ended, I took a quick trip over to the Economy Hall tent, where the Preservation Hall Brass Band, the resident brass band of the storied musical amalgamation, was playing. Much to my delight, the group included three members of the main Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ronell Johnson and Ben Jaffe on sousaphones and Charlie Gabriel on clarinet, making this a sort of mini Preservation Hall Jazz Band show. 


The Pres Hall Brass, as it is known, is led by legendary former Preservation Hall Jazz Band trombonist and teacher Maynard Chatters. It usually features members of the Olympia and Young Tuxedo Brass Bands, including bass drummer Tanio Hingle, snare drummer Kerry "Fat Man" Hunter, and trumpeter Will Smith.  

At their live shows, Pres Hall Brass is everything you'd expect out of an organization that so embodies the musical spirit of New Orleans. There's just something ingrained into the nature of a good New Orleans brass band that dares even the most stoic listeners to tap their toes, if not outright shake their bodies in time. The showmanship and energy from the band members just feeds into that nature, making the Pres Hall Brass one of the best parties of the entire Jazz Fest. Everyone in Economy Hall was having a blast, encouraged by the emcee and the fantastic music. 

I arrived at Economy Hall to see only the last half or maybe less of this show, but it was great fun to begin to close Jazz Fest (once again) with a Preservation Hall theme, this time in an intimate space instead of a big stage, with second-liners parading up and down the aisles and everyone else on their feet an dancing along as if they were. Here are 1, 2 (I Think I Love You), and 3 (Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing) excerpts from this show and my video, too. This was just great.

One more performance to go. We had previously decided that it would be John Fogerty at the Gentilly Stage, and we had prearranged a meeting place toward the back of the crowd, near one of the bridges that comes in from the track. Before I headed over, and because of the Gentilly Stage's location, for all purposes on the way out of Jazz Fest for another year, I had to get one more bite to eat. I chose, and fortunately they were not out of, the soft-shell crab po'boy from Galley Seafood. I was fully prepared to "settle" for a fried catfish po'boy, but instead I got one of the best softshell crab sandwiches I have ever had at the Fest. Of course, my thinking that had nothing to do with my mood or the whole last-day vibe.

It turned out that, on her way from Acura and Arcade Fire to Gentilly for Fogerty, Laurie also went to one of her go-to's for a last meal, the fried plantains and sauteed spinach (jama jama) from Bennachin Restaurant. I normally do what we missed and what we still need to do tomorrow, but let me say here and now that getting to this restaurant in the French Quarter is high on the list of places to hit next year. Wanna make some jama jama? Here's the recipe

Back at Jazz Fest, spinach and plantains were not enough for Laurie. No, she stopped at the La Divina booth for a cappuccino gelato with a shot of espresso. I had a beer of some sort (big surprise).

Our game plan worked out perfectly, and I had no trouble finding Laurie in the Gentilly throng. I didn't even need to use the track, instead just tip-toeing through the blankets and tarps after passing by that beautiful old oak tree. We were pretty far back, but the sound was excellent, as was the view of the screens. The people in the immediate vicinity were friendly, and everybody was in a party mood.

I'm not going to spend any time here rehashing the history of John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival, who I've been listening to since, well, since I was in high school. Their story is well documented. Today, the energized Fogerty did a perfect set to end Jazz Fest. His lifelong fascination with New Orleans manifested itself throughout his Creedence catalog. He's attended Jazz Fest over the years as a fan, and indeed, he spent this weekend roaming the Fair Grounds, too.


Not surprisingly, then, it was obvious he was pumped to play Jazz Fest for the first time in many years. Not dressed in his standard flannel shirt (hey, it was hot), but instead in a denim shirt with a red bandana around his neck, he was in great spirits. He shredded his Fender Telecaster time and time again. His band, featuring his son Shane Fogerty on rhythm guitar, was strong. Fogerty's voice is remarkably well preserved; his timeless song catalog even more so. I mean, look at the set list and see how many songs you don't know really well:

Born on the Bayou ... Green River ... Who'll Stop the Rain? ... Lodi 
Lookin' Out My Back Door ... Hot Rod Heart ... Ramble Tamble ... Jambalaya
Midnight Special ... Mystic Highway ... Long As I Can See the Light
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? ... New Orleans ... Down on the Corner
Centerfield ... Cotton Fields ... Up Around the Bend ... The Old Man Down the Road
Proud Mary ... Bad Moon Rising ... Fortunate Son

Fogerty explained that he wrote Who'll Stop the Rain about Woodstock. "You remind me of it a little bit," he said, taking in the large Gentilly crowd. Funny, like Johnny Winter a couple of days ago, not many people remember that he was at Woodstock because CCR wasn't in the movie or on the three-record soundtrack. They came on just after midnight Saturday (Sunday morning) and are credited with reigniting the festival after a lacklustre performance by the Grateful Dead and preceding the late-late night tours de force of Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Who. 

Fogerty's remake of Proud Mary on his latest album was recorded in New Orleans with a host of local notables, including Allen Toussaint, scrubboard player Rockin' Dopsie, and Cajun fiddler Joel Savoy. They joined in the live version at Jazz Fest, along with the TBC (or To Be Continued) Brass Band (today replacing the Rebirth Brass Band, who were on the album) and accordionist Anthony Dopsie (the Dopsies also helped out on Jambalaya). 

As his guests coalesced, Fogerty urged the audience to sit back "and listen to the sweetness of that whole thing." That wasn't hard to do!


All-star moments can sometimes be a mess. Proud Mary wasn't. It was a natural-sounding collaborative effort that elevated all involved. The mash of R&B piano and backup singers, zydeco, Cajun fiddle and New Orleans brass blasting made the song feel like gospel. Concluding the festival with such a south Louisiana moment would have made sense stylistically, but also would have omitted the final two songs, which absolutely launched the crowd in ecstacy, an exclamation point on the whole of the 2014 Jazz Fest. 


So that was that. We took a longing look back into the Fair Grounds, at the stately oak trees and the late-afternoon sun lighting the Grandstand and headed into the line for the shuttle busses. 

A shoutout here in memory of Larry McKinley, who passed away this year. He was a well-known New Orleans DJ and music producer, responsible for some of the best early R&B that came out of New Orleans. To us, like virtually every single one of the hundreds of thousands of Jazz Fest attendees each year would hear his recorded voice projecting from the converted ice chest speakers stationed at the Fair Grounds entrances. In a pleasant yet authoritative baritone, he welcomes attendees, lists prohibited items, and runs down other rules and regulations. The tapes are switched at the end of the day to provide exit directions. His likeness is now among those preserved at Jazz Fest in the Ancestors area near Congo Square, and his voice, I imagine, will be in the ice chests for as long as there is a Jazz Fest.

Traffic this evening was awful, so the driver took an alternate route back downtown, which enabled us to see some more neighborhoods, which made the depressing trip a bit more interesting.

Back at the Staybridge, we ate some leftovers, did some posting, organizing, and packing. There was no dinner out tonight, but we did take a stroll later in the evening, to include a stop at the Pinkberry for a late dessert. Just another day at Jazz Fest ... incredible variety, incredible fun, and incredible emotion all packed into 8 hours on the Fair Grounds. 


© Jeff Mangold 2012