Day 12 / Monday, May 5



No morning drill today. We were even up early enough to have some food at the Staybridge spread. But mostly we were packing and getting ready to go. We definitely enjoyed our time at the Staybridge, and while the one-bedroom mistake was nice, it didn't really add to or detract from the stay. The location, the kitchen, and the really friendly staff make the difference for us, more than making up for the hiccups of the place (because it's an extended-stay hotel, daily service isn't what you would get in a regular hotel, the air conditioning just barely holds its own, and the lack of food late in the breakfast hours is annoying ... although getting food first thing at Jazz Fest is a very pleasant replacement). We checked out and were on the airport shuttle around 9:45. There was a nice little tour around the Central Business District while we picked up some more travelers, and we were through security and at the gate in plenty of time for our 12:35 flight back to Dulles. 

We were home around 4 p.m. Eastern time and picked up at the airport by our friend Jackie, and just like that we were home. It was a pretty perfect trip.

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 always, astounding. I can't think of anything that was remotely disappointing. There were times when the crowd got to be a bit too much and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why people pay money for music and then talk through the entire performance. It's something you have to deal with more and more at music venues, though. You learn to move. These people are just oblivious to the casual glance; even "the look" is ineffective. Perhaps a Cheech and Chong Sister Mary Elephant "Shut Up" would work!

Jazz Fest could use better sound technicians, especially in the tents. I have read that they went to a digital system this year, so hopefully they will fine-tune that by the time we are there again. Nobody like the Blues Tent. That music needs to be outdoors. However, the layout of the Fair Grounds doesn't allow for it. Everybody wishes there was a better alternative. It's hard to dance in the chairs and it tends to be an echo chamber in the area at the back where you can stand and dance. The other thing that is somewhat a concern at Jazz Fest is the continued expansion of sponsor guest areas in the front of the big stages. This keeps pushing those of us who like to stand near the front of those stages further back, and it's causing us to come into conflict with the people who camp out in their chairs for the day. Jazz Fest needs to be very careful with this. It's a festival for the people, not the privileged. 

But the weather was spectacular this year, and the music even more so, really, only the good memories remain. From the time we stepped onto the hallowed ground of the Fair Grounds for the first time in a year ...

To the last party with John Fogerty and all of his New Orleans guests at the Gentilly Stage ...

We had a great time!

So the usual thing here is to mention who we missed seeing. The list is somewhat shorter as far as the big names are concerned because we are getting more adept at splitting up to see multiple artists and we also have realized that sometimes you have to leave a bit early or come in a biot late. It works! 

At the Acura Stage, on the very first day, the wonderful singer Laura Mvula. Still haven't caught a show by the great NOLA guitarist Anders Osborne, the New Orleans Suspects, or the North Mississippi Allstars. And of course Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue closing out Jazz Fest two years running now while we've been elsewhere (video has a nice intro on Jazz Fest crawfish food). 

At Gentilly, the Avett Brothers on the first day. Plus locals the Honey Island Swamp Band, Cyril Neville and the Royal Southern Brotherhood, Better Than Ezra, and Honorable South. The Radiators reunion was on while we were funking out with Dupstaphunk.

Over at Congo Square, Bobby Womack gave what turned out to be his last performance. And we still need to see Davell Crawford and Walter "Wolfman" Washington do thier own sets, even though we have seen them with others.

At the Blues tent, we missed Lil' Buck Sinegal, Eric Lindell, Joe Louis Walker, John Mooney, Henry Gray, Luther Kent and Trickbag, the Bernard Allison Group, J. Monque'D, Ernie Vincent and the Top Notes, Lynn August, James Andrews (there's that June Yamagishi again) and Aaron Neville. I repeat, you could spend the while week in that one place!  

In addition to Chick Corea at the Jazz Tent, there were Alexey Marti, Irvin Mayfield's NOLA Jazz Orchestra, a vibes woodshed with Jason Marsalis, Stephanie Jordan's Big Band, and the legendary Pharoah Sanders.  

We always stop for a bit whenever we pass by the Jazz and Heritage Stage, but still missed Los Hombres Calientes, the 101 Runners, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Bill Summers and Jazzalsa, and the Iguanas

At Fais Do Do, Sarah Jayde and the Sharecroppers, the tribute to Buckwheat Zydeco, Terence Simien, John Hiatt (although we have seen him a couple of time elsewhere) BeauSoleil (although I saw them up close at Wolf Trap over the summer), the Pine Leaf Boys, Roddie Romero's group the Hub City All Stars, and we still haven't seen Bruce Daigrepont.

Economy Hall is always fun, although we're not all that familiar with the traditional jazz artists who play there. There was to be a performance by 102-year old trumpeter Lionel Ferbos with the Palm Court Jazz Orchestra (see Day 3 last year), but he could not make it because he was not feeling well. Sad to report that he passed away a few months later, a couple of days after his 103rd birthday. Others still to see (that I know of) are Wendell Brunious and Doreen Ketchens. I'm sure many others would be just as good.

As far as the Gospel Tent is concerned, we all know the rule: when passing by, always stop for a minute to have a listen. Who knows who we may have missed. It's always great. On the little Lagniappe Stage, Sasha Masakowski, Billy Iuso solo, Chegadao, Cardinal Sons, Helen Gillet solo, Little Maker, Alexis and the Samurai, Ed Volker's Trio, Paul Sanchez, the Deslondes, and Luke Winslow King

I think I have gotten into a food rut. Of the items on the list of things still to try from last year, the only item removed was crawfish beignets. And once again I missed boudain. That's a major oversight. Still left to try: fried oyster po-boy, fried pork chop sandwich, crawfish pie, grilled chicken livers with pepper jelly, crawfish strudel (although Laurie had this), lamb tangine, lamb sausage po-boy, BBQ turkey wings, and an old-fashioned hand-made ice cream sandwich. So much food, so little time!

So, as D.L. Menard said, another year has come and gone. We still love New Orleans and there will be a 2015 report. Can't promise when it will be done, but when it is, we'll see you then! 

And remember, Live Music Is Better ...!


© Jeff Mangold 2012