Day 3 / Saturday, April 25

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Time once again for the 2015 drill: get up ... get ready ... slather on sunblock ... gather tickets, cameras, phones, our blue and white umbrella, and our new poncho-type pieces of plastic ... head down to the lobby to grab a coffee and maybe a bit of food, if there was any, just enough to get us through the trip to Jazz Fest, where we would get some real good food. Mission accomplished. The walk to Canal Street and the shuttle buses was under clear skies. The temperature was 84 and it was pretty humid.  As usual the shuttle busses were much more efficient on the second day, and we were soon at the Fair Grounds, passing through the friendly security people and ticket takers just in time for the first music. 

A reading of today's cubes set our sights for today's first music on the Fais Do Do stage. On the way to that stage we grabbed a WWOZ Mango Freeze. It was frankly just too warm to have anything other than this cool, refreshing, and delicious treat. If you enjoy jazz, blues, soul, New Orleans funk, Cajun, folk, gospel, and other eclectic music, you really need to be listineing to and supporting WWOZ, the greatest radio station in the nation (really).

On the Fais Do Do stage to start the day were 83-year-old Creole La La singer and accordionist Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys from Lawtell, Louisiana, a spot on the map in St. Landry Parish. The band is Shamus Fuller on fiddle, Courtney Fuller on guitar, Lee Tedrow on bass, Howard Noel on drums, and the very cool "Zydeco Joe" Joe Citizen on scrub board.

If you're looking for the roots of contemporary zydeco music, you'll find them in musicians like Thibodeaux (pronounced tib-a-doe) and Creole La La, the acoustic house party music of the Creoles that can be traced back to the 1920's and 1930's. He is one of the last living links to this bygone era of Creole musicians and has been performing La La, which captures the spirit of Creole life, since 1946. However, he never cared to make a recording until the 1980's! You can read a little more of his history on the Day 10 page in the 2013 report.

It is thoroughly enjoyable to be in the crowd at the Fais Do Do stage and listen to people like Goldman Thibodeaux, who are literally legends in a uniquely American art form yet are so unassuming, always surveying the crowd with a look that says 'what's the big deal, I'm just playing music like I do every day.'

Indeed, La La is primarily back porch and living room music. Wouldn't it be a treat to be at Goldman's place on a hot Louisiana afternoon just listening to him and anybody else who happened to be there playing the same way they do in front of a thousand people? You can see examples of that at the Day 10 link above.

Here's my video of the scene at Fais Do Do, and here is an entire performance from the weekly Rendezvous des Cajuns show at the historic Liberty Theater in Eunice, Louisiana, sponsored by the National Park Service and KDCG-TV, the same people who broadcast the awesome Swamp 'n' Roll show. The octegenarian Goldman's grandson is playing the scrub board throughout this performance, and toward the end he is joined by a 9-year-old accordionist who does a couple of songs. And that, as they say, is what it's all about. 

 My choice for the next music was to sample a couple of acts and then hit Congo Square. Laurie opted to head over to the Acura stage to catch some funky funk from the Raw Oyster Cult. We caught these guys last year on Day 3, and there's a lot more about them on that page. It's a supergroup of sorts, although two of the three groups represented aren't all that active anymore. The members are guitarists Dave Malone and Camile Baudoin and drummer Frank Bua Jr. from the Radiators, keyboard master John Gros from Papa Grows Funk, and bass player Dave Pomerleau from Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. Here's a 20-minute excerpt from this funk extravaganza. If you like this sound, you'll find a bunch of audio recordings on

Meanwhile, I headed over to the Gentilly stage to catch the end of the performance by Tank and the Bangas

How does one describe this bunch? A combination of Neo-soul R&B, Gospel, Rock, Hip-Hop, and Spoken Word with that extra-something New Orleans touch. That might best fit something that is just completely original. We definitely need to see a complete set as soon as possible. Terriona "Tank" Ball, backed by the mighty Bangas, gyrated and gesticulated with dreadlocks flowing. She's known for sharp, soulful original compositions. For example, one of her tunes contrasts the Winn Dixie vs. Whole Food shopping experiences as a metaphor for lost love.

Ball began her creative career as an accomplished poet, and this accounts for the complexity of her lyrics. "I'm so happy to have come from a world that was so accepting and so very nonjudgmental," she said of the spoken-word community. "That's why I can be whoever I want onstage, because I come from the poetry world, where I was free to be myself. Poetry and writing and expression to me truly meant freedom."

She favors love songs, but they branch a bit beyond boy-meets-girl. "I have so many unusual topics in my songs because I look at things from a different point of view. I don't look at WalMart just as WalMart." Instead she imagines it as a place where one could shop for the perfect mate and check the tag on their collar to see if they had any issues one might have to deal with later.

Secretly, she said, her band thinks she's crazy. The musicianship is serious, but the result stays playful. "It's truly a magical thing," she said of the process, "because I love Disney movies and they love Animé. Combined with these two childish interpretations of, you know, what life and music is to us, that's how the shows really come out."

It was very cool. Tank is another perpetual motion machine, and the Bangas are a bold 10-piece ensemble who drive the songs to great heights, but the onstage chemistry between the band members, especially Ball and singers Angelika Joseph and Kayla Jasmine is intimate. "This is how we are," Ball said. "You just get the opportunity to see. It's like looking in a window at a sleep over. We're talking about WalMart, we're talking about old hearts that made a complete fool out of me.  That's the things we girls talk about. You are just lucky enough to get a front row." 

Other members of the Bangas are Joshua Johnson (drums), Norman Spence (bass), Merell Burkett (keyboards), Nita Bailey (percussion), and Etienne Stoufflet and Albert Allenback (saxophones). Not sure who played the guitar and trumpet. This was just incredible, another completely unique New Orleans experience. See for yourself with this video and interview from the Times-Picayune and my short video, both from Jazz Fest. For a more complete experience, here are Rhythm of Life and Radioactive from the Gretna Festival in October 2014. The media page on their website has another interview, another performance, and audio.

On the way to Congo Square I stopped for a litle while at the Fais Do Do to see the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band. No secret to these folks, they play pure Cajun music, they've been doing it for years, and they do it really well.

While Bruce is technically from New Orleans, born there in 1958, his roots are in rural Avoyelles Parish, a sometime neglected part of Cajun country as it is further north. His parents moved to New Orleans in the years after World War II, along with many other Cajuns, but never abandoned their culture. They still speak Cajun French, and there's always gumbo and fricassee simmering on the stove. 

Bruce gained his music in the traditional way, from generation to generation. When he was growing up, no family gathering was complete without a little playing and singing. His father picked the guitar, while his Uncle Alton lent a remarkable voice to the traditional Cajun songs and old-time country ballads. Bruce got his first guitar when he turned five, and by age 10 he could also play banjo. It wasn't until he was 20 that he was inspired to devote himself to the French accordion. A couple of years later he had his own Cajun band and was honing his skills at regular Thursday-night fais do do dances at the Maple Leaf Bar. Throughout the 1980's Bruce almost single-handedly popularized Cajun music and Cajun dancing in cosmopolitan New Orleans. The fais do do dance eventually moved to Tipitina's and continues to this day every Sunday evening.

Bruce has emerged as one of Cajun music's finest cultural ambassadors and performs around the United States and throughout the world. He is known for his annual "homecoming" pilgrimages to the French-speaking Canadian maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where the history of the Louisiana Cajuns had its harsh beginnings. He is a songwriter as well as performer, and several of his compositions, (Marksville Two Step, Riviere Rouge, Acadia a la Louisiane, and Nonc Willie to name a few) have entered into the standard Cajun dance band repertoire. 

You don't need to understand French to get on Bruce's wavelength. His art is totally infectious. For one thing, he's one of Cajun music's most gifted singers. In keeping with the old-time dance hall musicians, he sings loud and passionately. On the accordion, he has developed a highly individual style, patterned after no one past master, but imbued with the zest and vitality of them all. His accordion has a very cool crawfish painted on it.

People are often astonished by the fact that, while the feel of a guitar lingers heavily in the band's mix, Bruce does not actually have a guitar player in his band. Neither is there a keyboard. The unusually full sound is ultimately traceable to the wall of complex rhythmic underpinnings that Bruce lays down on the accordion. Even while singing his heart out, he's busy executing difficult rolls, trills and hammerings-on that simply defy a lot of other very good accordion players.

Bruce's performances have an air of freewheeling spontaneity. He which prevails over everything that happens. He never uses a set list; instead, he maintains a floating repertoire of more than two hundred songs, from the traditional Cajun waltzes and two-steps to those of his own creation, to ancient fiddle reels, deep blues, swamp pop, zydeco, and R&B. On stage, he is free to shuffle these songs around at will. Or, as Bruce so aptly puts it, "I just play whatever song starts to come out of my fingers," while the band hangs on for dear life. Consequently, no two Bruce Daigrepont concerts are ever the same. It's an exhilarating experience, for audiences and band members alike.

The music is focused on the instruments that have historically defined the Cajun sound -- accordion and fiddle. The only additional instrumentation on stage is an aggressive rhythm section (bass, drums and scrub board or triangle). The music has a hard edge but stays true to the Cajun. There are rock, R&B or country overtones here. It's modern music, but he never goes too far. Daigrepont knows Cajun music and is committed to keeping it alive and well. We should all be grateful.

Gina Forsyth plays fiddle in the Daigrepont band. An accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right with a number of solo recordings (here she is at the Louisiana Music Factory in 2012). Salso has recorded as a member of the Malvinas (listen here) With an alto as unique as it is soulful, unpretentious songs that cut straight to the heart, and a wicked sense of humor, she is quickly becoming a force in Cajun music. She is already considered one of the best Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, and that's no small feat. 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson of Daily Journal probably sums up Gina best: "If you've ever wondered what happened to the gutsy folk singers who used to roam the earth with their instrument and protest, check out Gina Forsyth. In the tradition of Guthrie, Dylan, and Prine, she is writing and singing, not just fiddling while America burns."

Other members of the Daigrepont band are Jim Markway on bass guitar, Mike Barras on drums, and Sue Daigrepont on the scrub board. Thoroughly enjoyable. Here is my video, and for something longer, here are part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of a performance at the Nuits Cajun and Zydeco series in Saulieu, France, in 2014.

My time with this band passed much too quickly, but I really wanted to see and hear Tony Hall and the New Orleans Soul Stars do their annual trubute to James Brown over at the Congo Square stage. 

Tony Hall you've heard of before if you are a reader of this blog, as he is one of the two bass players in one of our favorite New Orleans bands, that being Dumpstaphunk (and what’s funkier than funk spelled phunk?). Before I ever knew who he was I appreciated his bass playing on Daniel Lanois' brilliant "Acadie," Bob Dylan's "Oh Mercy," Emmylou Harris' "Wrecking Ball," and the Neville Brothers' "Yellow Moon." Among many others.

He has been in bands since he was nine years old, switching from drums to bass when he was 16, and remembers playing a couple of Brown’s hits during one of his first live performances. "I was a special guest drummer with my uncle Curley Moore, and we did I Got the Feeling and Cold Sweat."

Hall has been leading the Soul Stars band on lead guitar, not bass (it took me a few minutes to figure that out), and vocals for eight years for its annual celebration of Brown's birthday. (Brown was born on May 3, 1933.) He makes a point of saying that the band is rehearsed, not thrown together, saying, "If you're going to play that stuff, you have to really know the music and play it correctly." Hall sings the lead. "I am James Brown," he says. "I’m not a dancer, but I can do the 'James Brown' and I can do a split."

"I'm all about James Brown," declares Hall, who has no trouble praising his musical innovations. "Before Brown, there was doo-wop and the Motown sound, but there was no strong back beat. You never had the drums and bass in your face until James showed up." With a few adjustments, the seven-piece band works primarily on the James Brown band's original arrangements.

The group includes saxophonist Jeff Watkins, who was in Brown's band from 1994 through 2006. "All these guys lived this music," says Watkins of Hall and the Soul Stars. "Any one of them could have been in a slot in the James Brown band." Watkins now plays with the New Orleans Suspects along with the Soul Stars

The other sax is played by Roderick Paulin. "Roderick is awesome; he has a very Maceo Parker-ish tone," said Watkins. 

Renard Poche, who also plays with Allen Toussaint, does double duty on guitar and trombone. Watkins describes his approach to the trombone as very much like Fred Wesley. Drummer Raymond Weber gets down on the funk and enthusiastically introduces the band and adds vocal punctuation like Famous Flames' vocalist Bobby Byrd. Rounding out the Soul Stars are trumpeter Tracy Griffin and bassist Vitas Jones.

"James was the original funk master," said Hall. "You can’t fake the funk." These guys do not fake it. The music was true to James Brown and absolutely great to see and hear. A real throwback. Enjoy my video of the proceedings, the only one I could find out there.

There was a problem on the horizon, though, in that all during this set the sky kept getting darker and darker. We knew rain was in the forecast when we left this morning and thus we were prepared. When we split, I kept the umbrella, I know not why, but it worked out. As Hall and the Soul Stars finished their set, a few big drops of rain plopped down here and there. I decided to head to a tent to ride out the inevitable, and did so immediately, stopping only for a quick bite to eat. Laurie had the same thing on her mind as well. Both of our food choices were repeats. 

I grabbed a cochon de lait po' boy from Walker's BBQ, located in New Orleans East (see Day 2 in 2012). This is one of the best sandwiches going at Jazz Fest. The shredded pork just melts in your mouth and the crunchy coleslaw (it's really just cabbage with a horseradish sauce) is the perfect foil to it. And the crispy skin that's in there doesn't hurt at all. Add just a touch of barbeque sauce and it's mind-blowingly good. 

Cochon de lait is a Cajun term for a roast suckling pig and the party where it's served. However, because it's very hard to get enough meat off a bulky suckling pig in the quantities needed at Jazz Fest (nearly a ton over the seven days), they use bone-in pork roasts. The meat is heavily seasoned, then given 12 hours of slow hickory smoking. That's why you just add just a touch of BBQ sauce. It can stand on its own. Wanda Walker's been serving it a Jazz Fest since 2000.

Laurie had Fireman Mike's shrimp and grits (see Day 8 in 2013). Cheesy, creamy, and delicious as ever, Fireman Mike's secret (perhaps you saw him on the Food Network show Chopped) is to add some roasted corn for a bit of crunch.

Mike prepares the dish by adding cheese and the corn to quick-cooking grits. He got used to cooking grits like this in quantity after Hurricane Katrina. Working out of the institutional kitchen at Our Lady of Holy Cross College, he fed 500 fire and EMS workers for six days, then 800 for another four days.

Just as I finished my food, the rain started. I had my poncho on and the umbrella was up but this was a massive, long-lasting thunderstorm that continued to increase in intensity, with incredible wind (sometimes the rain was coming down near horizontally). By the time I got to the Blues Tent, it was bursting at the seams, and to hang around at the entrances trying to squeeze in would have resulted in a soaking. So I stood near the Blues Tent, sheltered from the wind between a concession stand and an ATM. I could hear the music coming from the tent perfectly, so all in all it was about as good as a situation like that could be. A bit on the surrealistic side maybe. Plus, people using the ATM got the benefit of my umbrella! Here's a brief video someone took during the storm. It was a wild one.

For her part, Laurie had found her way into the Blues Tent, so unbeknowst to either of us we were listning to the same music, except she was out of the elements.

Oh, yes, the music. The Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter 'Wolfman' Washington and Russell Batiste Jr., just an outstanding group. Joe Krown does keyboards, mostly Hammond B-3, Wolfman Washington as you know from yesterday at the Little Gem Saloon is a great guitarist and blues singer, and Russell Batiste Jr. does that funky New Orleans senond-line drumming. We caught them last year on Day 10 and you can read more about them on that page. 


Here's my video that shows the Joe Krown Trio from my perspective outside the Blues Tent, once the rain, but not the wind, had subsided a bit, and here are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 from a performance in Buffalo this year. These guys have made it into our regular rotation for sure!

The storm dropped more than 3 inches of rain between 1:30 and 2:30, and spotty showers continued for another hour or so. For the record, there were two wind gusts of more than 50 mph and three more of more than 40 mph. Here's a picture, taken by one of the Who's roadies, of what the storm looked like from the Acura stage. It's a minor miracle they didn't cancel the rest of the day.

Jazz Fest survived the storm intact, but it was once again (see 2013) a mud pit. And it happened a lot quicker than it did in 2013, too! This year I was prepared, though, with new Keen footwear that just laughs at mud (once rinsed in the hotel bathtub, at least). That doesn't mean it wasn't challenging. It always is after a rainstorm. However, after our previous experience, it didn't seem as bad. And this year, at least it was warm. We soldiered on. 

Dumpstaphunk was next on our list. Laurie headed over to the Acura stage immediately so she could get a good place to stand. I thought I would try to catch a few minutes of Cajun rockers the Lost Bayou Ramblers at the Fais Do Do stage before joining her. 

The Lost Bayou Ramblers were a great discovery when we first caught them on Day 3 in 2013, and we saw them last year as well, on Day 9

Not surprisingly, the Fais Do Do crowd was pretty big by the time I got there, so I couldn't get up close. I'm not all that sure I really wanted to; after 3 inches of rain, the area in front of Fais Do Do is pretty muddy. The band has undergone some personnel changes since last year. Brothers Louis (fiddle and vocals) and Andre (accordion) Michot are now joined by Johnny Campos (guitar) Korey Richey (bass), and Eric Heigle (drums). Still the same huge sound, taking Cajun music to a completely different place, as these videos (one and two) from the Louisiana Music Factory this year demonstrate. Here's a quick look at today's performance. Not being up close where this music can really take you over just didn't seem to work, though, so I decided to join Laurie sooner rather than later. 

I found Laurie at the Acura stage relatively easily considering that the next act up was going to be the Who. It was crowded, but not a crush. It was also very squishy, and one had to negotiate that ditch filled with rainwater and fresh mud to get near to the front of the stage. Jazz Fest on this day had become a test of stamina.

Dumpstaphunk. What more can I say about Ivan Neville's two-bass funk extravaganza that I haven't already said in these pages (see Day 2 in 2012, Day 3 and Day 5 in 2013, and Day 11 last year), not to mention once more at the Hamilton in DC. As somebody one said, it's a band so funky they spell it "phunk." 

This year marked their first Jazz Fest without Nikki Glaspie at the Dumpstaphunk drums. She left to concentrate on her own band, the Nth Power and has been replaced by Alvin Ford Jr. a New Orleans born and raised powerhouse drummer. Definitely a different style, with a much harder edge, but he still fits in well with the Dumpstaphunk groove. They toss around lead vocals and harmonies like a modern-day Sly and the Family Stone. And when the Naughty Professor Horns (Nick Ellman, Ian Bowman, and John Culbreth joined in later in the set, it was even more so. 

Ivan Neville (son of Aaron Neville) plays keyboards and does most of the lead vocals, and his cousin Ian Neville (son of Art Neville) plays lead guitar. Tony Hall, fresh off this morning's James Brown tribute, and Nick Daniels play the five-string bass guitars. I guess four strings aren't funky enough. 

Plus, for the second year in a row, Ian's dad, a.k.a. "Poppa Funk," was sitting in on the Hammond B-3 and vocals. It's always great to see and hear this truly legendary performer.

Dumpstaphunk were as good as ever, but I think everyone was still a bit shell-shocked from the storm and the lingering raindrops, plus a lot of the people in the crowd were there to hear the Who, who were up next, so I don't think this was the big party it has been in years past. However, those of us in the crowd that were there to hear Dumpstaphunk really enjoyed them, and they really cranked it up toward the end and finally won most everybody over. Here's a half hour excerpt from today's show from AXS-TV, and here is an entire show from the Phunkberry Festival this year in Arkansas.

We were definitely curious to see the Who, but it was going to be nearly an hour before they were to appear, so we squished off in search of more music to fill the void. We ended up in the Blues Tent, where Sonny Landreth was playing. We absolutely love Sonny, and have seen him up close at home three times and in once at the Rock 'n' Bowl last year (see Day 4). Strangely, we've never seen any of his sets at Jazz Fest, so this was a first. 

However, we no sooner sat down than we realized that we were ready for food. Plus we were pretty far back in the Blues Tent, where the sound isn't all that hot. So, off we went in search of food and maybe better acoustics.

We could still hear the music from the Blues Tent at the adjacent Heritage Square food area, so we looked for food there.

We found an old standby, the offerings from Ba Mien Vietnamese Cuisine of New Orleans. Laurie had the vermicelli with shrimp and I had the spring rolls with pork. I always tell people that the food at Jazz Fest is definitely not carnival food, and food like this is what I'm talking about when I say that. It is perfection. 

By this time the sounds of the Who could be heard from the Acura stage, so we got on the squishy track and headed around the corner to get a glimpse of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry, the two remaining rock icons from one of my all-time favorite bands. At least they were 40 years ago! But you know what, they were still bringing it, and in my opinion were actually better than in their farewell tour (ha!) that I saw in the nosebleed seats at the old Capital Centre in 1982. The quality of the current Who's sound is largely due to the brilliant guitar licks provided by Townshend, who also wrote most of the Who's timeless songs. Here's 45 minutes from the Jazz Fest show, and here's an entire concert from this year in Amsterdam.

The 2015 Who is much larger than the original four. The new guys are Pete's brother Simon Townshend on backing vocals and guitar, Ringo's son Zak Starkey (who is the godson of the original Who drummer Keith Moon) bashing the drums ("Noisy little shit," Pete called him), Pino Palladino on bass, keyboardists John Corey and Loren Gold, and multi-instrumentalist Frank Simes. Together they made a huge, joyous noise, noise of the best kind: solid rock and roll. 

We came in sight of the stage during I Can See For Miles and then heard an inadvertent bit of Pictures of Lilly before My Generation. Then it was Magic Bus, Behind Blue EyesBargainJoin TogetherYou Better You Bet, and a beautiful I'm One. Townshend, whose solo singing voice was strong if not his harmonies, was windmilling, smacking, and wobbling his whammy bar throughout, and Daltrey brought conviction and charisma even though his voice is not as strong as it once was. "Not bad for a bunch of noisy old farts," Townshend said at one point.  

I had one more performance I wanted to see today, so I headed around to the back of the crowd and away from Acura while listening to Love Reign Over Me, which I must say stopped me dead in my tracks it was so good.

Laurie stayed until the end of the show, so she heard Eminence Front and a "Tommy" suite (Amazing Journey, Captain Walker, Sparks, Pinball Wizard, and See Me Feel Me), followed by Baba O'Riley and of course Won't Get Fooled Again.

As for me, I was headed over to the Fais Do Do stage. As I was passing the Congo Square stage on the way to that nifty back door to the Fais Do Do area, I got to hear some of the set by John Legend. He is a gifted R&B singer and pianist for sure, and this could have been a worthwhile stop, but I had zydeco on my mind. 

One of the Jazz Fest highlights last year (Day 2), and for that matter 2013 (Day 11) as well (one on the first day and one on the last), was the show by Nathan Williams Sr. and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. I'm drawn to these guys like a moth to a porch light in the bayou swamps. Their zydeco beat is infectious, and once you get the beat, you start grooving to the R&B rhythms laid on top. It's just outstanding. 

Nathan is a zydeco veteran. This year he won the 2015 ZBT Clifton Chenier Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was very well deserved. Also appropriate, because if you ask Nathan who his major influence has been he will answer "Clifton Chenier" before you even finish the question. Chenier lit the zydeco flame in a young Nathan. I'm sure I've told the story (but I'll say it again) about how Nathan hung around a fan vent outside a club in St. Martinville to catch a glimpse of and listen to his idol. He got too close to the opening where he was listening and lost his hat to the blades of the fan. 

Eventually Nathan moved to Lafayette and worked in his older brother Sid Williams' grocery store. Sid also runs a zydeco club (El Sido's) and it was there Nathan met Buckwheat Zydeco, who taught him the in's and out's of the music business and the finer points of playig zydeco. Now, Nathan and his band, which includes his brother Dennis Paul Williams on guitar (also an acclaimed artist) and his cousin Mark (aka "Chukka") on the scrub board go just non-stop for their hour on the stage. Robert LeBlanc on bass and drummer Herman "Rat" Brown provide that zydeco beat.

Last year, Nathan brought his accordion down into the crowd, not once, not twice, but three times. There would be no such luck this year, for the area in front of the Fais Do Do stage was a muddy mess. Nathan kept trying to get people in the back to join the hardy souls down front in the muck. He met with some success ... but not much. I was as close as I could get without actually being in said muck, which you can see in this video. You can also see that the sun came out! I love Nathan's smile at the end of this video. And here's mine with a couple more excerpts. This performance, as always, was just nothing but fun! 

I met Laurie at the back of the Fais Do Do crowd (apparently the Who's set ended a bit early) and we hit the shuttle bus back downtown, a bit wet and a bit muddy, but happy. Our Keen sandals rinsed off in the bathtub easily (no repeats of the shoe debacle of 2013), and we got cleaned up ourselves for our dinner at Emeril's NOLA

We've been to NOLA every year since 2012 and the quality of the food and most importantly the friendliness and efficiency of the service have been remarkably consistent. When you walk in off of the relative quiet of Saint Louis street, you encounter a noisy (but not loud), bustling space with wait staff deftly moving about the tables on the right. The bar is off to the left, and the very busy kitchen can be seen in the back. Behind the maitre d' station was the elevator that took us up to our table on the second level, overlooking the entrance and next to a window looking out on the darkened building across the street. It's strange when you get in the elevator with your host because it's pretty much soundproof, giving you about 30 seconds of silence while you travel up or down.

At NOLA you don't have a single waiter, you get a whole team, and they ensure that every detail of a fine meal is taken care of, on time and unobtrusively. We've had a great time with these folks every time we have been at NOLA. As for the food, Laurie had a glass of Emeril's Red Red, a Syrah from the Santa Maria Valley in California. I chose the Pali Wine Company's Riviera Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast in California. 

Everybody gets a fresh miniature dinner roll and jalapeño cornbread muffin to start. The bakery at NOLA is on the third floor of the restaurant.

Laurie's entree was the fish of the day, in this case swordfish in a tomato-okra stew with popcorn rice, marinated fennel, and Crystal aioli (Crystal is a local hot sauce). We've found that Emeril uses this aioli in several of his dishes.

I continued the day's unintended pork theme with an appetizer of pork-cheek boudin balls served with tomato-bacon jam and Creole mustard aioli. Then I had the massive pork chop with brown-sugar glazed sweet potatoes, toasted pecans, and caramelized onion reduction sauce. 

Desert was a blueberry cake with lemon-basil ice cream. One of us had coffee and one of us had a Creole coffee. Just a great meal in every way. Emeril's restaurants know their stuff, that's for sure.

A walk back to the Stybridge on what turned out to be a lovely evening ended the day. It could have been a downer with all that rain, but our Jazz Fest experience paid off today. We shook it off, happy to see that the sun would be back tomorrow!

© Jeff Mangold 2012