Day 12 / Sunday, May 6

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Alas, it was time for the final Jazz Fest 2018 morning drill: get up ... get ready ... slather on sunblock ... get Brass Passes, shuttle tickets, camera, hats, and phones ... decide if rain gear is going to be needed (one more resounding NO!) ... and head down to the lobby to grab some coffee and maybe a bit of food, but only enough to tide us over to get to Jazz Fest, where real good food awaited. Another success!

As you can see in the pictures above and right, the sky was ridiculously blue this morning. When we left the Staybridge for the shuttles at the Sheraton, the temperature was already 78. Today's high this afternoon was 88, and coupled with the cloudless sky, relatively low humidity, and just an occasional breeze, I can honestly say that today it was very, very hot. Hydration was a necessity today for sure. Even tonight when we went out it was still 82 degress.

We arrived at the Fair Grounds well before 11 and breezed through all of the checkpoints, thanking everyone and telling them we'd see them next year, and then immediately set out to find food. 

Laurie went back to the Congo Square food area again, and back to Gambian Foods again, and back to the grilled veggies, a combination of cabbage, carrots, peppers, onions and peanuts, in a pita with a spicy sauce, again.

Laurie may be one of Tejan Jallow and Charlie Mendy of Gambian Foods' best customers; you can go back to Day 4 from this year to read the record. My best guess is that this was visit number 10. Plus I've been there once. I could be wrong, but I don't think she has had the pita since Day 10 in 2013. No matter, it is very good food.

I went with a Cochon de Lait Po'Boy from Wanda Walker's Love at First Bite, which I have enjoyed on Day 2 in 2012Day 8 in 2013Day 3 in 2014Day 3 and Day 11 in 2015, and Day 2 last year. I'm not really sure what happened in 2016!

This particular sandwich isn't your ordinary po'boy, but a variation that enjoys a dedicated following at Jazz Fest. It's a light French roll filled with chunks of insanely tender, long-smoked pork shoulder and a layer of creamy, mustard-spiked coleslaw on top. 

Locals can get a cochon de lait po'boy year-round, as Walker runs a tiny barbecue joint that's barely bigger than a standard home kitchen in New Orleans East. It shares a building and common bare-bones dining room with Castnet Seafood, an equally straightforward fry-and-boil establishment, across the street from the Lake Pontchartrain floodwall. An intoxicating mix of woodsmoke and peppery crawfish fumes wafts across the parking lot. Out front is a hand-lettered board that announces the day’s special. Something like “BRISKET SPAGHETTI $8.99.”

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About an hour before the doors open to the general public, Jonathan Walker and his crew prepare for the lunch rush. Five days a week, they sell a varied menu of smoked specialties starting at late-breakfast hours. "We open at 10:30 a.m. and shut down when we run out," says Walker. Most days that's about 1 p.m., but on a busy day, it can be as early as halfway through the noon hour.

The work areas in Walker's tiny kitchen are a blur of activity and a carnivore's fantasy. One minute, the stainless steel prep table holds a freshly cut brisket, sliced and slightly fanned out to reveal a serious pink "smoke ring" and a thin black outer crust. The next, it's piled with stacked slabs of pork ribs, meat gently pulling away from the exposed bone ends. Then it's topped with a sheet pan filled with a flock of golden-brown chickens, cut in half and stacked for easy serving. Any bird that's not sold that way by the end of the day becomes another Walker's specialty, smoked chicken salad.

To make the po'boy, Walker holds out an individual-sized baguette in one hand, cut partway through to reveal a bright white interior. 

"See this?" he says. "This is one of the secrets." The bread comes from another classic purveyor from New Orleans East, the Dong Phuong Bakery on Chef Menteur Highway. Fresh-baked a few hours earlier, the paper-thin, golden crust crackles under the slightest pressure. "This is the best French bread in town." 

Next comes the trademark coleslaw, built in two simple steps: a generous squeeze of mustard and mayo based dressing and a half-handful of multicolor cabbage mix (a Mardi Gras appropriate mix of purple, green, and gold.

The Walker family -- Jonathan, his father Skip, and his mother Wanda -- developed their recipes and reputation on the catering circuit under the name Love at First Bite. Though native to New Orleans, much of the family went to school at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where the Cajun whole-hog cochon de lait tradition inspired their signature "Southern Style BBQ." In the 10 years since they opened the restaurant and gained fame slinging po'boys at Jazz Fest, the Walkers have taken their show on the road to local food festivals and events as far away as Vermont and Washington state.

With the bun properly prepped, Walker pulls out the star of the show, a smoked Boston butt pork shoulder that's spent the better part of a day on the smoker. "The pork goes for 14 hours," says Walker matter-of-factly as he uses tongs to separate the bigger muscles of the slow-cooked shoulder.

Not that it takes much work, mind you. The meat has been slowly roasting to the point of luscious tenderness. Sitting in a stainless holding pan, the fragrant roast would fall apart if you so much as looked at it mean. A little tong pressure splits the eight-pound chunk into po'boy-sized servings, each with a bit of spicy crust providing contrast to the almost silky fat-laced pork.

This sandwich is a perfect mix of smoke, spicy, and sweet with a matching interplay of texture -- tender and crunchy -- in every bite. It is really good!

There was music today, and lots of it. It was another day when we spent a lot of time together eating and breaking in the WWOZ tent, but our music was mostly separate. Laurie went the complete performance route, while I was like a last-day madman, trying to cram as much music as possible into my day. Here are today's cubes,

I started my day at the Fais Do Do stage with the acoustic trio T'Monde. Nothing fancy here, just guitar, fiddle, accordion, and harmony. T'Monde (TEE-mone, which in Cajun French can mean "little world" or "little people") is Drew Simon, Megan Brown, and Kelli Jones. I've seen them once before, on Day 2 in 2013.

Drew Simon was born and raised in Lafayette and developed an interest in Cajun music in his late teens. At 20, he began playing the accordion and started learning the words to many of the songs in his huge Cajun music repertoire. For more than 15 years, he has been regarded as one of the best of the new generation of dancehall musicians being heavily influenced by legends Belton Richard, Aldus Roger, Walter Mouton (see yesterday), Jesse Lége, and Lawrence Walker just to name a few. In addition to T'Monde, he is also the drummer for the Pine Leaf Boys.

Megan Brown, originally from Tepetate, Louisiana, in Acadia Parish. She grew up to the sound of Cajun music at her grandparents' Cajun restaurant. Singing all her life, she took to Cajun music and with it the French language at the age of 18. Playing at first with her accordionist brother, Briggs Brown, she went on to play with many different groups.

Kelli Jones began playing fiddle at the age of 15 in North Carolina, where she was raised. In 2006, she relocated to study dance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and also learn Cajun fiddle. She has been living there and soaking up the culture since then, which led her meet and marry Joel Savoy (here they are together) and to becoming a member of Feufollet, who we saw yesterday. She's also appeared with the Magnolia Sisters, the Pine Leaf Boys, the Red Stick Ramblers, and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.

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T'Monde plays mostly traditional Cajun music, primarily from the early 1900's, but stretching into to present day. "Pine Leaf Boys have lots of instruments and the music is traditional up-tempo Cajun. T'Monde is not what I'd call traditional but rather stripped down," says Simon of their quietly energetic two-steps, three-part vocal harmonies, waltzes, and blues vamps. "T'Monde is very listenable," he says matter-of-factly. "Meaning, you can sit down and listen to it as well as dance to it."

Jones' father was an authentic Appalachian-influenced fiddler in their home state of North Carolina. She says, "I started playing old-time music on the fiddle because of my dad, and then when I moved to Lafayette in 2006, I got interested in Cajun music." 

Brown has layed with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, the Pine Leaf Boys, and the Lafayette Rhythm Devils. "Megan is a really good rhythm guitar player. She's the one who controls the band's rhythm," says Simon. "There aren't a lot of chords in this music. It's not difficult chord-wise, but it's difficult rhythm-wise. Megan is very good, very modern. She pushes a little bit." One review of T'Monde even called Brown's guitar style "grunge."

Brown doesn't hear the grunge in her playing, and downplays her importance in T'Monde. "Guitar is the main rhythm instrument since we don't have drums," she admits. "But I am certainly following Drew and Kelli. I wouldn't consider my guitar playing that unique, really. There are two types of acoustic rhythms in Cajun music, either open strumming -- the style that Christine Balfa is known for. Whereas I do a 'choke chord' rhythm, which sounds like boom-chuk, book-chuck. And it's pretty typical for Cajun music."

      

T'Monde sings mostly in French but in a lot of different Cajun genres. There's some dancehall and older country tunes. There is a lot of harmony singing and it sounds just great no matter what the style. They lead a jam session at a club in Lafayette every Saturday and have a standing gig at Prejean’s every Tuesday. 

They also play a lot of festivals, "and we play a lot of weddings," says Simon, explaining, "It's a lot cheaper to book three people instead of five people, and we dress well, we're professional lookin', we got two good-lookin' girls in the band. Most of all, you don't often see a traditional Cajun band three piece, meaning, we're not loud," he says. "But we can be loud if need be!"

Here is my video of T'Mode from the Fais Do Do stage this morning, and here are a couple of recent videos from the KRVS studios (Bombay BounceKara's Bounce, and Tracasse Pas). And here's a great version of Ray Price's I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me).

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After the quiet of T'Monde I made a rare trip to the Congo Square stage to be blasted by the massive speakers there. But it was worth it as I got my first experience with Sierra Green and the Soul Machine, an awesome neo-soul band from New Orleans.

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Band members include Sierra Green on vocals, Mike Perez on bass and vocals, Ezell Smith on drums, Seizo Shibayama on lead guitar, and Tajh Derosier on sax.

It's hard to believe, but I can find no information on the dynamic Sierra Green. Nothing. Nada. So about all I can say is, wow, can she ever sing.

Mike Perez is a Chicago native, blues artist who now resides in New Orleans. He is best known for his aggressive Chicago style of blues rock and powerful, soulful vocals. He has his own band that plays around the city, often with Sierra Green and the Soul Machine.

Tajh Derosier was born in White Plains, New York, and began playing the saxophone at the age of 13. His childhood musical influences were Haitian and Latin music from his father and R&B, soul, and jazz music from his mother.

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Ezell Smith began and still plays at a variety of churches around New Orleans. In college, he played drums in the Talladega College Marching Band.

Seizo Shibayama was born in Aichi, Japan. At the age of 10, he picked up the guitar as he was influenced by his older brother and was an avid fan of the Beatles. His first major work came when he was 19, with the Japanese blues band Coal Tar Tail. He moved to New Orleans in 2008.

That's all the info I could find, so enjoy my video, and this Facebook video page with lots and lots and lots of music by this really good band. Another great Jazz Fest discovery!

      

While I was listening to T'Monde and Sierra Green, Laurie was at the Acura stage listening to the New Orleans Suspects. We've seen this band a couple of times before, on Day 5 in 2013 at the Instruments-a-Comin' benefit at Tipitina's, and at Jazz Fest on Day 4 in 2015 and Day 2 last year.

The Suspects began playing together in 2009 as a pick-up band at the Maple Leaf club in New Orleans. Comprised of some of the most seasoned, highly respected players in the city, the group first called themselves the Unusual Suspects. Their chemistry was undeniable, and by the summer of 2011 they decided to tour full-time, renaming the band the New Orleans Suspects. Since then they they have released four recordings and established themselves as one of the best of the New Orleans supergroups.

"Mean" Willie Green was the drummer for the Neville Brothers for more than 30 years. His unparalleled style has helped shape New Orleans funk, and his drumming has graced recorded tracks by dozens of artists, including the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, and Edie Brickell.

Eric Vogel, born and raised in New Orleans, is inspired by the sounds of the city.  Inspired by his relationship with Regi and Victor Wooten, Eric has played with everyone in the music business from blues with North Mississippi Allstars to funk with the great Fred Wesley

Jake Eckert was the longtime lead guitarist in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Traveling the world, he has performed everywhere from Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia to 2009 Grammy Awards ceremony. He has other talents as well, receiving a Grammy Award in 2011 for recording engineer and producing albums for John Mooney and Cedric Burnside, among others.

C.R. Gruver is a classically trained pianist who immersed himself in New Orleans piano styles after touring with bands such as Outformation and singer-songwriter Angie Aparo. Adept at James Booker-style piano and the swelling B-3 stylings of Art Neville, Gruver has also become a well-regarded sideman for many New Orleans artists.

Jeff Watkins is an accomplished sax player, engineer, and producer. He spent 12 years leading the James Brown Band, including Brown's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also worked for six years with Joss Stone as her producer, engineer, and bandleader.

Here is a full concert from the New Orleans Suspects at this year's Wanee Music Festival in Florida.  

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We met in the Heritage Square area to go to the WWOZ tent for some hydration, etc.,  and on the way we were distracted by the Mighty Travelers from Dallas, Texas, in the Gospel Tent. 

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The Mighty Travelers have been singing together for 30 years, starting out when they were just little kids. They followed in the steps of their uncles, the Sensational Travelers. With a real traditional southern gospel sound, to begin with, they have sharpened their musical talent and vocal skills.

Members of this group are Kenneth Stokes, Patrick Stokes, James Jennings, and Christopher Bollin. The musicians who provide the edgy backgroud arrangements are Marcus Sanders, Kenneth Bollin, and Larry "Donnell" Richardson.

Here is my short video of the Mighty Travelers i n the Gospel Tent today, and here is a complete song, Swing Down, recorded a couple of years ago.

Fully refreshed, we headed to the Jazz Tent to hear Joe Dyson's debut as a leader at Jazz Fest. We've watched this guy practically grow up in the years we have been attending the festival, playing with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Donald Harrison Jr., and others, and wewere very excited to see this set.

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Joe Dyson Jr. started playing drums in his family's church at just two years old. After being noticed for his prodigious talent, he was placed in the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, where he was groomed by the late clarinetist Alvin Batiste and his longtime bandleader and mentor, alto saxophonist and Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. 

He also participated in the Project Prodigy Summer Music Camp, Berklee's Five Week Summer Performance and Jazz Workshop, the Port Townsend Jazz Workshop, and the Tipitina's Internship program, and Harrison's New Jazz School.

He attended the McDonogh 15 Creative Arts Magnet Elementary School (now KIPP Morial) and went on to graduate from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). He was awarded a full presidential scholarship to Berklee College of Music, from which he graduated with honors.

He has shared the stage with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ellis Marsalis, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Jon Batiste, Leo Nocentelli, Sullivan Fortner, Nicholas Payton, and Esperanza Spalding, among others.

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In addition, Dyson has appeared on more than 25 recordings, including recent releases by Dr. Lonnie Smith, Nicholas Payton's Afro Caribbean Mixtape, and Christian aTunde Adjuah's Stretch Music.

Dyson has released three recordings with longtime friends as the Bridge Trio (here's an hour of them from the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in 2016) and is working on new solo music. In 2015, he became an adjunct professor at Tulane University. For the past four years, he has hosted a benefit concert, "Christmas in Tremé," to help fund the Holy Faith Temple's outreach programs, including computer literacy, vacation bible school and food pantry.

Dyson's set today was incredible. He was on drum kit with a combo consisting of Jasen Weaver on bass, Stephen Lanz on trumpet, Stephen Gladney on sax, and the great Oscar Rossignoli on keyboards. They played all very impressive originals.

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Unlike other Jazz Tent shows, Dyson drew a smaller crowd, all of whom seemed interested. He played a shimmering groove, proving his knack for the sensuality of the drums. The cymbals are his primary colors and shades delineated by snare and tom taps. His colleagues installed decorated solos with challenging harmonies. The technique of every player was immaculate.

The most unique thing Dyson incorporated were his drum pad samples. These samples were played at calmer times within the music, colliding spoken word with the meditative parts of the tunes. These were pensive and cymbal drenched modes harkening to a freer style of improv. With bold ideas like the drum pad being incorporated into the jazz lexicon, Dyson takes on the spirit of jazz in a new and exciting way.

Here is my video of Joe Dyson's Jazz Tent performance today. We hope to see many more as he continues to grow as an artist. Here's a full hour from the Prime Example club in New Orleans last year. For just a bit more, here's my video of Dyson with Dr. Lonnie Smith at Jazz Fest in 2014.

         

Before we split again, I accompanied Laurie to the Heritage Square food area, where she got a refreshing bun, a fresh, flavorful bowl of rice noodles with shrimp, herbs, and vegetables from Ba Mien Vietnamese Cuisine, another food vendor from New Orleans East.

Between this dish and their spring rolls, we've been at this stand on Day 2 in 2013Day 3 and Day 10 in 2015, and Day 9 in 2016. It seems like there have been many other times, but I have to trust the Google search!

My cochon de lait po'boy was keeping me quite satisfied through this early part of the day so I did not eat anything.

Laurie went off to the Acura stage to see Galactic. I headed to parts unknown to sample as much music as I could. Jazz Fest was drawing to a close and I was obsessed! Or maybe possessed!

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You can get a whole lot more info on and video of Galactic at Day 5 in 2012, Day 10 in 2013, Day 4 in 2014, Day 9 in 2015, and Day 11 last year. We also saw them at the Instruments-a-Comin' benefit at Tipitina's on Day 5 in 2013. We also see members of Galactic here and there during Jazz Fest and evening shows, too many times to keep track of.

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Stanton Moore says about Jazz Fest, "This is always a highly anticipated slot for us, and we feel like it is both a homecoming and a show-and-tell where we get to show the largest audience that we play for during the year, what we've been up to for the last year. We did some new songs and got to play some crowd favorites. I felt like we had a strong, powerful set and we're always grateful that Jazz Fest puts us right in front of one of the national headliners. This year we were right before Jack White. It was great to check him out and play for people who were anticipating his set. 

  

There have been many incarnations of Galactic over the years -- the Meters-esque instrumental funk when they first got started, the raunchy years when Theryl "Houseman" DeClouet fronted the band, and the hip-hop powerhouse -- but these last couple of years they seem to have settled into soulful groove, but one that will hit you in the gut when you least expect it. 

             

The band took the Acura stage late Sunday afternoon for a master class in New Orleans funk that proved yet again why they are one of the best bands to ever come out of this city. In addition to Moore, the band is Jeff Raines on guitar, Robert Mercurio on bass, Ben Ellman on sax, Rich Vogel on keyboards. Corey Henry on trombone and Shamarr Allen on trumpet add to the great sound. 

Opening with the pounding rhythms of Baker's Dozen, Moore was locked in for the entirety as he led the band through a career-spanning set that got the crowd moving in the hot sun. Since it was Sunday afternoon, Corey Henry took it down to the Tremé with a funky Ooh Nah Nay that featured a serious brass workout from Henry, Shamarr Allen, and Ben Ellman. Fittingly, the set ended with an impassioned take on Allen Toussaint's song Goin' Down that felt right at home in Mr. Toussaint’s backyard.

   

As usual these days, the astounding Erica Falls provided soul-stirring vocals on You Don't Know, Clap Your Hands, Higher and Higher, Dolla Diva, Does It Make a Difference? (you must love yourself with plenty of Jam in the Van!), They Say I'm Different, and Goin' Down

Couldn't video from today, but for a taste of the entire show, you can hear excerpts from all of their tunes today on the Munck Music site. Here's a bit more from the great Jam in the Van site, Like a Rolling Stone and Chasing Rainbows done at last year's High Sierra Festival in Quincy, California. And here is a complete show from the Disc Jam Music Festival in Stephentown, New York this year.


I could very easily have gone to see Galactic, too, but I just had wanderlust today. I started out at the Blues Tent, where Glen David Andrews was performing. We've seen this dynamic member of the Andrews clan (Troy Andrews -- aka Trombone Shorty -- and James Andrews are cousins in the current generation) on Day 1 in 2013 at Armstrong Park, on Day 11 in 2014 at the Congo Square stage, and on Day 1 last year, also at Armstrong Park (where you can find a whole lot more info about him). The Armstrong Park concerts were sposored by People United for Armstrong Park, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the history of Armstrong Park. These concerts are on hiatus, and we really miss them.

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Andrews hails from a long line of musicians and was raised in the church. His remarkable voice, commanding trombone, and disarmingly honest manner make him an instant crowd pleaser.

"Aside from being a great musician, Glen David has absorbed a fading tradition," says Ben Jaffe, who runs Preservation Hall. "He's a link for his generation to something important, but he also has a rare enthusiasm and energy that makes it all special and exciting even for the casual listeners." Most contemporary brass band musicians have embraced the more funk and pop-oriented sound, a shift that began around 30 years ago. Andrews, however, always includes some of the old rhythms, spirituals, and traditional jazz tunes in his performances.

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GDA is also known for pushing the envelope. "I'm always going to be New Orleans," he says, "Because I was born there. That's the Tremé neighborhood; that's 200 years of culture. I'm not afraid to play gospel in a bar room, and I'm not afraid to play rock in a church. I'm going to push the envelope every day because creatively, that's where I want to go." And push the envelope he did.

Andrews and his band are a force. Their music is an electrifying combination of funk, R&B, jazz, gospel, and even zydeco. It's a joyful, communal noise that prompts everyone to lose their inhibitions. The highlight of the performance occurred when GDA and saxophonist James Martin plunged into the audience and started up a second line.

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Andrews, as we have said in past writeups, has seen his share of trouple in life, summarized, if you will, in his recording simply called "Redemption." It is a barn-burning, roof-raising tale of reflection, rebirth, and salvation. The album also includes a surprise, the radiant voice of the Queen Mother of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, on a rousing version of the joyous hymn, Didn’t It Rain.

"I'd say listen from the first song to the last," says Andrews. "It's all about life experiences. Everyone's been through something in life. I wrote it through the worst part of my life and the best part of my life."

Can't find any video of the show today. I was never in a good crowd location to get any video, and, frankly was having too good a time anyway! Here is a page with three from GDA from Jam in the Band in 2014, and here is a full set from a couple of years ago at the Ardmore Music Hall near Philadelphia. 

Next I was heading for the Lagniappe stage, but stopped in the Gospel Tent to hera some of Ty Morris and H.O.W. (meaning Hearts of Worship) from Denver. This was a really dynamic group who put out a really big sound.

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When Ty Morris seized the opportunity to move purposely towards his passion of music he had no idea that almost a decade later this would be the first of many of his dreams to come true.

Today this arranger, songwriter, and minister of the gospel is blazing a trail across the world, singing at music festivals, conferences, and events with more than 100,000 in attendance. Their style fuses urban, hip-hop, R&B, retro-funk, jazz, and nuances of neo-soul into an electrifying performance that is engaging, uninhibited, and life-giving.

And while the musical style of H.O.W is broad in scope, their mission is intentional, and that is to use a nontraditional, out-of-the box approach that inspires and ignites their audience while pointing them to Jesus.

Here is my video of this performance from the Gospel Tent today, and guess what? Ty Morris did Jam in the Van, too! Here they are doing Alive, So I, and Happy at the Telluride Jazz Festival.

Ty Morris

Ince at the Lagniappe stage, I heard a new group that's been generating a lot of buzz, a neo-soul duo, Michael and Tanya Trotter, who call themselves the War and Treaty. I'm glad I went, as they were fabulous.

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Michael and Tanya took distinctly different paths to becoming the War and Treaty. After winning a talent show when she was 13, Tanya knew singing would be her life. Growing up in a tight-knit community just outside of Washington, D.C., she had a voice that was already hinting at the force it would become: honeyed and bold, guttural but angelic. She discovered writing, too, and every blank space was an opportunity. "My mom would come into my room late at night and catch me reading books and writing, with a flashlight," Tanya says. "I used to write on everything –– envelopes, everything."

Michael started writing later, and for different reasons. He spent part of his childhood in Cleveland before moving with his mother, brother, and sister to Washington, D.C. The family spent time in and out of homeless shelters –– a limbo Michael would experience again as an adult. He was 19 when his first daughter, Michaela, was born. "She was the first thing I felt that I'd done right, my little girl," he says. "I joined the Army for her." 

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Michael enlisted in 2003, two years after 9/11. "I didn't know it was wartime," he says. "People say, 'How do you not know that?' Well, in the neighborhood I grew up in, we weren't patriotic. No one cared –– that's rich people's news. Meanwhile, someone I know just got shot yesterday."

But what Michael did know was that, as a soldier, he felt proud –– then scared. He was sent to Iraq, where leaders who outranked him saw the fear in his eyes and treated him not as an underling, but as a brother. Stationed in one of Saddam Hussein's rubbled palaces, he had access to a piano that had emerged miraculously unscathed. A captain heard him play and sing with his once-in-a-generation volcano of a voice, and he encouraged Michael to pursue music. When that same captain was killed, Michael sat down to write –– really write –– for the first time.

Officers noticed the tribute, pulled Michael from the front lines, and gave him a new charge: write and perform songs for the fallen. So whenever a brother or sister in arms died, Michael spoke to buddies, uncovered the story, and penned a song for the memorial. It was a heavy burden that also made him safer.

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When Michael returned home, he was booked on a festival that also featured Tanya Blount. After his set, Tanya approached him and asked if he'd written his songs. He had. The two exchanged numbers, but Michael, battle-weary, scarred, and daunted by Tanya's beauty, couldn't understand why she'd want anything to do with him. "I threw her number away because I had a lot of insecurities that I still have. I thought, 'Who would want to be with a guy who went to war?'"

Tanya didn't wait on him. She called Michael, and the two became inseparable. Today, they're married with a six-year-old son and are a powerhouse duo. 

As The War and Treaty, Michael and Tanya serve up healing with a freewheeling joy. They exhibit a confidence only gained by artists who are wholly, proudly, themselves. Their music, almost all original, is swampy southern soul. Michael's gravelly locomotive vocals are joined by Tanya's soaring harmonies, and the two inteact in ways that only a happy couple could.

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"You have to have a deep place of love within yourself to be vulnerable," Tanya says. "With The War and Treaty, we allow people to see two people that are not perfect. We get on stage. We sweat. We're overweight. We yell. We get ugly, we scream! My hair comes loose. We’re vulnerable in front of people, and it's a chain reaction. It allows them to be vulnerable, too."

Michael and Tanya's open, beaming faces and united voices tear walls down. "I want people to feel like we care," Michael says. "When you think about artists, you don't think about that." He pauses and grins broadly. "But that's the way I want the world to feel about The War and Treaty."

Here is my video from the Lagniappe stage today, and here's almost an hour from the Millennium Stage in the Kennedy Center. Really, really good stuff.

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There is a food vendor in the Fair Grounds paddock area where the Lagniappe stage is located. It's run by J&M Seafood from Kenner, Louisiana. 

Up until last year, J&M had served only freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, but this year they added a Louisiana crawfish salad roll to their menu. Since it was snack time, I decided to give it a try. 

It's definitely a Louisiana answer to the New England lobster roll. It has a slightly sweet roll that contains a heap of crawfish tails in a creamy, slightly spicy dressing. It was really good.

I continued on my wandering areound, ending up at the Gospel Tent to check out the Zion Harmonizers

The group's leader, Brazella E. Briscoe Sr., who looks a lot younger than his 68 years, sings the emphatic lead vocals in this traditional gospel band. He believes vocalists must truly believe every word they sing. "If you don't feel what you're singing, then it's to no avail," he says.

Briscoe joined The Zion Harmonizers in 1988,
the year before the group's 50th anniversary. Current members of the group also include baritone Franklin D. Smith Sr., first tenor Marion H. Chambers Jr., second tenor Benjamin Francois III, and instructor, director, keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist Joseph B. Warrick. Guitarists Lloyd Smith and William Walker and drummer Brandon Woods also participate.

In 1939, a teenager named Benjamin Maxon founded The Zion Harmonizers in the Zion City community of New Orleans. When Maxon answered the call to preach in 1943, an apprehensive Sherman Washington assumed leadership of the group. 

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"I was scared," Washington said in 2002. "I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it. It's a lot of responsibility." Despite that, Washington would lead the Zion Harmonizers for 63 years, until 2006, when illness compelled him to hand the reins to Briscoe. Even after Washington's death at 85 in 2011, his influence endures.

The group has made many recordings in its 77 years, has been performing in Europe for decades and singing at the gospel brunch at the House of Blues for 20 years. The group's association with Jazz Fest dates to the very first festival, held in Armstrong Park in 1970. The original, 15x20-foot Gospel Tent featured an upright piano but no stage or sound system. This year is their 49th consecutive appearance.

When Jazz Fest moved the Fair Grounds Race Course in 1972, its producer, Quint Davis, asked Sherman Washington to run the Gospel Tent. Davis later credited Washington's stewardship of the Gospel Tent for serving both Jazz Fest and gospel music, introducing countless thousands of attendees to music they might never have heard before. The Gospel Tent continues to be an enormously popular festival attraction, a rock standing strong for 47 years.

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Washington managed the Gospel Tent for 42 years. The illness that caused him to relinquish leadership of the Zion Harmonizers also forced him to give up management of the Gospel Tent, which is now dedicated to him.

"He was the godfather, the founder," Briscoe says. "By the grace of God, we, the current Zion Harmonizers, feel like we do a good job, so I think that keeps us in the Jazz Fest. But being associated with Mr. Sherman Washington doesn't hurt!"

Here is my video of the great Zion Harmonizers in the Gospel Tent today. Here they are doing Down by the Riverside and When the Saints Go Marching In, and here is a video history of this classic New Orleans group.

After I left the Gospel Tent, I stopped by the Blues Tent, where Mr. Sipp, the Mississippi Blues child was performing. It wasn't easy, but I found my way into the tent where I could see this very dynamic singer and guitar player. I caught him last year on Day 2, and you can read a lot more about him there.

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Located right off Interstate 55 between Jackson and New Orleans, the past and future of the blues intersect in an old, forgotten building in Magnolia, Mississippi. There, Castro Coleman, also known as Mr. Sipp, is building a monument to the blues legends of Mississippi and creating a sacred space to support and promote the sanctity of live music.

"The building, the old Norwood building in downtown Magnolia, was sealed up in 1925. I am bringing it back up as a live music blues venue. There is nothing of that caliber in a 50-mile radius north, south, east, or west," Coleman says. "People pass New Orleans and they want to drive up to the Delta to see the Crossroads and they will have to pass right by me," he says.

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"A lot of the great blues players actually come from Mississippi. Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and the list goes on. I come on the scene 60 or 70 years later, walking in the footsteps of my forefathers who laid the foundation and paved the way for young musicians like myself to come in and do some of the things they did and take it higher if that's possible."

Coleman first picked up the guitar at age 6, playing gospel as his mom sang in the churches of McComb, Mississippi. "It was all love to me. I was able to do what I loved to do. After I turned 7, my auntie finally sat my mom and dad down and made them hear me play," he says. "As a kid, I was told that the blues was the devil's music therefore it wasn't allowed. My dad had some old blues records that he had collected and I found that the music and the melodies were the same as what we were playing in the church. In gospel, we talk about a deliverer and blues is about being delivered. The content of the stories is the same. They're so close, they're like first cousins. It's the same blood line."

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He continues, "I've been doing the blues for six years now. A lot of people think I'm an overnight success but I've been playing music for 30 years. I'm not new to the business. I'm new to the genre. My style is Mississippi River Delta blues. It comes from a deep place in me. I want it to flow like Mississippi River from one soul to another."

Coleman is investing his own money, time, and energy into funding his vision for a live music venue. It will be a place for singers and musicians who love to play to come together and share a collective love of music. He's still working out the bugs but one thing is certain: if he builds it, they will come. "The way the music is changing nowadays, it's putting the real musicians out of business. It's cutting out a whole element. If I can contribute a place for real live musicians to have a place to play, that's what I'm going to do. I want to invest the money I've made sharing my music by putting it back into the music," he says.

I didn't get any video of Mr. Sipp today, so here are Bad Feeling and Knock a Hole in It from the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Next I wandered over for my last visit to the Fais Do Do stage, where the Iguanas were playing. We've seen them before, on Day 2 in 2012Day 3 in 2013 at the Rock 'n' Bowl, and on Day 8 in 2015, where you can read more about this great band. 

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The Iguanas play it laid-back and loose, with shaggy, Tex-Mex beach rock and grinding boogie and low-slung groove. Rod Hodges lays down grungy licks on his electric guitar and occasional accordion and Joe Cabral plays squawky sax solos and acoustic guitar. Drummer Doug Garrison and bassist Rene Coman anchor the band's grooves. It's all very cool.

Here is my video of the short time I was with the Iguanas today, and here is a half hour from the Tamale Festival earlier this year.. Any time you spend with this great band is time well spent.

After Galactic, and between sets at the Acura stage, Laurie winged it over to the WWOZ tent for a break. On the way back, she diverted to the La Divinia Gelateria stand in the infield for an Azteca gelato. She's had this treat before, on Day 11 last year, on Day 9 in 2016, and Day 11 in 2015. It's gelato made from dark chocolate, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rich and spicy, it's really good. 

We have had a lot of La Divina's treats over the years, both at Jazz Fest and at their storefront in the French Quarter, which, much to our disappointment, they closed last summer. In its place is yet another storefront offering tours. That makes about a thousand and one of those.

Laurie headed back to the Acura stage for the next-to-last show of the day there, Jack White. He was really today's headliner, but on the last day of Jazz Fest, locals close the main stage, after the headliner. Recently that has been Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, previously it was the Neville Brothers.

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Jack White is best known for singing and playing guitar with Meg White in the band the White Stripes. He was born Jack Gillis in Detroit, the youngest of 10 children in a working-class Catholic family. 

He learned to play his first instrument, the drums, as a first-grader, and soon picked up the guitar and piano as well. A fan of the blues and 1960's-era R&B and rock and roll, he began making his first lo-fi recordings of his own compositions before starting high school.

In 1990, Jack Gillis began working as an upholsterer's apprentice, training for a life in the furniture trade. A career in upholstery was not to be, but White did record a demo album with one of his coworkers, Brian Muldoon, under the moniker, the Upholsterers. Shortly after, he earned his first paid musical gig, playing the drums for a locally popular Detroit cowpunk band called Goober and the Peas.

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Not long after, he began dating Meg White, a bartender at a local barbecue joint. They married on September 21, 1996, when both were 21 years old. In an unconventional move, Jack Gillis took his bride's surname, becoming Jack White. Jack continued working in the upholstery shop by day while playing music at nights and on the weekends.

Though she had zero musical experience, Meg White began to accompany Jack on the drums while he played his guitar. Something about the childish simplicity of Meg's percussion struck both of them as powerfully resonant in a humorous and nostalgic way. The pair decided to form a husband-and-wife band, with Meg White on drums and her husband playing guitar and keyboard while singing lead vocals. 

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Naming themselves The White Stripes, they gave their debut performance at a local Detroit nightclub during the summer of 1997. The couple divorced in 2000, but the divorce, if anything, only strengthened their musical partnership, and they began to tell interviewers that they were siblings; somewhat remarkably, this white lie was accepted at face value and repeated in many respectable publications for several years before it became widely known that the pair were, in fact, divorced.

The White Stripes scored mainstream success with their critically acclaimed 2001 album "White Blood Cells," featuring their first hit song, Fell in Love with a Girl." They became even more popular with their 2003 album "Elephant," featuring the ubiquitous single Seven Nation Army. Two more successful albums, "Get Behind Me Satan" and "Icky Thump," ended their recording association. 

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Jack White's second band, the Raconteurs, got their start in 2005, when White and his friend and fellow musician Brendan Benson spent some time jamming in a Nashville attic while White was taking a short break from his duties with the White Stripes. That night the pair ended up writing Steady, As She Goes, which would eventually become a hit single. Inspired by the song they had written, Benson and White decided to form a full band, adding Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of the Greenhornes to round out the lineup. The band's full-length debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers," was released in 2006 and named one of the best albums of that year.

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Meanwhile, White and fellow Raconteur Jack Lawrence launched another alt-rock supergroup, the Dead Weather, alongside Alison Mosshart of The Kills and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age. In this group he played the drums. The band was conceived in an informal jam session, but ended up recording two full albums.

The prolific White continued to involve himself in a variety of other well-received side projects. In 2005, he produced Loretta Lynn's highly praised comeback album "Van Lear Rose," helping the country music legend reach a new generation of fans. In 2011, he played a similar role in orchestrating "The Party Ain't Over," a late-career comeback record from Wanda Jackson, who had earned the title Queen of Rockabilly a half-century earlier.

White has also released three lauded solo albums: 2012's "Blunderbuss", 2014's "Lazaretto," and "Boarding House Reach" this year.

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White became one of the most influential figures in rock music in the early 21st century by pushing a low-fi, stripped-down sound, leading a return to the music's roots in the purity and simplicity of garage rock. "Simple is not always better," White once said. "For Michelangelo, no. But for the White Stripes, simple is better." So too for the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather.

In about 90 minutes and over more than two dozen songs this afternoon, White and his blue-bedecked band took fans on a wailing, reverb-y, heady march through his distorted, bluesy wonderland. And though he mentioned twice his apparent unhappiness with his Jazz Fest time slot, he seemed to have fun, too.

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From the very beginning with Over and Over and Over and his shrieks of "Corporation," White's audience was with him every step, jumping and clapping or singing along. In the standing room only section, a flag for Third Man Records flapped in the breeze atop a handheld totem. Though the crowd thinned by the end of things, those who remained were committed, as White noted himself.

"A vampire like me can't do that," he said. "My heart goes out to you. Thank you for standing out in the sun and listening to us."

His thanks came in the form of songs from across his musical history, using sounds of his solo albums and those of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, with whom he last appeared at Jazz Fest under appropriately stormy skies.

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White had a surprise for his New Orleans audience: Esther Rose, the local singer who provided backup vocals on "Boarding House Reach." She wore red, a clear foil to the electric blue of the rest of White's band.

It was the Acura Stage audience, however, who sang backup on Seven Nation Army, filling in the humming whir of sound between the heaviest bass lines. By its end, White stepped to centerstage with the rest of his band. "You've been incredible," he said, "and I've been Jack White." Here is a video of Jack White today at the Acura stage. Here's another from way back in the crowd.

While I had been and would continue to be bouncing all over the place this afternoon, I did go to the Jazz Tent while Laurie was at at the Acura stage to see the entire performance by Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective. I saw this brilliant band on Day 9 last year, and you can get a lot more detail about them there. 

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Blanchard was also part of one of the best performances I've seen at Jazz Fest (or really anywhere for that matter) as he played with Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya on Day 3 in 2017, replacing Hugh Maskela.

Blanchard has said that "Music and art have the power to change hearts and souls." It is a belief brought to life by this group, a revolutionary ensemble that thrives off the perfect mixture of Blanchard's genius and the innovation of guitarist Charles Altura, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist David "DJ" Ginyard Jr., and drummer Oscar Seaton. 

Blanchard says, "This band represents the best of America's ideals. We're five very different personalities with different visions who play together for a common goal: creating music that hopefully heals hearts and opens minds."

  

  

The band and its music are astounding. The play remarkably complex, spellbinding modern jazz, but can also play it straight with equal brilliance, as seen when they brought vocalist Quiana Lynell to the stage to do an easy-going reinvention of classic Meters tune Fiya on the Bayou.

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There appeared to be some confusion about the timing of the set this afternoon, as Blanchard said goodbye and left the stage about halfway through their allotted hour. The rest of the band continued to play while they kept looking backstage, trying to see what was going on. The crowd in the Jazz Tent was confused, too, but their loud applause and cheering let it be known that it was not about to let this set end early! Blanchard returned after a couple of minutes and the set continued. 

Here's my two-part (Part 1 and Part 2) video of this great performance. See for yorself how incredibly creative this music is. Here is one more, 25 minutes from this year's Moncalieri Jazz Festival in Italy.

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With Jack White and Terence Blanchard done, Laurie and I met at the Jazz and Heritage stage, where the Kinfolk Brass Band was playing. We had seen them before, last year on Day 10, and you can get some more detail about them there. 

A word in praise of brass bands, as much a part of New Orleans as crawfish, po'boys, and the Mississippi River itself. They celebrate weddings and mourn at funerals. They entertain us in Jackson Square and in impromptu parades in the French Quarter. When they are on the Jazz and Heritage stage at Jazz Fest they send a burst of electricity through the immediate area that could make even the dead feel like dancing. 

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The Kinfolk Brass band was founded by brothers Percy and Richard Anderson in 2006. Both had been playing music since their middle-school days. They incorporate jazz, Mardi Gras Indian chants, and more traditional brass band sounds into their own great sound. 

Brass band music happens only in New Orleans; nothing else -- anywhere -- comes close to the groove and the bounce that it creates. The Kinfolk Brass band was a perfect way to begin the end of Jazz Fest 2018.

Here is the scene at the Jazz and Heritage stage with the Kinfolk, where you can surely see what I mean about brass bands in New Orleans! Here is a video of them doing a street parade around the French Quarter.

Laurie needed a quick break, and we both needed some food, so we split up again for a bit before ending the day together. I walked her toward the WWOZ tent, and sent her on her way as I stopped one more time at the Gospel Tent, where Craig Adams and Higher Dimensions of Praise were performing.

Craig Adams

Minister and lead vocalist Adams directs this 16-voice ensemble, mostly from behind the keyboards and Hammond organ. And you know I'm going to be into that. Formed in 2002, the energetic group performs a range of gospel styles here in New Orleans and on tours around the world.

A shirt-tail relative of Fats Domino, Adams is considered one of the most talented pianists and organists in Louisiana. He is also an established musical director and choir master.

Here is my view of this performance in the Gospel Tent. And here's Adams doing Down by the Riverside and one where he is joined by Glen David Andrews on When the Saints Go Marching In

I don't know exactly how many times I stopped by this incredible performance space over the seven days of Jazz Fest this year, but I do know that I was never disappointed whenever I did! 

My last food this year was Tunisian lamb tagine, a leg-of-lamb stew flavored with marinated garlic and lemon and other spices, served over basmati rice with a hint of saffron. It's cooked up by Jamila's Tunisian and Mediterranean Bistro of New Orleans. I've had this before, on Day 8 in 2016 and Day 11 last year, and I had their merguez (Moroccan lamb sausage) sandwich on Day 2 in 2015, where you can read all about Jamila and Moncef Sbaa and their cafe. 

Laurie had a fried oyster and spinach salad from Vucinovich's Restaurant, which is located in New Orleans East, almost across the street from Ba Mien, the Vietnamese restaurant that makes the spring rolls and vermicelli with shrimp over in the Heritage Square food area. Also near Walker's BBQ (see above for both) so we were definitely keeping it in the New Orleans East neighborhood today. She had the spinach and fried oysters before, on Day 4 in 2014.

Vucinovich's is family owned and operated. It opened in 1978. Everything at the restaurant is cooked from scratch on site in their own kitchen. 

One review said that, as a ratio of goodness of the food to obscurity, this may be the best restaurant in New Orleans. It's a throwback to another era. No website, only open for lunch, and only on weekdays, nothing on the menu even slightly off the standard New Orleans neighborhood eatery fare -- a long list of po'boy sandwiches, the basic seafood platters, and the traditional daily specials. But what they cook they cook well, and they serve it in obscenely large portions at prices that almost make the many nearby Vietnamese restaurants seem expensive.

Vucinovich's seafood is golden and crisp, in perhaps too large a pile to finish. The '-ich' on the end of the proprietor's name is a good sign; lots of Croatian people in the area are in the seafood business, and they help one another. The fried chicken is also good. They have been a staple in New Orleans East since long before the hurricane, and they came back shortly after the water went down. Owner Herman Vucinovich is always there, as he is at Jazz Fest every year, serving fried seafood po'boys. He will engage you in conversation if you've got a mind to listen.

After my lamb, and while waiting for Laurie, I zipped over to Economy Hall to catch a couple of minutes of the Pfister Sisters.

In 1979, three women from New Orleans got together to help out a friend. George Schmidt and his band, the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, had been hired to play a private party for some very wealthy clients. Their one stipulation was that the music could not stop. To fill the void during band breaks, George asked Holley Bendtsen to put together a group to perform songs by their mutual inspiration, the New Orleans jazz visionaries known as the Boswell Sisters. Holley recruited two more singers and George dubbed them the Pfister Sisters. They learned five songs and a New Orleans institution was born.

Original members Bendtsen, Suzi Malone, and Yvette Voelker made their public debut as the Pfister Sisters at Jazz Fest in 1980. Since then, the Pfister Sisters have brought traditional jazz in three-part harmony to bars, festivals, state penitentiaries, and foreign dignitaries. They have performed on the wing of an airplane with Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters and have sung Boswell Sisters songs side by side with the one and only Vet Boswell. 

In 1999, Debbie Davis joined the group when Suzi Malone relocated north. After Hurricane Katrina, they began touring, first to San Diego for a benefit gala, then with the Dukes of Dixieland and Luther Kent aboard the Steamboat Natchez, headlining recovery concerts beginning in Cincinnati and continuing down the Mississippi River and back to New Orleans. Tours to Europe and around the United States followed. 

Children and grandchildren have kept them closer to home in recent years. Karen Stoehr, a long-time substitute, joined the ranks permanently in 2018 when Davis left to do solo and other projects. 

It's classic music and it's done very well. Here is my video, with original member Suzi Malone joining in, and here's 15 minutes with Debbie Davis from the WWOZ studio a couple of years ago.

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We decided to end our day at the Jazz and Heritage stage with some Mardi Gras Indian funk from the Hard Head Hunters, from the Seventh Ward. What better way to end Jazz Fest than with music that could only have come from New Orleans?

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The Hard Head Hunters' Big Chief, Otto "Chief Fiyo" DeJean, 34, moved to Slidell when the flood after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his Seventh Ward home. Eddie Vanison, DeJean's cousin, already lived in Slidell, but he had to rebuild his home which flooded during the storm.

Regardless, DeJean and Vanison continued to meet up with other tribe members at their headquarters on A.P. Tureaud Avenue: Bullet's Sports Bar, which is owned by a relative of DeJean's. They depart from there to parade through the streets of their old neighborhood, accompanied by musicians on tambourines and drums. Residents snap pictures of the Indians and their elaborate suits, telling them they are "Pretty!" and that "You look so beautiful!" The compliments are earned by sacrificing rest and relaxation to sew, sew, and sew some more, DeJean and Vanison say.

That is why masking with an ornate suit on Mardi Gras marks a personal victory of time management that is especially exhilarating to people such as DeJean, Vanison, and their comrades. "We lose a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish this," Vanison says. "You have to love it to be able to do it. It's a good feeling."

And that's why ending Jazz Fest with a group such as this is very satisfying. Putting this city and all it stands for into perspective. Here is my video of the Hard Head Hunters and here is a video of them on Mardi Gras Day in 2015.

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On our way to the bus, as we passed the Gentilly stage, we stopped for a moment to hear Steve Miller and his band as they were playing Jet Airliner.

Big ol' jet airliner
Don't carry me too far away
'Cause it's here that I want to stay.

That seemed appropriate!

After a very quiet bus ride back downtown we hung out in the Staybridge doing our downloading and posting and such, then headed off to Daisy Dukes for some dinner.

Actually it was a late breakfast, as we both had seafood omelettes with crawfish, shrimp, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. I added alligator sausage to mine. At Daisy Dukes, all omelettes are served with hash browns, grits, or small fruit cup and toast or biscuit. It's good food, and plenty of it, and it doesn't break the bank.

Tomorrow is completely free for us, so we shall see what happens with our bonus time. As for Jazz Fest, the seven days this year just couldn't have been better! 


     

© Jeff Mangold 2012