Sunday, May 5, 2013

NOLA Jazz Fest

We scratched another thing off our bucket list when we attended two days of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  The fest is much more than just jazz.  There is every kind of music you can imagine, including jazz, blues, Zydeco, Cajun, Gospel, rock and more.  It was a fantastic weekend that far exceeded our expectations.  This event attracts more than 400,000 people over seven days.  Our only disappointment was that our friends Tom and Georgie, who were planning to attend with us, were not able to make it. 
Something that I have noticed is anytime you do a large music event like this you see people wearing their concert tour shirts with the list of all the cities where that group played.  It can include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and often to our surprise Burgettstown, the little town where we both grew up.  That's because many groups play at our local amphitheater and not in Pittsburgh.  I guess It's a Burgh Thing.  
The fest is more than just listening to music (no recordings allowed), there are also vendors selling instruments, crafts, food and drinks.  Our first stop was to see the Martins from Martin Accordions whose place in Scott we toured while at Betty's.  They were waiting to hear from Billy Joel who was interested in buying one of their squeeze boxes.
Here are pictures of all the performers we saw. 
 These are the Semolian Warriors, Mardi Gras Indians showing off their beautiful costumes.
Our favorite music is the blues and we spent more time there than any of the other ten sites.  This is Henry Gray and the Cats.
Guitar Slim Jr. brought the place down with his Stevie Ray Vaughn style guitar playing. 
A must see for us was Bryan Lee, a Blues player we saw on our first visit to N'awlins twenty years ago.  He did not disappoint.  It was wonderful.
We then moved on to the the Acura Stage, the fest's biggest venue.  There we heard Wayne Toups & ZyDeCajun.  We love this music that we hear so much of in Louisiana.
To give you an idea of how BIG this event is, here is the list of over sixty acts that performed on the first day.  In seven days over two weekends you have the chance to select from over 450 acts.  You have to go knowing YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALL.
This was the crowd on Friday.  On Sunday the crowd was much larger as the headliner was the Dave Matthews Band.  We did figure out you can just put your chair up to claim a spot at the big stage and then roam around to enjoy other venues. 
Here is New Orleans legend Dr. John and the Nite Trippers.  They were fantastic.
We then moved on to the Congo Square Stage for a bit of Pittsburgh jazz with George Benson.
And on our way out we stopped at the Fais Do Do Stage to listen to Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience with Queen Ida.  Ida was honored as the newest inductee into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.  That has to be a crowded place with all the talent down here. 
We took Saturday off and returned on Sunday even though the forecast was for rain.  The forecast proved to be correct, the outdoor areas were very muddy.   Not to worry, the footwear went from boots to bare feet with everything in between.  Everyone still had a great time.
On Sunday to get out of the approaching storm we headed back to the Blues tent to hear The Blues Masters with "Big Al" Carson.
Next up was Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders.
The weather cleared and we went outside to hear Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys.
And then back to the big stage for New Orleans very own, The Nevilles.
There are also several parades each day.  This was the Treme group.
You have to love it.  This kid was stomping the water with one foot when we sat down so I had to show him how you can make a bigger splash by jumping up with both feet.  Always the teacher!
Next it was on to the Jazz tent for Dianne Reeves.  It was so crowded we ended up in our chairs just outside the tent.  You could still hear very well.  She was great. 
Then back to the Blues tent where we got inside (luckily as it rained again) but it was an SRO crowd.  Not to worry as Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers had everyone on their feet.
We had hoped to see DMB, but were not willing to get soaked.  That said, how can anyone not want to see B. B. King. He has now been checked off our list of must see performers. 
For anyone who loves music the Jazz Fest is a must do.  It is something that we will do again.  There are so many acts that you can never see them all, but you will see more in a day than many people will see in a lifetime.  And just think, you can do all seven days every year.
On Tuesday as we were preparing to leave there was a knock on the door and it was Jack and Elizabeth (right) who we met at Betty's.  They are in New Orleans for the second weekend of the fest.  We only drove about 100 miles to Grand Isle on the Louisiana gulf coast and were welcomed by our friends Mark and Renita who were here visiting Mark's sister.
LIFE IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!


Scooter said...

Wow! That looks like a whole lotta fun! Jealous!

Ray/Wendy said...

Whew! just hearing all that tired me out. My brother used to do that fest before he had kids.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Wow, I wouldn't go barefoot down south, too many parasitic worms

Unknown said...

Charles and I love to read your blog. What a wonderful time you had in New Orleans...great pictures, amazing music, fun times! Looking forward to seeing you in Tennessee!
Safe travels,
Charles and Sandy