Friday, May 26, 2017

NOLA Jazz and Heriatage Festival

Tim Laughlin - Pete Fountain Tribute

If you love music, you should visit the Jazz and Heritge Festival at least once in your live.   And food....if you love food, you should visit too!  Music and food.  The New Orleans way.

The festival runs the last weekend of April and the first weekend in May, and showcases some of the finest musicians you will ever hear.  While they will usually book A list acts, some of the best music will take place on the smaller stages and tents.  You would regret not hearing some fine lesser known groups, that you may never hear again, because you wanted to see someone who you could catch next month some where.

Martha and Will played hosts.  As locals, they will typically come every day, so long at the weather holds.  We were fortunate to get a ride with them.

We had tickets for all three days of the first weekend.  We went for two days, and got rained out on the third.  The weather was bad enough that they didn't even open the gates until about 3PM on Sunday.  While some got their Maroon 5 fix, we stayed at AIROSMITH  and drank Gin and Tonics.

Oh, but those first two days were a bit like paradise.  Best of all, we met Yvette, a friend of Martha and Will,  in who's driveway we parked and walked to the fairgrounds.  They told us that once you meet Yvette, you will have a friend for life.  And what a friend!

Yvette's home is essentially a small museum that sits in the neighborhood near the Fairgound and next to City Park. She caretakes the home of  Robet Guthrie, a well known artist who died much to young.  Guthrie's home, inside an old Sinclair gas station, was once his gallery and studio.  The home is a testament to his work.

Bloody Mary anyone?

After parking, and working out the logistics for the day, the crew walks to Liuzza's for a Bloody Mary while waiting for the gates to open.  Once through the gate, your first stop should be for a Softshell Crab Poboy.  Did I mention that we were learning all of this from Martha and Will?  They are excellent guides!!

Kumbuka African Dance and Drum Collective
Six stages, and five tents to choose from, all representing the unique style of New Orleans music, and those artists who it has inspired.  If you get tired, you can stroll the craft stalls.  I resisted purchasing a straw top hat, at $200, but regret doing so!

Kumbuka Dance and Drum

Jazz and Heritage Stage - Semolian Warriors 

Second Line March

Second Line

Gentilly Stage

Acura Stage

The food and drink.  There is always the food and drink!
The vendors actually compete to set up here.

Some of my recommendations are any Poboy you happened to see, Crawfish Bread, and Boiled
Crawfish.  Just remember to Pinch the tails, and suck the heads.

Strolling the grounds will put you in contact with Mardi Gras Indians, Social groups, brass bands and the ability to jump into a second line.

Mardi Gras Indians on Parade

Second Line March
Second Line

Of note was the funeral March for Pete Fountain.

Other high points were listening to Trumpet Mafia and the Treme Brass Band.

Trumpet Mafia

Blues Tent - James Andrews and the Crescent City All Stars

Uncle Lionel - Treme Brass Band

Treme Brass Band

Treme Second Line

Lagniappe Stage - Dirty Bourbon River Show

 While we got rained out of our third day, we missed seeing Dr. John perform, it's not really a problem.   He will be at Red Rocks in Colorado in July.  We already have tickets!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Orleans

Jackson Square
We spent just over a week and a half visiting the New Orleans and the surrounding area.  The main reason we came was to go to the first weekend of the Jazz Fest.  It was a return visit for us.  We came with good friends in 1990.  A bit has changed since then.

Fortunately we have friends and family who call this wonderful area home.  We visited them, and made some new ones.  It is one of the reasons we now live this way.  Oh the things you will see, and the people you will meet!  Like Wade Norris who commented on AIROSMITH, "As campers, we want to be proud of our equipment, don't we?"

We stayed at the Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville, Louisiana.  The park is located on the North shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and sits alongside the Tchefuncte River.  It wasn't new to us as we stayed here in December 2010.  But the park has been updated since then.  Speaking with the Park Manager, they put in a new entry station and new bathhouses.  These were great upgrades to an already fantastic park.

Our campsite was under some very tall pine trees, with a few massive live oak trees covered in Spanish Moss thrown in.

There is a boardwalk through he swamp here, and the Otis House Museum.  We didn't get a chance to tour the museum so it gives us a reason to return.  As if there were not enough already!

Our first outing involved My Bride's cousin Martha, and her husband Will.  They live in nearby Covington, and motored their Boston Whaler out to the park to take us for a ride on the river.
A "Brief" of Brown Pelicans on Lake Pontchartrain

Dew Drop Jazz and Social Club

We followed that by dinner at a local wood fired oven pizza place.  We are fortunate that Will and Martha are wine, and whisky aficionados.  They also know their Jazz!

Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall

After dinner we were off to the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall, a 122 year old social and music venue.

We sipped wine, sat on lawn chairs while listening to Tim Laughlin play his clarinet like no other.

Tim Laughlin

The following night, a former work colleague and good friends hosted us for dinner.  Any chance you have to taste Jerry's BBQ ribs, and Sarita's brownies with ice cream should not me missed.

Saint Louis No. 1 Cemetery

We have decided that taking a city tour is a great way to learn about a new city.  We took several in New Orleans.  A full city tour, a walking tour of Saint Louis No. 1 Cemetery tour, and a Free Walking Tour of the French Quarter.  All were a great way to learn about one of the most unique cities in the USA.

The only way to visit the Saint Louis Cemeteries is by a commercial tour company.....or to be buried there.  We chose the former.

The vaults were primarily used as a social statement and used by custom, with a secondary benefit that your remains wouldn't keep popping up during a flood.  The vaults also provided for quick decomposition making it easier to make room for the next family member who has passed on.

Madame Laveau

Notable internees include Homer Plessy (Petitioner in Plessy v. Ferguson); Madame Marie Laveau, an alternative health care provider; and Bernard de Marigny, notable scoundrel.
Homer Plessy

Bernard de Marigny

Louis Armstrong Park

A short walk from the cemetery, is Louis Armstrong Park, and the original location of Congo Square. There are tributes here to many of the Jazz greats.

Louis Armstong Park

French Quarter

French Market
Walking the French Quarter takes you through Jackson Square, and into the St. Louis Cathedral.  You pass street artists and musicians which I find more interesting than many of the bars and clubs along Bourbon Street.  And a must stop along the way is the Cafe Du Monde, operating since 1862 and open 24/7, for a Cafe Au Lait and Beignets.

Saint Louis Cathedral

Jackson Square

Cafe Au Lait & Beignets

Jackson Square Music

Jackson Square

St CharlesStreet Car

Saint Louis Cathedral from the Ferry
A $2 ferry ride across the Mississippi River to Algiers gives you a different perspective of the city, and a possible glimpse of Dr Who and the Crown and Anchor.

Dr. Who??

Preservation Hall

At Preservation Hall, $15 will get you a ticket to the small venue where you can listen to some sweet sounds of history.  For us, it was the Joint Chiefs of Jazz!

We did take a morning to paddle up the Tchefuncte River from the campground, looking for turtles sunning on logs, and following a Heron as it fished among the illy pads.