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New Orleans Jazzfest 2007


phishtaper
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Just got back from having another great time at the New Orleans Jazzfest and thought I’d share some stories and pics.

Arrived on a beautiful hot and humid Thursday afternoon, and checked into the hotel – Queen and Crescent – a nice little “boutique†hotel perfectly located between all the Downtown Business District music clubs and the French Quarter. We immediately rushed down to the historic Mothers restaurant for their famous Ferdi po-boy’s, crawfish etoufée and sweet potato pie. (Long line-ups prevented us from getting in again while in town) Wandered over to the French Quarter for an hour or so to survey what turned out to be very minimal Katrina damage and then back to the hotel to rest up. The Medeski, Martin and Wood show at the Howlin’ Wolf was our first show of the weekend, starting around 11pm on Thursday, perfect timing for a quick bite beforehand at nearby Mulate’s - “the†original Cajun restaurant / dancehall where we enjoyed a septuagenarian band of accordionists called La Touché, and stuffed crabs and shrimp.

The MMW show was great, albeit a bit confusing – two sets, the first was mostly strange improv jamming, new stuff or pieces we’d never heard before - the very chatty crowd seemed to be more interested in texting on their cell phones than the music (a problem throughout the entire weekend, sadly). The second set was much better, with more recognizable tunes. Billed as “MMW and guests†– the “guests†turned out to just be DJ Logic, who was great, but hardly a “guest†anymore. We mistakenly popped back to the hotel to rest before the late late night set with Marco Benevento, DJ Logic, Leo Nocentelli, Russell Batiste, and Skerik and got royally soaked in what turned out to be the first wave of a storm that actually flooded the city the next day (our cab lost control and almost slid into a tree while telling us how good Canadian bud is - exciting ride, to say the least). The late late night jam was very loose but a lot of fun, especially Benevento’s goofy stockings. A few tapers were there, so hopefully the night’s music will surface soon. I’d really like to hear it again and figure out what the hell MMW played.

Friday began late, not having gotten to bed until almost 5am the night before. The weather forecast was rain, so we had already decided to bail on the Festival that day and instead spent our lunch hour in the French Quarter picking up T-shirts, coffee and various souvenirs in a light drizzle. Arrived back to the hotel around 2pm, just in time to watch from our floor to ceiling windows the biggest storm to hit New Orleans since Katrina – 8†of rain in an hour and a half. The city was flooded. Between 3†to 12†filled the French Quarter for over an hour and completely flooded the Festival fairgrounds as well, causing several outdoor stages to be shut down for a couple of sets. Yikes.

The skies eventually cleared and after a dinner of steamed spicy crawfish, we wandered down to the Riverboat for the sold-out Greyboy Allstars cruise, and despite having snoozed on tix beforehand, we scored extras on the dock and hopped on board. Good thing we made the effort. It was a fantastic experience and one of the highlights of the weekend. Two sets featuring Denson and the rest of the boys in a cozy lower deck ballroom. Before and between sets, a brass band called Hot 8 (I think) entertained us outside at the stern of the upper deck. What a wonderful way to spend an evening. We actually had tix for the latenight (i.e, 3am) Greyboy set at Tipatina’s for the next night, but ended up selling them because we got to see them on the boat instead. After docking, we stopped into Harrah’s casino for $5 worth of Tasbasco slots and then headed up to the French Quarter to join in on the drunken revelry for the rest of the evening.

Our Saturday began with a great $12 buffet deal at Harrah’s of much needed fruit, coffee and omelettes, after which we headed up to the Festival at the fairgrounds for a full day of music. Thankfully, only a few muddy spots remained from Friday’s flooding. Our musical selection started with Joseph “Ziggy†Modeliste’s Zigaboo Funk Review Band. Modeliste, a 60yo founding member of The Meters kicked ass. An hour and a half of jazzy funk on a sunny afternoon … cant do much better than that, eh! And a quick cameo by Paul Shaeffer provided a little bit of Canadian content for the weekend. After Zigaboo we headed up to check out Galactic and Steven Marley (doing some of his dad’s stuff) before heading back down to see the Allman Brothers. Unfortunately, 50,000 other people had the same idea and we simply couldn’t get anywhere near the stage to see Greg, Warren and the boys, so we stayed there for just one song. (We later learned that attendance came close to record numbers that day.) Our fallback was the John Mayer set way back up at the Acura stage at the north end of the grounds and we managed to get up there and squeeze in up front for 40 minutes or so. The more I see Mayer, the more I’m impressed with his bluesy approach. He’s one of those few artists who “sold out†immediately in his career (Body is Wonderland) but pulled back soon thereafter and started making some really good music. On our way out we caught bits of Donald Harrison and Deacon Jones in the blues and jazz tents. We may have only stayed for 6 and 1/2 hours on Saturday, but in that brutal heat and crowd it was hard to stay for more. No complaints, though, we got more than our money’s worth of fantastic music.

Saturday evening was spent wandering the riverfront down to the French Market where we had authentic New Orleans pizza at a little place in the market and then coffee at America’s first coffee bar, Café du Monde. Around 1:30am, we headed over to Tipatina’s to sell our Greyboy tix, and swung back to check out the free! Rebirth Brass Band show at the Howlin’ Wolf. What a fun band! In fact, the official Jazzfest poster featured a tuba player from Rebirth and sold out before we even got into town. (Anyone with an extra Congo Stage print, please let me know.) On our way back to crash sometime after 3am, we walked by George Clinton’s bus parked out in front of Republic, but the master alien was nowhere to be seen.

Sunday started out a bit frustrating when we discovered that our much needed buffet of fruit, juice, coffee and eggs had skyrocketed to $28 simply because they added champagne on Sunday mornings. Pass. So, we grabbed a coffee and muffin, loaded up the sunscreen and hats and headed up to the fairgrounds for another full day of music and sun. We started out again at the south end Gentilly Stage for another great funk set with local Hammond organ legend John ‘Papa’ Gros’s Papa Grows Funk band. A special treat was the appearance of an Indian Chief in full dress playing the tambourine (sorry, didn’t catch his name). After this high energy set we wandered around and caught Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Cha’s in the Southern Comfort Blues tent, which featured his 9yo son on washboard and a great tune on the drums (you had to look closely to see who was playing). We caught a bit more funk, gospel and more traditional jazz before we headed up to see Steely Dan’s set. Legends from the 70’s, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen can still capture a crowd with well crafted, and beautifully performed songs. The festival was much less crowded on Sunday so it was fairly relaxing to stay and enjoy the full set, grooving along with all the 30-, 40- and 50-somethings to tunes like Hey 19, Dirty Work, and Josie, although disappointingly they didn’t play Cousin Dupree or Rickie Don’t Lose that Number. After SD, we’d had enough music and sun and slowly wandered out, bailing on Harry Connick Jr and the Radiators.

Sunday night we took it easy after two full days of sun and music, nursing the blisters on our feet, and just wandered down in the French Quarter for a nice relaxing dinner of Cajun shrimp and crawfish etoufee knowing that our 6:30am Monday morning wake-up call would come early.

The thing about Jazzfest is that there are about 400 performances over both weekends on 11 stages at the huge fairgrounds, way too many to see. But a lot of artists play club shows at night and during the week, maybe another 500 shows altogether. So, there's always something great going on somewhere.

Another great Jazzfest! Great music, great food, great people. Thanks to everyone and especially the folks at the festival who advised us to ask the beer venders to dunk our hats in ice water. If y’all ever get a chance to go, do it. Highly recommended!!

Here are a couple of pics I took and a few more can be found in a slideshow here.

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thanks everyone. :D

here's the bit torrent link to that unique MMW I was talking about.

D1 Set 1

1. improv

2. improv->

3. New New Orleans

4. Cat Creeps

5. Tubby

6. Dracula

7. New Planet

D2 Set 2 With DJ Logic

1. ? (tip of my toungue...i know this song - lol...kinda like hip chops but its not)

2. "new '07"

3. Back and Forth

4. What'd I Say?

5. What'd I Say? cont..

6. Spy Kiss

7. After The Onsen

8. Sugarcraft

(from wrightreyes on bt.etree)

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