Our second day at Jazz Fest was a bit more mellow – not nearly as many in attendance as Saturday, it didn’t seem – but just as beautiful. Bright sun, warm gentle breezes and just enough clouds to keep that sun from further sunburning our necks and arms and shoulders. We first stopped at the children’s tent to hear a little bit from the talented kids from Uptown Music Theatre. Tempted by the many aromas that surround the fairgrounds, we were ready for some eats. I found more veggie red beans and Shawn tried an alligator pie. His comment? “It tastes like sausage.”
Next we walked over to the Congo Square stage to hear a little bit of Partners-N-Crime and 5th Ward Weebie. We then circled around the Acura stage to hear a couple of tunes from Zachary Richard who, honestly, didn’t sound nearly as good as many of the singer/songwriters that perform in our Mount Washington Valley on a regular basis.
We wandered next over to the Jazz and Heritage stage to see the Golden Stars Hunters Mardi Gras Indians with their gorgeous costumes and hypnotic rhythms. Feeling weary of the sun and the heat, we found shelter under the tent of the Economy Hall stage to listen to the old time sounds of New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra which featured the theremin, an instrument I always absolutely love to hear and see being played. At the end of their set, we walked over to the WWOZ Jazz tent to hear Astral Project, who were nothing short of amazing.
We didn’t stay for Astral Project’s entire set, however. As good as they were, we were feeling a strong pull in another direction – back to the Acura stage to hear Dr. John! Last year at Jazz Fest, Tina and I stood in the pouring rain in ankle-deep mud to hear this man perform. Thankfully, the weather was much more pleasant this year (although I brought my raincoat and umbrella both days this year just in case!) and the set was fantastic. He had trumpeter Dave Bartholomew as a special guest for part of the set which added another layer of awesomeness to the music.
After that great show, we headed over for another great show in the Economy Hall tent – the one and only Pete Fountain. I always cry a little whenever I hear the sweet, melancholy sounds of a clarinet, but to see Pete live was particularly bittersweet for me. My father idolized Pete. I have many fond memories from my childhood of hearing him sit in his chair with his old Selmer and play right along with those beautiful Dixieland sounds. I cried many tears of joy during that set yesterday. What a treat for all of us there to see and hear a living jazz legend! There was an added treat, too – Pete’s granddaughter, Danielle Scheib, got up and joined the band for a few numbers on her washboard. Very cool!
Following that great set, we were on our feet again and headed over to the Jazz and Heritage stage and saw a bit of the Big Chief Monk and the Golden Eagle Mardi Gras Indians set. It was hard to believe that the end of the day was already upon us, and we were curious to hear Arlo Guthrie, so we made our way over to the Blues tent. Arlo’s set had already started. As we were walking in, all I could hear was Arlo preaching about politics, blah blah blah, to the crowd. To tell you the truth, I’d been feeling very warm and flushed all day and low on energy and this was not quite what the two of us were in the mood for at the end of a very busy weekend. The final straw was a very large-and-in-charge security dude telling us rather forcefully as we’re already walking in, “OK, now I need you to just keep moving.” After a quick glance around and growing weary of the sermon from the stage, we turned around and left the tent.
Realizing that the usually-awesome jazz tent was presenting Kenny G (blech!!!) as their closing set, we decided to go a different way. Having no interest in John Mellencamp, who was appearing on the Acura stage, we started making our way back to the Gentilly stage. On the way, we heard a little bit of The Decemberists on the Fais Do Do stage. So, we ended our time at Jazz Fest listening to the voice of the legendary Tom Jones. He is actually the first concert I ever saw, at the Augusta Civic Center with my parents when I was nine years old. My mother was a huge Tom Jones fan and now, here I was, all these years later, listening to Tom again, and his voice is just as powerful as it was when I was a kid.
Good times! After two full days at Jazz Fest we were both utterly spent and exhausted. We went back to the hotel and went to bed very early. Good thing, too – my feeling flushed and very warm yesterday was not just the weather. I seem to have woken up this morning with a little bit of a cold – sneezy, coughing, little bit of sore throat. Bummer! Tonight, no matter what, we’re headed to the big open jam at Maison on Frenchman Street. Today we plan on being a bit lazy until then. Tomorrow is our last full day here and we’re both already feeling very sad about leaving this amazing city. Time for more vitamin C for me and a bit more rest for both of us so that we can enjoy the short time that remains as much as we can.