I got to the Fairgrounds around 12:30, a very respectable arrival time. Almost immediately, I grabbed a Soft-Shell Crab Po’ Boy. Good golly, Miss Molly, this was AWESOME! What is better than drenching your deep-fried soft-shell crab in butter, tartar sauce, and hot sauce? The line was lengthy, but it was totally worth the wait.
I then met Allan at the Jazz & Heritage Stage for the Mahogany Brass Band, an excellent unit who were a lot of fun. I danced my ass off, and with great grooves and a killer soft- Soft-Shell Crab Po’ Boy, Saturday had begun 180 degrees from Friday’s rough start.
We then went to the Fais Do-Do for the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars. Vividly recalling their insane performance at D.B.A. during Mardi Gras, I couldn’t wait for this set. It started slow, but it wasn’t long before then they had a crazy massive circle in the crowd. The horah was danced amongst chairs and blankets with breakneck speed. We were moving so fast I nearly had a heart-attack. I felt as though I definitely needed some pork in my blood to help me recuperate.
Now exhausted, I went to the Lagniappe to sit a spell. While there, I caught a little of Patrice Fisher & Arpa featuring Marcelo Cotarehi and members of the Ilhabela Big Band. These were cool Brazilian sounds that were the perfect way to calm my racing pulse.
Now refreshed, I wandered over to Acura and ran right into Amanda and Teddy, and we saw a good chunk of Johnny Rivers’ set. I had really been looking forward to this set, but it was rather unremarkable. This guy is an international legend with Louisiana roots making a much heralded return home, yet he received no intro whatsoever. He just walked out and casually began to sing. There was no pomp; it was all circumstance. Musically speaking, his set was rather void of excitement, as well.
Recalling the great set they delivered at the last Jazz Fest I had seen, I attempted to catch Rebirth Brass Band at Congo Square. This area was just insanely crowded with tons of chairs parked for headliner Ludacris.
It was extremely difficult to move around. I waded into the melee to find Frances, but I had no luck. Then she texted that she was at the Lagniappe watching Alexa Ray Joel. I was happy to escape the congestion of Congo Square and even happier when I discovered that Alexa Ray Joel really has a great voice. Her piano skills are a far cry from her father, Billy, but her soulful voice was a nice discovery.
Frances and Katia convinced me to go to the Blue Tent for Richie Havens, and it wasn’t much of a surprise to find his passionate voice sounding the same as he did nearly 40 years ago.
Then they coerced me into heading to the Jazz tent for Pharoah Sanders. Surprisingly, the tent was not crowded, and we met Curtis and Sammy there. The set was full of nice, relaxing jazz. Pharoah did not solo very much, which was a little disappointing, but his band was very good.
Pssst…you two idiots are looking the wrong way. You’re getting warmer…
There’s Pharoah! (Photo by IrieDesign.)
Of course, Pharoah’s set guaranteed that I missed Rod Stewart, and I mentally shed a tear for that, but was able to console myself by looking at Frances’ picture of his back.
Post-Fest, we decided to go get Po’ Boys, so we walked to the car and drove to Johnny’s in the French Quarter. This is when we learned that Johnny’s is only open for lunch, and we were way late for that. Making lemonade out of lemons, we wound up at Coop’s. Three of us ordered the Shrimp Creole, and we all thumbed our nose at the regular Tabasco and opted to put hair on our chests (a curious decision for the ladies) by dousing our dishes in Habanero Tabasco. Ay carumba! What a mistake! It was like trying to eat fire and was hard to enjoy. I also ordered some string beans with bacon sauce (for obvious reasons), but the dish definitely needed more bacon in sauce. Then again, wouldn’t every sauce be better with more bacon?
Sated, I returned to the room for a shower and a nap. I awakened and strolled over to the House of Blues (Parish) to watch my favorite band on the planet, The New Mastersounds. It was my first time at any House of Blues, and I didn’t hate it quite as much as everyone else, although I thought their “No photographs allowed” policy was really strange. Next time I see Dan Ackroyd I’ll have to ask him about that. I hear he’s a real dick, and since he hasn’t been funny since 1992, I won’t hold my breath in expectation of a witty retort. The New Mastersounds were really jazzed for their first appearance in New Orleans, and the room was gettin’ down like nobody’s business. Amazingly, the band played one mammoth set that ran for over three hours and fifteen minutes. It was fantastic.
As an added bonus, Frances introduced me to my gay doppelganger:
Tipitina’s was sold out, so we needed to get three tickets. We split up and scoured the territory for extras, grabbing people as they got out of their cabs. Minutes later, we reconvened and discovered that we were a little overzealous and between the three of us, we now had five tickets, but we were able to unload the extras with little problem.
We had some time to kill, so we ventured over to the food truck to share a very tasty Goat-Cheese Quesadilla. Remembering something very important from Mardi Gras, we walked up the block to Miss Mae’s. This dive bar to end all dive bars probably has the cheapest drinks I’ve ever seen. In looking for it online, I actually saw a review where someone complained that he remembered the “old” Miss Mae’s, where drinks were only 85 cents. If I ever run into this guy, I’ll have to front him 15 cents, so he can afford a premium draft.
It had been a long day/night, and I was spent. I got ride home (with someone? Maybe Sammy?), and I crashed at 7:15AM.