New Orleans Jazz Fest review and comments. [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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05-06-2004, 04:06 PM
I've waited long enough for this, so here goes.

We arrived on Wed. the 28th and met with DLD and his wife Kathy for the first time at the Wine Loft, a cool place near the French Quarter. Most of you know that Dave calls himself "Nasty" on occasion and his wife "Mrs. Nasty", but they are probably two of the nicest people you're likely to meet and a total class act. We then moved on to dinner at 1179, a boisterour, wonderful Italian restaurant that belongs in New Jersey or on the Sopranos. It was a great choice and the four of us got better acquainted and we had a fantastic time and great food and wine.

We spent the next day at the fest with them, which DLD already reviewed or posted about, so I won't go into too much detail, but it was a pretty good time except for the on and off showers that made it a bit cool and uncomfortable. The rain eventually stopped in time for us to see the Iguanas, so I'm glad we didn't leave earlier. They did a great job and I'll be buying some of their music very soon.

After torrential rains and thunder that sounded like explosions thru the night and into the wee hours on Friday, they were forced to cancel the Fest, something that is rarely done. Although all the stages are covered so the musicians can play thru the rain, the fields were just too wet and muddy for spectators. In fact, this year had the lowest total turnout for the Fest in 10 years due to the weather problems. By the way, they also have several giant tents that hold a couple thousand people or so, and most of the smaller or "not so famous" acts appear in those locations. We were going to bag it on Friday anyway to tour the city, and DLD had a tour of his friend's recording studio lined up for us, so off we went. Nick is one cool dude and is living the bohemian musicians life. His house, which he called Studio B, is set up with a PA, drums, guitars, saxaphones and the like so musicians can just drop by and play. He did mention that it happens less frequently these days because too many of his friends are suffering from PMS (professional musicians syndrome). We moved on to his studio which is contained within a non-descript house that gives no clues to what is inside. He has some sophisticated equipment, isolation booths, amps, etc... that had me drooling, and he really knows the music industry. I understand he's played with some pretty important people over the years, but you'll have to check with DLD for the names. I know Dave put one short song done by Nick and Richard Hell on a comp he gave me, and it's pretty cool.

We tried to hook up with Dave on Saturday, but after driving around mindlessly for over 30 minutes looking for parking and seeing the threatening skies, we decided to bag the Fest for that day. Crazy? You betcha, but there was a bit more involved that I won't get into. Anyway, DLD and Kathy left about mid-afternoon so we were on our own after that. We decided to take in a band or two that night and settled on an alt-country singer/songwriter named Kim Carson after reading a nice article on her in the local music rag. She is one very attractive lady, so she certainly got my attention, and she did play some nice tunes on her acoustic along with a local woman playing violin and adding some backing vocals. Overall it was a decent night out, although it rained pretty heavily once we were inside the club.

Sunday, the last day of the Fest, was cool and cloudy, but turned out to be a real hoot. The grounds were still really wet and messy, so we hung out in the Popeye's Blues tent most of the time. We first saw Mem Shannon & the Membership, who played a nice blend of blues/funk. At one point Mem polled the crowd to see how many arrived in a Chevy Suburban, then how many in a Ford Expedition, Hummers, and so on. After he was done he said "Ya'll aren't gonna like this next song" and explained that he drove a 1971 Ford Maverick. He started the song and the lyrics went something like this; "I'm sick of those SOBs in their SUVs trying to run over me". It was pretty damned funny.

Next up was Chris Smither, and he was outstanding! I can't believe I don't own any of his cds, although I've certainly heard him more than once. He a wicked acoustic player and has an awesome Nawlins blues voice, sometimes sounding like Randy Newman. He has some witty vocals, funny stories and quite the entertainer, receiving a rousing standing O when he was through. He mentioned that one he played, "I Can Love You Like a Man", was written when he was just 23 and was recorded by Bonnie Raitt and just recently by Diana Krall for her new release.

During a short "bathroom break" I caught a quick glimpse of Smokie Robinson. His voice still sounds silky smooth and he had a huge crowd at the Acura stage nearby the Blues Tent. I watched as some big limos rolled by and I wondered which big shots were riding in them. Then a golf cart goes by with Aaron Neville riding in the back and waving to us. That cracked me up after seeing the limos and all. What a down-to-earth guy he must be.

Marva Wright, a semi-famous N.O. blues singer was next with her band dubbed the BMWs, who we saw back in 2001 in her nightclub, Mama's Blues. She put on a great show and can really belt the tunes, and her band whipped us into a frenzy on some of the more up-tempo songs.

Finally the main event for me in Robert Cray. I'm not a huge fan, but I do like him. His band was very tight and smooth and they didn't disappoint, opening with "I Guess I Showed Her". I never heard the newer tunes he played after the opener, but they sure sounded fine to me. The crowd really went crazy after he played "Strong Persuader", probably his biggest hit, that they played next to last. The finale was a song that, I think, was called Sugar on Clover or something like that. Robert actually let out a high-pitched scream in a register I never knew he could hit and the place went wild. It was a fitting end ot the Fest and capped a nice weekend.

We plan to come back in a couple years, and I hope we can get more Rave Rec'ers to meet us there. It's certainly worth the trip and the weather is usuall much better than what we experienced.


05-06-2004, 06:26 PM
Sounded like a great Sunday. Sorry we missed you guys Saturday but the parking was ridiculous. We were very lucky to find a spot. I guess it was Saturday's good weather and a strong lineup coupled with the Friday rainout crowd coming too.

A friend of ours saw Santana Saturday and said he put on a good show. Sorry we missed him and some of the others.

We tried clubbing it Friday night, went to that mega concert with Sonny Landreth et al. It was a joke, the line, 2 hours before Sonny was to play, was way out of the building and parking was full several blocks into the hood. So we hit the insanity of Bourbon St.

Kathy and I totally enjoyed meeting you guys and hanging with y'all. I gave Emory Fidel's # 2 national export and he was very, very pleased. We'll definitely plan on doing it again one of these days.

05-06-2004, 06:42 PM
Like I told Dave, we very much regret having missed the festival, though I don't mind that we didn't have to contend with the crappy weather.

Maybe in a couple of years we'll make it to Nawlins and meet y'all there. You and the missus are always welcome here too. You might want to think about that when you're freezing your behind off next winter and the temps down here are a nippy 75-80 degrees.


05-07-2004, 05:15 AM
Barry introduced me to Chris Smither's music last year. We went to see him at this neat little folk club in the west end of the city. Barry had seen him before but it was a first for Hubby and I. We were totally wowed by his guitar playing. He's a fantastic guitarist, making it hard to believe sometimes that there's only one guitar being played. And his songwriting is excellent too. Judging by some of his lyrics and the stories that his songs tell, he's got a great sense of humour and a fantastic awareness of life in general.

He was back here a few weeks ago for a CD release party. Unfortunately, we couldn't make the show that night. But I'm looking forward to seeing him perform again someday.

If you're intersested in the singer/songwriter genre, this is definately an act worth checking out.