After a short layover in Baltimore, we boarded our connection flight to NOLA and quickly made friends with all our surrounding neighbors on the plane. Funny how different the crowd on a New Orleans-bound flight can be from that of the Baltimore-bound plane. Our row neighbor Becky, a seasoned bartender at a Philadelphia area Elks Club, was lovely company. She provided sparkling conversation and added to the fine overall atmosphere of the passenger cabin. The 2 hour flight served as the perfect pre-game to the Royal Family Ball show we were immediately rushed to upon arrival. It was good to catch up with everyone already at the show. Like the Moontower/Dr. John scene from Dazed and Confused, Adam and I ran into each of the hi8us dudes one by one amongst the packed house of jazzfesters collected in the hip, warehouse confines of the Contemporary Arts Center.
The pulse of the Coombs-driven bass Boogaloo madness washed over me. I think at one point I made mental note of the contrast in setting from where I had been only hours before, back at my desk in Boston. As the night/morning pressed on, the details faded into foggy recollections, and we decided split to the Olde Town to avoid invading anyone else’s personal space at the CAC; ) An early night for most, by NOLA standards, would serve us well in being prepared for our spot at the Olde Town Crawfish Boil the following evening.
The sun arrived for Friday and half the band hit the Festival Grounds for some music and local grub. With a belly full of fried green tomatoes, sweet tea and alligator pie, we hit up the jazz tent for some tunes before Willie Nelson took to the Gentile Stage. Willie played a loose set of his many hits, and we shot back to the Olde Town Inn to get ready for our gig during their Crawfish Boil Party. The weather was perfect for the shindig, and we played two inspired sets. Late night, a few of us hit up The Greyboy Allstars at Tipitina’s. The boys of Grey were excellent!
Saturday had us back to the Festival Grounds for some more beautiful music and food. A few of us caught Kirk Joseph’s Tuba Tuba where they played nice tuba renditions of Walk Like an Egyptian and Manteca. After the tuba madness, I was back at the Jazz Tent for the Nick Peyton Sexxtet before shooting to the Conga Stage for Ms Lauren Hill’s headline spot. Lauren got off to a slow start with some technical problems, and some mic droppage, but soon got that engine chuggin, and dropped some Fugee/BMW knowledge on the assembled masses. I found a splendid ironic contrast in the setting of Ms. Hill’s performance at the festival. While Lauren so eloquently sang of how many mics she rips on the daily, Mr. Jimmy Buffet was simultaneously professing his love for cheesburgers over at the Acura Stage. As Ms. Hill would finish up a song, the thousands in the crowd would turn their heads with a collective “huh?!!” expression on their faces as Buffet’s relaxed island rock style filled the air left empty by the miseducated one. Looks of disgust would quickly form on faces of her fans in the down time as her DJ pulled out the next record, fit it to the turntable and dropped the needle. As the beats resumed, the disgruntled crowd would return to order. The process repeated itself throughout the set…. to my comic delight.
After another late night show, and a Sunday of bumming around the French Quarter drinking Bloodies and taking pictures, we all reconvened at Café Du Mond for some Café Au Lait and Bignettes before shoving off for Athens.