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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Jazz Fest Day One


I arrived at St Bernard SP at 310, Thursday. I set up camp and then the soft rains came and kicked up the humidity a couple of notches, which was overkill. It’s good to be back here. After dinner I headed to two breweries: Second Line and Courtyard. I like these two neighborhood breweries as they contrast the more commercial breweries: Crescent City and NOLA. I took two growlers away from these two: Route 47, Red Irish Ale and a good Pale Ale from the former and an ESB and Saison from the latter. I then headed to Frenchman and the Spotted Cat. When I got there, the band was taking a break and the clouds opened up. I decided to go home and get some sleep. The rain was incredible and glad it was going through now and not tomorrow, Day One of Jazz Fest. 
I listened to the tributes to Prince on WWOZ all night and then on NPR the next day. RIP, what a great androgynous person, a hero, and a fantastic musician. He rocked my world and I will miss his reminder to me about life. Purple Rain has a special place in my heart, since it was a favorite play at Roxy when I skated there with this special lady.
I woke early to still enjoy the full moon I missed last night, did a laundry, did some shopping, and got ready for Day One on Earth Day. I decided to park where I knew, by Washington Park and then ride the bike to the Festival. On the way I scouted other closer spots to leave the car. It was an easy drive in and I found a parking spot right away. I packed up, my knapsack with sandwiches, a banana, a yogurt, and three waters. I have a cold pack to keep is all chill. I found a telephone pole right at the entrance and chained the bike to it, easy peasy. The racetrack is massive and there were twelve stages going simultaneously. Upon entering the venue, I was overwhelmed with its size and so much purple for Prince.  I started in the Blues Tent with Shannon Powell band doing a tribute to Smokey Johnson.  It was a sweet way to start my virgin experience with Jazz Fest.  When that was done I went to the Acura Stage to see New Orleans Classic Recoding Divas featuring The Dixie Cups, Wanda Rouzan, and Jean Knight. They were wild and provided that necessary funky NOLA attitude. Next I headed to the opposite side of the venue to the Gentilly Stage to hear a local group, Cowboy Mouth. I discovered a very, very large tree with picnic tables under it. So I stopped to have lunch and Cowboy Mouth had just started. So while I ate, I listened to the opening numbers in a blissful place while taking in some sustenance. After lunch I ventured into the fray. I found a good spot near a white guy wearing a Prince mask, a red cape, and a bikini. He was dancing and women were coming up to him to have pictures taken by their husband or boyfriend and they were all my age. An obvious tribute to the Prince’s first gig opening for the Stones, since that was his dress and Stones fans booed and threw bottles at him. They didn’t get it. Mick did. He called the next day to apologize and to tell Prince not to worry, they will get it one day, they have to catch up to you. Never were there more poignant words said from one phenom to another. Fred the drummer leader of Cowboy Mouth kept dedicating songs to Prince and reminding us of his genius.  One particularly fun event took place during one of their signature songs about red spoons. Members of the audience hurled red plastic spoons into the air and then they were rethrown by the people who were hit with them when they came down. Constant eruptions of red spoons throughout the song, it was very entertaining and fun. Needing some respite from the sun and the heat, I walked through one of the many misting tents provided to refresh us with cool mist, on my way back to the Blues Tent. When I entered the place, it was packed, unlike the earlier event. I snaked myself around the middle section and found a solo seat near the stage. I was here to hear The Subdues, a band recommend to me by my NOLA guy, Tim. Tim and I share the same birthday, but I am two years older. He and I have become best buds. I met him through his son and ex-wife. They told me that I would like him. They were right. The Subdues were four dudes my age and they were tight.  During the session, misters from above misted the audience. So bloody civilized. When they ended, I cruised back to the Acura Stage for Michael McDonald. I hadn’t seen him since a Doobie concert at Radio City in 1980 or so. He also was with Steely Dan, which was the group to follow Michael on this very stage later and to close Day One. I heard many of the Doobie hits, which was so much fun. At 415 I left to hurry over to The Jazz & Heritage Stage to see Panorama, a band I love. They didn’t disappoint. At their conclusion I hurried back to the Acura Stage and wormed my way close to the stage. I have never seen The Dan. The band was warming the audience up when Becker and Fagan walked on stage to an huge applause. They played everything I knew. During the encore they brought Michael McDonald up to sing a song, wow! If only Larry Carlton were there. Both had played with The Dan. Seeing Fagan and Becker perform was awesome. Fagan reminded me so much of Ray Charles as he played. Watching them was such a great experience; it was a completion. I have so many events like this for the next six days, seeing artists for the first time. That was Day One of Seven Days. WOW!!
I rode my bike back to the car and drove home and arrived at dark. I needed a shower and dinner and rest.
I loved Prince. Forget Purple Rain that was a plus. He reintroduced me to androgyny.  Virginia Woolf introduced me to this condition when I was twenty-two, susceptible. I loved how he spoke as a woman. And he was a man, for sure, dude. He was an incredible musician, a genius. Jimi is my standard. Prince has earned the right to carry that banner of guitar One. The lyrics blew me away. I would bring them into my classroom. He provided great fodder for a classroom conversation. Now I did this long before filters. Two Live Crew’s lyrics were what I introduced to my scholars when I began using the net in my classroom, 1994.  I am so sad. Prince was a good guy. But then didn’t VW commit suicide by walking into the ocean at her zenith? Tragic death is the CN. VW mentions John Keats so often that it makes one wonders.  JK creates the idea of suspension? Prince was appropriately inappropriate. His guitar rivaled Jimi’s. His lyrics were another level. Prince spoke me. He was crucial to me when I lived in NYC from 1979. My parents moved into the city on the Upper East Side in 1966, I was sixteen with a fake ID and the drinking age was eighteen, easy peasy. I lived in NYC when I was sixteen in a NE prep school. My life changed. And then there was Prince’s 1999 stuff. I loved this dude and I had two daughters. I’m so sad. He crossed so many lines, how beautiful is that? Just like freakin Jimi, but with attitude. I’m so sad because selfishly I was hoping he’d be fueling my waning years,  now he won’t, and I’m sad. Sad because Nicky was nothing compared to Two Live Crew. Prince the man got it. I loved him because of how he dealt with sex.



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