Today was a day of surprises. I woke at 645 AM so I could try to get a camp in the Keys for next winter. No luck, nothing new. So I go to St Joseph and find my favorite site, 13, is available for two weeks. I take it. I have two days to wander from when I leave Long Key and have to be on the forgotten coast of the panhandle. I love it there. I also booked a night after this trip in NOLA before I go to my daughter’s house. I want to get there Mother’s Day. I will camp south of Atlanta Saturday evening and maybe enjoy Atlanta alone, haha. I used to go to Atlanta often before my daughter was born. My first trip was when I was at Fort Gordon for MP training. One of my mates was from Atlanta and went to Emory and lived in a Frat. We’d go in on some weekends during our two-month stint. It was like when I was in high school in the 60’s and we went to the Amherst College Frat houses. I’ll have to hustle for those other nights.
Okay back to what’s important. I packed food and stuff, water, and my vapors for Day Three, which didn’t excite me on paper. On the way in I got some ice for the cooler in the car, growlers and water. The drive in was uneventful, no bridge raisings or trains. Drove down Burgundy to N. Anthony and took right onto N. Rampart and found a parking spot. I’m closer to fairgrounds. Three surprises: no bridge, no train, no hassle parking. I ride to venue and find my usual telephone pole. Two brothers are sitting there directing traffic for parking. They are impressed with my chains and lock. I do love having been raised in NYC. It makes us tough. I’m there in time to see the Revealers. Great way to start the day, the exercise. I got my groove on. Sauntered over to The New Orleans Suspects. Hard core and pounding on a good flow down the canyon. I left before closing to go to Amanda Shaw at Gentilly, another trek across the park from Acura. I got there just as she started. She is so important and awesome. Her violin/fiddle playing is everyone we have admired and loved with her own part. She is a personality, a musician, a woman I want my children and grandchildren to see. After her show I retired to a large tree near Gentilly Stage and Fais Do-Do stage. I sit at a seat at a picnic table to eat my lunch, egg salad, blueberry yogurt, yoo hoo, water. During lunch I hear Corey Ledet & his Zydeco Band do Purple Rain beautifully at Fais Do-Do. Erica and Klon show up. They are enjoying the festival together since he isn’t in demand. Off they scurry hand in hand. Klon had mentioned that we should stop by the Gospel tent. So I decide to go to the Gospel tent. Jonté Landrum was singing beautifully and soulfully about Jesus and salvation. She was captivating, joyful, melodious, and powerful. The Gospel responded to her calls of faith. The stage crew had to come out to stop the performance so they could set up the next set. Again I’m blown away by the timing and precision of changing bands on twelve stages. I depart my coming to Jesus session and snake my way back to Fais Do-Do to see Beau Soliel avec Michael Doucet. The band that has been together for forty-one years and sing in French-Creole. It is beautiful as so many Cajuns show up and play with the band. From there I went to the Jazz Tent on the far side of the moon for Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. I walked to the front and had decided to start here for a seat. Because that was where I belonged. I headed for the front right corner. I found a perfect spot at the end of an aisle where I could huddle. For the opening number, I rested on my knees as in prayer. I was in prayer to Herbie and Wayne. Then I went into a ball where I could close my eyes and let the music play in my head. Since I was already sitting on my sneakers and holding my knees, I wasn’t going to fall over. This was the most fabulous session I had seen all Jazz Fest. It was classic and current and futuristic Herbie and Wayne. I love these guys. When I recovered, I rushed over to Fais Do-Do to finally meet up with Erica. She informed me she wanted to do half of this show and half of John Mayall. I was stunned, “Who?” I asked and she repeated it, “John Mayall.” She then went on to explain he was replacing the original act. I told her I was going there, which was next to the venue I was just at, when I walked across the park to the far side of the moon again. I told her that I was out of here back to the Blues Tent. She was not familiar with Mayall. While we were talking another guy asked us about Mayall and he decide to head over. I set out also. Mayall, what’s the choice? I now had to walk, no hoof it to the Blues tent for John Mayall. I walked up to the front about 10 minutes before show time and found a great seat center twenty rows back. Everyone around me is my age. We are blown away that he is here. The original act bailed yesterday so the word hadn’t gotten out about Mayall’s appearance. I found a seat about twenty rows back. Twenty was he magic number today. The old dudes about me reminisced about Mayall and then he came out. His harp playing was Mayall. His voice was Mayall. His guitar was Mayall. His stage presentation was Mayall. He is 84 years old. We were awed by this old man. He rocked the house as everyone stood at the end of each song to cheer and applaud. He rocked with everything for an hour and twenty minutes. Oh no, he kept playing for 12 minutes after the scheduled end. Watching him jostle with the MC on stage to continue a song and then break into a new one well past curfew. Only John Mayall.
Everything about today was a surprise. Then I met my friend Tim at the Spotted Cat to welcome his arrival and to listen to Christine Morales. At the break we sauntered up to Three Muses to listen to Lindsay. I’ve hit the wall I tell Tim and we head back to our rides, me a car, and he on a bike. I get home, make dinner, and chill after a much needed shower. Tomorrow I sleep late. A bike ride, laundry, shopping, and in town by 3 PM.
I am so jazzed about seeing John Mayall today. He was one of my gods growing up. I have many of his early albums and bring them to vinyl night at my brewery. He was important in my growth and to see him live was serendipitous. Beautifully serendipitous. It was the best session just beating out Boz and Herbie & Wayne. One of my neighbors said this was way better than Van. He also said without encouragement that this was the best session in the three days. Mayall was filling in and so he said what the hell. His set went ten minutes past the deadline, which had all of us commenting. Watching him negotiate with the MC was impressive. Nobody was sitting during the last half of the show. He and the band were obviously moved by our love.
Every set was a surprise. I didn’t run into a raised bridge or a train, a surprise. Now I have three days before Part Two of the Jazz Fest.