I woke early and stayed in bed enjoying the cloudy sky and the cool breezes generated. Within an hour all that changed as the sun appeared and so did the humidity, because everything was still wet from yesterday’s rains. Nothing ever dries down here. I had breakfast and got ready. I got an early out, no chores, and got to Burgundy and Elysian Fields to park my car and ride the bike the rest of the way to the fairgrounds, about three easy miles. Basically I rode up St Bernard and through back streets. I found a telephone pole available closer to the entrance then previous days and tied my steed to the pole. When I got in at 1120, I headed straight to the Economy Hall tent to hear Paulin Brothers Brass Band. They were dressed in white shirts with black ties and a ship captain’s cap. They marched around the hall and created a second line. They closed with “When the Saints.” I then marched over to Gentilly Stage to see Bonerama, a three-trombone band with a sousaphone, guitar, and drums. At one point they brought out two kids, the children of two of the band members. One of the three-trombone player’s, son also played the trombone and the sousaphone player, who also played bass and keyboards, his son played guitar. During the song the fathers and sons were on stage the father son combo played together and foiled with each other. It was very cool. From there I took the track all the way to the other side of the moon, the Acura Stage for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I decided to sit in the bleachers and eat my lunch of tuna fish sandwich and yoo hoo. They were good until the singer called the drummer’s girlfriend out on stage to dance. And then he got nasty. He is having her turn and dance for the audience and then says, “This belongs to the drummer, so…” and he leaves that hanging. I had just heard a show on nasty tweets sent to two female shorts reporters. I was glad I was done with lunch and I left. I headed back along the track to the other side of the moon, The Gentilly Stage for The Raw Oyster Cult Band. I hung with them until Fais Do Do hosted Honey Island Swamp Band. I found a place on the fence by the sound both and pulled my camper’s chair from my backpack, assembled it and sat. My legs need a rest. Halfway through the show I had to stand because of the crush of people and the music demanded it. When this show ends, I’m in luck as all I need to do is slide left over to Gentilly, returning the last slide over from there to here. At Gentilly is The Revivalists. I sit under the large hickory tree and have my yogurt as I listen to The Revivalists. I sit with a lovely young couple from Austin. He is an elementary principal and she is in advertising. After the sustenance and the stimulating conversation, I walk through the Gentilly Stage area to the track so I can hoof it the Blues Tent to hear John Mooney. He is fabulous and has an excellent band. Tim catches up to me there. We saunter back along the track to Fais Do Do to hear Los Lobos. We sat there until 530, when Tim went to see Paul Simon and I went to see Aurora Kneeland & the Royal Roses at the Economy Stage. I got a seat in the fifth row center stage. Today she is playing the soprano and tenor sax. She is one of the most talented musicians I have seen down here. The Economy has a dance floor and couples are out there sashaying around. I leave before the last song so I can hear it as I go down the track past the back of the tent to The Blues Tent to hear Elvin Bishop. I get a spot near where I was early for Mooney, I’m standing on the rail in standing room only left of the sound booth. He was stupendous and he did Halleluiah. The day ended and I sauntered back through the Congo Square where this show is going into overtime. I have never had a crowd when I’ve left. I was glad my bike was close. I had a lovely bike ride back to the car. I still had Bishops last song in my head as I used it to pedal down St Bernard and then to N. Ramparts to Elysian Fields and right on Burgundy to car. From there, the ride home no incidents with trains or bridges. I got back to the camp and turned on the AC and prepared for dinner, steak, asparagus, baked beans, and tomato/cuke/red onion salad. After dinner, I took a shower and hit the sack early for tomorrow’s awesomeness.
Friday, April 29, 2016
I woke early Thursday and knew we were going to have rain today. I dressed appropriately, packed my raincoat and umbrella to be sure I was protected. I packed lunch. I set out early because I needed to stop at post office to mail the last of the postcards. I went to the bank for some cash. I got to Burgundy and Elysian Fields and found a good parking spot. I hauled down the bike and set off to the Fest. I chained my bike to a familiar telephone pole. I set out to find Erica at Klon’s trailer. They were in a meeting so I waited in the Economy Hall Tent to listen to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. The rain came down and I was in a perfect spot in the back left corner with an aisle chair and space to stand. I had a sandwich while I listened the finely dressed band. They were in suits with ties, very sharp. The rain let up and I made my way to Fais Do Do to see the Savoy Family Cajun Band. No sooner did I get there then the skies opened up. I came prepared. I took my raincoat and hung it over my backpack, tied the hood string around my neck and put the hood up. I opened my umbrella and braced it against the slanted rain. I was just fine. The music was fabulous. The band was a father, a mother and two sons, and a friend. Again the rain let up as the set ended and I made my way to the big hickory by Gentilly Stage to have my lunch. Lunch was over and as I waded over to Gentilly Stage to hear Lost Bayou Ramblers with Rickie Lee Jones and Spider Stacy, it started to rain again. It poured as it had earlier. I was set and weathered the storm dancing in the mud. I merely sidled left to Fais Do Do again for another Cajun band, Bruce Dalgrepont Cajun Band. I’ve followed a Cajun theme today. They sing in French creole. It’s about the music, especially today. On a recommendation from Erica I headed off to see Brandi Carlile where I met up with Tim. It was her first Jazz Fest, too. She was from Seattle. She had an amazing voice and played lots of guitars beautifully. She was flanked by twins, one playing a bass and the other a six string. They also had tom toms in front of their microphones. She was great and her performance is today’s star. Spoiler alert. I was planning on seeing Carlile and then slide over to Fais to see Buffy St Mary, but that didn’t happen. Brandi stole my heart. After her last chord, Tim and I hoofed along the racetrack to Acura Stage. Racetrack is the way to go, since it drains so well, unlike the grass infield. Tim headed for the grandstand to take a seat while I headed for the stage. Tedeschi Trucks Band featuring Jimmi Vaughn and Billy Gibbons. They rocked the house and everyone was dancing in the mud, we was mudders today and the band provided the music. This was the second choice for star of day. I had to leave after an hour and ten minutes of her two-hour show to see Elvis Costello, at Gentilly Stage, on the other side of the moon, especially since he was doing a tribute to his mentor Allen Toussaint. I got there for a couple of his early stuff and then the AT tribute. Beautiful and humbling by EC. Instead of staying when he concludes the AT tribute I slid next door to Fais Do Do to catch the last three songs of Pine Leaf Boys, a Cajun band. Rain was threatening, but never came as I rode back to the car and followed N. Ramparts to St Claude after the RR crossing. I was right the train was blocking St Claude here, but not my route, Yippee! It was very buggy when I got back to camp. All the rain and then the late sun raised the humidity and must have stimulated the flying ants. I grilled a butterflied rainbow trout and cooked some baked beans. I showered and went to bed a happy festival goer.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Today begins the short three days between the weekends of Jazz Fest. I slept late. I did a laundry. I went shopping. I did some online work. I took a twenty-mile bike ride along 39 along the River in the Delta, what a treat. I cooked a big lunch before going into town to catch-up with Tim and his friends. I arrived at 3 and Tim and Terry were getting ready to pick up Ed who was coming in from SF. During their trip to the airport I went into town and parked by Washington Park and walked down to Crescent City Brewery on Decatur St. On the way I found some postcards, a NOLA sticker for the Scamp, and an Off Beat magazine. I arrived and the bar was filled so I took a hi top and ordered a flight and a dozen raw oysters. I read Off Beat while I enjoyed the Belgian style beers on this hot and humid day. I returned to Terry’s house on Gallier to meet their friend Ed. The architecture of these houses is very interesting. They are very like the railroad flats of NYC. It was an area in early NO history that was settled by the workers as it was the second highest ground, behind the French Quarter in NO. Soon we made our way a block and a half away to listen to a large 24-member brass band of musicians under 25 from France. They are here to learn and to play. They did a couple of lesser festivals and will be marching in the jazz fest parade on Thursday. It was in the backyard of this lady who owns a large house and lives in a smaller adjacent house, she has converted into a dormitory for visiting musicians. She has a large yard where the concert was held and a space for us to eat all the food that was brought and cooked for this event. A real community event. The group played two very intense two hours sets with a half hour break. It was a magical time to have this private concert in a backyard in the Bywater in NOLA during jazz Fest. One of Tim’s friends Jerry and Carol also live next to this house and have hoisted such events in the past. He is a professor of English in a Mississippi college and hour and half away. He makes that trek one a week and tomorrow was one such date so he was gone by the end of the first set. Jerry and Terry are a duo and we will be hearing them Tuesday night. I got home early, did some reading, which I have not been doing, and had a good night sleep in prep for Tuesday’s events and long night. I woke and read some more and slowly emerged from bed for a leisurely morning before another bike ride. I had an omelet with salmon. After lunch I headed into town to meet up with Tim. I met him and Terry at the Junction, a restaurant on St Claude before the train tracks that have trains crossing that crossing dozens of times during the day. I had a beer while they ate. Terry had some chores. Tim and I headed out to do some breweries. Second Line was closed, Courtyard didn’t open until 4, and NOLA was having a music festival. We just wanted to taste the beer and didn’t want to pay $35 to get in. So we headed to Crescent City brewery, but we went back to pick up Ed, Tim’s friend from SF, quickly found a parking spot and walked to the brewery. I had a flight, they had pilsners. I ordered a dozen raw oysters and they shared a dozen and ordered burgers. I took a Weise and a Belgian IPA home for later consumption. We stopped at WWOZ so I could get some stickers. We drove to the Raw Bar and walked past Terry who was sitting outside the bar. We didn’t see him. He finished his beer and had to go home to prepare for tonight. After our beers we headed to Siberia to attend Linnzi Zaorski’s CD release party. She is such a great performer with a unique voice. It was a fun event. Tim knows her and we had a lovely chat with her before heading to Le Roch’s to hear Jerry and Terry. Jerry writes their songs and writes very well. I’ll go next Tuesday so I can hear them again and get a haircut. There was a barber chair in the Raw Bar too. Seemed odd. When the lads finished their set and we chatted, Tim, Ed, and I headed to Chicky Wawa to hear an all-star group with Sansone and Osborne. We seemed to have missed Erica and Klon, who must have left when we were parking the car. After a very enjoyable performance, we decided to call it quits, even though it was still early, midnight. I dropped the boys off at Terry’s and went home. I took a shower and went to bed.
I woke to a very dreary cloudy day with a sky that promised rain. Today was Chazz Fest, number ten and last. Chazz Fest started after Katrina when the musicians didn’t have places to play. Also it provided a venue to those performers who didn’t get a gig with Jazz Fest. This was the tenth and last Chazz Fest. Chazz sold the place. In his backyard he carved in two stages, a café area, food vendors, and typical vendors at a concert. The event began at noon and continued until midnight for $35. There would be fourteen bands played on the two stages. I met up with Tim and Erica. During the third performance the skies opened up for about forty-five minutes. I had an umbrella and wish I had brought my raincoat too. During the wait we all huddled under the roofs of the open sheds that scatter about the property. Since the topic of rain was in the air, the projected forecasts for Jazz Fest convinced me I will carry my rain suit. The rain stopped and the rain drained away and the music resumed, a bit off schedule. Klon arrived to meet up with Erica and they and I had lunch at the Junction across the street, while Tim had to check into a new place he was going to with Ed and to prepare for his daughter to join him. When Tim and I met up back at Chazz Fest, Ed showed up and we enjoyed the Fest until 10 when I had to go home to rest up for the first of four days at Jazz Fest and evenings filled with some events as per Tim’s direction.
Monday, April 25, 2016
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.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
I slept well and through the night. I woke at 643 so I could make an attempt to get another two weeks in the Keys next winter. Didn’t make it. Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare. I went back to sleep until ten. After breakfast I packed my survivor bag for Day Two of Jazz Fest. I was meeting a friend of Tim’s a lady named Erica, a six foot blond as she described herself to start the list of features I would need to use to identify her in the crowd. Tim sent me a pic of her so I had the advantage. She and I had corresponded the evening before to set a plan of venues to see and when to meet. Where would be determined when we both checked in at the fairgrounds. That was a good plan. I left at 11 and figured I’d be in the Fest by 1138. When I got to the St Claude Bridge, I was delayed because it was up. I don’t know the way around, but will have to figure that out, ASAP. Once back on the road, a fifteen-minute delay, I hit a train crossing on Press St. This is horrendous as the train goes one way then the other and back again. This is even worse and there is a way around I do know, but can’t get out to take it. Finally I escape the gridlocks and find a spot immediately on Burgundy and Elysian Fields Ave. It was an easier ride since I know the roads and am finding new ways each ride. I am inside the fairgrounds at 1220. YIKES!! I missed Johnny Sansone. I went to the next event on the list, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue at the Fais Do-Do Stage. Erica and I had been in touch and she was on her way. I saw her immediately as she got near, easy peasy. In a short time, Klon, her partner arrived at decked out for sound stuff. He was the honcho for the sound system at the Festival, all twelve stages. He spent the whole day putting out fires in the sound area for all the stages. Erica had a pass for the whole Festival, She had access to the base camp on grounds that had a proper bathroom, air conditioning, water, tables and chairs, a large RV. These guys are important to the event and they are treated right. It is better than those fancy 150$ tickets concertgoers can go to at sponsor’s tents. There was even a hammock in the fenced in yard. We chatted for awhile and then his radio went off and the fireman was gone. We enjoyed the Honky Tonk and then went for lunch before the next act, Anders Osborne at the Acura Stage. The crab po’boy Erica wanted was at a vendor near the Acura Stage. I got seats at the picnic tables under tents while she got her lunch and I began on mine. After lunch we went to hear Anders Osborne. They provided a hard driving sound and a great stage show. From there we had to go all the way across the fairgrounds to the other side to hear Tab Benoit at the Gentilly Stage. There are twice as many people today than yesterday. It’s madness. We stop at the RV and use the facilities and replenish our water supply. I hang out in the hammock for a few while Erica and Klon are chatting. We bid adieu and enter the Central Park kind of blanket mosaic in the outskirt of Gentilly Stage as we stream our way to our spot to enjoy the performance already in progress. He plays some great blues and has been in the Blues Tent in past years but draws too big a crowd for the Blues tent. Ironically we will be returning not quite back across the whole distance but almost that distance when we go to the Blues tent to hear John Hammond and then Boz Scaggs. I’ve never seen either and have wanted to see them so badly over the years. Because there is almost a forty-minute break between Benoit and Hammond, we make a quick pit stop and get to the Blues Tent to get great seats. We are in the first row with an aisle in front of us separating us from the stage seats. We can spread out and the traffic is low. Every show begins on time and ends on time, the precision is amazing. We sit and chat as Hammond is tuning his guitars. He leaves and then returns in five minutes and starts about fifteen minutes before his scheduled time and ends on his scheduled time. The stories he tells before each song is musical history going back to the mid fifties when he started. I thought I was hearing Eric Clapton sing when Hammond began. He played some of the most beautiful blues I have ever heard. This was a good pick. There was another forty-minute break. Erica headed out since she wanted to see Van Morrison and Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys. I stayed for Boz, since I’ve never seen him and I had seen Van so many times before. Boz didn’t disappoint. The crowd went crazy for his classics and for the fabulous encore. Everyone was up out of their seats halfway through the hour and twenty-minute show. I found my way back to my bike and peddled through the traffic to my car. On the way back, I ran into another train, but it passed quickly within a couple of minutes. When I got to the bridge it was just starting the lights and no cars were up there. I took the left on Poland and followed it to the bridge that took me into the Ninth Ward over a bridge that is high enough to let boats pass under. I take the second right and proceed back to St Claude. I have discovered the way around this annoying St Claude Bridge. The rest of the ride is delightful and easy and I arrive home at 815. I have to unwind with some imbibing and shucking my sweat-laden garments for more comfortable attire as I attend to dinner prep, some journaling, and then a shower before dinner. I’ll be in bed early, as I need to get up early to try for the Keys again and to rest up for Day Three and recover from Day Two.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
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.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
As I was driving down Rt 35 to Harry S Truman SP this morning, I reflected on the old growth hickory grove that is Ledges SP. The trees are the face of Ledges. At my site there were six giants around me and they were those that I used to watch the earth move, the gnarly, twisted, scaly, limbs, huge limbs that depart each trunk perpendicularly and create a canopy for the campers. The black and white images of the trees’ limbs and the moon filled sky is so powerfully imprinted in my memory. After three mundane hours, I exited 35 and took local roads, on numbered routes and lettered routes. The road that the SP is on is Rt UU. GSP tells me to turn left on double U, which is on a curve to the right and the yellow triangle just tells me a right curve, but no left turn stump. It was a dicey turn and I could only imagine that turn on a busy weekend. I’m looking for Rt UU, not W. I arrived as the all day rain stopped at 3. The Spurs won big, four nil over Stoke and Harry Kane scored two more goals as he leads in the golden boot category. They picked up two points on the foxes and two more to extend distance on third place MCI and the Gummers. It’s getting exciting. I haven’t disconnected car from Scamp for quick getaway to Hot Springs. This SP is expansive with over 200 campsites in six different camps; a boat launch for the Truman Lake and other waterways; and various beaches along the shore. I have a site on the lake etched into the side of the hill. It reminds me of Ross Creek Giant Cedar Park in Montana on the Idaho border off Rt 2 on 56. The place is almost empty. I got a good fire going and enjoyed the evening until the rain came. When I woke at 5:45, the rain had stopped. I lounged in bed going in and out of sleep until 7:30. I left at 8:30 after a shower and headed for Hot Springs.
I followed 65 south to 40 to 30 and various other roads to Gulpha Gorge Campground. I was expecting a rustic campground; instead I found a very modern one. I took a prime site on the stream that had electric, water, and sewage for $15 because I’m a senior. Rain threatens so I put the awning up, make dinner, sit by the stream and take in the coming of spring. The flowers litter the ground; the trees are leaving and flowering while the stream babbles over the rocks. As it gets dark, I head into Hot Springs’ Central Ave, the strip of all the baths. It is an easy ride and when I arrive, I am back in either Bath, England or Saratoga Springs, NY. I went to Hot Springs for the Superior Bathhouse Brewery. The brewery is in a historic building that was a bath. All the fixtures, tile, ceilings and such have to be kept. This is the only brewery on a national park. They have regular flights but one of all 18 is called a beer bath and I had that. I left with three growlers: Foul Play Stout, McClard’s Barn Burner Farmhouse, and Whittington Park Wheat. While sitting at the window, I saw a duo unload a car of musical instruments and take it into the Ohio Club. When I was done at the brewery, I dropped off my growlers in the car and went into the Ohio Club. Well, the Ohio Club has history, it is famous, and it is awesome. Look up the Ohio Club on the Internet to see the history of this place and gaze at the pictures of the bar back, which is one of the most unique and impressive I have ever seen. Another was one I saw in Cody WY. It was a good cover band as I took in the history and aura of the Ohio Club. I clear out at 9 since I’m tired from the drive. The Rangers lost, bummer.
I woke to thunder at 615. Then the rain came pouring down, pummeling the roof, maybe hail, for what seemed liked eons but was only minutes in the scheme of things, what ever that means, I hibernated until 855 when more thunder stirred me. Lots of thunder and lightning for a half hour and steady hard rain. I made tea, which nicely warmed the cabin and then me as I finished Walker’s Bruno novel, The Patriarch. I love this series. There is more culinary in these delightfully rambunctious mysteries set in a magical part of France. It’s all about our heroes. I love this series because Walker invests so much time in the history of the story and provides such real or imaginative detail to make the convoluted story flow around the real intention the culinary experience. The mysteries are merely distractions in an otherwise calm life except of course for the femme de fatale.
The book was done. The rain stopped, it was 11. I grabbed the two books I had read and headed to the post office to mail books to library and to get stamps for the postcards I had to buy. I then went to the NP main office and scanned their postcards and took ten of the source fountain. I then crossed Central Ave to walk opposite the bathhouses. I stopped in each shop inquiring about postcards. I have discovered that postcards are hard to find. They are either way too expensive or too inappropriate. I was directed to a certain shop to satiate my need. I wasn’t disappointed. I found some rare postcards printed in the fifties about Hot Springs in the 50’s. I then crossed the street and went into the Quapaw Baths and took a Sportsman. Two hours later I’m back at camp writing postcards on a table by the steam going by the back of my site 25. I spent the entire rest of the day sitting by this stream. Fires are discouraged here it seems so I don’t have a fire. They provide pedestal fire pits in bad places, not conducive for fire. So no fire, do I make. Another thing that has stunned me is nature. When I was in Ledges the buds were just that, buds. In Harry S Truman SP, small leaflets were prevalent. Here in Hot Springs the leaves are ‘youts’ and the spring flowers are everywhere along the babbling brook. I’m in Eden along with other campers. I am reminded of the Hoh River in Olympia NP. Just reminded, no comparison. The solace, the peace of where I am is astonishing and overwhelming. I see how people can be seduced by the fervor. But then again, I’m intolerant of stupid. I was wondering while soaking in the calm, the rhythm of the brook why the old man hasn’t fallen on his sword yet.
I woke at 4 and slowly broke camp. I was out of there by 530 and went into the post office in Hot Springs to mail the postcards and then followed GPS to St Bernard SP in NOLA. I’ve started a new novel, The Puffin of Death by Betty Webb, which takes place on Iceland, one of my favorite places in the world.
Monday, April 18, 2016
I woke at seven to rain. This is the third time I’ve left on a trip in the rain. Not a problem since I knew it was coming and I pack well ahead and leave the last minute things to a minimum. I wasn’t planning on leaving until after mail delivery at about noon. I did a propane-filling stop on my way to dump and then to Burley to pick up some beer for my son’s Frat, ATO. I was going to Ames to visit my son at ISU for parent’s weekend at the Frat. I met about 15 of his brothers in Orange Beach on the Alabama Gulf Coast last March. I got onto Rt 50 heading west at 1 PM.
The going was slow with the rain and slow driving conditions and traffic. I stopped for lunch at a diner in Easton, just before the Bay Bridge. I wandered through the Baltimore area to Rt 70 West. As I got on Rt 70, the rain stopped and the sun was bright in the sky making it humid. I got off 70 and onto the National Freeway, Rt 68, which goes by the National Freeway through Cumberland, a beautiful area of Western Maryland into West Virginia. Then I head north through PA for a short time and then through WV again into Ohio back onto Rt 70 where I stayed at the Visitor Center Rest Stop. I found a spot between two 18-wheelers and cooked dinner, a snapper fillet and made a tomato/cucumber/red onion salad. I read some and probably fell asleep by 11.
I woke early to the heat going on. I stayed in bed for a while and finally emerged at 7:15. I had breakfast and was on the road by 8:30 heading to Delabar State Park in Oquawka, IL on the Mississippi River. I’m in CST so I get the afternoon sun. I’m alone, the park is closed, but I find a spot with the electric still on. I’m looking west as the sunsets over the Big Muddy near Lock and Dam Number 18. The sky is beautiful. A couple show up in two cars, make a fire, drink some beer and leave. Other cars drive in to drive down to the river. One car follows the loop up to me. They are three locals driving around in their convertible. We share pleasantries. Dinner is grilled chicken with a couple of pieces of grilled zucchini. At sunset, I collect wood from around site; get some pinecones from the car (I brought a cache of pinecones) and some wood I brought with me. I have a fire, relax and drink some beer, listen to music, and gaze at the big sky over the Mississippi. I feel like a Twain character. I’m in bed and asleep by 11. I wake to a wonderful sunrise, make breakfast and hit the road at 9 AM for Ledges State Park 10 miles from Ames. I follow the river south through a community on the river to Gulfport and cross the Mississippi into Burlington and head NW on 34, 63, 163, 80, to 17. I arrived at 1:30 and used the dump to empty everything and load up on water. I just have electric; no water at this site, 35 and the camp is sold out. I set camp in the bright and warm sun. The bathhouses open tomorrow so I shower in the Scamp. I grill a piece of salmon steak and a couple of pieces of zucchini. I spend the afternoon relaxing in the sun and enjoy the calm as will see my son and meet his girlfriend, Annie, tonight at dinner. She is a delightful young woman with a wonderful sense of humor and has a good read of my son.
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz seduced me again. I have read this book before.
I woke early Friday and headed into Ames to have a mechanic look at the car. A sudden clanking underneath bothered me. The mechanic went for a ride with me and knew the common problem to the Jeep Liberty immediately. They had the part and in two hours I was back in business. Tommy was just waking as I left the shop to meet up with Tommy for lunch at the Olde Main Brewing Company in Ames. We had lunch and some of their beer before heading back to the frat and walked into town to go to another bar we have been to before. It is a sports bar. I saw the building Tom will be moving into next year. We went back to the frat and hung out a while before heading back downtown to another bar for FAC, Friday After Class for fifty cent drinks. I got a pitcher of Lagunitas IPA for four dollars. They headed for one more bar at which I had one beer before heading back to camp for dinner and a fire and a lovely evening by the fire. I had a pleasant sleep and woke late to a lovely day and ready to enjoy the day at the frat with my son and his brothers and parents. The party was fabulous and lots of parents showed up. There was also the Spring Football game going on. The stadium was packed which meant all the roads were packed. It was like a rivalry in the fall. At two Tommy got prepared for his formal with Annie. He had a suit with a bowtie. He looked very sharp. We meet at the sports bar in town. Annie was with her younger sister and two of her cousins who had come down from Chicago to see her. She looked beautiful in an outfit Tommy helped pick out. They left for the formal and I headed home.
The farmers are very busy right now preparing their fields for planting. The fresh smell of earth hangs in the air. It’s Saturday night and the camp is full. It’s the first good weekend that everyone can camp after a brutal winter and tough cold, wet spring. The children are running and screaming all over the camp, families are meeting and sitting outside enjoying that and yakking it up with great exuberance. Fires can be seen everywhere. I watch the earth move as I sit in my chair watching the moon through the large branches of the unfolding tree above me. I sit still and watch the moon get blocked by a branch and then appear on the other side. I retire at 10 to the boisterous outside that I lock out as I close the door. I read a chapter of my new book, The Patriarch by Martin Walker, a Bruno, the Chief of Police novel. I’ve read all the previous in the series and Walker is a good writer. In this one, Pamela, his latest girlfriend breaks up with him. Sunday is a subdued time as campers recover from last night and spend time breaking camp and preparing to go home and prepare for work or school the next day. I wake at 8:30 and already some spots are empty and others promise to be shortly. I have breakfast and sit outside on this glorious morning and read. I following the soccer matches in England and see some good results for my Spurs. They play Stoke tomorrow night. Both the Foxes and Gummers tied so the Spurs can move closer to Leister and further away from Arsenal who dropped to fourth, as Man City took third. It’s getting exciting. At noon I headed into Ames to meet Tommy at his place of business, +39 Restaurant. He makes pizzas in this very fine and exclusive Italian restaurant in Ames. It is very fancy. He makes good pizzas, I had one. He headed home to shower since he was covered in flour and to take a nap. He had to do a second shift today from 5:30 to 9. I went back to camp and found it empty. I listened to the Big Broadcast by the fire.
I woke early to head south to Harry S Truman SP.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
As I mentioned before, I took three Virginia Woolf books (Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves) with me to Florida. As I said, too, I hadn’t read these three tomes since college and that January intersession class I took on Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Needless to say I forgot just how bizarre her work is and how beautiful. Three unique styles from one author, stunning, brilliant. Now that I’m home I will have access to a library.
Blood Salt Water by Denise Mina finds me back in Scotland and in the Glasgow area, a favorite place for me to visit. The setting includes the current referendum question of independence as it hangs a huge shadow around the story. I am reminded in this novel that the percentage of salt content in each of us is the same as that of the ocean. Justice is a curious thing in this novel. Justice isn’t thorough and it isn’t always gotten. It seems a rather good look at humanity and coincidences and bad decisions.
Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor puts me in Kilbane, County Cork. I’ve never been there, but have been to Ireland and missed the whole southern part for another visit. The weather here has been conducive for reading by a fire because it has been cool and it has been rainy. The O’Sullivan Six are six siblings who run a pastry shop and have to fend for themselves. When a murder happens one of the Six is accused and it means the other five must solve the crime so they don’t lose the shop and their brother, since the authorities aren’t pursuing it fast enough, even though the oldest fancies the local cop. A fun read, but.
Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker ironically involves a pastry shop in Mammoth Lakes Ski resort. Half-brothers, Wylie and Sky, battle to be the top skier in X-Cross skiing. A five month pregnant, Cynthia with Sky shot her husband, Richard Carson five times when she found him in bed with Wylie’s mom, Kathleen, a ski student of Richard’s. Cynthia gives birth to Sky in prison at the beginning of her thirteen-year sentence. The obvious vitriol between the half-brothers is all about blood, crazy blood. This fine novel has wonderfully chaotic twists just like an X-Cross course.
I finally got a reservation for a campsite in the Keys at Long Key for two weeks next March following a month in the panhandle, sweet. It’s about patience, practice, and perseverance.
I’m of on another adventure. First I will be in Ames seeing my son at ISU for the weekend. Then I head to NOLA via Hot Springs AR. I’ll be at Jazz Fest for two weeks and then off to Marietta to see my new grandson, Hudson and his parents on Mother’s Day.