In case you’ve been living under a rock or perhaps have missed all of our awesome coverage at LMB NOLA, Jazz Fest has officially begun and gone two days deep into the New Orleans swampy vibes. Today is one of those days that people will be talking about for a while with Bruce Springsteen headlining the fairgrounds with two and a half hours scheduled (with talks about him playing past curfew anyway). Should shape up to be an epic day. But for me, I need to recap where I’ve been so far and catch up a bit on my output over here. It’s a wonder how anyone gets any work done in this town. It’s just too fun.
For uninitiated folks, Jazz Fest could not sound any more “unimpressive” on the surface if you explained to someone “I’m going to Jazz Fest this year…” I’d tell my family and they’d still think that Jazz Fest means ONLY jazz. But for folks that know, tt’s the annual time of year where New Orleans takes center stage in the national music scene and folks fly (and drive) in from all over the country to celebrate some of the best live music to ever be performed. And given that I’m flush with free time, I decided to spend both weekends of Jazz Fest covering what I can and seeing the rest through the lens of our talented LMB NOLA team, Wesley Hodges and Jimmy Grotting. I’m staying on their living room floor in a place walking distance to Tipitina’s, Le Bon Temps Roule, and many other spots that I’ve yet to discover. And things started SO right for me on the trip that I’m still riding a high from playing the biggest gig my band has ever been booked for. So obviously I’m coming into this weekend quite happy and excited, and that all showed itself in the first night I arrived, Friday, April 27th.
We got started with us taking a quick stroll over to the Tipitina’s early show with JJ Grey and Mofro with openers The Revivalists. This band straight killed it and per Wes these guys are a new local force that’ll be worth watching in the years to come. Great energy from the stage and the band was cranked so loud that I immediately wished I remembered my earplugs, but then I shrugged off that thought and “fuggit, I’m a Jazz Fest.” That’s been my mantra so far and it’s continuing to pay off.
After the Revivalists, Wes and I got our way down to Mardi Gras World, the spot where the Buku Music Project was held earlier this year. The big lineup of STS9 and Emancipator and SOJA was definitely something I wanted to see, but by the time the line let up and people actually got their will-call tickets as intended, we caught only the last 10 minutes of Emancipator and it was lights for STS9 in no time. Thanks to some VIP media passes we were upstairs in an empty space with no one around, except, well we did meet Murph’s mom at the show. She chatted me and Wes up a bit and she was beaming with joy about being able to casually talk to Jazz Fest fans and drop little nuggets of knowledge about her son that no one else would know. One of those great Jazz Fest moments for me thus far.
And the set they put on was billed as Sector 9, so the use of laptops on stage was prohibited from the band’s standpoint. That allowed them to get deep in their catalog and played a set of tunes like “Kaya,” “Wika Chikana,” “EB” and more. I had a blast at this show and was really blown away by how well the band was locked in on each other. It was so much more “instrumental” than I had felt like I had gotten out of their shows in the past. Saxton was raging the lights. All in all, this was a hard show to beat as the first major event that we saw.
Afterwards we found our way over to Le Bon Temps Roule and we had just missed the end of the Rotary Downs set there. We stayed on for a few drinks and strolled home. Onto the fairgrounds for Saturday …
Tons more to come!