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Category Archives: Festivals

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Jazz Fest 2011 - Jimmy Buffett by Gordon Robinette

So, this week the came the official and announcement of the 2011 Jazz Fest poster. The poster is a highly sought after commodity for many music consessieurs and collectors. Both the subjects and the artists vary through the years since the poster advertising the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1975. The great Louis Prima was immortalized by the great Tony Bennett last year — a true collectors’ item on several levels.

Louis Prima 2010 - Tony Bennett

Probably the most identifiable and beloved Jazz Fest posters were done by James Michalopoulos. He uses the splendid French Quarter architecture as a backdrop for several New Orleans legends who have been mainstays of Jazz Fest and of New Orleans music. The series of Dr. John, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint all convey exactly what Jazz Fest is about and the greats that have made IT great.

Dr. John, Louis "Satchemo" Armstrong, Fats Domino, Allen Touissaint

And then there’s the great Cajun artist, George Rodrigue, of Blue Dog fame — and recent savior of the Youngsville Heritage Oak. Rodrigue combines his iconical dark oak tree and ever-popular blue dog to immortalize Louis Armstrong (once again), Pete Fountain and the great Al Hirt.

Satchemo, Pete Fountain & Al Hirt

Again, these images capture the essence of these great talents and their impact on Jazz music and making New Orleans its “Mecca”.

So, imagine my surprise at this year’s poster. First, the artist is Gordon Robinette. Robinette IS well known in New Orleans, but not as an artist. He is best known as a talking head/talk show host at WJBO radio station. I must say that as an artist, he is quite accomplished. I do like how he borrowed from the much beloved concept of Michalopoulos’ use of French Quarter architecture and I am impressed that he includes a future Jimmy Buffett looking over his shoulder at the young, broke street performer behind a Falcon, no less. (Which reminds me…I have a long, lost story about a Falcon. But I digress…that’s for another day.)

However, I am perplexed at just why Jimmy Buffett is featured on a JAZZ FEST poster? Now, don’t get me wrong. My Jimmy love is strong. See here, here & here. But this choice seems a bit indulgent. Is it a payback for Jimmy’s fantastic support during last year’s oil spill crisis and his wonderful free concert that many homies considered his “homecoming” to the Gulf Coast?

Or, perhaps it was meant to bolster Jimmy’s spirits after his recent dive off the stage in Australia? A pat on the back for investing in the coast by expanding his Magaritaville franchise in Pensacola, FL and Biloxi, MS? Dunno. But one thing I DO know is that Jimmy Buffett is not the impactful son of the South that the other icons that graced Jazz Fest posters before him.

I DO love Jimmy…but I’m conflicted. He is from Mobile, AL…where I live. He has played here ZERO times since he graduated from McGill Institute back in 1966 (He was a cheerleader, for Christ’s sake). His concert at the Gulf was the first time he’s played there in forever, even though his sister, Lulu, has a VERY popular bar/restaurant on the Intercoastal Canal in Gulf Shores. Jimmy is more a child of Key West and the Carribean. A few years ago, he started playing Jazz Fest, but he has NEVER been a staple there. While Robinette’s portrait refers to Jimmy’s street performing in the late ’60s, the fact is that Jimmy Buffett spent a relatively short period of time on the gummy, stinky streets of the French Quarter before heading out to Californina and ultimately, grounding himself in South Florida.

So, to wrap this all up…I am pumped up about the Jimmy poster because of the awesomeness that is Jimmy Buffett and all he stands for. But in true Libra fashion, I am disappointed that something that has generally been pure and true to its’ core concerning subjects chosen to promote one of the most fantastic musical experiences on Earth has chosen a subject that is, well, not exactly true to itself.

And, just to quench that burning question of MY favorite Jazz Fest poster EVAH?

Because, IT’S IRMA, baby!!

 

Free at Last…

That’s right! The Louisiana Lethario, the Riverboat Gambler, the Silver Fox, the Cajun Capon, is out of prison after serving over eight years of his ten year sentence for rigging riverboat gaming licenses (a little thing called bribery and extortion). The 83-year-old Edwards was released into a halfway house in Baton Rouge, but is likely to serve out his release conditions in Baton Rouge with his daughter, Anna Edwards.

Now, all you non-Louisianians are likely saying, “So what? Another politician caught with his hand in the cookie jar…glad he went to prison and he deserves the public shunning he’ll get for the rest of his life.” Ah, but this is Louisiana, people. And to understand the enormity of this news, you have to understand Louisiana politics and the maelstrom that is Edwin W. Edwards.

There are some monumental political figures in Louisiana’s history….Governor and Senator Huey P. Long, his nephew and renowned U. S. Senator Russell Long, Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Senator John Breaux, etc., but none are as renowned, celebrated and talked about as “Fast Eddie” Edwards.

You see, EWE hit the Louisiana scene when the state was going from a sleepy, backwater farm and seafood economy to the back room for the oil industry. In the late ’60s and through the ’70s, oil money was FLOWING, particularly in South Louisiana — home to one little cajun girl who shall remain nameless.

I have vivid memories of Edwin Edwards. He was the first Governor and yes, celebrity that I can recollect. Like many Louisiana towns, the small town that I grew up in had a fall festival every year that was part fund-raiser for worthwhile community causes and, in the Cajun way of life, a concentrated effort in celebration and party….you know, the joie de vivre. In Youngsville, that was the Festival of Beauties. We had a full carnival, complete with boardwalk, carney booths and amusement rides. My absolute favorite was the Tilt-A-Whirl, where centrifical force held you against the wall while the floor dropped out. I can still remember the thrill of the first time I mustered up the courage to ride “The Bullet”.

There was the Friday night Fais Do Do held outside at the old Elementary School that I attended and where my uncle was the principal — my Daddy’s best friend growing up was my 7th grade homeroom teacher. French music permeated the festive air where parents showed off their dance moves to mesmerized children waiting to ask for another two dollars worth of quarters for the rides. Then, on Saturday, the whole town (and then some) attended the beauty pageant to crown our queen. My Nanny (Godmother) usually played the accompniment on piano and many times I sat next to her, again mesmerized at her uncanny ability to playing everything by ear, simply hearing the song once.

Finally, on Sunday, the festival was capped off by a big parade, complete with various high school marching bands, floats and politicians pressing the flesh for votes in the next election. That’s where I was first exposed to the phenomenon that was Edwin Edwards. This particular year was an election year, so many politicians showed up to shore up their electorate. Edwards was running for Governor and need every Cajun voter to go out there and pull the lever for him. Of course, in my pre-adolscent mind, politics was a non-starter. This particular year, I was more concerned about my role as a junior maid for the festival and making sure that I got my “princess waive” down pat. (On the left…)

However, the irrepressible Edwin Edwards was not to be upstaged by a bunch of girls…young or old. He walked the length of the parade route (about 5 miles), basking in the adulation of his adoring Cajun public who dreamed of touching the cloak of their king. You see, in South Louisiana, there is no more adored thing than one of their own. Edwards was a product of Marksville — considered Yankee territory to most Cajuns –but his mother was a fluent, french-speaking Cajun Catholic. These two traits basically cannonized him in the hearts of the whole of South Louisiana. His savvy scrappiness and dedication endeared him to North Louisiana. So, one the whole, he was THE MAN for Louisiana.

To properly understand his magnetism among the Cajuns and Louisianians as a whole, you have to understand the vehement loyalty that this society has for one of their own. Many a foible is overlooked if you are deemed to be “one of us”. There have been few too many Cajun heros, but those attaining that status can do no wrong no matter what wrong they do. A few Cajun legends with this status: Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry – Cy Young Award-winning New York Yankee; WWII Hero Claire Chennault; Kentucky Derby jockey, Calvin Borel; 1996 Miss America, Ali Landry; and, Cleveland Browns’ QB Jake Delhomme, not name a few. Those attaining this status are pure Cajun gold — never paying for a meal or a new car…heh.

Cajuns are, by nature, a pragmatic and forgiving people, so a little malfeasant is tolerated, if not expected. Edwin Edwards had a perfect understanding of this and simply took full advantage of his legend status with the people of Louisiana.

Even after the first round of twelve years as Governor and law-bending, Edwards came back to the populus to return him back to the glory spot. I was among those who reluctantly held my nose and pulled the lever for EWE in 1991 when he ran against one David Duke. The choice was between a known philanderer/crook vs. a known racist. A popular bumper sticker of the time? ” “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”

To his credit, Edwards fully understood the public quandry and fully played it up. When asked about his chances of beating David Duke, he responded that the only way he could lose was “if he was caught in bed with a dead woman or a live boy”. Now THAT, is cahonas.

I still remember the day that we saw the cop cars screaming down Highland Road toward the Country Club of Louisiana. It was 1996 and it was the day we were moving to Memphis. Come to find out, they were headed to Edwards’ house to arrest him. At that time, I was elated that the crook was finally caught. He had brought shame to the Cajun Nation and failed to live up to his promise as the Cajun Redeemer.

However, now — after 15 years of bad politics and representation across the nation — I have to wonder…was he really all that bad? After all, he did more for Louisiana and its’ government than any Governor before or since. Good, bad or indifferent, Edwin W. Edwards was a leader, albeit a greedy one…and, he will always be — a CAJUN. Therefore, I say, live and let live. Let the old man play out his days in peace and freedom…unless I start seeing Edwards 2011 bumper stickers.

 

Jazz Fest, Part Deux

So, this weekend is the final weekend of JazzFest in New Orleans. As I related in last week’s post, the schedule is jam-packed with talent. On Thursday, we missed Tower of Power, Betty LaVette, Ruby Wilson, and Widespread Panic, not to mention Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys…and I imagine the hit of the night was Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927.

Friday’s star-studded line-up includes: Brett Dennen, the incomparable John Prine, family favorite Theryl “The Houseman” deClouet and the great Little Stevie Wonder.

Livin’ for the City

On Saturday, the A T & T Blue Room will be broadcasting live from Jazz Fest. I watched it last year and it was a blast. If you’re looking for a little virtual entertainment this weekend, tune into The Blue Room. You might catch the Marcia Ball, Diana Krall, MM favorite Geno Delafose, Aaron Neville in the Gospel Tent, and the piece de resistance….the one, the only….Jimmy Buffett. Naturally, there will be thousands of Parrotheads rockin’ and a reelin’ to the consummate Gulf Coast Boy.

Margaritaville

Jazz Fest winds up on Sunday with Sonny Landreth, The Radiators, The Raconteurs, Keb Mo, and closes out with the Derek Trucks Band and the hometown reunion of The Neville Brothers.

Big Chief

I’m off to Philadelphia, MS for a little R&R, so have a great weekend and catch the The Blue Room broadcast, if you can.

Peace out.

 

Jazz Fest Opens Today!

The 39th Annual Jazz Fest opens today to gorgeous skies and springtime excitement in New Orleans. If you ever get the chance to attend one of the weekends of Jazz Fest, do it. There’s no better time in New Orleans. It’s generally a time of joie de vivre, but this year seems particularly special as many New Orleans residents, like Aaron Neville, are finally home and the debacle of Katrina is ebbing some. The Spring continues to bring new growth in flora and fauna, as well as re-built homes and lives with more people and businesses popping up all over the place.

Here’s a sampling of today’s performers….

Gone, Gone, Gone — Robert Plant & Allison Krause

featuring T-Bone Burnett

Earlier Bagdad

Drunken Angel, Susan Cowsill Band

Kim Carson

Angel from Montgomery, Theresa Andersson Group

and the star attraction for tonight’s set, Sheryl Crow (with a nice little NOLA homage):

Love is Free

and on the other stages, a few MM favorites….

The Iguanas

The Zydepunks

Doyle Bramhall, featuring C.C. Adcock (a Lafayette boy):

C. C. Adcock

Ellis Marsalis

Buckwheat Zydeco

Bruce Daigrepont (a great profile that gives you the essence of a Cajun)

Tab Benoit

Terrence Simien (another great Cajun example)

Of course, there is always great Gospel, as well:

Paul Porter & The Christianaires

Should be a great weekend for sun and fun in The Big Easy. Next weekend, AT&T will carry portions of Jazz Fest Live at The Blue Room, so check it out.

 

Bring It On Home, Aaron Neville

His long self-imposed exile is over.

Aaron Neville shared with the New Orleans’ Times-Picayune that he is in the process of moving back to the New Orleans area. As I highlighted as part of the Aaron Neville-a-thon late last year, Aaron lost his home during Hurricane Katrina and his wife of 48 years died of cancer in January of 2007. While he says that New Orleans proper still holds too many memories of his dear wife, Covington is just close enough to get there when need be. And, it’s on higher ground.

Welcome back to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Neville….just in time for JazzFest. :)

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 7, 2008 in aaron neville, Festivals, Louisiana

 

Music Alert!

ETA2:  The AT&T Blue Room is supposed to archive some of the performances from JazzFest, shortly.  I’ll link to them once they’re up.  NOLAGirl couldn’t get me an actual picture of Johnny Boy from her camera, but she did from her newspaper.  ;)

Ain’t he cute?

cache_30002.jpg

ETA: Here’s Bonnie Raitt’s GREAT finale from Sunday with Ivan Neville, Jon Cleary, Irma Thomas and several New Orleans Musicians….

Oop-oop-pa-doop Medley

The AT&T Blue Room will broadcast JazzFest in New Orleans, live Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th from 1:00pm to 7:00pm CST.

Click here for the site.

There is a really great line-up. Here is the schedule with some linked performances for preview.

Saturday, May 5th

01:00 PM Theresa Andersson
01:20 PM Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr.
01:30 PM Marcia Ball
02:00 PM Buckwheat Zydeco
02:15 PM Henry Butler
03:05 PM Subdudes
03:20 PM Zachary Richard
03:30 PM Galactic
04:15 PM Jon Cleary
04:45 PM New Orleans Social Club
05:30 PM John Mayer
06:15 PM Norah Jones
06:25 PM Rod Stewart

Sunday, May 6th

01:00 PM Franklin Ave BC/Darrell McFadden
01:10 PM Irma Thomas
01:45 PM Allen Toussaint
02:55 PM Luther Kent
03:00 PM Johnny Rivers
03:03 PM TBD
03:35 PM Brad Paisley
05:00 PM Mahalia Jackson Tribute
05:05 PM Bonnie Raitt
05:45 PM Joss Stone
07:00 PM Harry Connick Jr. (OMG, He’s SOOOOO cute!)

It’s gonna be a HOT one in the Big Easy…………

 
24 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2007 in Festivals

 
 
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