JazzFest ’16: Daze Between

Posted: April 27th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | Tags: | 1 Comment »

jz1imagesThe Fest rests on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, before picking up again for a long Thursday through Sunday second hootenany.

The period is cannily and most aptly dubbed the Daze Between.

While there are many turista who keep decent hours — lots from Australia and China, it seems — there are also a great number of bleary eyed folks, who when visiting this partiest of the party towns welcome their days/daze here at noon and beyond.

You know, there are evening shows that start at 2:00 in the morning. Rule, not the unusual exception.

 * * * * *

Which is why I’m grateful for the shows, with starting times suitable for old farts.

Like Monday’s 7:00 PM first notes by Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses at Maison on Frenchman Street.

The Bechet-inspired clarinetist/ vocalist is an amazing talent.

This particular contingent of hers uses traditional New Orleans Jazz as a base, but goes off into Coltrane territory more often than not. Interesting, engaging, ventures out of the ordinary stuff. Instead of a banjo, their picker plays a National Steel.

When the lady sings, close your eyes and welcome back to the heyday of Storyville, the town’s fabled red light district from yesteryear, progenitor of the honky tonk piano, among other important musical modes.

When she plays, it’s aroma of Sweet Sydney. As during their outre version of Bechet’s “Indian Summer.”

And the group’s sets ended at 10:00. Cool.

 * * * * *

The streets of the Quarter are of course filled with buskers and street “artists.”

Reason for the quotation marks: Is standing still, done up like Michelangelo’s David in silver paint “art”?

Perhaps, uh, well, maybe. It at least takes discipline.

Is a ratty vagabond, carrying a sign offering “Shitty Advice $2” an artist or hustler? Probably the latter, but the guy gets props for being clever.

And, what to make of a guy dressed in Darth Vader costume, doing the karaoke to “Purple Rain”?

There is, as any music buff who has strolled through the Vieux Carre knows, real, serious, worthwhile music played on her streets.

I’ve mentioned Tuba Skinny before. Hot young players honoring old old tunes. They’re playing the Fest, but still busk on Royal Street.

There’s a guy named Jonah Tobias, who plays an amped-up, computerized, phased-up African kora. Which enchanting instrument sounds like a harp, in its native form, and, to be honest, is otherworldly and very trippy when he starts messing with the many electronics he’s hooked up to the gourd.

I mentioned to him that I’d heard Foday Musa Suso at my first JazzFest in ’76.

That African musician is generally regarded as being the first master of the instrument to play outside the homeland. The Ravi Shankar of the kora.

Tobias, who has staked out a spot in front of the Cabildo in Jackson Square, seemed unimpressed. Though he’d heard of the guy, or so he feigned. Geez, Dude, how about some props?

There was also a piano trio on Royal with some serious chops.

  * * * * *

It’s New Orleans, so I’ve got to talk about the food.

Which is a bit indulgent, and which I do so sheepishly. Because my friend The Professor and his lovely bride were fortunate enough awhile back, to winter in Sydney for several years. He would send out daily email missives, chronicling their interesting comings and goings, including a dish by dish listing of each meal of the day.

While some of his pals relished the minutiae, I, of course, gave him interminable grief.

And I here I go, essentially doing the same thing.

But there is space to be filled and this is the foodiest of towns, as well as being the most musical.

I ate with some pals at Drago’s, the one in the Hilton in the CBD, not the original in Metarie.

The Grilled Oysters are to die for. Figuratively, given how incredibly delicious they are. Literally, because the oyster is merely an excuse for the garlic, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and butter butter butter  and more garlic in which the crustaceans are bathed.

So righteous are they, my pal Bill, ever proud he’d never put an oyster in his mouth his entire life, but a fellow who cherishes cholesteriffic food when it’s in front of him, fell under the spell immediately.

I was anxious to try Zapp’s new “Limited Edition” Drago’s Grilled Oyster Flavored Potato Chips. They were tasty, but tasted nothing like the oysters.

I wanted to eat, if I could, at a couple of the newer New Orleans places, both of which were rated Top New Eateries in the Land, when they opened within the last decade. Both are Donald Link joints. Both are indeed among the best in the world.

Using my old pal Marc’s prescient strategy, I slipped in mid afternoon for a late lunch.

Peche features seafood, duh. Shrimp toast. Fish Sticks which take Mrs. Paul’s idea and turn it into something genius. Etc, etc.

Tuesday I found a spot at the bar (with full food service) at Cochon. Which specializes in, surprise surprise, porcine delicacies.

I’m a sandwich guy, and went with my favorite anywhere. Oyster and Bacon on toast.

That’s what I’m talking about.

And some shrimp eggplant dressing. Sublime.

All made ever more delightful by the most pleasant banter with my new pals, Rebecca and Jen, a couple of bright, engaging, attractive, funny and forthcoming young businesswomen in town for a technology convention.

They actually asked for the Culture Maven’s suggestions about music to go here at night. He willingly obliged.

Tonight, Galatoire’s. Of which, I’ve written often before. It’s simply the best of the classic New Orleans restaurants.

Softshell crab adorned with shrimp or crab or both shall be consumed.

The evening will be enhanced by conversation with my local friends, who are tapped into Crescent City culture, and shall share all the innuendo about the politics and culture of the town.

  * * * * *

Let me give a shout out to the nice baristas at the Pulp & Grind Coffee & Juice place on Camp Street by the Federal Court complex.

It’s where I’m sitting now, writing this, because the wireless has been down at my hotel for the last day and a half. Not a good thing. Accommodations on my bill shall ensue.

If you’re in the hood, and need some caffeine, check out P & G.

  * * * * *

Today I shall dive deep into the Louisiana Music Factory, an incredible record store, with racks and racks and racks of this town’s musical recordings. My wallet shall be thinner upon exit.

I know there’s a new live Longhair album out, a gig he played in Chicago, where he jammed out on his own tunes, and some which weren’t part of his regular repertoire.

It won’t be the only one in the bag.

Plus the place has a little stage, with mini concerts on the hour all day.

Okay, enough.

The bon temps are roulering.

— c d kaplan


One Comment on “JazzFest ’16: Daze Between”

  1. 1 Marty said at 10:05 pm on April 27th, 2016:

    So what did you end up having at Galatoire’s? We were told that while soft shell was in season, they were not serving it.


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