Crescent City is Calling My Name

Posted: April 19th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 4 Comments »

Am I obsessed?

Well, I guess.

Thus, truth is I really didn’t need the first t-shirt. At least not “now” which is when I wanted it and got it about the time of the Cubes reveal.

Nor the second one the initial one begat, thanks to digital marketing. At the very least I could have waited until my annual visit down to New Orleans, now less than a week away. Then I could have checked out Dirty Coast, the store selling them, unencumbered by these previous purchases. Which, frankly, won’t be weighing on my mind if there’s some other Crescent City-centric tchotchke or item of apparel that grabs my attention.

The first shirt is a mash up of New Orleans street names, done up like one of those charts at the ophthalmologist’s office that you’re ordered to view with one eye closed and read the smallest letters you can.

If you’ve ever spent any time around and about in the town, you couldn’t have missed that the street names aren’t just a step or three beyond Market, Main and Shady Lane, but venture into a whole different dimension.

If you’ve ever smiled as a first time visitor tries to pronounce Tchoupitoulas when asking directions from the hotel concierge, you know what I mean.

(It’s chop-ah-too-luss. Remember, this is a town where many thoroughfares are named for Greek muses, but you’d never suspect, even if forced to study Greek somewhere along the way that Calliope Street would be pronounced kal-eee-ope.)

And those streets whose names are as funky as an Ernie K-Doe rap, can be mean. In the 90s, my krewe, staying on Canal, had dinner reservations at Emeril’s then new eponymous eatery, located on Tchoupitoulis. The doorman warned us to be wary when hoofing it the several blocks there. It’s a relatively more genteel byway these days, but part of New Orleans’ “charm” is that danger lurks around every corner.

Anyway, the shirt came, and has drawn more than a few confused looks when I’ve worn it. So, mission accomplished.

In case my eye doc is reading, the smallest print I can decipher starts in the middle of Dorgenois and continues on with Carondelet.

Of course, I became part of Dirty Coast’s marketing campaign, receiving periodic missives offering the latest hip wear. Which I was able to ignore until a groovy blue tee honoring the iconic Professor Longhair himself presented itself. You know where this is going. I was unable to resist getting the Fess shirt, even though I’d gotten another one from another vendor just last summer.

Different shirt. Different color. Different image. Those are my justifications and I’m sticking with ’em.

Coming with that Fess shirt, as a perk among perks, was a little sticker now affixed to the bumper of my car, which reads: “Art & Leo & George & Zigaboo.”

Ah, the Meters. Seminal Crescent City players. With as legit a claim to being the inventors of funk as anybody.

All of which is my inimitable gas-bagged, too much info way of reiterating what happens early spring every year.

It’s JazzFest time. It’s just a week away. I’m ready.

 * * * * *

This will be my 31st.

My rookie year was ’76, when I fell in love at first exposure, at an evening gig, a midnight cruise on the Riverboat President with Gatemouth Brown, Allen Toussaint and the aforementioned genius of the 88s, Professor Longhair.

I’ve been every year since ’88 except ’91, when I was healing from a jogging accident. Missing JazzFest was at least as painful as the numerous operations and 18 month recovery.

About a decade or so ago, and for a number of years, I started giving lip service that maybe that year would be my last. That due to the bigness and expansion of the Fest post-Katrina, it had lost some of its charm. And perhaps it was time to spend some of my vacation dollars visiting places other than New Orleans.

But the absurdity of that idea faded a year or two ago. To the total lack of surprise of the regular members of my krewe who have shared the experience through the annums.

I don’t know why I gave lip service to such a ludicrous notion as missing a year.

I do not want to feel what it means to miss New Orleans.

Just as college hoops fans hold Selection Sunday in reverence, so too do JazzFest aficionados anticipate the reveal of the Cubes, which comes about a month in advance of the fest.

The quirkily named Cubes are the daily schedules in grid form of all the acts on the ten or so stages presented spatially. Two dimensional. Actually squares not cubes.

But, no nits to be picked here. As usual, I’ve been handicapping them since they were published.

 * * * * *

There are two questions I get from the inquisitive every year when I bring every conversation around to my upcoming trip and the fest.

Where you eating?

Who are you looking forward to seeing? (Which is a euphemistic way of asking who are the big name acts?)

As for the former, I’ll advise Mosca’s, Cafe Atchafalaya, GW Fins and Gautreau’s. I’m sure I’ll slip a quick stop at Drago’s for some grilled oysters. And, on the final evening, my good friends Marc and Jill will be having their now annual Crawfish Boil on the Sunday of the opening weekend. Marc’s the old frat bro who introduced the festival and me forty two years ago.

Plus the food at the fest is not your usual Polish Sausage, Elephant Ears junque. Ain’t no Crawfish Strudel at the festival in your town.

As for the latter, the BNAs are peripheral to me. I’m there for the groups many of you probably haven’t heard of.

The incredible clarinet player Aurora Nealand. Bonerama, a funk/ rock contingent fronted by three trombones. Electrifying Crown Seekers in the Gospel Tent. New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars at the Lagniappe Stage. Gambian kora player Sona Jobarteh and her band. The Fats Domino Tribute on the big stage with a bunch of the city’s icons. Samantha Fish, a killer blues guitar player. Tracksuit Wedding, about whom I know nothing other than the band’s alluring name. Magnificent 7. Sonny Landreth, as good with a slide on the guitar frets as anybody. Tuba Skinny, the best of the young turks playing traditional New Orleans jazz.

Plus, the proverbial many, many more.

Am I ready, or what?


— c d kaplan



4 Comments on “Crescent City is Calling My Name”

  1. 1 Terrie Sellers said at 9:36 pm on April 19th, 2018:

    Pls send me contact info per my number as we discussed.

  2. 2 gnash001 said at 11:48 am on April 20th, 2018:

    Just checked the cubes. It will be interesting to see your choices on some of competing time slots.

  3. 3 Wildcat said at 12:37 am on April 23rd, 2018:

    A man who knows himself and his desires and then is able to indulge them is a lucky man indeed.

  4. 4 Hoya Destroya said at 7:12 am on April 24th, 2018:

    Looking forward to the reports, cd!!

Leave a Comment