JazzFest ’17, Day II: Enchanting Peripherals

Posted: April 30th, 2017 | Filed under: Ruminations | 1 Comment »

There are times when the music plays a lesser — but still significant — role in the fest’s charms du jour.

Saturday was one of those interesting days, full of interactive interludes.

Not that there wasn’t, mind you, some righteous tuneage, which I’ll get to soon enough. But yesterday for me was more about the gathering of the tribes, cementing expanding friendships and glorying in the spirit forces the event fosters.

I hooked up with M and S and their krewe, who were camped at Congo Square, in anticipation of Usher with the Roots Band who’d close out the day at that stage. (Full names omitted to protect the arguably innocent.)

The Film Babe — who by the by couldn’t make the trip this year, but is confirmed already for next — and I met M & S four years ago as we were all strolling down Royal on the way to the Louisiana Music Factory. Kindred spirits from Connecticut and Kentucky, we connected and we’ve kept in touch.

(The couple missed last year’s fest, while visiting Barcelona, where their kid was studying. Even though in another of the world’s great and unique cities, M advised, “We made it through missing JazzFest, knowing we’d be back this year.”)

At one point during yesterday’s charming interlude of connection, Ms. S stopped dancing, turned to us and declared, “I need a Cochon du Lait Po Boy RIGHT NOW!” And was immediately off for sustenance.

While chatting them up yesterday, just as I was learning that M isn’t a lawyer — my misconception — a small group walked up that they’d met the evening before at a North Mississippi All Stars gig.

Turns out these folks were fellow Hebrews and of Iraqi descent. The fellow is a lawyer, of some note obviously since he just testified in front of Al Franken’s Senate committee on the environment. (And wouldn’t the guy who created Stuart Smiley be great to run into down here?)

Anyway, for some reason I simply can’t recall, the woman started regaling me with the history of how the Jews were the ones who carried on the folk musical traditions of Iraq. But were pushed out of the country in the 40s in the wake of the establishment of the state of Israel.

But when the royals realized that music was important and nobody was around to carry the tradition, they brought back numbers of Jewish folks to teach the songs at the Palace.

I mean really, who knew?

And what are the chances of getting into this conversation anywhere but JF, while while doing the rock & roll shuffle to Corey Henry’s Treme Funket? Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17, Day I: Souled Out & Sated

Posted: April 28th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

There’s a fundamental miscalculation that plagues just about all of the spate of contemporary retro-style R & B singers.

It’s a disturbing tendency for them to oversell their songs, an apparent belief that if they don’t go full James Brown or Otis Redding, their soulfulness might be questioned.

Two of the guiltiest are among the most popular.

Charles Bradley would be but an afterthought back in the heyday. Maybe an opening act on an extended bill featuring Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson and others far better. If he’s even worthy of that?

St. Paul and Broken Bones singer, bespeckled Paul Janeway also tries way way way too hard. That he looks like a pledge chairman of the KAs at Alabama and sings like the winner of a Fraternity Song Festival Otis Redding Sing Alike contest has carried him a long way.

Those two aren’t alone in their lack of subtlety.

Too many singers don’t comprehend that soul can be easy and still ring true to the bone.

Sam Cooke was smooth and easy. Sam Cooke was gold standard.

Which brings me to Leon Bridges, who mesmerized on the Gentilly stage this afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17: Let’s Get the Real Party Started

Posted: April 28th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | No Comments »

One last check in from the periphery. When I finish this I’m off to Day I.

But first I need to forgive.

Some folks, even if wearing garb proving their attendance at previous fests, don’t know what they don’t know.

I was on my way back to the hotel which is at the foot of Iberville from a hook up at the Louisiana Music Factory during the Jazz Vipers set.

LMF’s on Frenchmen Street at the other end of the Quarter. So I stopped at this little courtyard in the French Market by the Gazebo Café to rest my yelping dogs. (To bore you with woes about how my new walking shoes aren’t all they are cracked up to be would be over self indulgent even for a narcissist like myself.)

Anyway, the earnest but not really not very good band of old farts regaling the turistas with New Orleans standards broke into “Southern Nights.” One of my favorite tunes.

The guy sitting next to me on the bench turned to his wife/ GF/ inamorata for the weekend and pontificated too impress, “Wow, they’re playing that old Glen Campbell classic.” Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’17: The Day Before My 30th

Posted: April 27th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

God, how I love this place.

New Orleans is, as New Orleans has always been, it’s own kind of spirit force.

May it never change.

The Professor — my pal not Longhair — who attended many Fests with his bride, will be happy to know that the Quarter, bless its historic nature and sybaritic presence, remains fetid.

Especially early in the morning when it’s waking up, and the guys are out in front of the titty bars along Bourbon, hosing away the excess of the night before.

When the baristas in their long skirts are speeding along on their one speed bikes to work.

When the school buses are lined up on Royal near the Esplanade end, unloading kids at school.

When turistas like me, most in much better shape, are jogging away last evening’s gustatory or alcohol overload, wearing their school colors. Sparty. Roll Tide. I’m in Cardinal gear.

It’s an odd affectation, running the Vieux Carré during these transitional early AM moments, but’s it what I love to do, confirming another year, another JazzFest, my 30th, on the morrow.

Of course, I also enjoy jogging Audubon Park, which I do in those years when I’ve stayed with my old college pal, who introduced me to this incredible sensory potpurri that is JazzFest, incredible food and too much — OK I’ll bring in the ever overused cliché — bon temps roulez. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest #30: It’s Too Late To Stop Now

Posted: April 24th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Music | No Comments »

The winter of ’05-’06 was not easy.

Every day or two I’d have a sad sad moment. I would suddenly abandon whatever was present and break down with uncontrolled sobbing.

It was not that my beloved Louisville Cardinal hoopsters were suffering through a mediocre at best campaign. The season ended with thirteen losses, the last one ignominious in the NIT. Though that was bad enough.

The real catalyst for my despair was that New Orleans, my beloved New Orleans, was vacant and drowning.

Six feet of water on the streets of Evangeline had come to truth again.

Would she survive? What would become of this, the most unique city in America, a town with as much personality as any around the globe?

A town where the holy trinity of cajun cuisine — onions, bell peppers and celery — is as revered as father, son and Holy Ghost.

A town where the quirky lingua franca pronounces the word calliope, cal-eee-ope not kah-lie-oh-pee.

A town that fostered musical icons, Satchmo Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Professor Longhair and Fats Domino.

The town that time left alone to proceed at its own out of sync with the rest of the land pace.

The town that hosted the event that had become the gravitational pull of my year, the epicenter of my musical being, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Katrina had laid her low with a furious sideswipe. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review Podcast: “Fargo Season 3”

Posted: April 21st, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I love love love the Coen Brothers classic, “Fargo.”

Yes, ye Achiever acolytes, love it even more, much more, that “The Big Lebowski.”

So resonant was the film that it has spawned a franchise of mini-series on FX. They have been created by Noah Hawley, with the imprimatur of the Coen Bros. themselves.

Each series has a familiarity for those who have seen the flick. Yet each has a different plot with different characters, all played out in Minnesota.

The third season started this past Wednesday on FX, and the wonder shall be revealed over the next 10 weeks or so.

For more, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Personal Shopper”

Posted: April 16th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

As I discuss more fully below, this strange, quirky film with the ever disagreeable Kristen Stewart on screen most all of the time poses an interesting question about film reviewers.

“Personal Shopper” has been just about universally lauded by reviewers.

But, any number of regular film loving movie goers were non-plussed by the flick. Including three people whose opinions I admire.

I liked parts of the film but I don’t think they serve its main focus.

For a more complete discussion of the movie, and a theory about the divergence of opinion on films between critics and audience, you’ll need to listen below.

 

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Film Review Podcast: “The Fate of the Furious”

Posted: April 16th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

The question you are surely asking yourself when considering this 8th ideation of the our cars are faster and badder than your cars franchise is this: Is it any different than any of the previous seven?

Legit query.

Yes.

And no.

You’ve seen a lot of this before. But, of course, there are some absurd car scenarios that you — and the filmmakers — hadn’t previously conceptualized. I’ll just drop this phrase, and let it sit so you can wonder, “Let it rain.”

Plus we get Charlize Theron.

Who proves beyond peradventure — as if we didn’t learn it when she crafted the character Imperator Furiosa — she can play B.A.D..

And oh so quietly and eerily evil.

For more on this escapist flick, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Going In Style”

Posted: April 11th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Despite the reality that Alan Arkin is really getting up in years, and that the mishuggenah dude I loved in my favorite comedy ever, the original “The In Laws” (Do not accept the lame redux.), I still can’t resist his movies.

And when I saw that he was starring with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, stalwarts both, I knew I had to see “Going in Style.”

Even though I suspected from the premise that it probably wouldn’t fire.

Three old farts lose their pensions, so they decide to rob a bank. The chances for success were slim, but I ventured forth nonetheless.

So mundane was the screenplay, and the hackneyed plot machinations, that even those three acting aces couldn’t breathe life into it.

Sigh.

For a more in depth analysis, listen below:

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Film Review Podcast: “Trainspotting 2”

Posted: March 31st, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

The real question here, as it is with many sequels, is why we’d want to go visit that group of feckless Scottish n’er do wells again?

It’s not like the guys at the center of the flick were very likeable. Or that the movie, as groundbreaking as it was in certain visual and soundtracking regards, made gazillions of dollars and there has been a clamoring for another.

But Danny Boyle went back at it with the same cast of no goodnicks twenty years on.

I can’t really give you a full take on the sequel. I booked after a half an hour.

To find out why, you’ll simply have to listen below:

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Film Review Podcast: “Big Little Lies”

Posted: March 22nd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

Yes, I know there’s usually a film discussed in this space.

That’s why I’ve been comfortable branding myself now and again as the Culture Maven on Film.

But, if you’ve been paying close attention during our time together here, you will note that on occasion I discuss a TV series.

So it is this day, as I expostulate on the glossy Sunday evening HBO soap opera, “Big Little Lies.”

Nicole Kidman. Laura Dern. Adam Scott. (Though in my podcast below I mistakenly and incorrectly say Adam Driver. Were I not so lazy, I’d re-record it.)

Heck, it’s worth a look see if only to find out what Reese Witherspoon’s character in “Election” — Tracy Flick — is like when she grows up and lives in sumptuous surroundings in Monterey.

For more on why you might want to take a look see, you know what to do:

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Film Review Podcast: “Paterson”

Posted: March 15th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I’m just not sure I’ve seen a film before which is essentially about poetry.

“Paterson” is just that.

Quiet.

Unassuming.

Contemplative.

Essentially it’s another little gem from the fellow who is arguably the most underappreciated director in all of American film: Jim Jarmush.

His films only very rarely fail to resonate.

This one certainly is quietly but certainly rich.

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