My Favorite JazzFest Moment: Aaron Neville 1988

Posted: April 22nd, 2023 | Filed under: JazzFest, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, next week I’ll be at my 34th.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

I write about JazzFest. I talk about JazzFest. My walls are adorned with JazzFest posters and photos I took there decades ago with one of those cameras where you had to take the film to Walgreens to get developed.

JazzFest is the gravitational pull of my year, has been the epicenter of my musical fixation for decades.

Such has been my incessant preaching about it, more years than not I’ll get a call from someone going to their first who wants a primer on what to expect.

There are a couple of questions I get asked. On a yearly basis, who were my favorite acts?

My answer to that one follows a pattern. I’ll advise that I’m more interested in local New Orleans performers, Third World groups and acts I’ve never heard before than mainstream headliners such as 1/2 of The Who, whom I heard in ’70 when they were whole.

Which is to not disregard that this year, I’m looking forward to Tedeschi Trucks Band, my faves, as well as Robert Plant & Allison Krauss.

The other question, and my purpose here, what is my favorite JazzFest moment ever?

There have been so so many great ones.

Frankly, just walking in on the first morning each year is a thrill.

There’s the moment Richard Thompson defined it all from the Gentilly Stage while tuning his guitar between songs.

“Where else would you possibly want to be right now, except in New Orleans at JazzFest?

Where else indeed.

As for music. Professor Longhair at my first Fest. Mighty Chariots of Fire once in the Gospel Tent on an Easter Sunday, when it felt like we were levitating. Legendary Ernie K-Doe at a Dew Drop Inn Revisited night show. Allen Toussaint too many times to count.

Ali Farke Touré and Ry Cooder on the Congo Square stage. New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars about a decade ago at the Lagniappe Stage. Randy Newman singing “Louisiana 1927” when it was pouring, the raindrops as big as softballs.

Mahalathini & the Mahatolla Queens in ’90 when I danced so much, I sweated through all my clothes including socks and shoes. Topsy Chapman and Doreen Kechens and Tuba Skinny in the Economy Hall tent.

The Fats Domino/ Dave Bartholomew reunion.

But there is THE moment.

In 1988.

Not sure why I didn’t make it back down until ’81 after my first one in ’76. I do know why I didn’t make it back after that until ’88. I had to clean up my act, move on from some debilitating habits, and become secure with all that before returning.

When I made it back, I was a mad man for the music. Literally. I couldn’t get enough, charging from stage to stage trying to make up for lost time.

Oliver Morgan and Jesse Hill and Leo Nocentelli and the Hackberry Ramblers and Bobby Cure and Los Lobos and the Radiators and Little Feat restart (with Bonnie Raitt playing Lowell George slide parts) and Sugar Minott and Buckwheat Zydeco and Hank Ballard & the Midnighters and Salif Keita and Al Green and Henry Butler.

As they did for decades, the Neville Brothers closed Fest on the biggest stage. (Dr. John was at the other end of the track. Choices have to be made.)

Cyril, Charles, Art and Aaron were then at the top of their game. They were everything wonderful about New Orleans music and more.

Midway through the set, everybody left the stage except Art on piano and Aaron at the mic.

He sang “Arianne.” Honest, I just teared writing that sentence remembering the joy.

It was so beauteous and transcendent, The trills, swoops and swirls of his voice carrying me to a blissful space I’d never been.

Such that I had enough even though their set was far from over. For the first time in my life I was totally sated. At the end of the tune, I turned, walked to the car and awaited the others.

I vowed I’d never miss another JazzFest. But for ’91 when I was recovering from a car accident, I have not.

— c d kaplan

Rock & Roll Repast: Eric Burdon at Portland Neighborhood Fest

Posted: April 9th, 2023 | Filed under: Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a lifelong rock & roller. I got stories. Lots of ‘em. Here’s another.

It was the fascination of the moment.

There on a lovely summer’s evening, in one of the town’s nether neighborhoods, at a street fair on a makeshift stage in the middle of the street in front of a few hundred locals was a legit rock & roll Hall of Famer.

It was too sweet.

As for the lore behind Eric Burdon’s appearance (with estimable Brian Auger on organ no less) in June 2000 on Northwestern Parkway during the Portland Neighborhood Festival, well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

There’s a reason it resonated so deeply here.

As an adult, I’ve always fantasized about hosting a big bash. Inviting all my friends from all walks of life going back to my childhood. Send out invites, advising it would be a dance party, but not revealing who would play.

I wanted it to be a gotcha. Taking in the gasps of the assembled when whoever walked on stage.

At different stages through the years, the daydreaming went to, oh, Springsteen, a doo wop spectacular, Fats Domino, Dion, others.

Came close once. When Joanie the Film Babe and I were going to marry in ’06, she bought in to the grandiose idea. We rented a big room. Started to plan the whole boffo wedding reception like no other. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Rewind: Elvis ’76

Posted: March 21st, 2023 | Filed under: Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a Rock & Roll lifer. I’ve got stories, lots of stories. Here’s one.

By the summer of ’76, it was long past due.

Seeing Elvis live in concert, that is.

The King of Rock & Roll had been through town any number of times, both early on and in the years after the Colonel realized he could pay off his gambling debts quicker pushing his money maker hither and yon on tour after tour. But I’d never gotten around to paying my respects.

I missed Elvis in ’56, when he played the Armory. At age 11, my allowance wouldn’t have covered admission. Besides, I was not going to get keys to the car. My folks bought me Elvis’s first RCA album as consolation.

One other Elvis moment from my youth. Happened the night in November ’56 he was on Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. I could hardly eat Sunday dinner from excitement. My dad checked if I’d done my arithmetic homework?

I lied.

When I couldn’t explain multiplication and division of fractions, I was banned to my room, forced to do all the problems in the chapter during EP’s first song on the show. I was released from purgatory for the rest of his performance that night.

One week in July ’76 I was all rocker all the time. Yes, even more so than usual. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Rewind: My Man Otis

Posted: March 8th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a a Rock & Roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s one.

This is a fully corrected — hopefully — and somewhat expanded version of this recent remembrance.

Oft asked. Never answered.

Best concert I’ve ever been to?

Not going there.

That’s some dangerous quicksand masking a rabbit hole too long, deep and winding.

My favorite?

Too many. It would be easier to name the handful when I didn’t find something to enjoy.

Ah, but most memorable?

Easy Peasy. Read the rest of this entry »

Stones, Springsteen, Dylan: 1st Time Through Town

Posted: February 27th, 2023 | Filed under: Rock & Roll Rewind | 1 Comment »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got some stories, lots of stories. Here are some.

Rolling Stones.

Bruce Springsteen.

Bob Dylan.

Rock icons, they.

One of the blessings for Derbytown rock & rollers through the decades has been several appearances by big name acts. Including these Hall of Famers.

Their first times through town are “legendary” in one way or another. Especially when one is playing rock & roll smackdown, and can say “I was at that show.”

Which your inveterate historian cannot invoke of the Stones initial visit through town.

November 14, 1964. Memorial Auditorium.

I was away at college. Besides, we didn’t quite know at that early stage they’d become as many believe, “the best rock & roll band in the world.”

My pal, long time Elvis documentarian Alanna Nash was in the house. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Rewind: Greatest Dance Party Ever

Posted: February 3rd, 2023 | Filed under: Rock & Roll Rewind | 1 Comment »

Rock & Roll lifer c d kaplan has some memories. Here are today’s:

No reason to bury the lede.

This is about the Greatest Teenage Dance Party ever.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Not the best concert ever aimed at teens. That would be the T.A.M.I. show, which happened in California.

Nor my favorite concert, when I was still a teen in the early 60s. Which would have been my first, I suppose. You always fondly remember the first time, right?

But to the task at hand.

Rock & Roll Radio — soon enough commercialized as Top 40, News, Weather & Sports — ascended on Louisville in the summer of ’58 when WAKY took over a stale has been at 790 AM The station announced its arrival by playing “The Purple People” in tape loop for, I dunno, a couple of days, a week.

Long enough to get our undivided attention.

Early in ’62 the station hired a noon-3:00 jock named Greg Mason.An entrepreneurial sort, he started producing Friday night concerts late that summer. I remember Del Shannon was one. The Marvelettes, or maybe it was Martha & the Vandellas, was another.

And, on the last Friday night of August before the start of school, the Greatest Teenage Dance Party ever. Read the rest of this entry »

On David Crosby & the Byrds in Louisville in ’65

Posted: January 23rd, 2023 | Filed under: Rock & Roll Rewind | 1 Comment »

Today’s Rock & Roll Rewind:

The Byrds played Louisville in the Summer of ’65.

The group, which invented a whole new genre of music — Folk Rock — had the #1 song in the land, a jangly electric cover of Dylan’s Pete Seeger-ish toe-tapper, “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

The Band featured Roger McGuinn, late of Bobby Darin’s group and the Chad Mitchell Trio, and David Crosby, late of a long forgotten folk group of no consequence.

The Byrds played Gypsy Village, an outdoor nightclub at Fontaine Ferry Park in Shawnee Park. Taking the same stage that such superstars as John Philip Sousa, Satchmo and Frankie Blue Eyes played before them.

Despite a vibrant dance party scene and a number of greal local groups, the rock culture hadn’t fully arrived in Derbytown . . . yet. There couldn’t have been more than a hundred or so of us there.

Other than the sparseness of the assembled, I remember little. Other than this. I specifically recall there were certain tunes I wouldn’t dance to. “You don’t dance to Dylan,” I declared to my date, “you listen to the words.”

Crosby’s later gigs in town with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, then top of the rock shelf, were significantly better attended.

So, yeah, David Crosby.

Another rock & roll icon down. Read the rest of this entry »