I attended funerals for the parents of three friends this week. So it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Add to that the death of a musical icon…And I was a bit of a mess.
Luckily, I attended Jazz Fest on Friday and was able to hear Janelle Monae who released her grief out into the universe during her Congo Square set. It was the most moving show I’ve seen in a very long time.
Check out some local press and some amateur video.
Music: My most favorite thing at Jazz Fest is to pause (or sit) between to stages and see how the live mashup of two bands work. Sometimes it’s terrible and sometimes it’s inspiring. I just love the cacophony of it.
Loves: first and foremost Economy Hall tent, newly added fried okra, the expanded Native American area & that fry bread is located in two places,
Missed: the big art pieces (commonly called the Ancestors) commemorating various artists that used to be where the Native American area is this year.
Um what: I noticed several different groups in matching t-shirts, bachelor & bachelorette parties and two or three high school groups on trips. Is this a new thing? And they were very Make Way for Ducklings on a crowded Saturday.
One of my claims to *fame* is that I’ve been attending Jazz Fest since the early 70s. My parents were early adopters and in those years, kids were free or cost 50¢ or something. PLUS there actually wasn’t that much food, so my Mom brought in sandwiches for all of us to eat. My earliest memories of fest are just running through huge open fields…try that these days.
Last year I saw some truly atrocious behavior. So based on my many years of attendance, I came up with some Jazz Fest rules:
1. No disparaging any other genres of music, if it’s not your thing, move on. Don’t be ugly.
2. Offer courtesy to others. Be generous with your knowledge, your physical space and your sunblock.
3. No territorialism. Tarping a space the size of my house does not mean you are paying rent….which leads to…
4. Share nice. It’s about the music and the fun. Again be generous.
5. Leave celebrities alone. They’re here to have fun, not be oggled at. (This used to not be a problem. I saw Laurence Fishburne wandering at the fest years ago; all that happened was a vendor saying, “alright, Laurence.” I do blame our celerity obsessed culture for this one.)
6. Hold those damn bag chairs parallel to your body not perpendicular, if you must bring them. My parents have actually switched back to the old folding lawn chairs…they’re in their 70s, they deserve to have chairs. The rest of you? Make do with some fabric for the ground.
Does this make me sound crankypants? Maybe the crowds got to me last year. We’ll see how it goes this year. I already have my tickets, so I’ll see you out there.
I actually saw Pete Seeger at Jazz Fest just before his 90th birthday in 2009. He had performed on Saturday and then gave an interview on Sunday. I ran across the grounds to make sure I got to the grandstand to not miss his interview. Great stuff.
I actually saw Pete Seeger perform in the late 70s/early 80s at Jazz Fest as well. I was so impressed with him and his passion and commitment. And at 90+ he’s still an inspiration.
As a bonus here are a couple of news stories about his Jazz Fest appearance, from the NOLA.com blog and CNN.
I started going to Jazz Fest (official name the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) in the early 70s as a really small child. I think my first year may have been 1973 or 74 when I was 5 or 6. There wasn’t a kids area, like there is now, but there didn’t need to be.
Fest had just moved to the Fairgrounds from Armstrong Park and so they had an enormous amount of space for what was then a small festival. I just remember running through the empty areas with my brothers. And then collapsing underneath the bleachers to get a bit of shade and roll in the grass.
Our Mom brought food in (allowed) for all of us to eat, so we had PB&J plus fruit. Quite a bit different from today.