Monday, March 7, 2016

Jazz Fest 2nd week 2016

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Positively Post Time
Fest Cups Overfloweth
            I make my home not two blocks from the gate and, for me and mine, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is the finest of festivities, on and off the track. On the way to and certainly après, literally hundreds of thousands of wide eyed innocents are subjected to more than the price of their ticket, as if the only reason that New Orleans is here is to exceed their expectations. From Broad St. to the Bayou, Grand Route to Gentilly and beyond, the occasion and the celebration radiates from the epicenter in joyous shockwaves to the far reaches of the galaxy. Photos taken from satellites circling the globe see the pulsating tempo of the beat coming from the heart of the Fair Grounds; before, during and after the gates have opened into the best show on Earth; terra firma is replete and complimented with melody adoring masses, devoted music disciples and wide eyed wandering wonderers (wondering wanderers?). And don’t try to tell me any different.
            Certainly, Liuzza’s At The Track on the lake side and The Seahorse on the river side of the Fair Grounds are epicenters in themselves and cast and crew of both places are in high spirits in anticipation of the mud, sweat and beers.
It’s as simple as going to the Fest and also the Fest coming to you. Outside of the gates there are spirits and libations to be had from spring water to sangria and Schlitz. There is sustenance from Krishna consciousness to vegan tamales, pork chop po boys, pecan pies, bread pudding and pralines ready to fill the stomach and the soul. Even food truck and truck bed treats can be found.
            To officiate my experience, I always look for the effervescent and adorable wrapped batik skirt purveyor, the woman with the artistic marionette painting pictures, garage bands and our kids in uniform selling slices of pizza from Nonna Mia. Brass bands occupy corners for dancers and PDA lovers who have yet to have enough of the day’s celebration, Jell-o shots, jugglers, gypsy girls and Ms. Kelly in her cowboy boots. WWOZ has been live broadcasting and folk are porch sitting with coolers and grills seeing plenty of action while listening. Kids, canines, carriages and canes, folks are on parade; outdoor barbecues and crawfish boils add smoke and olfactory sensations to the air and friends separated are reunited with hugs and ‘hawah-yas’, ‘where y’at’s’, ‘bring it in!’s and ‘how’re (or whe’re) ya been?’s.
            I pause in my benevolence and repeat the words of the great Otis B. Driftwood “Let joy be unconfined; let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons and necking in the parlor!” and so it is. The Fest has turned itself out as a carnival. There’s kayaking on the bayou, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes and all of my favorite things.
            The age old story where adults with ordinances have prevailed to curtail the festivities with code enforcement and parking restrictions, licensing and the insensitivities to the freedoms that us veteran Festers abhor attempts to take its toll on the entrepreneurs that use this season to get a little ahead. Most all of the folks that I know have no problems with little non-commercial enterprises. What neighbors do object to is inconsiderate traffic, street and driveway encumbrances, which are plain rude; but, little Sally selling seashells or lemonade? C’mon man!  Or, why would you penalize a six piece violin concerto by eight year olds for not having a license when they’re trying to raise money for their musical education? So, what I do is carry a gang of money and distribute it to all that I come across. Take that.
            My friend Russell, who hasn’t attended the Festival for years, still opens his home and porch annually for friends and family; beverages flow and snacks are laid out; and every year, for sure,  a gang of us drop by after Festing or some unFesters will just drop by (with kids) to meet and mingle. His grand nephew from an early age marked the spot with his electric piano knocking out Professor Longhair’s ‘Tipatina’ to the world. We look forward to going to his house as much as anything else; it has become part of the whole experience of both weekends.
            We live and hang on the river side of the track in a neighborhood that boasts six restaurants, two coffee shops, two small supermarkets a wine shop and a kick ass ‘washateria’; all in a three block radius and, believe me, the whole neighborhood turns out for Jazz Fest! For us, it’s the finest time of year and without reservation, we proclaim that ‘Festers’ are the one segment of the visitor population that really “GET” New Orleans.
            Even waiting for our dysfunctional public transportation system—you would think that they would know about the crowds who need rides every year--- to kick in, is done with good cheer; as the block long lines shuffle patiently to fast packing buses, strangers become friends and the conversation orbits around the day’s entertainment: “who’d you see, what did you eat, what did you buy and when’s the next f**king
            Of course you know that all over the city during this time of year, there is music and happiness to be found at the five corners of New Orleans: upriver, downriver, lake side, river side and certainly in the middle. Follow your nose and open your mind; it will find you. Bless those hearts that can spend all two weeks, bless them that come in for a weekend (or two) and especially bless me to be able to be here all the time; before, during and after.


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