After yesterday’s non-stop downpour and this morning’s leftover rain, things finally cleared up today, and it was a fairly nice day after all. But it was also probably the oddest Jazz Fest that I have ever attended, at least weather-wise. People were decked out in rain boots (to be expected), hats (normal), festive Bayou wear (always), and … sweaters? Who knew? We’re all used to rain at Jazz Fest. That’s nothing new. We’re used to being sweaty, muddy, dehydrated, and sunburned. But cold? When does that ever happen? I think I saw one lady in a wool beanie. This was definitely one for the Jazz Fest history books.
Oh well, it was a small price to pay for the crawfish beignets, boudin balls, white chocolate bread pudding, and fry bread I ate over the course of the day, accompanied by a frozen daiquiri and a strawberry lemonade. I spent my time browsing the vendors’ wares, bought a cool papier maché crawfish from former float-maker Barthartnola. If you’re at all interested in shopping at the fest, there’s plenty of good stuff out there to get, including oversized kaleidoscopes by Mark and Carol Reynolds, and Dakota Pratt’s highly creative bottle cap art. He had a giant “rockin’ banana” sculpture and a mondo mustache one as well, both of which, he pointed out, are “rideable.” There was lots of jewelry, artwork, clothing, and bags in the Congo Square area, too. And in the Louisiana Marketplace, I could have picked up a real, crawfish-bedecked Cajun accordion, or a hand-crafted fiddle (if yours is broken, bring it to Jazz Fest and Calvin Ardoin, with his stringed instrument repair service, will fix it right up for you).
We watched a few parades march buy, dodged a lot of mud puddles, and learned how to make oyster dressing.
And I think there just might have been a little music there today as well. I managed to take in the 40s-cabaret-style tunes of Carsie Blanton, who sang about being fat and happy, and wondered “why’d you have to grow that mustache?” (Not the bottle cap one one.) Marcia Ball rocked out on piano on the Gentilly Stage, and the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars played their environmental Louisiana funk on the Acura Stage. I enjoyed the Johnny Cash-esque music of Dale Watson & His Lone Stars at the Fais Do-Do Stage, and the impressive horns of Tower of Power drew quite a crowd to the Congo Square Stage. Finally, to end the cold and windy day, the Doyle Cooper Jazz Band played a swingin’ set at the Peoples Health Economy Hall Tent, with a couple of swing-dancing sidekicks jiving alongside them.
It was a good Thursday at Jazz Fest. It’s always nice to avoid the weekend crowds and not have to wait in line for food, nor even for the good bathrooms inside the Grandstand. I just wish I would have brought a coat.