Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Orleans: Jazz Fest 2007

Jazz Fest: A six-day music festival (split between two weekends) with everyone from Harry Connick Jr., Counting Crows, John Mayor, to Galactic, Norah Jones, and Van Morrison.

But don't get me wrong. The festival is not only about music. It's about shopping, with booths like the African-heritage Congo Square or the Louisiana Marketplace with local folk art (where I bought a cowboy hat to shade my face from the strong Southern sun!). And, it's also really about food: pulled pork po-boys, alligator pie, muffuletta, crawfish, fried chicken, and the most refreshing mango sorbet ever.

So, really, Jazz Fest is about New Orleans culture. The cajun-influenced flavors, the foot-stomping blues, the Louisiana sun beating down, and of course, cute little festival babies like the one above.

Unfortunately, we pulled into New Orleans too late on Friday to see the likes of George Benson or ZZ Top, but it was actually for the better. Friday was drenched in a serious rainstorm that had festival-goers up their ankles in water. Shelter couldn't even be sought out under the blues tent or the gospel tent, the water was just as high.

Saturday turned out to be one big mud-fest. Those who had taken a rain-check on Friday, made their way to the festival on Saturday making it one of the most crowded festival days in history. But, the more the merrier, right? The fields were so muddy, some people wore their galoshes, while others just traipsed through the mess.

Around two, we went to check out Buckwheat Zydeco. Then onto New Orleans-natives Cowboy Mouth which drew a crowd so large there was no moving forward, even from way back. I saw Cowboy Mouth in New York City only months before--the show was great but nothing like seeing them in their hometown. On our way to Galactic, we got sucked into the Stephen Marley with Junior Gong show. We danced as Stephen Marley sang his father's Iron, Lion, Zion and I am almost positive it was what being at a Bob Marley show is like. And, although I tried to convince a group of eight guys to go watch John Mayer, I didn't win that battle and we sat on the lawn to catch the end of the Allman Brothers' Melissa.

For a mere price of around $35 a day, Jazz Fest is definitely worth a trip to New Orleans. Not only does it support the local economy, it brings in some legendary musicians. Not to mention, some damn good home cookin'.

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