Kicking off Jazz Fest weekend at a cool and leisurely pace
(at 12:30, thanks to the weather!), I scooped up a sweet potato pie (aka, brunch) and headed with my poncho to the
Blues tent to catch J. Monque'D Blues Revue.
The smooth vocals and some sweet organ work, backed up by the musical
talents of the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians, was a perfect start to the day.
Wanting to continue with this laidback celebration of local sounds and customs, I moved on to catch the Mardi Gras Indian parade. Their extravagantly colored, beaded and feathered costumes all tell a tale that, together, represent the fabric of the history of this city's culture. Their dance moves conveyed their pride and joy, and I happily shared in this tradition while partaking of another-a super yummy cochon de lait po-boy.
The next logical stop in my Thursday Fest quest was the WWOZ OZ Jazz tent. Jason Marsalis, another local legend and legacy, mesmerized the crowd with his stellar percussive talent, but I felt compelled to keep moving-so I could move my feet to the Cajun beats of Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, who were playing on the Acura Stage at the same time.
All that dancing made me thirsty, so I treated myself to a sno-ball on my way to the Jazz and Heritage Stage. Blending the traditional and contemporary sounds of brass, jazz, hip hop, and Mardi Gras Indian music, the Forgotten Souls Brass Band reminded locals and visitors alike: There is no other sound like the music of New Orleans-and there's no other fest like Jazz Fest.
Determined to reap as much of this singular musical wonder as possible, I head back to the Acura Stage to catch the beginning of The Doobie Brothers, unquestionably another legendary experience to be had this day at the Fest. I didn't stay long, though, because I want get a glimpse Sasha Masakowski, a more recently risen star in the New Orleans soundscape, on the Lagniappe Stage. After some requisite dancing to her unique mix of swing, bounce, and pop-rock electronic music, I headed to the Economy Hall tent to continue to pay homage to the greats and get my fix of classic ragtime jazz with Lars Edegran and Kris Tokarski.
With "the greats" and my love of all things "classic New Orleans" still in mind, I grabbed a strawberry lemonade, a plate of crowder peas and okra, and one of the few remaining spaces within an ear's distance of the Acura Stage and set back to relax for Thursday's grand finale: Earth, Wind, and Fire. While not a New Orleans tradition, per se, they certainly embodied the spirit of New Orleans and Jazz Fest: a virtual cultural gumbo of sounds and flavors, spanning generations, that moved us as one, body and soul. Despite the rain, we had a fiery start at Jazz Fest today! - Michelle Nicholson