After a solid start basking in New Orleans traditions on Thursday, I was stoked to start a new adventure at Jazz Fest this Friday, so I was sure to start off with a stuffed beignet, fueling up for the fun with a twist on my childhood-favorite breakfast treat. From there, I dipped into the Gospel Tent to check out the McMain's International Singing Mustangs Choir. If you haven't visited the Gospel Tent, you are certainly missing out, and the fresh voices of these local elementary school students was just the inspiration for the future that I needed to get in gear for the day.
Next I popped into the adjacent Blues Tent, where I encountered another special treat, a rare performance by Diassing Kunda of Senegal. No one could help but groove with to their West African rhythms and sounds, and getting to chance to see their musicians channeled their talent through such cool traditional hand drums instruments I didn't even know existed made the time spent with them in the shade well worth it. Inspired, I grabbed a mango freeze on my way to Congo Square, where the Kumuka African Drum and Dance Collective kept my mood elevated and the swing in my step-and I even picked up on a few new dance moves from the beautiful women instructing me from the stage. Rounding out my opening dance party, I went to the Jazz and Heritage Stage to get down to some Afrobeat with Kumasi.
Having worked up a sweat-and an appetite-I grabbed a bowl of smoked sausage macque choux and chowed down back at Congo Square, where PJ Morton was laying down some sweet R&B melodies, inducing the crowd to chill out and enjoy all the love for the people, music, food that make Jazz Fest. Reinvigorated, I decided to try to eke out a space at the Acura Stage, between sets, so I'd be set to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime experience that was Foundation of Funk. Nowhere and no-when else in the world again will we ever be blessed with sharing that hour with such powerhouses as George Porter Jr., Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, and Ian Neville.
I was happily able to enjoy a few last minutes of The Head and The Heart, with their sweet (ok, romantic) Americana folk voices, on the Gentilly Stage, before getting ready for the big event of the day: Santana. I've seen Santana at Jazz Fest before and must admit that it was one of my all-time favorite live music experiences. Ready to be blown away, once again, I made myself comfortable with a rosemint herbal tea and a fish taco, squeezing myself between some friendly local Festgoers. Shoulder to shoulder, as the sun sunk toward the horizon, we were swayed and lifted by the supernatural riffs of this legendary rocker, in that phantastic way that only Jazz Fest manifests. -Michelle Nicholson