For 32 years, Irma Thomas and The Professionals has played Mother’s Day at the Audubon Zoo. Admission is free for mothers so the park was full of smiling women and the families trying to please them. Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses were onstage when we arrived. We listened to a couple of their fun Dixieland tunes then took a stroll around the zoo. I love the giraffes, birds, big cats and primates, but I’m fascinated by elephants so I was bummed that the elephant area is still under construction. The new water park was up and running and looked like a lot of fun for a family looking to cool off.
Miss Irma Thomas, has been performing for so long that many of the grandparents in the crowd fell in love to her songs at school dances when they were kids. It’s fun to watch the grey-haired fans turn into energized teenagers when she takes the stage. Continue reading
With more reasonable crowds and lots of favorite local musicians playing, Jazz Fest’s final Sunday was a balmy-weathered blast. Big Chief Kevin Goodman & the Flaming Arrows were on the Jazz Fest Heritage Stage and I spotted Alphonse “DooWee” Robair, my favorite Mardi Gras Indian artist, dancing among them. We started the day with a delicious Cochon de Lait ($9) from Love at First Bite and a Nectar Creme from Plum Street Snoballs ($4). When I worried I wasn’t going to get a “local” pour of the sticky, sweet syrup, the woman next to me in line laughed, “If you ordered Nectar Creme, they already know you’re a local.” True Dat. Continue reading
It was a gorgeous Saturday for Jazz Fest. Before heading to the stages, we passed through the craft area and saw creative shoebox floats and glittery Krewe of Muses shoes – a prized throw during Mardi Gras. There were also a few Mardi Gras Indians sewing beads and showing off this year’s suits. Big Chief FiYiYi, Victor Harris, showed us the incredibly detailed beadwork. Beautiful. We grabbed a requisite Panorama Fine Foods Crawfish Bread ($7) and Strawberry Lemonade ($5) then tried the refreshing Ajun Cajun Ninja Crab Sick & Cucumber Salad ($5) and Canseco’s Markets Cuban Sandwich ($8). Continue reading
After a one year hiatus, Chaz Fest is back. Named for Washboard Chaz who joins every group, the festival was formed a decade ago when members of The Tin Men (and Alex McMurray’s wife) came up with the backyard festival as a reaction to being rejected by Jazz Fest. Held at the Truck Farm, an artists haven, the 2 stages (one in the yard and one in the woods) rotate so that the music is nonstop – 14 bands in under 10 hours. With its rustic porches, patios, enclaves and hideaways – all festooned with whimsically painted signs – the Truck Farm always reminds me of my childhood at Lemonade Farm, the subject of my novel by the same name. The food feels homegrown and the people are dressed like Dead Heads and flower children. It’s 1976 again with peace in the air. Continue reading
Jazz Fest started last week which means lots of things including packed hotels, music everywhere nearly all night and day and plenty of crawfish boils. Sunday was my annual family reunion crawfish boil and Monday was the 2nd annual BIRNout Boil at the Sandpiper Lounge hosted by Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives (BIRN).
Only in Nola is it perfectly normal to expect people to show up at 3pm on a Monday for a concert and boil and only in Nola would we all do it less than an hour after tornadoes and a mini-hurricane blew through. The storm was so strong, thousands are still without power and perhaps you saw the footage of winds so forceful they blew a long train off a bridge. Continue reading
Sunday, the closing day of French Quarter Fest, was a drizzly one so we started at one of the many indoor activities – the “Let Them Talk…” interview series at the Mint. Author John Broven led legends Allen Toussaint and Deacon John in a discussion of Cosimo Matassa, founder of both J&M Recording Studio and Cosimo Recording Studio. The event started and ended with Toussiant on the piano and Deacon John singing for us. Matassa was a local legend who is credited with helping to develop the rock and R&B sounds of the 50’s and 60’s. Fats Domino, Little Richard. Ray Charles, Dr. John, Ernie K-Doe, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Aaron Neville and the legends on the stage in front of us were just a few of the artists Matassa worked with as both studio owner and engineer. Continue reading