It’s Halloween season and in NOLA, that means costumes and Voodoo Fest. The festival features more rock, metal, rap and experimental music so I haven’t made it to Voodoo yet but I couldn’t miss Los Angles band, Vintage Trouble. The band has only been around a couple of years but they’ve already opened for acts like Bon Jovi and KISS and are set to open for The Who’s upcoming tour. Though I’ve known drummer Richard Danielson for over a decade, this is only the second time I’ve gotten to see the band live (the first being their “Big Dance” NOLA debut last April during the NCAA Final 4).
Before the show, we wandered the Fest and sampled some of the food starting with the Roast Beef Po Boy w/ Mac N Cheese ($10) from Rocky & Carlo’s. The festival is set in huge, beautiful City Park and it was a gorgeous and suddenly cool, breezy day – perfect picnic weather. We headed past giant spinning pinwheels and people flying kites before spotting the booth for Ms. Linda’s. Ms. Linda Green, the “Ya-ka-Mein Lady” serves soul food and her famous Ya-ka-Mein, (a New Orleans noodle dish with meat, eggs, green onions in a spicy broth with soy sauce) also known as “Old Sober” for its hangover-curative properties. But, we were ready for desert so we got the Bread Pudding ($5) and made our way to the Preservation Hall stage. New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra had the stage and, unlike the coarser music on the other stages, played tunes that reminded my of the playful calliope songs you can hear wafting off the riverboats.
The crowd for this festival trends younger and it was fun walking around looking at all the people in costumes. We passed the amusement rides and some of the “holes” on the Frisbee golf course before landing at Le Ritual stage. New Rebel Family was playing DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win.” Maybe all football stadiums play this song but it was like the piper calling Saints fans to the stage. New Rebel Family is a mix of guys who care about social equality but know how to party.
The crowd swelled for Vintage Trouble. As I said before, the sound is “part soul, part rhythm and blues, part juke joint rockabilly, the music is new and nostalgic all at once.” The crowd loved dancing along to the more upbeat songs and, though there were a few groans when lead singer Ty Taylor said they would slow things down for a message song, everyone ended up getting swept away by the beauty of the tune and Ty’s vocal gymnastics.
After the show, we tagged along to watch the band do an interview then a photo shoot in Tad Gormley Stadium which hosted the US Olympic Track & Field Trials for the 1992 Summer Olympics and usually houses local high school football games. Then it was off to check out the band’s brand new tour bus supplied by Supercuts. Though it was fun hanging out on the hotel on wheels, the guys were ready to check out the other bands at the fest like Nas and Jack White. They could hardly believe we’d leave such a cool event, but we had to make it home in time for the Saints game!
Things were looking good when the bus got us from the park to the French Quarter in 8 minutes, but it was not a good night for the team. I’ve gotten to cheer on my team at 2 play-offs and one Super Bowl, but I don’t think you’re really a Saints fan until you survive losing – screaming to the TV, “Are you kidding me?” and “What the f@ck!” and “NOOOOOOOOOO!” The silver lining? We’d recorded HBO’s Treme and watched it to get the bad taste of loss out of our mouths.
Happy tears brimmed in my eyes watching the cool dignity of Fats Domino singing “Blueberry Hill” in his living room sitting on his finned-car couch. Wow. Then the episode gave us “Soul Queen of New Orleans” Irma Thomas! I loved her gorgeous closing credit song Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) as much as I loved seeing amazing songstress Theresa Andersson and Debbie Davis of the Pfister Sisters singing background in Irma’s scene. Steve Zahn’s “Davis” seems to be compiling a Katrina “opera” rivaling the (hopefully) Broadway-bound musical Nine Lives and the episode featured one of the musical’s co-creators, Threadhead Records‘ Paul Sanchez.
The episode also featured the Hot 8 Brass Band learning from jazz master, Dr. Michael White. One reason the music scene here is so rich is because music is passed from generation to generation. Another reason is because so much more than jazz is nurtured here. Treme sometimes takes us into alternative clubs with experimental, D.J. or bounce music. This episode landed us in the metal scene. Turns out, New Orleans is also the home to a lot of American metal music. NOLA native, Phil Anselmo, joined Pantera in 1987 then opened Housecore Records here. As a producer, his bands often come to Louisiana to be developed and play local venues. Former Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor also opened a production house here in the 90’s and developed his bands here before moving back to L.A. and becoming an Academy Award Winner.
In this episode, the streetcars had just been restored. They’re better than ever but now, they’re being upgraded somehow and sections of track are under construction all over the city in preparations for NOLA hosting the Super Bowl this year.
After the unapproved demolition of her mother’s house, Phyllis Montana LeBlanc‘s “Desiree” declares, “They f@ckin’ with the wrong people this time. They f@ckin’ with me and mine.” Uh oh. The episode introduces the real-life character of Karen Gadbois and her blog, Squandered Heritage. Originally curious why so many houses were being demolished in a city valued for its historic buildings, she later went on to co-found the 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award winner, The Lens, and is the 2012 recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Ethics in Journalism Award.
Next week’s episode looks to be Mardi Gras! I saw King Cake on a table this episode and wished for a piece.
Enjoy the photos from Voodoo Fest as well as the ones from walking around looking at costumes. We dropped into the new Channing Tatum-owned bar, Saints and Sinners on Bourbon Street and I took a photo from the balcony. The decor was a fun red and gold Pretty Baby old-world bordello look and the moderately-priced food looked good. Official opening: November 2nd and 3rd.