Jazz Fest is about music and food but weather is always part of the story with 2 recurring themes – heat and rain. The sun was out before Saturday’s festivities but the week’s rainstorms left LOTS of mud prompting some to call the event, “Mud Fest.” And it was unusually cool. After passing the festively decorated houses with musicians playing out front on the way in, we grabbed a Panorama Foods Crawfish Bread and walked around the track. The New Orleans Bingo! Show was playing the Gentilly Stage so we paused for a few of their experimental songs with accompanying burlesque dancers.
We peeked into the Sankore Pavilion and watched a drumming band (that I think was from Senegal) and grabbed some yummy Jama Jama (sauteed spinach $5) from Bennachin Restaurant and a Loretta’s Praline ($3) then headed straight for the Acura stage to find a spot for Fleetwood Mac. Normally, I like to see as many of my favorite bands as is possible (though many overlap on opposite sides of the fairgrounds – grrrr!), but it was obvious very early in the day that the crowd for Fleetwood Mac had already gotten there and staked out most of the giant mud patch with tarps and chairs. We decided to head for high ground far from the stage where there was still a chance at finding a small space to carve out then parked to wait for 3 hours for the show to start.
3 hours is a long time to stand waiting for something to start so you can stand for another 2 and half hours then walk forever. Luckily, there were 2 other concerts taking the stage to help us pass the time. Cowboy Mouth, a local band we’ve seen a bunch, kept things moving with their high-octane jams. Then a country band, Little Big Town played pretty songs and fun songs and even a country version of Lady Gaga’s I Was Born This Way.
I hated missing Galactic but here was plenty of good people-watching. Lots of people have “festwear” including decorated hats, feathered boas and tie-dye t-shirts. There was a giant mud trench (that smelled of horse crap since the Fest is on the racetrack) not far from us and it was hilarious watching people navigate it or turn and leave at the sight of it. There was even a skywriter spelling out “LOVE.”
Then it was finally time for Fleetwood Mac to take the stage. I’d seen them in 1979 and it was… magical. We brought the memory of a loved one with us to that concert. Back then, watching Stevie Nicks, draped in a shawl and flowing white dress, twirling around the stage – it was like having our loved one there with us one more time. 34 years later, I brought the memory with me again. I suppose that’s one reason we love the bands we grow up with who have staying power. We all get to bring our memories, the moments and people those songs remind us of, and relive them for a moment.
The show was amazing as you can see from this set list (minus the 2nd encore set). Thank goodness the good folks at Jazz & Heritage saw fit to add an extra hour. We heard a couple of the band’s new songs and lots and lots of favorites. Nicks even sang a tune she’d written after The Storm and had only ever performed once before.
I will confess there was one blemish on a fairly perfect show. New Orleans is stuffed to overflowing with some of the best marching bands and brass bands in the world so we couldn’t wait to see who they would select for Tusk. We were secretly rooting for The Roots of Music, a great kids marching band and an even better cause, but would have loved to have seen Hot 8 or Rebirth or St. Augustine’s Marching 100 or many others. As the song began, we thrilled at who it might be and were shocked to find they chose… drum roll please… no one. Definitely a missed opportunity.
But I forgave all as Stevie Nicks began twirling draped in a shawl and flowing black dress. Lindsey Buckingham was absolutely amazing on guitar and Mick Fleetwood didn’t miss a beat and John McVie came out from seclusion to join the band once again. As our journey through our memories came to a close, they finished the show with the wisdom of Don’t Stop (thinking about tomorrow… yesterday’s gone). Amen. While we readied to leave, Nicks gave a thank you speech to all of us for supporting the band for so long. She said that for 35 years they taught us the songs and we taught them back to them. I like that. It made me feel like she understood how much their music means to so many of us and took none of it for granted.
It was way late when they decided to take a break and we decided to call it a night. Sometimes when you live somewhere amazing, you forget to take advantage of all it has to offer. That’s why, after a fairly perfect day and an extraordinary night, we ended our festivities with some fresh beignets from Cafe Du Monde.