After an amazing Friday with Ellis Marsalis, Deacon John and Rebirth Brass Band and Saturday with Bill Summers, Corey Henry and more, the last day of Satchmo Summerfest was a belly-rubbing, hip-shaking capper to a phenomenal weekend of food, music, education and fun. We started our day with new fest vendor, Rib Room, and a sample of their refreshing savory Watermelon Gazpacho ($6). It was so good Friday, I had to get another Prime Rib Debris Po-Boy ($7). We finished up with a Nectar Creme Plum Street Sno-Ball ($4) and pinned some money on birthday boy, DancingMan504.
Our first band was Kid Merv and All That Jazz. Though it was once again Hades-hot, people were up and dancing to the energetic standards. On the main stage, Jamil Sharif filled the floor with children dancing with their parents. It was pretty darn adorable. Then New Birth Brass Band led the Kid’s Parade on a second line to the main stage. The band played a super-funky set. New Birth gathered members of Rebirth and Treme Brass Bands among other local favorites to become a vibrant new version of itself.
James Andrews joined the group along with recent Roots of Music graduate, 14 year old Utopia on saxophone. I’d seen the fabulous female trumpeter join Kermit Ruffins at French Quarter Fest. If anyone can help me recall her name, please comment. It was a show worthy of closing out the fest, but there was still plenty more entertainment to come.
We had a tasty Hot Sausage Po-Boy ($7) from Vaucresson Sausage Co. and cool and crunchy Crab Stick & Cucumber Salad ($5) from Ninja Restaurant. I was thrilled to find some of my Pussyfooter sisters volunteering at the beer booth. We ended our meal with another Plum Street Sno-Ball but this time we tried a new flavor combo – Chocolate Creme/Coconut Creme ($4)
Free Agents Brass Band were on the Esplanade stage playing to a packed dance floor. As I settled in to take photos, a friend ran over and yelled, “This is my favorite brass band!” I danced for a few songs but we didn’t want to miss the grand finale, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers with an all-star Trumpet Tribute to Louis Armstrong.
As we arrived, the band finished was visited by many incredibly talented guest singers before Kermit took the mic and started… rapping. I’ve seen Kermit many times in tiny clubs and Jazz Fest stages and everything in between, but I’ve never seen him rap. He joked it off then proceeded to “play” a trombone that wasn’t there (he’s actually a trumpet player) and made the sounds with his mouth. It was all sort of wacky and wonderful.
Then the trumpeters arrived – James Andrews, Kid Merv, 18 year old John Michael Bradford, the female trumpeter and Yoshio Toyama, the “Satchmo of Japan,” as well as Utopia on sax. It was one of those you-had-to-be-there type shows. At some point, several of the men pulled out their best Satchmo voices and had a Louis Armstrong-off. It was pretty remarkable. They finished the night with When the Saints Go Marching In and we all sang along to Happy Birthday.
I think Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong would be pleased to see how he lives on in our culture.