Usually, the only weather concern for Satchmo SummerFest is the oppressive heat and humidity but this year brought a huge rain storm that dumped over half a foot of rain in under an hour, overwhelming the pumping systems and flooding the entire city. That said, we did manage to have some fun at the fest before the weather came through. The distinctively dulcet voice of John Boutte serenaded us as we sampled the food booths starting with a Debris Po-Boy from the Rib Room – which we topped with horseradish mayo to bring out the flavor. Next we tried the Deep Fried Seafood Stuffed Bell Peppers and the Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Remoulade Salad from Café Dauphine. We washed it all down with a cold Purple Haze Abita beer.
A misting tent and several large misting fans cooled us off as we crossed to the other side of the U.S. Mint’s yard. Satchmo Fest celebrates the birthday of legendary New Orleans’ native, Louis Armstrong. Young and talented trombonist David L. Harris is clearly part of the festival’s ongoing push to find the next generation’s greats.
I headed to one of my favorite booths from last year, Cool Fruit Sensations, for a Fresh Squeezed Lemonade with Strawberry. You can start with limeade instead and add blueberries, pineapple or watermelon. I love watching them mash the fresh lemons slices and whole strawberries. They add water and sugar (though I get mine without), and shake it like Bond girls before pouring the refreshing mixture into a domed cup.
Then I headed indoors to escape the coming rain not realizing that the fest would end up closing for weather when most of the city flooded. I was sad to have missed the excellent line-up they had planned for our evening and I had no booths for supper!
I started sunny Sunday with the Pin Stripe Brass Band playing Lovely Day followed by Stand By Me and local favorite, I Ate Up the Apple Tree.
The grassy area for food booths was a muddy mess way beyond the absorption power of the bales of hay that had been strewn. But New Orleanians are unfortunately well practiced in doing business after floods so booths in the thick of it, like the Praline Connection, sent runners to people standing on the concrete. In my rubber boots, I plodded right through the hay to booths with no lines for Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Crepe with Bacon from Crepes a la Cart and Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Rice and Veggies from Palmer’s Cuisine.
Ashlin Parker Trumpet Mafia was another youth offering. The diverse, horn-heavy band included a super-young kid and a couple of young women. It was interesting to go from the exuberant verve of the Trumpet Mafia to the relaxed experienced of legendary Ellis Marsalis.
The party had spilled onto the street by the time Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers took the stage. Ruffins welcomed guests like Nayo Jones, who delighted the crowd with At Last. I split my time with the Original Pinettes Brass Band on the other stage. Sadly, I missed their opener – a one-two punch of Ghost Busters followed by their original Ain’t No City Like the One I’m From. But I did arrive in time to dance with songstress Margie Perez to a Michael Jackson cover and Candy Girl.
I finished the fest with a Nectar Creme snoball from Plum Street Snoballs while an all-star Trumpet Tribute with Kermit Ruffins capped off 3 days of celebrating the life and influence of Louis, “Satchmo” Armstrong.