I was an 8 o’clocker, on one of the first few busses over to the Fairgrounds. Impressions essentially in chronological order:
I had a chair. Zulu umbrella. The usual Jazz Fest-y things in the bag I bought at Jazz Fest several years ago. And a big fat book for the waiting.
Blues Tent. Pita Pit sandwiches for breakfast. Veggie. With good orange juice. And I got Larry sitting next to me a cup of coffee with “one pink sugar” [Sweet 'n Low]. Larry sells peanuts and was glad to be able to enjoy himself at the “Fest” for once. I said Mister feels the same way, taking pics for the Foundation interfering with his good time. [And we are Good Timers.] We talked about leaving mothers and grandmothers in the Gospel Tent all day long and when he asked if I usually came alone, I said, no, with my husband and he knows he can find me in front the Jazz and Heritage stage all day long. Larry cracked up at that one. Some folks had their 2007 Brass Passes on and I saw a lot of older Jazz Fest shirts and some of the craziest hats. I must not hang where they hang.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Yes, I danced, hooted, waved my hands, clapped, blew my whistle. [Yes, I will be paying for that for a few days. I might even have to go back to physical therapy.]
Raffles. Treme DVDs and BluRay discs, Treme soundtrack, big box of NOLA music, digital picture frame. She called all around my number.
8 o’clockers sent to Jazz and Heritage stage. Some got “prop beer”–beer-colored liquid poured into plastic cups, some half full, some 1/4 full, and empty Lite cans. I was not the only person yelling we can’t be authentic Festers without beer. Couple next to me asked if I’d been out last weekend or was going this weekend. Nope, priced me out this year, just too much. And they were genuinely sad for me, even more so when I said I’ve been coming since childhood. From Cincinnati. I almost asked them if they knew Loki. Or if they had an extra ticket. They said they have Jazz Fest marked on their calendars, wait all year long for it. First we watched Wanda Rouzan do “Where y’at/Party people…” from the walkway then were told to head to the front of the stage “in an orderly fashion.” Yeah, that got laughs. Then they spread us out. Cheered, danced, screamed through 2 or 3-1/3 versions of “Where Y’at.” Wendell Pierce in crowd and many instructions and cheers and don’t get hit by the Steadicam and don’t look at the camera. Raffle, got nothing.
The cleanest, nicest port-o-potties ever. A joy to use. Though I will say that since 2007 or so, I have not had to bring my own toilet paper.
Back to Blues Tent. More Big Sam. And the schools showed up–McMillan’s First Steps preschool in uniforms, Lusher, and St. Aug. The boys moved like a single unit, filling an aisle and dancing to every song. And a very cute Big Sam version of The Hokey Pokey with the preschoolers. Raffle, got nothing.
Lunch. Crawfish Monica, shrimp and some other meat tacos, cracklins, stuffed bread. Hm. And the scene? Sit around eating. Pierce, Phyllis Montana LeBlanc and Trombone Shorty doing a scene in food lines and LOTS of instructions for the “background.” I was trying to stay warm and nursing my lack of beer. Raffle, called all around my number.
Enough folks showed up for them to have blocks of folks at multiple sites. It was an impressive operation.
Moved to the food lines to be deep background. Caught up with Larry who was in the scene behind and around Pierce, LeBlanc and Trombone Shorty. Started talking to Sandy. Had a wide, free-ranging conversation–extra work [her husband had motorcycles and a big long hippie ponytail and had been a part of several filmings], the joy of being out here regardless of the waiting and filming and orders and lines, NOLA post-Katrina, the insurance company stating on a form it would cost $178K to fix her house then after all their adjustments and depreciations and shit she ended up with a $57K check that she said should’ve been signed “Here you go, sucker,” being priced out of Jazz Fest after years and years of attendance [I went as a kid; she brought all her kids; I brought my daughter; she brought grandchildren] and how pissed we were about it and how “Sixty bucks, I can feed us for a week!” and so glad to have this chance to be in the Fairgrounds, husband post-K bought a dump truck but couldn’t get a contract or job because only folks with FL licenses were getting work, the new little capitalist on Treme and how his ilk and the bullshit contractors and other sons of shit poured into town post-K to rip us all off and then run back home and the state not able to do anything even if it wanted to, flood insurance, Morrison Road now being essentially the country because there’s no grocery store or shopping for at least 14-19 miles, how expensive the Bywater, Fairgrounds area and others have become, the stupidity of tearing down the projects [one friend of hers left home before Katrina hit to stay with a daughter in the projects because they knew nothing could happen to those brick and concrete buildings], our love of NOLA and how we cannot be comfortable anywhere else, the festivals and free sights and the Quarter and how smarmy it was and how expensive it is now and how you can see and feel the difference, the city in the 70s, how open and free and safe the early Jazz Fests were, how important it is to enjoy each day and love what life you have. When we were told to move on, I said to Sandy that I love my city because I can start a good conversation with a white person [city person, not suburban] and how you can’t do that elsewhere. Sandy said some friends of hers from out of state said to her once that she “had a lot of black friends.” Her answer: “I have a lot of FRIENDS.” We hugged, kissed, wished each other well. I felt like I’d met her before but I probably hadn’t, unless it was at one Jazz Fest or another.
Blues Tent. Glen David Andrews. More raffling, and a young man won the first 43-inch flat screen TV. Again I did not get that box set of NOLA music. That hurt.
By 4, I was debating whether to stay for the last raffle at 5 but I was dressed for an 80+degree day and it was in the 60s and windy. I knew I had just about nothing left and the longer I stayed, the worse I’d start to feel. So I got on a bus.
And I am sure as soon as I left that she called number 300919.