New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2008 Three-Day Photo Mix: The New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Aaron Neville’s Gospel Soul, The Roots, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Bobby McFerrin & Chick Corea, The John Hammond Quartet, A Tribute to Max Roach feat. Jason Marsalis, Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band, Snooks Eaglin, The Neville Brothers & More…

The full-on downpour during Stevie Wonder’s headlining slot…the morning thunderstorm that kept us waiting for hours inside a dark house in the ninth ward…the musicians you’ve never heard of that unfailingly blow your mind…the food, the ridiculous overconsumption of that food you just can’t quite replicate anywhere else…truly, the weekend was full of all of the reasons that have kept me returning to New Orleans for its annual Jazz & Heritage Festival the last thirteen years in a row. I haven’t stopped since my first taste; they must be doing something right. Rough timeline goes a little like this:

MAY 2 – FRIDAY 930am
Arrive Baton Rouge. Am inexplicably (albeit pleasingly) upgraded to “premier” status at the rental car stand. As such, immediately begin cruising soul food joints adjacent to the airport in a leather-clad SUV with Infinity sound and XM radio, looking for that first food fix before Brett arrives

Check into uptown guest house. Two-story joint with balcony entrance off the courtyard. Sweet locale. Ridiculous cheap


Fairgrounds. We’ve got a full day ahead of us, culminating with Stevie Wonder

Just before Stevie takes the stage, torrential downpour turns the racetrack into a serious mudfest


Seahorse Saloon

General New Orleans goofiness centered on and around Magazine – we’ve an early day tomorrow. Though delicious, the gourmet burgers at Storyville take exactly one hour to arrive at the table. Final N/B: There are exactly two cds in the Brothers III jukebox that are not of the country & western varietal. Both are Louis Prima…

MAY 3 – SATURDAY 630am
Jesus – am I awake? Coffee

Ninth ward, bag lunches in hand, waiting to work for Habitat. The sky is dark. The wind blows deep. The sky breaks: fast, heavy. Today’s scheduled work is unfortunately of the exterior varietal. We watch the thunderstorm and wait some 2.5 hours, sipping coffee in a dark, half-built house at the end of Spain, eventually dismissed without hammering so much as a single nail


While purchasing my first gravy-drizzled hot sausage of the day, I manage to unintentionally short-change the proprietor of a soul food breakfast-and-donut stand just off Franklin. The “Please respect your family and do not ask for free food” sign on the wall behind him has me suspecting I’m not the first

Driving tour of Historic Algiers Point, west bank

Meet complete strangers outside Magazine coffee shop in order to return sand-crusted cell phone found yesterday at fairgrounds

Fairgrounds. Long day of you-know-what. Predictably it’s a mud-fest today, but the sky having cleared around noon the day becomes a scorcher

Aaron Neville’s gospel-tinged take on “Bridge Over Troubled Water” makes a couple of those back-of-neck hairs stand on end

Liuzza’s block party. Why are 700 people ordering bloody maries at 730pm? Let’s find out


Following the walk of the dead we are now drinking in Rendevouz, a lounge on Magazine recommended by Habitat volunteer

2-ish AM
Caught third wind. Joined a group going to see Mike Dillon’s Go Go Jungle and The Hairy Apes BMX, back up the street near the house at Le Bon Temps. I’m told some of the guys on stage are in Galactic, but then, I’m told a lot of things at this hour

Heating and eating uneaten panini from the morning’s volunteer attempt – and anything else found in fridge

MAY 4 – SUNDAY 915am

I can’t believe we agreed to turn in this fantastic gas-guzzling SUV after only two days


Down in the quarter the line for coffee and beignets is way too long at Cafe du Monde. We try two more coffee shops before surrendering to a considerably more appropriate bloody mary

Sonny Landreth is slated to perform on the Gentilly stage quite early today, interfering with everybody’s hangover. We arrive at the festival somewhat earlier than usual, contraband half-pints of Jim Beam for which to spike the mint tea neatly tucked into cargo pockets

Snooks Eaglin is such a badass

Raconteours taking the stage. Jack’s sporting a chrome guitar and a seriously Vegas-looking outfit. Immediately after taking the stage he loses the jacket. It’s apparently impossible for me to mention Jack White without bragging to Ron that I saw the Stripes in 2000 with some 25 people at Al’s Bar in downtown LA for $5 – one of my first shows after moving out here – so I will now do that

Rendevouz with full posse at yon Seahorse Saloon

Sharing a cocktail with “taxi” driver at Mrs Mae’s, possibly the cheapest bar in town now that Joe’s Cozy Corner has gone belly-up (RIP). Why are these drinks so damned cheap? Is it because they use corn whiskey, as inferred by a rival bartender last night? (Am I presently going blind?)

Courtyard BBQ party at the house. Who says you’ll stop eating Boudin sausage once you leave the fairgrounds?

Redacted – Frenchmen Street

Let’s get back to California

Thanks, New Orleans! See you next year. _R