There’s a first time for everything.
Have you recovered yet? I can assure you that I am still getting there. Jazz Fest takes a lot out of a person but it gives back so much to a soul. It is like a bank whereby I store up little deposits of culture and good vibes that allow me to manage through the lulls.
He Said and I came to the realization a long time ago: Jazz Fest is more than just music and food from 11-7 Thursday-Sunday for two weeks. It’s about connecting with old friends, camaraderie, making new friends, after Fest events, early morning parties, night concerts, etc. etc. It is a lifestyle.
This year proved no exception for the He Said/She Said household and by the time the second weekend drew to a conclusion we feltl we needed a vacation. We were limited this year to second weekend festing, but fret not my friends, because we worked hard to make up for lost time.
What stood out to me as I dragged myself to work that sad Monday morning, May 7 was that this year proved to be a week of “first’s”. I built my cultural bank with countless first-time and only-in New Orleans experiences.
Tuesday between Fest weeks we dined at Maurepas (1st dinner there) followed by drinks at both Bud Rip’s and The Saturn Bar (that’s #2 and #3). And yes, I am absolutely ashamed to say that it was my first trek to The Saturn Bar. Wednesday was a rough day but I managed to drag myself to a private courtyard concert featuring Trombone Shorty (#4 for those of you counting). That was a highlight given that it was: a) free and: b) we had an absolutely perfect viewing spot and the sound was crystal clear.
This year was my first Thursday Fest day which immediately made my must-do annual list. Thursdays at the Fest rock! The crowds are significantly lower and the vibe is perfect as it is widely local and everyone is skipping work- so really, what’s not to love? That night we went to the Stooges at the Hi-Ho Lounge after a repeat visit to The Saturn Bar with our dear friends. If you haven’t been on a Thursday night to see the Stooges you are missing out.
Our first ever crawfish boil was hosted on Friday night after our friends wrapped up at the fest. This was an unmentionable on my bucket list- How can you be from New Orleans and not have boiled crawfish yourself? No more I say as I checked that one off. Saturday morning Steve attended a French Quarter Courtyard ‘Mexican Breakfast’ which began with 8am tequila, live music and yes there was actual food as well. He attended with our friend from D.C. while I opted out because I wanted to be fresh for the day of festing ahead. Saturday post-Fest dinner was at Suis Generis and our table of 8 had a fantastic time.
Sunday we were in recuperation mode and did not hit the Fairgrounds. Let’s face it folks, you and I both know that the Fest and all related activities are expensive. Hence, we decided to attend one day. I was lucky enough to borrow a Brass Pass for Thursday’s visit to which I went solo (a thing I actually kind of enjoy). That evening we met up with our out-of-town compadre for an evening set at Snug Harbor: Terrance Blanchard (#7). He was awesome and the Sunday evening close-out event at Snug Harbor has become a sort of tradition for the three of us.
As Jazzfest drew to a close and we got back to our regular schedules I managed to get one last ‘first’ in. Tuesday morning after an early-morning work-out it dawned on me that in fact, we had an event planned Monday night. Yes, we purchased tickets to the Curds and Cocktails event put on by St. James Cheese Company the prior week. I would love to tell you how it was, but I have no idea because we completely forgot about the event which was Monday evening. I have never unknowingly skipped out on an event and I certainly wouldn’t opt out of something that we spent money on. A pretty clear sign that Jazzfest kicked our butts.
Here is what I’ve come to determine: Jazz Fest is akin to the Thousand Mardi Gras. There isn’t just one way to celebrate. It is a cultural experience that means many different things to many different people. The more I experience the Fest, the more I peel back my own fest onion and yet I still come back to the idea that there is a first time for everything! For now my friends, my wallet may be empty but my soul is full.