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New Orleans Jazzfest - Day 1: Psychotic Medication


The 41th annual Jazzfest kicked off today on a wet and wild day in New Orleans.

I started shortly after noon by taking in some traditional blues and ragtime played by Clive Wilson’s New Orleans Serenaders featuring Butch Thomson.  Some fine trombone, clarinet, and trumpet playing highlighted by a pair of Jelly Roll Morton numbers.

More outstanding local talent followed with  Kenny Neal in the Blues Tent and he was putting on a clinic on you would expect from someone whose guitar teachers included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo.  What started as a drizzle as the show was beginning, however, turned into a colossal downpour to the extent that water flooded the tent!  It was about five inches deep and people had to laugh it off or spill out to another area of the fairgrounds and take their chances.  I did both.  After Kenny wrapped up, I decided to leave the relative security of the Blues Tent but I still had to choose between  Dr. John and the Lower 9-11 on one Stage OR George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic on another.

I started with Dr. John and he was in absolute top form.  He was ranting on stage and pounding the keys on his piano which was topped by a couple of skulls!  He made references to being on psychotic medication and said that these days he says a lot of things people don’t want to hear but he doesn’t care.  He advised, “When you say something, mean the Mother*&@#$*!”  The Lower 9-11 was stellar to the point that I had to tear myself away to go get a look at George Clinton.  I gave it about 10 minutes but the energy wasn’t near what the Dr. was delivering so I hurried back for the end of the latter’s set.

It’s turned into a muddy, absurd experience...I’m barefoot in the press tent now using a computer.  I’m soaked to the bone but I’m going to get some crawfish and at least take in a few minutes of Steel Pulse before I get back to the hotel.  I may try to catch a little of the Black Crowes and I would have liked to have caught a little of the Elvin Bishop set too but I have to draw the line somewhere.  I really need a shower.